Euro Muslims: Alienated “Other” and Pained “Hermaphrodites”?


European Minorities Torn Between Worlds

I post the story above in case you sometimes wonder if the discussion in the previous posts about the “Constitutive ‘Other'” in postmodern thinking is just a head game or if the idea of a Gryffindor/Slytherin Hermaphrodite who can bridge the chasm created by cultural metanarratives is silly beyond words. The agony of “home grown” Muslims in Europe unable to assimilate because of their beliefs and the beliefs of their host countries puts a “real life” face on this discussion and highlights both the relevance and the urgency of a “metanarrative of love.”

I would say, too, that this theme of painful duality needing resolution strikes home in our hearts both because we are all the victims of faction or “misfit toys” to some degree and because, as psychosomatic life, just by being human, we are a joining of contrary physical and spiritual tendencies. Our outsides and our insides, the external social environment and our interior life, then, resonate with the alchemical action of this story.

This isn’t kid stuff, however edifying the experience of this story is for the open-hearted, young or old

Dragon’s Blood and Elixir from the Philosopher’s Stone

A note from Lyndy Abraham’s A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery, from the end of the entry on ‘blood:’

At the final stage of the work, known as the rubedo, the image of blood symbolizes the precious red elixir or purple tincture [coming from the Stone]. The attainment of the red elixir (gold), after the white (silver), is sometimes compared to the dyeing or staining of of white sheets with red blood (see rubedo). Paracelsus’s Aurora called the purple tincture ‘the blessed blood of Rosie colour’ and Basil Valentine wrote that ‘this Tincture is the Rose of our Masters, of purple hue, called also red blood’ (HM, 1:330). Laurentius Ventura wrote of the fixation of the Stone: ‘For the Stone must be kept in the fire, till it cannot any more be changed from one nature to another, from one color to another, but become like the Reddest blood running like wax in the fire, and yet diminishing nothing at all’ (in ZC, 81). The divine tincture is thought to be capable of tingeing all metals to gold and of restoring man to perfect health and consciousness of God.

The colour of the red tincture or Stone is sometimes compared to dragon’s blood. A recipe for the tincture in Lancelot Colson’s Philosophia maturata instructs the alchemist to ‘increase the fire, till it [the matter for the Stone] be perfect yellow, and then again increase the fire, until it be red as Dragon’s blood’. (Abraham, pgs. 38-39)

* The heating of the Stone in the fire reminds me of Norbert’s egg in Hagrid’s fireplace but I cannot make anything of that beyond Hagrid’s relationship with Dumbledore, master Alchemist, and the Gamekeeper’s strong desire for a pet dragon. The end and the beginning are joined in the best stories; should we expect a return of Norbert to visit his “mummy” in the series’ finale?

* Dumbledore’s chocolate frog card, to which he seems attached over and above his other honors, says he is “particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindlewald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicholas Flamel” (Stone, Chapter 6).

*My memory for canon detail is notoriously poor but I can only recall one other mention of dragon’s blood in the books. It’s in Prince, Chapter 4, after Dumbledore has revealed the comfy chair to be Slughorn. [Read more…]

The Meaning of “Deathly Hallows”

Merry Christmas to those of you on the Gregorian Calendar! I start this weBlog with the question I have heard the most this last week: “What does the title of the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, mean?” It caused nearly six pages of speculation on my private boards and I don’t think anyone there feels they have a good grip on it yet. Fair warning: I don’t have any sure answers to the question and I am skeptical of anyone who thinks we will know what it means before the book is in our hands.

Having said that, I have not heard or read anyone saying what I have thought about the title so it shouldn’t hurt if I share my reflections. I’ll start with a friend’s collection of Fandom speculation, continue with my first thoughts, which were about Ms. Rowling’s other six titles, and then move into literary alchemy, one of the five keys I think every serious reader of the books needs to get at their meaning. [Read more…]