Crimes of Grindelwald: Homunculus

Susan Sipal posts fun YouTube videos about the Fantastic Beasts film franchise in which she breathlessly offers up theories about what is really happening in the movies. I recently recommended her as one of three Crimes of Grindelwald critics to read if you’re looking for challenging commentary beyond our analysis at

I wrote then that Sipal was something of a moving target because she changes her positions with each video, and, sure enough, she has dumped the ideas she offered in the discussion I recommended for an alchemical theory of who Credence/Aurelius really is. ‘Aurelius’ or ‘the Golden One,’ she now believes is the product of an alchemical experiment gone wrong or left unfinished at the time of Gellert and Albus’ break-up and Ariana’s death. Credence/Aurelius according to this view is an alchemical homunculus. The video is posted here and a transcript  can be read here.

Sipal offers three citations from the text to support this idea:

(1) “A baby Chupacabra — part lizard, part homunculus, a blood-sucking creature of the Americas — is chained to GRINDELWALD’s chair.” (Scene 2, p 2)

(2) “We see TEENAGE DUMBLEDORE and TEENAGE GRINDELWALD facing each other in a barn. Both score their palms with their wands. Now bleeding they interlace their hands…” (Scene 73, p. 163)

(3) GRINDELWALD “The path has been laid, and he is following it. The trail that will lead him to me, and the strange and glorious truth of who he is….” “Credence is the only entity alive… who can kill him [Albus Dumbledore].” (Scene 46, pp 96-97)

The argument of the theory, drawn out from these text citations, combined with interpretation of an image of a homunculus found via Google images at this web site, and Grindelwald’s referring to Credence more than once in Crimes as “my boy,” is that Credence is the love-child consequent to the Alchemical Wedding of young Gellert and Albus. The reference to a barn as the site of the Blood Pact is important, Sipal suggests, because Paracelsus says the creation of a homunculus involves a horse (see the Wikipedia entry for Homunculus for that reference). From the transcript of Sipal’s video:

The nature of Credence as a human created by these two young gods would open up so many themes and questions to be explored, some already touched on in the series: experimental breeding, or eugenics, manipulation of matter via physics, cloning, and perhaps free will, but also the rights of same sex couples to marry and have children. In fact, as Bestiary points out, it’s possible that the blood pact is in fact a marriage between Albus and Gellert.

I will be writing about the alchemical imagery in Crimes of Grindelwald in the coming weeks, work that Elizabeth Baird-Hardy began with her post on Midsummer Night’s Dream last week. The homunculus is on my list of things to discuss, especially in light of what Lyndsey Abraham writes in The Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery and its use in Goethe’s Faust and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I’ll weigh the possibility of whether Credence was an alchemical homunculus at greater length then, but, for now, I think Sipal’s theory, Credence Homunculus’ has to be included among the more interesting theories of Credence/Aurelius’ origin, along with the ‘Credence Ariana Theory‘ of Bob Rectenwald and the ‘Credence Gaunt Theory‘ of Leslie Barnhart.

I say this despite it being a departure both from metallurgical alchemy’s symbolic descriptions of the homunculus — which birthing involves the death of the Red King and White Queen — and from Rowling’s previous literary alchemical work, in which there is a ‘Philosophical Orphan’ naturally born that becomes the Philosopher’s Stone. It is, after all, the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein which may have been on Rowling’s mind as she planned the five films. Let the conversation begin!

Update: Did I say “moving target”? Here is Sipal’s latest on her Credence Homunculus Theory.’ I’m told she discusses Faust. Cheers!

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