Guest Post: Tis the Season for Holly Wandlore

Hey, the Contact Tab is working and I have received two Guest Posts and a YouTube musical from Russia, no less, in as many days. Here — after the jump — is the short Wandlore piece that revealed the broken Contact Form:

Wandlore: Yuletide Reflections on the Meaning of Harry and Voldemort’s Wand Woods and Cores

As I was re-reading Sorcerer’s Stone the other night, I had an epiphany:  One can almost predict the destiny of Harry and Voldemort by the way their wands are made.

Harry’s wand is holly, with a phoenix feather in the core.  We know the phoenix is a symbol of resurrection because it dies in fire and then is re-born from its own ashes.  The fact that Harry’s wand is holly is also significant.  Remember the old Christmas carol, The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a bud
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

The holly bears a blossom

As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

To be our sweet Savior.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

Holly thus stands for the sacrificial death of Christ.  But holly is also an evergreen, a symbol of eternal life.  Sacrificial death, resurrection, and eternal life: all are present in Harry’s wand, and he is thereby marked as the Christ figure for the series.

Voldemort’s wand, on the other hand, is at odds with itself.  It’s made of yew, a tree commonly planted in cemeteries, so it has an association with death,  Voldemort’s greatest fear.  Like Harry’s it has a phoenix-feather core, and Voldemort is “resurrected” after a fashion in Goblet of Fire.  But his “rebirth” is only temporary, mundane and mortal, with none of the transcendent power of  Harry’s self-sacrifice and return from King’s Cross in Deathly Hallows.  Voldemort’s wand stands for both death and life, containing and channeling both his power and his fear.  A wand so conflicted could not possibly be the instrument to defeat Harry, whose sacrificial love finally transcends both death and life.

Jesus said, “He who would save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will save it.”  Voldemort seeks to become immortal – to save his life – and ultimately loses it.  Harry consents to the loss his life, and gets it back.  Voldemort is motivated by fear, seeking immortality only for himself, and for the power he thinks it will confer on him.  Harry is motivated by love, and in laying down his life earns the title Master of Death.  This outcome is prefigured in the materials that make up their wands.

Jane Hawes


  1. Melanie N. Lee says

    Very good analysis! I like that a person can analyze things of God, and things of Harry Potter, from so many angles. You took a botanical one. Professor Sprout and Neville Longbottom would be proud.

  2. Fantastic post, Jane. Your comparison/contrast of the two wands was fun to read.
    May I add that Harry’s wand further demonstrated itself to be an instrument of second chances in that while the holly/phoenix feather voluntarily (a key point) defeated its yew/phoenix feather brother and simultaneously protected its owner, LV himself was not destroyed, thus providing Harry an early impetus to later offer LV opportunity to repent/show remorse. We know the outcome was all about the choices made along the way!
    Very cool!!!

  3. Interesting. Would you by chance have any thoughts on the known components of other characters’ wands and their ultimate trajectory in the texts?

    For instance, I have a renewed interest in hawthorn, which is Draco’s wand wood. I would love to hear your take on this wand, its core, and correlation to Draco’s trajectory in the series.

  4. Honestly, I know nothing whatsoever about hawthorn, although I doubt seriously that Rowling chose that wood for Malfoy by chance. I only made the connections between Harry’s wand and Voldemort’s because of having “The Holly and the Ivy” in my ear as I was reading about Harry buying his wand in “Sorcerer’s Stone.” It’s Christmas, after all….

    Maybe somebody else knows something about the other wand woods?

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