Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 20:37
Written by Gail A. Grynbaum
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THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
Most of the Hogwarts community refer to Voldemort as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." Voldemort, who has been trying to seize power for eons, is the personification of evil. The irreverent Harry, with Dumbledore's encouragement, keeps naming him while others shudder. Such an identification of him on the objective level is necessary to move Harry's connection with him out of the realm of participation mystique. To name means to separate, to halt the merger that occurs when there is a projection. Harry's rebellious attitude is not just an adolescent phase; it is critical in challenging the status quo. As the youth learns about his own power, he is able to withdraw his projections of power from Voldemort and locate his own.
The presence of the golden bird bearing the silver sword allows a new transcendent force to appear. The death, an alchemical mortificatio, of the serpent and then of Riddle/Voldemort, brings the young feminine back into the fullness of life. Little Ginny, whose soul is extracted back from the enigmatic sorcerer, emits a faint moan as she awakens and begins to cry. She says "I d-didn't mean toR-Riddle made me, he t-took me over...." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 323).
Safely back, there is a postmortem of the events from the Chamber. Harry asks Professor Dumbledore to explain the meaning behind the Sorting Hat's statement from the first day at School when it said that Harry could have done well in Slytherin or Gryffindor. He also wants to know why is he able to speak snake language, if it is the mark of a dark wizard. Dumbledore explains that when his mother died, Voldemort transferred some of his powers over to Harry. The youth worries that maybe he is of Slytherin, not Gryffindor. Dumbledore reminds him that in the sorting process, Harry asked the Hat: "Please don't put me in Slytherin." The Headmaster says that's what "makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." (p. 333) He urges Harry to look more carefully at the ruby-studded silver sword handle: Godric Gryffindor, the name of the founder of his and his father's house, the rival of Slytherin, is engraved on the sword in his hands. Harry used his sword to separate from his shadowy projection.
In the Anatomy of the Psyche, Edward Edinger wrote:
Psychologically, the result of separatio by division into two is awareness of the opposites. This is a crucial feature of emerging consciousness....To the extent that the opposites remain unconscious and unseparated, one lives in a state of participation mystique, which means that one identifies with one side of a pair of opposites and projects its contrary as an enemy. Space for consciousness to exist appears between the opposites, which means that one becomes conscious as one is able to contain and endure the opposites within. p. 187)
Harry will need a lifetime of training and support to use the blade wisely as a tool of discernment and discrimination. In Volume Three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is thirteen and entering his third year at Hogwarts. This time he encounters still darker aspects of the archetypal and magical world. Sophisticated psychological concepts serve as carpets that move Harry and the reader into profound realms of emotional experience. His parents become more present in his consciousness.
As part of his development as a teenager and wizard, Harry's attitude becomes increasingly rebellious. He is "talking back" to the Dursleys, who say terrible things to him. Like many child abuse survivors, Harry has learned to cope with torturous mental treatment. Although often burning with rage, he tells himself not to respond and to stay focused on his goals. An aunt insults him via his dead mother with "You see it all the time with dogs. If there is something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup" (p. 25) But he can no longer keep body and mind split. He retaliates by making the relative inflate like a giant balloon. Then he runs away to Hogwarts.
FACE-TO-FACE WITH DEATH
Out on the street at night, Harry panics that he'll get expelled as punishment for performing magic as an underage wizard, away from Hogwarts. The threat of expulsion is always in the orphan's mind when he doesn't follow the established rules. As part of owning his authority, Harry is more drawn to obey inner values that are more compelling than any collective law. His anxiety is compounded when he senses a massive black dog-like creature watching him.
The dog in most mythologies is seen as psychopomp. Dogs are intermediaries and "stand at the gateway....they are guardians between life and death, between known and unknown. They are an intuitive bridge between conscious and unconscious, connectors to the psychoid level of the psyche." (Woodman, The Ravaged Bridegroom, p. 195)
On his way back to Hogwarts, Harry learns that Sirius Black, an inmate at the Azkaban wizard prison and purported supporter of Voldemort has escaped. Black had once been a Hogwarts student and best friend of Harry's dad. The wizard community fears that Black went insane in prison and is hunting Harry to kill him. The Minister of Magic arranges to have the Azkaban prison guards, called "Dementors," stationed outside of the School gates to watch for Black. The Dementors appear as giant, rotted, black-cloaked figures. They are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them....Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soul-less and evil. (p. 187)
The Dementors are magnetically attracted to positive emotions, like starving beasts after their prey. These hellish embodiments of evil overwhelm and dissociate their victims and then, reminiscent of vampire lore, they deliver the final "kiss."
Harry has a strong physical reaction to his first encounter with a Dementor on the Hogwarts Express. He collapses to the floor, feels as though he is drowning in swirling icy water, and blacks out while hearing screams inside his mind. Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defense against the Dark Arts instructor, is in the same train compartment and performs a curse against the soul-stealing dementors. Like the garlic that wards off the vampire, the professor gives Harry the remedy, chocolate (!), which rebalances his body.
Each time he is near a Dementor, the effect is more disabling. The next meeting occurs during a Quidditch match when, from his broomstick, he sees a giant silhouette of a dog on a cloud. He then sees a mass of nearly a hundred Dementors below on the Quidditch field. Again the frigid drowning sensation, but now it is accompanied by hearing his mother's screams. "Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead..." (p. 179) He faints, falls off his Nimbus 2000, and lands on the ground. Some force bigger than Harry brought him down.
The image of the black dog on the cloud could be viewed as a projection of Harry's fears of failure, abandonment and death. The early childhood trauma is playing back in his mind and bewitching tyrannical forces entrance him from within. Lying in the infirmary, Harry can't understand his reaction to the Dementors. He feels crazy and alone with his thoughts. He cannot grasp why he was hearing the last moments of his mother's life and Lord Voldemort's laughter before he murdered her. Like night vapors, horrible dream images seep into his sleep.
Lupin explains that Dementor energy can possess a person, and it effects Harry profoundly, not because of a weakness, but because those with a greater history of trauma are more susceptible. "And the worst has happened to you, Harry, [and] is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel ashamed of." (p. 187)
Because of the Sirius Black danger Harry is not permitted to leave Hogwarts to go on a school trip. He feels isolated. Friends sneak him a magical "Marauders Map," designed long ago by former students "Messrs. Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief Makers," so he can sneak away from School for an outing. In true daredevil adolescent style, Harry can't worry about danger when adventure calls.
Successful in his escapade, he catches up with Ron and Hermione, and they eavesdrop on Hogwarts faculty gossip. The teachers suspect Black went over to the Dark Side and sacrificed the Potters as proof of his loyalty to Voldemort. The faculty fear that although Voldemort is weak, with his most ardent supporter he could rise again.
Harry is shaken by the news. Feeling conflicted by his desire to hear his parents voices when he falls into the trauma bewitchment and his simultaneous need to survive, he knows that when seized by dementor energy he teeters on the edge of madness and death. He needs to become empowered to save his life. Lupin agrees to mentor Harry. First he will practice by using a "boggart." A boggart, explains Hermione, is "a shape-shifter....It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us the most..." (p. 133) It is an embodiment of terror, yet powerless. The Charm that counters a boggart is a concentrated humorous feeling that must be as strong as the fear, in order to transform the negative energy. As in a homeopathic visualization, the victim of the boggart must imagine himself in a paradoxical situation, in order to dissipate the energy.
Next, Harry must learn the most powerful Dark Arts Defense against the dementor, the Patronus Charm. It calls for his full concentration to find his authoritive standpoint. The Charm conjures up a Patronus...which is kind of an anti-dementora guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor.... a positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds uponhope, happiness, the desire to survivebut it cannot feel despair, as real human can, so the dementors can't hurt it. (p.237) He utters the charm and on the third try, an important number in fairy tales, he succeeds in stopping the takeover of his spirit.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron finally meet up with Sirius Black who tells them who it was that really killed James and Lily Potter. Sirius, also the name for the "dog star," becomes a source of light and insight about the death of the royal couple. But it's too late.
The Dementors start closing in. Harry musters up a Patronus Charm to ward them off but lacks the power to repel the herd of one hundred. As something begins to encircle him, miraculously the cold wave begins to leave his body. Harry sees an animal, glowing in the moonlight. He screwed up his eyes, trying to see what it was. It looked like a horse. It was galloping silently away from him, across the black surface of the lake. He saw it lower its head and charge the swarming dementors.... They were gone. The Patronus turned. It was cantering back towards Harry....It was a stag....Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly it bowed its antlered head. And Harry realized...'Prongs,' he whispered....it vanished. (p. 411-12)
James Potter was a specially trained "animagi," a wizard who was able to transform at will into an animal. His animal self is Prongs, a stag. Sirius Black, also an animagi, can shift into Padfoot, the black dog. They were two of the original Magical Marauders, the source of the Map given to Harry. But James Potters' choice of the stag form to preserve himself deserves comment. The stag has archaic symbolic links to the Tree of Life due to the resemblance of its antlers to the cyclic life of branches. It is also seen as the forerunner of daylight or guide to the light of the Sun; it is a harbinger of supreme consciousness. In alchemy the cervus fugitivus, the fugitive stag, is often the name for the highly elusive, metamorphosing Spirit Mercurius. (Mark Haeffner, Dictionary of Alchemy, London, Aquarian, 1991, p. 142) Jung said that "the secret of Merlin was carried on by alchemy, primarily in the figure of Mercurius." ( C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, New York, Vintage Books, 1961, p. 228)
Like the shaman who aligns with special animals, Harry connects with his father's animagi, animal spirit and it gives him new strength to fight against the takeover and loss of his soul. A stunned Harry tells Dumbledore that the Patronus couldn't have been his father, because his father is dead.
You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? You father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night....You know Harry, in a way, you did see you father last night....You found him in yourself. (p. 427-428)
Like the babe in the manger to whom the Magi brought their gifts, Harry at Hogwarts is saved by the animagi. The chthonic encounter with his paternal authority in his 13th year pushes Harry over a new threshold of initiation.
A DIABOLIC CONJUNCTIO
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the recently published fourth volume of the series, is Rowling's olympic showcase for Harry and his magical talents. In relation to what has come before, everything in this 734 page magnum opus is more elaborated. Two major international events, the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament, add external pressures (and new imported contents) to the expanding Hogwarts vessel. Surprise operations and plot twists crystallize deeper courage as well as blacker magic. Although Harry's ostensible goal through the maze of the three tasks set for him in this installment of his initiation is the Goblet of Fire, even that, once attained is but an auxiliary support on his way to the Holy Grail.
Making their developmental leap as fourteen year olds, Harry and Hermione move though the story with heightened maturity and understanding. While Harry does show interest in another girl (only to become tongue-tied), he is mostly vigilant, concentrating on his need to survive if his journey is to continue. His compassion and affection has grown for Ron, and his integrity with rival Quidditch player Cedric is inspiring.
Hermione, ever an anima and tutelary figure, wisely guides Harry while confidently grappling with powerful energies of her own. She, too, is learning compassion: she actively imagines ways of helping Harry as well as the House Elves, the slaves traditionally assigned to wizards. Most Hogwartians believe the Elves are happy with their lot, but Hermione sees their need for liberation and civil rights. Her social consciousness stems from a mixture of exquisite sensitivity to unfair treatment and identification with a group that mirrors her own outcast status, as a witch in a Muggle family. Her special psychic gifts feed a thinking that is becoming a trusted road map for Harry.
The connection between Harry and Voldemort has been a leitmotif in the series thus far. While the orphan and the dark magician are opposed moral personalities, living on reverse sides of the mirror, in this story their shared traits are becoming more obvious and provocative. Both figures have Muggle heritage, are orphans who have been exiled, are seen by others as saviors, and have wands with a tail feather taken from Dumbledore's magical phoenix. The kinship between good and evil is as palpable as the scar on Harry's forehead that throbs whenever Lord Voldemort is near or contemplating murderous thoughts. "Good qualities that are contrary to instinct cannot last, but neither can evil when its one-sided demonism runs counter to instinct." (von Franz, 1994, p. 89) Author Rowling compels us to participate in a meditation on good and evil as two sides of the heroic coin.
Dark action jump-starts the tale: with a reverberating jolt, Harry awakens from a nightmare in which he knows that Voldemort has returned and that he and his servant Wormtail are plotting to kill him. Harry's trust in his psychic abilities is growing and he accepts the reality that the dream presents.
Throughout the tale, Voldemort, an extraverted intuitive schemer, is shadowing the introverted intuitive Harry. As these two aspects of intuition engage, the reality is shifting all over the narrative, as new rooms open up in every direction and dimension. The dark force becomes stronger as "Death Eater" Voldemort supporters appear with black marks branded on their left forearms, openly pushing for ethnic cleansing of the mixed-blood wizards. The history of family feuds among generations of wizards, their closets filled with ghosts, suddenly erupts into plain view. Political intrigues and power struggles intensify at the Ministry of Magic as they are in denial about Voldemort's return. Only Headmaster Dumbledore doesn't talk about ending the encroaching evil; since he knows it will always exist, he has the attitude that we need to see it, call it by name, and meet it. He is conscious of his own shadow and does not distance it by projecting it onto others. We are given an insight into the source of such wisdom: Dumbledore has a magical apparatus, an enviable "projective" device called the "Pensieve," into which he can siphon out his overflow thoughts and memories into a vessel and reflect on them in 3D form. Harry finds it by noticing a silvery patch of light while waiting in the Professors office to tell him an ominous dream.
A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols that Harry did not recognize. [It was filled with a silvery liquid or gas moving like water or clouds, and Dumbledore says to him] It becomes easier to spot patterns and links...when they are in this form....Dumbledore placed his long hands on either side of the Pensieve and swirled it, rather as a gold prospector would pan for fragments of gold.... (Goblet of Fire, p. 583, 597)
Meanwhile the students at Hogwarts get a lesson in the morality of magical power when they learn about casting spells including the three "Unforgivable Curses" that should never be used against other humans. The penalty for use is a Azkaban life sentence. The dark arts curses are: Imperius, which gives total control over another and may be reversed only by someone with great strength of character, Cruciatus gives one the ability to torture another, and Avada Kedavra, gives a wizard the power to kill another. Harry is the only person ever known to have survived the death curse.
Finally all roads in Hogwarts converge on the Triwizard Tournament in which four contestants will compete. There are three symbolic tasks which involve a terrifying encounter with a Dragon whose egg must be stolen, an icy plunge into the dark waters of Lake Hogwarts where the competitor must retrieve what is most important to him, and a passage through a maze in which the adept must concentrate on the essence of everything he has learned in order to survive. Harry completes all three tasks with the same unerring spirit of integrity that has accompanied him in his wizardly eduction thus fara relational, intuitive, urgent waynever taking the traditional road to sensation prowess of the conventional hero.
Ready to reach out to the Goblet of Fire prize, Harry is tricked. He falls into a hellish fourth dimensional abyss and lands in a darkened graveyard. A hooded man is carrying a bundle or a baby:
Harry had never seen anything less like a child. It was hairless and scaly- looking, a dark, raw, reddish black. It arms and legs were thin and feeble, and its faceno child alive ever had a face like thatflat and snakelike, with gleaming red eyes. (Goblet of Fire, p. 640)
Harry quickly realizes that this demonic inversion of the divine child is the living remains of Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord has finally trapped his Hogwarts student rival. Voldemort now makes his mercurial plan clear which is to arrange to mix a brew of these remains of himself, Harry and two additional substances to achieve a full reincarnation. A huge steaming cauldron appears. The wizard submerges his putrefied child remains in the alchemical bath as the first body in a perverse coagulatio. Amidst bizarre magical chants the dark trickster creates a diabolic conjunctio of something old (Voldemort's father's bones,) something new (Harry's blood,) something borrowed (his apprentice Wormtail's arm,) and something Blue (the color of the poisonous water.) Like the Savior he believes himself to be, the incarnated Voldemort has shifted shapes and rises out of the steaming vapors. Alchemical Black Magic has created the demonic side of a dual-natured tricksterish Mercury.
Unlike the royal marriage of the King and Queen in the Rosarium Philosophorum "where love plays the decisive part," here power rules: the egomaniacal Voldemort uses only himself and three dismembered parts to transform into a red-eyed, murderous bridegroom. There is no feminine partner, no bride. (Collected Works, Vol. 16, p 217, para 419) Surrounded by his Death Eater supporters, the revived Voldemort arrogantly challenges Harry to a duel. He hands the youth's wand back to him and begins casting a torturous Cruciatus spell in Harry's direction. At first in his terror, Harry doesn't feel anything, no words, no vision, as his mind slips blissfully away. But as he manages to speak, Harry breaks the spell, and his Quidditch-trained body comes alive. With twin-feathered wands, the two adversaries begin a ferocious duel. The wand tips connect by a thread of golden light, and Harry and Voldemort rise up into the air. Their wands vibrate wildly to form a golden arched web of light between them.
The alchemical "sublimatio is an elevating process whereby a low substance is translated into a higher form by an ascending movement." (Edinger, 1985, p. 117) As Harry duels with this incarnation of evil, psychologically he confronts his shadowy projection and moves towards greater integration and wholeness. In the heat of the battle, Harry actively concentrates the power he needs to regain the advantage over Voldemort. Beads of light travel down his wand towards Voldemort. Screams come from inside Voldemort's wand as smokey ghosts of people he has slaughtered are regurgitated from its tip. The victims call to Harry, encouraging him to keep fighting, hold the connection, and to not let go. Finally, images of Harry's father and then his mother come forth, eager to support him and tell him how to escape. They distract Voldemort and Harry makes a run for it, magically finding his way to Hogwarts. For the first time in such a process he does not dissociate, fall into unconsciousness, or need Dumbledore to save him. Harry stays present and uses his intuitive powers to save himself.
The episode allows the readers to gain a better sense of Voldemort's character. Propelled by compulsion and a vengeful vampiric nature, he so desires blood from his foe that he cannot reflect on the meaning of having received Harry's essence into himself, or on the significance of using wands that are of the same core. He completely misses the deeper connection between him and Harry. As in the earlier stories, Voldemort gets taken by surprises that derive from his adversary's essential similarity to him; he is a trickster tricked by his own tricks. And so, instead of the Philosopher's Stone, he finds fool's gold and the fleeting illusion of power.
But unconsciously there does seem to be a motivation in Voldemort wanting to bring a piece of Harry into himself, as the filius regius of alchemy, the royal son who will force him to connect with the light of the Sun and the new consciousness where masculine and feminine are united. As we wonder how Harry's blood will affect Voldemort, we might consider Donald Kalsched's discussion of Bluebeard in the fairy tale who gave each of his wives an egg with the instruction to preserve it at all costs and not to let any harm come to it....The egg is an image of potential lifeof the Self....The wife represents something he wants....[That the] wizard has given the egg...to her suggests that the wizard wants to be transformed also. Ultimately, the wizard wants his inflated power to be seen through, which will force him to become the human being that he wants to be instead of being the isolated wizard.
On the other hand, Kalsched warns us:
It's as though the people who stand for wholeness and integration of the opposites are a terrifying, devastating threat to people whose psychic economies require projection. (Kalsched, interview by Anne Malone, for www.CGJUNGPAGE.ORG, n.d.)
Of all the characters we have met in the series, Head Master Dumbledore has attained the highest degree of psychological integration. He is conscious of his shadow and his suffering and does not need to project or demonize the dark characters (like the ex-Death Eater and Potions teacher, Severus Snape or the residents of Slytherin House.) He has, and encourages, a relationship with them. "Time is short, and unless the few of us who know the truth do not stand united, there is no hope for any of us....Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. (p. 712,723) However, Wizard Dumbledore knows from his past experience the danger of Lord Voldemort whose only interest is Power.
HARRY POTTER AS A CONTEMPORARY SHAMAN
The global attraction to Harry Potter is due to many forces. Of central importance is J.K. Rowling's unique and clear writing style. She presents a modern fairy tale, replete with compelling archetypal themes, about the ancient rites of initiation with an angle that stays close to the reality of the actual child, yet also intersects with core imaginal needs of the adult's inner child. Children and adults read the books together. Rowling gives enough detail to establish place and character, spins a terrific story, then plunges the reader into a multi-dimensional imaginative world that glows with the best of literature and cyberspace.
Nearly fifty years ago The Little Prince magically appeared from the "other side" to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Like Harry Potter, the book touched into the archetypal world and attracted a diverse audience. P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, detected the three essentials required by children's books. It is true in the most inward sense, it offers no explanations, and it has a moral... 'what is essential is invisible to the eye.'...she surmised that The Little Prince will shine upon children with a sidewise gleam. It will strike them in some place that is not the mind and glow there until the time comes for them to comprehend it.(Program note. Exhibition of Saint-Exupery's Manuscripts and Drawings for The Little Prince. The Morgan Library. New York. June 2000)
As someone who is interested in the cultural unconscious and socio-cultural trends, additional questions occur. What is the coincidence of these particular archetypal characters in the Harry Potter stories with the millennial timing of the books' release? What is it about the conscious situation on the planet that may be compensated by this story? The Harry Potter books have consistently held the top slots on the New York Times Book Review Best Sellers List for two years, have been translated into forty languages and published in one hundred fifteen countries, in addition to being an unprecedented publishing phenomenon.
Jung argued that when an archetype is activated in a group's collective psyche, the images of its energy will appear in the group's stories, myths, and folktales. He further believed that any story that has spread across oceans and the millennia has done so only because it speaks to a psychological experience that is common to us all. (Hort,p. 6) The psychological climate in much of the rapidly changing technological world is one of spiritual depletion, emotional alienation and personal isolation. Perhaps one secret of Harry Potter's success is that this story of a tribe of three kids who struggle together and fight to defend their personal spirits from soul-sucking demonic forces, is feeding a profound soul hunger in the people around them. Harry and his friends represent a new image of human cooperation and hope required for redemptive healing. Jung wrote in Mysterium Coniunctionis:
The ultimate fate of every dogma is that it gradually becomes soulless. Life wants to create new forms, and therefore, when a dogma loses its vitality, it must perforce activate the archetype that has always helped man to express the mystery of the soul....the psychic archetype makes it possible for the divine figure to take form and become accessible to understanding. (Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 347, par. 488)
The archetypal battle between the young Orphan and ancient Vampire is the life and death struggle of opposites that allows for the birth of a new divine figure. Harry Potter is an image of creative resilient energy characterized by qualities that will be refined in the seven volumes along the Hogwarts journey: emotional empathy, discernment, compassion and empowerment.
The archetype of the Vampire has caught peoples imagination for centuries. This dark theme powerfully connects the forces of doom in the books, pointing to similar virulent features in the demonic faces of Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle, and the Dementors. All three are able to possess their victims, are not truly embodied, and need the spirit of their victim to survive. Harry on the other hand, lives in the link between the two worlds of good and evil. Voldemort infected the boy during the murder of his parents and his "bite" transfused some dark wizard attributes into the infant. As Dumbledore tells him, it is his choices, rather than his abilities, that will determine his future.
In The Problem of Evil in Fairy Tales, von Franz highlights wicked figures that seem to personify evil because they are "especially gruesome, taking the form of utter heartlessness...[the evildoer is invulnerable] because his heart is not in his body." (Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p. 87 ) A Jungian way of saying this is to insist that Harry must get to know his shadow complex well, endure the forces within, so that he can consciously follow the Griffin rather than blindly be bitten by the slithering serpent from behind. Staying close to his retrieved instincts, his heart, and valuing his feeling will be his life preservers.
The orphan belongs to the alchemical symbolism of separatio, since an orphan is one who is separated out, unparented, out of connection, and the one who must stand alone without being nursed. Jung's words on the Stone in Bollingen were: "I am an orphan, alone; nevertheless I am found everywhere. I am one, but opposed to myself. I am youth and old man at one and the same time...." (Jung, 1961, p. 227). This standing alone is part of the process of becoming an individual, and becoming "individuated." Initiation is the period of aloneness, when one is alone in the liminal space. (Joseph Henderson, M.D., Personal Communication, February 23, 2000) In each book's climactic ending, Harry is separated from his tribal group and must struggle alone. It is during these most intense ordeals that an old aspect dissolves and some new quality is formed in an alchemical coagulatio.
Ultimately, what is created inside of Harry is new psychic energy. He is becoming the container for a new, emerging vision for the future. Von Franz, in her seminal work, Puer Aeternus, writes of the youths who have a "certain kind of spirituality which comes from a relatively close contact with the collective unconscious...they do not like conventional situations; they ask deep questions and go straight for the truth.... "(Sigo Press, 1981,p. 4) Marion Woodman adds that this type of authentic masculinity is interested in genuine empowerment grounded in the instincts... Men and women have to honor this young man in themselves.... the discovery of the creative masculine involves dream sequences that swing from encounters with intense light or swift winds to equally powerful encounters with chthonic passion. Woodman, 1990, p. 204)
The world's identification with the image of Harry Potter points to the formation of a new archetype of the young masculine that is distinct from established patriarchal values. This vibrant boy who has been wounded by severe trauma, shows human scale emotions and values doing the right thing, However, Harry becomes neither inflated by his successes nor has the fantasy of immortality. He inhabits a paradoxical alchemical world and unlike other magical boys, such as Peter Pan and the Little Prince, he has been infected with evil and must be mindful of that inoculation.
Harry's early relationships are appropriate for his stage of adolescent development and have to do with strengthening his masculine identity and authority. His feminine connections however, are beginning to work on him, steering him from below. Glimpses of his budding anima and unconscious relationship with the feminine are seen in how wrenched he becomes when he hears the screams of his dead mother, that sometimes he needs Hermione to act as a crossing guard when he is unable to contain his wildness, and how Headmistress McGonagall introduces him to his body and special physical abilities when she chooses him for the Quidditch team.
Perhaps Harry Potter's fans constitute a generation across age lines that feels somewhat orphaned and unprotected and along with Harry, know the despair of spiritual emptiness and emotional starvation. It is only because of his near death encounters with Voldemort and the proximity to a force that can crush or devour, that Harry is forced to find his true sources of spiritual power and strength. Therefore, he represents embodiment and resilience in a world that represses the spirit. Harry Potter is an inspiring vision of a contemporary Western shaman with whom a hope lies that he will show us how to retrieve lost soul.
At this mid-point in the book series, it has become evident that evil is what harms life. What saves it? J.K. Rowling's answer throughout these stories about the initiation of wizards, is an educated, embodied intuition. The Animagi are the most gifted of the wizards and have the ability to transfigure into animals. Rowling implies that intuition is an animal instinct that can be brought out in the work of shamanic education Harry is able to find at Hogwarts. Why does having the animal instinct with one, incline one to good? Rowling is clear that it pays to trust the self, and that the "self" is a progressive undertaking of one's own personal power. Evil for her seems to be a form of unconsciousness.
Consciousness, of the kind Harry is developing, leads to greater integrity and compassion. This is an exciting urgent series for the children of our time, who will be called upon as never before to open themselves to their spiritual and somatic capacities if they are to overcome the challenges placed in the way of their survival, in a world so threatened by greed and the power drive as our own. If the fallout of ego-chemistry is a melting ice cap on the North Pole, perhaps J.K. Rowling's alchemy is the right antidote for our present inability to listen to our true natures.
Gail A. Grynbaum RN, PhD, is a psychologist practicing in San Francisco, a candidate in the analytic training program of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, and a member of ASD. She has a long-standing interest in Womens Psychology, Alchemy and Dreamwork.
Copyright ©2001 Gail Grynbaum