The invention of fire-utilization occurred during the Cannibalistic period. Possibly, the discovery of how to ignite a fire resulted from the knowledge that rubbing hard objects together created heat. Cooked meat (including human flesh) was safer to eat than raw, and therefore those who ate it survived longer. Also, fire provided an effective defense against other carnivores, aided in the drying and preservation of meat and in the preparation of other foods and medicines, and made it easier to survive the winter.
Fire was viewed as miraculous, mysterious, and dangerous. It could grow from a small spark into a whole forest of flame, and like something living, it seemed to consume what it burned, and reproduce itself. It constantly and rapidly changed. It could cause great pain and kill. It was difficult and time-consuming to create fire, and it required fuel to sustain it. And the best way to “kill” a fire was with water, which, like fire, was also both creative and destructive, miraculous and mysterious. A fire could be killed, but it would be reborn with each new fire, as all fires were alike. Fire in its apparently “dead” state was not, in fact, dead, but merely asleep, latent and abiding within all that it might burn, as an infinite and eternal potential for both creation and destruction. Hence, fire-worship became associated with the bird of prey, such as an eagle (or later, a phoenix). The bird of prey was a fitting symbol in that it embodied the nexus between earth and sky, was a potentially vicious and cruel animal which nurtured its young, and also because it had a seemingly magical mode of fully realized, active being - flight.
(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky