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Harry Potter's Invitation to the World

by Vickie Ewell


Chapter 28 – Harry is Introduced to Life at Hogwarts
(HP Chapter 8)

Harry found his fame disturbing. The whispering in the hallway, people lining up to get a peek at him, doubling back to stare at him – he found it all interfered with his ability to find his way to class. Fame and glory were definitely not among his issues.

Harry quickly discovered there were 142 staircases at Hogwarts. They varied greatly: some were wide, narrow, and old, while others led somewhere different every Friday. Some had steps that vanished, so you had to remember to jump over them.

While there are seven major levels or steps along the Path to Liberation, the wealth of experiences that lay within each division are as vast and unique as one’s individual soul. Since The Great Work is an internal transformation, no two people will learn in exactly the same way. The Harry Potter books show us the path, but our actual experiences and lessons may differ widely from Harry’s.

Harry also discovered there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked them politely or tickled them in exactly the right place. There were doors that only pretended to be doors, because they were actually solid walls.

Doors differ from staircases in that the requirements for opening them and passing through them are more strict, but the idea that doors can actually be solid walls infers that we often spend a great deal of time trying to open a door that doesn’t actually lead us anywhere. What we spend our time doing moves us forward, backward, or stalls us. There isn’t anything stagnant, though. While a solid wall can stop us, lack of motion is only temporary.

Harry was having a hard time remembering things because nothing stayed the same. He felt confused and overwhelmed at everything he had to learn. Everything around him was in constant flux. It changed daily. Even the individuals inside the pictures often left to visit each other. The idea that Jo is presenting is that nothing is permanent or set in stone. The choices we make determine our future, which changes on a daily basis.

Harry was learning how fluid and changeable life at Hogwarts was, and therefore how fluid and bendable his future actually was. Each choice Harry made led to another staircase or door. Being flexible, adaptable, and going with the flow was essential because things never turn out the way Harry thought they would. Harry found that frustrating, at first, especially when he was lost or trying to get through a locked door and Peeves was giving him and Ron a hard time.

Worse than Peeves in Harry’s mind was Mr. Filch, the caretaker. He and Ron tried to open a door on their very first day. They didn’t know it led to the out-of-bounds corridor on the third floor – the floor Dumbledore had warned them about. Filch was positive they were trying to break into the out-of-bounds area on purpose. He didn’t believe that Harry and Ron were lost.

Professor Quirrell came by and rescued them. This was obviously to make us think that Quirrell was on Harry’s side. However, all of the teachers try to work around Filch’s strangeness the best way they can. It is always best to try to work with a person’s peculiarities than to judge them for being that way.

Filch also had a cat, Mrs. Norris, that patrolled the corridors and watched for rule-breakers. If you broke a rule in front of her, she would immediately go and fetch Filch. Since we are at the physical level in Book 1, physical rules are highly emphasized. Filch, Mrs. Norris, Professor McGonagall, Hermione, and others expect and demand that students, their friends, and others follow the rules.

At the beginning of The Great Work, we strongly believe in rules. While rules are necessary for society and schools to run smoothly, the spiritual intent behind a rule is often ignored at the physical level. It’s often difficult to see past the wording of a rule to what the rule is supposed to accomplish.

Filch knew all of the secret passageways within the castle better than anyone except for the Weasley twins. He popped up when Harry least expected him. Harry tells us that all of the students hated Filch. Hate is a strong word. Generally, when people use that word in connection with another person, it means they won’t let them do what they want to do. Or that person is making their lives miserable.

What people really hate is the feeling the person generates within themselves. If we believe that our purpose in life is be non-disturbed, then we will often identify any type of disturbed feeling with the person who causes that feeling to surface.

Harry was also discovering that Hogwarts was not just about waving your wand and saying a memorized incantation. Classes involved actual learning. Students had to study the stars through their telescopes, learn the names of the stars, and the movements of the planets. They had to study Herbology, take care of plants and fungi, and learn what they were used for. Students were expected to learn magic’s history, charms, and transfiguration.

Although the subjects differed from what Harry was taught at Muggle schools – math, reading, and arithmetic – Hogwarts was a serious school that expected academic achievement in the lessons they offered. Likewise, life itself is not a playground, even for children. What we tend to call play is actually vital to brain formation and development.

Although we consistently recycle our lives when spiritually asleep, the experiences we go through are not useless. Those experiences compound upon themselves until we reach the point where we are ready to awaken to the spiritual world. Awakening, however, is only the beginning of our journey home. As Harry had discovered, that journey isn’t simple. It requires study, learning, reflection, and action on our part.

Professor McGonagall revealed that transfiguration was some of the most complex and dangerous magic the students would learn while at Hogwarts. While the students learned about wizards and witches transfiguring themselves into animals, or how they could transfigure inanimate objects into animals, spiritually we are doing the opposite. We are moving from our animal natures to God.

For us, transformation is also complex and dangerous. It isn’t something to mess around with unless we are seriously devoted to that path of enlightenment. While in the beginning of our efforts our personal Voldemort is quite content to let us play, once he comes to life to oppose us, we have to either defeat him or serve him.

To demonstrate what transfiguration was, McGonagall changed her desk into a pig and then back again. This caught the student’s attention, and they couldn’t wait to get started. They wanted to be able to do that too. The problem was that they wouldn’t be able to change furniture into animals for a long time.

The Path of Liberation is not something we accomplish in seven days or even seven years. It takes many lifetimes. It is a long, slow, stretched-out process that requires patience and determination. While the end result can be enticing, catch our interest, and ignite a longing desire to achieve that transfiguration, we have to start at the beginning.

The students were given something small to begin with: turn a match into a needle. By the end of that first class, only Hermione had made any sort of change to her match. It earned her a rare smile from Professor McGonagall. At the narrative level, Hermione represents those of us who have come to the spiritual world without any previous training or upbringing. She came from Muggle parents who knew nothing about the Wizarding World. She takes pride in her physical knowledge. Everything she knows, she has learned on her own.

Out of that entire classroom full of pure bloods, half-bloods, and others like herself, only Hermione made any forward movement. Progressing on the path isn’t easy. It’s slow, and can take many hours of practice before our lessons start to work for us. Internal change doesn’t come easy. That spark within our hearts needs time to grow and develop.

Neither do we all move forward at the same rate. Hermione was good at outward manifestations of spells, which had earned her unusual praise from Professor McGonagall, but that isn’t what we are trying to do. Turning our match, the fire that has ignited within our hearts, into a needle that we can use to create a new garment is painful. We have to literally give up our desire for non-disturbance