Mythological Creatures: Phoenix

MythDen.com - Phoenix

The mythical phoenix, or firebird, is a beautiful bird, adorned in gold and crimson plumage. The phoenix has a lifespan of 500 to 1461 years. Towards the end of its life, the bird will build a nest and then ignite itself, burning ferociously until both the nest and bird are reduced to ashes. From this pile of ashes, a new phoenix or phoenix egg will rise, ready to live out its life until, just like its predecessor, it must be reborn...

It is said that the new phoenix embalms the pile of ashes in an egg made of myrrh and carries it to Heliopolis (the Greek city of the sun) where it deposits the egg on the alter of the sun god (Helios). The phoenix's resurrection has become legendary, spreading its wings from Greek and Roman poets to Chinese and Russian folklore. It is said that that original myth began with the Egyptians, coming from a bird known as the bennu (a stork or heron-like bird) which was depicted in the Book of the Dead. In turn, the phoenix is closely related with the rising of the Nile and the sun god Ra. The phoenix is a strong symbol of life, rebirth and immortality and so was quickly associated with Jesus Christ although in early Christian writings, no such creature was found. The city of Phoenix, capital of Arizona, was so called because it was built on the ruins of the ancient civilisation of Hohokam. These beautiful, burning birds of mythology are said in some cultures to exist one at a time and be extremely elusive, yet for thousands of years their symbolism and beauty has inspired many fantastic tales.