Light of the World. William Holman Hunt. 1853-54. Keble College. Oxford, England. Hunt based this painting on Revelation 3:19-21: Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. The phoenix. The Aberdeen Bestiary. 13th Century. Aberdeen University Library. Aberdeen, Scotland.
In world religious traditions, fire represents variously spirit, soul and emerging consciousness.
In Celtic tradition, May 1 is Beltane (meaning bright fire) and marks the beginning of summer. On Beltane, the Celts believed that the veil between worlds grew thin and the Otherworld was particularly accessible. Beltane celebrations traditionally centered around the creation of a huge bon-fire and might also include storytelling, fire-leaping and fertility rites.
In Aztec and Mayan mythology, the god of fire Xiutecutli is represented as a butterfly. Fire, like the butterfly, is a symbol of personal transformation.
In some spiritual traditions, salamanders represent the soul which is purified by fire but cannot be destroyed. This metaphor arises from a piece of ancient folklore that asserts: if a salamander is thrown into the fire, it will emerge unharmed. This tradition has its origins in the habits of the salamandra salamandra. A forest native, the salamandra salamandra tends to hide in fallen leaves, rotting limbs and tree trunks. In earlier times, when human beings gathered fuel for their fires and added these materials to the hearth, quite often salamanders would emerge, seeming to arise from the heart of the flames.