Carl B. Yoke
I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the phoenix. 1
Job, xxix: 18
The phoenix takes many forms. In the apocryphal Book of Enoch, it appears as a great serpent with a crocodile head. In Arabic lore, it is the Al-Salmandra, a four-footed animal that changes into a bird and lives in fire. It is the Persian simurg, an animal comprised of thirty birds in one (the same as the Arabic 'anka), and it bears resemblance both to the Hindu rukh and the Garuda, a half man, half bird with a golden body, white face, and red wings.
It is also the Egyptian bennu--the fabulous red and golden bird that came to symbolize the rising, regenerated sun, the bird that appeared at the Heliopolis once every five hundred years bearing a ball of myrrh in which it had embalmed the body of its own dead father and which it later buried in the Temple of the Sun. From this phoenix, dead in its nest of cassia and frankincense, a worm crawls that will grow into the new phoenix.
Beneath each of these variations of the phoenix is a universal concept-- rebirth. 2 It lies at the core of the bird's symbolic meaning and is the reason that it eventually came to stand for the Resurrection in later Christian symbolism. 3 But the symbol is not simply limited to rebirth. By logical extension, it must also include an initial birth, and death because rebirth can occur only if preceded by initial birth and death.
All of the countless rebirth symbols found in the world's mythologies encompass, at least by implication, the broader pattern. Some, like Kali, the Black