- Education and Science
The Mythological Bird that Grows from its ashes - Phoenix
The Legend about Phoenix
A recent hub on Hydra by one of my favorite hubbers I follow, really brought me back to my childhood fascination of mythological creatures. Out of all, phoenix and unicorns have always been my favorites. So, here I am entailing some facts and myths about phoenix – the legendary mythological bird.
- The Phoenix is an ancient mythological bird that had its
origin in areas of Europe, Central America, Egypt and Asia.
- The appearance of
Phoenix has been described to indicate the spirit of fire in the legends, and quite colorful, ranging from the colors like red, yellow and green to blue or purple.
- The bird comes with a tail of gold, and has a life cycle of around 500 to 1000 years. The most popular thing about the phoenix is that at the end of every life cycle, the bird constructs a nest of twigs around itself and gets ignited. The bird and its nest burst into flames and burn forcefully to get reduced to ashes, and from these ashes, takes birth the young baby phoenix, which is actually the rebirth of the old phoenix which got burnt to ashes. This new phoenix would lead its normal life cycle before getting into the process of burning and then originating from its ashes again.
There are various stories, myths and legends associated with Phoenix. According to certain stories and myths, some phoenixes even come with the power of changing their forms into humans.
According to few other legends, the new born phoenix saves the ashes of its old self in an egg that is made up of myrrh, and would deposit it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (Sun City in Greece). The cry of the phoenix is considered to be of a beautiful song.
Various cultural influences on phoenix:
This is the most well known category of phoenix. Its size was that of an eagle, with a plumage of bright red and gold colors. Its cry was quite melodious one. According to the legends, this phoenix used to make its home near a cool well, and come out early morning while singing a beautiful song which was supposed to be so mesmerizing that even Apollo God used to stop and listen to it. The life span of this phoenix is of 500 years and can extend up to 13000 year. Near to the end of its life, this phoenix would build a nest of twigs around it and then would burn down into ashes. After three days, it would take birth again, by rising from the ashes, and then would collect the ashes into an egg of myrrh and carry it to Heliopolis, the city of the sun to deposit it at the alter of the Sun God.
This whole process of life and death symbolizes the death and birth of the sun. This phoenix was considered as the king of all birds, used to live on dew drops, and would never kill anything or harm any creature.
Ancient Egyptian influence on Phoenix:
The ancient Egyptians associated the phoenix to immortality, which was quite strengthened in their civilization. They called the bird “Bennu/Benu”. The traces and remains of this bird have been discovered and excavated by the Archaeologists in the Persian Gulf area, which are around 5000 years old.
The bird had two long feathers on the crown of its head and was usually crested with the sun shaped disk or with the “Atef crown of Osiris” (White crown with two ostrich plumes on either side). The bird was rarely seen in Egypt, that too by most of the travelers who used to come there for trading via Arabian Seas. The word “Benu” means “to shine”. The bird is also considered to be connected to the Sun God and represents his soul.
Chinese and Japanese Influence on Phoenix
There are variants of phoenix in Chinese (Feng Huang) and Japanese (Hou-Ou/Ho-Oo) cultures as well. The Chinese mythology considers phoenix as a symbol of grace, power, prosperity and high virtue, as well as a combination of yin and yang. According to Chinese mythology, phoenix symbol or painting if used to decorate the house can signify loyalty and honesty of the people living in the house. A person wearing Phoenix jewelry signifies the wearer’s high moral values. Phoenix symbol is always considered as a symbol of Empress and power sent from heaven, along with its pairing with the dragons (the sign of Emperor).
In modern times, books like Harry potter have symbolized phoenix bird with special powers and significance.
Regardless of any mythology the phoenix always rises from its ashes.
“The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise.”
~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Photo References: Photobucket