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Agni literally means “fire”: the name is etymologically related to ignite . Because Agni is fire, he is a deity with whom people have daily contact. He is fire and he is the spirit of fire. When you gaze at a flame, you gaze at Agni. Agni is an equal-opportunity spirit. He loves all people, regardless of wealth, power, influence, or lack thereof. He lives in any home with a hearth, no matter how humble or poor. Light a candle and there he is! He is everyone’s friend.
Agni is the fire that cooks food and provides warmth and safety. He was at one time a critically important deity. Over two hundred hymns in the Rig Veda are dedicated to him. Eight of its ten books start with praise for Agni as Vedic Lord of Fire. Agni serves as mediator between people and other spirits, accepting and delegating burned offerings. An offering that fails to ignite has been rejected by Agni. He protects people both before and after life:
• An incantation in the Rig Veda requests that he protect fetuses from physical and magical danger.
• Agni has the power to grant immortality or cleanse one’s sins at the moment of death.
• He is a psychopomp, guiding souls to other realms. Souls of the deceased are believed to ascend with smoke from funeral pyres, hence the ancient preference of many Indo-European peoples for cremation as opposed to burial or other methods of disposing of cadavers .
Agni is the spirit of unquenchable erotic fire. He may be invoked by lovers seeking flames of passion and by men seeking to invigorate or enhance their virility: to burn all night like a constant fire.
Manifestations: Agni is fire and lightning. He also manifests in the form of a three-legged, two-headed man. Each head has seven tongues of flame. He has two or seven arms. His faces are red; his eyes and long, wild hair are black. His face shines from butter smeared on it.
Consort: Svaha, a solar deity
Attributes: A flaming spear, torch, axe, prayer beads
Planets: The Sun; the stars are sparks from his fire.
Mounts: A ram (as in Aries, the first fire sign) or a chariot pulled by flaming horses
Offering: Ghee (clarified butter); place a cotton wick in ghee and burn it like a candle.