A Thing or Two About the Phoenix

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1.  A phoenix can live between 500 and 1000 years, at the end of which it will build a nest and ignite, burn fiercely, and be reborn from its own ashes.

2.  The Roman poet Ovid maintained that the phoenix was not necessarily reborn from its own ashes, but that it would burst into flames while giving birth to a newborn phoenix.

3.  According to Greek mythology, the phoenix lived in Phoenicia near a well. In the morning it would bathe in the well and sing its melodious song, which was so beautiful that the sun god, Helios, would stop his chariot to listen.

4.  A phoenix’ cry is like a beautiful song.

5.  The phoenix, unsurprisingly, is mostly used to be symbolic of rebirth, resurrection, and immortality.

6.  Fitting so closely with Christian themes, it is no surprise that Christians have used the phoenix as a symbol for many centuries. Pope St. Clement (in 96 A.D.) used the phoenix to prove Jesus’ resurrection (hmm …).

7.  Jewish culture also has a story about the phoenix (Hol). It was the only animal allowed to remain in the Garden of Eden, all because it refused to eat the forbidden fruit. For its obedience, God granted it immortality.

8.  In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the phoenix is associated with the sun god.

9,  What does it look like? Many accounts agree a phoenix is of about the size and general appearance of an eagle, although different cultures and accounts describe it also as looking like a heron, a peacock or a stork. The French author Voltaire describes it as having mild and tender eyes, plumage of a thousand shades of gold, and feet of purple and silver.

10.  What does it eat? Ovid said it ate only frankincense and gums. Others say it lives off only dew. Some say it eats nothing at all.

11.  Phoenixes in literature: The Phoenix Bird by Hans Christian Andersen, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (Fawkes), The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit, The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

12.  In zoology, there is an animal family called Phoenicopteridae (of which flamingos are a part), which means “phoenix-winged.”phoenix

13.  It is said by some that only those who possess magic abilities can call on a phoenix in times of need.

14.  During the Renaissance, the phoenix was a popular emblem of people like Queen Elizabeth I (who used the phoenix as a royal badge) and even Joan of Arc. The phoenix has also been used through the ages as a symbol on both family crests and shields.

15.  During the Classic time period, the name of the phoenix was associated with the color purple.

16.  Many cultures believes that only one phoenix can be in existence at a time.

What a rich canvas of possible meanings and story ideas! The phoenix is definitely a mythical creature I’d love to write about one day. How about you?!

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About bookishashlee

Ashlee is the author of The Word Changers, a Christian YA fantasy that released June 2014.

Posted on September 29, 2014, in fairy tales, fantasy, mythology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the interesting information! I think a phoenix would work perfectly for the crest of a couple in one of my stories–a couple who never dies and whose color is purple. Thank you for the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am pleasantly surprised that you’ve chosen the phoenix as one of the first mythical creatures to feature in this series.

    Fire is such an interesting subject. One of my favorite chapters in The Grip of Grace is the one I wrote about fire. It’s a fascinating subject, I think primarily because “Our God is a consuming fire…”

    What is this unlikely, mythical bird telling us about the things we know – and have forgotten – about God?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. craftybooksheeps

    Ashlee I have so enjoyed this post and the one about unicorns! I think it’s so fascinating what people believed/believe about these creatures, especially when it comes to faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cool are you going to do one on satyrs too? they are in my book and I am trying to find out more about them!

    Liked by 1 person

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