"It is said that the swan is mute its entire life. Upon the threshold of death, however, it sings one achingly beautiful song that steals the final breath from its chest, and then it expires upon that ultimate sigh. It is the most heartbreakingly wrenching song of ending.
But the song of the phoenix...ah, the song of the swan cannot compare. When the phoenix sees death beckoning, she lifts her voice in a tragic song of pain, of rending, of sorrow...that yet cannot mask the most intense joy, for she knows that as the flames lick at her heart, the heat is quickening the egg in which her successor sleeps. Her deathflame is its lifespark; one is linked inextricably to the other. And thus she was tied to her predecessor, and she hers, and then she hers, to the beginning of time. She sits in her deathbed, upon her nest, and she submits to the inevitable hand of fate. As the fire burns searing hot and white, she spreads her wings and breathes her final song of expiration.
Meaning: Closing the door to the past and opening a new one, going through transition, changing status, shedding the old and excess, bowing to inexorable forces and sweeping changes. The old must be set aside and burned away to make way for the new. The ancient story of the phoenix is one that is echoed and repeated in dozens of cultures. She is death and rebirth and life, encapsulated in a single symbol. Irises are associated with death, as Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow, which she used to travel down to earth with messages from the gods and to transport women's souls to the underworld. Deadly nightshade is a highly poisonous plant, symbol of deception, danger and death. And sumac, in the Victorian language of flowers, says, 'I shall survive the change.'" ~Barbara Moore, Shadowscapes Companion
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