By Harry Houdini
FIRE WORSHIP.–FIRE EATING AND HEAT RESISTANCE.–IN THE MIDDLE AGES. –AMONG THE NAVAJO INDIANS.– FIRE-WALKERS OF JAPAN.–THE FIERY ORDEAL OF FIJI.
FIRE has always been and, seemingly, will always remain, the most terrible of the elements. To the early tribes it must also have been the most mysterious; for, while earth and air and water were always in evidence, fire came and went in a manner which must have been quite unaccountable to them. Thus it naturally followed that the custom of deifying all things which the primitive mind was unable to grasp, led in direct line to the fire- worship of later days.
That fire could be produced through friction finally came into the knowledge of man, but the early methods entailed much labor. Consequently our ease-loving forebears cast about for a method to “keep the home fires burning” and hit upon the plan of appointing a person in each community who should at all times carry a burning brand. This arrangement had many faults, however, and after a while it was superseded by the expedient of a fire kept continually burning in a building erected for the purpose.
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