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The Phoenix: A Mythological Bird

Updated on September 10, 2018
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Angela is a lover of the supernatural and Greek mythology. Although naturally skeptical loves hearing theories and stories of the unknown.

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The Phoenix is a mythological bird known throughout all cultures and all ages. When it dies, the bird bursts into flames and is reborn from its own ashes, making it immortal. Each life is said to be between 500 and 1000 years. Crimson and gold accent most depictions of this majestic creature, although other colors such as blue or purple are often included. With the attractiveness of a peacock and the size of an eagle, this bird symbolizes beauty and strength. The Phoenix's cry is considered to be a beautiful sound much like an elegant song. Through its beauty and unusual death, the phoenix has come to be a symbol of immortality, renewal, and rebirth.

Although no one knows for sure how the myth of the phoenix began, the origins are traced as far back as biblical times and within every continent where people live. Some believe its legend began from mysterious birds that people truly came across. Most likely no one will ever know.

Origin of the Phoenix

One bird that the legend is believed to be derived from is the flamingo, who will nest on salt flats that are too hot for a flamingo chick nor its egg to survive. Instead, the flamingo builds a nest that is above this causing a very unique convection effect that is similar to that of the convection of a flame. The flamingos family name in the scientific world is Phoenicopteridai, which is derived from the more generic word, Phoenicopterus which means Phoenix-winged.

Another belief is that the legend was derived from the peacock, which would match its size, and beauty. Although from majority of the descriptions, it is the golden pheasant that most resembles what we view a phoenix to look like. Although a golden pheasant is much smaller than that of an eagle, as the phoenix size is compared, it does have the same beauty and same crimson and gold colors with the beautiful long tail. Some have blues and purples, just as phoenix's are sometimes depicted as having.

Golden Pheasant: Inspiration for the Phoenix
Golden Pheasant: Inspiration for the Phoenix | Source

The Myth Surrounding the Phoenix

The Phoenix used to roam the Earth just like any other bird, but one day the sun god laid his eyes on this magnificent colorful bird, with it's gold tail feathers and red roughage. He could not believe his beauty. The sun god came down to see the bird closer. As he got close, the phoenix felt charmed by the sun god, and began to sing his beautiful melody.

Realizing that the Phoenix was one of the most beautiful birds with a beautiful voice, the sun god decided to allow this bird to live forever. Although, the phoenix loved spending time with the sun god, and singing beautiful songs to him, his bones were not meant to last forever. After five decades he began to fly slower, and his song was a little more haggard.

The sun god had mercy on the bird, and told him to build a nest of cinnamon bark and myrrh. After the aging phoenix built his nest, he laid down. As he was resting, the sun god shone his bright light on the bird and the phoenix burst into flames. In its place was an egg, the egg began to hatch as the last of the fire was extinguished, and out came a baby phoenix, exactly like the one before.

Every five hundred to a thousand years, as the phoenix begins to feel his bones deteriorate. He builds his nest of cinnamon and myrrh to have the sun god to have mercy on him time and time again.

Source

What Does the Phoenix Symbolize?

A phoenix symbolizes rebirth or starting over. Someone may get a tattoo to symbolize that they are having a fresh start. This is common when someone has overcome addiction or other serious trauma. It also means victory over death. Because of the rebirth symbolism, a phoenix is often thought to represent a lot of good virtues such as grace and kindness. Others feel that each part of the bird symbolizes a different virtue, such as the body kindness, the wings prosperity, and the head reliability.

Some feel that a phoenix is a representation of Jesus Christ, because of Christ's resurrection and that of this mythical birds rebirth.

Statue of Phoenix
Statue of Phoenix | Source

Famous Books About The Phoenix

Not only is there many legends surrounding the phoenix, but many stories have picked up on this legendary creature and made it their own.

Harry Potter: Most recently, JK Rowling wrote of a phoenix owned by Dumbledore, which much like the legend burst into flames and becomes a baby. The bird also is fiercely loyal to Dumbledore and even helps him in battle, just as the myth says the phoenix is loyal to the sun god. Dumbledore's phoenix also sings, not only as it goes into help Harry defeat the diary version of Voldemort, but also after Dumbledore's death.

The Phoenix Bird: Hans Christian Anderson was another famous writer who wrote of the tale, although his tale more closely followed the bird. He wrote about how the phoenix was born under the tree of good and evil, the very one Eve ate from that gave her knowledge of good and evil. He hatched from a rose that blossomed underneath this tree, and in some way it was Eve's fault there is only one.

The Bible: The bible references this mythological creature, although it states it as the Hol. It's a short reference, but nonetheless it is there, which shows how far back this legend persists. Job states, "I shall multiply my days as the Hol, the phoenix" (Job 29:18).

The myth of the phoenix has lasted throughout history as far back as the bible, and much before. It is such a common myth that few people have not heard of this legendary immortal creature. Although, due to its extensive history in several cultures, the true origin of where the legend began is unknown. Regardless, it has infiltrated its essence into our modern world.


Citations

  • Calicoaster. "The Mythological Bird that Grows from its ashes - Phoenix." HubPages. March 16, 2011. Accessed February 27, 2018. http://hubpages.com/hub/Grow-from-your-ashes-Phoenix.
  • "Phoenix (mythology)." Phoenix (mythology) - New World Encyclopedia. Accessed February 27, 2018. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Phoenix_%28mythology%29.
  • Wei, Jerilee. "Mythical And Imaginary Animals That Never Were - Part I." HubPages. August 12, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2018. http://hubpages.com/hub/Animals-That-Never-Were.

© 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

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    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 months ago from Ohio

      I have always loved the myth of the phoenix. I enjoyed this article. Merry Christmas!

    • BigMarble profile image

      Gregory Jones 

      3 years ago from IL

      Nice hub, very interesting!

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 

      4 years ago from Sweden

      Fascinating and interesting, thank you fo reminding, a beautiful myth:)

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      4 years ago from New England

      Beautiful article about the phoenix, both the legends around the bird and the inspirations from birds that still roam the earth. Also love Fawkes the Phoenix of Harry Potter!

      Voted Up.

    • profile image

      phoenix glenn 

      4 years ago

      this myth of the phoenix is very much rare and interesting... this is the the reason why i choose this... sign

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      I am so glad that you enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      me 

      6 years ago

      i love it it was so interesting i just felt like reserching it and poof i get this its amazing more then i could expect :D

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      Actually I have some in mind to do. I've been so busy working, moving, being a foster parent, a mom, getting a puppy, and balancing housework. Someday I'll get back on here when things slow down. LOL

    • profile image

      mythlovar 

      6 years ago

      this article is very fasinating, u should do more especially on mythical creatures

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      I love the books and the movie as well!

    • profile image

      Nicky Castro 

      6 years ago

      I am watching Harry potter you know I like to buy phoenix when I read this oh no. it's so far away

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      It is definitely mine. :)

    • profile image

      MythDen 

      6 years ago

      I love the phoenix, it's probably my favourite mythical creature. Great hub, thanks!

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      I'm so glad it was able to help!!! I love sharing what I find interesting!

    • profile image

      emma 

      7 years ago

      thanks this has helped my son do his homework it has every piece of information he needed. we enjoyed reading it together thanks again

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      That's okay! :) I actually sometimes teach English as a second language. :)

    • profile image

      udochecker 

      7 years ago

      ah, sorry if my English isn't correct. I'm better in German :D

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      THank you so much Wendy!!!

    • profile image

      wendy87 

      7 years ago

      wow!!! I found it very interesting...voted up keep writing such beautiful hubs

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much for the great compliment!

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      Yes, I agree it is a very interesting bird. :) Too bad it was only mythical. :)

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 

      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Very interesting and colorful article that is well presented.

    • profile image

      Andrelle 

      7 years ago

      the phoenix seems to bean interesting bird

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much!! :)

    • photographybyar profile image

      Addie's Momma 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, California

      Very interesting article! Great job.

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