The Campfire Story: From Caveman Times to the Modern Kitchen

Sojo Fire Pit:  The Sun and the MoonThere is something quite admirable about a campfire, isn’t there? When family and friends are joined together in the backyard or in the forest, the fire provides a sense of security, warmth, comfort and relaxation. The red and orange flames lick up to the sky, and the crackling and popping of the dry wood is enough to send you into a trance. The fire element can be so powerful and destructive, but when it’s controlled, it can be so beautiful.

The history of fire is a long journey back into time. From the caveman to the modern kitchens and incinerators we have today, it has continued to burn strong and light our way into the future.

Ancient Fire Myths

Long ago when Homo erectus and Australopithecus robustus discovered and began using fire, this magical warming light was thought to be a divine gift. Fire seemed to be something out of this world…when you have heat, fuel and oxygen…poof, fire exists. This spontaneous combustion is what makes the element so mystical, which is no surprise why it has appeared in mythology and literature.

In many ancient stories, fire has symbolized creativity as well as creation and destruction, because it can cause both. There are so many legends on how fire began, and many of them attribute fire as a gift from a hero, god or animal.

Admiralty Islanders Myth

The Admiralty Islanders of the Pacific Ocean had a legend about a snake that spoke to humans and requested that some children cook him some fish. Since the kids didn’t have fire, they used the sun for baking. In the story, the snake provided them with fire and even showed the children how to cook the food properly.

Greek Mythology

Remember, learning about Prometheus, the son of lapetus and Themis? Well, this Titan stole fire from Zeus and brought it to humankind. Of course, Zeus didn’t take kindly to the fact that Prometheus was so giving to the mortals and punished him.


Even in Christianity, fire is connected with punishment. Hell is a place of suffering and fiery torment. Some religions even associate the apocalypse with fire—the current world will end in fire but a new world will develop in its place.

From Hindu’s god of fire Agni to Chinese mythology’s magician and fire god Hui Lu, fire became associated with rituals, tricksters, earthly balance, treachery, destruction, creation, creativity and enlightenment.

The Fire Element Today

Originally, fire was used for simple activities such as cooking food, keeping warm, warding off animals and cremation. However, now that humanity has evolved, fire has been given a larger role. It might still be in our contemporary kitchens, but it’s now used to generate steam through incinerators and to burn waste including solids, sludges, liquids and tars. But you can incorporate the fire element into your home by adding sophisticated and elegant accessories, and cheap fire pits are definitely on the list.

Have an empty wall you’re tired of starting at? Then add a wall fountain that has candleholders. This is definitely an easy way to Feng Shui your home, because you will have the fire and water element all in one.

For the backyard, you can make your patio more intimate with beautiful fire torches. These are especially nice around outdoor hot tubs and spas. There are also deck safe fire pits available, so you can bring the heat closer to your sliding glass door. However, you might want to have a couple fire pits—one on your patio and another in your yard.

Fire is so entwined in humanity’s history, and it can bring about so many emotions and memories. Treating your guests to a backyard campfire is the perfect way to take in the dog days of summer and even breathe in the crisp air of fall and winter.


Marina Hanes is a writer and owner of Cat’s Eye Editing, LLC.  She received a B.A. in Professional Writing & Editing from Youngstown State University, and her professional area of focus is Environmental Studies.

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