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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The religious significance of bush fires in Malawi
Author:Schoffeleers, J.M.ISNI
Year:1971
Periodical:Cahiers des religions africaines
Volume:5
Issue:10
Pages:271-282
Language:English
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:African religions
pilgrimages
Abstract:Besides the well-known profane reasons for making fires, the religious significance of bush fires may not be undervalued. By analysing the symbolic aspects of fire in the Malawi myth of origin, this sacral background can be understood in a number of ways. Considering them in a cosmological context, fires effect contact between sky and earth or between God and the spirits of the deceased. In a religious context, one may interpret fires as manifestations of ancestral spirits, representing their ascent to the sky in their capacity of rain providers. Finally, fires reflect the major events of the human life cycle, namely those of puberty and death. In this context one may interpretet the function of fires to be to destroy the past and to create possibilities of new life. Parts of the article: Introduction - The myth of origin: fire and water - The rites of passage: fires as symbols of puberty and death - Conclusion. Notes, French summary.