The Narrative of the Lizard in the Fire Story. A story about personal relationships and cleaving to our spouse
As remembered from Michael Meade.
“In this story from the Housa people, (Northern Nigeria) “The Lizard in the Fire” a son encounters the Great Feminine (the great Mother) in the world. In each story, a youth leaves home and comes upon something completely strange. The encounter separates him from all that he has known, and the separation provokes an initiation into understanding how the Feminine (the Great Mother) is embodied in the world. With an initiation, something grows from that which has died. These old African tales carry this idea directly, the way it is carried on in nature, the way it is with animals in the wild places: what dies feeds what grows, what grows consumes something else. Between boyhood and manhood, a fire must be crossed. After each story” Michael Meade.
The narrative: Once upon a time, there was a man and wife who had a son. The son was going through puberty and was behaving badly around the house as teenagers can. The mother said to the father, “It’s time he goes out to the wilderness to live by himself for a while. The father agrees and announces to the boy that tomorrow they are going to the wilderness and that he will have to live there alone for a while.
The next day they go out to the wilderness father and son. Setting up camp the father mentioned that if he (the son) (our Ego)should ever lay down with a woman he would die. At nightfall, the father left the son alone in the wilderness.
So that’s how that was, for a short time or a long time or however that takes.
One day a beautiful young girl came wandering into his camp and the began a great and long conversation, as dusk fell the girl says “I’ve got to go now I’ll come and see you tomorrow”
“OH no” replies the boy. “My father says if I ever lie down with a woman I will die” She replies, “Oh I won’t come then”. He replies “No No come anyway I’ll risk it.
That’s how that was the next day she came, and they laid down together and he died.
She went deeper into the forest to seek help from the Crone who lives there, “This is not a problem” says the Crone. “Go back to the village with the boy and pick up a lizard on the way. Tell the villagers I am coming and to light a fire in the meeting place. I will meet you there”
The girl walks in with the boy and the lizard. Lays the boy down. The parents are weeping and wailing over the boy.
The girl explains what has happened and asks them to build a large fire in the village meeting place. The mother and the father are distraught, aren’t they? their boy is dead.
When the Crone arrives she takes the lizard from the girl and turning to the village’s gathered announcers “This is the situation now, If the lizard lives the boy will come back to life. If the Lizard dies the boy will remain dead”.
The Crone throws the Lizard into the fire. The mother and father both try to brave the fire but is too hot for them.
The young girl jumps in the fire, throws the Lizard out, and jumps out herself.
The boy comes back to life. There is great rejoicing in the village.
The Crone picks up the lizard and hands it to the boy. “here is the situation now, if the lizard lives, the girl dies. If the lizard dies the girl will live but your mother will die. What are YOU going to do???
We the reader is the person who is handed the Lizard. The question is what are we going to do?