The Rabbits Hiding in Troubled Blood: Spence Finds Oonaugh and the Athorns

Merry Christmas, Rowling Readers!

I’m not a big fan of Ian Spence, who writes Jungian interpretations of pop culture at; see, for example his borderline wing-nut character assassination pieces on ‘Rowling the Christian Fundamentalist Transphobe’ here and here. If you have trouble thinking of Rowling as the advocate of “her own patriarchal, superstitious Christian movement,” you can skip over those Spence pieces.

But even when he’s over-the-top with his disgust for all things Christian, he sometimes comes up with a treasure.

Case in point? The hidden rabbits in Troubled Blood. I don’t think his interpretation of these hares and bunnies holds water and he doesn’t talk about them all (he misses the stuffed rabbits dressed as hunters in the bar where Robin interviews SB’s PA); but did you connect the “buck teeth” of Oonaugh Kennedy — who loves “carrot cake,” right? — with the Athorns’ extraordinarily “long ears” and Anna Phipps’ “pajama case shaped like a rabbit” in which she kept photographs of her mother clandestinely? I sure didn’t.

Spence discusses these finds and his interpretation of them in ‘The Rabbit as Psychopomp: Darkness and light in J.K. Rowling’s Troubled Blood.’ Enjoy!


  1. I sort of have to ask whether the writer truly knows what he’s talking about? His basic claim is that Rowling has an unacknowledged prejudice that she keeps locked in the vaults of her mind. Now, to be fair, I don’t deny that their can be actual cases where this is the case. In Rowling’s case in particular, however, I’m afraid I’m just not convinced.

    There’s a sort of irony involved for me as a reader. The punchline is that I’ve had more than one opportunity to come in contact with actual professional Junigians, these are the ones who hold actual degrees in psychiatry. The funny thing is all them seemed a lot more open to mainstream religion that Spence. The irony is both doubled and somewhat perfected when you realize one of the Jungians I’ve have spoken to on more than one occasion admitted right in front of me that she was also a Catholic.

    Jung’s own attitude to religion in general has been a lot more positive than that of, say, Freud. The latter spent his life first trying to debunk it, and then trying to upstage it. The former, meanwhile, seems to have realize enough that the religious impulse is a genuine thing about life.

    More than that, I’ve read enough of the Inklings to know that Tolkien used Jung’s “Psychology of the Unconscious” as one of his sources for the “On Fairy Stories” lecture. This insight is doubled when we turn to another of his sources Christopher Dawson’s “Progress and Religion”. Dawson himself acknowledged the contributions of Jung in both PAR, as well as his other works. Lastly, there is the work of Thomas Rice (T.R.) Henn, was successfully able (I think, anyway) to show how Lewis and Jung’s thoughts could both help out in a literary context. The best of Henn’s work on the subject are “The Harvest of Tragedy” and “The Hidden Tower”.

    Perhaps as a final bit of interest, the place where I met the Catholic Jungian is also where I ran into a now purchased copy of Jean Seznec’s “Survival of the Pagan Gods”. It’s a title that won’t mean much without the help if “Planet Narnia”. However, looked at in its proper context, Jung might have called that encounter a bit of synchronicity, or a “miracle of coincidence”. I just sort of wonder what Nabokov would say to that?

  2. Rowling an advocate of anything patriarchal? Ahahahaha. It is her refusal to submit to patriarchy, her standing up for women that the genderist crowd hate her for!

    I won’t read that text, there is only so much nonsense I can stomach. When nonsense is connected to rape and murder threats, it ceases being amusing rather fast.

    But now that you mention it, there is indeed a remarkable number of hares hidden in that book, so here is my guess at what they mean:

    First, have a Pratchett quote from a novel about teenage witch Tiffany Aching:

    “The Hare runs into the fire. The fire, it takes her, she is not burned.” (This refers to the observation that when farmers burn their fields after harvest, the hares run not away from the fire but into it, and are unharmed)

    Remind you of something?

    Rowling tweeted, a while ago, a photo of a t-shirt saying “This witch does not burn”.

    So, my guess is that if the hares and bunnies signify anything other than just Rowling’s fondness of them (Luna Lovegood, one of the most likeable characters in Harry Potter, has a hare patronus, so …), it is her showing the middle finger to the haters. Her telling them again that, no, this witch does not burn.

    A shame they’re not clever enough to get the message (if, indeed, there is one) but that’s life.

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