Three Fires and the One


Unlike the religion of the Old Egyptian Empire with its monuments and tombs, the religion of the Veda left no material trace. It just left the sound of words.

Only its liturgy keeps its memory, preserved orally for thousands of years.

The Vedic ceremony is a liturgy of songs, hymns and cries.

Song, hymns and cries are voices, and voices are ways, as the French language allows to say (‘les voix sont des voies’).

The Ṛg Veda talks about it that way:

« Through the Song, He creates the Cry, at his side;

by the Cry, the Hymn;

and by the three invocations, the Word. »i

Who is this « He »? Who « creates the Cry »?

One of His names is Agni. Agni is the Fire, which ignites, enlightens, inflames, consumes the Sôma. The Fire burns, crackles, rumbles, and « shouts » in its own way, in the middle of the circle of priests, who sing, shout and chant.

The Fire « sings » as it burns, « shouts » as it crackles, « speaks » as it rumbles, – with the Sôma. Fire feeds on it, it draws power, light and strength from it.

The Sôma accomplishes its nature through Fire.

What is this Sôma? It is composed of water, a kind of oil (from clarified butter) and a fermented juice, intoxicating – and with psychotropic properties.

Scientists say it could have been produced from Cannabis sativa, or Sarcostema viminalis, or Asclepias acida or Ephedra.

This union of substances (water, milk, plants) is highly symbolic.

Water comes from the sky; oil comes from the milk of cows, which are fed with herbs grown by water and sun; Cannabis sativa also comes from the earth and sun, and contains an active ingredient that creates « suns » and « fire » in the minds.

The Sôma, liquid, can flow on the altar. By its fat and oil, it can catch fire. Through its active ingredients, it can then reach the minds of men.

The ceremony is a microcosm. It is not confined to the scene of sacrifice. The necessary elements come from the far reaches of the universe. And its possible extensions, after the consumption of the sacrifice, go beyond the worlds.

Three cycles of transformation are at work, three times are at stake.

A long, cosmic cycle, starting from the sun and the sky, results in water, oil and liquor, forming the Sôma.

The short cycle begins with the new fire, the first spark of which is produced by the « igniter priest » using two rods (one made of acacia wood, the other of fig tree wood). One rod (called arsani) is arrow-shaped, and the other offers a slot to receive it, the yoni.

The short cycle also involves the production of the « fresh » Sôma. The oil is made from milk and clarified butter. Cannabis leaves are crushed in the mortar with the stone pestle. And it takes time to mature, to ferment.

An even shorter third cycle includes singing, shouting and prayer, as well as the consumption of the Sôma by the priests, with its psychic effects.

Three cycles of metamorphosis, intertwined.

Three fires « cry out »: the fire of the sun at its origin, the fire of sacrifice here and now, and the fire of the spirit, with its future projections.

Everything, in sacrifice, is symbol and metaphor?

Everything aims at unity.

Nature, words and spirit unite, while contemplating the One.

i« Gayatrena prati mimîte arkan ; arkeṇa sâma ; traiṡṭubhena vakam! » Ṛg Veda I, 164, 24