Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day – Phoenix

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true in 2013!
I thought it would be appropriate for the first article of the New Year to cover Phoenix (or phenix), a magical bird of the Greek myths that became a universal symbol of renewal and rebirth.
By some sources, Phoenix was first discovered in Ethiopia, but got its name from the Assyrians. Allegedly, Phoenix is a long-lived bird (some sources quote 500 years, some 1460years, and some 12,954 years). It looks similar to an eagle and has marvelous reddish-golden and flaming crimson feathers. Foreseeing its death fast approaching, Phoenix burns himself in its nest covered in aromatic herbs but immediately gets reborn in it.  Another version suggests that Phoenix dies breathing in an aroma of magical herbs, then a new bird gets born in its place and carries the body of its predecessor to Egypt, where the followers of a solar cult burn its body.
Phoenix is one of mythological creatures that are found in a world-wide culture. One can easily trace its relation to an Egyptian Bennu (a bird that created itself from a fire that was burning on a holy tree near a temple of Ra and associated with resurrection and Sun. Bennu is depicted as a heron). A Persian Simurgh or Arabic Angha – a winged , creature resembling a peacock, sometimes  portrayed with a head of a dog and claws of a lion, sometimes with a human female face . There is a great article about it on Wikipedia: A Hindu Garuda (for those of you who follow the show on SyFy “The Lost Girl”, I recommend the article here: It will give you a glimpse on a relationship of Garudas and Nagas).
There are also traces to the Chinese FengHuang, Japanese Ho-Oh and Russian Finist and Firebird (a bird with glowing plumage of red, orange and golden). When I was growing up in Russia, the fairy-tale of the Prince Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Grey Wolf was one of my most favorite ones. Here it is:

Phoenix has been adopted by the early Christianity as a symbol of resurrection as well. It’s also became very popular emblem in heraldry. Both Elizabeth I and Mary, the Queen of Scotts used it as their emblems.
The city of Phoenix in Arizona has it on its flag and seal as well. Originally named Pumpkinville (due to the abundance of large pumpkins, growing along the canals) the city was named Phoenix per the suggestion of Lord Darrel Duppa, “as it described a city born from the ruins of a former Hohokam civilization”.
That is all for today. Come back soon and spread the word.
Happy New Year! Happy new beginnings!