Articles‎ > ‎

Fire and Cauldron

Fire and Cauldron

Fire and Cauldron-

crucible of change


By the light of the fire stories were told and the people come together. Ancient rites were performed in the presence of the flame. From stone is wrought, by fire, metal, upon the hearth herbs become medicine. Land is given form by clearing with fire and the raw is cooked to become food. Light is given to the new year and so the new year is born. Among ancient Celtic peoples fire was the force of change, by its heat the world was changed from raw and wild to ordered and cooked. The state of being of a thing is changed by heat be it the symbolic cooking of a new king or the blaze of the New Year.

Fire is the great changer and in ritual it symbolizes the giving of order, the cooking of the people and the world from a raw and wild state to a more ordered state. The cauldron or pot which sits next to the flame or hangs above it is an extension of the fire and becomes the vessel of change. Into the cauldron goes the raw and the wild and from it pours sustenance. Even the dead were given another life through the cauldron and fire.

In ritual, a home for the sacred flame is present be it a simple candle or a large ceremonial hearth. This sacred fire is used to bless and consecrate things which are passed over it and so cooked being changed from a mundane to sacred state. The people who gather about the hearth are themselves cooked and changed. The light and heat of the sacred fire cooks the area and so creates sacred space. Sacred fire is seen in some form in most rites from simple blessings to the most important Fire Festivals.

In larger rites there is often a person who serves as fire tender and who maintains the sacred flame. This fire tender is literally serving as a priest or priestess of a fire deity. Those who are young or early in their training are often given this role to fill in ceremony so that they can begin to understand the sacred flame that is so integral to or faith. Understanding and working with the sacred fire is considered to be a basic skill for all other priestly functions and so working with the sacred flame is often introduced early in training. A fire priest/ess will often be seen lighting the sacred fire, helping to establish sacred space and performing or assisting in the performance of consecrations.

Fire and the priesthood of fire are ever-present within the rites of our faith. The supreme symbol of change the flame is constantly bringing order by cooking that which is raw and wild. This cooking by fire moves things from one ontological state to another and in ritual it is used to move things to a higher more ordered state. We continue to celebrate in the light of the sacred fire and when we see this flame we honor it for the role that it plays and as we feel its warmth we know how this light changes us and helps us to grow. Three things to remember about fire, it is light, it is change and it is inspiration.