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~ Symbolism of Blazes ~
The Phoenix
Blue Flames
Base for Flame

The Phoenix - The Story
It is said that as early as 500 B.C., people believed in the phoenix, a legendary bird that would live for 500 years. Near the end of its life, the phoenix would build a funeral pyre for itself. As it began to die, it would lay down on the wood; the wood would burst into flames consuming the phoenix after the bird died. The phoenix would emerge anew from the ashes of the funeral pyre stronger and more beautiful than before living on for another 500 years.

Thus, the phoenix, the ancient mythical creature that is consumed by flames, only to be reborn anew, is another symbol of transformation and a representation of the grief response. The transformation phase is similar to that of the mythical creature the phoenix, which after burning on a pyre, rises gloriously and triumphantly from the ashes to live again. This mythical bird is especially representative for those who feel entirely consumed by the deep emotional response to grief before re-emerging, in a sense, being reborn by the experience.

The Phoenix and Blazes
When looking for a unifying theme to symbolize the processing the grief response, the main symbol chosen to represent the process we have termed "Transitional Medicine" was the butterfly; this insect undergoes a major transformation process as part of its normal life cycle. The phoenix is provided here as an alternative for those who feel that the butterfly is too fragile and delicate a creature to be used as a symbol of the grieving process.

The phoenix was chosen to represent strength, hope and rebirth, as well as transformation. The image of the phoenix emerging from the ashes of complete destruction was also selected to be one that would appeal to male visitors to the site. This image would better represent the sturggle to change following a loss and be a symbol of strength in overcoming adversity.

The term "Blazes" comes from a poem that written in 1996. This poem entitled "The Blaze" describes the story of the phoenix, a mythical bird, who rises victoriously from the flames set to destroy it—reborn, renewed and gloriously and triumphant. In designing the site we decided that it would be too confusing to use both themes within the site, therefore use of the phoenix imagery has been primarily within the "Butterflies & Blazes" section of the site. The phoenix images will be incorporated with inspirational quotes into the new Healing Place section of the site.

The Phoenix and Transitional Medicine
The mythologic phoenix was chosen as another symbol of transformation and is used primarily within the "Butterflies & Blazes" section of the site. This symbol was chosed to represent an image of strength as an alternative to the more fragile, delicate butterfly image. The story of the phoenix is another good representation of the grief response, as the bird is consumed by flames only to be reborn anew rising from the ashes of destruction; this imagery is especially helpful for those who feel consumed by the deep emotional response of grief before re-emerging in a sense, being reborn by the experience. Many people can relate to the symbol of the phoenix emerging from the ashes of complete destruction—strength overcoming adversity.

The Phoenix Rises from the Flames of Loss
This website was established to help people of both genders experiencing loss to better understand the grief response. It is particularly important that the loss is processed in some way—whether talking with family a trusted friend, clergy, health care or mental health professional; writing in a journal; working it out through exercise or finding other creative ways of expressing the emotions— otherwise the grief may increase:

If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble.

Journey of Hearts is also designed to aide visitors in making it through the transition phase of the grief response. This transition phase is one which may be filled with despondency and depression, but by finding help and the resources that each individual may need to cope with the crisis. It is our hope that the grieving will emerge from the darkness of grief, incorporate the loss or change and be transformed into a different person. In time just as the phoenix rises reborn from the flames, so to will he/she emerge from the loss, forever changed. Part of the grieving process involves learning to live again in a life forever changed by the loss.

Each life-crisis I have faced has been a chance for self-assessment and personal growth that has forced me to critically evaluate the situation and find the opportunity frequently previously overlooked or unconsidered prior to the life-altering circumstance. The crucial message is that the out of death (symbolic as in relationship or death of a loved one or friend), destruction and the depths of despair can emerge a new life, a life stronger than before. I find the quote by Anne Wilson Schaef to express these sentiments well:

So often,
we believe that we have come to a place
that is void of hope and void of possibilities,
only to find that it is the very hopelessness
that allows us to hit bottom,
give up our illusion of control,
turn it over,
and ask for help.
Out of the ashes of our hopelessness
comes the fire of our hope. 
Blue Flames
Base for Flame

Like the mighty phoenix,
Once again I rise from the flames set to destroy me & take flight.
I am
Phoenix Rising
Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS

The main orange logo phoenix was created for the site by Maryann Sterling. The blue phoenix is © Lethann at the Silver Phoenix. The animated blue flames image is © Joan Kirk at Angelic Artistry.
All images are used within the copyright guidelines of the artists.

See the Emergency 911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.

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All material, unless otherwise specified, is © 1997-2003 by Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS of Journey of Hearts. Information on this site may be shared with others, but not in for-profit ventures without permission.
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Orange Butterfly

Last update March 1, 2002