The Hidden Symbolism of a Fireplace

January 31, 2018 11:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Fireplaces have a long, rich history that dates back to the earliest dwellings. Once, they were essential for safe, comfortable living—they provided the heat and light needed to protect against the coldness of the season and the dangers of the night. Then, they evolved into practical living applications—heating our homes and providing a focal point in social settings. Today, they’re more of an aesthetic element than anything else, but that doesn’t make them any less important!

Throughout this rich history, fireplaces in Wausau, WI have picked up quite a bit of symbolism. In fact, in many Asian cultures, fireplaces are still seen as essential pieces of a clean, safe, comfortable living space, even beyond just being a design element. Let’s take a look at some of the intriguing elements of symbolism in modern fireplaces and where these concepts come from:

  • In Chinese lore, fireplaces—specifically the fire within them—represent an essential element of Feng Shui in the home. Feng Shui equates to balance, with fire being one of four essential elements that are needed to achieve harmony. To this end, not only are fireplaces a necessity in homes, they also need to be well-tended. This means always stoking the fire to a healthy level and always cleaning the hearth between burnings. Many people also believe that wood for the next fire should be placed in the hearth between lightings.
  • In some early cultures, the fireplace was seen as the “hole” in your home. This was a place where darkness or bad energy could flow in, even when doors and windows were shut. The act of lighting a fire in the fireplace served to keep evil spirits and demons outside. In this instance of symbolism, fire is seen as the protector of the home.
  • Symbolism extends beyond the fire itself. Did you know that your fireplace in Wausau, WI also has ornamental symbolism? If you’ve ever wondered why fireplace facades and mantles have a shrine-like look to them, it’s because some cultures believed them to be a shrine. Idols or images of deities were placed on the mantle, a fire was lit and prayers were offered. In some cases, possessions or trinkets were burned in offering. It was the in-home equivalent to a church confessional for many cultures.
  • Finally, fireplaces have historically been recognized in some cultures as a way to cleanse homes. Lighting a fire was the same as spring cleaning for many cultures—in a spiritual sense. People would light fires in their fireplaces and let warmth radiate into their homes, overwhelming bad energy with heat and light (good energy).

Today, you might light your fireplace when you’re feeling cold and think nothing of it. But, it’s important to realize that fireplaces have a rich history that goes beyond just providing warmth. For many ancient cultures, the fireplace was an integral part of their daily living and spiritual wellness—one that we honor today by keeping fireplaces as a part of our homes.

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