The Phoenix burns to ashes.
But as a tree does not die in the frost
She is reborn from the flames.
Thus the Phoenix molts its plumage
And through death restores her life.
The Phoenix is a character in our collective unconscious and one that has found a home throughout time in every culture’s myths, legends and folklore. Symbolically, it relates a tale of death and rebirth, a theme dating as far back to the very beginnings of conscious mankind, transforming into an essential role in all of the major religions and ideologies and even sustaining itself amongst popular culture.
Stemming from a very ancient tradition, a shaman, no matter what corner of the globe he calls home or what cultural associations she may have, must enter into a period of death where the spirits imbue the initiate with the powers and knowledge they will need to help and heal their people. Then, being reborn into society fundamentally different than before, they are equipped with greater knowledge and understanding of the subtleties of nature and the world around them.
Though, all of us are not shamans, we too experience a period of death and a figurative rebirth as the repercussions of living through great loss or a personal tragedy. When we live through something like the death of someone close to us, we often use phrases like, “a part of me died,” and “I had to learn to live again.” These are very true statements. In order for us to keep living, we have to let a lot go, then we are in effect, reborn as the “new” person, reconstructed from all that we lived through in addition to the new knowledge and understanding.
We also, in a sense, die and are reborn every day. On a physiological level, our cells are constantly dieing and reproducing, maintaining our bodies as forever evolving and changing organisms. We can also look at our own minds and personalities the same way. We change our mind about things, we learn something new, we experience something different, we open our eyes. We are forever changing, the old persona dies and a new one is born and as we grow we can choose to become wiser if we remember that.
Just as the phoenix rises from the ashes, renewed and shining as before, we can harness opportunities in our lives that seem bleak, dark, and draining to turn it around and rejuvenate ourselves, become again the person who we really are. We can decide that today is the day to brush off the staleness and dust and immerge reborn, blinking as we step into the sunlight of a new day.