A beautiful bird found me. I was lying face down in the desert. She gave me one of her feathers and she told me many things; some of which I didn't like but my anger moved me out of the desert and back into the world. I took my beautiful bird with me. She asked me for sunshine and flowers and a beautiful garden but I didn't want to give them to her, instead I fed her wispy dreams and a scattered handful of wishful thinking; I told her it was food. I sowed these seeds as sustenance for her in the garden and then I left. When I returned my beautiful bird was sick, her wings had lost their sheen and she could not raise her head.
I could have turned her loose but I decided to take her with me out of the garden. We travelled to a terrible place, I told her that I would feed her and she came with me willingly enough.
Once there I pinned her wings up against a wooden fence and stuck pins into her breast. With each pin a drop of red blood fell upon the ground and as it hit the earth a flower sprang up; each one a dream. I picked each one as it grew and ate them in front of her. She asked me "why are you doing this?", and I told her, "I don't know, but in a while I'll write you a letter to explain."
I didn't know that with each drop of blood I could have grown and entire garden and opened it to sunshine. Instead I took a blade and I drove it into the heart of my beautiful bird. Then I took her down from the fence and I laid her in a box lined with purple velvet. I went outside the walls and placed my beautiful bird upstream on the river and let her go. I turned away without a second glance and went back inside the terrible place. The garden was dead. The place was a desert. I lay down and buried my face in the dirt.
Tales of the phoenix appear in ancient Arabian, Greek, Roman, and Far Eastern mythology. In both Greek and Egyptian tales, the phoenix represented the sun, dying in flames at the end of the day and rising each morning. Early Christians came to view the flight of the phoenix as a symbol of rebirth and the resurrection, leaving the old world for the new world of the spirit, dying and rising again, reborn. It symbolized the victory of life over death, immortality, and Christ’s resurrection. Jewish legend describes the phoenix as the one creature that did not leave paradise with Adam, and that its legendary longevity is due to abstaining from the forbidden fruit that tempted the ‘first man’. On Roman coins, the phoenix represented an undying empire.The phoenix is said to live for 500 years. When it grows tired, it builds a nest of aromatic twigs, and then sets fire to itself to be consumed in the funeral pyre of its own making. After three days, the phoenix would arise from the ashes, reborn. According to Egyptian legend, it carries the embalmed ashes of its previous incarnation to Heliopolis, the city of the sun. The Egyptian phoenix was said to sing sweetly, and to dazzle with its plumage of gold and scarlet and purple.
According to Chinese mythology, the phoenix is the symbol of grace and virtue and is second only in importance to the Dragon. It represents the union of yin and yang, and was a gentle creature associated with the Empress, who alone could wear its symbol. The feathers of the Chinese phoenix were black, white, red, green and yellow – the five primary colors. In Japan, the phoenix is found carved into sword hilts, and the image of the bird seen as embroidery on kimonos. Along with the sun, the phoenix is one of the emblems of the Japanese Empire. In Japanese tattooing the phoenix is often twinned with the the dragon, symbolizing yin and yang, the harmonious combining of the best of the feminine and masculine virtues.
The lily appears in the bible and represents a symbol of faith and a surrender to God’s grace. The lily can represent a symbol of Christ himself and the lily is often used as decoration during Easter. The lily also represents immortality and resurrection. The ancient Greeks and the Egyptians used the lily as a symbol of erotic love - they believed it was a phallic symbol linked to fertility and images of lily’s appear often in the art of these ancient cultures. In France the royal family adopted the lily as the Fleur-de-Lis on their coat of arms in the 12th century. They believed that lily's three petals bound at the base would ensure the prosperity of the royal line. The renaissance gave the lily its meaning of chastity, purity and innocent love. The image of the lily was present in depictions of the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus and through this reintepretation the lily came to symbolise innocence and purity over erotic love.
Lotus flowers are symbolic of rebirth in Eastern beliefs, but aside from the religious meaning, the lotus also symbolizes truth and enlightenment particularly to those of the Buddhist faith. In many ways it mirrors the quest for truth and enlightenment amongst the murkiness and struggles of life.
The modern interpretation of the lotus flower seems to be one of estranged love or new beginnings. Many people get lotus flower tattoos after the break-up of a relationship. This may mean that they have risen above the depths or alternatively may return back to it as the lotus returns to the pond.