“The phoenix, or phœnix as it is sometimes spelled, has been an enduring mythological symbol for millennia and across vastly different cultures. Despite such varieties of societies and times, the phoenix is consistently characterized as a bird with brightly colored plumage, which, after a long life, dies in a fire of its own making only to rise again from the ashes.”- New World Encyclopedia
The Egyptians associated the phoenix with immortality and that symbolism had a widespread appeal in late antiquity. The phoenix was compared to undying Rome, and it appears on the coinage of the late Roman Empire as a symbol of the Eternal City. It was also widely interpreted as an allegory of resurrection and life after death—ideas that also appealed to emergent Christianity.
In Islamic mythology the phoenix was identified with the ʿanqā,’ a huge mysterious bird that was originally created by God with all perfections but thereafter became a plague and was killed.”
– Encyclopedia Brittanica
“The bird flees from the egg. The egg is the world. Before being born
one must first destroy a world.” Demian – Herman Hesse
The Burning Kind
We are called,
one to the other,
out of ash,
out of ether.
Every so often
our frail, exhausted bodies,
scorched & abraded
by centuries spent circling
are plastered in myrrh,
laid upon a pyre,
& faithfully set aflame
to be born anew.
Creatures of myth,
we are forever unfinished,
timeless, blustery infernos,
stormy monuments to an age-old savagery
that reeks of your fear of death
& lust for the immortal.
Children of your cruelty, passion & divinity,
culled from the noblest of human instincts
& the dullest of your human conceits.
We’ve sat star-like above your satellites & space junk,
craning our long necks,
gaunt beaks rising & singing
through diminishing purple flames &
thinning gold plumes.
Our mammoth wings, twisted & translucent
from centuries of disuse,
will haunt your imagination
long after our cries
Hailing from times when kings were warriors
& warriors were too often oafs,
we deathless recall when magick was
deftly woven throughout
the fabric of your world,
a time when men were the true beasts &
we, the redeemers.
Architects of our own demise &
Envied by gods,
revered by sorcerers, &
by your kings.
Men, women marveled &
children wept at the bright
that scorched the blue sky &
blotted out the sun.
Though, the dry, stilted literalism
& smug intellectualism
of the Enlightenment
Those of us who weren’t driven off
passed quietly into legend.
While none would come to perish,
all of us were banished &
soon would be forgotten.
Forced to seek refuge in dusky,
desolate, inaccessible places,
as solar driven entities we have withered
grown more vagrant
with every passing century.
Now, like fugitives from fables
& half-remembered faerie tales,
we lick our icy wounds,
gloat over our longevity
& superior vulnerability,
billow like smoke among the ashes
of a burning world.
For creatures such as we
there is no greater indignity
than being forgotten,
no despair so complete
as the fall into irrelevance.
But you in your forgetting
have fallen much, much further.
We watched as your kind merely dismissed
our kind, then systematically slaughtered
species after species,
torching every sacred tradition that
to the ground.
But we are the burning kind
who rise above the pyre,
whom you banished to the shadows,
& from the shadows we can see that
the old ways & tales are resurfacing,
& many of you are starting to Remember.
So, we say to you now,
You with eyes that see
& ears that hear…
Listen to the tales &
to the voices
in the flames,
& keep your eyes trained
on the shadows,
For there are whispers here of a Reckoning.
Know, too, that where there is burning
there is ruin,
& where ruin, resurrection,
& where there is resurrection, there is also magick.
So, when, after the burning,
all hope, or life, or light seems lost
or looks, like us, to be extinguished,
though, your impulse may be to look to the stars,
look to what rises from the ashes.