Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Joel. Joel Wonders, “Where did the story of the phoenix orignate from” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Joel!
If you could be any bird, real or fictional, which would you choose? Surely, you wouldn’t choose to be a buzzard. But what about an eagle? Maybe a wise owl? A beautiful peacock? Harry Potter fans may say that one bird rises above the rest: the phoenix.
The phoenix is a mythical creature. It has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It was first described in writing by a Greek historian. The myth moved on to the Romans and, like the mythological bird itself, now appears to be immortal. It’s been passed along from one generation to the next.
Descriptions of the phoenix have varied over time. Many believe this unique bird looks like an eagle. However, others have compared it to the hawk or the heron. Some even say it looks like an ostrich! Many descriptions paint a picture of a majestic bird with red and gold feathers. Others claim its feathers are purple or bear all the colors of the peacock.
Despite these differences, nearly all descriptions agree on one thing: a golden halo. The phoenix reflects so much light that it seems to emit rays like the Sun. That’s appropriate, since people have always associated the phoenix with the worship of the Sun. According to myth, only one phoenix exists at a time. It lives for approximately 500 years.
At the end of its life, the phoenix builds a nest. It then sets the nest on fire and is consumed by the flames. Out of the ashes, a new phoenix springs to life. When it’s strong enough, it flies the last phoenix’s ashes to Heliopolis in Egypt. There, it places them on the altar of the Egyptian Sun god.
As a symbol, the phoenix stands for a few different things. First, it represents the cycle of death, rebirth, and renewed life. It also stands for another concept: immortality. This made it an attractive symbol for Rome, sometimes called the Eternal City.
Birds like the phoenix can be found in the legends of many cultures. This includes stories from China, Japan, Russia, and American Indian nations. Today, the phoenix is still used as a symbol of recovering from a setback by rising from the ashes.
Have you ever overcome a major setback? If so, you’re a lot like the phoenix yourself! Do you know any stories about this unique bird? After all these years, the phoenix is still a popular topic in stories today.