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Archive for the ‘John Granger’ Category

Here’s an update on the episodes of The Secrets of Harry Potter podcast that you may have missed.

SHP079 Astronomy in Harry Potter http://harrypotter.sqpn.com/2012/05/04/shp079-astronomy-in-harry-potter/

In this episode, recorded live during the 2012 SQPN podcast marathon, the team of The Secrets of Harry Potter discussed the connection between the Black Family tree and astronomy. We also discussed the star-gazing centaur prophets both in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Some links discussed during the show:

  • The Harry Potter Lexicon by Steve Vander Ark
  • J.K. Rowling announced her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy, will be released worldwide on 27 September 2012. Click here to read more about it.
  • Pottermore is now open. All of us are on Pottermore, and if you want to add us, please click here to know our Pottermore usernames. Also, please let us know what you think of your Pottermore experience!
  • For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, check out the upcoming movie, The Lion Awakes. You can also follow them on Twitter: @thelionawakes
  • We’re being promoted on a Tumblr blog, Harry Potter Celebration. We were featured the first week in April. Find them on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

SHP078 An Interview with John Granger http://harrypotter.sqpn.com/2012/02/08/shp078-an-interview-with-john-granger/

Ari, Jim, Lyn, and I interviewed the “Hogwarts Professor” John Granger in this episode. We discussed Christian symbolism in Harry Potter, how John became a Harry Potter fan, the Christian culture war over Harry Potter, alchemical symbolism in the Harry Potter series, the ring structure of the Harry Potter series, alchemical symbolism in the works of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Charles Dickens, and Shakespeare, the structure and symbolism of Harry Potter as compared to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the “eye” symbols in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the cyclical nature of the Harry Potter series compared to the cyclical nature of the Church Year, the four layers of literary meaning, and much more. (We also discuss Twilight and The Hunger Games.) This is one of my favorite episodes of The Secrets of Harry Potter. Don’t miss it!

SHP077 Numbers in the Harry Potter World http://harrypotter.sqpn.com/2011/12/21/shp077-numbers-in-the-harry-potter-world/

In this episode, Jim, Bob, Lyn, Ari, and I discussed number symbolism in the Harry Potter universe. We compared the symbolism of the numbers 3, 7, and 12 in the Bible, Catholic Tradition, and in the Harry Potter series.

SHP076 Is Harry Potter a Christ/Messianic Figure? http://harrypotter.sqpn.com/2011/11/12/shp076-is-harry-potter-a-christmessianic-figure/

This is a controversial topic In Harry Potter scholarship. Listen to our debate/discussion and let us know what you think. Is Harry Potter a Christ Figure?

Many of the arguments that I presented in this episode can be found in my book The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter which can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lord-Hallows-Christian-Symbolism/dp/1432741128.

Please leave feedback on each episode that you listen to in the comments section of the SHP blog. (The links for each episode are in this blog post.) We may read your feedback on an upcoming episode of our show.

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http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Harry_Potter_unofficial_guidebooks

How many of these books have you read? I have read most (but not all) of them and have met several of the authors, including John Granger, Travis Prinzi, Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, Eryn Pyne, Ed Kern, James W. Thomas, George Beahm, Steve Vander Ark, and Melissa Anelli. Oh, yeah. I wrote one of the books on the list also. 😉

Essays and Literary CritiquesEdit Essays and Literary Critiques section

These include book analysis, studies, theories, philosophy, essay compilations, and literary criticisms.

Guides, Folklore, MythologyEdit Guides, Folklore, Mythology section

Guides and facts based in the book series. Includes encyclopedic books.

Franchise and FandomEdit Franchise and Fandom section

Books based on the sucess of the actual series, franchise, and fandom.

OthersEdit Others section

Miscellaneous books that don’t fall into other categories.

Trivia and FunEdit Trivia and Fun section

J.K. RowlingEdit J.K. Rowling section

 

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Here’s the new Harry Potter banner that appears to be a companion to the Ron and Hermione banners that I posted here earlier.

Snitch Seeker has the Harry Potter banner and new quotes from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson posted here: http://www.snitchseeker.com/harry-potter-news/dan-radcliffe-rupert-grint-and-emma-watson-talk-filming-deathly-hallows-action-scenes-77051/ This quote from Emma reveals some of what we will see in the Deathly Hallows films: “There is a giant snake involved, we get picked up on a dragon, dropped in a lake and I nearly get my throat slit. It’s real adventure.” That sounds pretty intense!

There’s a great Daniel Radcliffe interview here: http://www.danradcliffe.co.uk/index.php/news/1248-daniel-radcliffe-discusses-7-potters-dumbledore-ron-a-hermione-musicals-more-with-fansites?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

This quote was my favorite part of the interview:

For people who haven’t read the book, do you think the fan’s reaction will turn in the first half of the movie against Dumbledore because of Rita’s book?
Dan:
I hope so. That’s the intention. That, for me, is what the first film is about. It’s about faith. It’s about how far can one’s faith be tested before you give in entirely. Harry’s a Job figure in the book in the first part. He hears so much about Dumbledore that is less than esteemable. He starts to really question why he’s going on this insane, demanding mission, which is costing him his friends and potentially will cost his life – for somebody he starts to question the values of. Hopefully at the end of the first film people should be very much wondering, “Well, what was Dumbledore’s real agenda?” They should question it because that is ultimately what we want them to do. I also think, while I’m on the topic of talking about faith is also about as Harry loses faith in Dumbledore and starts to fall apart, so Ron and Hermione lose faith in Harry. 

I think Dan really does understand the crisis of faith that Harry goes through in Part One. It’s really appropriate that his last scene in the film is Dobby’s burial, which takes place during the Easter holidays. Harry makes his “choice to believe” in Dumbledore and continue the mission to destroy the Horcruxes while digging Dobby’s grave, as John Granger pointed out in his fascinating book The Deathly Hallows Lectures. I wrote about Harry’s choice to believe in this post: https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/exciting-narnia-news-and-the-deeper-meaning-of-the-silver-chair-and-harry-potter/ 

In that blog post I wrote:

J. K. Rowling’s own struggles with her faith and her ”choice to believe” in Christ is mirrored by Harry’s loss of faith in Albus Dumbledore after discovering many of the shocking secrets of his former mentor. Harry Potter makes the “choice to believe” in the truth of Dumbledore’s wisdom and decides to complete the task of destroying the Horcruxes, a mission that ultimately leads Harry to a heroic self-sacrificial “death” that saves the Wizarding World.

John Granger has definitely influenced my thinking on this matter. I can only wonder if Daniel Radcliffe has been influenced (directly or indirectly) by Mr. Granger’s work.

J. K. Rowling spoke of her struggles with religious belief in her recent interview with Oprah Winfrey. Rowling grappled with her doubts and expressed them in the form of Harry’s crisis of faith in book seven. Harry, like the writer who created him, experienced a “dark night of the soul” and made the choice to believe. As Jo said on Oprah, “I know what I believe because of what I’ve written.”

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Here’s a link to some really wonderful news for Narnia fans! The film series may continue after the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Follow this link to read an interview with the film’s producer Mark Johnson and director Michael Apted, and then answer a survey. Which of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books should be made into a film next, The Silver Chair or The Magician’s Nephew?

http://www.narniafans.com/archives/9433/comment-page-1#comment-176821

For a detailed description of the September 27 preview of Voyage of the Dawn Treader including a spoiler-free summary of the film’s plot (which does differ from the book in some surprising ways), and a spoilery summary of the clips shown at the sneak preview event, click this link:

http://www.examiner.com/celebrity-q-a-in-national/michael-apted-mark-johnson-make-narnia-sequel-magic-with-dawn-treader

Scroll down at the link above to read a review of the nine film clips that were shown at the preview event and to read the interviews with Mark Johnson and Michael Apted.

The Magician’s Nephew has never been made into a film, but The Silver Chair was adapted for television by the BBC in 1990. If you are not familiar with that film, please visit this link:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098912/

Harry Potter’s own Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick) played the Talking Owl Glimfeather in this television movie version of The Silver Chair. Davis later returned to the world of Narnia in the 2008 Prince Caspian film, portraying the wicked dwarf Nikabrik.

My favorite bit of casting in the BBC’s version of The Silver Chair was Doctor Who‘s Tom Baker as Puddleglum. The best part of the film is his confrontation with the Green Witch, who has tried to cast a spell on Jill and Eustace to make them doubt the existence of Aslan and Narnia. Puddleglum’s heroic speech in the defense of Narnia breaks the spell that has been placed on the children.

The Green Witch’s “kingdom of darkness” may be viewed as the nihilistic, Post-Christian, atheistic world in which we live. A belief in “Narnia” is analogous to a belief in the Heaven of Christianity. Puddleglum’s brave statement of faith in Aslan–his decision to “live like a Narnian even if there isn’t any Narnia”– can be viewed as Lewis’s own advice to people who are in doubt about their religious belief. His advice to them to live like a Christian even if they think they are losing their faith in Christ, and by doing so their faith may return and thus their salvation can occur. In summary, religious faith is making a choice to believe. This is one of the major themes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that author John Granger identified in his excellent book The Deathly Hallows Lectures. J. K. Rowling’s own struggles with her faith and her “choice to believe” in Christ is mirrored by Harry’s loss of faith in Albus Dumbledore after discovering many of the shocking secrets of his former mentor. Harry Potter makes the “choice to believe” in the truth of Dumbledore’s wisdom and decides to complete the task of destroying the Horcruxes, a mission that ultimately leads Harry to a heroic self-sacrificial “death” that saves the Wizarding World.

Puddleglum’s rousing speech in The Silver Chair is followed by the Green Witch’s monstrous transformation into a great serpent, a symbol of Satan. Prince Rillian defeats her by decapitating the snake with his sword.

In my book The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, I pointed out the similarities between Prince Rillian’s and Neville Longbottom’s battles with the Great Serpent.

"Neville the Snake Slayer" by Fandarts at deviantart.com

In my previous blog post about the quest for the Grail Hallows, I identified a Christian hero, Sir Perceval, who slays the serpent by slicing off its head. The heroics of Perceval, Rillian, and Neville should all be examined in the light of Genesis 3:15: the Serpent’s head has been struck by the Son of Adam and Eve. Note that the weapon that slays the serpent in both the Grail legend and in the story of Harry Potter is a sword in the shape of a cross. The Cross is the weapon that defeated that great serpent and Father of Lies…

Philosopher Peter Kreeft said it best in Catholic Christianity:

The Cross is God’s sword, held at the hilt by the hand of Heaven and plunged into the world not to take our blood, but to give us His. “

Make the choice to believe.

As for me, I’m going to “live like a Narnian even if there isn’t any Narnia.” I’ve made my choice.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are far more than our abilities.”–Albus Dumbledore

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 Most of the information in the following blog post is can be found in my book, The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. There are many new tidbits to be found here as well, so even if you have read my book, there’s more new information to discover in this post. Enjoy!

     Have you ever wondered about the deeper meaning of the Deathly Hallows symbol? First we must answer the question, “What are hallows?” 

What is Albus Perceval Wulfric Brian Dumbledore looking at in this still from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?

     The noun hallow means “a holy person or saint.”  “Hallows” is a word that refers to “the shrines or relics of saints.” The verb “to hallow”  means “to make holy, to sanctify, to purify” or “to honor as holy, to regard and treat with reverence or awe” as in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…” The October 31st celebration of Halloween is also known as All Hallows Eve, or the Eve of All Saints. 

     Then of course there is the Christian mythology of the quest for the Hallows of the Holy Grail in the Arthurian legends. Typically, the Grail Hallows are identified as:

1. the Sword of King David or, (alternately) the Sword that beheaded John Baptist

 2. the Dish of the Last Supper

 3. the Holy Grail Cup

 4. the Spear of Longinus (also referred to as “the Spear of Destiny”)

The Four Grail Hallows of Arthurian Legend. When I first saw this representation of the Grail Hallows I thought of the triangular Deathly Hallows symbol.

The cup, dish, and the spear are part of a larger collection of objects known as the Arma Christi, or Articles of the Crucifxion of Christ.  When the title of the final Harry Potter novel was released, I immediately thought of the Grail Hallows and their correspondences with the four suits of the Tarot (swords, disks, cups, and wands), then looked for parallels in Harry’s world. I expected the Sword of Gryffindor to play an important role in the final book, and it did. The dish or disk has a parallel in the Locket of Slytherin, and the cup is present as the Cup of Hufflepuff. But what of the spear? I examined the parallel with the four suits of the Tarot, and realized that a wand would be a suitable quest object in this story about wizards. I expected the Spear of Destiny would have a parallel as the Wand of Destiny in the wizarding world, and when the seventh novel was released, I discovered that this was indeed the case.

The Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail Cup of Arthurian Legend have their origins in the Crucifixion of Christ

The legend of the Spear of Destiny developed from a passage in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus is found dead on the cross: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” (John 19:34, NRSV) Tradition derived from the non-canonical Gospel of Nicodemus gave this Roman soldier a name: Gaius Cassius Longinus. A sculpture of the legendary saint by the brilliant Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) can be seen in Saint Peter’s Basilca in Rome. Longinus is depicted holding the Holy Lance in his right hand. 

This sculpture of St. Longinus is located in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican

 In 326 A.D. St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, discovered relics thought to be the Arma Christi while on a pilgrimage in Jerusalem. Among the relics were the True Cross of Christ’s crucifixion, the crown of thorns, the pillar at which Christ was scourged, and the Holy Lance. A legend later associated with this Holy Lance claimed that whoever possessed it would be able to conquer the world. A group of knights found a lance believed to be the Lance of Longinus beneath St. Peter’s Cathedral in Antioch during the First Crusade. Possession of the alleged Holy Lance spurred the crusaders on to victory.

     Harry Potter enthusiasts should notice that “Antioch Peverell” is the name of one of the three brothers who once possessed the Deathly Hallows. Antioch was the brother who wielded the Elder Wand, also known as the Wand of Destiny. Throughout history there have been many legends surrounding the relics that were thought to be the Lance of Longinus, the Holy Lance that came to be known as The Spear of Destiny. Likewise in the fictional wizarding world of Harry Potter there were many legends surrounding the Elder Wand. Like the would-be conquerors throughout history who thought that the army who possessed the Spear of Destiny would be invincible, in Harry’s world, the wizard who possessed the Elder Wand was thought to be unbeatable.

          One candidate for the title of Holy Lance, allegedly the spear that was found by St. Helena and once belonged to Constantine the Great, was possessed by the Holy Roman Emperors. It was believed to have contained one of the nails used in the crucifixion. This lance was called the Hofburg Spear, and it was kept in Austria’s Hofburg Museum until Adolf Hitler had it removed. 

The Hofburg Lance was believed to be the Spear of Destiny.

 On March 12, 1938 Hitler went to the Hofburg Museum to visit the supposed Holy Lance on the very same day that Nazi Germany took control of Austria.  Hitler believed this relic was truly the Spear of Destiny, and possession of it would make him invincible. On October 13, 1938 Nazi troops moved the Hofburg Spear from Vienna to Nuremberg where it was on display at St. Katherine’s Church for much of the Second World War. During the Allied Forces’ bombing of Germany the spear was moved to a secure underground bunker in Nuremberg.

          It is interesting to note that in Harry’s world, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who was obsessed with the Wand of Destiny, was kept in a prison called Nurmengard.  

          The Hofburg Spear came into the hands of U. S. troops under the command of General Patton on April 30, 1945 at 3:00 p.m. when Nuremburg Castle was captured.  Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945 at 3:30 p.m., just a half hour after he lost his “Spear of Destiny.” The lance was returned to the Hofburg Museum in January 1946, where it has remained until this day.

          Note that Hitler’s defeat takes place in 1945, the same year that Dumbledore defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald and became the new owner of the Wand of Destiny. When asked if it was a coincidence that Grindelwald was defeated in 1945, Rowling said, “No. It amuses me to make allusions to things that were happening in the Muggle world…” (Anelli, 16 July 2005)

          Hitler’s obsession with the Spear of Destiny may have been the result of his passion for the operas of German composer Richard Wagner. Wagner’s opera Parsifal, composed in 1882 was one of Hitler’s favorites. The story of the opera is about Parsifal (known as Percival in the English versions of the tale), who is one of the knights who is questing for the Grail Hallows. The opera’s plot is partially derived from Parzival, a German Medieval romance written in 1202-1210 by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach. In the opera, the Spear of Destiny is glorified.

          Wolfram’s Parzival differs from Wagner’s opera in many ways, most notably in the portrayal of the Grail itself. Wagner’s Holy Grail is the traditional cup that one would expect, but in Wolfram’s version of the tale, the Holy Grail is a stone. Why Wolfram chose to portray the Grail as a stone rather than as a cup was a mystery that perplexed scholars for many centuries. A recent piece of scholarship may have solved that mystery.

          In the book Gemstone of Paradise: The Holy Grail in Wolfram’s Parzival, author G. Ronald Murphy, a Jesuit priest, explains that the grail stone in Wolfram’s romance was probably an altar stone, symbolic of the stone that was rolled across the entrance of Jesus’s tomb before the resurrection. Father Murphy thought that Wolfram may have been inspired to imagine the Holy Grail as a stone because of his encounter with a portable altar of the type used on the crusades. This small altar was a container for holy relics (hallows), as well as holding the consecrated bread of the Eucharist inside it beneath the removable altar stone.

This is a type of portable altar used during the Crusades.

Father Murphy translated the Latin inscription on one such an altar as follows: “The altar of Christ’s cross is one with this table, and this is therefore the proper place for the sacrifice of the victim who secures life.” He later wrote, “This is the wood and the stone that guarantee the passage of Good Friday to Easter Sunday, death to life. The portable altar, and perhaps this very portable altar, is Wolfram’s special stone of Resurrection, the phoenix stone in Wolfram’s language…” (Murphy 185)

          Indeed, this is how Wolfram describes the stone. In A. T. Hatto’s English translation of Parzival, the passage describing the powers of the Grail Stone, or Stone of Resurrection, reads as follows: “By virtue of this Stone the Phoenix is burned to ashes, in which he is reborn—Thus does the Phoenix moult his feathers! Which done, it shines dazzling bright and lovely as before.” (Parzival 239) According to Wolfram, the phoenix’s power of Resurrection is from the power of the Grail Stone. In Harry Potter, Dumbledore hides the Deathly Hallow known as the Resurrection Stone within the Golden Snitch, a physical representation of the winged solar disk, a phoenix symbol. One symbol of resurrection is hidden inside of another.

"I Open at the Close" fanart by Gold Seven

          Wolfram von Eschenbach was known to have an interest in alchemy. In alchemical language the Holy Grail, or phoenix stone, was in fact the Philosopher’s Stone. The Medieval tales of the quest for the Holy Grail, like the alchemist’s path to the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, is symbolic of the pursuit of spiritual perfection. That J. K. Rowling is aware of the connection between Wolfram’s Grail Stone and the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone is suggested in a footnote on page 99 of Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Here, Rowling prompts her readers to make the connection between the Philosopher’s Stone and the Resurrection Stone from “The Tale of the Three Brothers:” “Many critics believe that Beedle was inspired by the Philosopher’s Stone, which makes the immortality-inducing Elixir of Life, when creating this stone that can raise the dead.” (TBB 99) I had developed my theory of Parzival’s Grail Stone as the inspiration for the Resurrection Stone Deathly Hallow in 2007, before The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published. When reading Rowling’s footnote from page 99 in December of 2008, I was delighted. I see this footnote as evidence that my theory of the hallows is a plausible one. Two of the three Deathly Hallows of Rowling’s fiction—the Wand of Destiny and the Resurrection Stone—seem to have been inspired by the Grail Hallows of Arthurian legend. The legendary knight Parzival, or Perceval, was the hero of many Medieval romances, one of which was La Folie Perceval. Perceval in this version of the tale was thought to have been influenced by the character of Payne Peveril in Fulke le Fitz Waryn (1260 A.D.). A Welsh poem called Peveril also featured a character similar to Perceval. Perhaps the name “Peverell” (the surname of the three brothers who possessed the Deathly Hallows) may have been derived from Peveril. Antioch Peverell was the master of the Elder Wand, and Cadmus Peverell held the Resurrection Stone. But what of the third Deathly Hallow, the Invisibility Cloak of Harry’s ancestor Ignotus Peverell? For the answer, perhaps we must turn to the ancient mythology of the British Isles.

Hermione discovers the tomb of Harry's ancestor Ignotus Peverell in Godric's Hollow.

          The legend of the “Thirteen Treasures of Britain” also known as the “Thirteen Hallows of Britain” describes an impressive collection of magical objects that would not seem out of place in Harry’s world. The twelfth treasure, for instance, is a magical chessboard with “living” chess pieces, not unlike the Wizard’s Chess game that Ron Weasley is so fond of playing.

"I'll be a knight," said Ron.

The thirteenth hallow in this collection is known as “The Mantle of Arthur” with the power to make the wearer invisible. This is very much like the Invisibility Cloak that was given to Harry by Dumbledore during his first Christmas at Hogwarts, the cloak that is the third of the Deathly Hallows.

Harry received the Invisibility Cloak for Christmas during his first year at Hogwarts.

          Rather than four Grail Hallows or thirteen Hallows of Britain, Rowling creates a trinity of Deathly Hallows, represented by a vertical line and circle contained within a triangle.

The Deathly Hallows symbol as it appears in the film.

This is the symbol that was mistaken for the “Peverell coat of arms” by Marvolo Gaunt. (HBP 207) The vertical line represents the Elder Wand, or Wand of Destiny, which is all-powerful. The circle represents the stone with the power of resurrection, and finally, the triangle represents the cloak with the power to make the wearer invisible. Thus, the three Deathly Hallows are that which is all-powerful, the power of resurrection, and the presence that is invisible.  In Christianity, this could symbolize the Holy Trinity: the all-powerful Father, the resurrected Son, and invisible presence of the Holy Spirit.

The equilateral triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity of Christianity.

The circle in Christian symbolism represents eternity because it has no beginning and no end. (Luna Lovegood explains this on page 587 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) A bright ring, the circular halo, is used to represent sanctity in Christian art.

The circular halo represents sanctity. The circle represents eternity in Christian art.

The Celtic symbol of the Holy Trinity combines the triangle and circle in one symbol to represent the Triune God.

This symbol which explains the Holy Trinity is quite similar to the Deathly Hallows symbol.

     In addition to the Trinitarian symbolism of the Deathly Hallows, in the Harry Potter series there are a trio of protagonists on a quest, not unlike the trio of knights who find the Grail in the Medieval Christian romance The Quest of the Holy Grail. Galahad, Perceval, and Bors are the three knights who find the Grail.

Galahad, Perceval, and Bors find the Chapel of the Holy Grail.

Galahad, the story's Christ figure, is surrounded by lilies, which symbolize his purity.

Notice that the third angel is holding the Spear of Destiny and the Dish.

Perceval and Bors complete the Trio of knights who achieve the quest for the Grail Hallows.

Galahad is identified as a symbol of Christ in the narrative of The Quest of the Holy Grail. He is compared to the “lily of purity” and the “true rose, the flower of strength and healing with the tint of fire.” The nature of his quest is a spiritual one which ends in his death after finding the Holy Grail. The angels carry him up to heaven along with the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny. Harry Potter is the character in Rowling’s saga that is most like Galahad. His quest is a spiritual one which involves self-sacrifice: he experiences a kind of death and resurrection that saves the wizarding world. Just as the Grail and Lance are taken up to Heaven, never to be seen again, Harry deliberately loses the Resurrection Stone in the forest and also renounces the power of the Elder Wand. The story ends with Harry declaring his intention to return the “Wand of Destiny” to Dumbledore’s tomb where it cannot be used again.

Galahad’s companion Perceval triumphs over temptations of the flesh in his many adventures, which include being tempted by the Great Serpent, Satan, in the form of a beautiful temptress.

Perceval is tempted by Satan in the form of a beautiful woman. He is saved from the temptation to sin when he beholds the "red cross that was inlaid in the hilt" of his sword.

 Perceval’s sword, like the Sword of Gryffindor, takes the shape of the Cross, the symbol of Satan’s ultimate defeat.

Ron drew the Sword of Gryffindor, which appeared as a "great silver cross" in the forest pool, to destroy the Locket of Slytherin Horcrux, thus destroying a fragment of the wicked soul of that Great Serpent, Voldemort.

Perceval also rescued a lion’s cub from certain death when he struck the head of the serpent that was trying to devour it. Perceval was then befriended by the King of Beasts. The lion, of course, is a symbol of Christ.

Perceval decapitates the serpent. This has an obvious parallel in Harry Potter: Neville vs. Nagini.

 Bors, unlike Perceval, faced intellectual temptations on the quest. He had to make difficult decisions concerning moral dilemas, as when he had to decide whether to rescue his beloved brother Sir Lionel or an innocent maiden who was being abducted by an evil knight. He made the correct decision to rescue the the defenseless girl rather than saving his warrior brother. Bors is most like Hermione, the thinker of the heroic Trio. Together the three knights Galahad, Perceval, and Bors, and the three young wizards Harry, Ron, and Hermione represent the spirit, body, and mind, the “soul triptych” that John Granger first identified in his excellent book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter.

In The Quest for the Holy Grail there is another important parallel with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Galahad, Percival, and Bors were wandering through a forest when they saw a “white hart with its four attendant lions.” The three knights followed the white stag, which led them to a chapel where the Mass was being sung by a holy hermit. Inside the little church the four lions transformed into the four living creatures that symbolize the four evangelists–the man (St. Matthew), the eagle (St. John), the lion (St. Mark), and the bull (St. Luke). The white stag transformed into a man enthroned as Christ the King. The hermit explained the symbolism of the miracle that the knights had witnessed:

For to you has Our Lord revealed His secrets and His hidden mysteries, in part indeed today; for in changing the Hart into a heavenly being, in no way mortal, He showed the transmutation that He underwent upon the Cross: cloaked there in the mortal garment of this human flesh, dying, he conquered death, and recovered for us eternal life. This is most aptly figured by the Hart. For just as the Hart rejuvinates itself by shedding part of its hide and coat, so did Our Lord return from death to life when he cast off his mortal hide, which was human flesh He took in the Blessed Virgin’s womb.—The Quest of the Holy Grail (244)

 It is only after they have had the vision of the transformation of the white stag that the three knights are able to find the Holy Grail. In The Grail: Quest for the Eternal, John Matthews explains the symbolism of the white stag with relationship to the Holy Grail quest:

To reach the temple of the Grail, the knights who set out from Camelot must undergo many tests and experience terrible ordeals. But often, when the way seems darkest, the enigmatic white stag or hermit figure appears, to lead them forward through the mazes of forest and hill. In medieval iconography the stag was identified with Christ and the soul’s thirst for God, which accounts for its appearance in this context. (Matthews 88)

 The appearance of the White Stag in the Quest for the Holy Grail has a direct parallel in the appearance of the mysterious Silver Doe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have had no success in destroying the Horcruxes until the Silver Doe appears to lead Harry to the forest pool when the Sword of Gryffindor lay hidden beneath the ice.

Intrigued by this blog post? You can read more in The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter by Denise Roper. It is available at www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows.

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Eighth Day Books in Wichita, Kansas has The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter for sale in their online store at this address: http://eighthdaybooks.com/products/The_Lord_of_the_Hallows_Christian_Symbolism_and_Themes_in_J_K_Rowling_s_Harry_Potter-59232-0.html. I discovered this wonderful bookseller at Mythcon 41 last month and was delighted with their selection of books by and about C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, George MacDonald, and even J. K. Rowling! (There’s a nice selection of books by “Hogwarts Professor” John Granger there, some of which were for sale at the Mythopoeic Society convention. Hmm, I wonder if John knows about this…) Eighth Day Books is a specialty store that primarily sells books on religion, philosophy, history, and literature, so if those topics interest you, please take the time to browse through their online catalog. 🙂

Those of you who know me or visit this blog regularly probably know that beisdes discussing the “deeper meaning” of the Harry Potter series with various Potter Pundits, my other favorite topic of discussion in the fandom is the Ron/Hermione pairing. I found this cute tumblr blog today which has lots of photos of and quotations about my favorite couple: http://omgronandhermione.tumblr.com/ If anyone knows of any other blogs like this one, please let me know. I’m slightly obsessed with Harry’s devoted sidekicks. 😉

Besides adding that R/Hr site to my blogroll, I also added the Hallows News blog to my list. You can visit it at http://hallowsnews.wordpress.com/ for Deathly Hallows movie news and other information about the Harry Potter fandom. Two other fandom news blogs that I enjoy are “Confessions of a Grown-up Fangirl” by Hanako M. Ricks, and the Hollywood News Harry Potter Blog. (Hanako is one of the bloggers there also.) Please see the sidebar for links. Of course, I’ll be posting new movie photos, spoilers, reviews, and other news about the film here as well. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please enter your e-mail address in the subscription box on the right and you will receive my latest posts in your e-mail. Thanks so much!

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I was delighted with this recent 5-star review of The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter which appeared on amazon.com! 🙂

“Denise Roper sure knows her stuff. This book analyzes Christian symbolism in Harry Potter, focusing on magical animals, names, hallows, horcruxes and more. There are many links to Lord of the Rings and Narnia that a casual reader might not notice, but Ms. Roper draws them all out for us. How is the weasel significant? What about Madame Pudifoot’s? While many have observed Harry and Frodo make the ultimate, Christ-like sacrifice, Ms. Roper digs deep, linking their journeys with Bible passages and deliberate allusions from JK Rowling. She uses interviews, letters, and lesser-known works from Rowling and Tolkien to make her case, offering a deep, detailed analysis for fans of both series. This is also one of the few books to really take apart Deathly Hallows, the last of the series. Certainly, those afraid of Harry Potter’s alleged witchcraft should read both this and John Granger’s book on God in Harry Potter. Fun, easy analysis for a variety of audiences.”

This review was written by fellow author Valerie Frankel, whose presentations I have enjoyed at at Mythcon 41 and the numerous Harry Potter symposia I have attended. Valerie is the author of the Harry Potter parodies Henry Potty and the Pet Rock and Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage. I am really looking forward to her upcoming book From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend which is to be published this fall by McFarland and Company. Valerie gave us a sneak preview of it at Mythcon 41, and I thought it was a fascinating response to the “hero’s journey” model that was developed by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. You can find out more about Valerie’s literary and scholarly works at http://heroine.calithwain.com.

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