It is said about the phoenix that it burns itself in a certain cycle, to be reborn from its ashes. The phoenix is a mythological bird which is being associated with the sun. There are at least two different kinds of phoenix birds encountered throughout the myths of the world. The first phoenix has its origins in egypt. Its egypt name is "Benu" which means as much as "the Ascending One". This name apparently was being associated during the earlier periods of egyptian history with various birds: the crane, the heron, the stork or the flamingo. Later it was more clearly identified with the heron. It was a kind of primordial god, which built its nest on the willow which is on the top of the primordial hill. The deities Re and Atum were akin to the symbolic meaning of the phoenix.
Because of its birdlike nature, the phoenix was called "ba of Re" (the soul of Re. The soul was believed to be a birdlike spiritual being). As a deity of creation and life it was also associated with Osiris. The phoenix was called "the famous ba" then, which came out of the heart of Osiris". There was a connection to the deity Kepera (the scarab-god), the Lord of Life and Death. The phoenix burns itself in his nest on the hill (sunset) and is being reborn the next morning. The hill is being located on the Flaming Isle of Re in the East, where the sun rises.
The other phoenix is the asian phoenix. I know a legend from central siberia: Early in the history there was no music in the world. A famous hunter wanted to go hunting in the wilderness. He saw the gracious and beatiful phoenix and wanted to add it to his trophy-galery. He stalked sneaky near the bird and shot an arrow on it. The phoenix cried out loud in pain. This cry was a very loud one. It opens up the mountains, it made the earth shake and stormy weather. Since that time the cry of this bird can be heard in the music of the wind.
Other legends tell us, that the phoenix lost one feather over persia and one over china. Both cultures have a highly developed unique aesthetic feeling of music. The phoenix is a symbol for good luck and the female empress in china, too. Perhaps the association with the female Empress rises from earlier chinese history, when tribal structures where common. The tribe of the "dragon" and the of the "phoenix" seemed to have been building an alliance somewhere in the Han-region.
Within siberias shamanic cultures the Great Bird as the founder of shamanic heritage may be another variant of the phoenix.
Nowadays, in Roleplaying-Games and sometimes in Fantasy stories the phoenix is mixed up with the Russian Firebird, another variant of the phoenix. The firebird became prominent in Igor Stravinskys "L´Oiseau de Feu" musical piece.
A Russian Tale of the Firebird
A chapter from the Egyptian book of the Dead
Ovid, Lonicerus, Solinus and Konrad of Megenberg
Al-Qazwini: The Wonders of Heaven and Earth