In ancient times, fire must have been a deeply mysterious and awe-inspiring force to us humans. It was flung from the skies in the form of lightning. It erupted from the innards of mountains and became a glowing lava river of destruction. When we finally learned to harness fire, it transformed our existence – we were able to cook our food, vastly expanding our culinary options; we were able to warm ourselves when it was cold outside which allowed us to move into the coldest climates on earth; and we were able to wage war with fire and produce greater degrees of pain and destruction. Fire allowed us to refine our weapons and tools, to harden our cooking vessels, and to fly into space.
Fire warms, transforms, and illuminates, but can also bring pain and death reducing everything in its all-consuming path to ashes.
Is it any wonder that we created symbols of divinity connected to fire? There is Agni, the Hindu God of Fire who exists in three forms: fire, lightning and the sun. The Hawaiians know Pele, the Volcano Goddess, who created the Hawaiian Islands with her enormous powers over fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. The Greeks had Zeus, the God of Lightning. Many religions honored a sun god or goddess for the sun’s life-giving fire.
Fire is also a symbol for creativity, passion, and sexuality – do you remember “Light my Fire” by the Doors?
Fire bridges the gap between mortals and gods. We can now use fire for destructive purposes that, in the past, would have appeared god-like – rockets, missiles, atom bombs. On a more positive note, fire becomes the symbol of inspiration, purification and spiritual enlightenment in our higher spiritual pursuits. Our plane of duality is perfectly expressed through the dichotomies of the fire element.
No matter our personal knowledge of or experience with Fire, when Mother Nature unleashes her fiery minions – lightning, wild fires and volcanic eruptions – we stand in awe, reminded of the true scale of our existence.