Reviewed by Gail A. Grynbaum
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone ,New York, Scholastic Press, 1997.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, New York, Scholastic
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, New York,
Scholastic Press, 1999.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, New York, Scholastic
This article was originally published in
the San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal: Reviews From a Jungian
Perspective of Books, Films and Culture, Volume 19, Number 4, 2001, pp
17-48. It is reprinted here with the expressed permission of the Editor.
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICESHIP
The four Harry Potter books that have recently taken the
American publishing industry by storm are part of a projected seven-volume
British fairy tale series about magic, individuation, and the mundus
imaginalis. They record the coming of age of an intuitive boy, in which
the traditional young hero's journey is woven through an unfamiliar
hermetic world, engaging masters of liminality and wizardly sophistication
in the effort to balance the forces of good and evil. Recently, a friend
and I were discussing the world-wide, across-age, Harry Potter phenomenon,
and how it has occasioned a rise of reading zest in kids, especially boys.
He had asked his 10 year old son Sam-- previously an avid nonreader--what
made him such a Harry Potter devotee. Sam's quick response was "he
takes me to another world." That J.K. Rowling has been able to tap
into even men's longing for the world of the imagination adds to the
secret mystique of the Harry Potter series and its universal appeal.
These tales were categorized by the publishing industry as children's
books. But as friends and colleagues began to talk about them, I became
intrigued. Upon entry into the world of Harry Potter, I was soon
enchanted, caught up like so many of us in the alive, visceral experience
of reading. The real surprise for me, as an analytical psychotherapist,
was the psychological and symbolic depth that emanated from the images in
the books. The more I focused on their alchemical, dreamlike images, the
greater was their capacity to release psychological energy. This was an
alchemical reading experience, a revelation of secrets and strata
previously reserved to the contemplation of the woodcuts in Jung's essays
on alchemy or to the Jungian analysis of dreams.
For the uninitiated, Harry Potter is the boy hero of the tales, a
recently enrolled student at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and
Wizardry. When he was an infant, the boy's parents, both great wizards,
were killed by a dark sorcerer, Lord Voldemort. Orphaned, Harry was forced
to live with cruel "Muggle" (non-wizard) relatives until he was
informed of his heritage and transported to Hogwarts. There he is finally
able to realize his native gifts through a sorcerer's apprenticeship under
the tutelage of Headmaster Dumbledore.
At school, Harry goes through his Training with two new friends,
Hermione Granger, a soror mystica who is also a lively, challenging
presence, and Ron Weasley, a good brother figure. There is also a student
foe, Draco Malfoy. These four young people, each with a distinct and
developing personality, must cope with the tutelage of the colorful adult
characters, such as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor
Minerva McGonagall, as well as the sinister Lord Voldemort, and a few
ghosts and pets. Hogwarts is evidently more than a school for wizards; it
is the crucible for the development of Harry's capacity to become a
J.K. Rowling has said that she plans to write a total of seven volumes,
each book intended to contain Harry's initiatory ordeals over a single
academic year, ending with High School. The number seven is an apt one to
mirror a shaman's journey; seven is frequently used in fairy tales and
spiritual/religious texts to refer to the completion of a cycle that
symbolizes dynamic wholeness. In ancient Egypt seven, which analytical
psychologist's today think of as signifying initiation, was the symbol of
eternal life. What Harry is undergoing in the course of these books is
nothing else but the development of the ability of a mediumistic nature to
survive in two worlds.
The magical parallel world that seems as if it is just "on the
other side" of the everyday world is the environment in which the
stories unfold, once they get fully underway at Hogwarts. The tales have
the internal consistency of a dream atmosphere, in which each detail is
allowed both to speak for itself and to become a signpost towards another
level. The universe spun by Rowling, the Scottish woman new to authorship,
resembles "The Dreaming" of the Australian Aboriginals and yet
never quite loses its connection with the British dayworld of tea, sports,
Fortunately the same language is spoken on both sides of the imaginal
divide, although Rowling developed a new vocabulary to enable characters
to describe experiences that were foreign to dayworld "Muggles."
The author introduced enough of a lexicon that one dedicated fan has
developed a Harry Potter website, called the "Encyclopaedia
Potteratica." Rowling has said that her neologisms came to her in the
manner that she imagines colors must emerge from the palette of an
Impressionist painter trying to capture a landscape on canvas: the hue is
called forth by what is already there. (Diane Rehm Show, October 20, 1999,
National Public Radio)
To move into the Hogwarts setting, Harry and the other students must
shift into another reality. Harry and his fellow initiates come to
London's King Cross Station and must cross through an invisible barrier
leading to a secret platform, number nine and three-quarters, to catch the
Hogwarts Express. The "non-Muggle" world of Hogwarts is one
where pictures and paintings are animated, brooms fly, time is three
dimensional, animals speak, owls are the mail carriers, and people can
transform themselves into animals. The threshold between the Muggle and
Hogwarts worlds is via the Leaky Cauldron cafe, which is located on
Knockturn Alley and Diagon Alley; visitors, in other words, need to move
"nocturnally" and "diagonally" into this imaginal
In his studies of the archetypes energizing the collective unconscious,
C.G. Jung found that the individuation journey is reflected in the
"operations" of alchemical processes and the dynamic motifs of
mythology and fairy tales. Rowling's ingenious use of details and themes
from these sources establishes the contemporary symbolic environment in
which the characters undergo their ordeals. Three archetypal themes that
have emerged from her tale so far are: the Orphan, the
Vampire, and the
Resilient Young Masculine. These forces speak to us as we read the Harry
Potter stories, and they provide the key to Harry's particular pattern of
In his adventures, Harry's primary task is to learn the skills that
will enable him to navigate between worlds, whether these be conceived as
Muggle and Wizard, student and teacher, upper and lower, or inner and
outer. As his Pilgrim's Progress proceeds, he must draw upon the resources
implied by the figures of Orphan, Vampire, and Resilient Young Masculine.
THE ALCHEMY OF THE ORPHAN
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the enchanting first volume, is
bathed in alchemical operations and symbolism. In Great Britain, the title
was more properly, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, (it was
changed for the American audience to the "Sorcerer's Stone.")
Rowling simmers her characters and plot in a medieval retort that provides
the perfect magical medium in which to initiate Harry's individuation
process. In each of the books the three worlds of images described in
alchemy, the black (nigredo,) the white (albedo,) and the red (rubedo) are
present and form an essential part of the mood and energy of the plots.
The first book limns the container and the key elements that will undergo
the varied alchemical processes. The story is about a search for an
alchemical Philosopher's Stone that is both literal and metaphoric. From
the first step into the tale the reader feels the tension of opposing
forces-- love and abuse, community and orphan. As if embodying the
transcendent function itself, Harry must find a way to survive and grow
beyond the collision of opposites in his life.
As an infant Harry was wounded by Lord Voldemort during the murderous
slaughter of his famous wizard parents, Lily and James Potter. A
lightning-bolt scar on his tiny forehead was the only visible mark from
the attack. Voldemort was said to have lost his powers and vanished after
his effort to kill Harry failed. However, whenever evil is nearby, Harry
experiences a terrifying, painful pull inside the remaining scar, as
though he is being energetically drawn away from the upper world.
The thunderbolt, mythically symbolic of the spark of life and
enlightenment was hurled by Zeus down to earth as a dramatic symbol of
that god's dual capacity for creation and destruction. Harry's wound was
the first evidence of a shamanic calling as well as the battleground
between enormous conflicting forces within his young body and psyche.
Increasingly in the stories, Harry's private experience of the opposites
representing good and evil becomes reflected in the external struggles.
Harry's parents, with an aura of King and Queen, are a profound absent
presence; their actual absence aches in their son's unconscious and they
appear to him in dreams, visions, and visitations. Their names, James and
Lily, carry mythological symbolism. St. James was the patron saint of
alchemists and physicians. According to Spanish legend, St. James defeated
Hermes in battle and took charge of his secret knowledge. (Alexander Roob,
Alchemy & Mysticism:The Hermetic Museum, Koln, Taschen, 1997, p. 700)
The lily represents heavenly purity, a promise of immortality and
salvation, and in medieval iconography was seen as a symbol for the Virgin
Mary. ( J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, New York, Dorset Press,
1971, p. 189)
Harry's early orphan life was spent alone in a cupboard under the
stairs. The hero-child is nearly always portrayed as abandoned in myths
and fairy tales, but Marie-Louise Von Franz cautions in The Interpretation
of Fairy Tales, that we should not interpret this through the lens of
personal neurosis of the abused and neglected child we have all come to
know so well from the lore of psychotherapy, but leave it in an archetypal
context to mine for deeper meaning. That is, "namely that the new God
of our time is always to be found in the ignored and deeply unconscious
corner of the psyche (the birth of Christ in a stable.)" ( Rev.
edition, Boston, Shambhala, 1996, p. viii)
Nevertheless, Harry's cruel step-family kept him in miserable
deprivation, and the boy often felt consumed with anger and frustration.
On the other hand, the endurance of a painful and isolated childhood
helped forge his (and many readers) character. As Edward Edinger says, in
reference to one of the key alchemical operations, "The fire of
calcinatio is a purging, whitening fire. It acts on the black stuff, the
nigredo....Psychologically... development will be promoted by the
frustration of pleasure and power...." (Anatomy of the Psyche,
Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy, La Salle, Illinois, Open Court,
1985, pp. 26, 27)
Harry grows up as a spirited yet lonely boy who, like many orphans and
other alienated children, fantasizes about being rescued by someone
special who will recognize him for his true value. It isn't just unruly
hair, physical incoordination, or broken glasses that set him apart from
others. Early on, Harry notices he has unusual talents, such as an ability
to talk to snakes at the zoo, that position him uncomfortably between two
worlds. He later learns that this linguistic gift was passed to him in the
clash with Voldemort.
On the boy's eleventh birthday, Rubeus Hagrid, a messenger from the
wizards, arrives with news that Harry is to come to Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry for the next stage of his Training. In preparation
for Hogwarts, Harry has to shop for his school supplies and, most
importantly, a wand. In the magic shop, the wand that is to be his,
chooses him. It is made from one of a pair of feathers from a phoenix
tail; the other tail feather from the same bird is said to have gone into
Voldemort's wand, the very wand that gave Harry the defining head scar.
Harry's instincts quicken as he absorbs into his body the energetic
connection to the dark side represented by the link between these two
wands and their owners. As he becomes conscious of carrying this
connection, he feels his skin prickle with fear. Harry has received yet
another signal of his liminal position between the thrusts of the two
worlds. He must find a way to straddle yet penetrate these two opposites.
The phoenix is the mythological bird known for periodic destruction and
The boy is anxious since he knows that because of his heritage, many
expect great deeds from him, even though he still lacks knowledge about
wizardry. Hagrid looks at him and says, with words that nod towards the
primal appeal of these stories: "Don' you worry Harry. You'll learn
fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you'll be just
fine. Just be yerself." (Sorcerer's Stone, p. 86)
With leaden legs, Harry boards the Hogwarts Express train to School.
The story unfolds with his movement towards the magical world. In one of
the best scenes, Harry gets introduced to the wizard ancestor world by his
new friend Ron via "animated" collectible cards. Figures like
medieval French alchemists Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel, Arthurian fairy
Morgana, Swiss alchemist Paracelsus and Arthurian magician Merlin add
their energy to the metaphysical alembic being established. The archetypal
images come alive as we read.
The characters begin to cook together and the environment reflects the
blackening descent into the seat of the unconscious. The train spirals
from rolling plains into deep woods, carved by twisting rivers under a
dark purple sky. The train arrives at Hogwarts Castle which sits high atop
a mountain next to a black lake. Hogwarts is the image of the secure new
home, "the place where soul and Self meet, the Home that is the heart
of the new order." (Marion Woodman, The Ravaged Bridegroom, Toronto,
Inner City Books, 1990, p. 205)
PLAYER OF THE SOUL
The students arrive and are faced with their first rite of passage. As
in the alchemical operation of separatio, the youths are sorted by an
enchanted, speaking hat. When placed on their head, the hat directs them
to one of four Houses where they will live, each House known for a
particular wizardly virtue: Bravery, Loyalty, Wisdom, and Cunning. The
conical hat seems to represent the young peoples' orientation towards new
ideas and world view. Harry is chosen for the "brave" Gryffindor
House, although the Sorting Hat recognizes his dual nature, saying he
would also do well in the "cunning" Slytherin House, known for
producing dark wizards.
Harry begins his training with classes in History of Magic, Charms,
Transfiguration, Potions, and Broom Flying. He is truly a whiz on the
broomstick and is quickly selected for the most important position (the
Seeker) on Gryffindor House's Quidditch team. For the first time in his
life, Harry is valued for his instincts, and athletic in the exercise of
them. The ecstatic experience of Quidditch is the leap into Harry's
Quidditch, a fast game with three balls and played on flying
broomsticks, resembles a cross between cricket and basketball. The Seeker
needs to catch the third ball, a small gold one with tiny fluttering
silver wings which is called the Golden Snitch. The arduous effort to
catch the elusive golden ball is much like the individuation journey to
find the Philosopher's Stone in alchemy and makes the Snitch the most
important ball of the game. Like a Mayan warrior on the ball courts, Harry
knows he is involved in a sacred act. We watch him become a Quidditch
player of the soul.
In the air, on his Nimbus 2000 broom, this intuitive boy with his eager
body finds his true home. He is an ambitious and hard working adept.
Harry's studies take him to varied levels: through hidden tunnels, up in
the air, or down watery pipes. When nooks and crannies get too dark, he
waves his trusty wand and calls out for "Lumos," light.
Sometimes he moves with the invisibility cloak that once belonged to his
father, and at other times he place-shifts with the help of transporting
"floo" powder. Harry embodies resilience in learning the skills
necessary to move with agility through the strata.
The relationship of the trio of school friends, Harry, Ron, and Hermione,
is vital to each of them, and they spend their time talking, arguing, and
exploring together. They express their feelings of elation, isolation,
fear, anger, and tenderness to each other. Although not competitive, they
challenge each other. This related two boy, one girl family is a poignant
central attraction of the series in these alienated times, a reminder to
many readers who have felt alone since early childhood, of the lost
archetype of comradeship.
J.K. Rowling says that she modeled Hermione on herself at eleven. Hermione
has been an outsider most of her life, since she was a witch with
unrecognized special talents raised in a Muggle family; at Hogwarts she
initially overcompensates by studying all the time. She is certainly
self-reliant, the smartest and highest achieving student, organized,
focused, and filled with integrity. Perhaps this girl with sparkling,
disciplined intellect, who is hard driving even though she lives in a
liminal zone, has the name "Hermione" because it is the female
form of "Hermes." In each of the books, Hermione is repeatedly
the truth-sleuth, comfortable in the library, who finds the clue that
makes sense of the mystery at hand. She is always the one standing at a
crossroads pointing the way.
In The Sorcerer's Stone, Hermione researches the name Nicolas Flamel and
discovers that he is an alchemist, over 600 years old and Professor
Dumbledore's colleague. Flamel, it turns out, possesses the only
Philosopher's Stone in existence; this Stone has the dual capacity to
transform base metals into gold and to produce the Elixir of Life which
gives the drinker immortality (viz Flamel's own longevity). The trio of
friends learn that the Stone is hidden in the Castle.
Hermione is able to stand up for her beliefs to Harry and Ron and is not
as prankish or immature as the boys. The two boys value her keen insights
and persistence. She also has a close mentor relationship with Quidditch-loving
Assistant Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. As the books progress, Hermione
becomes more relaxed and emotionally expressive.
One of Harry's early psychological tasks is to encounter and reflect on
the loss of his parents and to suffer his consequent identity as orphan,
survivor, and savior. One night while looking into a magical mirror he
sees his entire family, like guardian spirits, waving at him. He feels a
"powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible
sadness." (Sorcerer's Stone, p. 209) Professor Albus Dumbledore comes
out of the shadows of the room. The silver-bearded elder, who oversees
Harry's training, tells the youth that the mirror shows the deep, most
desperate desire of the heart but it does not give truth or knowledge;
Harry must not dwell on his yearnings and forget to live. He must put his
energy into his life.
This in alchemical terms, is a "whitening," an albedo time of
reflection and discovery of the positive side of a dark fate for Harry. It
is also a time to experience the transformative power of Hermes-Mercury,
the trickster companion of souls to the underworld, protector of
travelers, and the master of legerdemain. "The trickster is ideally
suited to be an agent of transformation because he/she carries both sides
of a split in the psyche. The trickster is evil and good, loving and
hateful, male and female, and thus holds the opposites together while also
keeping them differentiated." (Donald E. Kalsched, The Inner World of
Trauma, London, Routledge, 1996, p. 189)
It is time for Harry to learn more about the trickster, and author
Rowling's lesson plan for him calls for greater involvement with the
mercurial Rubeus Hagrid, the giant, black-bearded, unpredictable yet
endearing Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts. This inhabitant of liminal space is
Master Wizard Albus Dumbledore's special messenger. Hagrid has a way of
getting embroiled with the incarnations of Lord Voldemort and plays a
pivotal role as he weaves close to conscious and unconscious spaces
stirring the energies together and agitating Harry to greater depths and
THE VAMPIRE AND PSYCHIC POSSESSION
Each encounter that Harry has with Voldemort or one of his avatars
becomes darker. In the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, Harry suddenly comes
upon a horrific scene of a cloaked figure with blood dripping from its
mouth, leaning over an open wound on the dead body of a gleaming white
unicorn. It is drinking the animal's blood. Harry is rescued by a centaur
who tells him that Lord Voldemort is nearby and, thirsting for immortality,
is after the Stone. Von Franz, in Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche, says
that anyone who earns the gratitude of animals, or whom they help for any
reason, invariably wins out....It is psychologically of the utmost
importance, because it means that in the conflict between good and evil the
decisive factor is our animal instinct or animal soul; anyone who has it
with him is victorious.... (Boston, Shambhala, 1994, p. 89)
Killing a unicorn is a desperate vampiric measure since the unicorn is a
sacred creature. As the centaur says:
Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such
a crime. The blood of the unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an
inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and
defenseless to save yourself, and you will have a half-life, a cursed life,
from the moment the blood touches your lips. (Sorcerer's Stone,p. 258)
In alchemy, the unicorn symbolizes the path to the Philosopher's gold.
The vampire myth is like a deep vein that pulses through the Potter stories.
The vampire as an archetypal motif and image has been present in many
cultures throughout the world for over 3000 years. The character of
Voldemort here represents the dark demonic energy that thrusts Harry towards
his spirals of initiations. Like Lord Voldemort, the Vampire, is foremost a
dehumanized shapeshifter who although appearing in a variety of guises, has
the primal urge to suck the blood, soul and libido of others to revivify
himself. His frightening visage communicates an overpowering doom and
Harry is terrified that if Voldemort gets the Stone he will come back to
power. He decides he must fight him. Ron and Hermione worry that Harry will
be expelled. But Harry operates out of a far deeper level of fear:
don't you understand?... I [have to get the Stone] If I
get caught before I can get to the Stone, well, I'll have to go back to
the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it's only dying a
bit later than I would have, because I'm never going over to the Dark
Side! (p. 270)
Descending into the sinuous bowels of the School through a
series of traps set by different teachers to protect the Stone, the three
friends figure out how to navigate the dangers, each time passing through
another door. Harry goes into the last dark chamber alone, knowing he must
face the danger ahead. Inside he encounters his Defense against Dark Arts
teacher, who declares that he has allowed his body to become possessed by
Voldemort so they can get the Stone. Afterwards, he and Voldemort plan to
The teacher confesses: "Lord Voldemort showed me...there is no good or
evil, there is only power." (p. 291) As the teacher removes his hat and
turns his back to the boy, Harry is face-to-face with a monstrous, chalky,
snake-like visage: Voldemort. He hisses
See what I have become?...Mere shadow and vapor...I have
form only when I can share another's body...but there have always been
those willing to let me into their hearts and minds....once I have the
Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own.... (p.293)
Like a vampire, he needs another body on which to feed.
Harry feels the heat of his rage and terror rise. The "man with the two
faces" tries to strangle Harry. The emboldened boy fights back, seeing
how the creature can't touch him without receiving scalding burns. In a
power coniunctio of conflicting passions, both desperately fight for their
lives, and suddenly Harry blacks out. This is the alchemical rubedo stage of
his journey, in which libido, heat, and opposing elements melt together to
form the Gold of the boy's ripened consciousness. This is the moment of
death for the old attitude of helplessness in the orphan, and a birth of the
new seasoned strength of the Initiate.
Harry revives. Headmaster Dumbledore has rescued him and explains that the
creature couldn't touch Harry without getting burned.
Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing
Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. ...to have been loved so deeply,
even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection
forever. It is in your very skin.... It was agony to touch a person marked
by something so good." (p. 299)
Like Merlin who trained the orphan King Arthur, Dumbledore
is a master wizard overseeing Harry's training. Helping Harry to move
through the doorways into deeper chambers of his growth, Dumbledore is the
alchemist who maintains the perfect balance of temperature and pressure in
his adept's retort. Dumbledore doesn't under or over-manage Harry's
training; he keeps the youth on edge to encourage the development of his
self-reliance and skills. Understanding more about the sacrifices in his
past, Harry develops a special relationship with this wise
"Headmaster" and grows in his understanding of the real nature of
the Elixir of Life.
The second volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
takes the reader into yet deeper layers of the archetypal themes of the
Orphan and Vampire. The Dickensian Dursley stepfamily return as characters
and continue to treat him as though his magical powers were a disgusting
anomaly. The outsider experience of personal isolation, the xenophobic
threat of "the foreigner," and the projection of the shadow are
all viscerally portrayed in this volume.
A notion of elitist superiority was hinted at in The Sorcerer's Stone,
in comments by Slytherin Draco Malfoy to Harry such as "You'll soon
find out some wizarding families are much better than others..." (p.
108) By now the whispers have turned to threats. When Harry returns to
School there is a growing movement led by the Slytherins to intimidate all
the Hogwarts students who were born into "impure" Muggle families.
They are considered to be "Mudbloods."
The sense of danger is everywhere. A puzzling force is loose and attacks
students by turning them into stone; they are being petrified. Harry hears a
horrifying, bone chilling voice that seeps out of the walls saying
"Come...come to me...Let me rip you....Let me tear you...Let me kill
you." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 120) And Harry is the only one who can
hear and understand it.
The curse of petrifaction weaves the Medusa myth into the fabric of the
story. "Medusa's eyes were so glaring that they turned to stone
whomever looked into them."(Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant, Dictionary
of Symbols, London, Penguin Books, 1994, p. 940) A highly polished
shield like a mirror, was used to kill her. The mirror allows reflection,
with the light of consciousness, on the unseen power in us that is enlarged
and projected onto another.
In a heightened state of anxiety, the students go to their History of Magic
class. Prodded by ever-curious Hermione, Professor Binns describes how
Hogwarts was established over one thousand years ago by two wizards, Godric
Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, and two witches, Helga Hufflepuff and
Rowena Ravenclaw. "They built the castle together, far from prying
Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and
witches and wizards suffered much persecution." (Chamber of Secrets, p.
We learn, along with the class, that an ideological controversy developed
between Slytherin and the others around "magical" superiority.
Slytherin wanted to restrict sorcery education to heirs of pure-blood wizard
families and to reject all students from mixed or "Muggle"
families. Ultimately, Slytherin left the school but before his departure he
built a secret chamber, which housed a horrific serpent whose power only his
true heir could unleash. It would then be used to purge the school of all
unworthy mudbloods. Somehow, the Chamber of Secrets, last opened fifty years
earlier, has been re-opened. A new chapter in "Muggle cleansing"
has arrived .
Harry realizes that he alone understands the special "voice" in
the walls because he can speak snake language. Apparently this linguistic
talent, one of the marks of a dark wizard, was one for which Salazar
Slytherin was famous. Like the phoenix feather on his wand, Harry once again
is reminded that he has one foot in the Darkness of the underworld and the
other in the Light of the upper world.
Harry finds the secret diary of Tom Riddle, a boy who was a student at
Hogwarts fifty years ago, when the Chamber was last opened. Riddle, like
Harry, came from "mixed" parentage and was an orphan. Riddle, who
hates his parents, is like a dark mirror image of Harry. The Riddle boy
brings Harry into his memory through the diary, to show him the Hogwarts of
fifty years earlier. This revenant tricks Harry into believing that he is
trustworthy. Rowling's four dimensional, cyberspace-like use of time in this
section is an imaginative move into another reality.
Like the scapegoating and projection of evil throughout history, the
movement towards ethnic cleansing of Hogwarts gains momentum. Ron's younger
sister, Ginny, gets abducted into the Chamber. Harry and Ron decide they
must go and attempt her rescue.
Towards the climactic endings of each of her tales, Rowling uses evocative
body-based images, involving the senses, breathe, eyes, and sound to
heighten the mounting pace of the instinctual-archetypal battle ahead. In
this story, the boys descend into the dank catacombs of the School. They
pass a massive twenty-foot snakeskin shed by the serpent and come to a solid
wall on which two emerald-eyed entwined snakes are carved--a horrific
caduceus. Again, echoes of Harry's initiatory ordeal are audible in the dark
tunnels; the snakeskin that is shed yearly recalls the process of death and
Alone inside the darkened Chamber, Harry sees Ginny, nearly dead and lying
like a sacrifice, at the foot of a massive stone statue of Salazar Slytherin.
Then, he observes a black-haired boy whom Harry recognizes as Tom Riddle.
Riddle coolly reveals that he is the young Lord Voldemort; while a student
at Hogwarts fifty years ago he changed his name to Voldemort and vowed to
become the greatest Dark Wizard. He preserved himself as a memory in his own
diary and now has become freed to be the rightful heir to Slytherin.
The cunning Riddle/Voldemort describes how lonely little Ginny, who found
the diary well before Harry, poured out her heart and soul into its
pages--and into Tom. He boasts how he was able to "charm" Ginny
and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted....I grew stronger and
stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew
powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to
start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of
my soul back into her....[[She] daubed threatening messages on the walls.
She set the Serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods....(p. 310)
In other words, this Hogwarts anima became possessed by a psychic vampire,
to whom she gave the goodness of her young soul while he filled her with
venomous hate, to become the poisonous soul of the psychological catastrophe
currently haunting Hogwarts.
This penetrating description of psyche/soma possession and projection is one
of the strongest and most chilling images in the book. It is both a vision
and physical sensation of a terror to which both children and adults can
relate. Ginny is the youngest sister of six brothers in the Weasley family.
She was lonely and fearful about attending Hogwarts and used the secret
Riddle diary to find desperately needed connection. Her soul was ideal
"bait" for his hunger and his false responsiveness was seductive
to her need to feel visible.
The mythic vampire can exist only by exploiting others--it is a parasitic
beast that dies in isolation. The vampire archetype is essentially the shape
we give to a dark potential in all human relations, an ominous shade that
creeps over us when we feel (or imagine) the absence of love and settle for
exploitation. (Barbara E. Hort, Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic
Vampire in Ourselves & Others, Boston, Shambhala, 1996, p. 33)
Having hid in the moldy diary for fifty years, Riddle's unlived life energy
has distilled into pure Voldemort poison. The dark fury towards his
abandoning Muggle father fueled his determination to retaliate against all
Muggles. Unable to see his own self-hatred Riddle tells Harry that
annihilating Mudbloods no longer interests him; he only wants to kill Harry.
Ginny and Harry, still inexperienced with recognizing and battling evil are
not yet strong enough to fight it on their own. They need help. Unearthly
music begins to flow into the Chamber, and, as it grows louder, Harry feels
his heart expanding and hair rising on his head. Then he sees flames. A
golden-beaked phoenix appears and flies to Harry. As its golden claws land
on Harry's shoulder, he recognizes Dumbledore's pet, Fawkes. He is carrying
the magical Sorting Hat. The arrival of the Hat augurs the imminence of yet
another process of separating distinctions (the alchemical separatio.)
An infuriated Voldemort screams for the giant serpent to kill Harry. The
terrified boy shuts his eyes as the phoenix dives at the serpent eyes,
puncturing them with his golden beak. The red blood of death, giving Harry
life, spurts everywhere. Thrashing blindly, the snake manages to bite Harry,
impaling him with a poisonous fang. Amidst the turmoil, the serpent sweeps
the Sorting Hat to Harry, a ruby-handled silver sword falls out, and Harry
plunges it deeply into the reptile's mouth and kills it.
These images of the serpent suggest a penetrating visceral connection with
the unconscious in its death dealing aspect. In killing the serpent, Harry
is a hero able to transform the evil eye of the snake monster within, where
monsters are created with "looks that kill." Though not yet fully
revealed in this story, Harry has internal mother images of the loving
spirit of Lily Potter and the cruel stepmother, Petunia Dursley. In Symbols
of Transformation, Jung wrote about the relationship between the mother
imago, the unconscious, and the developing instinctual life of the son. In
order not to fear life, the boy needs to deliver himself from his
unconscious mother complex:
The demands of the unconscious act at first like a paralyzing poison on a
man's energy and resourcefulness, so that it may well be compared to the
bite of a poisonous snake. Apparently, it is a hostile demon who robs him
of his energy, but in actual fact it is his own unconscious whose alien
tendencies are beginning to check the forward striving of the conscious
mind. (Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 298-299, par. 458)
As Harry pulls the fang from his arm, Fawkes flies to the
adept who is rapidly becoming weaker from blood loss and spreading poison.
The bird lays his head onto the wound and begins to cry thick tears. In
alchemy and homeopathy there is a relationship between the poison that kills
and the elixir that heals. The phoenix too, has a dual nature; it can be a
killing force but its' empathic pearly tears can transform it to a healing
Young Voldemort begins a sarcastic eulogy for Harry but the youth regains
consciousness. Fawkes flies to the diary and drops it into Harry's lap. As
in killing a vampire, Harry grabs the serpent fang and plunges it into the
heart of the diary. There is a piercing scream, ink spurts out of the diary,
Voldemort writhes in agony on the floor, and once again disappears.
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
Most of the Hogwarts community refer to Voldemort as
"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." Voldemort, who has been trying to
seize power for eons, is the personification of evil. The irreverent Harry,
with Dumbledore's encouragement, keeps naming him while others shudder. Such
an identification of him on the objective level is necessary to move Harry's
connection with him out of the realm of participation mystique. To name
means to separate, to halt the merger that occurs when there is a
projection. Harry's rebellious attitude is not just an adolescent phase; it
is critical in challenging the status quo. As the youth learns about his own
power, he is able to withdraw his projections of power from Voldemort and
locate his own.
The presence of the golden bird bearing the silver sword allows a new
transcendent force to appear. The death, an alchemical mortificatio, of the
serpent and then of Riddle/Voldemort, brings the young feminine back into
the fullness of life. Little Ginny, whose soul is extracted back from the
enigmatic sorcerer, emits a faint moan as she awakens and begins to cry. She
says "I d-didn't mean to--R-Riddle made me, he t-took me over...."
(Chamber of Secrets, p. 323).
Safely back, there is a postmortem of the events from the Chamber. Harry
asks Professor Dumbledore to explain the meaning behind the Sorting Hat's
statement from the first day at School when it said that Harry could have
done well in Slytherin or Gryffindor. He also wants to know why is he able
to speak snake language, if it is the mark of a dark wizard. Dumbledore
explains that when his mother died, Voldemort transferred some of his powers
over to Harry.
The youth worries that maybe he is of Slytherin, not Gryffindor. Dumbledore
reminds him that in the sorting process, Harry asked the Hat: "Please
don't put me in Slytherin." The Headmaster says that's what "makes
you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what
we truly are, far more than our abilities." (p. 333) He urges Harry to
look more carefully at the ruby-studded silver sword handle: Godric
Gryffindor, the name of the founder of his and his father's house, the rival
of Slytherin, is engraved on the sword in his hands. Harry used his sword to
separate from his shadowy projection.
In the Anatomy of the Psyche, Edward Edinger wrote:
Psychologically, the result of separatio by division into
two is awareness of the opposites. This is a crucial feature of emerging
consciousness....To the extent that the opposites remain unconscious and
unseparated, one lives in a state of participation mystique, which means
that one identifies with one side of a pair of opposites and projects its
contrary as an enemy. Space for consciousness to exist appears between the
opposites, which means that one becomes conscious as one is able to
contain and endure the opposites within.
Harry will need a lifetime of training and support to use
the blade wisely as a tool of discernment and discrimination.
In Volume Three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is thirteen
and entering his third year at Hogwarts. This time he encounters still
darker aspects of the archetypal and magical world. Sophisticated
psychological concepts serve as carpets that move Harry and the reader into
profound realms of emotional experience. His parents become more present in
As part of his development as a teenager and wizard, Harry's attitude
becomes increasingly rebellious. He is "talking back" to the
Dursleys, who say terrible things to him. Like many child abuse survivors,
Harry has learned to cope with torturous mental treatment. Although often
burning with rage, he tells himself not to respond and to stay focused on
his goals. An aunt insults him via his dead mother with "You see it all
the time with dogs. If there is something wrong with the bitch, there'll be
something wrong with the pup--" (p. 25) But he can no longer keep body
and mind split. He retaliates by making the relative inflate like a giant
balloon. Then he runs away to Hogwarts.
FACE-TO-FACE WITH DEATH
Out on the street at night, Harry panics that he'll get expelled as
punishment for performing magic as an underage wizard, away from Hogwarts.
The threat of expulsion is always in the orphan's mind when he doesn't
follow the established rules. As part of owning his authority, Harry is more
drawn to obey inner values that are more compelling than any collective law.
His anxiety is compounded when he senses a massive black dog-like creature
The dog in most mythologies is seen as psychopomp. Dogs are intermediaries
and "stand at the gateway....they are guardians between life and death,
between known and unknown. They are an intuitive bridge between conscious
and unconscious, connectors to the psychoid level of the psyche."
(Woodman, The Ravaged Bridegroom, p. 195)
On his way back to Hogwarts, Harry learns that Sirius Black, an inmate at
the Azkaban wizard prison and purported supporter of Voldemort has escaped.
Black had once been a Hogwarts student and best friend of Harry's dad. The
wizard community fears that Black went insane in prison and is hunting Harry
to kill him. The Minister of Magic arranges to have the Azkaban prison
guards, called "Dementors," stationed outside of the School gates
to watch for Black. The Dementors appear as giant, rotted, black-cloaked
figures. They are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest,
filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope,
and happiness out of the air around them....Get too near a dementor and
every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can,
the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like
itself...soul-less and evil. (p. 187)
The Dementors are magnetically attracted to positive emotions, like starving
beasts after their prey. These hellish embodiments of evil overwhelm and
dissociate their victims and then, reminiscent of vampire lore, they deliver
the final "kiss."
Harry has a strong physical reaction to his first encounter with a Dementor
on the Hogwarts Express. He collapses to the floor, feels as though he is
drowning in swirling icy water, and blacks out while hearing screams inside
his mind. Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defense against the Dark Arts
instructor, is in the same train compartment and performs a curse against
the soul-stealing dementors. Like the garlic that wards off the vampire, the
professor gives Harry the remedy, chocolate (!), which rebalances his body.
Each time he is near a Dementor, the effect is more disabling. The next
meeting occurs during a Quidditch match when, from his broomstick, he sees a
giant silhouette of a dog on a cloud. He then sees a mass of nearly a
hundred Dementors below on the Quidditch field. Again the frigid drowning
sensation, but now it is accompanied by hearing his mother's screams.
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead..." (p. 179) He
faints, falls off his Nimbus 2000, and lands on the ground. Some force
bigger than Harry brought him down.
The image of the black dog on the cloud could be viewed as a projection of
Harry's fears of failure, abandonment and death. The early childhood trauma
is playing back in his mind and bewitching tyrannical forces entrance him
from within. Lying in the infirmary, Harry can't understand his reaction to
the Dementors. He feels crazy and alone with his thoughts. He cannot grasp
why he was hearing the last moments of his mother's life and Lord
Voldemort's laughter before he murdered her. Like night vapors, horrible
dream images seep into his sleep.
Lupin explains that Dementor energy can possess a person, and it effects
Harry profoundly, not because of a weakness, but because those with a
greater history of trauma are more susceptible. "And the worst has
happened to you, Harry, [and] is enough to make anyone fall off their broom.
You have nothing to feel ashamed of." (p. 187)
Because of the Sirius Black danger Harry is not permitted to leave Hogwarts
to go on a school trip. He feels isolated. Friends sneak him a magical
"Marauders Map," designed long ago by former students
"Messrs. Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, Purveyors of Aids to
Magical Mischief Makers," so he can sneak away from School for an
outing. In true daredevil adolescent style, Harry can't worry about danger
when adventure calls.
Successful in his escapade, he catches up with Ron and Hermione, and they
eavesdrop on Hogwarts faculty gossip. The teachers suspect Black went over
to the Dark Side and sacrificed the Potters as proof of his loyalty to
Voldemort. The faculty fear that although Voldemort is weak, with his most
ardent supporter he could rise again.
Harry is shaken by the news. Feeling conflicted by his desire to hear his
parents voices when he falls into the trauma bewitchment and his
simultaneous need to survive, he knows that when seized by dementor energy
he teeters on the edge of madness and death. He needs to become empowered to
save his life. Lupin agrees to mentor Harry. First he will practice by using
a "boggart." A boggart, explains Hermione, is "a
shape-shifter....It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten
us the most..." (p. 133) It is an embodiment of terror, yet powerless.
The Charm that counters a boggart is a concentrated humorous feeling that
must be as strong as the fear, in order to transform the negative energy. As
in a homeopathic visualization, the victim of the boggart must imagine
himself in a paradoxical situation, in order to dissipate the energy.
Next, Harry must learn the most powerful Dark Arts Defense against the
dementor, the Patronus Charm. It calls for his full concentration to find
his authoritive standpoint. The Charm
conjures up a Patronus...which is kind of an anti-dementor--a guardian that
acts as a shield between you and the dementor.... a positive force, a
projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon--hope, happiness,
the desire to survive--but it cannot feel despair, as real human can, so the
dementors can't hurt it. (p.237)
He utters the charm and on the third try, an important number in fairy
tales, he succeeds in stopping the takeover of his spirit.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron finally meet up with Sirius Black who tells them
who it was that really killed James and Lily Potter. Sirius, also the name
for the "dog star," becomes a source of light and insight about
the death of the royal couple. But it's too late. The Dementors start
closing in. Harry musters up a Patronus Charm to ward them off but lacks the
power to repel the herd of one hundred. As something begins to encircle him,
miraculously the cold wave begins to leave his body. Harry sees an animal,
glowing in the moonlight.
He screwed up his eyes, trying to see what it was. It looked like a horse.
It was galloping silently away from him, across the black surface of the
lake. He saw it lower its head and charge the swarming dementors.... They
were gone. The Patronus turned. It was cantering back towards Harry....It
was a stag....Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared at
Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly it bowed its antlered head. And
Harry realized...'Prongs,' he whispered....it vanished. (p. 411-12)
James Potter was a specially trained "animagi," a wizard who was
able to transform at will into an animal. His animal self is Prongs, a stag.
Sirius Black, also an animagi, can shift into Padfoot, the black dog. They
were two of the original Magical Marauders, the source of the Map given to
Harry. But James Potters' choice of the stag form to preserve himself
The stag has archaic symbolic links to the Tree of Life due to the
resemblance of its antlers to the cyclic life of branches. It is also seen
as the forerunner of daylight or guide to the light of the Sun; it is a
harbinger of supreme consciousness. In alchemy the cervus fugitivus, the
fugitive stag, is often the name for the highly elusive, metamorphosing
Spirit Mercurius. (Mark Haeffner, Dictionary of Alchemy, London, Aquarian,
1991, p. 142) Jung said that "the secret of Merlin was carried on by
alchemy, primarily in the figure of Mercurius." ( C. G. Jung, Memories,
Dreams, Reflections, New York, Vintage Books, 1961, p. 228)
Like the shaman that aligns with special animals, Harry connects with his
father's animagi, animal spirit and it gives him new strength to fight
against the takeover and loss of his soul. A stunned Harry tells Dumbledore
that the Patronus couldn't have been his father, because his father is dead.
You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't
recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? You father is
alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of
him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again
last night....You know Harry, in a way, you did see you father last
night....You found him in yourself. (p. 427-428)
Like the babe in the manger to whom the Magi brought their gifts, Harry at
Hogwarts is saved by the animagi. The chthonic encounter with his paternal
authority in his 13th year pushes Harry over a new threshold of initiation.
A DIABOLIC CONJUNCTIO
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the recently published fourth volume of
the series, is Rowling's olympic showcase for Harry and his magical talents.
In relation to what has come before, everything in this 734 page magnum opus
is more elaborated. Two major international events, the Quidditch World Cup
and the Triwizard Tournament, add external pressures (and new imported
contents) to the expanding Hogwarts vessel. Surprise operations and plot
twists crystallize deeper courage as well as blacker magic. Although Harry's
ostensible goal through the maze of the three tasks set for him in this
installment of his initiation is the Goblet of Fire, even that, once
attained is but an auxiliary support on his way to the Holy Grail.
Making their developmental leap as fourteen year olds, Harry and Hermione
move though the story with heightened maturity and understanding. While
Harry does show interest in another girl (only to become tongue-tied), he is
mostly vigilant, concentrating on his need to survive if his journey is to
continue. His compassion and affection has grown for Ron, and his integrity
with rival Quidditch player Cedric is inspiring.
Hermione, ever an anima and tutelary figure, wisely guides Harry while
confidently grappling with powerful energies of her own. She, too, is
learning compassion: she actively imagines ways of helping Harry as well as
the House Elves, the slaves traditionally assigned to wizards. Most
Hogwartians believe the Elves are happy with their lot, but Hermione sees
their need for liberation and civil rights. Her social consciousness stems
from a mixture of exquisite sensitivity to unfair treatment and
identification with a group that mirrors her own outcast status, as a witch
in a Muggle family. Her special psychic gifts feed a thinking that is
becoming a trusted road map for Harry.
The connection between Harry and Voldemort has been a leitmotif in the
series thus far. While the orphan and the dark magician are opposed moral
personalities, living on reverse sides of the mirror, in this story their
shared traits are becoming more obvious and provocative. Both figures have
Muggle heritage, are orphans who have been exiled, are seen by others as
saviors, and have wands with a tail feather taken from Dumbledore's magical
phoenix. The kinship between good and evil is as palpable as the scar on
Harry's forehead that throbs whenever Lord Voldemort is near or
contemplating murderous thoughts. "Good qualities that are contrary to
instinct cannot last, but neither can evil when its one-sided demonism runs
counter to instinct." (von Franz, 1994, p. 89) Author Rowling compels
us to participate in a meditation on good and evil as two sides of the
Dark action jump-starts the tale: with a reverberating jolt, Harry awakens
from a nightmare in which he knows that Voldemort has returned and that he
and his servant Wormtail are plotting to kill him. Harry's trust in his
psychic abilities is growing and he accepts the reality that the dream
Throughout the tale, Voldemort, an extraverted intuitive schemer, is
shadowing the introverted intuitive Harry. As these two aspects of intuition
engage, the reality is shifting all over the narrative, as new rooms open up
in every direction and dimension. The dark force becomes stronger as
"Death Eater" Voldemort supporters appear with black marks branded
on their left forearms, openly pushing for ethnic cleansing of the
mixed-blood wizards. The history of family feuds among generations of
wizards, their closets filled with ghosts, suddenly erupts into plain view.
Political intrigues and power struggles intensify at the Ministry of Magic
as they are in denial about Voldemort's return. Only Headmaster Dumbledore
doesn't talk about ending the encroaching evil; since he knows it will
always exist, he has the attitude that we need to see it, call it by name,
and meet it. He is conscious of his own shadow and does not distance it by
projecting it onto others. We are given an insight into the source of such
wisdom: Dumbledore has a magical apparatus, an enviable
"projective" device called the "Pensieve," into which he
can siphon out his overflow thoughts and memories into a vessel and reflect
on them in 3D form. Harry finds it by noticing a silvery patch of light
while waiting in the Professors office to tell him an ominous dream.
A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes
and symbols that Harry did not recognize. [It was filled with a silvery
liquid or gas moving like water or clouds, and Dumbledore says to him] It
becomes easier to spot patterns and links...when they are in this form....Dumbledore
placed his long hands on either side of the Pensieve and swirled it, rather
as a gold prospector would pan for fragments of gold.... (Goblet of Fire, p.
Meanwhile the students at Hogwarts get a lesson in the morality of magical power when they
learn about casting spells including the three "Unforgivable Curses"
that should never be used against other humans. The penalty for use is a Azkaban
life sentence. The dark arts curses are: Imperius, which gives total control
over another and may be reversed only by someone with great strength of
character, Cruciatus gives one the ability to torture another, and Avada Kedavra,
gives a wizard the power to kill another. Harry is the only person ever known to
have survived the death curse.
Finally all roads in Hogwarts converge on the Triwizard Tournament in which four
contestants will compete. There are three symbolic tasks which involve a
terrifying encounter with a Dragon whose egg must be stolen, an icy plunge into
the dark waters of Lake Hogwarts where the competitor must retrieve what is most
important to him, and a passage through a maze in which the adept must
concentrate on the essence of everything he has learned in order to survive.
Harry completes all three tasks with the same unerring spirit of integrity that
has accompanied him in his wizardly eduction thus far--a relational, intuitive,
urgent way--never taking the traditional road to sensation prowess of the
Ready to reach out to the Goblet of Fire prize, Harry is tricked. He falls into
a hellish fourth dimensional abyss and lands in a darkened graveyard. A hooded
man is carrying a bundle or a baby:
Harry had never seen anything less like a child. It was hairless and scaly-
looking, a dark, raw, reddish black. It arms and legs were thin and feeble, and
its face--no child alive ever had a face like that--flat and snakelike, with
gleaming red eyes. (Goblet of Fire, p. 640)
Harry quickly realizes that this demonic inversion of the divine child is the
living remains of Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord has finally trapped his Hogwarts
student rival. Voldemort now makes his mercurial plan clear which is to arrange
to mix a brew of these remains of himself, Harry and two additional substances
to achieve a full reincarnation. A huge steaming cauldron appears. The wizard
submerges his putrefied child remains in the alchemical bath as the first body
in a perverse coagulatio. Amidst bizarre magical chants the dark trickster
creates a diabolic conjunctio of something old (Voldemort's father's bones,)
something new (Harry's blood,) something borrowed (his apprentice Wormtail's
arm,) and something Blue (the color of the poisonous water.) Like the Savior he
believes himself to be, the incarnated Voldemort has shifted shapes and rises
out of the steaming vapors. Alchemical Black Magic has created the demonic side
of a dual-natured tricksterish Mercury.
Unlike the royal marriage of the King and Queen in the Rosarium Philosophorum
"where love plays the decisive part," here power rules: the
egomaniacal Voldemort uses only himself and three dismembered parts to transform
into a red-eyed, murderous bridegroom. There is no feminine partner, no bride.
(Collected Works, Vol. 16, p 217, para 419)
Surrounded by his Death Eater supporters, the revived Voldemort arrogantly
challenges Harry to a duel. He hands the youth's wand back to him and begins
casting a torturous Cruciatus spell in Harry's direction. At first in his
terror, Harry doesn't feel anything, no words, no vision, as his mind slips
blissfully away. But as he manages to speak, Harry breaks the spell, and his
Quidditch-trained body comes alive. With twin-feathered wands, the two
adversaries begin a ferocious duel. The wand tips connect by a thread of golden
light, and Harry and Voldemort rise up into the air. Their wands vibrate wildly
to form a golden arched web of light between them.
The alchemical "sublimatio is an elevating process whereby a low substance
is translated into a higher form by an ascending movement." (Edinger, 1985,
As Harry duels with this incarnation of evil, psychologically he confronts his
shadowy projection and moves towards greater integration and wholeness. In the
heat of the battle, Harry actively concentrates the power he needs to regain the
advantage over Voldemort. Beads of light travel down his wand towards Voldemort.
Screams come from inside Voldemort's wand as smokey ghosts of people he has
slaughtered are regurgitated from its tip. The victims call to Harry,
encouraging him to keep fighting, hold the connection, and to not let go.
Finally, images of Harry's father and then his mother come forth, eager to
support him and tell him how to escape. They distract Voldemort and Harry makes
a run for it, magically finding his way to Hogwarts. For the first time in such
a process he does not dissociate, fall into unconsciousness, or need Dumbledore
to save him. Harry stays present and uses his intuitive powers to save himself.
The episode allows the readers to gain a better sense of Voldemort's character.
Propelled by compulsion and a vengeful vampiric nature, he so desires blood from
his foe that he cannot reflect on the meaning of having received Harry's essence
into himself, or on the significance of using wands that are of the same core.
He completely misses the deeper connection between him and Harry. As in the
earlier stories, Voldemort gets taken by surprises that derive from his
adversary's essential similarity to him; he is a trickster tricked by his own
tricks. And so, instead of the Philosopher's Stone, he finds fool's gold and the
fleeting illusion of power.
But unconsciously there does seem to be a motivation in Voldemort wanting to
bring a piece of Harry into himself, as the filius regius of alchemy, the royal
son who will force him to connect with the light of the Sun-- and the new
consciousness where masculine and feminine are united. As we wonder how Harry's
blood will affect Voldemort, we might consider Donald Kalsched's discussion of
Bluebeard in the fairy tale who gave each of his wives an egg with the instruction to preserve it at all costs and not to let any harm come to
it....The egg is an image of potential life--of the Self....The wife represents
something he wants....[That the] wizard has given the egg...to her suggests that
the wizard wants to be transformed also. Ultimately, the wizard wants his
inflated power to be seen through, which will force him to become the human
being that he wants to be instead of being the isolated wizard.
On the other hand, Kalsched warns us:
It's as though the people who stand for wholeness and integration of the
opposites are a terrifying, devastating threat to people whose psychic economies
require projection. (Kalsched, interview by Anne Malone, for www.CGJUNGPAGE.ORG,
Of all the characters we have met in the series, Head Master Dumbledore has
attained the highest degree of psychological integration. He is conscious of his
shadow and his suffering and does not need to project or demonize the dark
characters (like the ex-Death Eater and Potions teacher, Severus Snape or the
residents of Slytherin House.) He has, and encourages, a relationship with them.
"Time is short, and unless the few of us who know the truth do not stand
united, there is no hope for any of us....Differences of habit and language are
nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. (p. 712,723)
However, Wizard Dumbledore knows from his past experience the danger of Lord
Voldemort whose only interest is Power.
HARRY POTTER AS A CONTEMPORARY SHAMAN
The global attraction to Harry Potter is due to many forces. Of central
importance is J.K. Rowling's unique and clear writing style. She presents a
modern fairy tale, replete with compelling archetypal themes, about the ancient
rites of initiation with an angle that stays close to the reality of the actual
child, yet also intersects with core imaginal needs of the adult's inner child.
Children and adults read the books together. Rowling gives enough detail to
establish place and character, spins a terrific story, then plunges the reader
into a multi-dimensional imaginative world that glows with the best of
literature and cyberspace.
Nearly fifty years ago The Little Prince magically appeared from the "other
side" to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Like Harry Potter, the book touched into
the archetypal world and attracted a diverse audience. P.L. Travers, author of
Mary Poppins, detected the three essentials required by children's books. It is true in the most inward
sense, it offers no explanations, and it has a moral... 'what is essential is
invisible to the eye.'...she surmised that The Little Prince will shine upon
children with a sidewise gleam. It will strike them in some place that is not
the mind and glow there until the time comes for them to comprehend it.(Program
note. Exhibition of Saint-Exupery's Manuscripts and Drawings for The Little
Prince. The Morgan Library. New York. June 2000)
As someone who is interested in the cultural unconscious and socio-cultural
trends, additional questions occur. What is the coincidence of these particular
archetypal characters in the Harry Potter stories with the millennial timing of
the books' release? What is it about the conscious situation on the planet that
may be compensated by this story? The Harry Potter books have consistently held
the top slots on the New York Times Book Review Best Sellers List for two years,
have been translated into forty languages and published in one hundred fifteen
countries, in addition to being an unprecedented publishing phenomenon.
Jung argued that when an archetype is activated in a group's collective psyche,
the images of its energy will appear in the group's stories, myths, and
folktales. He further believed that any story that has spread across oceans and
the millennia has done so only because it speaks to a psychological experience
that is common to us all. (Hort,p. 6)
The psychological climate in much of the rapidly changing technological world is
one of spiritual depletion, emotional alienation and personal isolation. Perhaps
one secret of Harry Potter's success is that this story of a tribe of three kids
who struggle together and fight to defend their personal spirits from
soul-sucking demonic forces, is feeding a profound soul hunger in the people
around them. Harry and his friends represent a new image of human cooperation
and hope required for redemptive healing. Jung wrote in Mysterium
The ultimate fate of every dogma is that it gradually becomes soulless. Life
wants to create new forms, and therefore, when a dogma loses its vitality, it
must perforce activate the archetype that has always helped man to express the
mystery of the soul....the psychic archetype makes it possible for the divine
figure to take form and become accessible to understanding. (Collected Works,
Vol. 14, p. 347, par. 488)
The archetypal battle between the young Orphan and ancient Vampire is the life
and death struggle of opposites that allows for the birth of a new divine
figure. Harry Potter is an image of creative resilient energy characterized by
qualities that will be refined in the seven volumes along the Hogwarts journey:
emotional empathy, discernment, compassion and empowerment.
The archetype of the Vampire has caught peoples imagination for centuries. This
dark theme powerfully connects the forces of doom in the books, pointing to
similar virulent features in the demonic faces of Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle,
and the Dementors. All three are able to possess their victims, are not truly
embodied, and need the spirit of their victim to survive.
Harry on the other hand, lives in the link between the two worlds of good and
evil. Voldemort infected the boy during the murder of his parents and his
"bite" transfused some dark wizard attributes into the infant. As
Dumbledore tells him, it is his choices, rather than his abilities, that will
determine his future.
In The Problem of Evil in Fairy Tales, von Franz highlights wicked figures that
seem to personify evil because they are "especially gruesome, taking the
form of utter heartlessness...[the evildoer is invulnerable] because his heart
is not in his body." (Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche, Boston,
Shambhala, 1997, p. 87 ) A Jungian way of saying this is to insist that Harry
must get to know his shadow complex well, endure the forces within, so that he
can consciously follow the Griffin rather than blindly be bitten by the
slithering serpent from behind. Staying close to his retrieved instincts, his
heart, and valuing his feeling will be his life preservers.
The orphan belongs to the alchemical symbolism of separatio, since an orphan is
one who is separated out, unparented, out of connection, and the one who must
stand alone without being nursed. Jung's words on the Stone in Bollingen were:
"I am an orphan, alone; nevertheless I am found everywhere. I am one, but
opposed to myself. I am youth and old man at one and the same time...."
(Jung, 1961, p. 227). This standing alone is part of the process of becoming an
individual, and becoming "individuated." Initiation is the period of
aloneness, when one is alone in the liminal space. (Joseph Henderson, M.D.,
Personal Communication, February 23, 2000) In each book's climactic ending,
Harry is separated from his tribal group and must struggle alone. It is during
these most intense ordeals that an old aspect dissolves and some new quality is
formed in an alchemical coagulatio.
Ultimately, what is created inside of Harry is new psychic energy. He is
becoming the container for a new, emerging vision for the future. Von Franz, in
her seminal work, Puer Aeternus, writes of the youths who have a "certain
kind of spirituality which comes from a relatively close contact with the
collective unconscious...they do not like conventional situations; they ask deep
questions and go straight for the truth.... "(Sigo Press, 1981,p. 4) Marion
Woodman adds that this type of authentic masculinity is interested in genuine empowerment grounded in the instincts...
Men and women have to honor this young man in themselves.... the discovery of
the creative masculine involves dream sequences that swing from encounters with
intense light or swift winds to equally powerful encounters with chthonic
passion. Woodman, 1990, p. 204)
The world's identification with the image of Harry Potter points to the
formation of a new archetype of the young masculine that is distinct from
established patriarchal values. This vibrant boy who has been wounded by severe
trauma, shows human scale emotions and values doing the right thing, However,
Harry becomes neither inflated by his successes nor has the fantasy of
immortality. He inhabits a paradoxical alchemical world and unlike other magical
boys, such as Peter Pan and the Little Prince, he has been infected with evil
and must be mindful of that inoculation.
Harry's early relationships are appropriate for his stage of adolescent
development and have to do with strengthening his masculine identity and
authority. His feminine connections however, are beginning to work on him,
steering him from below. Glimpses of his budding anima and unconscious
relationship with the feminine are seen in how wrenched he becomes when he hears
the screams of his dead mother, that sometimes he needs Hermione to act as a
crossing guard when he is unable to contain his wildness, and how Headmistress
McGonagall introduces him to his body and special physical abilities when she
chooses him for the Quidditch team.
Perhaps Harry Potter's fans constitute a generation across age lines that feels
somewhat orphaned and unprotected and along with Harry, know the despair of
spiritual emptiness and emotional starvation. It is only because of his near
death encounters with Voldemort and the proximity to a force that can crush or
devour, that Harry is forced to find his true sources of spiritual power and
strength. Therefore, he represents embodiment and resilience in a world that
represses the spirit. Harry Potter is an inspiring vision of a contemporary
Western shaman with whom a hope lies that he will show us how to retrieve lost
At this mid-point in the book series, it has become evident that evil is what
harms life. What saves it? J.K. Rowling's answer throughout these stories about
the initiation of wizards, is an educated, embodied intuition. The Animagi are
the most gifted of the wizards and have the ability to transfigure into animals.
Rowling implies that intuition is an animal instinct that can be brought out in
the work of shamanic education Harry is able to find at Hogwarts. Why does
having the animal instinct with one, incline one to good? Rowling is clear that
it pays to trust the self, and that the "self" is a progressive
undertaking of one's own personal power. Evil for her seems to be a form of
Consciousness, of the kind Harry is developing, leads to
greater integrity and compassion.
This is an exciting urgent series for the children of our time, who will be
called upon as never before to open themselves to their spiritual and somatic
capacities if they are to overcome the challenges placed in the way of their
survival, in a world so threatened by greed and the power drive as our own. If
the fallout of ego-chemistry is a melting ice cap on the North Pole, perhaps J.K.
Rowling's alchemy is the right antidote for our present inability to listen to
our true natures.
Gail A. Grynbaum RN, PhD, is a
psychologist practicing in San Francisco,
a candidate in the analytic training program of the C.G. Jung Institute
of San Francisco, and a member of ASD. She has a long-standing interest
in Womens Psychology, Alchemy and Dreamwork.