From Ancient Greek to Shakespeare to a starring role in Harry Potter, the Phoenix is a much used character and symbol of regeneration. It is even used as an allegory in 1st Clement, 25:1-26:1 (Lightfoot Translation), a letter to the early church in Corinth which does not appear in the Bible but is known as one of the earliest surviving letters outside of the canon. The legend is generally attributed to Egyptian mythology, written about by the Greek Herodotus which brought the story into a wider consciousness.
I love the imagery of the Phoenix. It is often depicted as beautiful and graceful, flying into flame in the knowledge it will be reborn from the ashes. I’ve found it a really helpful analogy for times in my own life where I’ve felt like I’m sitting in a pile of ashes, and need to find the strength to rise. I know I’m not alone; I have often seen the Phoenix as the chosen tattoo of a woman finding freedom after abusive relationships, or rebuilding their lives after divorce. If I wasn’t such a wimp with needles I may even have one myself!
I’ve just finished reading ‘Untamed‘ by Glennon Doyle, in which she writes a whole chapter ‘Let it burn’. The chapter reads like a manifesto for freeing women, where she talks about burning the memos which tell us we have to be a certain way. It makes for powerful reading. As a woman who has regularly been told to act or be a different way to the one I naturally am, I wanted to cheer along to every paragraph. Doyle writes:
“What we need is women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trust herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn.” (Doyle, 2020, p75).
So, I’m going to let it burn. Then I will sit with the ashes of judgement, persecution, restrictive tradition, closed minds, beliefs I’ve been given without choosing them for myself, hatred, discrimination, perfectionism and fear – especially those that I turn upon myself. Then I will rise, free of the necessity to uphold what I no longer believe in, the self-flagellation of never being good enough, and full of myself and the love of God. I’ll probably have to do that on a regular cycle knowing me, but luckily the Phoenix is unlike a Time Lord and has unlimited regeneration cycles. What a beautiful, graceful image I have the potential to become. As God sees me, perhaps?
Peace be with you.
Doyle, G. (2020) Untamed: Stop pleasing, start living. London; Vermilion.