The Fire Horse (1966)

The Fire Horse (1966)

The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.
— Paulo Coelho
Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.
— Miyamoto Musashi
The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
— Don Juan Matus

I’ve always known I had no choice about one thing in my life.  While others mitigate, ruminate and speculate I burn. An Aries according to Greek astrology, the rare Fire Horse according to Chinese theology, I am fire.  Period, end of story.  And I, according to legend, am cursed.

Isn’t legend quaint, y’all?  While some folks get lost in the analogies of movies, novels and myth, I understand myself to be a story writing itself.  A reflection, yes.  An echo, of course.  But while others may carry the burden of wyrd as the predetermined, inherited curses and blessings of their ancestors–I factor choice, married to circumstance, as a viable component, even an interrupter, of those energies.  Lessee:  I am fire.  I am a warrior.  I am headstrong, tenacious, Southern, stubborn and intelligent.  I reckon, I’m a bit dangerous.  After all, there is nothing more dangerous than one whom cannot be swayed by fear.  Yet, I can be swayed.  But we’ll get to that, in time.

As a witch, I am forever dismayed at the lack of value placed upon a Warrior Witch.  I reckon?  It most likely has to do with love and light: that ethereal ideology of sparkles and wondrous warmth in which we can all walk–skip?  And, of course, my feet like the ground there, too.  Who wouldn’t?  Nice and cozy.  Until the sky darkens with flying monkeys, that is.  And then . . .

Okay, I get it.  We ain’t all warriors.  That wouldn’t make sense, really.  Who would keep the home fires tended?  Who would water the garden?  What of the children?  Balance is everything, y’all.  But what I’ve noticed is that we all want someone to fight for us, as long as we don’t have to get our skivvies bunched or our pointed shoes muddied.  Sigh.

Not gonna cut it.

I wonder.  Is there something in the warrior that we fear?  That they will turn their fiery sword to our own chest?  Or is it that we cannot be assured of our own truest selves, our own inner nobility, that lurking, incomprehensible doubt that we are notworthy of their service?  At the end of the day, I doubt that it matters.  True warriors care not for your fallible heart, but for its innate intention.  And that, Batchildren, will save you every time.    This is the path my mind wanders when I consider the Fire Horse–that cursed/blessed warrior horse of Chinese legend and the image that is blazed across my birth year.

And there is very little to pull upon.  The Legend of Fire Horse Woman  written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is one literary revision of the sign as a curse.  Drawing from the past and its knee-jerk fear of a woman born under this sign, Houston portrays her lot as:

“They were powerful and cunning; they acted independently from the family and could not be controlled by men.  Always beautiful, with elegant tastes . . . with a sensual exterior that cloaked an explosive nature, they were strong as females, and thus to be avoided as wives at all costs.” [1]

Ah.  Strong women.  Shiver!  And so, I did more research.  From the extraordinarily minimal (frustrating!) available research online, I found this:

“The power of cultural myth is strong as evidenced by the decline of births in the year of the Fire Horse. The birthrate in Japan during that year is down a half million as compared to the previous and succeeding years. In China, Tibet, and Korea there is also data of a plummet in birthrates. Stories of infanticide of girls from this period persist. You can be sure that women born in 1966 are not quick to reveal this in public.” [2]

That led me to two audacious warrior women and entrenpenuers.  Venita Coelho and Deepti Datt, who founded and own Firehorse Films, explain that:

“1966 was the Chinese year of the FireHorse. The Chinese believed that FireHorses were headstrong and potentially dangerous to the social order. Both of us are born in 1966, and both of us have a strong mind like the FireHorse. Our banner will encourage creative women in India and around the world, who are unafraid to question the status quo and push the envelope. More power to them and their work for which FireHorse Films will provide a platform.” [3]

And that’s when it hit me: a memory, of my mother, telling me to “hide [my] sexuality, beauty and power.”  She was concerned for my safety, it seems.  But all I remember feeling was: then, I will die.  To win the battle, but lose the war, I shall die.  Or rather, my fire would be suffocated, in lieu of merciful comfort for those who could not bear to stare within its depths.  Hmmm.

I think the roof is on fire.

Eh.  If my very existence keeps someone up at night, one has to wonder: what are they wrestling against? Are strong women, especially in the Craft, dangerous simply because they are in tune with their sexuality?  Their creativity?  What of other women, especially in the Craft, who gnash their teeth at the strong female witch?  It occurs to me that some gals need to tend to their own gardens, their own partners, their own tribalsteads instead of spewing venom night and day toward another’s blaze.

Image: http://quip.io/q/gh6a

Image: http://quip.io/q/gh6a

And then there’s this *other* thing:  when I take my blaze away, leaving another’s soul to face the dark and icy world that they have earned, well.  Katie bar the door.  From a Fire Horse perspective, it’s simple: I am leaving you back on the threshold of the world from which you came.  Not harming, not injuring, just leaving.  My hubby likes to remind me to be more empathetic; after all, sitting at a campfire encourages a body to forget the cold.  And I try.  But, still it seems to me that–when the fire is taken away–some souls cannot bear to see the smoke in another forest.  Rather, railing and war and asshattery commence, simply at the sniff of burning embers from afar.  (I contend: they shouldn’t have acted a fool.  But, empathy I will continue to embrace.)  Which brings me ’round to Fire Horse:

If the revitalization of its legend and revisitation of its source holds that the Fire Horse is dangerous because you cannot control it, what–exactly–leads humankind to want that control?  Fear?  Jealousy?  Insecurity?  And, if it could be done, what would warm your bones?  Who would defend your most sacred thresholds?  Ah, the incurable plight of humankind: to control Nature in order to reap its glory.  Has anyone read the Goose and the Golden Egg?

I am a Warrior Witch.  Let’s interrogate SKW on that a bit, shall we?

I will not harm children nor animals in an effort to satiate my own lack.

I will not cast against those whom I do not know, nor anyone who has not harmed me or mine.

I will not pretend to be anything else.  You will not see me quoting Christian scripture, shifting religions/paths or hiring myself out online.

I will not “cover” my sexuality, my intelligence or my power to make others feel more secure.

I will not engage in ridiculous, teenage drama within the Witch/Pagan community.

I will walk from anyone who breaks my spirit, descrecrates the Sacred Path or harms others for entertainment or self gain.

Now, for the other hand:

I will fight for justice, children, animals and my beloved Mother Earth.

I will stand against gossip, cruelty and even complicity in these moments.

I will tell the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable.

I will never, ever lay down until I am struck dead.  For I am a Warrior Witch, a Fire Horse, a descendant of a balanced and beautiful slice of native peoples who knew nobility as they knew their own skin.  I suppose, then, that I am dangerous.  I certainly hope that I am dangerous, to the livelihood of bullspit, bigotry, falsity, racism, power mongers, sexism, religiosity and political agenda.  I simply do not lie down well.  So be it.  But: it is not a curse.  And oh, it is not a blessing.

It is simply, and perhaps fittingly, just who I am.  Apologizing for my nature would be akin to apologizing for summer.  Everyone wants you to arrive.  Everyone needs you, until the heat and the sweat become too much.  On this one?  I turn to Gran.

If it’s too hot, y’all know how to leave the kitchen.  (But leave the cornbread for those of us who sweated for it.)

For all of my fellow Warrior Witches:

Blessed Be and Aho.


*It has come to my attention that a rumor was propagated last weekend about the legality of our land lease and an impending demise in ownership.  While most of us balk at such nonsense and childish banter, for any of my friends who have worried: nothing could be further from the truth.  We are fine, thanks for thinking of us.  But: love your suit.

1.  Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, The Legend of Fire Horse Woman.  Kensington: New York, 2003: 9

2.  http://voices.yahoo.com/the-strange-fate-fire-horse-women-3335014.html?cat=37

3.  http://www.goanvoice.org.uk/newsletter/2003/Jul/issue2/supp2/FireHorse.html

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