The song of the phoenix

Nausica Manzi

 The daimon becomes the new appearance of those naked souls and the eternal voice of a soul-song, a phoenix that explodes in fire and triumphs in its own ashes.

An unknown power, a presence that haunted and shook Socrates. An inner divinity that neither taught nor admonished, a gentle voice midway between heaven and Earth, a terrible demon dispenser of destiny, a new shape taken in order to be reborn.  

The daimon is a calling, a voice that beckons one to action; to the constant choice of who one wishes to be, to the ongoing becoming, to the complex and delicate beauty of rediscovering oneself and being reborn from the ashes of existence each time. The daimon is the mysterious song of the phoenix.

From the Egyptians to the Native Americans, even in the Greek tradition, the daimon is an extremely interesting concept for a specific reason: in each and every interpretation of this term, whether negative or positive, it always denotes a presence that accompanies, guards, sculpts – and, by weaving threads of breath and flesh, embroiders all existence. In order to perform these tasks, however, this presence needs a perpetual choice. It is their choice that makes the daimon a voice, the song of the phoenix. Indeed, from my point of view, daimon and phoenix are two terms that merge and mingle in the fire of mystery and beauty of existence.


The phoenix is a fascinating purplish mythological bird, with tears that have healing powers and the extraordinary ability to embody and master fire until it is reborn from its own ashes. A creature that combines power and fragility, life and death, a symbol of struggle in the flames and unexpected rebirth from dust. 

Many authors speak of the phoenix, while others are convinced that it never really existed. Personally, I believe that it does exist and that it is visible to everyone in the form of a silent yet disruptive song, which is precisely what the daimon is. In order to get to know it, it is necessary to go back and listen to this song.

When I think of the phoenix, I think of Er, the main character from one of Plato’s myths that appears in his dialogue The Republic.  This myth narrates the discovery of Er’s body, a brave warrior who died in battle and after a few days, according to Greek tradition, is placed on the cremation pyre. As the flames surround him, Er wakes up, re-emerges and recounts what he has seen and experienced as a witness in the underworld. Hence, Er fights the fire and is reborn as a phoenix.

Er’s account goes into detail about the various moments of the process that leads souls to receive their judgement and embark on a journey of atonement in the underworld until they are reincarnated: wandering souls, desperate and contemplative, in search of their self. 

The part of the myth I would like to focus on is the moment when the souls choose the paradigm of life in which they will be reincarnated to begin a new cycle of life. This ritual takes place in the presence of the three Moirai, the divinities of destiny, daughters of the goddess Ananke (Necessity), on whose lap the spindle of the entire universe turns. 

” You will not be given a dàimon, but the dàimon will be chosen by you”[1]. This is the primary rule that is declared to the souls: each soul will freely choose the life in which to be embodied from among the innumerable varieties offered – notice how in the Platonic text the paradigm of life is called daimon. Each soul will be reborn from their own ashes like a phoenix only through a daimon that they will choose and embody. Therefore, the daimon becomes the new appearance of those naked souls and the eternal voice of a soul-song, a phoenix that explodes in fire and triumphs in its own ashes. Each soul becomes a phoenix that sings at its rebirth exclusively in the responsibility of its choice, “Responsibility lies with those who have chosen; the god is not held responsible”[2].

Virtue and consequently happiness, eudaimonia, having a good god within oneself and on one’s side. As Socrates maintained, it depends exclusively on choice, therefore on freedom: ‘Virtue has no master’[3]. The choice does not depend on a social or corporeal image that souls carry with them; in fact, the daimons offered are multiple and more numerous than all the souls present. Therefore, there is always the possibility of choosing a good life and finding the way to be a phoenix singing through its daimon, a reborn, free and responsible voice.

In other words, the daimon is the calling, the specific voice that, through its singing, i. e. through all its characteristics of a good or bad life and through harmonious or non-harmonious melodies depending on the choice that will be made, will give the soul a new shape: a phoenix that embodying the fire of pain and atonement will be reborn by making a choice.

Since multiple daimons are appointed by the Moirai, they are also mediators among the gods and mortals: in fact, in choosing and incarnating their daimon, each ‘phoenix-soul’ will acquire an inviolable sacredness and therefore, in some way, will also share the same divinity. Each ‘phoenix-soul’ will become a daemon, a god, and at the same time a mortal, as Eros is described in the Symposium: a living being, but one in which a god dwells, who paints, guards and weaves their destiny. In fact, by the end of the process, each soul receives this ‘sacredness’ from three characteristics that are unconsciously transmitted to it by the three Moirai at Ananke‘s feet:

Lachesi is the Moira who enlists the rules to the souls and who, in the end, hands over the chosen daimons to be reincarnated. Throughout mythology she is the allotter and represents the past. In my opinion, Lachesi embodies responsibility, which is the only characteristic that awakens and makes everyone truly free, able to be reborn from the past and be a creator of the new.

Cloto is the spinner, the present. Souls come to her to bind their choice under the spindle.

Atropo is the future, the one who makes the choice unalterable and immutable. She is therefore the beyond, the openness, the courage to ‘be otherwise’: new, fragile but strong ‘soul-phoenix’ that, united to its daimon, sings reborn.

Responsibility, complexity and the beyond make every ‘phoenix-soul’ sacred, divine and mortal; a living being inhabited by a god who is actually their own soul to be given new life each time, who is to be awakened, listened to and protected. Everyone is Er of the Platonic myth.

After all, Socrates who, believing in his own daimon, was accused of going against the traditional gods. In reality, he believed in the call of life of his ‘phoenix-soul’ and, in his philosophical mission, invited everyone to be reborn, rediscovering within themselves their own personal daimon – that song of their own ‘phoenix-soul’ – capable of thinking, choosing and thus acting and being the guardian and caretaker of their own and others’ existence. 

Daimon, the song of a ‘phoenix-soul’ that is reborn each time from all the ashes of existence and renews its own life between responsibility, complexity and the beyond.

[1] Translated from Plato, The Republic, 617 d, edited by G. Lozza, Mondadori, 2018.

[2]  Ibidem

[3]  Ibidem

Ti è piaciuto l’articolo? Lascia qui la tua opinione su La Livella.

Did you enjoy the article? Leave here your feedback on La Livella.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email