Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Phoenix Arises From the Ashes

The Phoenix is described as a bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (literally "sun-city" in Greek). It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song.

So what does that have to do with me?  In many ways I'm like that Phoenix.  My old life has been burned away and a brand new Me has arisen from the ashes.   In my old life I had an emotionally abusive husband who kept me isolated and depressed and stifled the person that I truly was.  I knew there was someone much brighter, stronger, and supremely joyful hidden within me, but she was never allowed to come out before.  Since I left my husband and moved across the country that person has been able to blossom.  I wake up happy every day.  I laugh often and loudly, without fear of judgement.  I share my joy with those around me and know they won't demean me for it, or try to take that joy away.  I finally feel as though I'm truly alive.  I've found my path and am following my Light, and life has never been better.  In the past my husband was always coming up with excuses not to do things reasons to avoid experiencing  life (so of course I couldn't do these things either).  Now when someone invites me to try something new I say "Sure, why not?"  And that attitude has lead me to some wonderful discoveries.  I love camping and hiking in the mountains- both brand new experiences for me.  I've even developed a taste for spicy food, which I never really tried before because my husband didn't like it.  Life is full of opportunities and possibilities, and I intend to take advantage of as many as possible!
Ever since I left my husband I had the idea to make a Phoenix necklace for myself.  I rarely make anything for myself, but I knew, deep down, that this was something I needed to do. I've become much more in touch with my instincts and intuition over the last several months, and have learned to follow those instincts. For months the ideas drifted around in my mind, but I waited to start sculpting.  I've learned that everything happens in it's own time, and that I would know when it was the right time to create this piece.  That time happened to come at 1am last week- LOL.  I was hit by an intense urge to sculpt my Phoenix, and I knew exactly how I wanted her to look.  And since I can now sculpt whenever I want to, without anyone complaining about it, I was up until 3am working on this one.  And the feeling while I was sculpting was absolutely euphoric.  The inspiration was intense.  The flames that are the bird's tail were inspired by a camping trip I took a week or so earlier.  I sat by the camp fire (which I made) and watched the full moon rise over the mountains in front of me and was filled with such emotion and an amazingly powerful feeling of gratitude.  I watched the flames of the fire twist and dance like a living thing: green and blue at the hot center, then red, orange, and yellow at the outer edges.  I've always been fascinated by fire, and I can sit for hours gazing at the flames.  You see, there's just so much more to this necklace than a physical pendant.  The emotion embedded in this piece can't be quantified.  This necklace represents my strength and ability to maintain my true self, even after years of hiding that self behind protective walls.  If my husband had seen this part of me he would have destroyed it as quickly as possible.  I am a happy, energetic, creative, loving person who is filled with the joy of life.  And now I'm surrounded by people who appreciate that person and accept me for who I really am.  It may have taken 37 years, but I've finally got it right and am doing exactly what I should be doing, where I should be doing it ;)
And here are the work in progress pictures of my Phoenix necklace.
I started with a wire armature to add strength to the wings.

Then I sculpted the body and head, using a bright blue glass bead for the eyes and adding feather around the eye and on the top of the head.

Next I sculpted feathers for the wings, textured them, and applied gold and red Pearl Ex powders for an iridescent sheen.

I added a row of smaller feathers and applied red Pearl Ex.

To finish I sculpted the flaming tail and textured the rest of the body.  The tail, body, and head are colored with blue, blue-green, red, and gold Pearl Ex powders, mimicking the colors of actual flames.
After the Phoenix pendant was baked  I sealed it with two coats of high gloss glaze and attached it to a gold necklace.
Thanksgiving is next week, and when I think of all the things I have to be thankful for this year it brings me to tears.  My life isn't perfect, and it probably never will be, but that's OK.  I can handle whatever challenges are thrown at me, and I can do it with my head held high knowing I am being the best person I can be.  I've risen from those dark, smothering ashes and am spreading my newly found wings.