[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Tradition states that there is only one Phoenix at a time and it is male. The most recent lore has it that the Phoenix lives for 500 years and then sits in a spice-laden nest, which it builds for the purpose of dying, and self-immolates (burns itself up). From these ashes, a new young adult bird rises, resembling an eagle in size (JKR has Fawkes reappear as a chick, however). The Phoenix resides in Ethiopia, although it may travel widely if it so chooses. The young adult bird is usually white and gold and at the end of its life, the phoenix is usually red and gold, with other vibrant colors somewhat mixed in. The newly “minted” phoenix gathers up the ashes of its nest and flies them to Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, in Egypt, where he lays them on the Altar of the Sun. The adult Phoenix retains all of the knowledge of its predecessors, so it is a symbol of wisdom, as well as of rebirth and eternal life. Its tears can heal and it is also a symbol of fire. As a creature of Deep Magic (magic before human times), it is considered very powerful (as are Dragons, Gryffins, Unicorns, and other creatures which existed before Magic became more widely used by humanoids).
Earlier lore had the Phoenix living longer than 500 years—usually 1461 or even 1500 years. Also, sometimes, the Phoenix did not self-immolate but rather was born when the male parent died and the young bird (not a chick) carried the remains of its father/parent to the Sun altar in Heliopolis. The historian Pliny gave a wholly different version: when the Phoenix died, a worm crawled out of the carcass and when the worm was totally “baked” by the hot sun, it would be transformed into the Phoenix. There is something called the “Phoenix Cycle” which may be important to note. The Phoenix is said to have appeared in Egypt five times, starting with the reign of the Pharoah Sesostris, with roughly 500 years between these appearances. The first four times are mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus; it is often said by devout Christians that Christ is the fifth time—and he is often called the Phoenix by ancient Christian writers. (It may be that Dumbledore is closing in on 500 years, and Harry may be the “bird” who will replace him. It could be that James was going to replace Dumbledore, but with James’ death, perhaps Dumbledore had to stick around until Harry came of age.)
JKR does not state that Dumbledore’s companion Phoenix Fawkes is the only Phoenix in Harry’s magical world, but she also doesn’t say that he isn’t. Fawkes is named after Guy Fawkes, who tried to destroy the buildings of the British Parliament by blasting them with explosives. The British still celebrate Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th of each year. Both Harry’s and Voldemort’s wand contain tail feathers from Fawkes, so we are to understand that the Phoenix’s powers are imbued in their wands. Voldemort, we know, tried at first simply to conquer death, so that may be why his wand chose him. But, as he became more evil in the pursuit of his quest, his wand may lose power since the Phoenix is not often interpreted to be an evil creature, although it is seen as clever and unconquerable. Harry, on the other hand, is introduced to us as “rising” from the ashes of his destroyed house after his parents are killed. Throughout the books we see references to Harry as having similarities to his father and mother in both looks and skills. In addition, as Harry becomes more firmly a supporter of the Good (often represented by Dumbledore), the phoenix Fawkes comes more often to his aid, as we see him aid his chosen companion, Albus Dumbledore. Harry’s wand could be understood to be gaining in the powers of the Phoenix—indeed, his wand is a match against Voldemort’s wand in GOF.