What is it about the Harry Potter books that appeals so much to people? Is it the hunt for adventure, is it the mysterious, the heroic, the path often on the brink of death, or the walk on the knife-edge? Is it the superhuman dangers that lurk in every corner? Or do Harry Potter’s adventures offer an opportunity to look into a dark mirror in one’s own being, which one usually shuns? In this article we try to relate the story to some border areas of consciousness and unconsciousness concentrating on the encounter with evil.
Harry Potter was born into a wizard family. His parents died when the most powerful of sorcerers, Lord Voldemort, tried to kill Harry and they stood in his way. So Harry was placed in a foster home at the age of 15 months. He grew up as a stranger in the middle of the normality of life. Sometimes magic broke out of him. So he made contact with a snake during a visit to the zoo – and to his astonishment, the thick glass of its terrarium disappeared and the snake slid out into freedom. The seven books are full of deep symbolism.
Hogwarts – the Inner Terrain
At the age of eleven, Harry comes to Hogwarts, the school of wizards. The foster family is thrown into turmoil, because unknown things are powerfully breaking into their normality. The journey to Hogwarts takes place on a magical train that departs from a hidden track at King’s Cross station. King’s Cross – royalty is in the human being, which is now embarking on a journey aimed at inner transformation. Harry is the potter who, over the course of seven years, makes a new “vessel”, that is, he achieves a new inner stature.
In Hogwarts, the castle and its surroundings, he meets friends, teachers, opponents and a whole panopticon of unknown, magical powers and beings, which gradually become accessible to him. First of all, there is Dumbledore, the director of the school; the name means bumblebee – a creature that pollinates many flowers. And there’s Minerva McGonagall, who teaches Transfiguration. It’s about transformation.
Friends and Adversaries – the many Aspects of Man
Harry’s closest friends are Hermione and Ron. The name Hermione refers to hermetic wisdom, to hidden inner knowledge that can be revealed. The tool for this is clarity of thought. Ron symbolizes the whole spectrum of the heart with its devotion, loyalty, fickleness, bravery and jealousy, ambition and ultimately his complete willingness to sacrifice. And Harry, finally, is the hero, the consciousness that follows the path of self-exploration and transforms his inner landscape. All persons who appear are ultimately connected to him, are aspects of him, contents in the so large and enigmatic microcosm of man.
Harry has the courage to open up his inner world. From birth, he is predestined for it. A background plays a role in all this that is not specifically addressed: it is the inmost centre of man, the source of ideals, the source of courage from which Harry acts, the magic from which the magicians come. Every human being has the task of tuning into and expressing his or her spiritual center.
All the characters that are gradually introduced in the books also have a dark side. Draco Malfoy plays a special role in the spectrum of the dark. He represents the force with the dragon head, who represents the belief (foy) in evil (mal). Harry’s job is to gradually integrate and transform all the powers within him as much as possible.
A thorn in the flesh that forces the transformation, as it were, is Voldemort. At the beginning he does not yet have a shape and is only present as a shadow. But when a person develops his or her inner potential, the evil also grows. It comes from the darkness of the unconscious, and is forced to show itself on a spiritual path. Man’s greatness lies in his hidden deepest self. The human ego builds up around this, usually as a shadow, and this is especially true when it claims the inner greatness for itself. The name Voldemort contains the terms self-will and death. He’s one of Lucifer’s companions.
Inimitably, the so mysterious, intertwined being of man is marked with the magic castle of Hogwarts. In it there are trapdoors, towers, magical doors and rooms, dreamlike halls, an abysmal dungeon, and a multitude of creatures that can hardly be grasped by the boldest imagination. All are in constant transformation and reveal surprising sides. The consciousness touches only a tiny part of the magic castle, and yet it has the task of exploring and processing more and more of it. Harry’s path culminates in the last volume in a battle for Hogwarts, a battle for man. It’s all or nothing.
The Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets
The first volume, entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, already hints at the leitmotif of the story: the possibility and necessity of transformation. In alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone is the most important symbol of eternal life, eternal wisdom, the power of transmutation towards the divine essence of man. So one can say that in the Harry Potter volumes an opus magnum is taking place, the Great Work of alchemy. It’s clear Lord Voldemort intends to win the Philosopher’s Stone for himself. The ego with which we encounter ourselves daily is actually the dark one, if we want to elevate ourselves, to change ourselves into a light being.
In the second volume, Harry enters the Chamber of Secrets. It was created by one of the founders when Hogwarts was established “1000 years ago”. Only myths can correctly indicate the abysses of man in their dimensions. If man does not accept his co-responsibility for the whole, the abysses of existence open up through self-centredness, through the separation from the inmost centre. Out of them the deadly urge of the ego to be elitist works. Inhuman arrogance and coldness are its companions. This is symbolized in the narrative by the basilisk, the snake that kills others already by its direct gaze.
Hermione puts Harry on the right track. In the Chamber of Secrets, he meets the young Voldemort, who in his childhood and youth was still called Tom Riddle (“the Enigma”). Harry would be no match for the basilisk, but Dumbledore’s Phoenix helps. Courage has a magical effect by calling upon superhuman powers that alone can help.
So the phoenix pecks out the eyes of the snake. Herein lies a parallel to the myth of paradise, which points to the Christ who, when the time has come, will crush the head of the serpent within man.
Why was Harry drawn into the Chamber of Secrets? Tom Riddle, the still youthful aspect of the ego, had found access to Harry’s female side, to Ginny, who loves him. The female aspect of the psyche is the receiving part, which is open to many things. Even in the history of Paradise, the feminine is the gateway through which the forces which seek to separate man from his inmost being come into consciousness to control it.
What, however, ist good? What’s evil?