Forums > Social Chat > sound documentation of fire dancing in medieval rituals or celerations...

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SorchaTheFlaming
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Location: Calgary alberta Canada
Member Since: 26th Jun 2001
Total posts: 235
Posted:Hello all.. i was wondering if anybody knew of any links or books of where i can aquire proof that in the early medieval times (any where from the fall of the roman empire to 17th century actually) there were instances where in dance/ritual/celebration there was fire dancing... I know from my own religion that this is frequent in Beltain and summer festivals.. But i need hard proof/ evidence for this..Pele? anyone? *crosses fingers*

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SorchaTheFlaming
member
Location: Calgary alberta Canada
Member Since: 26th Jun 2001
Total posts: 235
Posted:please??anyone???

Teach tolerance, not competition.
Send food, not bombs.

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Bendy
member
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia
Member Since: 29th Aug 2001
Total posts: 750
Posted:I have no idea, but I would have thought that the use of fire in rituals during those years would have been frowned upon as the Church became more powerful. It might have been considered paganistic and suppressed and as such limited documented evidence.I have no idea and this rambling is off the top of my head.
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maeon
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Location: brisbane, queensland, australi...
Member Since: 13th Feb 2002
Total posts: 40
Posted:hmmmmm. I have to say I don't think it probably was performed in medieval times, at least not in the same form of dance that it is now. I think resources like fuel and wick would have been too scarce in those times. What fuels were available then ...does anyone know? I would be thinking it would just be along the lines of animal fats and vegetable oils - which as we know don't burn the best.I'm pretty sure the furthest anyone has traced firetwirling is back to some pacific islands, and that was still pretty recent, eg since wicking substances and fuels became relatively cheap and readily available. I know poi (in the non-fire form) are a very old maori (new zealand) tradition.I would agree that in medieval times they would have picked up flaming branches from fires and jumped around with them, and they probably had those flaming torches for when it got dark, and maybe did some walking on coals, but I don't think something as precious as heat and light would have been used for entertainment or recreation back then.I think firetwirlings place in medieval fayres and ritual celebrations is one of those hindsight things - they would have done it back then if they could have, so it makes sense for us to incorporate it into these types of celebrations.Hard proof is going to be harder to find than a poi in sherwood forest. Of course I don't really know ...I just thought I'd give you my opinion cause no-one else seems to know either.maeon

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Hayduke
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Location: Woodridge, IL, USA
Member Since: 18th Jan 2002
Total posts: 11
Posted:Off the top of my head I can't think of any exact sources of documentation, but I know I've come across it in various historical, archeological and religious texts I have scattered about. Give me a little time and I'll dig some things up. Most of the references I can think of usually refer to Beltane/Samhain bale fires, but I think there are a few more obscure ones scattered about.Specificly, do you want dancing *with* fire? Or would dancing around/over/through fire be adequate? Hayduke

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:Okay first of all...do you want the Roman era? The Dark ages? The Medieval Times? Or something more recent? What you cited was actually pretty vague.While fire has always had a significant purpose in rituals, festivals and daily life, fire dancing as we do it is a *recent* (meaning past 50 years) incarnation.Fire dancing wasn't utilized in Beltaine rituals or any other of the celt/nord Pagan ceremonies, as we know it to be. They jumped and danced around fires for purification and fertility. They held candles and torches and danced with them in hand, but did not twirl them. They lit small things afire in cauldrons and in the home. Egyption and Greco-Roman history also does nt include much play with fire as such, not even to worship the gods like Ra and Apollo. Uses of fire were more pragmatic as it took more effort to create fire and to keep it going than it does today. The Dark Ages and Medieval Times were strongly characterized by the growth of the church of Rome and Catholocism. This also earmarked the beginning of the "Burning Times" or the many, many inquisitions done to weed out the pagans and "heretics". Because of this, fire dancing wouldn't be utilized even if they had the capabilities and the involvement of it because it would alert centuries, guards and spies, who were thought to always be on the lookout.Through my readings I am also inclined to think that fire dancing wouldn't be used because it would be a distraction. Where in traditional ritual, the focus was so intense that a person was to be able to step out of time and space, and with fire dancing as we do it, there has to be some of the conscious mind to remain behind. That and it doesn't burn long enough for the rituals that used to go on for hours, even with the help of the fuels we have today but this is only speculation on my part.Look towards the Polynesian and Oriental celebrations. About 400/500 ad meteors were combined with fire in China, this was still more of an entertainment thing than ritualistic. Polynesian and Chinese have used flaming staves for too many reasons to list for years.Maeon, long time no see lady! Anyway, they had animal fat which is flamable. However, have you ever tried to put it on a wick and light it? It doesn't work. It takes an amazing amount of heat to ignite it, at which point it turns liquid and drips away. Things of this nature were used to make food, for cleaning (animal fat mixed with lye from ashe makes soap). Salt Peter and Sulphur were eventually found to be flammable (and so were mined) but these have explosive properties and were used as such.Even the tar they used didn't ignite, it just got really, really hot over a fire.I can send you a list of some of my resources if you like Sorcha, but I think you need to look towards the Eastern Cultures (which I know conciderably less about) in order to come close to getting what you are looking for.Hope this helps a little, maybe?
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hmmm...Doubt it.
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------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...http://www.pyromorph.com


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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phuzzz
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Location: saltspring island, bc , kanada
Member Since: 5th Nov 2001
Total posts: 160
Posted:when ever i think of fire eating and breathing i think medieval times. i thought they could have used some alcohol based fuel. i think from experience methl hydrate is wood grain alcohol. rubbing alcohol burns on wicks. even moonshine. cotton/ hemp make great wick material. chain could easily be forged by a willing metal worker. a stick is easy to find. dont think noone ever made a torch and spun it around a little. how do they make torches last so long in movies??? you know mediaval movies?

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:phuzzz...in movies they use special gel fuel. It is used in theatrical productions as well.Technically, they didn't do fire breathing or eating in medieval times. And when it was indoctrinated as an entertainment form, hard whiskey's brewed at home were used for fuels, based on my research. If you think about this, people have changed conciderably. The demand for elaborate entertainment as it is now, was not always in place, since they didn't have technology to ease their daily tasks. Time was spent on work, not "trivial" things. And when the time did call for such celebratory things, there were games of chance, strength, mock battles, harlequins (who did things like Bread and Puppet Theater) and bards who not only told stories but played music, and dancing all of which were communal and more bonding than if someone were to stand before them blowing fire. Nightly there was usually sex, music and for the astutely religious and for kids, there were stories and local legends told to serve to teach and to entertain before bed. It wasn't until the Renaissance, especially the Elisabethan era, that art seemed to really make a comeback, which came with the popularity of such amazing people as Shakespeare, Da Vinci and Marlowe. Before then the arts had kind of settled into a dark period after the Roman Empire (post Egyptian Empire), during which it still served extrememly pragmatic purposes other than adorning the daily life....and I think I will shut up here...sorry for going on!
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The whole historic involvement of such things is media hype, as it is with *many, many* things...but don't get me started on that either!
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------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...http://www.pyromorph.com[This message has been edited by Pele (edited 19 February 2002).]


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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SorchaTheFlaming
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Location: Calgary alberta Canada
Member Since: 26th Jun 2001
Total posts: 235
Posted:yes that does help.. Pele!send it my way!any era works... thanks so much for the input guys!

Teach tolerance, not competition.
Send food, not bombs.

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Hayduke
member
Location: Woodridge, IL, USA
Member Since: 18th Jan 2002
Total posts: 11
Posted:Hope these help some:http://cyberpict.net/sgathan/essays/beltaine.htmhttp://www.danann.org/library/symb/hfire3.htmlNot exactly fire dancing per se, but ritual use of fire. A mention of someone swinging a flaming stick at one point, so we're at least in the ballpark
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Hayduke


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nomad
nomad

retired
Location: Paris, France
Member Since: 15th Jan 2001
Total posts: 356
Posted:Hey Pele, you said:"dancing as we do it is a *recent* (meaning past 50 years) incarnation."I'm just curious because people ask me constantly "how long has this thing been around?": what do you base this on?Thanks,Nomad------------------A.N.T.H.E.L.I.O.Nwww.anthelion.org

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:Since everyone seems to be basing our version of Poi origins on Maori, and if you look into the various websites about Maori poi, and fire poi, and talking to people, you find there are no real traces of it until recently, and even 50 years seems to be giving it a wide birth.Technically, fire performing began in the Chinese Circus'(It was not present in Circus Maximus, the original gladiatoral shows of the Romans). The circus' as we know them, so to speak, actually began in about 215 BC with acrobats, which were really farmers in strengtha nd balance competitions at village festivals. From this more acts were instituted. Fire walking, being the first of the flaming arts introduced. This was followed by meteors, introduced in the 500's AD, which is also when the circus hit the road so to speak.Next came fire eating and breathing, which the years of this addition are still very shaky on. Clubs, stave, and torch swinging were also latter additions, adopted from Polynesian cultures, as well as the newly formed Russian Circus'.In Western culture however, the idea of circus was really lost until in 1812 a cavalryman decided to enhance his riding skills by practicing the equestrian ridind stunts that were an earmark of the orginal circus'. This took flight into rekindling the circus' and fire into them. In 1840 is when fire eating really took off, and was a mainstay. Jugglers took to setting things aflame, but still, no flamin poi. Even staves were not so widespread outside of Polynesian cultures until the mid-1900's, where they began to become more presentation and less ritualistic. THis is where I get the "as we know it 50 years" thing from.I used many references on Chinese, Russian, Roman and American circus' for this (web and books) as well as researching the many paths of different fire performance types, which are actually quite wide spread and ill-documented. One could also draw similarities to the Belly Dance culture and the candle/bowls of fire used in dance, or the fans but even these are American incarnations introduced in the 20th century and have no record of authenticity in traditional Middle Eastern Dance.------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...http://www.pyromorph.com

Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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orange
member
Location: england
Member Since: 7th Nov 2001
Total posts: 158
Posted:hiya
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i`ve a picture on 1 of my systems somewhere of one of the first fire club twirlers - in around 1904 / or 1902 - i`m normally good at remembering dates
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but give me 20 mins leeway
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and i`ll make up for it...travelled `round china 1990` not too common fire eventsam eyptian orientated - have you seen my beard
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was mostly a court or street show in AE (ancient egypt)hugs...xxx...could check a museum with roman antiquity - including urns annd pottery - patterned with court scenes???------------------swoopedinandswoopedoutagain...orange...xxx...


swoopedinandswoopedoutagain...orange...xxx...

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Cantus
Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road
Member Since: 30th Jul 2001
Total posts: 15965
Posted:I have seen your beard. Now i think about it, it does have distinctly sphinxey overtones....

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
"...like a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean

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