Our bodies harness sun’s fire through stored energies in the plants and animals we eat and from its direct heat or the heat stored in fossil fuels. We use and expel this energy through familiar body processes and the unique ways we express ourselves in the world. Alchemists recognized the physical and metaphysical nature of fire by using a triangular shape to symbolize rising flames and rising aspirations.
Evidence of the human use of fire dating back more than a million years has been found in the Wonderwerk Cave, an archeological site near the edge of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa which has been explored since the 1940s. Translating as “miracle” in the Afrikaans language, Wonderwerk reveals how fire touched all aspects of society, leading to the belief that socializing around a campfire played an essential part in what made us human.
Numerous creation myths explore how native peoples first harnessed fire. The Cherokees tell how water spider retrieves fire from the land of the Thunders who live beyond the sky arch. According to legend she spins a web across a pool which separates her from a smoldering fire in a giant sycamore, then takes it to her people in a basket on her back.
In the playful Apache story, Fox brazenly steals fire from a firefly village, lighting a piece of bark with his burning tail and giving it to hawk who carries it to crane, who scatters sparks across the land.
Salamander’s connection to fire likely originates from the behavior of many species of salamander: hibernating among rotting logs. When wood was brought indoors and set on fire, the creatures "mysteriously" appeared from the flames.