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Phoenix rising

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The phoenix was a fabulous mythical bird, said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. Making its home near a cool well, the Phoenix would appear at dawn every morning to sing a song so enchanting that even the great sun god Ra would stop to listen.

It was said that only one phoenix existed at any one time, and it is very long-lived with a life span of 500 years. As the end of its life approached, the phoenix would build a pyre nest of aromatic branches and spices such as myrrh, sets it on fire, and is consumed in the flames. After three days the birth -- or as some legends say a rebirth -- the phoenix arises from the ashes.