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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.

Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell

Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell

By Tito Ferguson, Georgia State University ….
When considering the theorists Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell, it is not difficult to recognize similarities in their theories of religious thought. Comparisons can be made between them in regards to their methods of analyzing separate traditions as well as their attempts to draw universal conclusions from them. Not only do these two theorists demonstrate the ability to take unrelated traditions and create a new way of viewing them as part of a larger picture, but they also resemble each other in how later theorists consider their work. Both men inspired a change in the way religion was thought about by the public, and both have earned the criticism of modern and feminist scholars.

The Real News Story

The Real News Story

By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, State of Formation….
Here’s a news headline for you: The trial begins in Phoenix today for Faleh Hassan Almaleki, the Iraqi immigrant accused of killing his daughter for becoming too Westernized. The prosecution’s argument goes like this: Almaleki ran over his 20 year old daughter with a Jeep Cherokee because she was abandoning their traditional Muslim values, having moved in with her boyfriend’s family.

Harry Potter and Aristotle's Cultivation of Virtue

Harry Potter and Aristotle’s Cultivation of Virtue

The Harry Potter series lure readers into their pages with promises of adventure and fantasy, all the while covertly educating us on how to live well. Disguised as pure entertainment, these children books instruct both children and adults on how to make good choices in difficult situations. This is not the first time fantasy has acted as a vehicle for conscious or unconscious moral instruction. One need only think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s tiny hobbit’s duty to face unbearable odds and evil in order to save Middle Earth or the inspiring words of Gandalf the Grey to see elements of moral education or mentoring in many faerie stories.