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Taming the Fire Monster: Moving from Chaos to Mastery

In the summer of 2016, all hell broke loose in my life. One of my children was dealing with a significant mental and emotional crisis, my husband and I separated, and I lost thousands of dollars when a professional project came to a sudden end. This video describes the tools and process I used to move from chaos to mastery.

Discovering a Powerful Force

I had been through traumas earlier in life, but I don’t think I had ever fully felt them. The combination of the past trauma and the current crises in my life set into motion a powerful force like water breaking a dam or a volcano erupting.

At the time, I was working professionally doing script writing, narration and educational videos for financial software. To sit still and concentrate on that work was so difficult in that state that I began walking and hiking extensively.

When I couldn’t sit still or found myself sobbing in emotional or psychological pain, I went out for a walk, sometimes 5, 10, 15 or 20 miles in a day. This helped me cope and got me in great shape but did not show me a way out of my circumstances.

The Past Comes Back Unexpectedly

I had been abused by a priest as a young teenager and did not talk about those experiences. My family was Catholic. I did not want to cause a crisis of faith for anyone else, though I left the Catholic church myself. I also recognize that there are wonderful priests and good things about the Catholic church. I was not out to destroy that for anyone, but I had not healed myself.

What I discovered was that once I began to feel these things, it was like a tremendous force in my life that I didn’t know how to manage. For example, I went to visit my daughter at college and could hardly drive the car while dealing with this level of grief and anger. I was having flashbacks from my earlier life.

Transforming Intense Emotions

This was all a shock to me: I had no idea all those powerful feelings were buried deep inside. After a couple of months, I knew that I needed to start to channel this energy. I needed to find a way to transform this intense energy. I wanted to find a way to use my emotions positively.

Before that summer, I didn’t even know that there was such a tremendous force inside of me. I had been quite ill at different periods in my life. Maybe that stemmed from the effort that it took to hold those memories and emotions inside me. I wanted to structure this new-found energy as a force for good.

Finding the Fire Monster

As an artist and a visual person, I searched for an image to represent my state at that time. I found a picture of a huge fire monster. That was it! Now I wanted to create a plan and a structure to get to a better future beyond the fire monster.

I searched for an image of where I wanted to be in six months. I found a picture of a beautiful, fiery stallion. Now I had a visualization to move from the unstructured fire monster to a beautiful stallion. However, the stallion was not the end goal: ultimately, I wanted something that was a pattern of mastery on all levels.

Then I found a symbol of a mandala or yantra, a geometric spiritual symbol. This symbol was also made of fire. That became my goal to reach one year into the future. To get there, I set up a daily structure for myself that included exercise, spiritual practice, an emphasis on forgiveness, journaling and eating a healthy diet. I created a checklist of physical, mental and emotional tools that I would use.

Charting Progress through Visualization

Then I created a chart that I could check off every day to keep myself on track. From that point, it was a matter of disciplining myself. Six months later, I felt I had reached the stallion versus the fire monster. I discarded the image of the fire monster.

By that time, my husband and I had worked things out, my children were all stable, and I was making new plans for my life. I continued for the next six months with all the practices I had set up for myself. When I reached the year mark, I felt that the incredible energy of the fire monster had indeed been transformed into the sacred symbol.

Going Forward from the Fire Monster

I knew that I had better keep working with the tools I was using and the structure I had created with my daily routines, or I was concerned that I would not maintain the new level and would revert to the fiery stallion and then back to the fire monster again.

Now it has been seven years since this experience. I continue to work with a clear structure in my daily life and activities. This has been my way to use the power of emotions and spiritual fire appropriately and constructively in my life.

Kathleen Karlsen Video Resources Thumbnail

Kathleen Karlsen Video Resources Thumbnail

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.


In the summer of 2016, all hell broke loose in my life. I used a series of visualizations (a fire monster, a fiery stallion and and a fire mandala) and other tools to help me work through this difficult time. This video describes the tools and process I used to move from chaos to mastery.

Share with a friend today!