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Harry Potter's Invitation to the World

by Vickie Ewell


Chapter 29 – Dark Arts and the Potions Classroom
(HP Chapter 8)

The class everyone was looking forward to was Defense Against the Dark Arts, but what the students expected that class to be left them highly disappointed. The room smelled strongly of garlic. The rumor said the garlic was to ward off a vampire Professor Quirrell had met in Romania who might come back to hurt him.

His purple turban supposedly came from an African prince as a thank-you gift for alleviating him of a zombie, but Quirrell quickly changed the topic to something mundane when the students asked about the incident. In addition, the turban smelled funny.

Professor Quirrell did not turn out to be the strong Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher the students were hoping for. He’s fearful, superstitious, tells lies of grandeur, and smells funny. He is a strong reflection of the beginning of the Alchemical process.

When we start the path, we are weak, fearful, full of superstitious beliefs, and run around doing crazy things to protect ourselves from perceived threats. We lie or change the topic to cover up the discovery of our inadequacies and failures. We try to appear stronger than we are by wearing various masks that hide who we believe we are.

The difference between Quirrell and us is that Quirrell is now being used by Voldemort to achieve artificial immortality. Because he serves Voldemort, we see first-hand the danger of what can happen if we attempt to confront our Voldemort before we are strong enough to dissipate him.

After being overwhelmed all week, Harry was relieved to discover that many of the students had Muggle parents. He wasn’t as severely behind as he thought. He also realized that even the pure bloods like Ron didn’t have that much of an advantage. Although there was a tremendous amount to learn, Harry was beginning to feel better about himself. He’s feeling more at ease. In fact, he and Ron actually found their way to the Great Hall for breakfast on Friday morning without getting lost.

“What have we got today?” Harry asked Ron as he poured a little sugar on his hot cereal. Harry was depending on Ron to know their schedule for the day. Ron told him they had double Potions with the Slytherins, so it would be their first physical experience with Professor Snape.

Students say Professor Snape favors the Slytherins, so Ron felt they would finally be able to learn if that’s true. Ron didn’t just accept the suggestion he heard from others about Snape, nor did he discard the idea. He filed it away for safe keeping and was now going to test that theory to see if it held true for him, or not.

Casting out seeds without first experimenting with them is what fallen man does a lot. However, that tendency keeps us in a holding pattern, circling, rather than moving forward. Our fearful nature prevents us from experimenting with new ideas and concepts, especially if these ideas lay outside of the current box of duality we’ve built for ourselves.

Much of the time, we literally fear for our salvation. However, if a seed turns out to be a weed, we can always pluck it up later on. Since we evolve into the truth, rather than finding it, there is no rush.

Mail at Hogwarts was something Harry had to get used to. Like his invitation, mail was delivered by owls. Hundreds of owls flew into the Great Hall during breakfast, circled above the students’ heads until they saw the mail’s owner, and then they dropped the letter or package onto the student’s lap. Sometimes, mail from the other side of the veil comes to us in similar, almost imperceptible ways. We call this coincidence, enlightenment, or answers that come in unexpected ways.

For Harry, he had gone all week without mail. Hedwig had come to see him each morning, nibbled on his ear in affection or shared a crumb of toast before returning to the owlery to sleep. For us, it can be the same. We can go weeks or months without spiritual communication or guidance. That often makes us feel lost. This morning, however, Hedwig brought Harry a message from Hagrid.

Since Harry didn’t have classes on Friday afternoon, Hagrid wanted Harry to come for tea around 3:00 pm. He was anxious to hear all about Harry’s first week. Communication from Hagrid had given Harry something to look forward to while he endured his Potion lessons with Professor Snape. Harry had already decided the lesson was going to go badly. Life for us is comparable. Knowing the end of the path helps us endure the lessons we need to learn and embrace today.

Potions class was down in one of the dungeons. It was colder than in the main castle, so Harry was more uncomfortable there. The feeling was one of strong polarity. Harry noticed there were pickled animals floating inside glass jars sitting around the walls. He found them creepy.

The process of pickling is fermentation. You soak a substance like raw cabbage in a solution of vinegar, water, and salt, and then allow it to sit at room temperature until it completely ferments. This process turns the cabbage into sauerkraut, something with a different flavor and texture from the original vegetable. Fermentation is the fifth level of standard Alchemy. This is where our deepest deficiencies and shadows rise to the surface of our consciousness. Here, we meet our shadow face to face and embrace him or her.

Snape’s eyes were black just like Hagrid’s, but to Harry, they looked cold and empty. They reminded him of dark tunnels rather than black beetles. We are sometimes tempted to follow in the tracks of Harry’s perceptions, but that’s more a reflection of the state of our own hearts, rather than Harry’s.

Pickled animals call to mind the bitterness of Christ’s cup when one is called upon to drink from it. Jesus was given vinegar to drink while upon his cross, instead of water. Vinegar is a necessary part of the Path of Liberation. Until Jesus drank the vinegar, his work was not finished.

Harry saw within the depths of Snape’s eyes his walls and emptiness, but he compared them to Hagrid’s warmth, and thereby, found Snape lacking. Harry was dividing the light within his life from the darkness. He feared the darkness, so he didn’t see Snape’s pain. He didn’t look within to find value in his current situation.

Snape’s voice was soft, a contradiction to Harry’s belief. Snape was not what he appeared to be. Harry was looking on the outward appearance. Snape was a bit complex, but everything Snape says, everything he does outside of his fallen nature, upbringing, and conditioning is with only one goal in mind: to protect Harry. But he also expected Harry to be like his father, James