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Harry Potter's Invitation to the World

by Vickie Ewell


Chapter 17 – Hagrid Gives Harry Hedwig
(HP Chapter 5)

Harry decided to share with Hagrid what happened in the robe shop, because Harry realized that Hagrid didn’t mean his reply to sound so negative. Hagrid did his best to cheer Harry up. He reminded Harry that he was famous and that Draco had known Harry’s name for years. Although Harry was raised by Muggles, he wasn’t from a Muggle family. Besides, Hagrid knew very good magic folk who had come from a long line of Muggles. “Look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!”

Now, what’s important to Hagrid at that moment was not what was important to Harry. Harry wasn’t interested in fame, and he wasn’t going to sit there and condemn his aunt. Instead, he steered the conversation back around to Quiddich and the Hogwarts houses, things he wanted to know about.

But when Hagrid mimicked everyone’s view of Hufflepuff being a bunch of duffers, Harry’s self-doubts and insecurities began to surface again. He thought that since he didn’t know anything, he would be placed in the worst house there was. He had fallen into the same trap that Hagrid had: believing that what the majority thought was right.

“Better Hufflepuff, than Slytherin,” Hagrid said. He went on to explain that every witch or wizard who had ever gone bad had come from Slytherin, including Voldemort. Although Hagrid’s intent was pure, his words did ignite unjustified fear of Slytherin inside of Harry. Up to that point, Slytherin was just like any of the other houses in Harry’s mind. However, if our goal is to become the red stone and obtain perfect love, then we have to face all of our fears, not just some of them.

At the bookstore, Hagrid had to drag Harry away from a book about curses and counter-curses. “I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley,” Harry assured him. In Harry’s mind, that action was justified. Like many people, Harry assumed that magic involved memorizing and repeating a spell. He thought its purpose was to curse our enemies. He didn’t understand the secondary forces and state of being involved with casting spells. Nor did he understand their place in his life.

Hagrid informed Harry that he was not allowed to use magic outside of Hogwarts. That required special circumstances. He also explained that the curses wouldn’t work anyway because there was a lot of study that Harry had to do before he reached that level of being. Hagrid’s belief came from his own experience. Since he was expelled from school, he was no longer allowed to use magic. For him, it didn’t work well even when he was given permission to use it.

Hagrid believed the reason why his magic was faulty was because he hasn’t had the opportunity to study. At this point, Hagrid didn’t remember that love was the driving force behind the type of magic that Hogwarts taught. No amount of study can teach an individual to love.

Hagrid and Harry spend the rest of the day purchasing Harry’s school supplies. Harry wanted to buy a gold cauldron, but Hagrid didn’t let him. “It says pewter on yer list.” Like most of us, Harry tried to run before he could crawl, and Hagrid held him to the school’s instructive Level 1.

Pewter is a mixture of lead and tin. Lead is the first and oldest of the seven metals of Alchemy, and tin represents the water that cleanses and purifies us. Although a cauldron can symbolize the womb, the beginning of something, the elemental metals of Alchemy represent the condition of the self.

Harry’s cauldron will be used in his potions class, so Hagrid allowed him to buy a nice set of scales for weighing his potion ingredients. Plus, he also bought a collapsible brass telescope. A telescope allows us to see the macrocosm and thereby bring it into our microcosm, or perspective. This was like the awakening of discernment.

Scales are used to weigh out ingredients. We then judge whether we have enough of a particular substance, or not. Up to that point, Harry had been basically passive – a common trait of young boys who have previously become the white stone. We haven’t seen him judge or weigh people very much. The scales tell us that this will soon change.

In the Apothecary, which smelled of rotten eggs and cabbages, Harry was drawn toward an expensive pair of silver unicorn horns and some tiny beetle eyes. Beetles symbolize purification and rebirth of the soul, which was why Hagrid had a pair of black beetle eyes. He was one of Harry’s three mentors who will mold and shape him into the red stone. The smell of rotten eggs signals that the black alchemical process had begun.

Hagrid looked over Harry’s list. The only thing left was Harry’s wand, but Hagrid also wanted to buy Harry a birthday present. Although Harry protested, Hagrid decided that he would buy Harry’s animal companion. Since it had been many lifetimes since Harry was a toad (they were out of fashion now), it will not be a toad or a cat. Hagrid doesn’t like cats. He’s allergic to them. He was the opposite of everything they represent. So Hagrid decided to buy Harry an owl because all the kids want owls and they were useful to carry your mail.

The type of owl that Hagrid chose for Harry was a beautiful, snowy white owl. White owls, like unicorns, are symbols of the white stone. She was fast asleep with her head tucked under her wing, so she is a reflection of Harry’s dormant spiritual condition. She will stay with him throughout his journey until he reaches the stage where he surpasses her spiritual state.

Harry was overcome emotionally by Hedwig’s presence. He stuttered when he thanked Hagrid for the gift. Although spiritually Harry and Hedwig are equals, by incarnating again into the fallen world, he had inherited a lot of spiders from the Dursleys that must be plucked from his socks.

Jo connected Harry’s stuttering to Quirrell. Although the white stone was a commendable achievement, it was short of the mark. Silver is less than gold. Like Quirrell, Harry has a Voldemort within that will rise to oppose his continued efforts at perfection. There is no absolute good nor evil. We are all a combination of pure and impure forces. Even Harry.