In the Saxon Indiculus Superstitionum et Paganiarum, which is a list of Christian edicts banishing pagan practices, there is a proclamation against “fire rubbed from wood that is nodfyr (Need-fire).” There is a theory that this term derives from Old High German hniotan which means “to rub,” but it could also refer to a sense of need, in the same way we will show the Nauðum and Bjargum, Needs and Aids, which is a defining feature of our notions on sacrifice. In this sense, we also find the fire as a means to purifying sickness and calamity within the folk and their domestic animals. Food boiled in a vat over the Need-Fire was said to provide protection against pestilence and jumping over the fire was considered a means of protecting against this and other forms of calamity.
The Need-Fire creates the most sacred flame. It is mentioned in various sources as being a holy fire that is used in all manner of sanctification, and should be seen as the principal tool within our ceremonial structure. Because few ancient sources exist on this subject, we are relegated to the popular traditions of later times, but these seem to reflect a more ancient picture, as we shall see. The following description is based upon the observations of Grimm in his Deutsche Mythology ch. 20.
The fire is kindled using nine types of wood and a device that bores a hard wood into a soft wood. Whatever device you can utilize is perfectly fine, but we are here going to examine what we believe to be the most ancient and sacred. This would be a nine-spoked spindle that nine girls would spin, in reminiscence of the Nine Mothers of Heimdallr, the Nine Iviðjur (Wood-Women), who create the fire. Even though the sources Grimm cites describe 9x9 men kindling the fire, the greatest comparison we can show to this is that of the birth of Heimdallr, and women kindling and maintaining sacred fires is extant throughout native Europe. Grimm states (pp. 611-12):
I think it likely that it was provided with nine spokes: 'thet niugenspetze fial' survives in the Frisian laws, those nine oaken spindles whose friction against the nave produced fire signify the nine spokes standing out of the nave, and the same sacred number turns up again in the nine kinds of wood, in the nine and eighty-one men that rub. We can hardly doubt that the wheel when set on fire formed the nucleus and centre of a holy and purifying sacrificial flame.
To this we compare the extensive research Rydberg made into the World-Mill, and see that this becomes a ceremony surrounding the movement of the Mill and how it creates the sacred, ordered flame.1 This flam can then become the Viðgan Eld, or Consecrated Fire, which is the perpetual flame kept upon the altar or held within the sacred Eldhús.
-Excerpt from Æfinrúnar, book 1