‘The Astrological Key to Harry Potter’ Will Sprague’s ‘Planet Potter’ Analysis

Will Sprague in his first guest post at HogwartsProfessor in 2011 argued that the first three books of the Hogwarts saga are a reverse alchemical process. This deft combination of literary alchemy and ring composition as literary analysis was a neat piece of work (it had been done by the Rev Joe Packer, we learned later, in 2007 but no one in the Potter Punditry community was aware of that work). I begged Will to let me publish his notes on the astrological symbolism and structure of the series, which he believes is not alchemical but very much akin to C. S. Lewis’ artistry in The Chronicles of Narnia. He titles these notes ‘Planet Potter’ in acknowledgment of Michael Ward’s work as CSL exegete in his Planet Narnia.

The correspondences he mentions in Erin Sweeney’s Harry Potter for Nerds essay, ‘Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole,’ are based on the books being in alchemical sequence as laid out by Titus Burckhardt in his magisterial Alchemy. Erin assigns Saturn to Philosopher’s Stone, Jupiter to Chamber of Secrets, Moon to Prisoner of Azkaban, Venus to Half-Blood Prince, Mars to Deathly Hallows, and the Sun to Order of the Phoenix. Will disagrees on five of the seven correspondences. (My apologies for the several formatting glitches; WordPress will not accept MS Word formatting of great complication….)

I will be writing later this week, after I finish my Tarot posts, on why I now think this discussion is worth having whereas before I found even the possibility of Rowling writing astrological novels a stretch too far for me. Until then, enjoy these notes from Will Sprague and check out Erin Sweeney’s chapter in Harry Potter for Nerds for her astrological arguments!

Planet Potter by Will Sprague

Alongside Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy, it seems hard to believe that a full third layer of literary structure would present itself, but I think that the evidence is strong enough that I can confidently argue that each book of the Harry Potter saga aligns with one of the seven planets of medieval cosmology.

I am making the argument more from the preponderance of the evidence than from the ability for these planetary alignments to fit into a preconceived alchemical structure. This is an alternative to the Harry Potter for Nerds chapter entitled “Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole.” I think that the use of the planets is more akin to Lewis’ use as laid out in Planet Narnia rather than an alchemical use as argued for in that piece. Forgive the rambling and disorganized nature of the below notes for each book.

Philosopher’s Stone -> Mars/Ares

  1. Quirinus Quirrell’s first name is a title of the god Mars (Mars Quirinus)
  2. Quirrell acts like a coward (the opposite of martial valor or courage, the primary attribute of Mars)
  3. Mars is the “red” planet, and this is a “Red” book
  4. “Mars is bright tonight” is repeated three times by the centaurs to Hagrid
  5. Harry asks for Mars candy bar from the trolley lady, but they have none
  6. Gryffindor wins the house cup because of the Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville’s courage. In fact, Ron even rides a horse and is willing to die for his friends to move on. The decisive victory points, go to a special sort of courage, to stand up to one’s friends and not just one’s enemies.
  7. Hugely important plot-elements occur in the Forbidden Forest (Mars is the god of the forests)

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Rowling: Elements, Houses, Card Suits

The defining qualities of the Hogwarts Houses are a big deal to Rowling. Not only does the Sorting Hat spell them out in every year’s Opening Feast song, even Dumbledore’s famous “Nitwit, Blubber, Oddment, Tweak” speech that he offers in Harry’s first year as his “few words” seems to be his commentary on the prejudices of each house (and his discreet criticism of the Sorting ceremony). In September, 2018, The Presence reaffirmed the importance of House characters and how much thought went into each when she answered a twitter question about the relationship of card suits and the Hogwarts Houses:

In July of 2005 at the publication of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she told two fandom interviewers the intentional element correspondences she had made with the Four Houses:

It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water, hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know.

If you combine these equations, House to Suit to Element, you get a chart that looks like this:

Gryffindor = Hearts = Fire

Ravenclaw = Spades = Air

Hufflepuff = Clubs = Earth

Slytherin = Diamonds = Water

There’s no arguing with her about the Houses correspondence; not only is it her world to create on her terms, but the associations make an almost visible sense. Gryffindor as fire evokes the idea of a consuming courage, a burning soul if you will, Ravenclaw as air suggests heights of intellectual abstraction from earthly concern, humble Hufflepuff being earth is a natural because humility is  derived from the Latin word for ‘ground,’ and slippery Slytherin with its underground drives and ambitions is a match with water.

I think you can see a similar connerction between the characters of Rowling’s Houses and the card suits she has matched them up with. Gryffindor as hearts makes sense because the courageous are known as the Lion hearted. Slytherin as diamonds is a match, too, becauseof the value this House’s natives place on purity (think crystalline structure), appearance, and money and power. Ravenclaw as spades is a bit of a stretch because a spade is an instrument for digging in the ground, pretty much the opposite of ‘air,’ but if you think of serious thinkers as those ‘digging’ for answers, it lines up. That the humble Hufflepuffs are left with clubs, instruments from trees grown in the earth? It’ll do.

But there’s a problem, one I suspect Rowling knows but chose to disregard — which problem I discuss after the jump.

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‘Full Circle’ Thoughts on the Narniad: LWW’s Ring Composition and Alchemy

I gave a series of seven talks at Oklahoma City’s Full Circle Bookstore on the subject of the artistry and meaning of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Recordings are available as an ‘extra’ to anyone signing up for my Wizard Reading Formula course online (about which, ‘stay tuned’). To the delight of my inner Gilderoy last night, I found a review of the first class that was written by a student taking a public speaking course at a local college.

If C. S. Lewis or talks by the Hogwarts Professor in person are of any interest to you, that evaluation of my class content and delivery are after the jump. Feel free to let me know what you think of this student’s judgment and of the content he describes!

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Literary Alchemy

Literary Alchemy

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-literature-alchemy-of-literature-literary-alchemy/ (2012)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-jung-burckhart-or-mclean/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/literary-alchemy-via-harry-potter-an-introduction/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mailbag-questions-about-literary-alchemy/ (2010)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/what-alchemy-does-in-harry-potter/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/snape-as-vitriol-the-green-lion-alchemical-catalyst/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/cv6-literary-alchemy-the-conjunction-of-sex-and-death/ (Casual Vacancy, 2013)

Crimes of Grindelwald Group Portrait: Is It a Meaningful Picture of the Story? (2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/crimes-of-grindelwald-the-salamander/ Crimes of Grindelwald, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mailbag-do-you-have-to-see-the-alchemy-in-a-story-to-experience-it/ (2015)

Rowling Comments

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rowling-confesses-desire-to-be-an-alchemist/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/pottermore-j-k-rowling-discusses-alchemical-colors/ (2013)

Alchemy in Authors Other than Rowling

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/the-kappa-element-of-stories-michael-ward-planet-narnia-explains-narnias-father-christmas-and-the-importance-of-literary-alchemy/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rings-mirrors-and-the-alchemical-transcendence-of-ego-reflection-in-the-structure-of-lolita-and-harry-potter/ (2017)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/harry-potter-and-lolita-j-k-rowlings-relationship-with-vladimir-nabokov/ (2017)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/ben-jonsons-every-man-in-his-humor-a-meaningful-model-for-strike-stories/ (2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-the-potter-and-the-pilgrim-alchemical-parallelism-in-geoffrey-chaucer-and-joanne-rowling-carol-eshleman/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mozarts-zauberflote-alchemical-text/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/little-women-and-harry-potter-jo-rowling-is-jo-march/ (2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/was-shelleys-dr-frankenstein-an-alchemist-introducing-the-potter-as-pearl-harbor-thesis/ (2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-ring-writing-doppelgangers-and-arabian-nights-the-artistry-and-meaning-of-mary-shelleys-frankenstein/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-portrait-of-the-achemist-as-a-young-man-joyce-as-literary-alchemist/ (2018)

Hunger Games

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: The Spiritual Allegory’ On Katniss as a Soul Seeking Perfection and Iconological Reading

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: ‘The Literary Alchemy’ On Literary Alchemy and Peeta as Postmodern Christ

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: Katniss’ Apotheosis’ On the Alchemical Arena and Katniss’ Perfection in the Inner Sanctuary

Guest Posts

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-rowlings-mercurial-hermetic-artistry-from-snape-to-strike/ (Willis, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-the-connection-of-ring-composition-and-literary-alchemy-in-the-layout-of-the-seven-book-harry-potter-series/ (Sprague, 2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/tinuvielas-alchemical-notes-flow-rubedo-more/ (2009)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/one-last-memory-a-godrics-hollow-mind-blower/ (Sipal, 2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/crimes-of-grindelwald-homunculus/ (Sipal, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-portrait-of-the-achemist-as-a-young-man-joyce-as-literary-alchemist/ (2018)

Harry Potter (2007-2008)

Literary Alchemy in Deathly Hallows
–(A) Alchemy in Deathly Hallows
–(B) Jung, Burckhardt, or McLean?
–(C) The New Age Alchemy wing in Fandom
–(D) Alchemy and the Tarot
–(E) Dragon’s Blood and Wand Cores

The Dante Posts
— (A) Florence and Hermetic Artistry
— (B) Lily and Beatrice: Snape’s Green-Eyed Deliverance
— (C) The Epilogue’s White Rose

Q&A

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/chicago-maroon-interview-questions/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/the-seven-keys-to-the-hogwarts-professor/ (2010)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/literary-alchemy-and-the-hunger-games-three-podcasts/ (2013)

Lethal White: The Swan Symbolism

Even the relatively casual reader of Robert Galbraith’s fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, Lethal White, is struck by the imagery of the swans in this novel.

The story begins — its first words — at the Cunliffe wedding reception with a photographer trying to get a picture of the newlyweds that includes two swans in the pond behind them. The swans stubbornly refuse to come together, but, as soon as Robin rises to separate herself from Matt (with the intention of looking for Cormoran), they swim side by side. The clueless father of the groom observes, “You’d think the buggers were doing it on purpose” (p 3).

The story ends — its very last words — with “twin swans,” a return to the beginning as evident bracketing:

Head bowed against the rain, [Robin] had no attention left to spare for the magnificent mansion past which she was walking, its rain specked windows facing the great river, its front doors engraved with twin swans. (p 647)

Brad  Bellows told us, in a comment attached to Evan Willis’ post on the hermetic and mythological meaning of Lethal White, that “the paired swans Robin fails to notice in the final line, actually exist, on Swan House, built in 1876 by R.N. Shaw, overlooking the Thames.” Mr Willis in that post had suggested this might be Jonny Rokeby’s home in keeping with his theory that, per Leda and the Swan/Zeus mythology, that Strike’s mysterious paternity, the pairing of his super-groupie mother with the other-worldly rock-star, explains why Rokeby remains off-stage but ever-present. The myth holds that Leda has twins, two sets of twins actually, with two fathers for each set; Castor and Pollux are the off-spring of Leda with the swan who is Zeus and with the king of Sparta, her husband. Robin and Cormoran, great driver and former boxer, are the novel’s stand-in for Castor the horseman and Pollux the pugilist. [See the discussions of this mythology and the Strike mysteries in the Gray/Granger and Willis posts on the subject.]

While the predominant symbolism of the story is white horses, which occur so frequently that Strike remarks on it and Billy Knight laughs about it (pp 394, 496), white swans occur often enough, not only as the story’s framing brackets but in references to individual birds on signs (see Robin’s noting and overlooking the Swan pub sign on pp 56 and 166), that we are obliged to consider their meaning beyond markers of Leda mythology in which the books are set. Swans, as you might expect in a Rowling novel, have an alchemical meaning as well, one that we will explore after the jump.

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