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Ignem Mittere In Terram

In every one of our lives, there are words and phrases that hold a special meaning.

Perhaps it is a phrase one of your parents or grandparents currently do or would always say.

Maybe it’s the lyrics from a song you love, or that helped you through a hard time.

It could even be a simple quote you read in a book or heard in a TV show or movie.

Regardless of how it came about, these words and phrases hold a special meaning for a reason. At the least, they help you smile, laugh, give you motivation or help you feel better. At the greatest, they help to guide you through life and shape you into the person you are today.

Though there are many words and phrases that hold great meaning to me, there’s one in particular that I think about often.

It was a phrase that I saw nearly every day in high school, yet the meaning did not truly become clear and applicable until sometime after I had graduated.

Instead of advice, this phrase is more of a command; a request to fulfill your duty to yourself and the world around you.

That’s pretty deep… No wonder it took some time to truly sink in. The phrase?

“Ignem Mittere in Terram”

Ignem Mittere in Terram

If you couldn’t tell, this is a Latin phrase. It translates roughly as “To Cast Fire Upon the Earth.”

While the saying is in verb form, the message to my classmates and I was interpreted more as a request or command: “Go forth and set fire upon the world.”

So what does this even mean exactly?

Well, for starters I can tell you with absolute certainty that it does NOT mean to encourage arson or spreading literal fire around the earth!

Instead, the “fire” is metaphorical.

In the Bible, you would often times see fire used as a metaphor for a divine presence (think Moses and the burning bush, pillars of fire leading the way, etc). Thus, in this sense, to spread the fire, meant to spread the message of Christianity.

However, the metaphor of “fire” need not only be reserved for religious connotations, but also extends to each and every one of us in our personal lives.

“Fire” can mean your talents and skills, your passions, your strength and vision: the goodness you bring to the world.

These are things worth spreading. Doubly so if they can have a direct impact and help people.

Most fires start small. They can grow quickly and rapidly though, quickly consuming everything in its path until it is a raging wildfire that seemingly cannot be stopped.

This is the same thing that can happen with your metaphorical fire.

It can start small, maybe just with one person or a handful of people. But the more you share, the more you teach, the more goodness you put out in the world, the fire will catch and spread rapidly through communities.

Fire and FIRE

When I first heard of the term FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) after discovering the community, I immediately thought back to this phrase.

I thought it was a little uncanny how they tied together. I started listening to the ChooseFI podcast a few months ago and a term the hosts use all the time is “The FIRE is spreading.” Sound familiar?

As of now, the community is relatively small, but it seems that it grows every day. The more people that hear about it, the more join in.

This is only a good thing. The more, the better!

Striving towards Financial Independence should be a goal for everyone. It will likely take longer to reach for those with lower incomes, but teaching and spreading smart money practices can help out thousands, if not millions of people.

This movement is something I truly believe in, and was the biggest reason for starting the blog. I realized that this FIRE could be my “fire” and I can help to share my knowledge and experiences in life as I walk down this path. While I was ignorant for so long (or what felt it to me at least) about these things, I hope I can help others to avoid the same mistakes as I once did.

This blog is a way to both help “spread the FIRE” as a community goal and “set fire upon the earth” as a personal mission statement. The “Knight” at the end of the my blog name is a homage to my high school, where I had heard and seen this phrase countless times. It is a constant reminder and has served as great motivation to keep writing and get the message out.

I truly believe that the world would be a better place if more people knew about and understood the concept of FIRE, regardless of whether you choose to retire early or not.

Spread Your Fire

You may be thinking, well this is great and all, but I don’t have any “fire” worth sharing or spreading around to everyone.

This line of thinking couldn’t be more wrong.

You don’t need to be some sort of media influencer, or run a blog in order to spread a message. In fact, one of the most effective forms of communication is verbally.

Go talk to people: your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, anyone! You have a lot more power than you realize,. Simply just by sharing with one person, you can be amazed at how far it can stretch! Just as a fire starts small, with a little wind or tending, it can grow ever larger.

While you may be interested in the concept of FIRE if you are reading this blog, that does not mean it has to be your “fire”.

Your “fire” can be anything: your love of music, knowledge of history, passion for the arts, literally anything!. Everyone has something good worth spreading to others.

If you truly cannot think of something you want to go out and share with the world, just start with something seemingly small.

Maybe it’s just smiling more at people when you walk past them, a random act of kindness, or giving more people a compliment. Little things like that add up, and whether consciously or unconsciously, people notice.

No matter what you think, there is always room to spread more goodness in the world.

And with that I say to you all:  Ignem Mittere in Terram.

Go forth and set fire upon the world.

12 thoughts to “Ignem Mittere In Terram”

  1. This is something that continues to get me. I always wonder what my purpose is and because of that I guess I’m still trying to find it!

  2. Great post. I’ve very subtly tried to spread it to my friends since they keep asking how I work part time. But it can be difficult to do so without offending their lifestyles. Money is so taboo in America it can even get in the way of long-term friendships.

    And thanks for teaching me some new Latin words!

    1. Yep I totally hear you. I spoke with some friends about it, and have definitely made it clear to family members. But some friends I know just won’t take any of this advice. They’re too set in their ways and unwilling to change. I think it’s important to respect people’s choices so I don’t push it at all on them

  3. Great high school slogan! I appreciate the positive ambition it carries. Everyone has a lot to offer their communities and environment – whether in education, passion, support, or kindness. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thanks! I liked it too 🙂 Now we just need those people to step up and make a difference! I know that’s one of my big goals post-FI, but I think there are ways I can get started doing that now that I need go and do!

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