The Phoenix and the Basilisk

We all feel that the world is full of evil and danger, and we often wish we could do something to liberate our existence and make the world a better place.

The Phoenix and the Basilisk

“The Hymn of the Pearl” describes a story in which the protagonist, a prince, is sent by his parents to Egypt to retrieve a pearl, a precious jewel closely guarded by a huge dragon – a serpent. The young prince arrives in Egypt, finds the dragon in a dark labyrinth and, ready for a difficult and dangerous battle, challenges the monster. However, he is not prepared for the kind of fight that will be imposed on him. Because the dragon does not engage in bodily combat but hypnotises the prince with its gaze and forces him into a completely different kind of fight, the dragon brings him into illusions in which the prince appears to have entered the fight. As he has come here to fight, he fights against everything and everyone, dealing blows left and right. To the dragon’s delight, he injures himself, as the energy put into the blows bounces off the walls of the dark labyrinth and inflicts more and more suffering on the prince.

The prince does not realise that he is not fighting the dragon at all, but he is fighting himself. For the more he engages in this battle, the more he wants to anticipate the dangers threatening him, the more he gives the dragon room for manoeuvre. The dragon puts various illusory situations before his eyes, forcing him to invent ever greater dangers for himself.

We all feel that the world is full of evil and danger, and we often wish we could do something to liberate our existence and make the world a better place. We experience different situations and attach them our fears, hopes and various visions. We often think of life as a grey existence. However, let us note that very often our consciousness is pierced by moments when we think we see a glimpse of light. It appears for a moment in front of our eyes caused by a moment of reflection on something we have seen in a film, read in a book or heard in a piece of music. It is then worth pausing for a moment in this rapid current of time to reflect on what struck us, what caused our reaction to the impression we have received, and why.

Maybe it is a reflection on the duality of the world depicted in the film ‘The Matrix’, where the main character fights against agents who want to keep humanity in an illusion. Maybe it is reflecting on the protagonist of the film ‘Groundhog Day’ and his attempts to understand what he is doing wrong in life that he must relive time and time again. Maybe we wonder for a moment, as we are shown in “Beauty and the Beast”, why a man who does not shy away from meanness and cruelty gains an animal form and, not understanding what he is guilty of, waits for some miracle in the body of a “beast”. Or perhaps we will finally take a moment to pay attention to a boy with extraordinary but dormant powers and his teacher, who is the headmaster of the school and keeps a phoenix in his office, as described by J.K. Rowling in the book “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.

The headmaster tells the boy about the bird’s extraordinary powers, which are hard to believe given the phoenix’s small stature. The boy is enamoured of his teacher and trusts him implicitly. Therefore, when he descends into the underground labyrinth, not knowing what awaits him there and what he will have to face, he only knows that he must defeat the basilisk. However, he is completely and unshakably convinced that the teacher will deliver him from any trouble, even though he is seemingly distant from the boy. It is this loyalty and faith in his mentor that makes the phoenix be present there in the hour of trial, when a monstrous serpent with mesmerising eyes, the basilisk, appears. The magical bird deprives the basilisk of its eyes, thus dissolving the illusion of believing that the giant reptile with its terrible teeth is invulnerable. With the illusion gone, the boy finds a sword, an extraordinary luminous weapon, and defeats the basilisk. This magical sword is like a lightning bolt, not only annihilating the dragon, but also, firstly, incinerating that handful of ashes from which the phoenix had to be reborn again and again, returning to its body in anticipation of a saviour.

Secondly, the annihilation of the basilisk exposed the Pearl that the dragon had appropriated and hidden inside its body. It was thanks to this jewel that the ruler of the underground labyrinth was so powerful. It was the Pearl that gave him the extraordinary power to bring about illusions. But it is the Pearl, as the inner element in the dragon’s body that causes those flashes of light to appear in the reptile’s eyes, amidst the dense illusion of “quasi-reality”, those dazzles which, by catching the attention of the person possessed by the illusion, allow him to pause for a moment and constantly gather the strength to free himself from this web. The Pearl, the marvellous jewel of true Knowledge and Wisdom, should serve everyone, but turning its power against others has caused the usurper to start turning into a beast, into a dragon.

And so, after the battle is over, the boy is carried out of the dark labyrinth by the golden-feathered Phoenix, together with the Pearl. He also begins to grasp that the Phoenix and the sword are not some external attributes added to him, but represent the power of his heart, which, fuelled by an unwavering faith, must bring every battle to a good end.

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Date: May 29, 2023
Author: Jadwiga Korczak (Poland)
Photo: by Mysticsartdesign on Pixabay CCO

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