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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.
For many thousands of years before our calendar began, all the nations around the Mediterranean were influenced and fascinated by a powerful story. This was the story of the Son of God who was born to save the world, who died, but who rose from the dead victorious, having conquered evil and death. In each nation this God–man had a different name. In Egypt he was called Osiris, in Greece Dionysus, in Asia Minor Attis, in Syria Adonis, in Italy Bacchus and in Persia Mithras (Note 1). At the time our calendar begins there were in this area hundreds of religious groups which taught this story. They took it not as an historical event, but as symbolical of a process which every human being must one day undergo if he is to achieve spiritual enlightenment and reunion with God. Their belief was that this Son of God must be born in the heart of man, that he must die in a sacrifice to overcome evil, but that he would rise again from the dead, thus vanquishing death. Some of these groups we know today as the Gnostics. They called the Son of God, Jesus Christ, but the story of Jesus was simply adapted from Pagan myths thousands of years old. To the Gnostics, Jesus was a mythical hero; the prototype of the human being who has cleansed himself of his earthly, mortal self, and has brought back to life the Divine Man asleep in his heart.
Today the story of Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, Adonis, Bacchus, Mithras and Jesus has come back into the human consciousness with a vengeance by means of a conspiracy that is so ingenious, so intelligent, that it is truly breathtaking! The story is in the form of a series of 7 books, ostensibly written for children. It makes use of extremely powerful symbols and archetypes which resonate with extraordinary force in the collective unconscious, making the appeal of the story universal. This means that millions of children of every background, whether religious or not, all over the world, are unconsciously absorbing the myth of Osiris–Dionysus–Jesus. The story of the birth of the Inner God, his death, and his resurrection is being etched deeply into the souls of innumerable children, while hardly anyone is aware this is happening, and many religious people complain of their lack of (overt) religion. Those who take the Bible literally as God’s word, oppose this story because it develops people’s inner spiritual compass instead of instructing them to follow Biblical instructions blindly.
The basic story is this: A prophecy is made that a baby who will change the world will be born. A star appears at his birth. When the king of this world hears about the birth he tries to have the baby killed, but fails. The child performs miracles at a young age. But as he grows older he knows he will have to meet his arch–enemy: Satan. Our hero prepares to sacrifice himself for the world, and surrenders himself, undefended, to face certain death. He is killed, and goes into an underworld, where he can choose to ‘go on’ or come back. He comes back victorious, as a Master of Death, i.e. eternal life, to liberate the world of evil. Does that sound familiar? Yes, that’s the story of Jesus, but also that of Harry Potter.
I am now briefly going to outline the Path of Enlightenment and Liberation, and show you that Harry Potter symbolises this. The explanation will be very brief, but those who are interested in understanding these symbols in greater depth can read about them on this website.
Many people have written about the Path of Liberation. I am going to tell you about it as described by the author Jan van Rijckenborgh (Note 2). The most important thing to realise is that the central character is not Harry, but the reader. It is the reader who is commencing a long journey from mortality to immortality, and all the characters in Harry Potter personify various influences, character traits and aspects within himself, and that he comes across on the journey.
There is a divine spark in the heart, as the potential for starting a Divine Fire. The Rosicrucians call this divine potential the white rose bud or the lily. In Buddhism this is called the Lotus, which has a precious jewel in its heart. In Harry Potter the divine potential is personified by Lily. Having a divine Lily in the heart is all very well, but how does the seeker develop his potential? The answer is to yearn for God, for the Divine Spirit, for the Water of Life that flows from the River of God. That will cause a call to be emitted by the heart. This call, if it is humble, sincere and genuine, will be heard by God. An inflow of pure spiritual energy into the seeker’s heart will begin. In many of his books Jan van Rijckenborgh quotes Psalm 42 as the most eloquent formulation of this thirst for God:
As the stag longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
In Harry Potter this yearning is personified by James, the stag animagus. As soon as the lily bud is given water, or the spark given oxygen, it opens up; it comes to life. The divine spark in the heart is referred to in Alchemy as “The Philosopher’s Stone&rdquo. With it the alchemist can turn any metal into gold, and produce the elixir of life. The lead referred to in Alchemy is the normal earthly self, and the gold is the eternal, spiritual being. In practical terms the earthly, temporary self has to sacrifice itself, i.e. to die, before it can be resurrected as the eternal, divine self (I emphasise that this is not in any way a physical death).
And so as soon as the bud of the white rose or lily begins to open, a process of death and resurrection begins. A new soul is born in the heart; a divine soul that is initially like an innocent baby in a manger amongst animals, symbolising the animal passions in the normal human heart, but also the vast difference between the biological human being and the spiritual being he is destined to become. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by the birth of Harry in Godric’s Hollow: the hollow human heart muscle, where the spark of God resides.
As soon as the new soul is born, a bright light begins to shine in the outer perimeter of the seeker’s personal force field. Every human being, according to esoteric writers (Note 3), has around him a force field with seven potencies. At its perimeter a boundary forms which shuts out spiritual energy that is not, and attracts energy which is, in harmony with the key vibration of the force field. We are mortal and subject to good and evil because our key vibration is not in harmony with the divine universe. But when the new soul is born, a hole is breached in the prison wall, so to speak, and a bright new star, a new source of energy, begins to shine in the sky of our microcosm, as our force field is usually called. In the New Testament this is symbolised by the star of Bethlehem. In ancient Egyptian legends this was symbolised by the star Sirius announcing the birth of Horus. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by Sirius being made Harry’s God–Father.
The new star grows as the seeker devotes his life to the new soul, concentrating light inside the body and in his aura. This gives the seeker a treasure of spiritual power which gives him strength and inspiration. It begins to reveal to the alchemist the Divine Plan of spiritual development which lies dormant in every seeker. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by Sirius becoming Harry’s mentor, giving him advice.
However, the new soul in the seeker is constantly threatened by an extremely powerful force inside him. To explain what this force is, it is necessary to discuss the Fall. Alchemists write that the human microcosm once existed in great glory in the divine universe, in the Bible called the Kingdom of Heaven, in Buddhism called Nirvana, and in Taoism called Tao. The story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament says that God’s Son wandered off into a far country and spent a fortune there, before realising he had made a big mistake and deciding to make the long journey back. The Fall is symbolised in Harry Potter by the Gaunts, who, like the Prodigal Son, spent a fortune and ended up in abject poverty. Marvolo personifies the fallen human spirit, Morfin the body (Morphé is Greek for body) and Merope the original divine soul, which died. Merope is a star in the Pleiades, known as the Lost Pleiade because it is invisible to the naked eye. In Greek legends Merope is a goddess, a daughter of Atlas. She married a mortal, and this caused her star to fade. In Harry Potter, Merope marries a muggle.
Before the Fall, millions of years ago, we were filled with the Holy Spirit and knew under all circumstances how to act with wisdom, intelligence and love. All the lives we have lived away from the Divine Plan have resulted in the building up of an extremely strong force field in our microcosm. If we have very old habits it’s terribly hard to break them. Well, our microcosm contains a force field that is immortal in the sense that it remains alive when the biological personality dies. When a baby is born the immortal force field pours into the baby all the talents, moral strengths and weaknesses, and main character traits which have been built up over thousands of lives. When the new soul is born in the heart of the seeker, this force field reacts with drastic force and tries to kill the new soul. In the New Testament this is symbolised by Herod attempting to kill Jesus; in Harry Potter Voldemort tries to kill Harry.
If the seeker perseveres in his first steps towards helping his Inner Christ to reach maturity and consciousness, the new soul will begin to radiate an extremely strong spiritual light within the seeker’s own being. This light is Divine, and hence of an extremely high vibration. It is so powerful that it drives the Inner Voldemort, in Christian legends called Lucifer or Satan, to the outer perimeter of his microcosm, symbolised in Harry Potter by Albania, the white land. Just as a torch drives darkness away to a certain distance, so the Divine Light in the heart of the seeker drives the accumulated darkness in his microcosm to the outer edge.
The New Soul is a force from another universe, and it experiences itself as extremely lonely, oppressed and alien in this world. In the Old Testament this is symbolised as the journey through the desert to the Promised Land, while John the Baptist also wanders in the desert while preparing the way for Jesus. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by life in the muggle world with the Dursleys, who just don’t understand Harry, and are extremely unkind to him. His life with the Dursleys is like living in a desert.
The seeker feels extremely alien in this world, and most people don’t understand him. Muggles are people who have no openness for spiritual development. Their immortal bud is totally dormant. Fortunately there is always someone to help the seeker and deliver him from the clutches of the muggles. There is always a bodhisattva, a gatekeeper, a son of a widow, who will deliver a letter of invitation to the seeker and help him find the gate to the magical world and ferry him across the River Styx, separating the earthly world and the Other One. This is Hagrid, the Master of Compassion, the lover of the dragons which symbolise the fallen human race, who ferries the first years across the lake.
Once the new soul is born and has survived the attack by the Inner Voldemort, it begins its journey from Bethlehem to Golgotha, from Godric’s Hollow to King’s Cross, from birth to self–sacrifice and resurrection.
The seeker’s whole personality is personified in Harry Potter by the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry is the heart of the seeker, as the new soul is born in the heart and so rules there. Hermione is the feminine form of the Greek name Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. She is the seeker’s reborn mind, which serves the heart and helps it towards its goal. Ronald Bilius Weasley is the biological self, concentrated in the abdominal region. In alchemy this part of the person is called the spleen–liver system, and Bilius is a misspelling of bilious, from the word bile, which is produced by the liver.
The seeker who wants to attain reunion with God has to dedicate his whole heart, his whole mind, and his whole biological self to the process of Alchemy. The biological self has to be willing to sacrifice itself for the eternal self. We see this aspect in the chess game, the fight between black and white, symbolising vice and virtue, where Ron shows his willingness to sacrifice himself to help Harry.
In this universe, black and white are temporal opposites and as such are tied to each other; both are aspects of the biological personality. They cannot be compared to the Absolute Good of the Divine Plan as it is executed in the Divine Universe. Both good and evil must die, before they can be replaced by the perfect, immaculate, eternal goodness of the Son of the Potter of the Universe. In comparison to this perfect Good, our earthly good and evil are merely shades of grey and black. In The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosycross, this is symbolised by a grey king and a black king, both of whom are beheaded in an alchemical process which results in a glorious resurrection. In Harry Potter the roles of the grey and black kings are played by Remus John Lupin and Severus Snape respectively, and both of them sacrifice themselves during the final battle.
One of the great dangers on the Path is that the earthly personality will try to take charge of the alchemical process with his ordinary I–consciousness. This impedes the process of self–surrender to the Divine Self very severely. During past incarnations, the I–consciousness has developed skills and knowledge to help it survive the dangers of life on this planet, but this can’t help in the process of Alchemy. When the seeker tries to apply these skills and knowledge to liberating Alchemy, he uses what Alchemists call “occultism”. This is an aspect of the black king, or Snape. His house is filled to the brim with books, and he is extremely skilled in mental powers, such as Occlumency and Legilimency. James Potter symbolises a pure thirst for the Divine Water, but Snape symbolises the negative reaction to the Divine Potential in the heart. He falls in love with the inner Lily, but she can’t return his love because the Divine bud in the heart cannot respond to an impure desire. Snape’s Patronus is a doe, symbolising desire for Lily herself, while James’ is a stag, symbolising thirst for the living water through the agency of Lily. We can also learn from Harry Potter that the black king, whom we all have within us, constantly hurts the New Soul, while the grey king, Lupin, is very kind to him, and in fact teaches him to invoke his Patronus, which is a stag.
A good friend of the occult black king is another powerful force within the earthly personality. This is the serpent–fire, a force resident inside the spinal cord. It is the core of the earthly, mortal soul, and the root of the I–consciousness. It is personified by Draco, which is Latin, not only for dragon, but also for serpent. The alchemical process means a total reversal from an egocentric world view and mode of life to one of self–surrender to the Inner God. No one can achieve this easily and without pain and Draco is a constant source of grief and harassment for Harry.
Draco’s father Lucius Malfoy represents the brain as ruled by the I–consciousness, with its delusion of being an intelligent and capable decision–maker, with Narcissa symbolising the physical body.
The worst traitor within the earthly human being is the biological ego, situated in the spleen–liver system personified by Ronald Bilius, as stated previously. This ego is the bodyguard of the personality, and its purpose is to step in when danger threatens. It’s the survivor through and through. It is personified by Ron’s rat, Scabbers. When the New Soul is born, the spleen–liver ego immediately tries to assume control. It thinks it is the hero, and so it captures the mental image of the Divine Man, personified by Sirius, which it sees as a threat. Every seeker is subject to panic attacks when he thinks of the self–sacrifice involved in the process, and these arise from the biological ego. The ego responds to this by trying to force the mental projection of the Divine Plan to conform to his ideas of liberation, which lead away from self–surrender, and wrap the truth in all sorts of mystical speculations, artistic fantasies, and delusions. In other words, Scabbers betrays Sirius, Harry and his parents, and Sirius is sent to prison. Another parallel is the Greek legend of Prometheus, who is chained, and his liver eaten daily.
The main aspect of Alchemy is a journey of the new soul–fire from the heart to the head, then down through the nervous system, in alchemy called “the Tree of Life”, and up again into the head, where the final confrontation with the inner evil takes place. This is followed by the resurrection of the Inner Christ and the enlightenment with a new, omniscient consciousness. The new soul gradually begins to influence the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the chakras. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by Harry’s growing relationship with the Weasley family. Each member of the family personifies a chakra, an endocrine gland, and a plexus of the autonomic nervous system. These are connected to the spinal cord. In ascending order, these are:
Ginny: personifying the Root Chakra, the sacral plexus and the gonads, Ron: the Spleen Chakra, the solar plexus and the pancreas, Fred and George: the Navel Chakra, the lumbar plexus and the 2 adrenal glands,Percy: the heart chakra, the cardiac plexus and the thymus,Charlie: the throat chakra, the cervical plexus and the thyroid gland,Arthur and Molly: the brow chakra, the carotid plexus and the pituitary gland with its posterior and anterior lobes influencing the head and the heart, and Bill: the crown chakra and the pineal gland.
The alchemical purification of the heart region is an intense period of purifying the desires and emotions, in legends referred to as the quest for the Holy Grail. The heart has to be utterly pure, so as to be able to receive the blood of Christ, referring to the pure spiritual energy which the seeker attracts and uses. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by Percy and his ambitions. Percy represents Percival or Parsifal in his quest for the Holy Grail. Parsifal sees a golden city in the distance and rushes towards it, but when he gets there it’s all an illusion. Percy Weasley sees the Ministry of Magic as the golden city, but in the end he realises his mistake and supports Harry.
One of the most important steps in the seeker’s journey is liberation from karma. Down at the bottom of the spine, in the sacral plexus, lies our karma, the accumulated force of our past actions, coiled up like a serpent, thousands of years old. In Indian traditions this coiled up force is called kundalini. The new soul–fire descends down the spinal column by travelling along the left string of the sympathetic nervous cord. When it reaches the sacral plexus it is confronted by the serpent of the kundalini. This serpent uncoils and begins to fight the new soul. In the New Testament this is symbolised by the 3 temptations of Jesus in the desert. In Harry Potter the serpent is symbolised by the basilisk.
Harry goes down deep underneath the castle and meets Tom Riddle, who lives in the diary, with an unconscious Ginny. Ginny symbolises the sacral plexus as well as the root chakra. The diary symbolises the subconscious mind, which is the store of accumulated past actions and the link to previous incarnations, and therefore is governed by the inner Voldemort. The seeker can win this fight against his inner serpent only by being loyal to the Holy Spirit, personified by Dumbledore, who sends him the phoenix, symbol of the resurrection. The phoenix gives Harry the Sword of the Holy Spirit, as the name Godric Gryffindor on the blade indicates, with which he can kill the basilisk. When this has happened in the seeker, i.e. when he has overcome all earthly temptations, the serpent of the kundalini at the base of his spine is overcome, and the seeker is free from his karma, no longer subject to the vicissitudes of fortune. In the Bible this is referred to as the forgiveness of sins. Sin is the way of life that deviates from the Divine Plan. The soul–fire then travels back up into the head and becomes the crown of the tree of life while Ginny is the root system.
As the alchemist carries out his process of purification, his consciousness gradually begins to move away from the physical plane to the subtle planes of life (Note 4). They are, starting at the bottom:
The physical plane, The etheric plane, The astral plane, The mental plane, The plane of the mental ego, The plane of the emotional ego, The plane of the consciousness ego.
In traditional alchemy these planes are referred to as the seven elements:
earth air water fire quintessence soul spirit.
The seven books of Harry Potter correspond to those planes and elements in that order. This is revealed not only by the story itself, but also by the titles:
Philosopher’s Stone = earth Chamber of Secrets = air (a chamber is filled with air) Prisoner of Azkaban (Island) = water Goblet of Fire = fire Order of the Phoenix = quintessence (meaning fifth essence, of which the phoenix is the traditional symbol, rising up from the fire, the previous element) Half–Blood Prince = soul (the soul is traditionally identified with the blood) Deathly Hallows = spirit (Hallows = Holy = the Spirit of God)
As the alchemist’s consciousness moves up each plane, he masters it, just as Harry is victorious in each book.
At the end of the process, before the earthly lead can be finally turned to gold, the alchemist has to sacrifice himself totally to the purifying alchemical fire. The whole earthly personality is a framework of scaffolding on which to build the Divine human being, the Son of the Potter of the Universe, and once the building is finished, the scaffolding is dismantled. In the New Testament this is summed up in the words: I will destroy this temple and build it up again in three days. The temple is the original Son of God who died and is now coming back to life through the alchemist’s self–sacrifice. In Harry Potter this is symbolised by Harry’s total self–sacrifice to defeat Voldemort. He enters death and arrives at a crossroads, a transit place called King’s Cross, a reference to the New Testament cross symbolism.
The consequences of the publication of the septology are incalculable. The interest in this book is unprecedented in world history. There will be a gradual dawning of realisation of what Harry Potter is really about, and people will begin to understand that their task in life is to become the fertile soil for the Lily in their heart. Like a stag they will begin to thirst for the Living Water from the River of God, and Harry, the Son of the Potter of the universe will be born in their heart. He will lead them through seven years at Hogwarts, seven steps to reach liberation, seven magical transformations which will unite the Spirit, the Soul and the body in an alchemical marriage, leading the human being concerned back to Nirvana.
A new pattern is being imprinted in the human consciousness, starting in the unconscious mind. How long it will take for the new pattern to enter the waking consciousness I have no idea. It could be centuries. But then God’s mill has always ground slowly but exceedingly fine.
Do you doubt that a simple story could change the world so much? Well, think again. Think about how the simple story of that little boy born in Bethlehem, who sacrificed himself to save the world, and who came back to life, changed the world. Ask yourself how many people have been killed for not believing that story, or for interpreting it a different way from the powers that be. Just look at all the churches, cathedrals, monasteries, church schools and other ecclesiastical buildings that have been built in the last 1700 years to house the believers in that story. Think of the libraries full of books that have been written about it, the music, the poetry, the paintings! Remember the annual celebration of the boy’s birth, which is carried on to the tune of billions of pounds. But, most of all, visualise the most abstract effect of the story: that on the consciousness of the people of the western world.
I’m certain that the Age of Aquarius will bring a new world religion, based on the birth, the sacrificial death, and the resurrection of the Inner God, symbolised by Harry Potter.