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WHAT ABOUT HARRY POTTER:

IS HE OR WILL HE REMAIN SIGNIFICANT? A SPIRITUAL SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE

PART II: HARRY POTTER AND THE PATH OF INITIATION

by Bill Trusiewicz

 

This second article in a series about Harry Potter will focus on the path of initiation and its significance as it unfolds in the seven Harry Potter books, which "came fully formed" into the thoughts of J. K. Rowling twenty five years ago this year. [1] Before we take up the task of outlining the path of initiation let us briefly reiterate the content of the preceding article entitled: What About Harry Potter? Is He or Will He Remain Significant? Answering the Moral Questions, in which we discussed the popularity of the series of seven books by J. K. Rowling and sought, as well as to address the morality of the books, to answer the question: What is behind such immense popularity?

We discussed the fact that popularity is no gauge of intrinsic value, as was brought home by the immensely popular DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, which was a sensational journey into mystery wisdom stripped of all spiritual value owing to its materialistic bias. [2] We pointed out in the last article that popularity need not be the result of a lowest common denominator appeal to lower instincts. As the late 18th century poet and polymath, Novalis reminds us - "True popularity is the highest goal of humanity." [3] The notion of popularity, of which Novalis was speaking, is akin to Ralph Waldo Emerson's idea of genius: "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius." Emerson's idea of genius and Novalis' notion of popularity point to the quality of writing that made Dickens', A Tale of Two Cities and Tolkien's, The Lord of the Rings so widely loved. [4] The secret of this popularity is the appeal of what is, in the best sense-universally human or what we might call a highest common denominator.

Avoiding the subject of literary criticism we addressed the criticisms of the Harry Potter story on moral grounds, noting that the series has been roundly condemned by the Catholic clergy and its Protestant counterpart-for teaching witchcraft and sorcery. [5] We also observed that "the everyday person" who doesn't have his or her head in a theological cloud or heart entwined by authoritarian, canonical, propaganda is more inclined to see in Harry Potter an everyday hero the likes of whom one seldom sees in the media, and I would suggest: a Christian/Rosicrucian/Grail Stream type of hero-these last two streams being recognized by spiritual science as pivotal to the progress of the spiritual evolution of the Christ impulse. We are not ready to discuss this later characterization here but we will in subsequent articles in this series.

What we are seeking to explore in this article is the path of initiation as it appears in the life of Harry Potter. With the author's use of Christian themes for the series we can trace the path of initiation as the unfolding plot mirrors, in some ways, the life of Jesus Christ whose life marks out the archetypal path of the initiate. We see also in Rowling a grasp of mystery wisdom drawn from her interest in alchemy, in which the path of initiation unfolds quite along the lines of mystery teachings, partly by design, as alchemy is the art of transformation, and transformation is the operation of initiation in the human being; and partly by tuning-in to the "genius of the everyday person," that is, to the higher self of individuals in the story, for which the author shows a significant capacity. This higher self bears the path of initiation within it or otherwise put: in journeying beyond ourselves we discover the "one within us who is greater than we ourselves," to quote the early Christian apologist, Augustine's reference to the Christ within.

In this article we are also seeking to further answer the original question put forth in the title What about Harry Potter: Is He or Will He Remain Significant? and to show the degree to which the answer might be "yes" as we unveil Harry Potter's path of development. With the help of spiritual science we will seek to trace the theme of the path of initiation - the highly significant and essential means of spiritual development. By the agency of initiation, as it unfolds in the story, Harry is afforded the means to stand as a counter-force to Voldemort who is plotting his return to power - what we might equate with what spiritual science calls the incarnation of Ahriman/Satan or what is more commonly called the coming of the Anti-Christ. The story potentially therefore arms attentive readers with a counter-force to the growing Ahrimanic/Satanic influence in the world.

Taking the perspective outlined in our previous article, which was developed from the standpoint of the knowledge of the progressive evolution of cognitive (thinking) capacities in humanity, we established a means by which we can authoritatively interpret the Harry Potter series from a spiritual scientific perspective. That is, we saw that language effects individuals in our time much differently than it did two millennia ago, for instance, before it became abstract as it has become in our time. In recognizing this fact we discovered a voice that speaks from the spiritual reality that animates what might appear on the surface to promote witchcraft in the Harry Potter story-once we are freed from slavish dependence on the words. In other words when we "free thought from language" as the initiate Rudolf Steiner indicated we must do, [6] we are able to read the spiritual script by which the stories were written. Based on this method, the interpretive voice of the Harry Potter series is unveiled as a highly moral voice, despite criticisms from the religious quarter, and becomes our guide throughout this and the following articles in this series.

Before we plunge into the Harry Potter story we should briefly remind ourselves of one imperative that is incumbent upon those who are mindful of the directives of the zeitgeist, [7] the guiding spirit of our time. In our time it is imperative that we create a culture of initiation. In conformity with the modern ideal of independence in spiritual striving, the future of the spiritual impulse that spiritual science seeks to advance depends on our efforts as creative individuals to offer humanity, among other things, artistic creations that present the path of initiation to seeking individuals. This article seeks to show how the Harry Potter series contributes significantly to the accomplishment of this important task for humanity.

Let us commence to outline the path of initiation as it unfolds in the Harry Potter series.

A MAGICAL WORLD AND A "MUGGLE" WORLD

The magical world of Harry Potter, as it is presented by J.K. Rowling, exists in a different dimension, we might say, alongside of what is referred to as "the Muggle world," which is the world of people who have no use for or interest in magic. The Muggle world is an analog of our materialistic-thinking modern world that disallows belief in or knowledge of anything that cannot be proved with physically based sense perception or instruments. It disallows knowledge of the spiritual world. The parallel worlds of the magical (or spiritual) and the Muggle world corresponds to the way we experience our world and can be characterized in a few ways.

Although outwardly everyone we meet in physical existence occupies the same world as we do, nevertheless, if we examine our inner lives we will see that the various inhabitants of this physical world can actually be worlds apart. An unimaginative individual who takes the physically observable world to be the only reality lives in a different world than a person who is highly imaginative, for instance. This is also the case when comparing spiritually striving individuals with those who have little or no interest in spiritual things. Side by side these differently motivated individuals live-essentially in different worlds. Muggles are the analog of unbelievers: those unimaginative souls who are asleep to the spiritual forces at work in human evolution.

The Harry Potter saga takes place more of less secretly within the Muggle world. The "magical" world is hidden "in the folds," so to speak, of the day-to-day world of materialistic thinkers. This dynamic between two worlds calls to mind the way the spiritual is actually experienced. The spiritual is experienced, we could say, by entering some enigmatic "wardrobe door" as in C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the very popular series, The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance. The "door" into the spiritual world opens through the sense world. For Jacob Boehme the door to the spiritual world was the glint of sunlight off a pewter cup. For Richard Wagner it was a sunrise on Easter morning. For some it might be the full moon on a summer night. For Harry Potter the "wardrobe door" into the magical world is found at King's Cross railroad station, written with characteristic child-like humor - through a metal barrier at "platform nine and three quarters." We might note here that the fact that the Harry Potter series was written for children, in a form that resembles a myth or a fairytale, and with much humor, contributes to the flexibility of expression possible for a broad audience. While the most sublime truths can be found in the story, there is also a childish willy-nilly aspect to it that gives it the broadest possible appeal but shouldn't be taken too seriously.

HARRY POTTER IS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF COUNTLESS IMAGINATIVE SEEKING YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE BROUGHT UP IN AN ENVIRONMENT RULED BY MATERIALISTIC THINKING.

Harry Potter is a boy we can relate to. We cannot do better than to quote Frans Lutters' description from his book, Who is Harry Potter?: "Harry Potter is the kind of boy we all know: unspectacular but with a good heart, honest and spontaneous. He likes adventures and sometimes does thoughtless things. But what makes him exceptional is that he is called to great deeds." [8] Raised by his aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon Dursley who are self-righteous, unimaginative defenders of the prosaic life of Muggles, who will have nothing to do with magic, Harry is the representative of countless imaginative seeking young people who are brought up in an environment ruled by materialistic thinking. Although the Dursleys know that Harry's parents were magical folk, they never reveal this to Harry. Petunia's sister Lily, Harry's mother, was a witch, in spite of the fact that she was Muggle-born. And James Potter, Harry's father, was a pure-blood wizard, who, along with Lily, were Head Boy and Head Girl at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in their day.

James and Lily were murdered by the evil wizard Voldemort, a Satanic/Ahrimanic figure who assembled an army called "Death Eaters" with the intention to conquer and rule the world and which would include an "ethnic cleansing" of Muggle folk. Voldemort was intent on killing the infant Harry Potter because of a prophecy that pointed to Harry and the fact that Voldemort would have to die if the boy continued to live. Voldemort murdered Harry's parents while they were trying to protect him but he was not able to kill Harry when unexpectedly his killing curse rebounded. Harry was unharmed except for a lightning-bolt-like scar, a "Z" inflicted on his forehead that was usually hidden by his unruly dark hair. Resultant from his rebounded killing curse, Voldemort lost his power and also his ability to maintain a material existence. He had, by means of black magic, procured a demonic form of immortality for himself so he was able to live in a sub-human condition until he could regain power and create a new body.

Until Harry was old enough to enter Hogwarts School he knew none of this. Not willing to believe in the magical world, his foster parents, the Dursleys, invented a story of a car accident in which his parents supposedly died. While Harry was ignorant of the matter, the whole magical world knew it - he was famous; he was "the boy who lived," and everyone knew the boy's name was Harry Potter. This Harry discovered as soon as he entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when he was eleven.

SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT FACTS INDICATING THE PATH OF INITIATION

Already we have several significant facts to address here. What we first notice is the moniker that describes Harry - "the boy who lived." He could as well have been called "the boy who escaped or overcame death." "The boy who lived" is at once a description of an initiation and a name for Harry Potter. Like initiation, in which an individual crosses the threshold of the spiritual world by passing through death, and discovers a power that is untouchable by death so Harry Potter is gifted with a power over death by virtue of the special circumstances of his confrontation with Voldemort when he was about a year old, an event that we will explore further later in this article.

The second significant fact our attention is drawn to is the unusual circumstances of Harry's youth that can be compared with numerous initiate individuals. Harry is isolated as a foster child of the Dursleys, insulated from knowledge to which he would have had access if he had had a normal upbringing with his parents. This calls to mind the legendary initiate Parsifal, who was deliberately protected by his mother from worldly knowledge as well as knowledge of his father's knightly calling and of his death before Parsifal was born in a battle defending his land. Parsifal's mother concealed his family history and the dangerous world of knighthood from her son as long as she could, while it was Parsifal's destiny to become a knight and as soon as he encountered knights he was determined to become one himself. Like Parsifal, prior to Harry's entry into Hogwarts School, he is completely ignorant of his history, of his father having been a wizard and having died trying to protect him in a battle with Voldemort.

We can recall the similar story of Moses who was also rescued from an infanticide by being wrapped in bulrushes and put into the Nile River where the pharaoh's daughter found him and cared for him until he was a grown man. Although Moses mother was allowed to be his nurse, he was brought up as an Egyptian. The sense of his Hebrew heritage, his self-knowledge, we might say, erupted in a pure and instinctive way; it was not received outwardly through his upbringing. Harry's biography mirrors that of Parsifal, Moses and other initiates as he is brought up surrounded by a world foreign and hostile to his own roots and destiny, and only later awakens to his calling.

While Harry managed to escape the infanticide of Voldemort miraculously it is notable that Jesus, whose life story was the archetype of all initiates, was also rescued from an infanticide, that of the satanic Herod, when his parents took him from his homeland, out of harms way, to the land of Egypt-a land and a people detested by the Jews. Numerous other such examples could be cited, and the reasons for these circumstances, which we won't go into here, except to acknowledge how the Harry Potter story follows this archetypal early component of the initiate's path.

Another significant fact is concealed in the scar that Harry bears on his forehead. We could compare Harry's scar to the scar on the head of Christian Rosenkreutz, not without justification as we will see. First let us discuss the wound that Christian Rosenkreutz received on the first day of The Chymical Wedding, [9] which is a document that describes the initiation of Christian Rosenkreutz.

On the first day of the seven days of initiation that The Chymical Wedding expounds, the protagonist, Christian, is in a dark cave or dungeon with the rest of "fallen humanity." As the text relates: light appeared above through a hole in the earth. Above ground, "in the light," an "Ancient Matron" directed her servants to drop a cord down into the dark dungeon and pull up those who would be able, by whatever good fortune, to grasp it and be pulled up into the light and be saved from the fate of the others who would remain in darkness. The cord is dropped a number of times and pulled up while Christian struggles eventually to grasp the cord and be pulled out of the hole in the earth. The text tells us that in the process of escaping from the earthly prison Christian is wounded on the head-"by a sharp stone," which he only notices later when he discovers blood on himself.

What is indicated in this story is something that initiation science recognizes as representative of the first stage of initiation; it is one of many possible imaginative means by which this aspect of initiation might be depicted. It is indicative of a meeting with the "earthly" or lower nature, which one must endure in full consciousness, signifying that one has "risen above" or "cast down" this earthly aspect. In the case of Christian Rosenkreutz the lower earthly nature is represented by a stone from the dark earth itself, above which he rises, a stone that directly causes the head wound. This occurrence imaginatively depicts the meeting with the lesser guardian of the threshold, also called the double, which a would-be initiate must confront before entry into the spiritual world. Those who have experienced this meeting will acknowledge receiving something like a scar that was inflicted on the soul by the lower earthly nature. In the Harry Potter story we see a head wound inflicted at a meeting with the being representative of the earthly, lower nature of humanity, Voldemort, the arch Ahrimanic double. [10]

A SIGNIFICANT MOTHER FIGURE

In addition to this connection between the stories of Christian Rosenkreutz and Harry Potter we have another correspondence, an invisible mark, if you will, that Harry received at the same time as he received his visible scar. He learns about this "invisible mark" later in the story from Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore, when Harry discovers that it is the secret of his power over the under-worldly forces that Voldemort represents. Headmaster Dumbledore, an unequaled wizard, is an old, wise and benevolent, but frustratingly mysterious figure, who invariably offers guidance to Harry on his unique and perilous path. In a passage of the story where Harry was being physically attacked by Voldemort (in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone), and in which Harry is preventing the philosopher's stone from being found by Voldemort, he discovers a power that he didn't know he possessed-his very skin touching Voldemort was a source of burning agony for the dark lord. Dumbledore later explains to Harry the source of this power:

"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign...but to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin....Voldemort could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good." [11]

Although the circumstances differ outwardly between Christian Rosenkreutz and Harry Potter, as we compare the stories there can be no question but that the salvation of both, during what was a crucial rite of passage depicted in the two stories, is dependent on a benevolent mother figure: an "Ancient Matron" and Harry's sacrificing mother, Lily. With spiritual insight we can clearly recognize the spiritual component underlying both of these circumstances to be a reference to "the Mother" or Isis/Mary/Sophia; the representative of the virgin soul in everyone-the being that gives birth to the divine child in us. [12] Not suggesting that the author was conscious of the esoteric connection just indicated, there can be little doubt that she chose this particular explanation with considerable thought since it lies at the very heart of the series of books identifying the source of Harry's unusual courage and protection. In this regard we would be making a mistake to disregard motherly love in its everyday manifestations as a significant aspect of such courage and inner fortitude. From an esoteric point of view this "mother love" is of the highest significance in our search for the sources of inspiration for the story, which inspiration is bound to effect readers consciously or unconsciously.

This mother figure is worth examining further since it points to the deepest kernel underlying the entire Harry Potter series: the saving power of a mother's love as a necessary step on the path of initiation. It can best be explained by borrowing some wisdom and imagery from the Ancient Egyptian rights of initiation.

THE GODDESS MA'AT AND HER OSTRICH FEATHER

The great initiate Hermes, who was considered an immortal or a god because he could traverse the world of the dead at will, wore the headdress of Anubis the jackal-god, during rites of initiation. The first task of Anubis the jackal-god is like that of the guardian of the threshold: to attack the lower or fallen nature of the initiate-to wound it! Another task of Hermes, who in his role as initiator, was called Hermanubis, was to weigh the heart of the initiate on a scale in Duat, the underworld, opposite the feather of Ma'at. If the heart weighed heavier than the feather the soul would be given to the crocodile-headed goddess Ammit, "the bone eater," to experience a second death in Kamaloka or what is called purgatory in the Catholic faith. If the soul balanced in the scale against the feather it would become an Osiris, a son of god. Ma'at, who was always depicted with a feather, was the goddess of wisdom, order, justice and balance in the world and the consort of Anubis. The feather of Ma'at was an ostrich feather; and in this detail is revealed the deep wisdom of the Egyptians. Let us consider the feather of Ma'at-the ostrich feather.

An ostrich is a bird that is earth-bound: it cannot fly. The ostrich is a picture of the human being in the sense that human beings were once spirit-beings before they were "clothed in flesh." Prospective initiates in the mystery schools of Egypt were taught that in early Lemurian times, before the so-called "fall" of humankind, before humans incarnated in dense physical bodies, they were like "birds," that could "fly," that could move in not-quite-liquid and not-quite-airy spiritual currents. When human beings "put on flesh," when they incarnated-they became like ostriches. They still had "feathers," so to speak, the remnants of their heavenly natures but were bound to the earth, like ostriches, no longer able to fly as beings of light as they did in the spirit-land of Adam Kadmon.

And so it remains to this day; we are bound to the earth in each incarnation by our earthly bodies. The ostrich feather is the symbol of what remains of our spiritual nature after the fall into matter. The feather is a very small remnant, an almost insignificant representation of our original divine nature. We cannot fly with one feather. But the feather is what is redeemable in our nature. The single feather of Ma'at may be compared to what we call the "spark of the divine in us," or the "still small voice" that Elijah heard on Mount Horeb; or it may be compared to the "mustard seed" of faith in the spiritual world that remains in us, spoken of by Jesus in the synoptic gospels. In each case we are speaking of something tiny but powerful.

The feather of Ma'at refers to this small remnant in us that is of the same coinage as the gods, spiritual as the godhead is spiritual: it represents pure, uncorrupted soul substance. The goddess Ma'at of Egypt may be compared to the Ancient Matron in the Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, and the feather is representative of the remnant of her purity, her virtue that lives in us in spite of our fallen nature. Only through the agency of the "Ancient Matron" can we experience spirit birth and become sons and daughters of god, giving birth to Christ in us. [13] How appropriate then, from an esoteric perspective, is this seed-thought, corresponding to the purity of Lily Potter's sacrificial mother love, which reveals the secret power behind Harry Potter's outstanding ability to subdue evil?

What is also significant in this regard is the fact that the author has chosen Lily to be Harry's mother's name, a name that is familiar to students of spiritual science as representative of the feminine divine soul, as in the Rose and the Lily, which represent the King and the Queen or the divine couple in alchemical writings. The union of this "couple" is essential for the transformation that is a transmutation of base metals: what is base in the human being can become gold-what is divine. Even apart from esoteric consideration the name Lily is imaginatively potent; it is from the Hebrew Shoshanna and the Greek krinon and means: flower, pure, white, lovely or pale, this signifying: unsullied, untainted by passion, uncorrupted.

The event we are discussing, in which Harry Potter receive the scar on his forehead in an attempt by Voldemort to murder him, occurred when he was one year old. It is this event, which served to seal his mother Lily's love in him as an indomitable strength, an untouchable strength, of which he was only dimly conscious and which allowed Harry's higher nature to be born, grow up, and triumph over evil, in the manner of an initiate. We are calling this very early experience for Harry an initiation experience. What are we to think? Can initiation begin at such a young age? The fact is that real-life initiations seldom happen in a prescribed or expected manner. An early initiation experience can lie dormant like a seed in a person and only much later come to maturity and fruition in full consciousness. Examining the events and circumstances depicted in the Harry Potter story we are able to observe a true-to-life path of initiation accurately unfolding.

FURTHER SIGNIFICANCE OF HARRY'S SCAR

Looking more deeply into the significance of Harry's scar we can draw some further conclusions based on a knowledge of spiritual science with regard to the initial steps that one must take on the path of initiation. Connected with his scar, Harry had a "sixth sense" about Voldemort. Periodically he felt a searing pain in his scar and had waking dreams or visions of Voldemort as though dwelling momentarily in his very presence - able to sense his whereabouts and know his thoughts. He also had an ability that was rare even in wizards; it was an ability that Voldemort had - the ability to speak and understand the language of snakes, "parseltongue," which, as we will see, is a related capacity.

We can deduce the following from these facts. The threshold experience teaches us the nature of the guardian when we face it in full consciousness at the time of crossing the threshold of the spiritual world. By confronting the guardian we learn about our lower nature, for the guardian is a being we have created a being that consists of all of the karma that we have incurred in our various incarnations. By confronting our lower, earthly nature, by meeting the guardian consciously, we objectify (make outward and visible), what we formerly could not perceive in ourselves and were therefore subject to unconsciously. This meeting reveals to us the being behind our unconscious drives - whatever we were bound to do or think without knowing why; it reveals our hidden lower motivations. This is the power we gain in the meeting with the guardian: the power to recognize and challenge our lower nature. If this were not true we would be powerless to move in higher worlds, to advance on the path of spirit knowledge.

In addition, this beholding of the guardian grants us knowledge of the nature of its activities globally in its various expressions. It grants us knowledge of the nature of the Anti-Christ who is an expression of universal darkness in the world. The part of the dark lord that was in Harry Potter made him conscious of his movements and plans just as the meeting with the guardian of the threshold insures that subsequently the initiate can trace the movements of the underworldly nature in himself and in the world around him. Here we have further evidence of a valid depiction of Harry's threshold experience.

In addition, if we consider the esoteric significance of the ability to speak and understand the language of snakes, Parseltongue, we will realize that this refers to the ability to read, understand or speak the language of the underworld. The elemental world, the world of dreams and visions, the world of desire and loathing, is a world of beings that exist in the sub-earthly realm, beings of a lower nature than humanity that will continue to exert an influence on us as long as we fail to recognize them and their activity. By this we see further evidence of a genuine initiation/illumination, which grants the ability to bring light into what otherwise remains in the darkness of unconsciousness - to observe the concealed working of evil.

Getting back to where we left off in the story, at the time Harry enters Hogwarts School at age eleven he is only aware that he is different from his adoptive parents and their son Dudley, his cousin, but is not sure why. He has only stumbled upon certain magical capacities in himself that surfaced instinctively when he was angry and his heated imaginative fantasies became reality before his eyes, like the time Harry spoke parseltongue to a huge snake in a zoo that then frightened his spoiled, obnoxious cousin Dudley. We can compare this to the biblical story of Moses whose anger rose instinctively out of his innate connection to his people - when he killed an Egyptian who was persecuting a Hebrew. Or we can compare this to Parsifal who, knowing nothing of knighthood, is dazzled by a couple of knights he sees in the forest near his home and who immediately knows that he must become a knight himself, like his father before him - even though he knew nothing of his father's knightly calling. In each case innate forces connected with providence were kindled, forces that do not owe their existence to outer instruction or everyday consciousness.

Let us pass on now to significant circumstances and events that occur in the magical world, circumstances and events that are further indicative of the path of initiation in the Harry Potter story.

To begin we should note that a strengthening of the higher ego forces occurs at the meeting with the guardian of the threshold at which time the soul is empowered to rise above her earthly nature. We see this rising up in Harry Potter when he crosses the threshold at Kings Cross station, which takes a supreme effort as Harry must walk through a metal barrier to enter the platform, on the other side of which lies the Magical world and the Hogwarts Express, the train that leads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He must believe that it is possible to penetrate a physical barrier, by walking through it, in order to successfully find the Hogwarts Express platform. The metal barrier [14] might well represent the impenetrable, human-constructed, mental barrier of materialistic thinking that can prevent a person from gaining entry into the spiritual world.

DIVISION OF HARRY'S SOUL INTO THREE DISTINCT MEMBERS

Immediately after entering the Magical world, while riding on the Hogwarts Express train, Harry Potter finds himself aligned with two students, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Clearly, in this threesome who remain fast friends throughout the series, we have a picture of a soul divided into three parts. Hermione is the intellect of the group, an avid student, an undaunted researcher and problem solver, a young lady who is intent on following the rules and who acts as a sort of guardian to Ron and Harry. Ron is all will force, not always so conscious or concerned about his actions as he might be, impulsive, prone to say the wrong thing at the wrong time but always willing and faithful to the high mission that very quickly unfolds. as the thrust of the story is revealed-thwarting the machinations of the evil wizard Voldemort who is plotting his return to rule the world. Harry himself is all heart, full of compassion and courage but not always thinking things through as he ought-he represents the force of heart-feeling. Much like other esoteric tales such as The Wizard of Oz[15], for instance, in which the cowardly lion, the fearful scarecrow and the heartless tin-man represent Dorothy's tri-partite soul seeking the experience of initiation, the triumvirate of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series represents the division of soul forces in the human being that one inevitably confronts as one seeks to cross the threshold.

RULERSHIP OF THE HIGHER EGO FORCES

Once the three soul members become independent the Christened human ego must become their guide. Here we see Harry, rightly positioned as the representative of the higher I, when we recall that it is the heart forces of the blood wherein the ego or "I" dwells in the human being. We see this substantiated throughout the seven books with Harry, representing the enlightened "I being" leading the way, by choosing to follow through on his mission to defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort no matter how ill-equipped or how uninformed he might judge himself to be-facing the possibility of death over and over again. And Ron and Hermione (the willing and thinking soul) devotedly join in confronting one perilous task after another, faithful to Harry to the very end, demonstrating conformity with the laws of the development of the divided human soul of an initiated individual.

Once the Hogwarts Express reaches Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry all of the first year students, of which Harry was one, must first be sorted into houses. There are four Houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, symbolized on the Hogwarts Coat of Arms as a lion, a serpent, a badger and an eagle. Frans Lutters has pointed out that these houses correspond to the four temperaments: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. [16] These in turn are connected to the four elements: fire, air, water and earth. [17] The process of sorting each student into a house is conducted by placing a magical "sorting hat" on each student's head, which "analyzes the free ether around the head and then assigns each to a group to which he or she shows the closest relationship" [18] as Lutters puts it. Mystery wisdom has always recognized the special relationship of the student of the mysteries to the elemental world: the world of fire, air, water and earth. There are trials connected to each of these elements.

Also called "essences" these four elements known from antiquity are ruled by a fifth element or essence-the "quintessence." The fifth essence can and must penetrate and harmonize the four essences. It is the higher quality of fire: a combination of moral warmth and the light of higher consciousness. Living thinking is an expression of this quality of warmth and light-the spiritual element that can penetrate all of the four elements and therefore rule them. Without the quintessence the four elements act upon us unconsciously and deterministically; they are the forces that play an important role in fulfilling our karma working invisibly and chaotically in our will before we are initiated. In this we have an indication of how an initiate can move through the four elements into the spiritual world in the right way - through thinking that has been enlivened and warmed by spirit.

It is interesting to observe this enlivened thinking, the quintessence, in Harry Potter's "conversation" with the sorting hat. When the sorting hat was placed on Harry's head it was speaking, thinking out loud as it were, deciding what house to place Harry in. The hat was seeing Harry's talents, disposition and abilities as indicative that he would be a good candidate for Slytherin house. But Harry is not silent and acquiescent to the determinism of the sorting hat like the other students. The reader hears Harry's thoughts-overruling the prospect of the sorting hat placing him in Slytherin; finally the sorting hat gives in to Harry's insistent "not Slytherin, not Slytherin;" choosing Gryffindor house instead - the house representing the "fire" of spirit. Here we see Harry's free "I being" (quintessence), expressed in enlivened thinking, rising above natural determinism which is ruled by elemental forces and making a free choice - again indicative of qualities that one would expect to see in an initiate.

The process of penetrating and moving through the elemental world is part of the self-knowledge that is essential for working spiritually in full consciousness as the modern path of initiation requires. Knowing ones temperament is an essential step in gaining the required self-knowledge to be able to penetrate the elemental world in the right way; it precedes the task of creating harmony between the four elements, which is accomplished by the higher ego. Christ in us is our higher "I being": this Lord of the Elements must rule within the initiate.

THE TRIAL BY AIR

After Harry, Ron and Hermione are all sorted into Gryffindor house, they encounter an atmosphere that is highly significant. They soon discover that in the jovial and mingled dark and lighthearted atmosphere of Hogwarts that is not without a grave, even fierce aspect of authority in connection with education and social responsibility - no one is trustworthy. Through the author's eyes we see through the psychological games that pervade the staff of the school, the egotism and posturing that seem to be the rule rather than the exception. Consistent with the fairy tale nature of the story none of this is hidden from the readers view but is obvious, even caricatured. Everyone's deeper nature is laid bare with all of their idiosyncrasies and character flaws. Even Dumbledore, the Headmaster, the revered and unequalled Wizard who acts as Harry's protector and guide is subject to doubt. Harry, as representative of the higher ego of the threesome, is thrown back on himself time and time again.

That Harry can see this is indicative of the higher sight one achieves with initiation experience and must be coupled with a strictly non-judgmental and forgiving attitude so as not to isolate oneself from the social sphere. Furthermore, the atmosphere that Harry meets at Hogwarts exactly describes a condition of initiation spoken of by Rudolf Steiner, a condition in which the initiate must learn to trust only himself and not look to the outer world to confirm what the spiritual world reveals to him or her. [19] When once we discover our higher purpose which corresponds to knowing ourselves through being known by the higher power of the Christ Ego-we are alone. Our higher self is highly individual, unlike any other, gifted with a unique calling, and must learn to be singularly independent in the sphere of knowledge and in the sphere of the conscience. [20] This is the atmosphere in which Harry finds himself at Hogwarts; he is essentially alone with his two soul counterparts Ron and Hermione facing the challenges that confront him on the stage of world spiritual evolution, we might say, for this is what is being depicted. Dealing with this hostile atmosphere may be compared to the trial by air that one inevitably experiences on the path of initiation.

We cannot, within the context of this series of articles, look deeply at the middle section of the Harry Potter books, which consists of numerous trials and challenges for Harry, which include more confrontations with Voldemort, and which can provide further evidence of the path of initiation in the story. It shall suffice therefore to have set forth from the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, these numerous facts which set the tone and thematics for the following six books. So, in keeping with an article-length study we will move to the last book called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

THE MYSTERY OF DEATH

In this final section of our study we will attempt to unveil something of the nature of initiation woven into the whole Harry Potter series, which is both fundamental and enigmatic: the mystery of death. Let us first remind ourselves that all initiates from antiquity forward achieved their exalted knowledge by overcoming death. In ancient Egyptian mystery schools the path leading to becoming a "son of god," a "son of Osiris," culminated with what was called the "temple sleep." The candidate for initiation was laid in a sarcophagus to highlight the fact that a kind of death was to occur to facilitate the initiation while experienced initiates stood by for support during this dangerous rite of passage. In order to attain first hand knowledge of the spiritual world the person undergoing initiation was put into a death-like sleep in order to bring about what today closely resembles what we refer to as a near-death-experience. This was intended to last for three and a half days, during which time the aspiring initiate was able to explore the spiritual world free from the interference of the physical body which normally binds the soul to physical sensory experience. If the candidate for initiation had properly developed higher organs of perception, through study and practice of exercises of thought and feeling coupled with moral development he or she would be able to bring back spiritual riches from their journey in the world of the dead: knowledge of the world of the gods [21] and a lasting connection with them.

Today such dangerous methods are no longer necessary. Transformative experiences can and do occur that correspond to ancient initiations, experiences that occur in the course of daily life. Since the time of Jesus Christ, it has become possible for anyone to attain direct knowledge of the spiritual world in life through a connection to Christ who wields the power to overcome death. Nevertheless, if one familiarizes oneself with the abundant literature available recounting modern near-death experiences one can get a sense of how transforming such an experience can be.

THE LIFE OF CHRIST AS THE ARCHETYPAL PATH OF INITIATION

The Harry Potter story is full of obvious and many less than obvious references to the Christian path and parallels to the Christ story which J. K. Rowling readily admits was her primary inspiration for the series. Spiritual science teaches that the Mystery of Golgotha, the Christ event including trials, suffering, death by crucifixion, and resurrection was the ultimate initiation; it was the fulfillment for humanity of the rite of initiation prefigured by countless mystery schools from antiquity forward. The life of Jesus Christ was the archetype of the path of the initiate - the path of love and death - the path of spiritual service to humanity. In an attempt to further grasp the path of initiation let us seek to penetrate the mystery of love and death as it is presented in the story.

To begin, let us examine the antithetical figures of Voldemort and Harry Potter in light of the mystery of death and with reference to their names or in Harry's case his moniker. We have already addressed Harry's moniker - "the boy who lived." And we have pointed out that this name is an indication that he overcame death-and received the seed and substance of his initiation. In Voldemort we have a different sort of "overcoming" of death. The reader will recognize an obvious reference to death in the name Voldemort itself, the last syllable of which is "mort." Mortal, mortality, mortuary, etc., are all words that refer to death. It is more than likely that the author chose this name with a knowledge of how its parts might be interpreted in numerous ways. A name is richer if it has multiple meanings. There is the suggestion in the first syllable, "Volde," of several possible interpretations, which can help us identify our antagonist: this figure who is the antithesis of Harry Potter. "Vol de" from the French means: "theft of" or "flight of" death. If we take the Latin roots we have "volo," "to wish" or "will," "de," "away from," "morte" "death" - to will or wish-away death. Another translation based on the French might suggest "flight from death." Finally, the Anglo Saxon "Walda" which approximates "Volde," as "W" and "V" are often interchangeable, means "ruler/King" suggesting therefore that Voldemort is the "King of Death." All of these translations are helpful in identifying who Voldemort is or represents as a counter image of Harry Potter. Furthermore, we have Voldemort's army named "death eaters" indicating a wish to destroy or eliminate death.

Harry Potter is not afraid of death: he does not flee from death; nor will death; nor steal it; he does not seek to destroy it. In the third from the last chapter of the series Harry bravely walks to his death fully conscious of what is to happen. He willingly sacrifices himself for his friends, mirroring his mother's willing sacrifice - her dying for him. It was not just an outstanding act; it signified his chosen path; he had in fact been facing and meeting death all along. Dumbledore himself indicated to Harry that he was the only worthy possessor of all three deathly hallows, the mere possession of which was supposed to bestow the title "Master of Death." [22] He said: "You [Harry] are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death." [23] And as Master of Death he was the ambassador of a higher Life - as an initiate - "the boy who lived."

Where does all of this reasoning lead? It leads us to a deeper understanding of what makes Harry Potter significant especially in our time when the idea of death and the reality of death is avoided probably more than any other time in history - in a culture that idolized youth and seeks to "wish away death."

Taking up the question of how death should work in us, let us recall an obscure biblical reference, which is highly significant and bears directly on our question. It is a reference that addresses the Apostle Peter and invokes the question of love and death. In the twenty first chapter of the Gospel According to St. John a conversation takes place between Peter and the resurrected Jesus who has just appeared to the disciples for the third time in his resurrection body. After a meal of bread and fish on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius, Jesus asked Peter: "Simon Peter, do you love me more than the others?" He asked this because it was Peter's way to boast of his love for the Lord, which he claimed was greater than all the others. Peter answered: "Yes, Lord, you know I love you." And to which Jesus answered "Feed my lambs." Twice more Jesus asked Peter the same question and answered similarly: "Shepherd my sheep." After being questioned the third time Peter was disturbed and said: "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you."

A LESSON ON LOVE AND DEATH

Jesus was attempting to appeal to a deeper part of Peter with these questions; he hoped to create an openness in him to what he would say next: "Yes, I tell you, when you were young you tied your own belt and followed your own aims you had set forth for yourself; but when you reach maturity you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you and lead you to aims you do not set for yourself." To this the writer of the Gospel of John says: "With these words he showed him a picture by what death the divine in him would be revealed.'" Jesus was giving Peter a lesson on love and death.

What does this exchange between Jesus and Peter have to do with Harry Potter? We mentioned early on, in the previous article, that the "Foundation Stone of Love" inspires the Harry Potter series, and that we would seek to demonstrate this fact in these studies. As yet we have not directly addressed Harry's love, which is not expressed in the books in so many words as it is demonstrated in Harry's actions. To this end we could recount the story of Dobby, the troublesome house elf who Harry freed from slavery to the Malfoy family. Dobby was devoted to Harry Potter even before he freed him and became an important ally eventually giving his life to save Harry's life. Or we could cite his choice of friends in Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, two unpopular students who are Harry's friends because they are honest, insightful, courageous and kind while considered "uncool" by most Hogwarts students. Or we could recount the many times Harry spared the lives of his enemies. Harry's love was not an emotional love; it was love in action - love for the truth; it was a sacrificing love that led him to devote his life to making the world a better place, a place free from hatred, bigotry, and intolerance - and a place free from the evil, imperious Voldemort and what he represented. Harry unstintingly stood up for the less fortunate, and despised, for so-called "mud-bloods," for the half-giant, half-human Rubeus Hagrid and for house elves - all of whom were despised members of social under classes. He sacrificed a normal "happy" life for a life of service to others, suffering slander and exclusion, being repeatedly attacked for standing for the truth regardless of the consequences.

What the resurrected Jesus told Peter and what the apostle John said regarding it is significant in the highest: "he showed him a picture by what death the divine in him would be revealed." This short exchange between Jesus and Peter is characteristically concise and immeasurably meaningful. In dealing with lofty matters such as initiation sometimes obvious answers can remain obscure, being couched in lofty language, in theoretical abstractions or in difficult to grasp concepts. The actual results of initiation, nevertheless, are so plain than one might easily overlook them. The results of initiation, as Jesus always sought to demonstrate, are meant to produce pure selflessness devoted to the cause of helping one's neighbor. Such a formula is plain enough; it is not too lofty to be understood by the least among us - but it requires the ultimate sacrifice: willingness to confront and embrace death.

In keeping with the character of Harry Potter, as Frans Lutters described him: "Harry Potter is the kind of boy we all know: unspectacular but with a good heart" - the results of initiation are unspectacular from one perspective. But, as Lutters points out again: "...what makes him exceptional is that he is called to great deeds." Everyone who takes the path of initiation is "called to great deeds," one might say - because they are deeds that are not only a help to one's neighbor - but ultimately to humanity as a whole. What we described earlier, the "death" of the initiate through the "temple sleep," which was performed with great ceremony and gravity in times past, today is performed unceremoniously from an earthly perspective when one chooses a spiritual path. But what is performed unceremoniously is of the highest spiritual order: it is "the way that the divine in us is revealed." What is plain enough: selflessness, honesty, helping one's neighbor, rising above one's personal wishes and point of view, is the sort of death that Jesus pictured for Peter, a picture that might appear plain but is in fact "spectacular" from a spiritual point of view and leads to "great deeds," as demonstrated repeatedly by Harry Potter in the seven book series.

This is the relationship to death that so separates Harry Potter from Voldemort whose goal was personal power and self-aggrandizement. As much as Voldemort sought to escape this death-to-self we have been exploring, so much did he perpetuate a hateful scheme of death toward others. Harry's willingness to die to his own "happy life," to die to a life of self-fulfillment and instead hear the call of the spirit to work in conformity with the goals of world spiritual evolution is the sort of life Jesus recommended to Peter. As mentioned previously, Harry Potter consciously walked to his death, in The Deathly Hallows, the last book in the series, when he marched into Voldemort's encampment in the forest bordering Hogwarts, surrounded by his death eaters, to give himself up; where he willingly submitted himself to Voldemort's killing curse. And from across the threshold of death, much like what one can discover from first-hand reports of near-death experiences, Harry was given the choice to return to life-which he took-reappearing in a sort of "resurrection." Harry's choosing to die may be seen as a sign of his willingness to confront and embrace death daily, come what may, the condition by which the divine was revealed in him and clearly the secret of triumph on the path of initiation.

CLOSING

This concludes our present study entitled: What About Harry Potter: Is He or Will He Remain Significant? Part II, Harry Potter and the Path of Initiation, in which we sought to uncover some of the means and results of initiation to be found in J. K. Rowling's popular seven book series on the young life of Harry Potter. We have here indicated numerous ways in which this work of literature is significant from a spiritual scientific perspective, as it mirrors the path of initiation, providing valuable insights for spiritually seeking individuals, insights which are essential in promoting the path to spiritual knowledge according to the spiritual scientific method that must eventually replace the methodology of our present age of faith. The Harry Potter story, with its message of initiation such as we have shown, distinguishes itself beside the other historically most-loved and most popular classics of Charles Dickens, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, for instance, works whose popularity also depended on the extraordinary ability of their authors to depict what is universally human.

Footnotes

  • [1] This article was written in 2015.
  • {2} Any spiritual value of a "Holy Grail" is eclipsed in The DaVinci Code by the fact that it promotes the idea of a physical bloodline that is inaccessible to most people; whereas the true value of a Holy Grail lies in its availability as a living spiritual stream to any individual who proves him or herself worthy.
  • [3] P. 31, Novalis Philosophical Writings, translated by Margaret Mohony Stoljar, SUNY Press, 1997 Albany, NY.
  • [4] These are two most popular single books ever written based on sales, the third most popular being Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince and Harry Potter taking the fourth place while Harry Potter remains the single most popular series of books ever written.
  • [5] There are numerous notable exceptions: Priest Sees No Problem with Harry Potter, Catholic Online, By Matt Abbot, Op/Ed. Also, Father Peter Fleetwood, Cardinal at the archdiocese of Liverpool, who served as an official of the Pontifical Council for Culture, has made numerous comments supportive of the novels. He said: "If I understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. And she is very clear on this." Wikipedia: Religious debates over the Harry Potter series, Catholicism. Also: Russian orthodox apologist deacon Andrei Kuraev argued in 2003 book Harry Potter in the Church: Between Anathema and a Smile that the Harry Potter books are not dangerous....He quotes other notable priest and church officials such as M. Kozlov and S. Pravdoliubov as supporting his position." Wikipedia: Religious debates over the Harry Potter series, Orthodox
  • [6] For an article length treatment of this subject refer to the author's: Archangel Michael: How Can We Know Him, Part IV, Freeing Thought from Language. Available in the article archive of anthroposophy.org or at the author's Academia.edu site: https://independent.academia.edu/BillTrusiewicz
  • [7] According to Anthroposophical spiritual science all of its initiatives are created under the direction of Archangel Michael, the present ruling time spirit.
  • [8] P. 9, Who is Harry Potter, by Frans Lutters, translated by Philip Mees, Copyright 2015, Waldorf Publications, Chatham, New York.
  • [9] The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, Johann Valentin Andreae. Often referred to as the third of the three original manifestos of the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross," or what became known as Rosicrucianism.
  • [10] If we consider Harry's mission as a bearer of the karma of his people (humanity), as sensing always the responsibility that he has towards others we will know that he represents the ultimate Michaelite, one who bears the mission of the time spirit, which qualifies him as the arch enemy of the anti-Christ represented by Voldemort.
  • [11] Compare this to a statement by Rudolf Steiner: "There is only one power before which Lucifer withdraws: that is morality. That is something which burns Lucifer with the most terrible fire." R. S. (GA 120) Manifestations of Karma, p. 140, Rudolf Steiner Press 2000.
  • [12] The German Romantic poet and polymath Novalis said: "In everyone there dwells the heavenly mother, bearing each child in eternity." To this statement Rudolf Steiner said: "this is not a figurative event but an actual birth."
  • [13] For a complete study of this subject see the authors article entitled: Anubis and the Speech of the Threshold: As Key to Meeting Christ in the Etheric. It can be read or downloaded at: https://independent.academia.edu/BillTrusiewicz
  • [14] Depicted as a brick wall in the movie.
  • [15] See: Spiritual Symbolism in the Wizard of Oz: The Soul's Journey on the Golden Path, by Javier J. Farias, for a study of Frank Baum's esoteric tale. Doggie in the Window Publications, 2005
  • [16] Frans Lutters, Who is Harry Potter? Translated by Philip Meese, Waldorf Publications, Chatham, NY, copyright 2015, p. 13
  • [17] Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. Interview with Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three," The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005. "It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water, hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know."
  • [18] ibid, p. 14
  • [19] Describing this condition of initiation (the trial by air) Rudolf Steiner says: "There are no things or people who might help us to act. Nothing and nobody can give us strength we need, except we ourselves....No one who reads these lines without knowing anything about what they refer to should feel any antipathy for this condition of being thrown back upon oneself." Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds, chapter 3, No. 18, Initiation.
  • [20] For a more extensive reflection on this thought refer to the author's two articles entitled: A Continuing Series Towards Building a Community of Grail Knights, No. 1, Remaining True to the Spirit; and No. 3, The Spear of Destiny and the Grail Cup as Remedy for the Counter-Evolutionary Forces of the Ancient Priestly Wisdom.
  • [21] By "the gods" we refer to the spiritual beings of the hierarchies, which carry out the will of the Godhead: the Trinity. By name and rank they are: Angels, Archangels, Archai, Exousiai, Dynameis, Kyriotites, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim.
  • [22] Harry had inherited the Cloak of Invisibility, which had been his father's through its original owner, his ancestor Ignotus Peverell. Harry had won the Elder Wand from Draco Malfoy, and had the Resurrection Stone, hidden in the snitch given to him by Dumbledore. Those reading the legend of the Deathly Hallows, told in the Tales of Beetle the Bard, understood that whoever possessed all three of the deathly hallows would be master of death. (p. 720, Deathly Hallows.)
  • [23] p. 720, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  •