The Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling has had a huge cultural impact. Since the first book was published in 1997, they have quickly become the best-selling book series in history. Children and adults alike have eagerly followed the magical adventures of the wizard Harry Potter and his battle of good vs evil. The series contains real-life references to mythology, folklore, and alchemical principles. However, some religious groups claim Harry Potter is more than just a fantasy story, saying it promotes evil, even Satanism.
There are several occult concepts discussed in the Harry Potter series. The students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry take classes in spells, charms, potions, herbalism, planetary correspondences, and the history of magic. They study divination such as crystal ball scrying, tea leaf reading, dream interpretation, and reading runes. Students use wands, wear robes, use ‘familiar’ animals, and even dance at the Yule Ball. Creatures from mythology, such as hippogriffs, basilisks, boggarts, and centaurs, are also mentioned in the series. The books even contain references to actual historical figures, such as alchemists Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Ptolemy.
The books also mentioned Nicolas Flamel, the medieval French alchemist who supposedly concocted the Philosopher’s Stone, the key to eternal life. It is even said that the journey Harry Potter goes though in the series follows the process of creating the Philosopher’s Stone, called The Great Work or The Chemical Wedding, the three process Black Phase, White Phase, and Red Phase. The long Black Phase, representing Harry’s growing knowledge and sorrow about his past, ends with the death of his godfather Sirius “Black”. The White Phase, when Harry becomes the man he’s supposed to be, ends with the death of Albus Dumbledore (‘albus’ being latin for ‘white’). The final Red Phase involves Rubeus Hagrid carrying the ‘slain’ Harry in a death march, where ‘rubeus’ is latin for ‘red’. The end of the series represents the end of the Great Work, when conflict is resolved and the subject of the work is perfected, and Harry has completed his quest.
But because the Harry Potter series contains occult references, does that mean it is anti-Christian? J.K. Rowling herself has said she is Christian, but did extensive reading on alchemy and other occult themes during the writing of the books. She mentions The Iliad, the Bible, and even Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Chronicles of Narnia as influences on her work.
I like the Harry Potter books/movies, even if I think they contain some pretty dark themes towards the end of the series that may or may not be suitable for all age groups. But I suppose saying that Harry Potter is a gateway to children exploring the occult would be like saying that any other fantasy book, such as Snow White or Peter Pan, would do the same. I think J.K. Rowling summed it up nicely by saying “You have a perfect right… as every parent does… to decide what your child is exposed to. You do not have the right to decide what everyone else’s children are exposed to.” (Wiki)
About.com – Harry Potter
Alchemical Symbols in Harry Potter
Harry Potter Alchemy
Wiki – Harry Potter Influences
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy
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