Hog’s Head PubCast #33: The Meaning of the Phoenix

hogshead.jpgThe Meaning of the Phoenix: Love’s Victory Over Death in Harry Potter

The transcript of this pubcast is also available.

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Update: I knew a few months ago when I read about Garuda and the Nagas that I had read of Nagas somewhere previously. Found it: Felicity’s essay, Nagini as Horcrux (which turned out to be her most spot-on essay!).

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6 thoughts on “Hog’s Head PubCast #33: The Meaning of the Phoenix

  1. Travis, that was great. I would love to have heard all the things you wanted to put in but didn’t have time to do. Do you plan to put all that together at some point?

    I knew that the Nagini references were from India, but I had no idea about the story that is similar to a phoenix. Very interesting.

    It’s amazing to think just how much Rowling must have read, with all the things that link to Harry Potter in some way.


  2. This doesn’t really add anything to the literary discussion, but there are numerous regions across southern Asia and India that believe the Nagas still exist as giant river and jungle dwelling snakes that take children from their families.

    Travis, has your research into Indian myth and folklore attributed anything like this to the creature?

  3. Hey Travis, great podcast. I am really glad that you posted this, there are some great insights that you brought up which really help to bring some thematic cohesion to the Harry Potter series. I was at Prophecy in Toronto and I had the pleasure of hearing your two other talks- which makes me really happy that you posted the only one I missed! (I didn’t end up going to Steve Vander Ark’s talk afterwards though). I was hanging out with Penny and Greg from HP Prognostications during most of the convention and we all think you did a great job… I look forward to more of your thoughts on Deathly Hallows.

  4. Thanks for posting this Travis! It’s fun to hear it again. It was one of my favorite presentations at Prophecy. I’ve forwarded the link on to some people who either heard it at Prophecy (and thoroughly enjoyed it) or who were at the conference but had missed it.

  5. Just to complicate things, I happened to run into this explication of Nagas in Indian religious tradition in an essay by Tone Sundt Urstad on an RK Narayan short story called “Nagas”:

    The nagas are basically benign deities. They are guardians of the life-giving moisture of the earth, and dwell at the bottom of ponds and rivers and seas, where they are thought to have their own underworld realm (Nagaloka) full of beautiful palaces. Nagas are also thought to live among the roots of trees, since a tree is living proof that there is water in the ground. Because of their connection with the moisture in the earth, nagas are also the guardians of all metals and precious stones in the ground (Zimmer, Art 44-51).

    The nagas have a reputation for wisdom and knowledge and are associated with the act of protection. On Hindu and Buddhist monuments–one of Narayan’s special interests[1]–nagas are often depicted as worshiping and even protecting the gods and their incarnations. There are several old myths that illustrate this protective function. When the Buddha, after the Enlightenment, fell into a state of meditation that lasted for several weeks, the great naga Muchalinda protected him from the inclemencies of the weather by coiling itself around him and spreading its hood over his head like an umbrella (Zimmer, Art 59, 63).

    The nagas protect not only superior beings but also mere mortals. Nagas live close to humans and, in some areas, have become popular household patrons (Vogel 273-74). They are numbered among “the guardians of life” who together have the power to bestow on human beings “all the boons of earthly happiness–abundance of crops and cattle, prosperity, offspring, health, long life” (Zimmer, Myths 59-60).

    How does Nagini square with this explanation?

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