Shared Text: Letter from a School Teacher

In my two featured talks at Azkatraz 2009 I gave out copies of my ‘spider-gram’ lecture notes and, when I ran out (the crowds were much larger than I anticipated), I took email addresses so I could send out the notes to those who wanted them. I sent some Azkatraz photos along with them and a link to the UChicago alumni Magazine article about Harry and the Great Books with an excerpt from Bookshelf.

I received a few notes in response, the best of which has been this note from an Elementary School teacher, whose name and location I edit out. I think you’ll see I couldn’t have made this up: [Read more…]

Int’l Alchemy Conference: Why I Won’t Be There

We talk a lot about ‘literary alchemy’ here, the hermetic stream in the tradition of English ‘Greats’ from Chaucer and Shakespeare that Ms. Rowling draws on with special takes I think, from C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy and Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse. Alchemy is no small part of the Hogwarts story magic and the artistry with which Ms. Rowling uses traditional symbols as her scaffolding may be her single most important and certainly her least appreciated accomplishment as a writer.

Given my interest in the literary side of the alchemy story and the occult arts from which it draws its imagery and perhaps even its effect on readers, why won’t I be traveling this October to Los Angeles for the International Alchemy Conference? Good question. [Read more…]

Get Thee to!

For those of you who have been holding off on purchasing The Deathly Hallows Lectures in the hope that Santa and Rudolph will bring you a copy or that the urge to understand the literary alchemy, Christian content, and eye and mirror symbolism of the series finale might pass, please go to the new and beautiful Zossima Press website and read the introduction to Lectures. And then buy your autographed copy right there!

If that wasn’t enough, Travis Prinzi and the house-elves that work for him have posted two audio files from the Wake Forest C. S. Lewis Conference, which talks are included in Views from Wake Forest, the Zossima Press collection of the best talks given there. I was at both Walter Hooper’s talk and James Como’s lecture in Wake Forest; I’m confident that after listening to them, you’ll want to read them and the other conference topics in Views.

Great things over at! Get thee hither, AllPro.

The Relationship of Alchemy and Christianity

A very good friend sent me a note two days ago from a Christian who had misgivings about what I have written online and in my books about alchemy and its relationship with Christianity. The note said:

“Does it bother you that Granger sees alchemy as totally congruent with Christianity? It strikes me as the reverse. To seek immortal life on earth by restoring the soul to its pre-Adamic state of innocency is to seek salvation apart from Christ and to endeavor to overcome the effects of original sin by means of nature rather than grace. And to create a stone that produces unlimited quantities of gold is to succumb to the vice of greed and would wreck the world’s economy. Right? That’s why I’m troubled that Dumbledore is famous for his work on alchemy with Flamel.”

This is an important relationship to get right so I put down my work updating Unlocking Harry Potter (the alchemy chapters!) to put together a response. Here it is: [Read more…]

What Alchemy Does in Harry Potter

Filit sent me a link to a livejournal posting by ‘Josef Djugashvili,’ Alchemy, What Might Have Been, in which post the writer and serious reader tries to assess the value of understanding alchemy (and specifically the stages of alchemy) in getting to the meaning of Harry Potter. The conclusion s/he comes to after examining the three stage process of black white, and red and a more involved seven stage process is that “IMVHO alchemy does not assist too much in our understanding of the Harry Potter series as it stands, whichever way one slices it.” S/He asks readers to “convince me otherwise.”

I’m pretty sure this kind of discussion doesn’t allow for premise-conclusion demonstrations that would convince any person of good will but I feel obliged to respond to the live-journalist (even if s/he has chosen Josef Stalin‘s birthname as an alias; I should confess this choice sets my teeth on edge and has made writing this an exercise). Here are three talking points for HogPro conversation today: [Read more…]