Skip navigation.

Harry Potter's Invitation to the World

by Vickie Ewell


Chapter 58 – Harry Followed Snape into the Forbidden Forest
(HP Chapter 13)

Harry felt happy as he took his broom back to the broom shed after the game. He had done something he could be proud of. People could no longer say he was just a famous name. A thirst to prove himself was what the Sorting Hat had said. When Harry reached the shed, he leaned against the wooden door and looked up at Hogwarts. The windows glowed red in the setting sun.

Red is the last phase of the Path, but the Alchemical tradition isn’t absolute. Many ancient Alchemists divided the path up differently. Some used four sections: black, white, red, and purple. Others believed it was black, white, yellow, and red. Still others considered black, white, yellow, red, purple, and gold to be The Way. Each Alchemist also used symbols differently. Interpreting their drawings is sometimes difficult. We can find patterns between them, but we can also be way off.

The air smelled sweet to Harry. No matter how difficult the path is, in the end, it will be worth every struggle. But what Harry cared about was winning against Snape. Gryfinndor was now in the lead. We don’t know how accurate Harry’s opinion of Snape fixing the game was. Snape awarded one foul to Hufflepuff when one of the twins deserved it, and another foul that no one but Snape understood. The kids didn’t know why Snape penalized Gryfinndor. The foul could have been appropriate, but we simply don’t know.

At that point, Harry noticed a hooded figure quickly moving down the front steps of the castle. Snape was hiding beneath a hood, but not for the reason Harry thought. Snape moved downward, so he’s lowering his vibration to do this. He walked quickly into the forbidden forest. The forest represents danger, but the word “forbidden” parallels The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that the Lord commanded Adam not to partake of.

In the beginning of the book, we learned that the forest was off limits to those who didn’t want to die a horrible death, but Hagrid will also lead the kids into the forest later on.

My own spiritual tradition claims that our sojourn here is a result of something similar. The Lord commanded Adam not to partake of the forbidden fruit, but Eve saw the wisdom, and did so. She did it for man’s spiritual sake and the advancement of her children. Although the outward story is that someone disobeyed and became trapped in this mortal world, overcoming our fractured awareness makes our mental powers stronger.

When Harry recognized the figure’s walk, his feelings of happiness and victory faded. Snape was sneaking into the forest while everyone ate dinner. But “sneaking” was Harry’s perspective. What was Snape doing? Harry jumped onto his broom and followed him. Harry following Snape into the forbidden forest is significant. It infers that Snape was ahead of Harry on the Path. Harry’s intent in following was to catch Snape doing something wrong, but Jo tells us that Harry saw Snape enter the forest at a run, and he followed. Snape didn’t sneak.

The trees were thick. Harry couldn’t see where Snape had gone. He flew in circles, waiting, brushing the tops of the tree branches until he heard voices. Tree symbolism points to people, just as a forest in Alchemical symbolism represents the body. In the garden, Adam was told he could partake of all of the trees in the garden except for the Tree of Knowledge. Gliding toward the voices, Harry quietly landed in a Beech tree. The Beech tree reminded me of Snape.

The bark of a Beech tree isn’t brown like other trees. It contains hints of blue, silver, and light gray. Snape isn’t really black. He’s far more gray than we are led to believe. In the Spring and Summer, Beech tree leaves are deep green, and Jo often associates green with Slytherin. In the Fall, the leaves turn chocolate brown, yellow, red, and gold. That is the Alchemical path.

Beech fruit is triangular and clustered in groups of 2 or 3. Its towering size (Snape’s spiritual state is a giant) robs other trees and plants of sunlight. This was probably why Snape appeared to be so dark. His shadow falls on everyone who stands beneath him. In 19th Century England, Beech oil was used in cooking and to fuel lamps. Snape’s greasy hair points to him being the fuel that lights our Lamp.

Harry was inside the tree, which hid him from Snape and Quirrel. The tree protected him from being discovered. As Harry peered through the leaves, he saw Snape, but also Quirrell, who was stuttering worse than ever. Harry strained to hear. Quirrell was confused. Why did Snape want to meet him in the forest? But students were not supposed to know about the Philosopher’s Stone. Snape wanted to keep their conversation private.

Harry leaned forward trying to hear Quirrel’s mumbles. Snape interrupted him. “Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid’s yet?” Quirrel stuttered, confused. He played dumb, but Snape didn’t buy it. Harry misunderstood Snape’s motive. He’s actually confronting Quirrell about his intent to steal the Stone, but Harry’s perception is colored by his negative feelings for Snape.

“You don’t want me as your enemy, Quirrell,” Snape continued, taking a step toward him. The movement was a threat against Quirrell, who continued to play dumb. His stuttering surprise led Harry to believe that Snape was trying to get Quirrell’s help. “You know exactly what I mean.”

Snape’s words don’t reveal what’s going on, but Harry’s imagination created a scenario that made sense to him. It fit with Harry’s belief about Snape. An owl suddenly hooted, and Harry almost fell out of the tree. He managed to steady himself just in time. Owls represent an invitation to change. Harry’s invitation to reverse his opinion about Snape was so loud he almost fell.

Harry didn’t understand the owl’s purpose, nor why it screamed at him. He merely caught himself, so he wouldn’t fall. This indicated that Harry’s problem with Snape will almost cause his downfall, but Harry will catch himself just in time, and turn around.

“—your little bit of hocus-pocus. I’m waiting.” Quirrell continued to act confused. Since we’re experiencing the conversation through Harry’s viewpoint and owl interruption, Snape’s words don’t carry the power they have if you place them together: “You don’t want me as your enemy, Quirrell. You know exactly what I mean, your little bit of hocus-pocus. I’m waiting.”

What we hear is Snape warning the Voldemort within Quirrell that he doesn’t want Snape as an enemy. In actuality, Snape already is Voldemort’s enemy due to his actions taken against Lily. However, going after Harry, Lily’s son, solidified that enemy status. There’s no way of knowing how much Snape actually knew regarding Quirrell – but…Snape does have the power to read minds, and if Quirrell was a serious threat to Harry, I see no reason why he wouldn’t look into Quirrell’s mind to see what’s there.

Snape assured Quirrell that they would be chatting again after he had time to think things over and decide where his loyalties lie. That was probably the comment that rooted things into Harry’s mind, but it shows us Snape’s strong loyalty to Dumbledore. Snape might do things differently than we would do them, but his loyalties are as solid as rock. He firmly knows where his loyalties lie.

What I’ve often wondered about this scene is what Voldemort’s perspective was about Snape’s actions. He obviously didn’t see them as disloyalty to him, even though they obviously were. We know that Voldemort’s followers didn’t expect him to return. So maybe it only mattered what Snape said and did after his arm began to burn. What Jo showed us here was Snape’s potential to get even with Voldemort.

When Harry returned to the castle, Hermione and Ron were excited. Gryffindore had won! Ron had given Draco a black eye, and Neville had tried to take on both Crabbe and Goyle single-handed. That seems to be Neville’s pattern. He refuses to act, or he takes on something huge.

“He’s still out cold, but Madam Pomfrey says he’ll be all right – talk about showing Slytherin!” Ron was proud of Neville, even though his attempt to stand up resulted in him getting hurt. It was Neville’s intent that mattered more to Ron than what he physically accomplished.

Everyone was waiting for Harry in the Common Room. Gryffindore was having a party. Fred and George lifted cakes and other things from the kitchens, but Harry wasn’t interested in partying. He took Ron and Hermione aside and told them what he’d seen and heard in the forest.

The experience had solidified what Harry already believed about Fluffy, the Stone, and Snape – what he wanted to believe about Fluffy, the Stone, and Snape – but now he added that Snape was trying to force Quirrell into helping him get the Stone. Harry guessed there were other things guarding the Stone besides Fluffy and assumed that’s what Snape meant by Quirrell’s hocus-pocus.

The fact that Quirrell wanted to hurt Harry and had tried to do that during the previous Quidditch match never crossed his mind. He figured that Quirrell had done some sort of dark magic that would enable Snape to break through the Stone’s defenses.

Hermione guessed that the Stone was safe as long as Quirrell continued to stand up to Snape. In her mind, giving into Snape meant Snape would succeed in stealing the Stone, but she’s no more right about what’s going on than Harry was. Neither was Ron. “It’ll be gone by next Tuesday.” Ron believed that Quirrell wouldn’t be able to stand against Snape for very long.

What’s interesting, is that when their foretelling doesn’t happen, the kids don’t re-examine their viewpoint. They simply shift their belief to Quirrell being stronger than he appeared