Harry Potter
and the Occult

© Spotlight Ministries, 2003
www.spotlightministries.org.uk



This article will begin by examining some general concerns about the Harry Potter phenomena and then identify various occult themes in the books.

No one can dispute that J.K Rowling is a gifted and imaginative author. The Harry Potter books are well written, often humorous, and make interesting reading. However, it does seem that are some definite dark and occultic themes that consistently emerge within the books which do give cause for concern, especially when one considers that it is mostly children who are reading these books.

An Introduction Into the Occult?

One of the most general concerns about the books is that they tend to introduce children to the world of the occult. Defenders of the books, however, say that children are not going to turn to real Witchcraft, or other aspects of the occult, because of the books. But the truth is, even some occultists themselves recognize that some children are being led into the occult as a result of the current interest being promoted by fictional Witchcraft. BBC News reported:

"The Pagan Federation, which represents druids and witches, says it has been "swamped" with calls following teenage programmes featuring good witches. Speaking to BBC News Online the Pagan Federation's Steve Paine, the high priest of a coven, said the hit US drama Buffy and the highly successful Harry Potter books were popular amongst practising witches. "They are taken as fantasy entertainment. But they do encourage people to think about different forms of spirituality", he said. The Pagan Federation, which deals with about 100 enquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to become a member." Most of the enquiries are from 14 to 18 year-olds, and are dealt with "reactively" by a specially-appointed youth officer, an Essex based schoolteacher." (BBC News Online, Buffy Draws Children to Witchcraft, Friday, 4 August, 2000, Full article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_864000/864984.stm).

So the truth is, that Harry Potter (and popular fictional dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) does lead some children into the occult. Should we be concerned that children are getting involved in the occult? Most Christians would certainly say "yes, there are great spiritual dangers", but even some of those in the occult community are honest enough to say that it is dangerous for children to dabble with powers they do not understand. For example, in an interview, respected Witchcraft author , Maxine Sanders, was asked: "Why were you concerned that your children were free not to adopt the Craft?" To which she replies:

"Because I don't think the Craft is for children. I really don't think that it is. I've had too many experiences now where even adults can be disturbed by dabbling in witchcraft." (Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic, p. 139).

But despite the concerns of children being exposed to the occult, there are a number of web sites which promote Harry Potter, that have links to other web sites where children come into contact with real occultism of every description. Peter Smith, the general secretary for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers had this to say:

"Youngsters can very easily visit a choice of hundreds of websites on witchcraft, Wicca magic, casting hexes and bloodletting techniques, without adults having any control as to what they read. "This goes far beyond a case of reading a Harry Potter story. This represents an extremely worrying trend among young people." (BBC News Online, Occult sites 'lure' teenagers, Saturday, 22 April, 2000, full article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/in_depth/education/2000/unions_2000/newsid_722000/722283.stm).

Mr Smith also had the following to say:

"According to Mr Smith, children who had enjoyed the magic and wizardry of the stories should be careful about extending their interest in the occult. Although saying that the stories were a positive way of showing the struggle between good and evil, he was worried that they could be used as a springboard for exploring more sinister aspects of the occult. And he warned that children could be using the internet to learn more about "meddling" with the supernatural. "Increasing numbers of children are spending hours alone browsing the Internet in search of satanic websites. ATL is concerned that nobody is monitoring this growing fascination." (BBC News Online, Harry Potter 'Occult' Warning, Monday 5 November, full article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/newsid_1638000/1638887.stm)

Some people object that the Harry Potter books do not teach legitimate spells, and are therefore harmless. However, what the books do teach children is the concept of magick, that is to say, they learn that if they say certain words, and do certain things, they can get certain results and control people. This is what casting spells and working magick is all about. Furthermore, as was mentioned above, they are often led to web sites which teach the real stuff from Harry Potter related fan sites.

Harry Potter is well known for his lightning bolt scar which he received from the evil Voldemort.

The symbol of the lightning bolt is a well known symbol in occult imagery. This photograph is of Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan. Note the inverted pentagram medallion with the thunderbolt through it.

Some Occultic Themes Examined

The Thunderbolt

Harry Potter is well known for his thunderbolt scar on his forehead. The scar is described as: "...a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning." (Philosopher's Stone, p. 17). As Harry grows older he eventually learns that the scar on his forehead came as the result of a powerful evil curses from the evil dark wizard, Voldemort (Philosopher's Stone, p. 45).

The startling thing about the thunderbolt, is that it is often used in occultic imagery, especially in Satanism. Anton Szandor Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan, often wore a medallion of an inverted pentagram with a thunderbolt through the centre of it. Thunderbolts also appeared as the ss symbol of Hitler's special forces (bearing in mind that Hitler was into the occult), and in various Heavy Metal and Death Metal bands.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus said:

""I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning" (Luke 10:18).

The forehead is meant to be a place reserved for the name that God will put on those who love Him and serve Him:

"And they will see His face; and His name will be on their foreheads." (Rev 22:4)

To put any other mark there, especially a Satanic mark, is a mockery to God.

Scrying and Spiritism

In the Philosopher's Stone Harry becomes fascinated by images of his dead parents in the Mirror of Erised (Chapter 12). `Erised' is the word `desire' re-arranged, and those who look into the mirror are meant to see their uttermost desires. Of course, Harry's desire is to see his parents.

In occultism, mirrors are commonly used for divination. This particular technique is called "Scrying". In the A-Z of Wicca, Scrying is defined in the following way:

"Scrying. The art and practice of interpreting the future, past, or present from images seen while gazing into a crystal ball, candle flame, pool of water, or gazing mirror; crystal gazing, mirror gazing" (Gernina Dunwich, A-Z of Wicca, p. 114)

Likewise, the Dictionary of the Occult says:

"Students of the occult commonly use mirrors to look into the world of spirits. gazing into one supposedly reveals visions of spirit guides..." (Gerald & Grosset, Dictionary of the Occult, p. 153)

Although it is explained in the book, by Dumbledore, that the mirror simply shows the desires of people's hearts (p. 157), it could also be argued that Harry was having a vision of spirits when he saw his dead parents in the mirror. To even suggest to children that contact with the dead (or more accurately evil spirits masquerading as spirits of the dead), is irresponsible. The Bible explicitly forbids attempted contact with the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11). The Bible also states that the dead do not have contact with the living (Luke 16:19-31), and that the messages which are meant to come from the dead are actually from deceiving spirit's who are familiar with the departed. Indeed, Isaiah 29:4 calls such a spirit a "familiar spirit" (KJV).

Alchemy

The subject of alchemy runs throughout the Philosopher's Stone. Alchemy is defined in the following way:

"An ancient pseudoscience concerned with the transmutation of base metals into gold and with the discovery of both a single cure for all diseases and a way to prolong life and infidelity. Symbolically, alchemy is a mystical art for human spiritual transformation into a higher form of being." (Geddes & Grosset, Dictionary of the Occult, pp. 15-17).
Even the name "Philosopher's Stone" comes from an actual occultic stone. The Dictionary of the Occult explains:

"Philosopher's Stone - The name given in Alchemy to a stone, powder or substance that will transmute base metals into gold." (Geddes & Grosset, Dictionary of the Occult, p. 175).

A real historical Alchemist, Nicolas Flamel, is mentioned throughout the book as being the keeper of the Stone. To my knowledge, Marcia Montenegro, who runs the web site, Christian Answers for a New Age (CANA), was the first person to identify Nicolas Flamel, in the first Harry Potter book, with a real historical person with the same name. Surely, this can be no coincidence, as both are alchemists. Since looking into this matter myself, I have noticed that Flamel's name does appear, time and time again, in works and articles associated with alchemy. For example, here is a link to a list of Flamel's writings on alchemy, taken from the The Alchemy Web Site and Virtual Library.

Other Actual Occult Practices

Curses and counter-curses (Philosopher`s Stone, p. 62; Goblet of Fire, pp. 187-194; ).

Astrology, Fortune telling (Philosopher`s Stone, pp. 188-190; Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 45, 47; Goblet of Fire, pp. 116-117).

Rune stones (Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 45, 47).

Palmistry, Divination, Crystal ball gazing, Tea leaf reading, Auras. (Prisoner of Azkaban, pp. 45; 79-86).

Arithmancy (a Chaldean and Greek method of divination by numbers) (Prisoner of Azkaban, pp. 45; 79-86; Goblet of Fire, p. 171).

Charms, Incantations (Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 176).

Numerology (Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 232).

The Source of Harry's Power

The source of Harry's power is an interesting one. In Ollivander's: Makers of Fine Wands shop, Harry eventually chooses a wand that is suitable for him (or more accurately, the wand chooses Harry). After some difficulty, Mr Ollivander hands Harry a wand that is eventually right for him. Mr Ollivander finds it "very curios" that the wand that Harry finds to be right for him has a connection to Voldemort:

"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather - just one. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother - why, its brother gave you that scar." (Philosopher`s Stone, p. 65).

So, the implication is being made that the same power that flows through Voldemort's wand, also flows through Harry's wand as well.

A similar statement about the same power being used in all magick is made at the end of the book when professor Quirrell says:

"A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it..." (Philosopher`s Stone, p. 211, Italics added).

In book two, The Chamber of Secrets, Harry discovers that he actually has some of Voldemort's power within him, which was transferred when he was attacked as a baby (The Chamber of Secrets, p. 245).

The concept that there is a power in magick, that is neither good nor evil, black or white, is taken directly from popular modern day occultism. For example:

"Magic itself is neither good nor bad, white or black, it is a neutral force in the same way as electricity is. " (Kate West, The Real Witches Handbook: A Complete Introduction to the Craft, p. 5).

Similarly, Marion Weinstein also writes:

"The Witch philosophy of Light and Dark: No duality exists between good and evil. The One Power over all is neither good or bad; it transcends qualitative thought." (Marion Weinstein , Positive Magic, p. 88, emphasis in original).

Possession

There are a number of incidents in the Harry Potter books were individuals are taken over or possessed by other entities. The Philosoper's Stone has Voldemort reveal himself as one who has possessed Professor Quirrell:

'See what I have become?' the face said. 'Mere shadow and vapour...I have form only when I can share another's body...but there have always been those wiling to let me into their hearts and minds..." (Philosopher`s Stone, p. 213)

In book four, The Goblet of Fire, Voldemort goes into more detail of how he possessed Quirrell, as well as animals:

"I could possess the bodies of others...I sometimes inhabited animals - snakes, of course, being my preference - but I was little better off inside them than as pure spirit, for their bodies were ill-adapted to perform magic...and my possession of them shortened their lives; none of them lasted long... 'Then...four years ago...the means for my return seemed assured. A wizard_young, foolish, and gullible_wandered across my path in the forest I had made my home... He was easy to bend to my will....I took possession of his body, to supervise him closely as he carried out my orders." (The Goblet of Fire, p. 567)

In The Chamber of Secrets, Voldemort is seen in another instance of demonic possession. Using the name of Tom Riddle, Voldemort manages to possess a student at Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley. Talking to Harry about how he took control of her Riddle explains:

"So Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted. I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her..." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 228).

Later, when Ginny recovers from her ordeal she admits that Voldemort "...took over me" (p. 238).

In book 3, there is an accurate description of spirit possession when the Divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, goes into a trance (as real mediums and spiritualists do). As Harry goes to leave the lesson he hears from behind him:

"IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT." Professor Trelawney had gone rigid in her armchair; her eyes were unfocused and her mouth sagging. "S_sorry?" said Harry. But Professor Trelawney didn't seem to hear him. Her eyes started to roll. Harry sat there in a panic. She looked as though she was about to have some sort of seizure. He hesitated, thinking of running to the hospital wing _ and then Professor Trelawney spoke again, in the same harsh voice, quite unlike her own: "THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT, BEFORE MIDNIGHT... THE SERVANT WILL... SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER...." Professor Trelawney's head fell forward onto her chest. She made a grunting sort of noise. Harry sat there, staring at her. Then, quite suddenly, Professor Trelawney's head snapped up again. "I'm so sorry, dear boy," she said dreamily, "the heat of the day, you know... I drifted off for a moment...." (The Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 238).

The Hand of Glory

In The Chamber of Secrets Harry accidentally finds himself in a shop in an infamous area called Knockturn Alley. In the shop, Harry ends up in a cabinet watching his rival, Draco Malfoy and his father, Lucius Malfoy, browsing the shop contents. While they are doing this, Draco is attracted to a withered hand called The Hand of Glory. The shop owner, Mr Borin, explains:

"Ah, the Hand of Glory!'...'insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers!" (Chamber of Secrets, pp 43-44)

Many people may be surprised to know that the Hand of Glory is an actual occultic charm used in the blackest of magickal rites. The A-Z of Wicca has this to say:

"Hand of Glory. In Medieval sorcery, a gruesome charm made from the mummified hand of a hanged criminal. It was used mainly by thieves as a magickal tool to paralyse or put their victims to sleep so that they could easily rob them. The Hand of Glory was an extremely popular element in evil spells and is one of the most famous charms in the history of black magick." (Gernina Dunwich, A-Z of Wicca, p. 61).

The Serpent

Very early on Harry discovers that he is different from his non-Witch parents (non-Witches are referred to as "Muggles"), due to various unexplained supernatural occurrences being a feature in his life. On one such occasion, Harry and his family go to a zoo. It is here, out of all the animals, that Harry discovers that he is able to communicate with the snake. (Philosopher`s Stone, p. 25-26).

The Bible often depicts Satan as being a snake (Genesis 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9; 20:2). In book two, The Chamber of Secrets, Harry eventually discovers that the incident in the zoo wasn't just a one off, but that he actually has a gift of being able to talk to snakes through a language called Parseltongue (Chamber of Secrets, pp. 145-147).

Controversial Statements

After his battle with Voldemort, at the end of the Philosopher's Stone, Harry comes round in hospital, under the watchful eye of Dumbledore. In the course of their conversation, Harry learns that Nicolas Flamel and his wife would die. Dumbledore says to Harry: "After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." (p. 215). Interestingly, this statement is cut from the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Maybe, the reason for this omission was because the film makers themselves felt that this statement was too controversial? Indeed, such a statement trivializes the issue of death. Jesus knew that death was unnatural and cried at the news of the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-46). Interestingly, a similar statement, to that made by Dumbledore in the book, is also the title of a book by the famous occultist Alice A. Bailey. The title of Bailey's book is Death: The Great Adventure. Did Rowling have the title of Bailey's work in mind, when writing the statement about death in the Philosopher's Stone? Does she possess this book, or other books by Bailey? Has she been inspired and influenced by these writing? Of course, we can only guess here.

In conclusion, the general message is put fourth to young minds that `witchcraft is fun'. You can get what you want, control others, and look cool in the meantime. But the truth is, when one tears away the slick way that occultism is being repackaged today, it is not glamorous at all, but is spiritually dangerous for those who operate in this realm. Children are being subtly indoctrinated into occultism, and are being encouraged to come into contact with powerful, manipulative, evil, forces which the Bible warns us to keep away from. When speaking to the Israelites, God warned them to stay away from dark spiritual practices that He knew were harmful to their well being, when they entered the promised land:

"There shall not be found in you one who passes his son or his daughter through the fire, one that uses divination, an observer of clouds, or one divining, or a whisperer of spells, or a magic charmer, or one consulting mediums, or a spirit-knower, or one inquiring of the dead. For all doing these things are an abomination to Jehovah. And because of these filthy acts Jehovah your God is dispossessing these nations before you." (Deu 18:10-12)








Links to More Articles on Harry Potter:

The Real Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged.
http://www.therealpotter.com/

Harry Potter 'occult' warning (News Report from the BBC).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/newsid_1638000/1638887.stm

School bans Harry Potter. (News Report from the BBC).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/newsid_693000/693779.stm

Buffy Draws Children to Witchcraft. (News Report from the BBC).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_864000/864984.stm

Harry Potter, Sorcery and Fantasy.
http://cana.userworld.com/cana_harrypotter.html

Harry Potter: A Journey to Power.
http://cana.userworld.com/cana_morehpotter1.html

Harry Potter? What Does God Have To Say?
http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract7.html

The Harry Potter Books and Christians.
http://www.reachouttrust.org/regulars/articles/occult/hpotter.htm

Harry Potter Books - My Concerns.
http://www.reachouttrust.org/regulars/articles/occult/hpotter2.htm

Special Feature: Magic & Morality. What Shall We Do With Harry?
http://www.family.org/pplace/pi/harrypotter/A0018569.cfm

Harry Potter. Many articles on Harry Potter.
http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/hpmain.html




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