Azrael is the Cabbalistic Angel of Death in a positive aspect as consoler and comforter who assists an individual through the transition between life and death. His fire in this sense is a link to the ‘otherworld‘ of the spirits and through which they may communicate.
Many years ago we held a retreat at an old farmhouse in the English Lake District. The farmhouse was over 400 years old and in a very remote valley – ideal for a retreat. It was there that for the first time we constructed a ‘Fire of Azrael’ I had read about this strange divinatory fire in Dion Fortune’s book ‘The Sea Priestess’ ( I have read all Dion Fortune’s novels, most are a good read, this one, for me wasn’t), like most of her novels there are numerous occult references and layers of meaning which do not necessarily become obvious on a first reading. The heroine:
‘took the poker in her hand and pushed the flaming driftwood to either side, and in the hollow center thus left she piled the woods of the Fire of Azrael. Then we sat and watched them take the flame. And in those hours while the tide rose there was delivered to me things whereof but few have dreamed and fewer still have known, and I learned why Troy was burnt for a woman‘.
Dion Fortune’s ‘recipe’ consists of cedar, sandalwood and juniper. We added Fuga Daemonum to make sure nothing unwanted turned up. The juniper we collected in the hills where it grows wild, cedar we cut from a branch of a Cedar of Lebanon growing in a village near Coventry …which still grows there to this day… and the sandalwood we purchased from a supplier of incense ingredients – this was expensive and so was less in quantity than the other three ingredients. All the woods are resinous and so lighting them is easy. Once the flames begin to flare up, gaze into the fire and let your mind focus on what you see without any effort – don’t TRY to see anything, just let it happen, enjoy the beauty of the fire and relax.
It is best to be skyclad (although not essential) for this ritual – the fire and its heat make direct contact with you on mental, physical and spiritual level with no barriers between you and it. We didn’t light it on a beach but in the ancient and massive stone, candle-lit, hearth. As the fire sprung to life the sounds of the crackling woods, the scents of resins they contained and the colours of the flames was a truly strange and wonderful sight. I have always enjoyed looking into a fires flickering flames and as the fire dies down the embers continues to dance and glow in the heat. We saw strange things that night and I would recommend that you try it!