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Portal Etna

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An essay by Seeker Grigio about Etna and the funeral traditions of Firestarters.

Thinking of Firestarters, I've always been drawn by the provocative, barbaric openness. Perhaps Etna helped me understand it in part.

Upon hearing that I wanted to learn more, she measured me with her eyes and smirked as if mentally giving me a score:

— Come on.

Etna led me to a room where the shamans wrapped the deceased in bright cloth. My guide smiled, took a small parcel from the table, and we went outside.

— To the sanctuary. Let's go.

The “sanctuary” was a small cave with a stone bowl on the pedestal. Etna placed the parcel, covered it with coal, and set it on fire.

The smell was… eloquent.

— We burn hearts, — Etna explained. — The body returns to its loved ones. They need to mourn and bury it, but the heart must be burned. Then the soul will be reborn in a flaming Cycle.

Etna's voice sounded strange.

— I knew him, — my companion explained. — He was a good one. Brave, proud, but… unlucky. The last of his clan.

— Then who's gonna take him?

Etna threw her head upwards.

— I am! He's my friend. I'll make sure he's not lonely.

Etna talked about her friend's death with a big smile, and I asked her if she grieved?

— Everybody feels pain! And you have to live it to the end. Those who died suddenly do not have this opportunity. — Etna looked at me angrily. — But the heart is already burned! So the feelings of the deceased passed to those who mourn. To me.

After a pause, she continued.

— Do you know how many hearts I burned in my life? Now their feelings live in me. I learned to keep them, not let grief break me.

One day I'll drive the ritual chariot to new lands. Only the drivers decide where the path of the tribe will lie, and I… I will lay it where we can avoid great wars.

I remembered talking about Etna — “only she can soften the anger of Vesuvius”. At that moment it seemed to me that I understood why. The power of her beliefs and feelings… I think they still burn me.

S. Grigio