The Firemaker

It was the fourth hour after noon, and the sun was going to set soon. The time had come to prepare the evening meal. The firemaker got ready for his daily ritual. For an activity so rigorous, it required an unusual amount of patience. The sticks had to be stripped, sufficiently dry, and the Gods had to be invoked for the magic spark. The real work however, was in growing the spark to a flame. A process that would take well over an hour.

The firemaker spent a lot of time looking at flames. The dance of raw energy left behind gaps in the air. Something intangible occupied this void, he could not understand quite what it was. He often imagined the wisdom of his forefathers speaking out to him. It was a gift, handed down the generations, for the good of the tribe. His role in the tribe, was the firemaker. There was the potter, the weaver, the toolmaker, the medicine man, they all had an inherited gift, and a role.

It was a mechanical job really, growing the fire, and he guessed the need for the rituals that he performed. There was really nothing much you could do, while you are feeding a flame, and it is natural to end up speaking to the it. He guessed, that over generations, certain words would have seemed to make the fire grow faster. These words turned to phrases, and incantations over time, that were the secret spells of the firemaker. This particular fire, was a little bit of magic, composed by man, in the unreadable chaos that was nature.

He could not imagine the words for it, but there was an image in his head, of the importance of fire. Apart from food, warmth and protection, it gave out inspiration. Before his eyes, every day, a terrible force of nature was controlled and confined. All he needed to do was speak to it. Sometimes, the firemaker wondered, what other force of nature the children of his children would speak to. 

The small tribe started gathering around him. The grains were prepared. The children played, while the men sat around the fire, talking, about the Sun, the seasons, the food, the weapons, and other things that kept men alive. 

***

We can now carry a light in our pockets. We don't speak to our fires anymore. We make them all the time. Civilisation is a carefully crafted denial, that we are beyond the need to fight for our survival every single day. Fortunately, not all humans are civilized.   

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