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Archive for the ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ Category

This post is the third part of a series which began here in part one, a discussion of the lion, eagle, griffin, serpent, basilisk, and badger: https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/harry-potter-and-the-bestiary-of-christ-part-one/ and continued here, with a discussion of the unicorn: https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/harry-potter-and-the-bestiary-of-christ-part-two/. Now on to the third installment…

The Hunting of the White Stag

          A Christ symbol that is closely related to the unicorn is the stag, whose earliest representation in Christian art can be found in the Roman catacombs and in baptismal font designs and basilica altar mosaics of subsequent periods.  It appeared as a Christ symbol in bestiaries, stories of the lives of the saints, and in medieval romances, such as the Queste del Saint Graal, where the stag served as a guide toward the object of the quest, the Holy Grail.

P. M. Matarasso's translation of The Quest for the Holy Grail (Queste del Saint Graal)

           The stag appeared as a symbol of Christ in the story of St. Eustace. This saint, like C. S. Lewis’s fictional character Eustace Scrubb in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, experienced a miraculous conversion.

Narnia' s Eustace Scrubb, like St. Eustace, experienced a life-changing conversion.

 The pagan Eustace was a Roman general who enjoyed hunting. On one hunting expedition, Eustace tracked a stag through the woods and prepared to kill the magnificent creature. Just as Eustace was ready to slay the majestic stag, a miraculous vision appeared to the hunter: a vision of Christ crucified appeared between the stag’s antlers. The hunter was converted to Christianity on the spot.  A similar tale of a hunter who converted due to a miraculous vision is in the story of St. Hubert. While out hunting on Good Friday the future saint encountered a stag with a crucifix between its antlers. A voice spoke to him from where the stag was. It asked why Hubert was pursuing him, and Hubert realized he had been searching for Christ for many years, and had finally found him. Hubert was converted at that moment. St. Hubert’s desire to find Christ was a thirst for God that manifests symbolically as a stag. This symbol of the soul’s thirst for God is derived from Psalm 42:1 (NRSV), “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”

          Because of the stag’s longing for streams of water described in the Book of Psalms, it became associated with the soul’s desire for purification through Baptism.

                   Just as the deer devours the snake,

                   Then rushes off his thirst to slake,

                   Lets spring the venom wash away,

                   So all is well, can Christian say,

                   For he is saved, sin’s trace is lost,

                   When in baptismal font he’s washed. (Biedermann 93)

This explains why the relief-work on many old baptismal fonts often includes representations of deer. Mosaics in some European churches, such as the mosaic above the altar in Rome’s Basilica of Saint Clement, sometimes depict a doe or stag drinking the water of life from the running stream described in Psalm 42. 

Stags drinking from the waters of life-detail from the mosaic above the altar of the Basilica of St. Clement in Rome. I visited this beautiful church when I toured Italy in 2008.

Early Christian texts such as Physiologus describe the deer as spitting water into every crevice in which poisonous snakes hide, then trampling on them, just as Christ strikes at the Devil with the heavenly water of Baptism. (Biedermann 92) The stag was thus seen as the symbol of the triumphant Christ. When a stag’s antlers break, they regenerate, and for this reason the stag became a symbol of the Resurrection as well.

Other ancient lore associated the stag with the discovery of dittany, a miraculous herb that cures all wounds. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione carries a bottle of the essence of dittany to cure the wounds of her injured companions during their quest to destroy the Horcruxes. This miraculous liquid is mentioned first in Chapter 14 when Hermione heals the bleeding Ron Weasley, who has splinched himself while apparating. Hermione also uses dittany to heal Harry when he has been bitten by the snake Nagini in Chapter 17. In Cavallo’s The Unicorn Tapestries, the author quotes from Margaret L. Freeman’s book of the same title in the appendix, where it says, “Stags can shake off any arrows which they have received if they partake of the herb called dittany.” (Cavallo 119) J. K. Rowling must have had some knowledge of this ancient lore of dittany because she made great use of it in Deathly Hallows.

Hermione used dittany on Ron's splinch wound to save his life in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

In the Medieval religious story, The Quest for the Holy Grail, the Knights Galahad, Percival, and Bors were riding through the forest when they encountered a white hart escorted by four lions. The three knights followed the white hart, and it lead them to a chapel where the Mass was being sung. Inside the little church the four lions transformed into the four living creatures that symbolize the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and the stag transformed into a man enthroned, Jesus Christ. The priest explained the symbolism of the miracle that the knights had witnessed. It is only after they have had the vision of the transformation of the white stag that they are able to find the Holy Grail. (Matarasso 243-245)

The knights Perceval, Bors, and Galahad were led to the Grail Hallows by a white stag. Galahad, a character who is himself a Christ-figure, is clad in the Eucharistic colors of red and white, and is shown kneeling among the white lillies, which are symbolic of his purity. An angel holds the legendary Grail Hallow known as the Spear of Destiny.

 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)

          In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the author made use of the same symbolism that is found in the Grail legends. When Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie followed the white stag they were able to re-enter the wardrobe to return home to England. Recall the symbolism of the stag and the running stream in the book of Psalms which signifies the soul’s thirst for union with God. The Pevensies’ s quest for the White Stag is symbolic of the soul’s search for Christ, a search that will eventually lead the seeker further up and further in to his or her true home. This parallels the story of the knights who follow the white stag to find Christ and the Grail.

The stag appears in Harry Potter’s world as a symbol of his father. “Prongs” was the nickname given to Harry’s father James, an animagus who could transform himself into a stag. In the third novel Rowling spoke to her readership through Dumbledore, who told Harry (and us) that the ones who love us never truly leave us, not even in death. When Harry suffered from attacks from soul-sucking Dementors in The Prisoner of Azkaban, he had to learn how to conjure a patronus to protect himself. The words “Expecto Patronum!” translate as “I expect a protector!” and protection arrived in the form of a luminous, graceful four-hoofed animal, which Harry initially mistakes for a unicorn. (PA 385) It is a luminous stag, the form his father once took when he was alive, and the brilliant patronus, like a guardian angel providing protection, drove away the darkness and despair of the Dementors. Harry’s protector is a stag, which like the unicorn, is a symbol of Christ.

Harry's stag patronus. His protector is a Christ symbol.

The stag’s female counterpart is the doe. Just as the Knights of the Grail and heroes of Narnia followed the white stag, our hero must follow the silver doe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. “The Silver Doe” is one of the most beautiful chapters in the novel:

A bright silver light appeared right ahead of him, moving through the trees. Whatever the source, it was moving soundlessly. The light seemed simply to drift toward him.

He jumped to his feet, his voice frozen in his throat, and raised Hermione’s wand. He screwed up his eyes as the light became blinding, the trees in front of it pitch-black in silhouette, and still the thing came closer…

And then the source of the light stepped out from behind an oak. It was a silver doe, moon-bright and dazzling, picking her way over the ground, still silent, and leaving no hoofprints in the fine powdering of snow. She stepped toward him, her beautiful head with its wide, long-lashed eyes held high. (DH 365-366)

"The Silver Doe" fan art by Harry_Potter_Spain.

Just as King Arthur’s knights followed the White Stag to find the Holy Grail, Harry followed the Silver Doe into the dark forest. The luminous creature led Harry to a frozen pool where, beneath the ice, lies a shape like “A great silver cross.” (DH 367, emphasis mine) The Silver Doe had lead Harry to the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, which lay trapped beneath the frozen water.

The Sword of Gryffindor lay like "a great silver cross" beneath the surface of the frozen forest pool.

Harry, wearing the locket of Slytherin Horcrux, dove into the frozen pool and was nearly drowned by the evil power of the Horcrux. Ron’s dramatic return to rescue Harry and destroy the locket occurred in a chapter filled with the imagery of baptism and words of reconciliation between the two best friends.

Please subscribe to this blog so that you don’t miss the next installment of “Harry Potter and the Bestiary of Christ,” which is entitled “Phoenix Rising.” If you would like to order a copy of  my book, The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, it can be obtained from www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows.

If you are wondering what other connections can be made between the quest for the Grail Hallows and the quest for the Deathly Hallows, you should read this blog post: https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/the-deeper-meaning-of-the-quest-for-the-deathly-hallows/ You might also like https://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/melissa-anelli-and-j-k-rowling-interview/. Comments are welcome! 🙂

 

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When re-reading the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, I came across a passage that reminded me of another story that I love.

“Oh, what a shame!” said Lucy. “I did so want to read it again. Well, at least I must remember it. Let’s see … it was about … about … oh dear, it’s all fading away again.
“And even this last page is going blank. This is a very queer book. How can I have forgotten? It was about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill, I know that much. But I can’t remember and what shall I do?”
And she never could remember; and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician’s Book.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Chapter 10

 

 

 

 

http://phoenixweasley.tumblr.com/post/6661287279/oh-what-a-shame-said-lucy-i-did-so-want-to

I think that we all know how Lucy felt at that moment.

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Geek Tyrant has the scoop on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition on Blu-Ray. Watch the trailer on their site.

http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/3/7/lord-of-the-rings-trilogy-extended-edition-blu-ray-details-r.html

You can pre-order it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026L7H20?ie=UTF8&ref_=wb_lotrext_bdb&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393189&tag=tolkcollsguid-20

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One will be released on DVD on April 15.

http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Deathly-Hallows-Part/dp/B001UV4XHY

Some fans may want to purchase the 3-disc Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital combo pack:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001UV4XI8/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B001UV4XHY&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=03V9HSVCST8B2JQBN04X

Voyage on the Dawn Treader will be released on DVD on April 8.

http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Narnia-Voyage-Treader-Two-Disc/dp/B002ZG99PE/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1299518957&sr=1-1

I’m saving up for the Harry Potter and Narnia DVDs. I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet, though I am tempted to buy one with all of these awesome discs soon to be released. Well, if you decide to spend money on amazon.com, don’t forget to purchase  a copy of this:

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Hallows-Christian-Symbolism-Rowlings/dp/1432741128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299519492&sr=1-1

If you do buy my book, please let me know what you think of it. Thanks! 🙂

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The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Elijah Wood about his reprisal of the role of Frodo Baggins in the film version of The Hobbit. You can read that interview here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/heat-vision/elijah-wood-hobbit-amazing-reunion-72205

The One Ring. net has Elijah’s interview with Collider here: http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2011/01/12/41660-elijah-wood-speaks-even-more-about-the-hobbit/#more-41660 There are lots of other great tidbits at TORn, so have a look around if you have the time. It’s a great website. 🙂

Christopher Lee will also return as Saruman. You can read about it here: http://the-hobbit-movie.com/2011/01/16/christopher-lee-back-as-saruman-the-white/ After reading that one I was wondering who should perform the voice of Smaug? Some say Leonard Nimoy, others say Alan Rickman. I love Nimoy as Spock, but Rickman (our much-loved and much-despised Professor Snape) would make a truly amazing Smaug. What do you think?

If you are on Twitter and have an interest in The Chronicles of Narnia, here’s a poll that may be of interest to you. Which Narnia film is your favorite? I really had a hard time deciding between the 2005 version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the 2010 version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  http://twtpoll.com/zs0wvg Which film did you vote for? I voted for LWW, but with reservations. LWW was in first place and VotDT was in second when I responded to the poll.

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On Saturday, December 4, 2010 I’ll be part of a discussion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One on That Sci-Fi Show, which will air at 5:00 p.m. EST (4:00 p.m. CST) on WWNN radio. You can listen to the show online at http://www.thatscifishow.com/ and you can join the show’s Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThatScifiShow. You might also want to join my Facebook page for The Lord of the Hallows at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lord-of-the-Hallows/110146322349729 while you’re at it. 😉

On Saturday, December 11, I’ll be giving my lecture “Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Symbolism and Themes in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia” at 2:00 p.m. at the Main Branch of  the Lafourche Parish Public Library, located at 314 St. Mary St. in Thibodaux, Louisiana. A book signing for The Lord of the Hallows will follow. The film adaptation of Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be playing at my local cinema that weekend also, and I definitely plan on going to see it. 🙂

If you have not read The Lord of the Hallows yet, you can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Hallows-Christian-Symbolism-Rowlings/dp/1432741128/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291436252&sr=1-1. Good news! It’s on sale and you can save 10% right now. I noticed that appears on a few “Listmania” lists on amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Guides-further-Phenomenon/lm/R3IJ3571K9XP1A/ref=cm_lmt_DYNA_f_1_russss1?pf_rd_p=496997231&pf_rd_s=listmania-center&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1432741128&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0E1FGGA017V519Z1K0H1

http://www.amazon.com/The-Harry-Potter-Curriculum/lm/RAI88SMUR3HB8/ref=cm_lmt_DYNA_f_2_russss0?pf_rd_p=496997231&pf_rd_s=listmania-center&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1432741128&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0E1FGGA017V519Z1K0H1

http://www.amazon.com/Books-about-Famous-Authors-etc/lm/R23U6H2GM38YCF/ref=cm_lmt_DYNA_f_3_russss0?pf_rd_p=496997231&pf_rd_s=listmania-center&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1432741128&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0E1FGGA017V519Z1K0H1

If you do buy the book, please let me know what you think of it. There was a great deal of research and hard work involved, but it was a pleasure to write.

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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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In all of the excitement about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, I almost missed this sneak preview of the third installment of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of  the Dawn Treader.

http://geektyrant.com/news/2010/8/22/3-film-clips-from-narnia-the-voyage-of-the-dawn-treader.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Geektyrant+%28GeekTyrant%29&utm_content=Twitter

This is another film that I am really looking forward to seeing this winter. I especially liked the converstaion between Eustace and Edmund concerning fairy tales in the first film clip. Edmund’s opinions on the matter are very much in the spirit of C. S. Lewis, not to mention Tolkien and Rowling. Well done! 🙂

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