A number of weeks ago I held a fire ceremony as part of a workshop I was giving. During the fire ceremony, everybody present was invited to place a small brown envelope into the flames. Each envelope contained in written form, a word or a symbol, representing something that needed letting go of. The fire was used as a potent symbol of transformation, allowing each of us to experience an inner sense of letting go, as we watched the flames consume the envelopes, and release what needed to be released. My personal experience of this ‘letting go and release’ was strong, as I stood watching the flames consume my envelope.
🔥After the ceremony I let the fire burn, allowing it to consume any remanence of envelopes and paper. I tended the fire for the rest of the evening, adding small pieces of wooden kindling, until it was time to end the evening and depart.
🔥When I doused the fire with water, I was met with something quite unexpected. What remained in the bottom of the bucket, were beautiful chunks of pristine charcoal . I was struck by their beauty, as they glistened in the evening light with the dampened water.
🔥The artist in me resonated with them. The fire had worked it’s magic and through its alchemy, had created something quite beautiful. I immediately felt compelled to take out a piece of paper and began making marks with a chunk of this jet black shining charcoal. It felt strong and comfortable in my hand.
🔥We locked up and I brought the bucket of charcoal home. I was unable to bring myself to throw it out that night and have been unable to since. It has been sitting quietly beside my office desk for a number of weeks now. As I work away on the computer, it sits just behind me on the edge of my peripheral vision.
For some reason I have been unable to throw it out. Some part of me bonded with the charcoal that night, as I held it in my hand. Something happened that I don’t have words for, and since that night I have had a strong desire to draw with it.
🔥This morning I got up after a night of unusual dreams, with an inner voice calling me to revisit this bucket of transformational charcoal. And so I let myself reach into the ashes and take out a chunk.
These are the first marks that have been made.


Una Keeley is a professional Irish Artist, an MBSR Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor approved by the HSE and an Educator. She has designed educational programmes for institutions and arts organisations for over 30 years, including 15 years for the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Her background includes a Masters in Art Education, an Honours Degree in Ceramics, and a Diploma in Illustration. She has been incorporating mindfulness practices in her arts based workshops for over 15 years. Una is an MBSR Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor Trained with the Institute for Mindfulness Based Approaches, IMA Germany, and has been practicing meditation for 25 years.
Check out Una’s Story on her website: