The old mythological legend of the phenir is a familiar one. The bird was described as of the size of an eagle, with a head finely crested, a body covered with beautiful plumage, and eyes sparkling like stars.
She was said to live six hundred years in the wilderness, when she built for herself a funereal pile of aromatic woods, which she ignited with the fanning of her wings, and emerged from the flames with a new life. Hence the phenix has been adopted universally as a symbol of immortality.
Godfrey Higgins (Anacalypsis ii, page 441) says that the phenix is the symbol of an ever- revolving solar cycle of six hundred and eight years, and refers to the Phenieian word phen, which signifies a cycle. Aumont, the first Grand Master of the Templars after the martyrdom of De Molay, and called the Restorer of the Order, took, it is said, for his seal, a phenix brooding on the flames, with the Latin motto, Ardet ut sivat, meaning She burns that she may live. The phenix was adopted at a very early period as a Christian symbol, and several representations of it have been found in the catacombs. Its ancient legend, doubtless, caused it to be accepted as a symbol of the resurrection.
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