Search Results for: hanged man

Good Question: How did Dumbledore Know?

The only person I know (I’m sure there are many others; I don’t get out much) who argues seriously that Snape is indeed what he seems, a BAD, make that EVIL character, and doesn’t leave me shaking my head is Nathan Coblentz. Please read his notes on the Scar-o-Scope theory and after the Dumbledore as Christ figure essays for his insights. If he is right, of course, Nathan will have the great majority of us forever at his “I told you so!” mercy.

Nathan wrote me last week about something which, quite honestly, never struck me as important or mysterious before (though I think Joyce Odell, the Red Hen, mentions it more than once in her essays). Dumbledore knows about what happened at Godric’s Hollow the night Hagrid brings baby Harry to Privet Drive. How does he know? Did someone tell him? Was he there himself? Here is what Nathan wrote:

Hi John,

After going around and around in circles with people about Snape (I
haven’t changed my mind, but that’s neither here nor there), I’ve
found myself delving furthur and furthur into the mystery of what
happened at Godric’s Hollow and am wondering what your thoughts are.
The huge, unanswered question for me is how could Dumbledore possibly
have have known what happened so shortly after the fact? [Read more…]

“But Obviously Dumbledore is not Jesus:” The Hogwarts Headmaster as Christ Symbol in Half-Blood Prince

I taught Harry Potter classes at Barnes & Noble University and co-moderated Discussion Rooms there before they changed to their new ‘Book Clubs’ format (and I will be joining them there in March for more “moderated discussion”). These electronic classrooms are a fascinating symposium and slice of Harry Potter fandom that includes not only a diversity of nationalities but the spectra of age, beliefs, and vocations not to be rivaled at any bricks-and-mortar school (six continents and four archipelagoes is the best we’ve done but the 400-800 students that post messages always represent an international community of readers). The best discussion room included a Zarusthustran, a Hollywood screenwriter and blogger, and a teacher in the Kanto Plain outside Tokyo.

When we were trying to make sense of the latest Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when it first came out, the questions, themes, and theories we explored were respectably far ranging from the battle raging everywhere then in fandom, is Snape misunderstood or the murderer he seems to scenes-as-subtext questions, “What do the fox that Bellatrix kills, the telescope that punches Hermione, and the gnomes at the burrow mean?” and real puzzlers. I mean, when you’re asked if Horace Slughorn is Lord Voldemort’s agent inside Hogwarts, the man who brewed Malfoy’s Polyjuice Potion and the emerald phosphorescent frosty that tumbled Dumbledore, you’d better be prepared to argue at length about who this guy is and why (or why not) he is good (or EVIL).

There were a few questions that kept coming up in different forms, most having to do with the dearly-departed Dumbledore. Much of fandom was in serious denial and the other parts were trying to reconcile themselves to a Hogwarts without the affable Headmaster. Every Harry Potter reader, including the Harry Haters, were trying to make sense of his last hours and death (a Catholic seminarian from Louisiana sent me an owl a day for a week to convince me that Ms. Rowling was sending disturbing mixed signals to the children of the world about euthanasia and mercy killing with Dumbledore’s death).

The question I heard then from serious readers and now on this weBlog, especially from those who have read my book, Looking for God in Harry Potter (Tyndale, 2004), is about the Christ symbol in this book. Every Harry Potter adventure features a scene in the climactic battle with evil where Harry dies a figurative death and rises from this death in the presence of a traditional symbol of Christ because of love. The question for Half-Blood Prince has been “Is the sixth year’s salvific symbol Albus Dumbledore?” [Read more…]

Reflections on the Death of Saddam and the Dark Lord’s Blindspot

Saddam Hussein was hanged at year’s end, 2006, and, though this gives me no satisfaction or reason by itself to cheer in the New Year, I have not lost any sleep over the execution, either. Those who want to see historical analogies hidden in the Harry Potter stories – and they are legion, I’m afraid – most often make the equation of Lord Voldemort and Adolph Hitler (with Cornelius Fudge and bowler hat playing Neville Chamberlain, Dumbledore and the Order standing in for Churchill and the gang, etc.). I have also heard mention that, though it wasn’t possible at story’s inception, the Dark Lord seems to be picking up characteristics of America’s favorite, mysterious bad guys; I have heard both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein mentioned in this regard.

An article at Arthur Silber’s Sacred Moment weBlog that attempts to explain the origin of Saddam’s “malignant narcissism” mentions bin Laden and Hitler, too, struck me as relevant to our discussions here because of the following passages: [Read more…]

Dragon’s Blood and Elixir from the Philosopher’s Stone

A note from Lyndy Abraham’s A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery, from the end of the entry on ‘blood:’

At the final stage of the work, known as the rubedo, the image of blood symbolizes the precious red elixir or purple tincture [coming from the Stone]. The attainment of the red elixir (gold), after the white (silver), is sometimes compared to the dyeing or staining of of white sheets with red blood (see rubedo). Paracelsus’s Aurora called the purple tincture ‘the blessed blood of Rosie colour’ and Basil Valentine wrote that ‘this Tincture is the Rose of our Masters, of purple hue, called also red blood’ (HM, 1:330). Laurentius Ventura wrote of the fixation of the Stone: ‘For the Stone must be kept in the fire, till it cannot any more be changed from one nature to another, from one color to another, but become like the Reddest blood running like wax in the fire, and yet diminishing nothing at all’ (in ZC, 81). The divine tincture is thought to be capable of tingeing all metals to gold and of restoring man to perfect health and consciousness of God.

The colour of the red tincture or Stone is sometimes compared to dragon’s blood. A recipe for the tincture in Lancelot Colson’s Philosophia maturata instructs the alchemist to ‘increase the fire, till it [the matter for the Stone] be perfect yellow, and then again increase the fire, until it be red as Dragon’s blood’. (Abraham, pgs. 38-39)

* The heating of the Stone in the fire reminds me of Norbert’s egg in Hagrid’s fireplace but I cannot make anything of that beyond Hagrid’s relationship with Dumbledore, master Alchemist, and the Gamekeeper’s strong desire for a pet dragon. The end and the beginning are joined in the best stories; should we expect a return of Norbert to visit his “mummy” in the series’ finale?

* Dumbledore’s chocolate frog card, to which he seems attached over and above his other honors, says he is “particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindlewald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicholas Flamel” (Stone, Chapter 6).

*My memory for canon detail is notoriously poor but I can only recall one other mention of dragon’s blood in the books. It’s in Prince, Chapter 4, after Dumbledore has revealed the comfy chair to be Slughorn. [Read more…]

Prayers, please, for Don Holmes

Soon after Zossima Press published the first edition of Hidden Key to Harry Potter, I received a call from a man in Bellingham, Washington, about the book. This man, Don Holmes, was a retired Christian book distributor for stores throughout the Northwest US and western Canada. He still delivered books “across the border” once a month though he was in his seventies so he could visit with friends in those stores. One of the books these courtesy drives brought to his attention was Hidden Key. My email and street addresses were in the book so he looked me up. Bellingham is only a ferry ride and short drive from where we lived on the Olympic Peninsula. [Read more…]