Year of the Fire Rooster-Phoenix: She Who Rises From the Ashes in Flames

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is known consciously, the blacker and denser it is... Beneath the surface we are suffering from a deadly boredom that makes everything seem meaningless and empty... to find renewal means to descend into one’s darkness.
— Carl Jung
Photography by  Amelia Merrick

Photography by Amelia Merrick

The theme of the shadow self has been surfacing more and more in the collective consciousness. As human consciousness evolves beyond the New Age / Burning Man wishful thinking that being blissed out in a yoga class or at an Ayahuasca ceremony is synonymous with transcendence, we begin to understand that there is no spiritual bypass- real transformation requires a certain, sometimes excruciating, amount of facing our own pain, trauma, and ugliness. With increasing frequency my badass lady light warrior friends (@radical_reiki, @drewlinden, @alxmrchenergy) bravely and consistently call our attention to what most of us don't want to hear.

As Carl Jung spells out for us, "People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making darkness conscious." 

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For most of us, the year of the Fire Monkey has been an intense, at times tragic, wild ride. It seems that the whole world is going crazy and we are hanging on for dear life as unthinkable things turn into a dystopic reality right before our eyes. The Year of the Fire Rooster means it is time to stop worrying and start acting. Roosters are daring, outspoken, and ambitious. They are also courageous, trustworthy, and loyal. While they are abundantly practical, they are also big dreamers and will do anything in their power to keep those who share their roost happy and safe. Just days after the political parody that took place on J20, the Year of the Rooster invites us to show up and fight for each other, to be true to the part of ourselves that others admire and intuitively rely on.

On the other hand, untamed Roosters might also be arrogant, self-aggrandizing, persuasive, demanding. They are prone to blind admiration and seeking truth in attractive people and shiny things. As cocky as we may become as we manifest our inner Rooster to save the world and everyone in it, the Buddha tells us: "No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." This wisdom brings our focus back from the external to the internal, and is imperative for staying balanced this year. The only way to help others is to help ourselves.

Image: Phoenix rising from the ashes in Book of Mythological Creatures by Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch (1747-1822)

Image: Phoenix rising from the ashes in Book of Mythological Creatures by Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch (1747-1822)

Interestingly, an alternative and more auspicious translation of the Chinese character for Rooster could be Phoenix. The Phoenix is a mythological bird that recycles its own life. When it perceives its impending death, It builds its own funeral pyre in its nest and ignites it with a single clap of its wings. In time, it rises from its own ashes - reborn, renewed, and very much alive. In this sense, the Phoenix never truly dies; rather, it is an immortal creature that is reborn again and again as it continually reemerges from the ashes of its own being. When the Phoenix presents itself, it is sending us strong messages of hopeand rebirth in the midst of despair.

In Chinese mythology, the Phoenix was sent to Earth to assist in the evolution of humanity. Typically, the phoenix is depicted as coming in twos, one male and one female, representing Yin and Yang energy. In this regard, it signifies the inherent necessity for balance in the world. Two phoenixes together are an emblem of perfect harmony of yin and yang despite, and because of, their inherent duality and mutual interdependence. The female phoenix symbolizes yin energy and is representative of the internal aspects of oneself- intuition, stillness, darkness.  The male phoenix symbolizes yang energy and is iconic of the external aspects of oneself- assertion, action, light. As a whole, a dynamic phoenix duo is an emblem of divine, immortal partnership (with oneself).

As Carl Jung tells us, "To find renewal means to descend into one’s darkness." Without light there is no shadow, but without shadow there is no path towards the light. The Yin-Yang symbol teaches us that although light and shadow are opposites, they are also two halves of a whole that are rooted in each other and depend on each other to thrive. As night turns to day and day turns to night, we rarely experience life situations that are pure Yin or pure Yang. Imbalance results when one overtakes and extinguishes the other, manifesting in spiritual, emotional, and physical disease.  Separation of yin and yang- the moment when these two great opposing forces cease to be intertwined- is synonymous with death.

And so, we exist in the middle of the dual forces of light and shadow. For each aspect of our souls to fully manifest, light needs shadow, as shadow needs light. This ceaseless interplay represents the spiritual evolution of humanity, collectively and individually. Both halves of the whole are needed for progress and transformation, as the dance of light and shadow makes us into who we can become. Delving deeply into our own darkness pushes us to emerge afresh with renewed energy for the things we are most deeply committed to. Like the mythical Phoenix, we carry light and hope within us and with strength, turn inward to illuminate the darkness and generate renewal. We can – and do – arise from the ashes of our own ego-dismantling to become even more than we were. What appears to be destruction, decay, and even death, is but a moment in an ever-evolving process of spiritual evolution.

This year, the Year of the Rooster-Phoenix, is our season to arise. This year symbolizes the imminent realization of our potential for rebirth, as individuals and communities and interconnected souls scattered throughout this Earth. As Tolstoy reminds us, "Remember then: there is only one time that is important - Now!... It is the only time when we have any power." 

This is the year to harness that power, embrace your inner Phoenix, and take flight.
The possibilities are endless.