Fire: what does it symbolize also what means to mankind?
Recently one of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchy the Eternal flame was declared by an underworld symbol, and its honoring - pagan worship.
Probably, depending on installations of the personality, fire can cause also such associations. But let`s leave beyond the scope an assessment of this statement and we will reflect: and why in general such statement became possible? Perhaps, from misunderstanding of a true meaning of what symbolizes fire? Whether in the Bible it is told: “Also you learn truth and the truth will make you free“? Ignorance does us vulnerable for any suggestions, conjectures, fears and superstitions.
Symbolism of fire arose long before emergence not only Christianity, but also Judaism. Fire accompanies the person from his (person) of emergence.
Actually, ability to handle fire - in itself distinguishes the person (let primitive) from an animal. And fire is essentially other than other phenomena of a material world. Fire is absolutely real and not quite material. It comes from the sky the envoy of the highest forces, and then it is unrestrained and destructive. And at the same time it it is possible to get, keep, operate of Fire at the same time destroys, burns - and warms, gives food and protection. And still fire is similar to the living being: he can be born, eat, die.
In myths not emergence of a civilization then its transition to other quality is connected with fire if. In myths of many people fire is abducted or brought to people by the cultural hero. The myth about Prometheus - the most known, but not only. But one more symbolical value of fire which quite settled is connected with it: it is a symbol of revolutionism, heroism, self-sacrifice.
Present it is fully difficult for us to estimate value of the tamed fire for ancient people. It is possible to call mastering fire a turning point in formation of a human civilization. Without fire neither the full-fledged potter`s craft, nor especially metal working would be impossible. Even the burned tree becomes stronger and is more durable.
On the first a stage of mastering fire of people learned to use and keep natural fire. And this conscious action already meant transition to a new step of development. But I will assume that ability most became even more important to extract fire. For the first time the person felt independent of favor of the nature.
Certainly, at it could not but arise absolutely special relation to fire. The considerable role was played also by similarity to the living being: fire is born and dies, eats, moves, possesses character … Bad food forces it to rustle, scatter discontentedly burning sparks; at a lack of “food“ fire weakens and dies; for the disrespectful address can pay back with the fire.
Extreme respect concerning fire is quite explainable and considering its greatest practical value. In the beginning could just make thrifty use of it extremely, then this relation was formalized, gradually acquiring beliefs and nuances. Mixing up with other beliefs, being enriched with associations, being ritualized, the relation to fire gradually turned into a cult.
For example, fire could become a sun symbol. An origin of these cults variously, but they approach by analogy, the sun too fiery, gives heat and light too, protects from darkness. Perhaps, from the sun fire apprehended revival function: the sun continuously “dies“ and again “is born“ (and both in a daily allowance, and in an annual cycle). It is probable therefore fire was used as a sun symbol - and then and itself began to be considered as a symbol of revival and updating.
Gradually fire of the center began to represent the center, and later the house, a sort. In fact, the center represents heart, the center of the house. While fire in the center burns - in the house live. In consciousness “the“ and “others“ fire is divided. For example, at some people it is possible to give to the neighbor kresat, but it is undesirable to give coals from the center (as well as to take strangers). And certainly, it is impossible to spit, throw garbage into fire and even to lay down legs to the center.
Later fire becomes a link between the person and gods, taking the central place in ceremonies of worship of the highest forces. It is not surprising. In - the first, fire initially descended from the sky (lightning) that already connects it with gods and does initially pure, proceeding from the highest forces. In - the second, thrown into fire disappears, turning into a smoke - and it gives the chance to use fire as the intermediary allowing “to send“ the victims (at the same time and cleared by fire) to gods. In - the third, fire is purely human weapon against natural dangers. Also do not forget about property of fire to burn, destroy what gets to it. From here the clearing value of the fire burning the evil, diseases, destroying harmful influences.
Probably, customs of burning of bodies of the dead are connected with these its properties. On the one hand, fire is used as the elements clearing from connected with death sewage here; with another, fire “uplifts“ souls to the world other. At some people initial purity of fire, on the contrary, did not allow its defilement by a dead body.
The symbolics of energy, vital force is connected with fire. “Soul fire“, “life hardly glimmers“ - so popular wisdom reflects the associations connected with fire. Fire communicates and with gods - it was not avoided also by Judaism where god appears in a look the burning bush, a fiery pillar. In Christianity fire is also used in ceremonies, but I intentionally do not concern this subject, it is about the symbolism of fire which arose long before Christianity. Though as a deity symbol it meets and here: for example, in a convergence episode on apostles of the Holy Spirit. But, as I spoke, fire as a symbol of divine is much more ancient than Christianity and Judaism.
And at last, fire in representation of ancient - one of world fundamental principles. In “fire-water“ steam it symbolizes active, a machismo in the world, the vital force, energy in a broad sense.
Even so short digression shows as symbolism of fire is comprehensive and deep. And the Christianity is how young in comparison with it. And Judaism. Is it worth seeing in the Eternal flame a devilish symbol - and at the same time pagan (by the way how these aspects relating to essentially various religious systems are combined?) naturally treated by the priest only in a negative key?
And maybe, with ignition of the first Eternal flame in 1921 a rich symbolical row was replenished with one more value? To us to solve …