WHEN YOUNG PEOPLE GET TOGETHER 183
ancestors, had to climb the trees and sit shivering in the branches all night, looking down at the shiny-eyed, stronger brutes in the bushes below, only too ready to make a meal of them. Sometimes, of course, our people had caves into which they could retreat at night, and could block the entrance with stones; but, wherever they slept, it was a case of shiver with cold and fear until the coming of fire.
Then, for the first time, man could sit fearlessly on the ground when the black night came, and defy the shiny-eyed monsters, which, for some strange reason, were afraid of the blazing wonder and* held away.
Thus, the fire became the giver and symbol of warmth, beacon, protection, peace. Now, for the first time, men sat in comfort and in light, while all the outside world was black, which meant that active life was ended. So they could converse and hear each others' experiences and learn the wisdom of the older men. And ask, "Why did we fail in the hunt to-day ? How shall we work together for success to-morrow ?" And there were chosen places, places of honor, for those strong ones who had not failed—for the heroes.
Fire as a Symbol
So the fire became a symbol of council, of brotherhood, of team play, of social relationship. There can be no moral doubt that this clan circle around the fire was the basis of human society. So the wonderful shining thing in the middle of it all became the symbol of it all.
Only by looking deep into ourselves and studying closely our ancestral reactions, can we now appreciate the magnitude, the awfulness, the mystery, the power, the pleasures of the fire. What wonder that it became to man the Great Mystery.
In those days, man could not yet command the fire, once it was secured, in the trail of the thunderbolt, maybe; so it had to be carefully guarded and kept alive; and if so be the guardian failed and the fire died out, this calamity meant, at least, a perilous journey to the next camp to secure and bring back the precious spark. What wonder that some wise one