"And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears." - Mark Anthony
You may have heard of the ancient myth of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. This mystical bird captures the universal life theme of death and rebirth, destruction and reconstruction, crucifixion and resurrection. It is the theme that: Life is a continuous cycle of renewal. Everything comes to an end. Everything regenerates somehow.
Legend portrays an image of this magical bird, brilliantly luminous, which lives for hundreds of years before it dies by combusting into flames. It is then born again from the ashes, rising gloriously to begin a new, long life, then flies away. Even if one does not know of this story, we know this story in our souls. We cannot prevent a cycle from closing nor can we stop the next cycle from being born. As Victor Hugo says, "No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come."
Quite powerful is the imagery that it is a theme and impression that is still used universally today in pop culture and tradition. There is no doubt as well that we as a nation and globally are presently living the myth of the Phoenix. Hurricanes and earthquakes have devastated and wiped away homes, our institutions (political, economic, religious, and medical) are all taking a downward spiral, mass shootings and violence around the world, testing our stamina and belief in goodness and peace. I know many who have ended marriages, left jobs, and moved far away. I myself have changed the way I practice medicine and teach yoga, from superficial to soulful, because physicality isn’t the whole story. And to be completely honest dance and soccer mom feel more authentic than all of the achievements in my curriculum vitae. Something’s really different.
As part of our life’s journey, we will all inevitably experience a “burning into flames” and “turning to ashes”. And, yes, no doubt, it is confusing and painful, like walking through the fire without an extinguisher and no place to go. Yet, there is hope. A promise…of the Phoenix rising, remember? The promise is that there will always be renewal from any incineration. Just as the sequoia trees, whose seed cones are opened and released by fire, so too we need fire to source our power within. The flames clear the land for their germination, and we too need a clean slate to transform and begin again.
“And here’s a touch of irony – even if a person does not want to rise from the ashes, and some actually do not, still they will grow Phoenix-wings, “ says Caroline Myss. “The wings will become a burden to them, should they choose to remain in their own ashes because wings are useless on the ground. So like it or not, life itself moves us forward.”