While most people are familiar with the phoenix as a mythological bird, I've always seen Phoenix as something quite different. This is how she has revealed herself to me, though others may have a different view of her. Winged and compassionate like Isis, a feminine symbol of the sun like Amaterasu, a woman of fire like Pele, she is a goddess who watches over her bipolar children. She experiences their cycles of flying high and crashing and burning. She gives us the gift of fire as a force that sustains life, and also as one that brings the destruction necessary to make room for new life.

    As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, Phoenix is very dear to me. She reminds me that the burning phase may be glorious and creative, but it is only temporary. She also shows me that the phases following that mania, usually depression, are not the end of life, but merely another part of the cycle. I was inspired by her, and by my own experiences with the disorder, to write this poem.

    I have seen this pile of dirt and ash before.
    I have waited for the blistering winds of a merciless desert
    To become the winds of night that caress while coyotes howl.
    I have prayed that the wind will not scatter the ashes,
    For from them forms a garnet, a blood red gem of royalty.
    This will be my home, my mother's womb.
    This garnet nestled in a bed of ash will crack and shatter one day
    And I will break free, spread my wings, and soar into Heaven.
    I will have my moment of glory, my day in the sun,
    And like Icarus, I will fly too high, I will fall too far.
    They say the brightest flame burns fastest,
    So I know my moment will be brief.
    I shall kiss the sun in a moment of joy,
    But it shall give me the kiss of Judas,
    And I shall know the pile of dirt and ash again.

    It is not a story of sadness, but of acceptance. Phoenix also reminds us that death is part of the cycle of life. We can turn to her when we are losing those we love and she will hold us in her merciful embrace and comfort us. Her tears have the power to heal, and she sheds them freely with us.

    Birds of prey are sacred to Phoenix. They make room for new life by bringing death to others. In this way, we see that death is not an evil force, but a blessing. Even if we could live forever with no pain or illness, we would never hear a baby laugh or see a child play again because the earth would be so crowded with adults. Phoenix and her birds allow us the gift of youth, giving us life
    when they bring death. I especially think of Phoenix anytime I see a red-tailed hawk.

    The sun is sacred to Phoenix because she cannot complete her cycle without it. She is reborn at Imbolc and first finds strength to fly at Ostara. The energy of Beltane feeds her, and by mid-summer she is at her strongest. This turning point in the year is also a crucial point in Phoenix's cycle. It is at this time that she reaches the sun and begins her fiery descent. By Mabon her egg has formed and she is ready to rest again. It is not until mid-winter that the first cracks start to
    show on the egg, and in the spring she is reborn at Imbolc.

    To honor Phoenix, tie knots in a cord or string beads in multiples of three. This number represents cycles; past, present, future; birth, life, death or life, death, rebirth. If you string beads, use something like amber or carnelian if possible. On each of the knots or beads, say this prayer:

    Blessed Phoenix, Great Bird Woman of Fire, I honor you.
    You are born of fire, die in fire, and are born again of fire.
    Make me one with the many cycles of life.

    When you are having a hard time with the cycles of life, especially
    the death or impending death of a loved one, you can perform this ritual
    to bring the compassion and healing energy of Phoenix into yourself.

    It is best to do this ritual during the day, and outside if at all
    possible. Light candles of red, orange, and/or yellow. Wear gold jewlery if
    you have any, especially with stones such a carnelian, yellow topaz, or any
    stone that represents fire for you. If you have clothing with any symbols of
    fire or the sun, wear that for this ritual. You will also need a clear bowl
    or glass of water with just a pinch of salt stirred into it. Try to find a
    sunflower or something else representing the sun to offer to Phoenix.

    Light the candles, cast your circle, and make your appeal to Phoenix.
    Hold the water up to the sun and say, "Phoenix, bless this water, salty as
    your healing tears, and let it ease my pain." Make your offering to her and
    then drink the water, taking her healing energy into yourself. Extinguish the
    candles and open the circle. Wear the clothes and/or jewlery for the rest of the
    day if you can to help remind you of the healing and comfort Phoenix has
    blessed you with.

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