The phoenix is a mythical bird which turns to ashes on dying and is born again from the ashes. This ability of the phoenix to rise again from its ashes implies its immortality. In some legends the new phoenix is believed to be the offspring of the dead phoenix. Some stories depict the phoenix as having the magical ability to transform into human beings.
The phoenix is a sacred firebird having a colorful plumage and a tail having streaks of gold, purple, scarlet or blue as depicted in some legends. The life-cycle of a phoenix can extend up to 1000years. Interestingly at the end of its life span, the phoenix rests in a nest of twigs which burns and gets reduced to ashes. From these ashes is reborn a young phoenix which lives the new life again for the predestined number of years as the old phoenix. The call of the phoenix is said to represent a melodious song. And it survives on odoriferous gums and frankincense rather than the customary fruits and flowers.
When the young phoenix rises from the ashes of its parent bird, it rests in the nest till it has grown and then flies with the nest to Egypt, where it deposits the nest in the sun temple in the holy city of Heliopolis. The Greeks identified the phoenix with the picture resembling an eagle or peacock in crimson color. According to Greek legend the phoenix lived in a palm tree near a well. Every dawn it bathed in the well singing a beautiful song which makes even Helios, the Greek sun-god stop by to listen to its melodious song.
Symbols generally tend to have multiple meaning and so is the case with the symbol of the phoenix as existing in different cultures. In the medieval period, the phoenix was symbolic of Jesus Christ. The legendary firebird which is reduced to ashes by its self-made fire rises again periodically to symbolize mystical rebirth and resurrection. As such the symbol of the phoenix represents life and immortality. The phoenix is often regarded as the symbol of the fiery sun and worshipped by the Phoenicians as “a God of Phoenicia”
The phoenix is represented differently in other cultures as the Garuda, the mythical bird in the legends of ancient India, Ziz in Hebrew legend to refer to the mythical bird which is seen as a protector of other birds. In Russian mythology the phoenix exists as the firebird while Bennu is the Egyptian equivalent of the phoenix. In Finnish folklore the phoenix exists in the form of Kokko represented as a bird of fire and iron. The Fenghuang is the Chinese phoenix, while Adarna is the Phillipine version of the phoenix.