The Burrow: I’m a Phoenix Kind of Person

by Kristin Weaver

When considering the plethora of creatures, both magical and non-magical, available as a “Favorite Familiar,” it actually took me very little time to reach a conclusion (a quick perusal of the bestiary at the Lexicon was all that was needed). In terms of usefulness, beauty, grace, and companionship, I can’t think of any one creature more desirable as a familiar than a phoenix.

Outside of the parameters of the Harry Potter universe, phoenixes have been a favorite mythical creature of mine for some time. Phoenixes have existed in various sets of mythologies for centuries, including that of Arabia, Egypt, Ireland, and China. Phoenixes are known for being intuitive, with an ability “to collect sensory information from the environment.” It also “creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration” with its presence (paraphrasing from It is associated with regeneration and rebirth, with its ability to die and yet rise from its own ashes, which provides a totem for a sort of undying hope. Phoenixes are also associated with grace and virtue, blessing those with high moral values and a gentle nature with prosperity and power.

If one adds JKR’s improvisations to the mix, it strengthens the phoenix’s positive attributes. According to Harry Potter canon, phoenix’s tears have healing powers, can carry very heavy loads, and are extremely loyal pets. Also, we see that phoenix song supports those who it deems worthy by “increasing the courage of the pure at heart and striking fear into the hearts of the impure” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). This is never mentioned in the books themselves, but we can see where Fawke’s (Dumbledore’s phoenix) powers have helped Harry out of some very tight spots, such as in the Chamber of Secrets in his battle with Tom Riddle (we see Fawkes sing, and Harry feels heartened), and the golden web that encloses Harry and Voldemort during their duel rings with phoenix song, giving Harry hope. Not to mention, the occasions where Fawke’s tears healed Harry’s various injuries, such as his arm in the Chamber of Secrets, and his leg during his confession of his duel with Voldemort to Dumbledore and Sirius. We also see that Fawkes can disappear and reappear at will with a burst of flame, allowing for quick and undetectable delivery of the messages of the Order of the Phoenix, and it also allowed him an appropriately timed arrival to save Dumbledore from Voldemort’s Killing Curse just after the battle in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic.

Given the phoenix’s ability to regenerate itself and others, its loyalty and devotion, its supernatural vanishing acts, instant courage dispensing, beauty, and all around impressiveness, I’d have to say that I’m a phoenix kind of person.