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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Fire

Apart from its usual physical meaning, fire is understood in several senses in theosophical or esoteric literature. This article shall deal with fire as: (1) one of the primordial elements or tattvas; (2) a term used to denote the mind or intelligence; (3) a symbol of deities and spiritual intelligences or principles.

Fire as Primordial Element. Fire (tejas) is considered in Hinduism as one of the five mahabhutas or gross elements. The others are earth, water, air and ether (akasa). Physical fire is but the visible manifestation of it. In the astral world, there are creatures which are predominantly of this quality, and are traditionally called salamanders.

Fire as Intelligence or Mind. The story of Prometheus in Greek mythology exemplifies the meaning of fire as human intelligence. Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to human beings. For this he was punished and chained to a rock where a vulture would eat into his intestines every night but he would heal the next day. This fire is intelligence or the mind. This is analogous to the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Genesis story, for which the Serpent was also punished.

In theosophical anthropogenesis, the givers of the human mental principles were the AGNISHVATTAS. The name literally means “tasted or sweetened by fire.” They are advanced beings who have surpassed the human stage in past MANVANTARAS.

In Cosmogony and Theogony. Fire has also been used as a symbol of deities as well as stages of cosmic manifestation. The Uncaused Cause has been called the “Dark Fire” which gives birth to Light, the latter in turn giving birth to heat and air. “Fire, therefore, is a term which comprehends ALL. Fire is the invisible deity, ‘the Father,’ and the manifesting light is God ‘the Son,’ and also the Sun. Fire — in the occult sense — is aether, and aether is born of motion, and motion is the eternal dark, invisible Fire” (CW X:374). Fire is the manifestation of motion or Life. Cosmic fire is “every atom of matter in manifestation” (ibid.).

In the theosophical view of emanations, there are two forms of fire: “The first, or the purely Formless and invisible Fire concealed in the Central Spiritual Sun, is spoken of as ‘triple’ (metaphysically); while the Fire of the manifested Kosmos is Septenary, throughout both the Universe and our Solar System” (SD I:87). This refers to the triple Logos and the septenary emanations from this Logos which produced the universe. The second Fire is the same as the “Sons of Fire” in The Secret Doctrine, born of the primordial Flame. Its septenary nature is equivalent to the Agni-putra of Hinduism and the seven sephiroth of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Three are formless and the four have forms.

Fire has been a favorite symbolism of the deities of various religions. In Hinduism, Fire (AGNI) is one of the chief deities of the Vedas, and is known for its seven tongues. Even the Old Testament states that “The Lord is a consuming Fire” (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29) and is represented as a fiery bush in Mt. Sinai. The Rosicrucians and other Fire Philosophers similarly view the Deity as Primordial Fire. Fire in itself has levels of manifestation: the physical, the invisible astral, and the Spirit.

V.H.C.

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