Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time














I know I’ve mentioned it before..and I will most likely mention it a thousand more times but, in some myths and/or legends you can truly see that the idea spans several cultures. Werewolves and vampires are but two examples of this. Mermaids is another example and yet a further example is the ever mystic firebird. The one that can never truly die as it is reborn from it’s ashes. That would be none other than the Phoenix. The phoenix mythology spans at least 9 possibly 10 different cultures. Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Native America, Russian and possibly the Phoenician/Canaanite cultures all have their respective names and origins for the phoenix. One thing that all 9-10 mythologies do have in common is that when the phoenix is at the end of it’s life cycle, it builds a nest, settles into the nest and bursts into flame, being reborn from the ashes. The Ancient Egyptians linked the phoenix to the Bennu bird….in the more well known myths, the Bennu bird was born from the flames that burned in a holy tree in one of the sacred precincts of the temple of Ra..the Ancient Egyptian Sun God. It’s life cycle was said to have been 500 years..the other myths vary between 500 years and 1000 years. The Arabic phoenix was adopted by the Greeks and later on the Romans..it’s this interpretation that is most commonly depicted as it was described as being “as large as an eagle with scarlet and gold plumage with a melodious cry.” In Chinese mythology, the phoenix was seen as a symbol of high virtue and grace, power and prosperity and the union of yin and yang. In a sense for the Chinese mythology, the Phoenix was their version of the Ouroboros…the snake eating it’s tail which is representative of things beginning again as soon as they end. In fact the Phoenix has actually been compared to the Ouroboros as they are seen to represent the same thing. A never ending cycle, life reborn from death and so on. To the Native Americans, the Phoenix was known as the firebird. The bird that was made of flames and reborn from the ashes. In other cultures, the Phoenix is represented as gigantic peacock with the colorings of fire….reds, yellows, orange, white and in some cases…blue and purple. It’s also been depicted as a being of pure fire…gentle in nature and unwilling to kill anything. The phoenix even goes so far as to get into modern day story-telling. Fawkes was the well known phoenix companion of the greatest wizard of all time..one Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledor who was the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Fawkes had the ability to heal people with his tears and to soothe people with his song. At one point in the books he was in the last stages of his life (Dumbledor called it Burning Day) and didn’t look very well. When alive Fawkes look like a cross between a peacock and an eagle..his body had hues of red and orange whereas his tail was a golden color. His body glowed faintly in the dark and his tail was hot to the touch..not to mention he could lift an immense amount of weight with his tail. After Dumbledor died, Fawkes sang a lamant over the school then returned to the wild. So as you can see…the Phoenix has spanned many cultures and continues to do so to this day.