Fire is truly a gift from the Gods. It gives the ability to see in the dark, and to cook our food. It transforms wood to ash, and heats our homes. The acquiring of fire is often considered to be what allowed humans to evolve as far as we have come. Fire has often been seen as a deity itself and examples can be seen in Agni, Hestia, and Bride. In Loki we have the trickster fire that can shape-shift and cause great havoc, but who also gives great gifts when in the mood.
Fire seems to be a major component of most ancient religions. In the Greek religion it is said that the fire of sacrifice was a gift of Prometheus, who later negotiated on behalf of the humans for what parts of the sacrifice would be given to the Gods and what would be kept for human consumption. The fire was what transformed the offerings into something that the Gods could consume and enjoy. Mircea Eliade wrote in The Forge and the Crucible, “It is through fire that nature is changed, making it the basis of the most ancient magics.” (p. 170) . Fire was also used as a way to claim the land and space for either the nation or the family. The family fire was the place to gather for private devotions, while state fires provided the place where public rites would be held.
Wells are the by-product of both human labour and of nature’s gifts. A human digs deep into the Earth to find this substance that makes life possible. Water is not something humans can make on their own, unlike fire. Wells have long been seen as places where spirits live, and this is not hard to understand when considering a deep echoey shaft that seems to go down into the underworld itself. In ADF the well is the doorway into the underworld; the land of our ancestors. Wells are also seen as a source of wisdom. I would argue this also comes from an association of the well going deep into the ground where the ancestors dwell. We can see this in the Norse culture with the well of Mimir when Odin offers his eye to the well in exchange for great wisdom.
To me the evolutionary tree of life is the perfect picture of all of nature’s abundance and diversity. It connects every form of life on the planet into one huge family. This is why I see the tree as the perfect gateway for the nature spirits in ADF ritual. The roots reach deep into the ground where the ancestors dwell, while the branches reach high into the sky where the deities exist. The tree is also a type of axis mundi. An axis mundi is a symbolic pole or structure that proclaims a place at the center of the universe or at least the world. The axis mundi connects the heavens and the Earth. The tree is both an axis mundi and perfect picture of life on Earth.