Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fire and religion

Fire is such an awesome and ancient thing for humanity that it has left a deep impact also on religious belief systems. There are fires upon Earth and there are fires up there in the Sky.

In pre-scientific world views fire is a fundamental element of everything as an independent entity. In mythology gods are busy using fire and also teaching culture to humans.

Ancient Greeks had fire in their scientific view of five elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Aether.  They may have learned it from the Babylonians, as the epic Enuma Elish has five personalized divinities, Sea, Earth, Sky, Fire and Wind. Greek god Helios, sun, is driving fiery wagons and storm gods throw fiery flashing as their arrows on earth.

Fire is an essential element in Zoroastrianism and ancient Iranians had Fire Temples.
The existence of the five elements can also be found in India, predating their use in Greece. The pancha mahabhuta, or "five great elements", of Hinduism are

  1. kshiti or bhūmi (earth)
  2. ap or jala (water)
  3. tejas or agni (fire)
  4. marut or pavan (air or wind)
  5. vyom; or shunya or akash (aether or void)

Hindus believe that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature.
see more in wikipedia

Fire worship (pyrolatria) and various Fire gods are an essential element in the past and present of human species.

This tells about the mysterious and awesome nature of flames and fire, so attractive also to pyromans of all sorts.

It is interesting that when Tolosani criticized Nikolaus Copernicus one of his arguments was that with his erroneous heliocentric world view Copernicus tries to bring back the old Greek concept that "fire is the center of Universe".

Modern times
Fire continues to be a part of many human religions and cultures. For example, it is used in cremation and bonfires; candles are used in various religious ceremonies; eternal flames are used to remind of notable occasions; and the Olympic Flame burns for the duration of the games.

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