Welcome to the articles section. The following are a series of articles about the spiritual symbolism behind the Harry Potter story. We are also proud to host some articles written by authors for the Lumos 2006 conference and the Accio 2005 and 2008 conferences.
Comments are welcome and an ongoing discussion can be followed here.
I want to share with you today a discovery which I started making about 7 years ago, and which I am continuing to make. What I have discovered is so extraordinary, so sublime and so exciting that I have felt the need to shout this from the rooftops for the last 7 years. My discovery is that the Harry Potter Septology contains the most fundamental and powerful message imaginable for humanity: liberation from evil, from suffering, and from death. In one word: Alchemy!
(Alchemy Conference 2009)
My goal is to give you an image of something that is essentially indestructible, unassailable, and incredibly beautiful and that you all possess, albeit in a state of deep sleep. I hope this image will be so clear and vivid that it will stay with you in the future, and shine in your heart as a tranquil, holy thought which can come to life again at any time you turn your mind to it.
I want to share my discovery that the story of Harry Potter is a symbolic version of a spiritual journey leading to enlightenment. This journey is a process which changes the normal, biological, mortal human being into the perfect, spiritual, Divine being.
This paper argues that it is love that defeats death. We claim that the Harry Potter books articulate, through the response of Rowling's "abandoned boys" to their suffering, a covenantal theology in which the duty of care toward others does not constrain but enables human freedom and flourishing.
As Harry Frankfurt's The Reasons of Love demonstrates, it is through caring for and loving another that the boundaries of the self become meaningful. The actual and metaphorical orphans of the Harry Potter series, Tom Riddle, Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, and Harry himself, are heirs to a fractured custodialism where the aboriginal covenant of care and love was broken; each responds to this fracturing with a new covenant. For Snape, Dumbledore, and Potter, this new covenant rearticulates the boundaries of the self in ways that permit selflessness, because the root of the covenant is in loving sacrifice for another. As the tomb of Lily and James Potter in Godric's Hollow makes clear, this greater love, which lays down its life for another, is finally how death may be destroyed.
In stark contrast, Tom Marvolo Riddle becomes the hideously malformed Lord Voldemort by eschewing the re-formation of self in loving selflessness. He responds to his mother's death by seeing death itself as that which must be avoided, at all costs, and so shows himself both as incapable of love in this covenantal and custodial sense, and as unable to grasp how, for his enemies and his allies, those we love shape the boundaries of our subjectivity. Voldemort misunderstands love, in part, because he has lived without love, and has never been anyone's beloved (Frankfurt 59; OotP 736).
The beauty of fantasy, of myth, of children's tales is in the depth lying just below the surface. With their simple prose and delightful images, such stories point to deeper truths; they illuminate aspects of the human condition; they teach us how to live. Philosophy and theology are threaded through such narratives, invading the popular culture, engaging the lexicon, and become part of the zeitgeist precisely because they speak to the core of who we are as human beings. To quote mythologist Joseph Campbell, 'it would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation'(3).
It is for this reason that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter masterpiece has so captured the popular imagination. In the same vein as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, Rowling weaves deep truths into her narrative as she expounds on the nature of love, of friendship, of sacrifice, of good and evil. Like her predecessors, Rowling keeps explicit religious references out of her work. However, as a product of her culture, Christian concepts of love, the soul, the afterlife seep in. These are most apparent in the seventh and last work, which actually quotes two passages from the bible and best embodies the mythical elements of the suffering hero whose sacrifice brings victory. More importantly, Deathly Hallows provides a beautiful metaphor about man's struggle with God. Here, Harry undergoes one of the most painful transitions of adulthood, the shedding of a childlike, naive trust and the rebuilding of a stronger, more complicated faith.
The Harry Potter novels, with their flowing, but undemanding prose, do not seem to advocate morality, or so the critics claim. The absence of any overt religious messages might lead the reader, or critic, astray in believing there is no morality behind this world of fantasy. However, it should not be mistaken for a lack of moral center as the books do provide a consistent, yet adjustable, ethical code – thus remaining enjoyable while adding a dimension of moral seriousness. Although Harry Potter is constantly under threat from Lord Voldemort, he triumphs over evil despite his slight chances of success chiefly due to the guidance provided by Dumbledore and other teachers in the guise of directions on paying attention and efficiently identifying good and evil at any level. The foundation for the morality of the Harry Potter novels seems to be based on Thomas Hobbes’s concept of summum malum which must be avoided – thus, Harry Potter and his friends all strive in that direction. The summum bonum of eudaemonism or deontologism is not truly present here, although it may be argued that defeating the summum malum, symbolized by Voldemort will lead to the summum bonum.
How has Harry Potter, the young sorcerer's apprentice, been able to capture the hearts of hundreds of millions of children and adults around the world? I believe it is due to the dual nature of the human being. I believe Harry Potter primarily addresses the remnant of the divine, immortal and perfect human being asleep in the heart of the ordinary mortal and flawed person.
One of the most powerful ways of affecting humanity is to hand down symbolic stories which resonate powerfully in the subconscious mind due to the archetypes in the collective unconscious...
(Updated: 27th July 2005)
Is it dangerous to read Harry Potter? Are the stories of J.K. Rowling noxious? According to the Christian writer Richard Abanes, they are indeed. He published an accusing study entitled Harry Potter and the Bible in the turbulent year 2001.
Abanes' book is one of the many violent or at least unfriendly responses to the children's book hype that put witches, sorcery and magic back on the literary map of the world at the end of the 20th Century. I chose his writing for this essay simply because it came my way by accident and because the objections as put forward in Harry Potter and the Bible against Ms. Rowling and the Potter stories also can be exactly the recommendations for the series, depending on the way one looks at it.
(Updated: April 2008)
The way in which the characters in the Harry Potter series react to the presence or nearness of danger or evil - i.e., the way in which they deal with their fears - defines not only the characters themselves, but also the outcome of the series. This paper will explore the way in which the key characters in the series express and cope with their fears, and how their differing reactions drive their actions and define the course of events in the wizarding world.
The Harry Potter series represents the most extraordinary publishing phenomenon of our time-and for a lot of us, a real investment of our interest, our intellect, and our emotions. We've read all six of these books over and over again, we've seen the movies, we've pondered the meanings, we've bought the replicated magic wands, we've spent untold hours on the discussion boards, and perhaps most strikingly of all, we've vociferously argued for our favorite pairings between characters...
Near the end of J. K. Rowling's most-recent book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a number of characters experience a moment of sublime enchantment, rooting them in place as they find in their pain some release from it...
Many believe the final revelation of the prophecy explaining why Voldemort attacked Harry as a baby also shattered the theory that Harry is the heir of Gryffindor. This paper maintains that the heir of Gryffindor theory is still very much alive, and provides a preponderance of clues to support this theory. The paper then explains the alchemical basis of the Harry Potter series and theorizes on which characters may die in the remaining two books, based on the phases of the alchemical Great Work.
As a Christian myself, I don't believe at all that Harry is an evil and corrupting influence on his fans. In fact, my view is that when we look closely at the ideas about moral choices and the nature of good and evil that are contained in the story, we find surprising parallels to themes that are prominent in biblical Christianity.
Elements of the Arthurian tradition are woven throughout Rowling's Harry Potter series. Both Arthur and Harry are heroes; both were taken from their parents and hidden for their own safety; both have wise, aged mentors; both are on a quest to fulfill their destiny and both have the potential to become immortal. This paper explores the parallels between the themes and characters in Arthurian legend and those in the Harry Potter series.
Alchemy has an important role in the Harry Potter series that JK Rowling begins with the Philosopher's Stone story and the historic character of Nicolas Flamel, a medieval French alchemist, who was meant to have discovered the Philosopher's stone with the help of his wife Perenelle. Other real alchemists are mentioned in the books as Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa who figure on Chocolate frog cards (PS 77 -78). On those cards, Dumbledore is also mentioned as an alchemist. Moreover, Albus ...
In the Third Millennium, people are gradually waking up to a great conspiracy which has blinded man to the truth of spiritual enlightenment for at least 1700 years. At the same time there is another conspiracy happening right under our noses at this very minute. This conspiracy, however, is a Divine conspiracy ...
I'd like to suggest that maybe J.K. Rowling is using Carl Gustav Jung's ALCHEMCIAL STUDIES for her story. From this book I postulated the theory that the ending of the Harry Potter books would be that Harry Potter and Voldemort had to merge into one being (post #65).
Most of us are aware that Jo Rowling likes to foreshadow what is coming. The sorting hat saying the houses have to unite might be foreshadowing the unifying of opposites -- Harry and Voldemort. Also, Paracelsus is mentioned twice in the books. Once in the first book...
"Ah, that Harry Potter, pssss..such a kabbalist!" said my Jewish meditation teacher. He confirmed my suspicions. The story was about spiritual growth - all that business with the mirror of desire, and talk of hearts and love. It was like it was illustrating parts of the Jewish mystic Zohar -The Book of Enlightenment. But, was Harry supposed to be Jewish?
Joanne Rowling is certainly not the first author to pen an edifying tale of popular renown, and is neither going to be the last, I’m sure. But I have come to believe, and much appreciate, that Harry Potter may be the fairest of them all. Harry Potter is a person I recognise, and his story, something very familiar to me. Harry and I are both seekers, on the path of wizards, ascending the narrow winding staircase to truth and enlightenment. The more I search his story, the more I find mine. I am not alone in this...
Astral consciousness, what is it? What is this thing that is the love affair of so many and so varied Spiritual followings? Is it merely a word touted simply to inspire wonder in impressionable minds? Or is there something tangible to the myth. What is it that calls a seeker to aspire to an Astral connection. Where is the Astral world?
The Tarot's minor arcana are divided into four different houses, just like the houses in the Harry Potter story. This article provides a detailed comparison between the Tarot and each house in Harry Potter.
My name is Janneke Smits, I live in the Netherlands and at this moment I am 19 years old.
I found out that there are many different opinions about Harry and the magic world he is living in. I collected these opinions and thought them over; this article is the result of my research. It deals about magic, good and evil, the growing darkness, alchemy and more interesting items.
Letters from Deborah Schmidt, Jayne Johnson and Chris Nihill, showing how Harry Potter has changed their lives radically, with a foreword by Hans Andréa.
Long before the publication of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and the existence of her character Sirius Black, the star Sirius had attracted the attention of inquiring Humanity. Throughout time, the star Sirius has figured prominently in mythic and religious systems, and, as the brightest of the nighttime stars, caught the eye of the early sky watcher....
I want to thank you profoundly for writing the Harry Potter books.
Others have commented on the outstanding literary and moral value of your great work. However in your work I have discovered a supernal Light that no one else seems to have. In your work I recognise the timeless Path of Human Liberation as taught by all the great spiritual leaders of humanity throughout the millennia. By liberation...
An explanation of the Alchemical symbolism in the Harry Potter prayer.