The phoenix has a legacy in many cultures, the the themes are consistent: transformation, longevity and renewal (rebirth, hope, renewal, progress, and eternity). The phoenix reminds us of our ability to regenerate from within, and our power in transformation.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the phoenix was a mythical bird from Ethiopia. It was spectacularly large, beautiful and adorned with mind-blowing plumage. The historian also reported that the phoenix made a nest cypress branches (to die). While sitting in the nest, the bird created a great deal of heat, and set itself on fire from its own heat with the cypress serving as kindling. After three days, the phoenix emerged from its own ashes, reborn and released from the sentence of death, able to live on forever.
In Egypt, the meaning of the phoenix is connected with the sun and the Nile. Their version of the phoenix was a Bennu, which was part heron, and part falcon. The Bennu was said to control the cycle of the sun each day. It flew with the sun in its beak, plucking it from its sleeping place at dawn, and putting it to rest at sunset.
In Rome, the phoenix was a symbol of the perpetual continuation of the Roman Empire, and the bird was featured on Roman coins as a reminder of the indomitable strength of the Empire.
The phoenix is commonly seen in twos, male and female, in Chinese myths and legends. But it’s not as simple as gender identification. Two phoenixes together represent yin and yang. The female meaning of the phoenix deals with yin energy – passive, intuitive, moon, winter. And so, the yang (male) phoenix is iconic of assertion, action, sun, summer.
The phoenix was a symbol of Christ in the Middle Ages – specifically, Christ’s resurrection.
The phoenix is about overcoming darkness and rising to the challenge to become powerful and succeed.
The Greeks, Babylonians, and Persians (among others) gave the Unicorn the symbolism and meaning of mysticism, magic, health, and purity. Unicorns represent the male energies in all their potency because of this creature’s horn. Regardless unicorn’s horn symbolism, the unicorn has also associations with the moon, which is feminine and instinctive. As such, unicorn could easily represent the sacred marriage and balance between emotions and logic.
According to Medieval legends, the unicorn was a savage and wild beast whose horn was prized for its extraordinary healing powers. Nevertheless, thanks to its penchant for maidens, it also became a focus of tales of romance and chivalry. This animal was also rumoured to only be captured by a virgin. Other meanings tied to this magical creature include dreams, virtue, integrity, healing, and freedom.
According to a far eastern lore the unicorn has a deer’s body, horse’s hooves, and the tail of an ox and is called K’i-lin. Seeing one was welcomed as a positive sign that preceded the birth of an admirable ruler. Purportedly Confucius’ mother saw one before his birth. Unicorns appeared the wise one, Fu His, and Genghis Khan had a conversation with a unicorn. When seen by warriors, it’s a sign of great danger and that fighting should stop.
Mythology tells us that unicorn is the son of a dragon. It is a noble beast that represents long life, happiness, and prosperity. Unicorn hooves never crush grass. They could fly and walk on water.
King James III chose a Unicorn as Scotland’s national symbol (unicorn appears in the Celtic Astrology system for people born between 8th July and 14th August). Similarly, Great Britain’s coat of arms features the unicorn & lion. Here the unicorn symbolises harmonious sovereignty.
Pegasus is a mixture of a horse and a bird and is purposed to be a symbol of beauty, majesty, and great spiritual power. Symbolically, Pegasus is an icon of hope, renewal, loyalty, and good deeds. There are many other winged horses called pterippus (which is a Greek term that combines hippo which means horse and pteros which means wing). For instance, there is the Arabian legend of Al Buraq, a winged horse associated with Mohammed. There is also a Biblical reference to archangel Gabriel’s winged steed named Haizum, whose wings were so expansive, they were known to block the light of the sun. There is also Quianlima, who was so supremely divine and perfect that it could not subject himself to a human rider.
Chimera – a beastly mixup of a goat, serpent, and a lion known to strike fear upon anyone who encounters it. According to The Penguin’s Dictionary of Symbols, the shadowy, dour qualities of these three creatures put together in one “monster” (their word, not mine), is symbolic of animalistic behaviour that is untamed and writhing just under the surface of every human.
Centaur – a Sagittarius sun sign – was like mythic bard. The centaurs cherished arts such as poetry, music, story-telling, and they were relied upon to pass on wisdom to humans.
Satyr is similar to a centaur, but instead of a horse, a satyr has goat bits mixed in with human parts. You might be most familiar with Pan, who is a Greek minor god. His job was to protect shepherds. Pan is also associated with god Dionysus… having a tricky, party-time reputation, satyrs are also known for their musical, poetical and lyrical prowess/ skills. Symbolically, the satyr shares the meaning of duplicity with the centaur.
Griffin – winged creatures often depicted with a lion’s hind-end, an eagle head, and talons for front feet – is a noble creature; griffins were often guardians of magnificent wealth and treasure. As an iconic protector, the griffin is often standing guard at the entrance of temples, castles, and other sacred buildings. They were a common sculpted feature in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, and their popularity spread into Asia and eventually to Greece around the 14th century CE.
Manticore originally came from Persia, but made appearances in Indonesia, France, India myths and less frequently in North American folk legends. he manticore is portrayed as a vicious, man-eating beast with a voracious appetite for human flesh. They are also known to lure in humans with their beautiful voices and melodic singing – only to eat their unsuspecting, music-loving admirers.
Minotaur – born to King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of Crete, the Minotaur started life being loved. How he grew older he became stronger, he could break a mortal man in half with its bare hands. Thus, the father king Minos has build labyrinth designed by Daedalus… Symbolically, the Minotaur represents the struggle between human and animal instincts.
Sirens have been cornerstone characters in Greek mythology since the 7th century BCE. Half women and half birds, they are deadly creatures. Sirens first appeared in Western art and literature during the Orientalising period, when Greeks adopted many decorative motifs, themes, and ideas from Syria and Assyria. In Greek myth, mermaids were original sirens who morphed into half maiden, and half bird.
Robin (PoC): My Skin
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Never on Sunday
Barrio Jazz Gang: Safe Under the Sun
Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66: Look Around
The Oscar Peterson Trio: This Could Be the Start of Something
New York Jazz Lounge: Lullaby of Birdland
Bob Belden: Sister Moon
Stan Getz: Winter Moon
Ella Fitzgerald: It’s Only a Paper Moon
Frank Sinatra: Fly Me To the Moon
Louis Armstrong: Moon River