General - Fire plays a part in many mythologies, sometimes for the benefit of man, sometimes to destroy the world, sometimes to carry a soul to heaven. (1) In Celtic lore, the sacred fire of the Druids was known as Tan. (2) In China it is said to typify summer, destroy metal and produce earth. It came into being when earth and sky separated. (3) In the East Indies, the inhabitants of Woodlark Island say that a young man stole fire from the heavens and gave it to man, whereupon the angry deity split what remained into two parts and threw it into the sky, forming the sun and moon. (4) The Greeks say that Prometheus stole fire from the heavens for the benefit of mankind and, for this crime, was chained to a rock for 30,000 years while a vulture pecked his liver, which was eaten by day, and restored by night. (5) In Hindu lore, fire was used to control dragons and is regarded as sacred. There are three forms: Dakshinagni, the fire of the atmosphere, the fire of Vayu, associated with dead ancestors; Ahavaniya, the fire of the sky, the fire of Surya; Garhaptya, the fire of Agni, associated with mankind. (6) In Japan, as in China, fire was produced when earth and sky separated and is regarded as a symbol of the phoenix. (7) The Mexicans regard fire as a life-giving force and keep a fire burning for four days when a child is born to protect it from evil. (8) Norse mythology says that the final battle between the forces of good and evil, the Battle of Ragnarok, ends with the world destroyed by fire started by the flaming sword of the giant Surtur. (9) In the Pacific, fire is said to protect the living from onslaughts by the dead. (10) Some North American Indian tribes keep a fire alive perpetually in the belief that, if the fire dies, the people will also perish. (11) In Persian lore, fire is the purest element and is regarded as sacred. There are five forms of sacred fire: Bahram fire, composed of sixteen different types of fire and kept always alight with sandalwood; Spenishta, the most sacred fire, which burns in paradise; Urvazishta, fire caused by friction; Vazishta, the fire of lightning; Vohu Fryana, the fire producing the internal body heat of animals and men. (12) The Phoenicians regarded fire as an element, offspring of primal beings Genos and Genea. In some accounts, called fire, Dakshinagni, Dakshinagni, Garhaptya, Garhaptya, sacred fire, sacred fire, Ahavaniya or Bahram fire.

Nearby Myths