Firewalking in Bulgaria

chainik Fire has always been an inseparable part of mankinds development. At the dawn of the human consciousness awakening, its magical flames gave our ancestors protection from the wild beasts and the cold weather, a place to prepare their food and to gather with the rest of the family group, calm, light and comfort. Fire was worshipped like the sun, and was revered as its representative on earth.

In the pagan belief system of the Thracians, who in the VII A.D. became a part of the Bulgarian nation, Sun was considered the main deity, the embodiment of life and constant resurrection from death, a source of health and good, and fire its personification on earth. That is why it played a major role in their sacred rituals and festive events. One of its forms the barefoot dancing on live coals has survived till present day, and can be seen in the mountains of Strandja, in south-east Thrace. Initially, it was only the shamans who danced in the red-hot embers, after achieving a state of trans with full cut-off from their surroundings. In such state they would chant incantations for health and fertility, and foretell the future. With the coming of Christianity to our land, dancing in fire as a celebration of sun was anathemised as pagan. But being as resilient and deeply embedded in the local culture as it was, it only changed its outer appearance it transformed into a celebration of the saints Konstantin and Elena, and a new ritual developed. But the core essence persevered the few initiated ones continued to dance for healing, health, fertility and foreseeing the future.

Today, it is only the Christianized version of this ritual that survives. Whether, and in what form it will continue to exist, remains to be seen with time.