[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Gryffin* is a large, fierce magical creature that has the body and back legs of a lion and the head, front legs and wings of an eagle, because it is the offspring of an eagle and a lion. Estimates in legend would say it is about two feet higher than a Shire draft horse (one of the tallest of horses at 17 to 18 hands high). The name Gryffindor would translate “Gryffin of gold” or “golden Gryffin” (d’or is “of gold” in many Romance languages). It was known in Greek mythology and has a few counterparts in other Mediterranean and Baltic cultures and was believed to be a creature sacred to the sun (as is the Phoenix). (There is even a breed of dog–found in France–called the Griffon). Its wings are enormous and strong enough to lift it off the ground even when it carries great weight—either on its back or in its talons—and it can fly for many miles. While the enormous lion-like rear legs and paws give it added lift-off thrust, its tail functions as a sort of rudder while in flight.
Gryffins love gemstones, which they used to steal, hoard, and guard with savage ferocity. In this, they are very similar to dragons, but the Gryffin’s only known relative is the Hippogriff, which is the offspring of a horse and a Gryffin. Such a union would be extremely rare since, by and large, a horse would be deemed a tasty meal by a Gryffin. However, occasionally naturally, or with the help of magical intervention—such as a friendly witch or wizard—a romance develops and offspring ensue.
Interestingly, it was originally described as an EVIL creature, but at some point, legend has it, the Gryffins made a conscious decision to turn away from Evil and devote themselves to the Good. Because of this, and their fierce nature, they are trusted guardians for Good magical folks’ treasures–some even guard children. They are also used as “avengers”—the bringers of magical justice. They can be stalwart friends, but they are very choosy about to whom they give loyalty. While they are not the swiftest fliers, they are cunning and intrepid and their bulk, wings, claws, and beak are all formidable in a fight. The creature exhibits both feline and avian characteristics: curiosity, attraction to bright objects, fierce nature, great eyesight in day and night, agility, etc. They are an emblem of Valor (Courage) and Magnanimity (Generosity) and appear in the coat-of-arms of many noble families. It is considered to have the characteristics of both the eagle and the lion—the “kings” of their respective elements.
It is no accident then that Harry is chosen to go into Gryffindor. The Sorting Hat waits until Harry firmly rejects the House of Sytherin and its propensity for “riches and power” at any cost. Further, we see Harry from the start choose his own friends by their actions—not by their “attitude.”
*The word “Griffin” may be spelled in any number of ways: gryffen, griphinne, greffon, grefyne, grephoun, griffen, griffion, griffon, griffoune, griffown, griffun, griffyn, grifon, grifyn, griphin, griphon, gryffin (Prof. Opal prefers this variant), gryffon, gryfon, gryfoun, gryphen, gryphin, and gryphon.