Symbols - What does heaven look like
The word bonfire - meaning any other large controlled outdoor fire - is a contraction of "bone fire".
The practice in the UK is believed to derive from the Celtic festival of Samhain when animal bones were burnt. But the burning of bonfires for symbolic reasons is a world-wide practice. Samhain was a celebration of the harvest - the autumn and as such ties in with the concept of Autumn symbolically representing the end of life and the start of the Winter cycle. The bonfire is thus a symbolic means of bringing in the first process of rebirth.
This is why cremation is such a popular form of dealing with the dead – by destroying the ‘Form’ you symbolically release the soul and the Higher spirit. You also add an extra touch of symbolism by using flames and fire to do it – purification by spirit.
Here we see the symbolic and I emphasise symbolic association of fire, bonfires and purification by flame.
Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda
Kriya Yoga is the real "fire rite" oft extolled in the Gita. The yogi casts his human longings into a monotheistic bonfire consecrated to the unparalleled God. This is indeed the true yogic fire ceremony, in which all past and present desires are fuel consumed by love divine. The Ultimate Flame receives the sacrifice of all human madness, and man is pure of dross. His metaphorical bones stripped of all desirous flesh, his karmic skeleton bleached by the antiseptic sun of wisdom, inoffensive before man and Maker, he is clean at last.
The Romans identified Vulcan with the Greek smith-god Hephaestus. But the Romans did not understand the symbolism used by the Greeks and made literal a whole host of symbolic references. His festival, the Vulcanalia, was celebrated on August 23 each year. During the festival bonfires were created in honour of the god, “into which live fish or small animals were thrown as a sacrifice, to be consumed in the place of humans”!! So it looks as though burning humans alive as the Catholics and their Holy Roman Empire were wont to do derived from this early corruption of a symbolic association.
Lewis Carroll – Alice through the Looking Glass
'Do you know what to-morrow is, Kitty?' Alice began. 'You'd have guessed if you'd been up in the window with me--only Dinah was making you tidy, so you couldn't. I was watching the boys getting in sticks for the bonfire--and it wants plenty of sticks, Kitty!
Only it got so cold, and it snowed so, they had to leave off. Never mind, Kitty, we'll go and see the bonfire to-morrow.' Here Alice wound two or three turns of the worsted round the kitten's neck, just to see how it would look: this led to a scramble, in which the ball rolled down upon the floor, and yards and yards of it got unwound again.
Lewis Carroll knew.
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