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"Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets."
Albus Dumbledore on the nature of Phoenixes[src]

The phoenix was a large swan-sized scarlet magical bird with red and gold plumage, along with a golden beak and talons, black eyes, and a tail as long as a peacock's. Its scarlet feathers glowed faintly in darkness, while its golden tail feathers were hot to the touch.[2]

Phoenixes would usually nest on mountain peaks and were gentle herbivores that were not known for fighting. As phoenixes approach their Burning Day they resembled a half-plucked turkey. Their eyes became dull, their feathers start to fall out, and it began to make gagging noises. Then the bird suddenly burst into flames, only to rise from the ashes shortly after. In a number of days, they grew back to full size.[1][2] Thanks to this ability, phoenixes lived to an immense age, perhaps even forever.[2]

It was a possible, rare corporeal form of the Patronus Charm,[6][7] such as Albus Dumbledore's Patronus.[7]

Four forty foot tall gilded statues of phoenixes were located in the lobby of the Magical Congress of the United States of America.[8][9]

Description

Physical appearance

Appearance of the Phoenix

Phoenixes had crimson feathers on their body and a golden tail as long as a peacock's. Their claws and beak were gleaming gold and their eyes were black. Their scarlet body feathers glowed faintly in darkness, while their golden tail feathers were hot to the touch.[2] It was unknown if they were actually capable of burning someone as neither Harry Potter— when Fawkes carried him from the Chamber of Secrets — nor Albus Dumbledore — when he escaped the Ministry officials with Fawkes's help — were burned by his tail feathers;[10][11] however, it was possible that Fawkes could control the temperature of his tail feathers and simply chose not to burn them.

Abilities and traits

Fawkes, a phoenix, bursting into flames

Appearance of the Phoenix
"A gentle creature, the phoenix lives to an immense age because it can regenerate each time it bursts into flames. Phoenix song is magical and its tears have healing properties."
Chocolate Frog Card[src]

The most startling of the phoenix's abilities was its ability to regenerate itself. It periodically burst into flames when its body became old, and rises from the ashes as a newborn chick.[1] This event is called Burning Day, and gives these birds a great life span,[1] as well as the ability to take the full force of a Killing Curse and still be reborn.[11] Phoenixes were immune to the gaze of a basilisk, which would normally kill anyone who had direct eye to eye contact with it, or petrify anyone through indirect eye contact, such as seeing a glimpse of the massive serpent or its reflection.[10]

As stated by Dumbledore, they were extremely loyal creatures, and were capable of arriving to the aid of beings who share a similar devotion.[1] This was how Fawkes arrived to assist Harry in slaying the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets during his second year at Hogwarts.[10]

Fawkes the phoenix carrying an immensely heavy load

Their tears had potent healing capabilities. For instance, phoenix tears were the only known antidote to basilisk venom.[10] Their tears were also able to bring a person back even from the brink of death,[10] while the phoenix song would increase the courage of those who were good and struck fear into the hearts of those who served evil.[2]

Phoenixes were capable of lifting a great weight with their tails, such as being able to effortlessly fly up a distance with four people holding on to its tail.[10] They could also leave messages by bursting into flame to reappear elsewhere, leaving behind a single golden tail feather.[12]

The phoenix could also disappear and reappear at will in bursts of flames and take whoever was holding them along, similar to Apparition.[12][13] Phoenix song also had a deep emotional impact, magical in nature and able to provide support and comfort.[10][14][3]

Fire appeared to have an unknown but profound effect on phoenixes, as Gellert Grindelwald was effortlessly capable of instantly turning a baby phoenix into a full adult by conjuring fire from his hand and setting the baby bird ablaze, from which it emerged as a full adult after being briefly covered by the flames, although by all fairness, Grindelwald was an immensely powerful wizard who was extremely skilled in Wandless magic and fairly apt at handling magical creatures.[5] Nevertheless, considering a phoenix's fire-related powers, it was likely that fire could be used to strengthen them.

Domesticated phoenixes

A wild Phoenix

Phoenixes were very difficult to domesticate, as Newton Scamander said in his book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: "The phoenix gains an XXXX rating not because it is aggressive, but because very few wizards have ever succeeded in domesticating it."[2] There were two known domesticated phoenixes; one was Albus Dumbledore's pet phoenix Fawkes,[1] and the other was Sparky, the team mascot for the New Zealand Quidditch team, the Moutohora Macaws.[15]

Phoenixes that had been domesticated were extremely loyal to their owners, and would depart to find their own paths if their owners died, rather than finding a new master.[3][16]

Albus Dumbledore's great-great-grandfather's phoenix

It was said that Albus Dumbledore's great-great-grandfather owned a phoenix, but once he died, the phoenix took flight and was never seen again.[4]

Credence Barebone's phoenix

Phoenix in Nurmengard

After the Battle in Lestrange Mausoleum and recruiting Credence Barebone to his forces, Gellert Grindelwald reveals in Nurmengard to Credence that the baby bird he has been caring for in Paris was actually a phoenix.[5] According to legend, a phoenix will appear to anyone of the Dumbledore Family in dire need.[4] Grindelwald then presented him with a wand, as well as his birth name: Aurelius Dumbledore.[5]

Fawkes

Fawkes blinds the Basilisk

Fawkes was a phoenix who was owned by Albus Dumbledore. Fawkes lived with Dumbledore at Hogwarts Castle for a large part of his life.[1] He was instrumental in helping Harry Potter defeat the Serpent of Slytherin, bringing Harry the Sword of Gryffindor, blinding the basilisk, and saving Harry from its venom with his tears.[10]

Fawkes was also used as a communication between his master and the Order of the Phoenix.[12] Fawkes assisted Dumbledore in fighting Lord Voldemort and protected the headmaster from a Killing Curse.[11] After Albus Dumbledore's death, Fawkes performed a mournful song that seemed to feel like it is inside the listener, and was dubbed by wizards as the "Phoenix Lament". After the song was completed, Fawkes departed Hogwarts as a free phoenix, and was never heard from again.[3]

Sparky

Main article: Sparky

Sparky was the phoenix mascot of the New Zealand Quidditch team the Moutohora Macaws. Apart from Fawkes, Sparky was then the only known domesticated phoenix.[15]

Phoenix feather materials

Phoenix feathers are a powerful magical substance and, as such, are an accepted wand core. Fawkes gave two feathers, which ended up in the wands of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort,[17] which is said to be the reason why they locked in Priori Incantatem when the two wizards attempted to engage in a magical battle in the Little Hangleton graveyard.[14] Due to phoenixes being very difficult to tame and are one of the most detached creatures in the world, the wands with such feathers are the pickiest of owners. The wands containing this core sometimes act on their own accord, due to having the most initiative of all core types. Phoenix feathers are sometimes used as writing quills.[18]

Albus Dumbledore and the Phoenix

Albus Dumbledore had many connections to the phoenix, starting with his Phoenix companion Fawkes, along with his phoenix Patronus.[7] He named his anti-Voldemort organisation the Order of the Phoenix after Fawkes.[19] The old wizard was also shown to have an unusual affinity for incendiary magic; he could conjure flames which did not burn,[20] summon a lasso of fire with which to subdue foes,[11] and even produce Gubraithian or ever-burning fire,[21] a highly advanced and rare ability. Indeed, one of the last and greatest spells Albus ever performed was the Firestorm, which he used to fend off the Inferi.[22] Finally, Albus had sought immortality in his youth. But once he matured, and in much the same way that a phoenix keeps living on after its death, Dumbledore would come to adopt the great personal belief that death was nothing more than "the next great adventure".[23]

Behind the scenes

  • The phoenix is a creature from Greek mythology. The given native range for the phoenix in Egypt, India, and China may be in reference to the Egyptian Bennu, the Hindu Garuda and the Chinese fenghuang, all mythological birds from other cultures sometimes compared to the phoenix (though it should be noted that the hoo-hoo, which is also based on the fenghuang, apparently exists as an independent creature in the wizarding world).
  • The phoenix is Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling's favourite magical creature.[24]
  • The phoenix is the only life-form in existence that defies the otherwise absolute rule that nothing can truly bring back the dead, although it is debatable if phoenixes actually die.
  • It is interesting to note that the appearances of phoenixes, specifically Fawkes, portrayed in the films and novels look quite different; the phoenix is depicted and having a longer neck and vaguely resembling a Hoatzin in the novels and in illustrations on Pottermore, while in the films, it resembles a large Bird of Prey such as an eagle or a hawk.
    • In a National Geographic book, it states that designers used the harpy eagle as inspiration for Fawkes.
  • Although Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them states that phoenixes are hard to domesticate, domestication happens to a population due to selective breeding, not to individual animals, which can be tamed.
  • On the Pottermore Patronus quiz, the phoenix is not an available Patronus form, despite other rare magical creature forms existing on the quiz, which seems odd considering how Albus Dumbledore most famously had a phoenix Patronus in the series.

Appearances

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Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 28
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 120
  6. (see this image)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 28 (The Madness of Mr Crouch)
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
  9. "Step inside MACUSA with production designer Stuart Craig" at Pottermore.com (Archived)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Quidditch Through the Ages, Chapter 8 (The Spread of Quidditch Worldwide)
  16. Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005
  17. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  18. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Wand Cores" at Wizarding World
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4 (Number Twelve Grimmauld Place)
  20. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 20 (Hagrid's Tale)
  22. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
  23. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  24. World Book Day Interview, available via Accio Quote!
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