‘The Astrological Key to Harry Potter’ Will Sprague’s ‘Planet Potter’ Analysis

Will Sprague in his first guest post at HogwartsProfessor in 2011 argued that the first three books of the Hogwarts saga are a reverse alchemical process. This deft combination of literary alchemy and ring composition as literary analysis was a neat piece of work (it had been done by the Rev Joe Packer, we learned later, in 2007 but no one in the Potter Punditry community was aware of that work). I begged Will to let me publish his notes on the astrological symbolism and structure of the series, which he believes is not alchemical but very much akin to C. S. Lewis’ artistry in The Chronicles of Narnia. He titles these notes ‘Planet Potter’ in acknowledgment of Michael Ward’s work as CSL exegete in his Planet Narnia.

The correspondences he mentions in Erin Sweeney’s Harry Potter for Nerds essay, ‘Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole,’ are based on the books being in alchemical sequence as laid out by Titus Burckhardt in his magisterial Alchemy. Erin assigns Saturn to Philosopher’s Stone, Jupiter to Chamber of Secrets, Moon to Prisoner of Azkaban, Venus to Half-Blood Prince, Mars to Deathly Hallows, and the Sun to Order of the Phoenix. Will disagrees on five of the seven correspondences. (My apologies for the several formatting glitches; WordPress will not accept MS Word formatting of great complication….)

I will be writing later this week, after I finish my Tarot posts, on why I now think this discussion is worth having whereas before I found even the possibility of Rowling writing astrological novels a stretch too far for me. Until then, enjoy these notes from Will Sprague and check out Erin Sweeney’s chapter in Harry Potter for Nerds for her astrological arguments!

Planet Potter by Will Sprague

Alongside Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy, it seems hard to believe that a full third layer of literary structure would present itself, but I think that the evidence is strong enough that I can confidently argue that each book of the Harry Potter saga aligns with one of the seven planets of medieval cosmology.

I am making the argument more from the preponderance of the evidence than from the ability for these planetary alignments to fit into a preconceived alchemical structure. This is an alternative to the Harry Potter for Nerds chapter entitled “Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole.” I think that the use of the planets is more akin to Lewis’ use as laid out in Planet Narnia rather than an alchemical use as argued for in that piece. Forgive the rambling and disorganized nature of the below notes for each book.

Philosopher’s Stone -> Mars/Ares

  1. Quirinus Quirrell’s first name is a title of the god Mars (Mars Quirinus)
  2. Quirrell acts like a coward (the opposite of martial valor or courage, the primary attribute of Mars)
  3. Mars is the “red” planet, and this is a “Red” book
  4. “Mars is bright tonight” is repeated three times by the centaurs to Hagrid
  5. Harry asks for Mars candy bar from the trolley lady, but they have none
  6. Gryffindor wins the house cup because of the Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville’s courage. In fact, Ron even rides a horse and is willing to die for his friends to move on. The decisive victory points, go to a special sort of courage, to stand up to one’s friends and not just one’s enemies.
  7. Hugely important plot-elements occur in the Forbidden Forest (Mars is the god of the forests)

Chamber of Secrets -> Sol/Sun/Apollo

  1. Bright sunny days are all over the book (you can look at all the references to how bright it is outside throughout much of the book). I don’t think it is irrelevant, but I would not believe it if that was all. Mostly, it is the Apollo references that stack up in favor of this book being the “sun” book.
  2. Gilderoy Lockhart’s name and appearance. He is a stunningly handsome god, and so is Lockhart. Apollo has long golden locks of hair and blue eyes. I would argue that Lockhart is a false Apollo.
    1. Apollo is known for healing, and Lockhart only hurts when he “heals” Harry’s arm.
    2. Apollo is a god that knows the future (being the operative deity of the Delphic oracle) but Lockhart’s one talent is instead erasing the past.
  3. Harry is the “True” Apollo, though, as he shows through his many actions at the end of the book, especially.
    1. Rooster crowing (announcing the rising sun) is one of the only deadly things to a basilisk.
    2. Harry is another thing that seems to be deadly to the basilisk. He slays the serpent. One of Apollos’s titles is “Apollo Serpent-Slayer” because he kills the mighty Python.

4. Ginny’s name means “virgin,” [ed., actually it is a nickname for ‘Ginevra’ and not ‘Virginia’] you have an innocent virginal girl that is possessed by what amounts to the spirit of a python. This is reminiscent of Acts 16’s python spirit-possessed girl. Virgins serving in the Delphic oracular service would be possessed by the spirit of Apollo to speak of the future. Apollo is identified as both serpent slayer and kind of as the serpent-spirit oracular deity.

  • Moreover, you have a symbol of the setting and rising sun, the phoenix, as the Christ symbol at the end of the sequence which carries all of them back up to Hogwarts.

Prisoner of Azkaban -> Lune(Moon)/Diana/Artemis

  1. The moon permeates this book and drives the story arcs forward.
  2. Remus Lupin is a werewolf, who is affected by the full moon
  3. Harry’s patronus is a Stag, which is one of Artemis/Diana’s patron animal symbols
  4. The story revolves around the question of correctly identifying the one who broke the promise with regards to the Fidelius Charm. In Dante’s Paradiso, the circle of the moon is for those who broke their vows, even if they could still be admitted to heaven.
  5. The moon is a low-hanging fruit for this book.

Goblet of Fire -> Saturn/Kronos

  1. The central book where the Dark Lord is incarnated. It is fitting that Saturn’s element, Lead, would be governing this book, which is the beginning of the proper alchemical process of 5, 6, and 7 and the end of the reverse alchemy of books 1, 2, and 3.
  2. Saturn has rings… and the 4th book is the center of the series with the others as rings around it.
  3. Dysfunctional father-son relationships are at the center of the book. (a) Barty Crouch and Barty Crouch Jr., Father is harsh towards his son and the son eventually kills the father, as enabled by the mother. This mirrors Gaea’s role in having Cronos kill Uranus in that myth, which was punishment for Uranus’s cruelty to her and the children she bore. (b) We learn about Voldemort killing his father at least partly because of how he treated his mother Merope. 
  4. This book has Trelawney predicting Harry’s death and attributing it to the baleful influence of Saturn, even though she gets his birthday wrong (he was born in July, under Mars, not December, under Saturn). Nevertheless, the confluence of Mars and Saturn would still lead him to a sudden death, according to Trelawney. 
  5. House-Elves’ plight is a concern of Hermione, and Saturn is the patron of “liberation” which is why Saturnalia (which happens around the same time as the Yule Ball, incidentally) involved slaves and masters switching places with each other in a ritual reversal of the social order. 
  6. The story begins in Voldermort’s murdered father’s house. The climax occurs in a graveyard outside the house (Saturn is the patron of Death, and gloomy, cold, sad, depressing things in general). Of course, Cedric dies, the first death that Harry ever witnessed fully consciously, signaling a serious shift in the tone of the series. 
  7. One important part of the Saturn/Cronos myth is that, due to a prophecy, he eats his children to prevent being overthrown by one of them. Eventually, when Zeus is born, Rhea (Cronos’s wife) gives him the Omphalos stone swaddled in infant cloths to swallow instead and hides Zeus with a goat named Amalthea to be secretly kept alive. Once Zeus grows up, he ingratiates himself to Cronos and becomes a cup-bearer for him (a cup-bearer, one might say that he brings a [Triwizard] cup straight to Cronos). He gives Cronos a wine and mustard mix that acts as an emetic, causing Cronos to throw up in reverse order the stone, and then the kids he swallowed. Zeus then works with them to overthrow Cronos. This mirrors the Priori Incantatem effect of the dual cores linking, where first a ghostly hand (inanimate object), and then Cedric, the old gardener, Bertha Jorkins, Lily, and James are produced in reverse order that they were “swallowed” by Voldemort’s wand. They then distract Voldemort long enough for Harry to get away with Cedric’s body. 
  8. Voldemort uses a yew wand, and Yew is a tree associated with graveyards. It is poisonous and symbolically is closely associated with death. Holly is the wood of Harry’s on the other hand is associated with lightning and the god Thor (Zeus) because it would be planted to protect people from lightning strikes. This shows how Harry-Voldemort connection is a kind of Cronos/Jupiter connection, Harry with his lightning scar and holly wand, and Voldemort with his yew wand and name meaning “flight of/from death”. Cronos’s downfall was ultimately that he was so scared of being overthrown/dying that his children all rose in unison against him because of his unjust deeds.

Order of the Phoenix -> Mercury/Hermes

  1. Harry has a very Mercurial temperament in this book. He cannot control his emotions at all and is very apt to get angry at the slightest provocation.
  2. Dudley takes up boxing, which is mentioned a few times. Mercury is the patron of boxers.
  3. Percy Weasley, now shown as a traitor to his family, sends his owl Hermes to deliver a message to Ron to disassociate from Harry.
  4. Mercury is the god of scholarship and education. This book is all about OWLs and education policies.
  5. The false Mercury of the book, Dolores Umbridge, is not teaching anything at all. This leads Hermione Granger (Ms. Hermes/Hg herself!) to suggest that they form the DA, which is wildly successful at teaching defensive magic.
  6. Mercury is the patron god of commerce (even the word is derived from Mercury), and, of course, with Harry’s seed money, the Weasley twins are in and out of the story with their burgeoning business venture. Even Hermione uses magic Galleons to communicate with the DA (See below about the messenger aspect)
  7. Mercury is the god of language and speech, and Harry does not know what to say when he gets up to give his speech before the DA starts, but when he speaks, it is enrapturing to the crowd. He is given words to say.
  8. Getting messages in and out of the school plays a large role. Umbridge, False Mercury, tries to stop and screen those messages and the floo network communication. It is actually a very important pivotal part of the story. Simply failing to get a message to Sirius, and receiving the “messages” of Voldemort in Harry’s dreams are hugely important to the story. 
  9. When Harry tells Dumbledore about Arthur Weasley being attacked, Dumbledore takes hold of “fragile silver instruments” and taps one with his wand, making smoke rise in the form of a serpent, which then divides in two, coiling around each other, and Dumbledore says, “But in essence divided?”. The image presented is reminiscent of Hermes’ Kerykeion (the symbol of doctors, with the winged staff with two snakes coiled around it). Also, the image is described in a way that makes you think of how Mercury moves on flat surfaces, quickly combining and splitting and recombining. It is not called “quicksilver” for nothing! 
  10. Mercury is the god that shepherd souls to the afterlife. He is the god of doorways/boundaries and crossroads. Sirius going through the archway into death is perhaps the most obvious part of this, but even afterward, Harry speaks to Sir Nicolas about ghosts and why Sirius has not come back, and it is explained that the dead have “gone on”. This is the purview of Mercury.

Half-Blood Prince -> Venus/Aphrodite

  1. Venus Felix is a title for Venus. Felix Felicis is an important plot element. Lady luck does not disappoint.
  2. Venus is the goddess of love, and this book is full of false and true love. Love potions by Voldemort’s mother and used on Ron. Ron’s relationship with Lavender and it culminates in Harry and Ginny’s relationship.
  3. Aphrodite/Venus is associated strongly with water, and this book, being the albedo of the series, is full of water everywhere. Rainy days, potion class, and eventually the mostly flooded cave where Dumbledore drinks the horrible potion while surrounded by an inferi lake.
  4. Venus’s metal is copper, as well, and even the boat that they use to cross the inferi lake is described as a copper boat.

Deathly Hallows -> Jupiter/Zeus

  1. Rufus Scrimgeour says that Harry “wear[s] that scar like a crown…” which is a pregnant image for Zeus, the one that fancies himself a King with his lightning bolt scar!
  2. It turns out that Harry was being protected throughout the book by Aberforth, well outfitted for the role with his problematic relationship with goats and his goat patronus. This reminds us of Zeus being raised by Amalthea, the She-Goat, to protect him from his father Cronos.
  3. The “lightning struck tower” of the end of Half-Blood Prince is revealed at the end of Deathly Hallows to be planned out by Dumbledore from the start in this book.
  4. Harry shows himself the true Jupiter, a wise ruler, not because of his strength, but because of his love. This is a play on the pagan Zeus. Harry spends the whole battle of Hogwarts using shield spells, which reminds us of Homer’s Zeus, the aegis-bearer and lays down his life, thereby defeating Voldemort and showing himself to be the “master of death,” a descendent of the Peverell family, a sort of Wizard royalty, even.
  5. Even in Snape’s memories we see that Dumbledore is a sort of Zeus figure, who appears on the hill top to hear Snape’s concern about Lily before he switches sides. The scene made Harry “think of lightning”.
  6. When Voldemort, the ultimate False Zeus, killed James Potter, “it made the banisters glare like lightning rods”.
  7. When Harry gets the sword from the Forest of Dean pond, in the wonderful Arthurian moment, he begins to take the mantle of leadership/kingship.
  8. When Dobby dies, Harry sets his face like a flint. In fact, he “heard the authority in his own voice” while he dug the grave. From this point on he uses the Imperious Curse, and Cruciatus Curses, and it seems that they almost might be permissible, because he is acting as an agent of justice and judgment, like Jupiter in those moments.
  9. Harry arrives at Hogwarts eventually and this sets off an apocalyptic war, like a Titanomachy, with the giants and centaurs even joining in.
  10. Kingsley Shacklebolt (cannot get a more Zeus-ish name!) is actively present in the beginning, middle, and end:
  • He is one of the escorts for Harry’s departure from Privet Drive
  • He warns the wedding guests that the Ministry was fallen
  • He is on the Potterwatch radio
  • He basically is in charge of the strategy of defending Hogwarts in Dumbledore’s absence.
  • He is named interim Minister of Magic after the battle finishes, to restore order, like Zeus after the Titanomachy.

I hope that this proposal stirs up some thoughts and that people take this idea and flesh it out and tweak it as necessary. It would also be great if there was some alchemical justification or logic, though I do not believe it is necessary to establish the veracity of the above.

I am hopeful that I have the books right, but I have been dwelling on Goblet and Hallows. Part of the reason for my struggle is the presence of the imagery on the Rowling-illustrated Fountain of Fair Fortune in The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The top of the fountain has the symbol for Mars, then Platinum (which is symbolically Moon + Sun), then it shows Tin, then Mercury (which is Venus with little horns), then Saturn. The only consolation I can take is that 1,2+3,7,5+6,4 is not a totally unprecedented order given the Ring Composition of the series. I would feel much better, though, if it was simply that all the alchemical symbols were simply in the order of the books.

Also, the seventh book has a lot of death and the fourth book father/son issues can be as easily explained as a “Jupiter” book as a “Saturn” book. The others do not have this sort of flexibility to my mind, being too neatly situated for their particular planetary influences.

In any case, through a preponderance of the evidence, I think it very likely that Rowling intentionally put the books together this way (with reservations about how Jupiter + Saturn line up) and that there is one more piece of the wonderful literary puzzle that needs to be accounted for in the Harry Potter series.


  1. One item to note here is that Dumbledore is described as “a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge.” I would assume that there were 7 planets, based on the medieval and alchemical model. This is significant because it’s mentioned at Dumbledore’s first appearance and hardly referred to again. However, it’s cited in the “Life and Times of Albus Dumbledore” on Pottermore (https://www.pottermore.com/features/the-life-and-times-of-albus-dumbledore) along with his other great accomplishments. I believe this is a hat-tip from JKR to the very thing you’ve mentioned here–the planets are a key to the books’ structures.

    Namely: the astrological symbolism of the Seven Planets PLUS the signifance of the 12 hours orient the reader to find the clues hiding in plain sight. “Horcrux” being a neologism to denote “the hour is the crux” or that, by uncovering the way that she’s oriented the book’s structure around the face of a clock (in the shape of a ring), one can find that she’s drawn the Deathly Hallows symbol through the correspondences and echoes across the books. 1,4,7 forming the crux (or elder wand), 2,4,6 forming the triangle (or invisibility cloak) and the ring/circle (or resurrection stone) is drawn out via the orientation of the books around the face of a clock.

    Here’s a longer description of what I mean: https://medium.com/@bob.rectenwald/horcrux-the-meaning-of-the-term-and-the-clues-it-holds-dab7afc9c9ef

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