Majestic and fiery, phoenixes are a magnificent mythological creature. Although they’re the stuff of imagination from a time long ago, the legend of these birds of fire continue to exist in various cultures around the world.
But what phoenixes mean can translate differently for everyone. So if you’re planning on getting a phoenix tattoo, knowing its meaning is important as it can say a lot about who you are.
Here’s what you need to know about these creatures and the meaning of a colorful phoenix tattoo.
What is a Phoenix?
Imagine a bird that can live forever and ever by exploding into a fireball and being reborn from the ashes. You might think of a dragon, but think relatively smaller and more feathers.
Luckily, that kind of bird only exists in mythology and the imagination of some very creative ancient people. Phoenixes are birds that do not have children. In place of eggs, the phoenix dies in a blaze of glory and is reborn from the ashes.
The myth of the phoenix varies, but it’s said that it can live for up to 500 years before it is reborn. It’s found in the mythology of different ancient cultures, including Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Russian, Persian, Arabian, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese.
Colors and Size of a Phoenix
If you’re planning on getting a phoenix tattoo, expect it to take a couple of sessions especially if you’re planning on a large tattoo on your body. Phoenixes are depicted as colorful and vibrant birds, similar to the tropical ones you’d find.
The specific colors, however, are often debated.
Some accounts said that phoenixes had colors similar to a peacock, and others say that a phoenix is dominantly red and yellow with sapphire-blue eyes. Regardless of the color scheme you choose, expect that for your tattoo to truly look like a phoenix, it must have the vibrant colors that phoenixes are popular for.
For size, the accounts also vary. Some claim that a phoenix is as large as the average eagle, whereas others claim that it’s bigger than an ostrich.
The Sun Bird
Because of their fiery origins, phoenixes are often linked to fire, heat, light and the sun. Phoenixes are depicted with haloes on their heads as a means to reference its relation to the sun.
In a world that’s got more than enough demons and darkness to pass around, there’s no reason to be shy about the fire that’s inside you. Maybe it’s the way you find the light in every dark moment, or your never-ending fireball of energy that makes you you. The world is dark, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing the light that’s inside you.
Harry Potter OOTP Fans
If you’re a hardcore Potterhead and your idea of the Deathly Hallows symbol or your Hogwarts House feels too common of a tattoo design, why not get a phoenix tattoo?
After owls, the basilisk, and the Acromantula, the phoenix is a prominent fantastic beast in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Universe.
In the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” films, phoenixes are depicted with a dominantly scarlet-red plumage with a hot golden tail feather, golden beak and talons, and black eyes. Despite their size and formidable appearance, they are not predatory birds and are fairly peaceful birds who prefer to live as herbivores in the mountains.
During their peak years, phoenixes have immense strength, have healing powers through their tears, and are capable of singing. As they approach their burning day, their feathers begin to molt and they appear sick before suddenly bursting into flames. They are shortly reborn from their ashes, thus are able to regenerate and live forever.
In the “Harry Potter” universe, phoenixes are difficult to domesticate. It’s not that they are a danger to wizards, but because very few have succeeded in keeping a phoenix as a pet. But those that successfully domesticate one find loyal birds that will help their owner in their time of need.
Phoenixes are closely associated with the Dumbledore Family. (SPOILER ALERT FOR “FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD”!) According to legend, phoenixes will appear to anyone in the Dumbledore Family in their time of need. The fact that a phoenix appeared to Credence in the end of the movie supports Grindelwald’s claim that he is actually Albus Dumbledore’s long-lost brother, Aurelius.
Rebirth and Resurrection
Phoenixes are associated with renewal, rebirth and resurrection. It’s said that phoenixes do not have offspring. Rather, they live new lives over and over again each time they are reborn from their ashes.
You may be inspired by phoenixes because you’re entering a new chapter of your life. Maybe you’ve just left a bad relationship. Maybe you’ve gotten out of prison and have a new outlook in life. Or, maybe you’re walking away from a bad vice in your life and getting your act together.
A phoenix tattoo design symbolizes that while your past will always be a part of your history, you look forward to the next part of your life.
Phoenix are said to live forever. It’s highly likely that you won’t because you’re a real human being, but with age and time comes wisdom. And you’ve learned a thing or two from your years.
A phoenix tattoo can be a way to represent your growth and victory over all the things, people and experiences you’ve overcome in the past. You don’t have to be a Boomer or elderly to boast of experience: as long as you feel like you’ve grown and are ready to take flight wiser than before, your experience resonates with the myth of a phoenix.
Legend has it that the world only has one phoenix existing. And since a phoenix can live upwards of a thousand years, they’re likely to live a lonely existence before they’re reborn.
It seems like a sad life to live, being on your own. But for you, you may find comfort in solitude. You may like the independence of flying solo and not having to worry about anyone else in your path to your own happiness. Sure, you have a handful of friends and people you trust and love, but you aren’t bothered on the off-chance that they’re all busy leading their own lives.
This applies to the men and women who prefer to be alone rather than entering meaningless physical relationships. These are the people who walk away from toxic relationships, be it family, friends, or lovers. They’re the silent but strong ones whose idea of a fun weekend is staying home alone to do something relaxing rather than to party all night with others.
Life and Death
When a phoenix begins to feel tired, it simply dies in a blaze of fire and is reborn from the ashes. There are no tears shed because they never die. It is simply a cycle of life or death.
A phoenix tattoo means you aren’t afraid of death and what awaits you in the afterlife. Regardless of your religion or beliefs, you aren’t scared for what lies ahead and you know it’s simply a circle of life. After all, the only things certain in life are death and taxes, right?
For those who don’t fear death, a phoenix tattoo can be comforting. It’s not as macabre as most of the memento mori tattoo designs, like skulls and swords, and it looks as death as something of a vibrant and mysterious adventure.
Interested in a Phoenix Tattoo?
Whereas some opt to get a black phoenix tattoo, others want to get a phoenix tattoo distinguished by its vibrant colors. Most tattoo artists will do a fine job of it, but if you’re thinking of getting a bigger tattoo on your sleeve or back, prepare to have a few sessions scheduled before seeing the final output.
Phoenix tattoos are not just a reference to fire. It also serves as a nod to rebirth, death, independence and solitude. A majestic design for those who see their own stories on the wings of this firebird.