Shapeshifting in Irish mythology involves a long list of animals, not just the wolf or vampire, as made popular by modern literature. Transformation served many purposes, such as completing challenges, escaping danger, or exacting punishment. Not only that, but it portrays a potential belief in totemism and reincarnation.
There’s something hypnotic and beguiling about watching golden flames leap, fanning your face with melting warmth, whilst the hiss and pop as they consume their fuel, fills your ears, and clouds of fragrant wood-smoke drift around you… the experience of fire is quite a feast for the senses. A fire can be soothing and relaxing, or mesmerising and exciting, or uncontrollable and frightening.
Our ancestors were well aware of the effects of fire. Mastering this element had changed their lives, yet was fraught with danger. Homes were temporary affairs, constructed of degradable substances such as wood and thatch, and thus highly flammable. Even the landscape could be destroyed by the application of fire, or it could be revitalised.
Here is my latest article on Irish Central, for anyone who’s interested.