Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1198742-Burning-the-Phoenix
by Diane
Rated: E · Article · Arts · #1198742
A tall, wooden Phoenix is set aflame just before the Winter Solstice in Phoenixville, PA.
The burning of the Phoenix is a ritual of death & rebirth at the Winter Solstice, in Phoenixville, PA., organized by the city officials and artists of the town. Phoenixville, incorporated in 1849, grew up around the company called Phoenix Iron & Steel Works. When the company closed in the early 1980s the town went into a twenty-year slump. But just in the past several years it has enjoyed a rebirth befitting of its name. The town has literally risen from the ashes! Bridge Street, the main avenue of Phoenixville, is home to many galleries, unique shops & restaurants, and a revived Colonial Theatre.

To celebrate the renewal of Phoenixville, each year for the past three years the town’s artists construct a beautiful 20-to-25 foot-tall wooden Phoenix, and the weekend before the Winter Solstice the bird is set a-flame to the drumming, dancing, chanting, and singing of hundreds of people. It is truly a magical sight to behold!

This is not billed as a pagan festival, but gathered all around in the crowd of hundreds were pagans from all over the Philadelphia area (and beyond) celebrating their winter holiday! Part of the magic of the night was that people from all walks were there to celebrate rebirth and welcome back the light.

There was drumming and parading, and there were fire spinners and jugglers, storytellers, musicians and craftspeople. Shortly after 8 p.m. the Phoenix was set ablaze to the chants from the crowd to “Burn that bird!” The chill in the air was replaced by intense heat and floating embers that pushed some people back a bit. Despite the tightly packed group of people, everyone gave way to those wanted a closer look or to step back as the fire intensified. A man stepping back exclaimed, “It’s like a barn going up!”

The flames lept forty feet into the air, but breezes were calm and the firefighters stationed all around the parameter were happily not needed. As people stood mesmerized by the site it was an opportunity for some of us to put down the cameras and lift our faces toward the burning Phoenix with eyes closed and remember the things we wish to let go of this season, and welcome renewal and healing into our lives as we welcome back the light.

(A slide show of the burning of the Phoenix from start to finish is at http://tinyurl.com/vnt4t)
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