h Phoenix Qi: The Phoenix

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Phoenix

Fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix, has no connection with the phoenix of the Western world. The images of the phoenix have appeared in China for over 7,000 years, often in jade and originally on good-luck totems. It is a totem of eastern tribes in ancient China.

During the Han Dynasty (2,200 years ago) the phoenix was used as a symbol depicting the direction south, shown as a male (feng) and female (huang) phoenix facing each other. It was also used to symbolize the Empress in a pairing with a dragon where the dragon represents the Emperor. It might come from the merging of eastern and western tribes of ancient China. The phoenix represented power sent from the heavens to the Empress. If a phoenix was used to decorate a house it symbolized that loyalty and honesty were in the people that lived there.

The Fenghuang has very positive connotations. It is a symbol of high virtue and grace. The Fenghuang also symbolizes the union of yin and yang. It appears in peaceful and prosperous times but hides when trouble is near.

In ancient China, they can often be found in the decorations for weddings or royalty, along with dragons. This is because the Chinese considered the dragon and phoenix symbolic of blissful relations between husband and wife, another common yin and yang metaphor. -End Quote- -Wikipedia.

I've read elsewhere that the feng and the huang lived on opposite sides of the land and that when an omen needed to be delivered to someone on earth, they flew together and then descended to deliver the message. This fits nicely as I am a diviner in I Ching (Yijing) and Tarot.

As it happens, in Chinese Four Pillar astrology, the day of my birth was the day of the Rooster which is also known as the day of the Phoenix.

More from Wikipedia:

Phoenix (also known as Garuda in sanskrit) is the mystical firebird which is considered as chariot of Hindu God Vishnu. Its reference can be found in Hindu epic Ramayana.

The Greeks adapted the word bennu (and also took over its further Egyptian meaning of date palm tree), and identified it with their own word phoenix φοινιξ, meaning the colour purple-red or crimson (cf. Phoenicia). They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to the Greeks the phoenix lived in Arabia next to a well. [The symbolism of the well is extremely significant in the I Ching.] At dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Apollo stopped his chariot (the sun) in order to listen to its song.

One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is a specific bird species of East Africa. Another suggested inspiration for the mythical phoenix bird, and various other mythical birds that are closely associated with the sun, is the total eclipse of the sun. During some total solar eclipses the sun's corona displays a distinctly bird-like form that almost certainly inspired the winged sun disk symbols of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. -End Quote-

Here is a composite photo of a total solar eclipse that occurred on July 11, 1991. Photo copyright Steve Albers published on Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 24, 1995

Note the appearance of a bird-like head in the NNW direction, a tail in the SE direction, and wings spreading out over the NE and SW directions.

A solar eclipse often symbolized the death of one era and the birth of a new one, so you can see why the lifespan of a phoenix may have been so long (500 years), and the symbolism of the "rebirth" into the new era. Furthermore, it's very likely that a "new era" was measured from the beginning of a new dynasty with the ascension to the throne of a new Emperor, King, or Pharaoh. If this followed a lenghty conflict with a neighboring empire, fire may have been involved in the destruction of the former ruler and his nation, hence the death of the phoenix (the old era) by fire.


sonia said...

Possibly, there is a connection to the Japanese legend of folding 1.000 cranes/ tsurus to attain immortality.

Phoenix said...

Hi Sonia,

Thanks for stopping by.

It would not surprise me if there were a connection between the cranes and the phoenix. The oldest legends teach that the lifetime of the phoenix is over 1,000 years.

See the post "How long does a Phoenix live?"
March 19, 2007