I’m a fire sign – an Aries – and of all the elements it’s the one I’m drawn to the most. I’m not a pyromaniac, I hasten to add, but I feel comfortable and energised being near it.

My interest in firewalking started after going to see a talk by Peggy Dylan, the woman credited as being the mother of the western firewalk movement. I trained at her international firewalking school, Sundoor [studying for one week each in Scotland and California], five years ago.

To firewalk you need courage and trust. Different firewalkers have different approaches. A lot of people remember Peter Duncan doing it on Blue Peter, where he used what was almost a self-hypnosis technique to convince himself he was walking over cool, wet grass. I don’t believe in working that way. For me, the firewalk is a metaphor for life. The purpose of doing it is to decide what you want to create, feel or be.

Many people think firewalking is a trick. I once took a group to light the fire and afterwards one woman said: “I’m really surprised it’s real wood.” I’ve also had people ask if they should bring sturdy walking boots. The answer is absolutely not. Firewalking is done barefoot.

Why don’t people get injured? Basically it’s down to their energy. There is no real hard and fast scientific explanation for it. Firewalking is practised all over the world in different places for different reasons. In Bali it’s little girls who do it, while in many other parts of world firewalking is seen as a coming-of-age rite of passage for men. The consistent common thread, however, is it’s about faith and trust.

In the Celtic calendar Halloween, or Samhain, is New Year, marking the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. It’s a time of year when we think about our ancestors, people who have passed over and the world of spirits. One of the themes of the Samhain Firewalk is about understanding there is more to life than simply that which we can physically prove.

I’m fairly easy-going, but I struggle with people who are closed-minded about things. They are shutting themselves off from so many experiences which could be potentially beneficial to them.

My motto is a quote from the poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” For me it sums up the carpe diem philosophy of firewalking. It’s about reaching for our dreams despite the dangers – real and imagined – we might encounter.

I try to view everything that happens as being fundamentally positive. Sometimes you have to look a bit harder to find that little nugget of gold. Ultimately, though, I believe there is always something positive to be drawn from every experience.

Oona McFarlane will lead a firewalk on January 2. To book a place, call 01360 449300 or visit www.tirnanog.co.uk.