Do Only Love Can Put Out This Fire
Smoke curled around the man’s feet as he leapt from stone to stone. Performing the sacred Fijian firewalking ritual, he was only one of a flock of fierce warriors who performed this straight-line dance across a pit of blazing coals, their sweat providing the only protective barrier between them and the fire. The ceremony’s origins formed over 500 years ago on the island of Beqa, I learned, where local lore suggests a spirit god first gave a young boy named Tunaiviqalita the gift of controlling fire. But the price was high, as he gained the coveted power in exchange for his life.
From myth to reality, this ritual isn’t for the faint of heart. But I knew I was ready for the challenge. I gave my wife a kiss before I took my place in line. But before I could make my dash I learned firewalkers must refrain from two things for at least two weeks prior to the ceremony in order to safely pass over the coals with no burns: contact with women and consumption of coconuts. I won’t say if it was love or coconuts, but I knew it was best for me to sit this one out.