This is the Lightning in a Bottle story I have been waiting to tell; this is THE story of my experience at the festival; this is the story I have been waiting to share until I got the proper accompanying video footage uploaded, and it has been torment not sharing this story until I had it written and put together exactly as I wanted it. I’m not going to lie, this is certainly one of my better pieces of writing and it has been a labor of love producing this, including an all-nighter of creative insomnia.
But before I really get to that, this is the story of how I named an elephant:
Just before Lightning in a Bottle, DandyLion and I went to the Rennaissance Faire, where we found a beautiful red dragon and an adorable, little green elephant. We brought them home with us, and the pair flew up on the ceiling of our bedroom and guarded our dreams. To begin with, we called the dragon George and debated over a few possibilities for the little green elephant. Eventually the dragon revealed to DandyLion through a dream, that it’s true name was Lucid, but the little green elephant remained unamed. Both of them came with us to Lightning, where Lucid became our camp guardian, and the little green elephant spent his time seated on our alter or tucked into my belt pouch. I had a feeling that the little green elephant would reveal his name sometime during the festival, so I kept him close for most of the weekend.
But before I get too far with the elephant, this is the story of how I met not one, but three incarnations of my brother.
One of the singularly most extraordinary parts of going to festivals is the people that one encounters, lovers not yet acquainted, twin flames unconciously seeking each other, soul siblings yet to be united. I grew up an only child and I do not have any actual siblings, but I do have a guardian spirit that I refer to as my brother. He’s this voice inside that’s always there for advice or comfort, and he’s usually got some kind of sassy commentary to go along with just about everything in life. People have told me that it sounds like I’m describing the voice of a guardian angel, or my own higher intuition, or skitzophrenia, but to me he’s just my brother. In my life, I have met a handful of extaroridnary people who embody what I can only describe as elements of my brother’s essence, and to be near them is like being near a living, breathing version of my brother.
At Lightning, Dandylion and I had the privledge to befriend and camp alongside three men of extraoridnary caliber, each of whom became as dear as brothers over the weekend, and each of whom exhibits an element of my brother’s essence. Jesse, the Dragon, manifests my brother’s gentleness and kindness; Brandon “Jack of Hearts” epitomizes my brother’s sassy humor and positive spirit; Felix the FireCat is the perfect personification of my brother’s Bacchanalian fervor for life. All of them are stunningly talented flow and fire artists, and many times over the weekend I watched them in awe as they manipulated light and flame, and each of them played a siginificant part in my initiation of Fire.
Because really, this is actually the story of how I learned to shapeshift into a Fire Fae.
I used to be rather pyrophobic, to the point that high school lab assignments involving bunsen burners became prolonged lessons in how to control hyperventilation. I don’t really know when this fear began to disapate, but at some point under my fear I discovered a layer of fascination. I think what attracted me to Fire and the artists who consort with Fire is the beautiful sense of limitlessness the art evokes. Fire is transient and ephemeral; flames are not matter in and of themselves, yet flames require the sacrifice of matter as fuel to survive. Matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, only changed and rearranged, and Fire has the ultimate power to strip the physical of all the properties that make it recognizable, and to transform it into a force both volatile and effervescent. It is an ultimate illustration of both Entropy and Divinity, the converstion of tangible material into pure energy, into heat and light.
It’s no secret that DandyLion loves fire and anything relating to pyrotechnics, so it was a natural course that our new brothers invite him to spin fire for the first time. Then FireCat looked me in the eye and said “You too.” I didn’t say anything. I may have made a small squeaky sound, or I may have just quietly chewed on my lip, but on my insides was a shower of excited glitter in shades of pink and red and gold. There was no tension, or anxiety, or fear; in fact, there was nothing I wanted more than to get closer to the flames and let them whisper their pretty secrets to me.
In a dream-like haze, I climbed the stage, and DandyLion held a lighter for me. I stepped back and started to raise my hands, but DandyLion stood up on his toes to get a kiss first. In that moment when I leaned down to kiss him, I suddendly became incredibly concious of where I was: on a stage, at a festival, in front of a crowd of strangers, with my hands on fire. I identified that moment as the moment to freak out, and then sat back and watched as the moment continued to sail on by in a blur. It left a vacuum as it passed, and into that space it pulled the bounce of the bass and the heat of the flames, and before Fire and I had barely become aquainted, we were dancing.
(Unfortunately there is no audio due to technical difficulties that night with the mic)
In all the dance classes I’ve ever taken, I’ve had my fair share of bad dance partners, partners with weak leads and terrible rhythm. I’ve also had the good fortune to dance with some amazing partners. There is something scintilating and delicious about dancing with a partner who knows what he’s doing, the way two bodies can flow together with strength, precision, and sensuality. Fire is both a lascivious and quixotic dance partner; Fire will dutifully follow even the weakest lead, half-heartedly throwing shadows, but if the dancer puts their heart and soul into the relationship, Fire will bend and breathe and bloom with the dancer. The dance becomes a flirtation, a courtship, a love-making ritual; nothing in my life has every felt more natural or more beautiful. I knew that every dance class I had ever taken was for this moment; every blister I’d ever suffered, every disapointing audition, every cramped muscle was leading me to this magical moment, to this salacious dance, with this glamorous new partner. I was suddenly more than just the fae I had been yesterday. Somewhere between FireCat adopting Dandylion and me as his newest FireKittens, and the exhilierating rush of the flames, I had learned to shapeshift into a Fire Fae.
When the flames finally began to flicker and I die, I blew them out and took a bow, exhausted and exhilerated. For a moment I was lost in my grattitude for the experience, and when I looked up, my newfound brothers were there, removing the hot torches from my hands and praising my first burn. Afterwards, FireCat pulled Dandylion and me into a big hug, encircling the collective energy of our love and joy, but as I stepped back from the embrace I felt a sharp twinge on the inside of my wrist. When I examined my wrist, I found a small circular burn where the tip of FireCat’s still stinging hot fans had kissed my wrist, a perfect tattoo of the night’s convocation, I had been branded as one of the tribe, and let my ardent new lover inscribe his name upon my skin.
But if you recall, this started out as a story of how I named an elephant.
The next day, my mood was bittersweet as I watched Felix, Jesse, and Brandon pack up their tents and prepare to leave our camp home, wishing there was a way to go back to the cool darkness of night lit by heat and light and love, wishing there was a way to make the moment last just for a little while longer, but also knowing there would eventually be a next time. I held my little green elephant for comfort, and a word I am very familiar with stood out in my mind like bas relief: Brother. It’s not really a name, but I knew that’s what my little green elephant wanted to be called. I knew I that every time I held my elephant, every time I looked at him, I would think about this weekend, about this festival, about the night that DandyLion and I danced and fell in love with our new brothers of Light and Love and Fire.