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  • Writer's pictureAlex Gulland

Firelight Storytelling - The New Social Network?

Updated: Jun 1, 2018

The amazing breakthrough of discovering how to control fire, many centuries ago, not only dramatically changed our lives forever, in terms of our eating/heating habits, but it also changed our social culture.

All those thousands of years ago, conversation during the daytime mainly focused on mundane topics.

However at night time around the fire, the conversation was dominated entirely by people sharing stories.

In more recent times, readers of Charles Dickens, frequently recalled gathering in family groups around a flickering fire and basking in the warmth while they read the text aloud.

Arguably such ‘Campfire Tales’ were the earliest form of social media.

Even a huge corporation like Amazon has looked to this ancient form of storytelling for inspiration by the invention of the ‘Kindle.’

The word’s roots are from the Old Norse word kyndill, meaning Candle and it also had deep roots in literature,

The newer devices are coincidentally just known as ‘Fire’ and so the spirit of much earlier times appears to have echoed through the centuries.

Recently I was fortunate to experience the magic of such firelight storytelling for myself

as I had the pleasure of spending a weekend deep in the glorious Lancashire countryside with two wonderful friends. 
It’s extremely rare that the three of us get together and so we made the most of it.

During the day we passed the time feeding lambs, chilling with the horses and generally feeling blessed to be together, in such a beautiful environment.

After dinner and as dusk approached, we settled ourselves around a crackling fire, outside in the fresh air with a chilled bottle of white wine.

Slowly as time passed each one of us shared our dreams and fears.

It felt like we were the only people in the world.

There was no distraction of mobile phones, music or the distant hum of traffic.

I believe the magic of the fire and the fact that we were outdoors in such a beautiful setting, enabled us to focus on each other.

We offered support and loving guidance in the form of anecdotal stories, encouragement, heartfelt advice and perhaps most importantly the power of listening and showing empathy.

It soon became clear that we were all at a crossroads in our lives, both professionally and personally.

As the night drew in and our conversation flowed freely, we all seemed to gain clarity of vision and direction from each other.

It is indeed rare for me to admit my weaknesses, fears and even my dreams so openly but I felt safe in that environment - shielded by nature, surrounded by love and encouraged by the dancing flames of the fire. 

As humans it’s in our nature to share, nurture and support each other. This is often achieved through stories and personal experiences but the invention of the internet, despite myriad wonderful advantages, has perhaps disrupted the natural flow of this particular activity.

Now, weirdly enough, people tend to ‘get social’ on their own, with only their computer for company.

During my firelight conversation session in Lancashire, I was able to stare into the fire and talk freely without interruption, knowing that I had an attentive caring audience.

I felt completely in tune not just with my two friends but also with nature.

Using the magic of firelight to share is not only limited to story telling and sharing.

Whilst I was completing my Equine Practitioner training with LEAP, we used the power of fire to say goodbye to unwanted issues and problems.

We were all invited to write down our fears / issues on a piece of paper and then discard it into the fire.

On my piece of paper I had written’ Depression’ and ‘Lack of trust’, as these two feelings can sometimes cloud my vision and slow down my ability to make rational decisions.

I threw these words into the fire and immediately felt a release.

Now dear reader, I am not recommending that you immediately start writing a list and commence building a bonfire, especially if you live in a built up area or an apartment!

But I do encourage you to turn your phone off and have your own form of firelight conversation, perhaps when out camping, or maybe if you are lucky enough to have a real fire at home.

Sit with your loved ones and look into the flames, dig deep and share.

Whilst you reflect, perhaps think about those people many years ago and more recently during Dickensian times, who did exactly the same as you.

It’s not so amazing when you think about it, that this tradition has naturally survived.

I could say goodbye to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., but I do not wish to extinguish those life affirming flames.

This type of activity can help you open up and benefit from communing with other people.

Many of the different activities that we implement with ‘Equine Practitioning’ also date back centuries.

LEAP have managed to incorporate and complement many ancient practices with the present, which makes what we offer as ‘Equine Practitioners’ potentially so effective.

So let’s start blending the old and with the new.

If you want to find out how ‘Equine Practitioning’ could help you to be more open, please contact us :

or email Alex Gulland :

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