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This is a beautiful and important question. It touches the core of why many people find it so difficult to accept my assurance that Harry Potter is symbolic of a process of sanctification, a process of transmuting a flawed, imperfect human being with good and evil characteristics into a Son of the Holy Source of eternal life, of the Pure Goodness of the Godhead, and of the unassailable Majesty of the Perfect Father who can make no mistakes.
The first step in achieving an understanding of this is to accept that we are living in a fallen universe. Everything in this universe, every living creature, every atom, every force, and all that is visible and invisible, is in a state of disharmony with the Divine Plan which creates and maintains God's perfect universe. The second thing to accept is that a group of Children of God once lived in the perfect universe, but by a choice of free will, descended into this imperfect universe, resulting in the total loss of their divine faculties, and consciousness. The third thing is that we have in our hearts one of those sleeping Children of God who can be awakened by our self surrender and self-sacrifice, and, by a process of transmutation and transfiguration, can be given back his faculties and consciousness, enabling him to return Home.
It's important to see that there is a huge gap, a gigantic chasm, between us here on earth, and the unsullied, absolute and selfless life in the Kingdom of Heaven, Nirvana. We, creatures of flesh and blood, cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Child of God in us is unconscious and therefore unable to do anything except feel the pain of our godforsaken existence. Yet we know and experience that God's Love is reaching down to us and calling us to return his prodigal son to Him. So how can this problem be solved?
The answer is that the Holy and Pure Light of God descends into this world and mixes with it temporarily to enable the miracle of the awakening of the Child of God in the human heart! To put it Biblically, Christ descends into our hell to become one of us for a while.
The essential ingredient in this process is the voluntary cooperation of the mortal biological human being. And so it is essential and vitally necessary that he understand fully what is required! We all have a mind, and so we are capable of understanding what to do to achieve the Great Work of Alchemical Conversion.
However alchemy is highly abstract, and involves processes which are purely spiritual, and cannot be experienced by the five senses. Our language is based on our concrete sensory experiences, so that it is not suitable for explaining completely abstract and sensorily imperceptible processes.
The solution the Christ Hierarchy uses for this is to descend into our hell, become one of us, and convert, distil and crystallise the abstract alchemical processes into concrete forms that every child can understand. In doing so, there is in fact a betrayal; there is a sullying of pure, divine truths with the slime and muck of our world. But I believe there is no other way. This is the sacrifice the members of the Christ Hierarchy make in descending down to us and mixing their divine goodness with our biological lives.
And so symbols and archetypes are created. Such a symbol is a concrete image that stands for something abstract. An archetype is a short story or set of ideas that belong to a symbol. Symbols have very little meaning on their own; they become meaningful only when they are set in relationships to other symbols and archetypes.
It appears that humanity has been subjected to symbols and archetypes for so many millions of years that they form part of the "collective unconscious" of humanity. In fact CG Jung says that archetypes are a remnant of the past, a stage in the evolution of human consciousness which we have passed, but which is still an extremely powerful force in our psyche.
When groups of symbols and archetypes are presented to people, these symbols and archetypes will achieve an effect. This is very individual, but many people, especially children, are affected deeply because, as we say, the symbols and archetypes "resonate" in their unconscious. This means there is an unconscious reaction to what the symbols and archetypes are expressing. When there is resonance like that, the people will become very interested and excited about the story concerned, and will want to know how it ends, even though unconsciously they already know how it will end.
Let's take a step back and look at two things: reality and the symbolism endeavouring to express that reality. These are two totally different things, and in truth are not related to each other at all. But symbolism does have a very vague resemblance to reality. Not the Reality of the Divine Universe, because that cannot be symbolised. No comparisons of any kind are possible. The resemblance is to the process of returning to the Divine Universe. The process itself obviously starts here and now, and disappears into the abstraction of Divine Life, of which we have no idea. Hence the symbol of "the Path" comes easily to mind. Of course it isn't a path, because physically we don't need to travel. But because it's a process which starts off in this world, and ends up in another one, it can be compared to a journey, a road, a path. As long as the journey is still in this world, we can keep finding symbols that in some way resemble events, creatures, forces, difficulties and joys that we encounter along the journey. As soon as the journey leaves this world, symbols become useless, or at least completely incomprehensible.
Do you see how it is essential that the process of the return to the Divine Life can be expressed only in symbols? Of course the types of symbols used depends on how advanced the seeker is in the process. The further he advances, the more abstract the symbols become. But when discussing Harry Potter we are referring to the general public, to whom the whole idea of returning to the Divine Universe is new; in their conscious minds at any rate. Of course it's present in the unconscious mind because of the archetypes discussed earlier. If the process of liberation and return is to be told to humanity as a whole, the symbols have to be very concrete. And familiar! I'm sure you'll have noticed that Harry Potter contains very ancient symbols which occur in many fairy tales, legends, fables etc.
Let's take an example.
The first thing that has to happen in the process of the return to the Divine Life, is that something new must be born from a dormant divine force in the heart. It has to arise from a longing to return to God. The seeker concerned has to know about its existence.
The birth of Harry satisfied these conditions. His mother is Lily. The lily is a traditional symbol for purity. The longing is symbolised by James who is an animagus for a stag. This is a reference to Psalm 42. The prophecy symbolises the idea that the seeker knows in advance that we're dealing with a divine force, which is therefore going to defeat his inner evil.
You'll notice that this is very similar to the birth of Jesus. Purity is expressed by the idea of the Immaculate Conception. Jesus' birth was also prophesied. There was the idea of the Messiah, born to free "Israel" (the seeker) from its enemies. And Isaiah promised that a divine child would be born who would be "the Prince of Peace".
As soon as the child is born, a new force begins to enter through the shell of the microcosm, which was previously impervious to divine forces. In the New Testament we have the star of Bethlehem. In Harry Potter we have Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, becoming Harry's Godfather.
In order finally to defeat the accumulated earthly forces in his microcosm, the seeker has to sacrifice himself completely. Jesus is nailed to the cross, dies, descends to the afterlife, and returns. Harry offers himself defenceless to the killing curse, enters "King's Cross", and returns.
You can see that the symbolism is almost the same, except that JK Rowling sometimes uses words as a symbolic reference to an object. She uses "Sirius" to refer to the star idea, and "King's Cross" to the crucifixion.
If we look at this set of symbols we can see that, on its own, each symbol is far less powerful than when seen as part of a group or archetype. There must be millions of children whose mother is called Lily, but when seen in conjunction with the other symbols it forms a pattern which is a very powerful archetype.
When we look at the other characters, creatures, objects and events in Harry Potter we will find similar groups of symbols creating strong archetypes. Much of this is on the website for your reference.
We're now coming to the main point of what I want to explain. These archetypes are embedded in many fables, myths and Holy Scriptures. What I want to say emphatically now, is that the important and powerful thing is the archetypes, and NOT the setting. The story of Jesus is many, many thousands of years old, and was initially passed on in oral traditions. The story of Harry Potter is set in today's world, and is written in very up to date language, as used by (fairly polite) teenagers in Great Britain today.
However the archetypes could be embedded in any of a hundred background settings, such as science fiction, in the past, the future, under the sea, on another planet, in another dimension, or even in Hell. The names could be different, Sirius could be another star, everything could be totally different, and yet the archetypes would still be there; the story of Liberation would still be radiantly present through all the disguises. The hero's birth would still be prophesied, the mother would be a symbol of purity of some sort, the father would have some symbolic significance, and a star would appear, literally or metaphorically. The hero would be born or grow up in humble circumstances, and he would develop great supernatural powers. He would always be modest, and would overcome the enemy through innocence, (relative) purity, and readiness to sacrifice himself. And at the end he would go through the gate of death, having some sort of experience there, and return victorious. It is in the archetypes that the power lies, not in the setting!
So why is Harry so flawed, and such a mixture of good and bad?
Because that way millions of people can identify with him! He is one of us! He is the Jesus figure immersed in the mire of the dualistic world, and tainted with it. If Harry were perfect, who would believe it?
In addition we can see that Harry definitely goes through a learning experience. He never becomes perfect, even at the end, but he does grow exceedingly fast in maturity and wisdom! This has the effect of making us see him as an example of someone learning, someone becoming more and more mature. And his determination in learning to practise the Patronus, for example, is most inspiring for anyone reading it.
Another aspect we should not forget is that Harry uses curses only in self defence or in defence of others. The worst thing he does, in my opinion, is the Cruciatus Curse in Part 7, but this is in defence of a person he loves and respect very much. Harry never initiates any kind of wrong, ever! In addition, we must realise that the New Soul does have enemies, and traditionally the seeker's life is symbolised by a battlefield. Just think of Arjuna and Krishna! The escape of the Israelites from Egypt is also very violent. (This symbolises the path of liberation in another setting) as is a lot of the Old Testament.
You, dear reader, who are wondering about this, let me assure you from personal experience that when you try to go the Path of Liberation, your life becomes a battlefield! The Christ-force does not come to bring peace, but a sword. Two extremely opposite forces will meet in your being and clash with extraordinary violence. Instead of feeling peaceful within you will often feel downright rotten, as the Light in your heart meets the Black King (Snape), or tries to fight its way down the Spinal cord, your earthly serpent-fire, your Draco. And all hell breaks loose when your accumulated karma, your lifestyle deviating from the perfect Divine Plan, confronts you with its million year old legacy in a desperate struggle for survival at any cost.
Did you think that if you take your place within a community of candidate-alchemists going through this internal struggle that no one ever swears, or tells lies, or gives another seeker "the old one-two"? Well, you bet they do! If they were perfect they wouldn't be going the Path.
The important thing, though, is to see the difference between the symbol and the real thing. Harry IS NOT THE New Soul, and the New Soul is not Harry. Harry is just a nice boy in a children's story, but at the same time his actions, seen from a larger perspective, symbolise in a very imperfect way, the actions of a seeker who has a New Soul active within him. And the same thing goes for all the characters.
We could say that the story of liberation has been brought down a couple of octaves. The vibration level has been lowered but the tune is just as recognisable.
Just to deal with Hagrid, symbolising the Bodhisattva and Dumbledore, personifying the Holy, Healing Spirit:
Hagrid's roughness in my opinion is forced upon him through the symbolism in the story. His (half) brother is a giant, symbolising humanity. See "Giants" on the website. It's therefore rather obvious that he should be big. Bringing Aragog into the castle is symbolic of the result of a Bodhisattva starting a spiritual movement which eventually ends up as a (etheric) bloodsucking spider. See Aragog and the Spiders. Having a three headed dog obviously calls for an extremely strong person. If you add all the symbolism together it's almost inevitable that you end up with the Hagrid we know.
Dumbledore personifies the "Gnosis", the holy, hallowing, healing spirit. This is a force that comes from the Masters of Compassion, a brotherhood of divine human beings who have successfully gone the Path and are now working for the liberation of humanity. God works through His children. These human beings were once imprisoned in this dualistic universe, like us, and so they, too, participated in the Fall. They, too, consorted with Lucifer, in Harry Potter called Grindelwald. But, like Dumbledore, they saw the suffering their self-centred actions caused to their brothers and sisters, and so they defeated their inner Grindelwald, and now spend all their time working for the liberation of us, who hold the sleeping children of God in our hearts. They start schools for magic (the magic of love) and educate people in the art of turning lead into gold.
Finally, I want to answer a question that I can hear you ask in my head: How can you be so sure Harry Potter contains the symbolism of the Path of Liberation?
My answer is that if you become extremely familiar with the writings of Jan van Rijckenborgh, you will keep finding chapters, paragraphs, symbols and quotes in his books that are reproduced faithfully in Harry Potter. If you have a look at the Alchemy Page you will find some very strong pointers. I will eventually be writing a new page for the website, going through each book and explaining the symbolism of the events rather than the characters. I'll be putting in references to Jan van Rijckenborgh's books, quoting chapters and pages where possible.
The only way to really test out what I'm saying is to go the Path of Liberation. Then you will clearly begin to see the difference between symbols and reality. But you will also be shocked to discover what a battlefield of good and evil you become. Your life will become a Harry Potter book, where you'll have to fight basilisks, giant spiders, Snapes, Dracos, and, alas, the Ultimate Enemy, Voldemort. But the prophecy says you will find the Prince of Peace. May you all do so indeed!
With Love from Hans
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