The Phoenix: A Mythological Bird - Owlcation - Education
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The Phoenix: A Mythological Bird

Angela is a lover of the supernatural and Greek mythology. Although naturally skeptical, she loves hearing theories of the unknown.

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 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 they may also have other colors such as blue or purple. 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 a beautiful 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 trace as far back as biblical times and within every continent where people live. Some believe its legend began from mysterious birds that people indeed came across. Most likely, no one will ever know.

Origin of the Phoenix

One bird that the legend derives from is the flamingo, who will nest on salt flats that are too hot for a flamingo chick nor its egg to survive. Nesting there causes a 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 derives from the more generic word, Phoenicopterus, which means Phoenix-winged.

Another belief is that the legend originated from the peacock, which would match its size and beauty. Although from the 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 what a Phoenix is thought to be. Many consider it as the size of an eagle. It does have the same beauty and same crimson and gold colors as the golden pheasant and the beautiful long tail. Some have blues and purples, just as phoenixes.

Golden Pheasant: Inspiration for the Phoenix

Golden Pheasant: Inspiration for the Phoenix

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 its 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, precisely 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.

What Does the Phoenix Symbolize?

A phoenix symbolizes rebirth or starting over. Someone may get a tattoo to signify that they have a fresh start, which is common when someone has overcome addiction or other severe 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 attribute. The body symbolizes kindness, the wings prosperity, and 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.

Famous Books About The Phoenix

Not only are 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 faithful to the sun god. Dumbledore's phoenix also sings, not only as it goes into helping Harry defeat the diary version of Voldemort, but even after Dumbledore's death.

The Phoenix Bird: Hans Christian Anderson was another famous writer who wrote of the tale, although his story 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 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 exact origin of where the legend began is unknown. Regardless, it has infiltrated its essence into our modern world.

Questions & Answers

Question: What sound does a Phoenix make?

Answer: First, keep in mind it is a mythical bird; therefore, it's sound can be as unique as your imagination can make it. Some believe their cry is supposed to be considered an elegant song; while others believe they make a large caw sound. I have even heard that they roar fiercely. Personally, I think of them as more elegant beasts that can be ferocious; therefore, I believe they may make all those sounds.

© 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

Cole West from Birmingham, West Midlands on March 03, 2020:

I love you.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on December 19, 2018:

Thanks, Angela, for your detailed report which includes some things about the bird that I wasn't aware of.

I have concluded that the Phoenix's presents to human is something like Nat King Cole's "NatureBoy". It is said that there was a person living in the wooded area around Los Angeles, California who, after learning Nat Cole was going to perform in the city, sought Nat's manager and presented the poem to him and asked he have Nat to perform it, once it was recorded he had disappeared. I have placed many "fairy tails" and "Nursery Rhymes" in that category which includes the Phoenix. My conclusion is those stories are what is often termed "divinely inspired" metaphors for the different human questioned events they represent.

To me, the Phoenix represent the universe I've renamed "Zeroverse" because once we add each of the nine numbers that carry an automatic positive connotation to their negative counterpart they becomes zero that had no negative nor positive polarity. What the Phoenix means is the Zeroverse has no beginning/ending nor positive/negative polarities, only a positive time the bird represents and a negative time the ashes represent which makes it the integration of the two in alternate manifestion.

The Phoenix can also represent the plight of human kind on earth, as indicated in the Bible with this material civilization that began at Genesis 1 and an "Alternate Body" (AB) civilization as outlined in Revelation 21.

It has been my findings that stories like "Snow White", "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", "The Three Pigs", "Jack and Jill" and other such stories are metaphors of the plight of man during the material civilizations' time, and maybe in the "AB" civilizations'.

Thank you much for sharing it.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on December 25, 2017:

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

Gregory Jones from IL on February 12, 2015:

Nice hub, very interesting!

kerlund74 from Sweden on February 21, 2014:

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

Karen A Szklany from New England on December 12, 2013:

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.

phoenix glenn on October 28, 2013:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on February 25, 2012:

I am so glad that you enjoyed it.

me on February 21, 2012:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on February 19, 2012:

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

mythlovar on January 15, 2012:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 20, 2011:

I love the books and the movie as well!

Nicky Castro on November 19, 2011:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on November 08, 2011:

It is definitely mine. :)

MythDen on November 04, 2011:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on September 29, 2011:

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

emma on August 25, 2011:

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 Schultz (author) from United States on June 27, 2011:

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

udochecker on June 23, 2011:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 20, 2011:

THank you so much Wendy!!!

wendy87 on April 17, 2011:

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

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 12, 2011:

Thanks so much for the great compliment!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 12, 2011:

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

Emma from Houston TX on March 12, 2011:

Very interesting and colorful article that is well presented.

Andrelle on March 11, 2011:

the phoenix seems to bean interesting bird

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on February 01, 2011:

Thanks so much!! :)

Addie's Momma from Bakersfield, California on February 01, 2011:

Very interesting article! Great job.