from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A fire produced by the friction of one piece of wood upon another, or of a rope upon a stake of wood.
- n. Spontaneous ignition.
- n. The phosphoric light of rotten wood.
- n. A beacon.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
This explanation of the 'needfire' throws light also on the Roman custom of re-kindling annually the sacred fire in the Temple of Vesta.
The spiritual significance of these fires cannot be expressed better than by the meaning of the very term 'needfire'.
At times of public calamities and distress, the practice of kindling needfire was resorted to.
But what makes it nearly certain that this was once the invariable mode of kindling the fire at these periodic festivals is the analogy of the needfire, which has almost always been produced by the friction of wood, and sometimes by the revolution of a wheel.
The rite may be compared to the needfire as practised in Russia when all the horses of the village were driven between two fires, or through fire, and their bridles thrown into the fire and burnt.
The needfire, as described by Sir E.B. Tylor, had the character of a purificatory rite, but it may be doubted whether this was its original form, any more than in the case of the Suovetaurilia or Pola ceremonies.
First, the remnants of a very primitive savage faith, represented by the sanctity of animals and plants, by Totemism, by the needfire, and by the use of amulets, charms, and spells.
Once a year the needfire was so lighted, and all the hearths of the village were rekindled from the blaze thus obtained.
Ride on the grassland and have a needfire party at night and lamb banquet, with Mongolians.