Skip navigation.

Harry Potter's Invitation to the World

by Vickie Ewell


Chapter 39 – Learning to Raise a Feather
(HP Chapter 10)

Life for Harry started getting better. Quidditch practice was three times per week, school lessons were more interesting now that Harry had mastered the basics, and the castle felt more like home than Privet Drive ever did. Hogwarts fulfilled many of Harry’s universal needs. Like many of us, he felt at home where he was the most accepted. On Halloween morning, Professor Flitwick divided the students into pairs, so he could teach them how to make objects fly. Although alchemical changes tend to occur in a particular order, many of the processes such as Separation occur throughout each level. Hermione had not spoken to the boys since Harry’s broom arrived, yet Professor Flitwick coupled her with Ron, and Seamus Finnigan with Harry. Ron’s discomfort with the situation made him feel angry. He had expected to be paired up with Harry, and his disappointment led to a much stronger dose of emotion. In addition, Ron appears to use anger as a blanket to hide his true feelings that lay a little bit deeper within. That’s fairly common. We will learn by the end of the chapter that in the midst of discomfort, we can often receive enlightenment we will need to use later on. Professor Flitwick went over the wrist movement they had been practicing lately: Swish and Flick. This called to mind the importance to use what we learn in our daily lives. It isn’t enough to just read. We must also apply what we read to ourselves. The Professor reminded the students that magic words must be said correctly because mispronunciation could result in a manifestation you didn’t expect or want. I see this as a caution. Magic is a precise method of transformation. Knowing the basics isn’t always enough. The basics only introduce us to the Path. Magic is powerful, so the students need to be careful when applying it. Everything we experience affects and changes us in some way, and those changes are not always positive. Harry found the charm difficult to do. Magic was not as easy as it looked. Professor Flitwick had given each couple a single feather to send skyward through their conjoined efforts, but Harry’s feather wouldn’t move. Some forms of magic require collective power to manifest, but using magic requires purity from all those involved. Seamus grew impatient and prodded the feather with his wand. He tried to do things his own way, but that caused the feather to catch on fire, which Harry had to put out. Seamus’ impure attempt to force the feather to move only resulted in destroying the feather. Harry was learning about the real dangers that lay at the heart of both dominance and subjugation. Doors open when we have the knowledge and experience it takes to turn the key. Hermione made that clear when Ron kept saying Wingardium Leviosa wrong, but Ron didn’t appreciate her correction. She offered it with an attitude of “I’m right and you’re wrong, so you need to listen to me,” rather than concern for Ron and his learning style. Ron quickly picked up on Hermione’s unloving attitude. “You do it then, if you’re so clever,” Ron said. While he appeared to have rejected Hermione’s advice, his subconscious mind actually stored it away. Hermione’s need to be right drove her to accept the challenge. She rolled up her sleeves and sent the feather soaring into the air by herself. She didn’t need Ron to help her lift the feather. She was able to ascend to a higher level of consciousness on her own, without Ron’s emotional outburst, but she did need him to help her bring more balance to her life. Currently, Hermione was functioning within a state of extreme dominance while Ron was struggling to retrieve his personal power. Both Hermione and Ron need to meet in the middle – something Harry found when he faced Draco in the air. Professor Flitwick, who had not heard the confrontation, clapped in response to Hermione’s success and showed her accomplishment off to the class. Hermione was good at book learning, as well as charms and spells in a classroom environment, but lab work can never replace actual experience. Books deal with generalities. Through personal experience, we learn what cannot be taught in any other way. Harry will stress this point to us again when he arises to fulfill the role of leader of Dumbledore’s Army. The whole situation darkened Ron’s mood. His expectation that Hermione could not do it on her own didn’t come into fruition, so Hermione made him feel terrible, again. Like he was not okay the way he was. “It’s no wonder no one can stand her,” he said to Harry, as they walked down the corridor after class, “she’s a nightmare, honestly.” Ron was just as outspoken as Hermione was, but he was projecting onto everyone else the way that he feels. Fallen man does that quite often. He perceives everything in life only in terms of himself. He is unable to place himself inside the shoes of another human being. What he thinks, feels, and does – he believes everyone else should think, feel, and do. Hermione bumped Harry as she moved past him. This inferred that she was moving in a horizontal direction. She had been seeking salvation within the material world. She had been listening to her ego rather than her heart, but that was about to change. Harry was startled to see that she was crying. He didn’t realize she had unprotected feelings that Ron could hurt. She had always appeared cold and heartless. Harry told Ron that Hermione had heard him, but Ron gave a sarcastic reply, “So?” Still, he looked uncomfortable when he said it. Ron can’t bear to be around Hermione because she ignites his self-doubts, but he doesn’t enjoy hurting others either. What we say, and how we say it, doesn’t always reveal our hearts. Nor do we always realize how our words and attitude affect others. Harry and Ron overheard Parvati telling her friend Lavender that Hermione had been in the bathroom all afternoon crying. The color lavender is a combination of white and purple. It represents the opposing force to severity, the horizontal bar of The Cross, so Lavender’s lessons in life will focus on love and mercy. Since classes were the most important thing in Hermione’s life, Ron’s remark obviously crushed her because she didn’t go to class. Her mothering and controlling behavior was not because she felt Ron and Harry were beneath her, she just had an uncontrollable urge to be right. Nothing can change for her until she chooses to give that up. As Harry and Ron head towards the girls’ bathroom, they suddenly hear footsteps. Ron’s first thought, his first fear, was that Percy had caught them. Mechanically, he pulled Harry behind a large stone griffin to hide from him. But it wasn’t Percy. It was Snape. Professor Snape crossed the corridor and disappeared. Now, the boys were hiding behind a griffin in the same way that Snape was hiding his true personality and heart from Harry. A griffin has the head and wings of an eagle but the body of a lion. This points to Snape’s double role. His body (or heart) is that of a lion – Dumbledore will tell us later on that Snape was sorted too soon – but his head or speech, and his wings or spiritual powe, was that of an eagle. The ultimate power of darkness is often referred to as the King of the Air, so Snape appears to be a Slytherin due to his words and attitude, but he has the heart and courage of a Gryffindore. Likewise, Harry appears to be a Gryffindore due to his heart and courage, but often his words and attitude reflect his Slytherin characteristics. It isn’t until the final book of the series that we learn about Harry’s true heritage. The griffin also points to the polarity between the Above and the Below that must begin working together as a team. Polarity is the driving force of Alchemy. No single level, door, chakra, metal, or planet can accomplish the Great Work alone. We need darkness – the dark portion of whatever principle we are trying to resolve. It is as essential in our lives as the light – the light portion of whatever principle we are trying to resolve. Since both the eagle and the lion are king of their own species, a griffin is especially powerful and often considered to be a king itself. Both Harry and Snape are kings, but the griffin’s role is to guard priceless possessions and treasures, often divinity. When its mate (or true love) dies, it remains alone in mourning throughout the rest of its life. Jo is telling us clearly who and what Professor Snape is.