|[Carion Crow by Aomorikuma, GNU FDL]|
Today I’m continuing with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. My theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series. Today’s post is all about Birds.
Birds (both real and fantastical) are a prevalent symbol in religion, mythology and folklore throughout the world, so it’s not surprising that they often feature in fantasy novels. Here are some examples:
- This mythological bird is a symbol of reincarnation, as once it dies it is said to be reborn again from flames or ‘rise from the ashes’.
- In the Harry Potter series, Phoenixes are an important symbol of loyalty and sacrifice. Dumbledore’s pet Phoenix Fawkes offers assistance to Harry in the Chamber of Secrets when he needs it most, and when he acts with pure motives. His tears have healing powers and are able to save Harry from the basilisk’s poison. Harry’s wand has a phoenix feather core, as does Voldermort’s, and they are revealed to have come from the same phoenix. Dumbedore’s patronus is a phoenix and it seems to represent him well: “Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads. Their tears have healing powers.” This quote could be a metaphor for how Dumbledore carries the heavy burden of knowing Harry’s fate, and of his deep compassion. Dumbledore founded the secret anti-Voldemort organisation The Order of the Phoenix, naming it after fawkes.
- In many legends, owls are thought to be harbingers of doom. But in other legends, like those of Ancient Greece, owls are a symbol of wisdom.
- In Harry Potter they act as messengers, carrying letters for the wizarding community. Harry’s owl, Hedwig, becomes a loyal companion.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia they are talking beasts, similar to normal owls but larger in size. In The Silver Chair, Eustace and Jill are aide by Glimfeather and several other owls during their search for Prince Rilian.
- Eages are symbols of protection, courage and freedom and are often used as national symbols.
- In the Lord of the Rings series, huge birds called Great Eagles were sent from Valinor to Middle Earth to keep an eye on the exiled. They frequently rescue people (including Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield and co, Frodo and Sam) and fly them to safety, and they also assist them in several battles such as the Battle of the Five Armies and the Battle of the Morannon at the Black Gate.
- In Harry Potter, the eagle appears a symbol of wisdom or learning. It is the mascot of Ravenclaw House and their feathers are sometimes used for quills. The body of a Hippogriff is also described as being half-eagle and half-horse.
- In A Game of Thrones, Lisa Arryn’s stronghold, the Eyrie, is named after the nest of an eagle.
- In the Chronicles of Narnia, eagles are portrayed as very large birds that are very intelligent and quick hunters and can carry large rocks in their talons. They are very loyal to Aslan and often assist in battles.
Ravens and Crows
- In Native American mythology, Raven is the creator of the earth, moon, stars and humankind.
- Ravens at the Tower of London, England, are believed to signal good fortune.
- The Bible tells that ravens used to white, until they used sorcery and had their wings blackened by God as a punishment and cursed them to feed on carrion.
- In the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R.Martin, ravens are portrayed as unusually intelligent and are able to be trained as pets and to replicate simple human speech, like parrots. They are used by the maesters of Westeros to pass messages and are linked with ominous tidings: “dark wings, dark words”. In the TV series Game of Thrones, Bran has numerous dreams featuring a three-eyed raven that seems to be warning him about bad things to come (in the books it is a crow instead). The Stone Crows are one of the Hill Tribes that live in the Mountains of the Moon.
- In Divergent by Veronica Roth, one of the frightening scenarios that Tris has to face is being devoured by crows, which is linked to her fear of being powerless. She later has three crows tattooed from her collarbone to her heart, one for each member of the family she left behind.
- Crows appear in the Harry Potter series too-some of them live in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch and one of them bit Harry when he tried to free Buckbeak in the movie. They are used to symbolise death, as a flock of them is seen flying away after the executioner brings down his blade. Some were allowed as pets at Hogwarts.
- In the 2005 Disney movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, crows were often seen as followers to the White Witch, and they gathered around the Stone Table to watch the mifghty Aslan die. They also helped the harpies take down the gryphons, eagles, falcons and hawks during the First Battle of Beruna. In Prince Caspian (2008), they fight with the Old Narnians against Kind Miraz and the Telmarine army.
What is your favourite real or mythical bird?
I like birds. I get a lot of different ones in my garden including the occasional owl and rook. No phoenixes though. (Should that be phoenices?)
Jemima at Jemima's blog
Don't forget the Crebain from Dunland in The Lord of the Rings, used by Saruman to search for Frodo and the One Ring.
Who knows what the plural of Phoenix is? Is it simply 'phoenix' like 'sheep' or is it phoenixes or even phoeni? Hmm..
Ah, good one! There are so many more references now I think about it. The post could go on for ever!
And let us never forget the raven that did quoth Nevermore! several times…
Oh yes I love a bit of Edgar Allen Poe, great poem.
What an interesting Blog … I will definitely check back for the rest of your A – Z posts! (by the way, love the Phoenix)
Polgara (The Belgardiad) turns into an owl, I always liked that. this is a wonderful post! can't wait to see what you do next.
Honestly I saw the crafts at the top and the name of the post and immediately thought of the Portlandia skit – Put a Bird on It! That was their way to make every day items crafty and cool. 🙂
Crows are fascinating. PBS featured them on Nature not so long ago. My students dug it.
@A month of blog- thank you. I love them too, they are my favourite mythological creature.
@lostinsidethecovers- oh yes I forgot about Polgara. Ha ha everything is better when you put a bird on it! The bird is THE WORD.
@Stratoz-I agree, there's something uncanny about them.