Lancelot Schaubert – Alchemical Alliteration

Long time friend of the Hogwarts Professor and prolific author Lancelot Schubert has written a guest post. For a fascinating possible link between alliteration, doubled consonants, alchemical symbolism and Christian imagery, join me after the jump!



In reading (as recommended by Prof John Granger and J. K. Rowling) Pale Fire by Nabokov and reflecting on double-barrelled consonants (in addition to alliterative naming), I’ve been wracking my brain about why “R” and why “T” in Harry Potter. Perhaps it’s nothing. Or perhaps it’s something. To cite John’s own Harry Potter and Lolita:


Archibald Alderton, Arkie Alderton, Bathsheda Babbling, Bathilda Bagshot, Blodwyn Bludd, Barberus Bragge, Betty Braithwaite, Broderick Bode, Cho Chang, Colin Creevey, Dilys Derwent, Daedulus Diggle, (Elphias) “Dog breath” Doge, Dudley Dursley, Gellert Grindelwald, Filius Flitwick, Florean Fortescue, Gladys Gudgeon, Gregory Goyle, Luna Lovegood, Madames Malkin and March, Pansy Parkinson, Patma and Parvati Patil, Piers Polkiss, Stan Shunpike, Thaddeus Thurkell, Ted Tonks, Tilden Toots, William Weasley, Willy Widdershins, and Vindinctus Viridian.

The ‘Four Founders’ are an obviously alliterative group, too: Godric Gryffindor, SalazaSlytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Huffelpuff. And the Heads of Houses? Not too surprisingly, as they represent the Four Founders in some respect, we have Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Filius Flitwick, and Pomona Sprout. They are joined on the faculty, at least for a short while, by Quirrius Quirrell and Mad-Eye Moody.

And the Ghosts and Ghouls on campus? The Fat Friar, the Bloody Baron, Nearly-headless Nick, Moaning Myrtle, and Peeves the Poltergeist.

That preponderant alliteration is simultaneously fun and fascinating but the repetition of sounds in Ms. Rowling’s character names isn’t limited to the initial consonants. Non-alliterative names, i.e., those not beginning with the same letter, often include reduplicated sounds, paired letters, or both.

As an example of reduplicated sounds, note the ‘c’s (and ‘k’) as well as the ‘a’s and ‘r’s in ‘Caratacus Burke.’ How about the ‘n’s and ‘o’s in ‘Antonin Dolohov’? The Hogwarts Headmaster’s name rolls off the tongue as pleasantly, even melodiously, as it does because of the repetition in alternation of the ‘b’s and ‘d’s in it: ‘Albus Dumbledore.’ This pairing and resonance is obviously a little less obvious (!) than alliteration, but the internal echoing of sounds in Ms. Rowling’s name choices has a similar, musical effect.

Roll these several names off your tongue and note the echoes inside them of repeated vowels and consonants: Justin Finch-Fletchley, Alecto Carrow, Fleur Delacour, Vernon Dursley, Angelina Johnson, Viktor Krum, and, yes, the Grey Lady.

Along with these echoes, Ms. Rowling loves paired letters which have much the same effect as re-duplicated sounds except the pairing makes the sound ‘jump’ because of the proximity of the echo to its source. Hannah Abbot, Neville Longbottom, and, most importantly, Harry Potter are instances of this.

John Granger – Harry Potter and Lolita

With the double barrelled consonants, specifically, we have Hannah Abbot “The grace of the Superior of the monastery,” Neville Longbottom “no place in the abyss,” and Harry Potter “home ruler who makes earthen vessels.” That, it seems to me, forms something of a trinity. As I was tinkering around with the consonants, I wondered what might happen if I rendered each in the original greek. BV (BN in greek letters) in Hannah’s case would get us something like:

…the alchemical sign for bath of vapours.


Similarly, for Neville Longbottom, we’d have something like ΛT (LT in Greek letter) which might combine to get get us:

…the alchemical sign for a crucible.

Curiously, their names align with that as well, once you consider what a bath of vapours meant in a crucible. Citing now from Britannica’s article on the Bath of Mary, the Christian name for the bath of vapours in the crucible:

…the crucible containing the so-called Bath of Mary, whose amniotic fluids dissolved all impurities. This dissolution prepared one for rebirth as a perfect being. All matter was redeemed by immersion in the fluids of the womb where Jesus assumed the flesh. Mystical union with Christ’s death and physical regression…

Encyclopaedia Britannica

I’ve been wracking my brain about why “R” and why “T” in Harry Potter. Perhaps it’s nothing. Or perhaps it’s something. And then on the bus back home from a castle here in NYC (did you know we had castles here?), I asked myself, “What else is a t?”


A cross, of course. And a cross can take other forms. Such as the X cross on which Wolverine, no more, and St. Andrew, no less, were both so crucified. It’s the very cross on the very flag of Scotland, from whence Jo hails. If you intersect an r in Greek — ρ — with such a cross — χ  — you get a very, very simple shape: ☧

Maybe it’s nothing.

Maybe it’s something.

The Chi Rho is a Christian symbol for “Christ” written by superimposing the two Greek letters “Chi (X)” and “Rho (P)” which are the first two letters in Greek of the name of “CHRist.”

But taken together, you’d end up with the Bath of Mary (the very grace of every monastery’s superior) B —both halves of which make a full circle O— inside the crucible (a no-place with a long bottom) Λ, that makes a local ruler of said earthen vessel T: a Harry Potter in the Neville Longbottom filled with the spirit of Hannah Abbot. Altogether, what’s that spell?


Or maybe something similar if the amnos abbess is the beginning and the kid crucible (that no-place bottomless pit) is the omega.


Perhaps even ‘Ar (ry) Po (tter) if you switch pronounciation on the doublet.

Maybe it’s nothing.

Maybe it’s something.

Maybe if it’s something, it’s everything.

Lancelot Schaubert

To purchase Lancelot’s work including Tap and Die and Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt, Illinois visit the Amazon web shop here.

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