Tatewari, Grandfather Fire, Roel Crabbé, 2008
Acrylic on Canvas – 30 x 60 cm
“Tatewari” is the Huichol name for Grandfather Fire. I heard this name for the first time on a fire ritual by one of my teachers, who learned for years from the Huichol. Grandfather Fire has always fascinated me, from the small fires I made as a child, to the ritual fires for the sweat lodge ceremonies and rituals for transformation.
Since that fire ritual with my teacher, my relationship with Grandfather intensified. I started talking to him much more consciously and especially listening more. His presence in my life continues to grow and I often feel that learning from Grandfather Fire will continue.
In the Huichol tradition it is said that Grandfather Fire is the first shaman to come to earth. In that sense he is Grandfather Shaman.
During a cold winter, I lit the fire in the stove every day. I thanked Grandfather for his warmth and strength and often sat with him, listening to the silence, praying.
One evening, I sent for Grandfather – here burning in the stove – and I prayed and thanked for all the lessons I already received. My heart flowed and I promised to make a work of and for him.
It was already late in the evening, but my promise had created a stream that I could only follow. I landed, with a big paper, in front of the stove floor and almost all night I drew on the symbols, patterns and shapes that were clearly showing to me. Grandfather enthusiastically burned beside me in the stove.
The next day I started the painting, which I worked on in the coming months. Because Griet talked so often about this growing work during that period, I gave it to her for her birthday. Tatewari got a place above the stove, watching over our house altar.
Tatewari shows the transformative spiritual power of Grandfather Fire and one of its deeper dimensions that we can enter when we stare into the flames and glowing coals.