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Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Harry Potter as Coded text? Not only does Rowling incorporate many overt references to the history and legends surrounding alchemy, she often employs the very methods of communication which noted alchemists used. Alchemists often employed symbols, animal images, anagrams, and various word games/codes in order to keep their finding secrets and safe. While Rowling is not facing the Inquisitors or angry monarchs, her use of codes (anagrams (i.e. Tom Marvolo Riddle/ I am Lord Voldemort) and backwards writing (the Mirror of Erised/Desire) are very compelling to her audience. The most readily identifiable mythic animal associated with alchemy is the Phoenix. The phoenix, the iconic ‘fire bird,’ embodies the ultimate symbol of death and rebirth. It also represents spiritual transformation. This mythical bird plays a defining role in the Harry Potter series, especially the first few books. Harry is particularly troubled when Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, grows very old and bursts into flame before his very eyes. He is even more perplexed when from the ashes a small baby phoenix is born.

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part I

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part I

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Ever wondered where J. K. Rowling got inspiration for her magical world of the Harry Potter series? Did you know that Nicholas Flamel was a real man and famed alchemist, who according to mystical lore had created the illusive Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone? Alchemy, the ancient mystical practice of trying to turn crude metals into gold, while seemingly fantastic to modern people, was the precursor to Enlightenment Sciences and various forms of Christian mysticism. Not purely an entrepreneurial venture, alchemy was not only viewed as a path to fame and wealth but also a spiritual practice grounded in religious symbolism. Some modern readers view Rowling’s alchemical leanings as advocating witchcraft and thereby denounce the series as promoting what they see as an anti-Christian agenda. Ironically, much of the alchemical history, which Rowling utilizes, is linked to Christian mysticism.