A few years ago, there was a fire in Fish Creek near my in-laws’ house – I’ll never forget the blackened hill, the dried up riverbed, the dangerous smell of new ash and charcoal. That fire has haunted me. I imagine the terror of people gazing out of their kitchens to be met with a vista of flame. I imagine the urgency of birds and beetles, taking flight and rising with the heat. I imagine fish wriggling, panicked, in the warm water of the river.
After it was all over, we walked to the area to survey the damage, and something primal overtook me. I wanted to roll in the burnt grass and cover myself with black. I wanted to fill my lungs with smoke. I wanted to burn.
A land touched by fire is a land touched by death and reborn. The hill consumed by that brush fire is now lush and beautiful. The grass is taller, and the trees are heavier in defiance. The human soul is like that, too. We burst into flame, and even if we emerge bald and naked, stripped of everything, we manage to rise again. We are nurtured by destruction. We are given new life.
The reaper is just a glorified maid, descending to sweep the debris from the country of the soul. Death is a transformation. Death is the guiding energy of rebirth. Death is fire, and fire brings new life.
This association isn’t only symbolic – charcoal binds to toxins, poisons, and other nasty things, making it an effective treatment for everything from snake bites to dirty water. Animals in the wild will eat clay and charcoal to heal themselves. Fire (or the result of fire, to be more specific) cleanses.
This distinctive and striking mask will do just that – draw dirt and contaminants out of your skin and leave you feeling pleasantly touched by fire. It’s a perfect symbolic ritual for a new moon, or a lovely bit of thematic self-care to help you sink into autumn’s crone-like energies.
Activated Charcoal & Bentonite Clay Mask
What you’ll need:
1 tsp activated charcoal
2 tsp bentonite clay
6 tsp water (will vary depending on your climate, and feel free to adjust to your preferred consistency)
1. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly, and let sit for at least an hour. This recipe will give you enough for 3 or 4 masks, depending on how thickly you like to pile it on.
2. Test a small amount on your neck before use, as more sensitive skin types may have a reaction. Avoiding the softer skin around your eyes, use your fingers to gently apply the mask. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until the mask is dry, before rinsing off.