The Phoenix

The myths of many cultures say that the sun in fact, light itself - first entered the world in the form of a sacred heron-like bird. The Greeks called  the bird the Phoenix. The Egyptians named it Benu and it personified the all-powerful Sun God, Atum, whose name literally means "to rise in brilliance." Representing rebirth and a harbinger of good  fortune, the Phoenix or Benu is a robust archetypal symbol for growth and change. Chinese, Sumerian, Assyrian, Incan, and Aztec peoples all looked upon this creature as uniquely immortal. Perhaps the best known story comes from the Greeks who believed that after setting fire to itself, this magnificent bird had the power to rise up out of its own ashes and soar majestically into the heavens.

The story of the Phoenix illuminates the inner authority each of us has to realize our full potential, achieve our greatest emotional, creative, and spiritual goals, and emerge transformed out of life's difficulties, our own inertia, or self-imposed limitations.


Illustration by Neil Gower, used by his permission.
Copyright © by artist Neil Gower. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Duncan Baird Publishers.
From "The Way to Eternity: Egyptian Myth."
Duncan Baird Publishers, page 42.

Reprinted in the United States by Time-Life Books, 1997.
Part of a book series entitled "Myth and Mankind."
Copyright © Duncan Baird Publishers. All rights reserved