Cultural notes – The Phoenix – FOI Goddess Festival
Phoenix – Ruler of the Birds, Symbol of the Empress
Feng – male bird; Huang – female bird also: Hoang, Wong
Japanese – Ho-o’
Korean – Hangul
Vietnamese – Phüng Hoång
Vermilion Bird of the South - Nan Feng Zhu Que – Vermilion Peafowl of the Stars
Zhu Que – Chinese
Suzaku – Japanese
Jujak – Korean
Chu Tuøc - Vietnamese
“August Rooster” – The Vermilion Bird takes the place of rooster in zodiac – there is a phoenix star; the direction and element are south/fire
Phoenix constellation, phoenix star -
In Yaodian, the cardinal directions are determined by the marker-stars of the mega-constellations known as the Four Celestial Animals:
The Azure Dragon (Spring equinox)—Niao (Bird 鳥), α Scorpionis - Antares
The Vermilion Bird (Summer solstice)—Huo (Fire 火), α Hydrae - Alphard
The White Tiger (Autumn equinox)—Mǎo (Hair 昴), η Tauri (the Pleiades) Alcyone
The Black Tortoise (Winter solstice)—Xū (Emptiness, Void 虛), α Aquarii, β Aquarii
The diagrams are also linked with the sifang (four directions) method of divination used during the Shang dynasty. The sifang is much older, however. It was used at Niuheliang, and figured large in Hongshan culture's astronomy. And it is this area of China that is linked to Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who allegedly invented the south-pointing spoon (see compass). . .
This form of Feng Shui bears resemblance to the Celtic-British theories about ley lines by Alfred Watkins, and their place in both natural and man-made landscapes.
The Phoenix in many forms has been known since the Hongshan Neolithic period (6000 BCE), seen in art motifs.
Various forms of the sacred bird we call the Phoenix:
Bennu bird, simurgh/semrug, samruk, samran, semurg;
roc, firebird, Garuda, Garuda missile, Griffin, Huma bird,
bird of paradise, Turul (Hungarian), Angha/Anka (Iranian)
A Sumerian god of Lagash (Turkic name) Oksoko, also Zuzulo; this double headed raptor deity is eagle-like. The iconography dates back to 3800 BCE in Sumer, the symbol also being used in the Hittite Empire of the 2nd Millennium BCE. The double headed eagle Oksoko was a symbol of the Seljuk Dynasty of Islam, and is similar to the Polish double headed eagle.
Greek phoenix, Chinese, Egyptian, Iranian/Persian – Nekhbet vulture sometimes called phoenix by those who don’t know she is a vulture; adopted by Christianity as a symbol of renewal.
Phoenix - names of places, symbols on famous seals and flags
Atlanta GA, Phoenix, Arizona, and San Francisco have the phoenix on their city flags.
Fenghuang Ancient City, Hunan province; Phoenix Mtn., China, Kun Lun Mtns.
Dunhuang (“Flourish & Prosper”), (“Blazing Beacon”), (Big & Grand”) –
“Dun” means “honest, earnest, sincere” and Huang means “bright, brilliant”, like the glittering feathers or flame of the phoenix .
Dunhuang is a city that was founded in 2000 BCE, and is near the Mogao Caves where travelers over the centuries made murals and Buddhist monks stashed scrolls of texts. There is now the Dunhuang Academy to study the artifacts in them. The International Dunhuang Project is digitizing the murals and texts found in the caves and making them freely available online to the world. Dunhuang was formerly governed by Tibet and is now administered by China.
(Dunhuang is in Gansu Province, NW China; It is situated in a rich oasis containing Crescent Lake and Mingsha Shan (鸣沙山, meaning "Singing-Sand Mountain"). Mingsha Shan is named after the sound of the wind whipping off the dunes, the singing sand phenomenon.
It commands a strategic position at the crossroads of the ancient Southern Silk Route and has the main road leading from India via Lhasa to Mongolia and Southern Siberia, as well as controlling the entrance to the narrow Hexi Corridor which led straight to the heart of the north Chinese plains and the ancient capitals of Chang'an (today known as Xi'an) and Luoyang. (Wikipedia, Dunhuang)
Byodo-in Temple, Ho-o-do Phoenix hall/Amida Hall (Buddhist) – Kyoto Prefecture
Phoenix – brother, father, king, founder from Phoenicia (Tyre).
Phoenicia, red, pink, rose, lilac, lavender, purple, violet – Murex snail from the coast
Date Palm tree – Phoenix silvestris. This tree gives us products from all its parts, from timber to wine.
UN Security Council room has a mural that features a phoenix at peace in the center of the canvas, symbolizing the renewal of the world after war.
Symbol of U. Chicago on their coat of arms and banners, their charitable organization for donors is called The Phoenix Society.
The Phoenix is a symbol of the City of Chicago, rising from the ashes of the Chicago Fire. This was part of the inspiration for U. Chicago adopting the symbol.
The Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Royal Anthropological Institute.
The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky is a stirring composition. Stravinsky said that he received a vision of a pagan rite as the closing of the Firebird Suite – and the vision is what inspired him to transform it into a ballet.
The late singer, Freddy Mercury, was of Iranian descent and designed the logo for his band, Queen. It is a Phoenix, or Simurgh, rising from the band’s name. Many rock, hip-hop, and rap songwriters have referenced the phoenix in their titles or lyrics. There are so many that I will only reference one here: “Rize of the Fenix”, by Tenacious D.
“Phoenix, a journal of the Classical Association of Canada, publishes scholarly papers embodying original research in all areas of Classical Studies: the literature, language, history, philosophy, religion, mythology, science, archaeology, art, architecture, and culture of the Greek and Roman worlds from earliest times to about AD 600.”
“The Two Principles”, D. H. Lawrence. “One of the emblems Lawrence shares with Yeats from the esoteric tradition—the Rosy Cross— is well known to possess mystic significance in Yeats, as may be the case in Lawrence, but only to some more limited extent. In fact, in the work of the latter, it undergoes a massive transformation from an abstract glyph or sign to an organic, anthropomorphic form, still having its place in the rose-tree imagery I have already outlined. In “The Two Principles,” Lawrence not only mentions but draws this Rosicrucian figure among other forms of the cross, animating its center as “the creative reality itself,like the body of a four-winged bird”(SM177).
This indirect reference to his own special emblem—the phoenix—confirms the figure’s early significance to him.”
“D. H. LAWRENCE, W. B. YEATS, AND THE ROSA MUNDI”, by Virginia Hyde; The South Carolina Review, pp.68 – 82.
Shakespeare, “Phoenix & the Turtle”
Conan the Barbarian, Robert E. Howard –as king, the phoenix is inscribed on his sword for magic.
She – H. Rider Haggard - In “She”, “The Return of She”, and “Wisdom’s Daughter”, Ayesha’s tale of love, life, immortality, death, rebirth, and renewal is spun across the centuries as she lives through Egypt in the Ptolemaic era through the 20th century in central Asia. She finds the reincarnation of her lover in Egypt, Kallikrates, reborn as an Englishman, who has come on an exploration adventure with a friend. Her immortality is gained by bathing in a blue flame that appears on the full moon. If you have bathed in it once you are forever young and nigh-immortal; apparently you will age if you bathe in it a second time. This happened to Ayesha at the end of the first book, but in the early chapters of the second book she is restored to immortal beauty and life, still searching for Kallikrates.
The Phoenix Force - Jean the Phoenix, Red Queen/White Queen of Hellfire Club, Dark Phoenix (1979/80), Rachel the Phoenix (1980s – current), Jean the White Phoenix of the Crown (2000s - current), Hope Summers - Phoenix (2007 - currents), Madelyn Prior, the Goblin Queen (1980s-2000s), Cable (1980 – current), Marvel comics.
The Phoenix Force returned and split itself between Cyclops (her former husband), his time travelling son Cable, the White Queen, Emma Frost (Cyclops current psychokinetic love interest), X-Man Colossus and his sister Ilyana.
Harry Potter – (1990s – 2000s) – Professor Dumbledore has a pet phoenix, Fawkes.
Class of the Titans – This Canadian series is about a team of chosen teens who are the descendants of mythic heroes. The Olympian gods have chosen them to be the heroes of today, to remind people that the gods exist. The goddess Hera becomes a flaming phoenix firebird when she shifts into her aspect as Warrior Queen, a celestial Amazon. The peacock like shape of the phoenix form makes it a ‘natural’ to phase into as a mythical creature. Another interesting thing about this is that Hera is the mother of fire gods – Ares, Hephaestus, and Typhon, but I don’t recall seeing her described as manifesting in a fire form except for this cartoon. Nice observation on the part of the animators!
** One of the places in Egypt that the bennu or phoenix was revered was the city of Heliopolis, Egyptian name, Iunu. This is very homophonous with Iuno, the early Italian Juno, a.k.a. Etruscan goddess Uni. Hera is consistently syncretized with Iuno, Juno, Uni, and other goddesses of the realms of heaven, sovereignty, kingship or queenship, partnership/marriage, loyalty & oaths, coins & wealth, fertility, beauty, maternity, athletic games, etc. While there is no attested connection between Iunu and Iuno, it will be interesting to research it and find out more.
Bleach – This cartoon features a halberd (sword) that magically becomes phoenix-shaped when used. It destroys souls of those it’s used against.
Phoenix Hi no tori (bird of fire), Phoenix 2772 (1980); a series I have not seen yet.
Fushigi Yugi – Suzaku (vol.1); the mythic elemental red bird is a phoenix in this anime series. The adventures of two girls from our Earth who are magically transported into the world inside a mythic book, and their ensuing struggles to find love, survival, revenge, redemption, and forgiveness.
The Humpback Pony (features the Firebird) (Russian)
Pokemon – Ho-oh - the rainbow Pokemon bird, combination of Fenghuang & Huma bird of Persia/Iran and the Turkic goddess of fertility & virginity/purity, Umay (Huma). She is also known in Sufism, an Islamic mystical sect, and Tengriism, the Central Asian/Mongolian religion of Sky & Earth.
Yugi-Oh! – There are several phoenixes in the cartoon series and card game. The best known one is the Phoenix of Nepthys, adding more Egyptian magical mojo power to the card. “Yugi-Oh!” Relies heavily on Egyptian mythology as one of its’ informing sources.
LIVE ACTION TV -
Power Rangers – the Pink Ranger’s Firebird Thunderzord vehicle is only one of several phoenix inspired flying machines, most of which are battle crafts of varying robotic design. The Pink Ranger is called the Houo Ranger in Japanese; Houo is their word for Fenghuang or phoenix.
Phoenix – an Ultraman villain.
Dark Shadows – Laura Collins is a “Phoenix” who lives for a century at a time., she has to bring a sacrificial person with her into the flames that restore her and keep her virtually immortal. This is along the lines of the phoenix being reborn from flames as its old body is consumed and the new, reborn phoenix is purified. The motif figures in the myth of the Phoenix from Greece/Egypt/Rome, the Firebird from Russia and the H. Rider Haggard series about Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed.
CINEMA – “She” – starring Ursula Andress as the Egyptian priestess Ayesha. Ayesha is the phoenix symbol in this movie, bathing in blue flames to gain immortality.
“Adventures of Sinbad” – The roc is featured in this movie.
“Fantasia 2000” – Animated version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite”.
The Flight of the Phoenix – Jimmy Stewart and company experience a plane crash. They have to rebuild the aircraft in the desert; its ‘rebirth’ will save their lives.