Using Alchemy to Teach Christianity?
A chapter by chapter examination of
Looking for God in Harry Potter
Author: John Granger
Christian Publisher: Tyndale House (June 2004) Phone: 800-323-9400
Note: To say that I was disturbed to discover that a respected Christian publisher such as Tyndale House would publish a book that applauded alchemy and sorcery as a pathway to God would be an understatement. Throughout His Word, God warns us to shun any association — real or imagined — with the dark world of the occult. But in our times of blurred visions and spiritual blindness, even the occult secrets of alchemical sorcery and hermetic magic are once again becoming acceptable to people who call themselves Christians.
To highlight the deception promoted in this book, I will let the author, John Granger, speak for himself. My indented comments (in blue, italicized letters) follow the quotes from his book. The bold letters in his quotes are added for emphasis.
Verses from the Bible are also indented but not italicized.
Background information from the article, "The Alchemist’s Tale" by John Granger
"Understanding the Harry Potter books as alchemical writing in the tradition of the English 'Greats' will explain otherwise bizarre events, plot turns, and names in the novels....
"The alchemist, like all traditional or non-modern people, understood man to be essentially spirit (as man is created by the Spirit), then soul, then physical body.... His personhood or humanity he knew to be a joining of soul and body without seam—and his tragedy was that he was fallen, i.e., that he had lost his spiritual capacity or intellectus, by means of which Adam walked and talked with God in the garden. Alchemy was the means, in conjunction with the mysteries of the Church, by which he could regain this lost capacity. The substance changing from lead to gold was his soul, and the riches he would glean were spiritual riches—holiness and immortality.
"It is essentially a super-conscious or spiritual work that happens through correspondence with archetypes that are above, not below, individual consciousness.
"So what was alchemy? It was a traditional or sacred science, supporting the work of the revealed tradition and its means of grace, for the purification and perfection of the alchemist’s soul in correspondence with the metallurgical perfection of a base metal into gold....
"Rowling clearly understands both 'alchemy in literature' and the 'alchemy of literature.' Her books satisfy the need in us, born in a profane culture without heroes or avenues of transcendent experience....
"We get this experience in our identification with Harry, and we are better, more human even, for having been at least for a while in the alembic vessel, changing from spiritual lead to gold, dying and rising from the dead. In brief, Rowling’s novels are so popular because her works transform the human person via imaginative identification, catharsis, and resurrection."
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil..." Isaiah 5:20
"The Potter books are the most edifying works of fiction written in many years...."
"My thesis is existentially this: As images of God designed for life in Christ, all humans naturally resonate with stories that reflect the greatest story ever told — the story of God who became man. The Harry Potter novels... touch our hearts because they contain themes, imagery, and engaging stories that echo the Great Story we are wired to receive and respond to. ...they address the need... we have for spiritual nourishment in the form of edifying, imaginative experience of life in Christ."
"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
Chapter 1 - Magic, fantasy and the Christian worldview
"The 'sorcery' in Harry Potter supports biblical teaching, not practice of the occult." Page 1
Granger: "I am convinced that the fundamental reason for the astonishing popularity of the Harry Potter novels is their ability to meet a spiritual longing for some experience of the truths of life, love and death taught by Christianity but denied by a secular culture. Human beings are designed for Christ, whether they know it or not. That the Harry Potter stories 'sing along' with the Great Story of Christ is a significant key to understanding their compelling richness." Page 2
Our fallen human nature drives us toward self-gratification, not toward Jesus Christ and the cross. Because the "flesh" (human nature) prompts us to follow our inclinations rather than God's spirit, He warns us that —
"...the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. ... Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like... [T]hose who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:17
Granger: "Some Christians object to Harry Potter because Christian Scripture in many places explicitly forbids occult practice. Though reading about occult practice is not forbidden, these Christians prudently prefer to protect their children because of the books' sympathetic portrayal of occult practice. These Christians believe that such approving and causal exposure to the occult opens the door to occult practice." Page 2
love what God calls evil and abhor His Word which shows us His way. (See Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies)
Any participation in — or love for — pagan practices is forbidden. That includes virtual or imaginary experiences as well as real-life participation. To follow Jesus Christ, we must love what He loves and hate what He hates. The Bible tells us to "Abhor what is evil" and "cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9) But hundreds of letters we have received from "Christian" Potter fans show that they now
"He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly....who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks...." Isaiah 33:15
Granger: "Other Christians... point out the books are 'only stories' and that many stories... have portrayed witches and wizards in a positive light.... Given this impasse... note three observations: Page 3
1. "Occult practices are universally denounced by major world-religions. Every major religion—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (not to mention animism)—prohibited invocational sorcery and individual (or unguided) exploration of the spirit world."
All those religions, except Biblical Christianity, have historically embraced invocational sorcery and explorations of the demonic spirit world. Hinduism and Buddhism involve all kinds of occult rituals and practices. Kabala is a form of Jewish mysticism steeped in occult symbols and rituals, while Sufism and Folk Islam are examples of Islamic mysticism and animism.
Granger: 2. "Scripture itself contains material about occult practices." Page 3
Yes, but it always points out that occult practices are evil and forbidden to God's people.
Granger: "The Bible nowhere forbids reading material with occult elements in it."
"Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing." Acts 19:17-20
While few could read or write in Old Testament days, God's people were forbidden any contact with the occult beliefs or objects of surrounding cultures. Centuries later, converted Christians in the early church willingly disposed of their reading materials on occultism:
Granger: "I know devout Christians who hate Harry as well as many who love him; both groups read their Bible daily and enjoy fantasy stories with occult elements and magic in them—stories as diverse as Shakespeare's The Tempest, L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, Lewis' Narnia and.... and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy." Page 4
So do I, but that doesn't justify stories that approve of magic. Baum was a Theosophist. In fact, the official website for The Theosophical Society of America boasts of its most famous member.
Granger: 3. "Whether or not to read Harry Potter from the logical, human view, then, is a question of whether reading Harry fosters a curiosity in the occult or in a rewarding spiritual life. Scripture forbids occult practice and tells us to 'train a child in the way he should go.' ... Does Harry foster an interest in the real world occult or doesn't he?" Page 4
"...the magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries..... I say this without hesitation because the magic in Harry Potter is not 'sorcery' or invocational magic. ...the magic practiced in the Potter books, by hero and villain alike, is incantational magic, a magic that shows—in story form—our human thirst for a reality beyond the physical world around us." Page 4
"Invocational means literally 'to call in.' Magic of this sort is usually referred to as sorcery. Scripture warns that 'calling in' demonic principalities and power for personal power and advantage is dangerously stupid.... But there is no invocational sorcery in the Harry Potter books. Even the most evil wizards do their nasty magic with spell." Page 5
"The Patronus Charm required the wizard to say the words 'Expecto Patronum' and to concentrate as hard as possible on a happy memory... At first, Harry is only able to conjure a thin, wispy Patronus... After he gives himself a stern talking-to... he conjures a magnificent Patronus and... dispels the dementor impersonators...."
Yet Mr. Granger describes invocational magic on page 141:
Ponder these definitions from a reputable Internet dictionary:
Conjure: 1. To summon (a devil or spirit) by magical or supernatural power.
2. To influence or effect by or as if by magic: tried to conjure away the doubts that beset her.
3. To practice black magic http://dictionary.reference.com/
Incantation: Ritual recitation of verbal charms or spells to produce a magic effect.
A formula used in ritual recitation; a verbal charm or spell. http://dictionary.reference.com/
Invocational: The act or an instance of invoking, especially an appeal to a higher power for assistance.
A prayer or other formula used in invoking, as at the opening of a religious service.
The act of conjuring up a spirit by incantation. An incantation used in conjuring. http://dictionary.reference.com/
In other words, you can't separate Harry's invocational magic from his incantational magic. Incantations are used to invoke supernatural forces that make something happen according to the will of the sorcerer. They go together! John Granger is wrong when he states that "The magic in Harry Potter is exclusively incantational magic in conformity with... scriptures' admonitions." Page 6
Granger's justification: "We live in a time in which naturalism... is the state religions and belief and supernatural or contra-natural powers is considered delusion. The incantational magic in Harry Potter... undermines faith in this godless worldview. And by undermining the materialistic view of our times... the books lay the foundation not for occult practices but for a traditional understanding of the spiritual life." Page 8
Not true — unless "traditional" refers to something other than Biblical understanding. Many new spiritual forms and religious blends are becoming increasingly popular. Postmodern mysticism is in. Modern secularism is fading. What is fast replacing secularism are the self-made spiritual blends which embrace materialism as well as dialectic thinking — and which increasingly justify occult practices. Even former atheist Gorbachev now promotes a global spirituality. But Biblical Christianity doesn't fit.
Granger: "Have you heard stories of children being sucked into witches' covens because they want to be like Harry Potter? Your child is far more likely to become a Hare Krishna or member of a Christian cult than a witch or wizard." Pages 8-9
Yes, I have read many such examples. Some of the children who visit our website fall into that category. Even Ms Rowling admits that children are drawn toward witchcraft because of her books. In an interview with Newsweek writer Malcolm Jones, she said,
(The Return of Harry Potter)
"I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the books’ setting], and it’s not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad. Because they want it to be true so badly they’ve convinced themselves it’s true."
More sophisticated youth know they can study or embrace witchcraft without joining Hogwarts, an actual coven or an occult order. Instead they simply form their own neopagan groups on high school campuses across the country. Postmodern values have freed new converts to visit occult websites, read what they want, then pick and choose whatever pleases them.
Many prefer to "do their own thing" instead of conforming to traditional or established covens. Here are a few examples: (See also Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft)
"I have been encouraged by my pastor at my CHRISTIAN church to read the Harry Potter books, because even though they have references to magic and sorcery, they can teach us more about the values of Friendship and Bravery then he can.... I am no longer Christian. Somewhere along the way my beliefs changed. I practice Wicca...." a student
"I am a [Harry Potter] fan for several reasons. Initially it's the universe. The books with the largest pull have this highly detailed, well-thought out universe that almost seems real and, importantly, that you would want to be a part of. You are not just drawn into the story but into that world. Then through talking about them with fans you fall further and further in love with the characters, you analyze them and worry about them until they feel real to you. Then you have, in a way, become a part of that shared universe, and it is a wonderful place to be."A young "solitary" witch
"I am a strong Christian and love the Lord with all my heart. The problem is I really enjoy reading the books and nothing about them conflicts with my spirit.... " A youth pastor
"You love evil more than good...." Psalm 52:3
"Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." Romans 12:9
Chapter 2 - God's Army versus the servants of Satan?
"The Harry Potter novels revolve around the central conflict of good and evil." Page 11
Granger: "Having argued that the magic in Harry Potter is at the very least consistent with a Christian worldview, let's turn to the other parts of the setting that receive much less media attention than the magic to understand what part of the Great Story each reflects and, in this, to see if they pass a litmus test for conformity to Christian tradition." Page 11
Granger: "The battle between Gryffindor and Slytherin is a battle between good and evil." Page 15
"The central conflict... is the antagonism between the descendants of Godric Griffindor and Salazar Slytherin, a conflict that is consistent with the Christian view of the world as a battleground in the cosmic war between good and evil." Page 18
So are most myths rooted in occult traditions around the world. In animist cultures (as in Alchemy and other philosophical occult orders of Medieval times) a "good" sorcerer would often fight against what he saw as evil by using his own "good" magic. In other words, sorcerers or magicians would pit what they saw as a "good" demonic force against an "evil" force.
It all depends on the standard you use to distinguish what is good or evil. Granger has chosen a feeling-based, cultural and relative standard for defining good and evil. In contrast, God calls us to evaluate good and evil from His perspective -- according to the standard He has revealed in the Bible.
Granger: "The Gryffindors (Harry, Ron, Hermione) choose to do the right thing.... The Slytherins do the wrong thing without reservation or restraint." Page 16
What counts is what God considers right and wrong, not what Mr. Granger or popular culture calls right and wrong. And God's standard is consistently clarified throughout the Bible:
"There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord..." Deuteronomy 18:9-12"Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers...."Jeremiah 27:9
"Elymas the sorcerer... withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, 'O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.' And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord." Acts 13:8
"And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts." Revelation 9:21
"...murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire....” Revelation 21:8
Chapter 3 - The Hero's Christ like Journey
"Harry's adventures take him through life, death, and resurrection" Page 19
Granger: "...these books are built on a structure... that powerfully drives home a Christian truth the world disregards or denies.... As the apostle Paul writes... 'To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.'" Page 23
Paul was referring to the Spirit of God, not the occult forces or pagan spirituality that have captivated people around the world since the fall.
Granger: "God is love (1 John 4:8). In each Harry Potter novel... it is this love, within Harry by the sacrificial love of his mom and in the symbols of Christ around him, that every year raises him up from underground in victory over death." Page 23
(See Romans 6:6-14)
We are raised up by God as we recognize our need for redemption and put our faith — not in symbols, man-made icons, or a mother's sacrificial love — but in Jesus Christ and His victory over sin through the cross in which we participate by faith.
Chapter 4 - The Alchemy of spiritual growth
"The story cycles are built on the stages of transformation" Page 25
Granger: "Maybe you think that all this fuss about the hero's journey is wrong-headed." Page 25
Yes, it causes me to wonder how much Granger was influenced by Joseph Campbell's popular images of "The Hero's Journey."
Granger: "But there's another way to look at the Harry Potter stories that is at least as likely as the annual journey: alchemy. Alchemy... is so misunderstood that saying the Harry Potter books are built on alchemical structures and imagery is not much different from saying the books aren't worth reading." Page 25
"For our purposes, alchemy can simply be defended as the transformation of something common into something special. If historians of religion and sacred art are to be believed (most notably, Titus Burckhardt and Mircea Eliade), alchemy was a spiritual path within the great revealed traditions to return fallen man to his Edenic perfection." Page 26
Those "great revealed traditions" do not include Biblical Christianity.
Titus Burckhardt's book Sacred Art in East and West is featured on an occult website dealing with Traditional metaphysics, art and symbolism." It summarizes Burckhardt's mystical, universalist message:
"A work of such profound importance—defining the meaning and spiritual use of Sacred Art through its symbolic content and dependence on metaphysical principles—could only have come from a scholar of the caliber of Titus Burckhardt. Wide in scope, covering Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Taoist art, this work—unlike other books in its field—can help readers accomplish in themselves the very goals for sacred art (i.e. spiritual transfiguration)."
To validate another point later in his book, Granger relies on author Martin Lings who is also featured on this website.
Granger: "Alchemical symbols are a large part of classic English literature. And if we don't understand the idea of alchemy, we can easily miss out on the depth, breadth and height of plays by Shakespeare, pottery by Donne and Eliot, and the novels of Lewis and Tolkien. ... Rowling uses alchemy in Harry Potter as a metaphor for change." Page 25
"The magic of alchemy and stage dramas is that through these external transformations, the alchemist's metals, the audience, and the actors onstage are all purified and transformed from leaden to golden hearts." Pages 26-7
Whether they know the God who revealed Himself to us in His Word or not? This makes no sense from a Biblical perspective! It sounds as if Mr. Granger is using an occult standard -- mixed with Gnosticism -- to analyze the occult and to argue that it is Christian.
Granger: "Where is the alchemy in Harry Potter? It's everywhere from book titles to character transformation." 28 [Three examples follow:]
1. "The book titles... Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [originally Philosopher's Stone — creating the philosopher's stone was the goal of alchemy]
The title, The Philosopher's Stone, was already taken by a well-known and respected occultist, Israel Regardie, who wrote The
Philosopher's Stone some time early in the 20th century. If you do
an author search in www.amazon.com and click through to the 3rd page of
the 314 returns you will find the book, which is out of print.
Israel Regardie — who was also tied to
theosophy and Madam Blavatsky — was Alistair Crowley's scribe.
Most occultists in England and many elsewhere in Europe either
owned his book, The Philosopher's Stone, or were aware of
it. Regardie continued Crowley's work after
Crowley's death and started an occult publishing company (Phoenix Publications
in Sedona, Arizona) near the end of his life.
Granger: 2. "The alchemical characters. ...
|Response from Peter: Further down on page 28 Granger mentions Nicolas Flamel. His comment that Flamel was an actual famous alchemist who lived in the 14th century in Paris is correct. However, he failed to mention that what made Flamel famous was that he discovered the occult work of Abraham the Jew. Abraham the Jew wrote a great work of alchemy called, Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra Merlin the Mage. If you do an amazon.com search for Nicolas Flamel you will find the book. This reference to Nicolas Flamel leaves the reader to wonder why Rowling, if she was not a knowledgeable occultist, would throw something like that into the story. As an individual Nicolas Flamel is very obscure.|
Granger: 3. "Harry's transformation from lead to gold. The alchemical work is all about changing the soul from lead to gold." 28
4. "The design.... The alchemical work purifies a base metal by dissolving and recongealing the metal using two principal reagents... These reagent reflect the masculine and feminine polarities of existence." Page 30 [Yin/yang?]
Ron and Hermione are "living symbols of alchemical sulfur (Ron) and mercury (Hermione)." Page 30
"What has often been described as Harry's annual hero journey is actually the cycle of the alchemical transformation."
|Response from Peter: Granger emphasizes that Ron represents sulfur and Hermione represents mercury. In alchemy there are seven foundational pillars upon which the practice is based. Four elements (fire, air, water and earth) and three essences (salt, sulfur and mercury) make up those pillars. Granger ignores five of the seven pillars and he focuses on the pillars of the essences of sulfur and mercury because that is convenient to his argument. All seven pillars work together in alchemy. You cannot create the same effect using only two of those pillars.|
Granger: "Great writers in the English tradition use alchemical imagery because it helps them connect with that place in our heart designed to respond to the Great Story and promise of our life in Christ.... Far from preparing a generation of candidates for New Age apostasy, these [Harry Potter] books have baptized the imagination of hundreds of millions and nourished the faith of readers who believe." Page 35
If the Harry Potter books "Harry Potter books, indeed, are built on alchemical structures and imagery," we need to ask: What is Alchemy? An occult reference book titled "A Dictionary of Mind and Spirit" (compiled by Donald Watson, 1991) helps answer that question:
"Whatever the alchemists’ own beliefs in the possibilities of turning lead into gold, they had no qualms about financing their investigations by duping wealthy patrons. The other modern view, particularly since Jung’s research into the subject, is that the alchemical writings are symbolic representations of the individual’s mental and spiritual work, striving to unify body, MIND and SPIRIT and thus achieve a human divinity, the perfected human being.
"According to this view, the transmutation of base metal into gold symbolized the transformation of natural, material man into spiritual man. The catalyst in this process was known as the PHILOSOPHER’S STONE.... According to alchemists, the production of the Philosopher’s Stone involved blending and treating three basic substances, salt, sulphur and mercury, which in the esoteric view corresponded to the body, soul or mind, and spirit. When brought together in the cauldron and blended in the element of fire (representing love) the threefold process began. The first stage of Blackness represented purgation, the second, Whiteness, represented illumination, and the third, Redness, the colour of alchemical gold, represented the marriage of Luna and Sol, the union of the human and the divine, the finite and the infinite.
"Each individual, belonging to both the material and the divine world, contained a spark of the universal spirit imprisoned in matter, as well as having a soul and a body. The Great Work can thus be understood as a symbolic representation of how human beings might achieve insight into their own divine perfection by freeing the spirit from the bonds of matter. The Church was notoriously antagonistic to such GNOSTIC beliefs, so it was only natural that a doctrine of this kind should be couched in esoteric terms. The ROSICRUCIANS continued the tradition into relatively modem times. According to the symbolism gold represented the state of perfection which could be achieved in the material world; it therefore also represented the perfected body and the perfected soul, towards which we should all be striving."
Chapter 5 - One person two natures
"Doppelgangers point to the struggle of dual natures — and their resolution in the God-Man" Page 37
Granger: "A doppelganger is a creature' complementary figure of shadow which reveals aspects of its character otherwise invisible." Page 38
"Many of Rowling's characters... are animagi. These are masters of the magical subject of transfiguration who can change at will into an animal shape." Page 38
"This shape-changing stunt ... The shape each animagus takes is a pointer to its character.... The animal figure is a shadow, or doppelganger, that allows us to see more clearly the outline of the true person." Page 38
Not unlike shape-shifting — especially by witchdoctors or shamans — in pagan cultures.
Granger: "Voldemort is not the Dark Lord's given name. His real name is Tom Riddle, which because Thomas comes form the Aramaic word for 'twin' is a pointer to how important the doppelganger structure is...." Page 43
"Alchemy helps unwrap the riddle. As you'll recall, the principal activity of alchemy is the chemical marriage of the imbalanced 'arguing couple': masculine sulfur and feminine quicksilver. These two qualities have to be reconciled and resolved (die and be reborn) before then can be rejoined in a perfected golden unity. Opposites have to be reconciled and resolved for there to be a new life.
"Alchemists frequently cited Christ's words: '...except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth froth much fruit.' (John 12:24) Alchemists took this verse and the hope of eternal life in Christ's death and resurrection as a scriptural confirmation that their doctrines were correct." Page 44
"You find a balance of hot and cold water by pairing the opposites." Page 47
"Dumbledore points to Christ." Page 47(see his quote below)
It sounds as if Granger is referring to Hegel's dialectic process — the yin-yang of the West — the heart of Communist brainwashing. Hegel was a student of alchemy, kabala, Rosicrucianism and hermetic magic. See
Granger also sounds fascinated with the worlds of Carl Jung (known to his disciples in Zurich as the "Hexenmeister" or sorcerer).
Chapter 7 - The triumph of love over death
"The mystery of death meets the ultimate answer" Page 59
Granger: "Dumbledore explains to Harry that 'to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.'" Page 60
Harry admits to Dumbledore that he thought he saw his dead father save him from the dementor's kiss. Dumbledore's response is that the dead we love never 'truly leave us' and that James Potter 'is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him." [SeeHarry Potter and the Postmodern Church]
"...the love of the departed lives on in us as a protecting grace." Page 62
They do? Pagan ancestral worship clings to that belief, but it clashes with God's Word. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain," wrote Paul. "...I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you." Philippians 1:21
Granger: "Only cowardly wizards like Nick, afraid of death, 'choose to remain behind' as an 'imprint of themselves.' This shatters Harry— until he is reminded by Luna [moon, a common symbol in witchcraft] that they have evidence of an afterlife. In the Department of Mysteries... are the Death Chambers... Luna reminds Harry that, yes, death if final, but the fact that they hear voices on the other side of the veil means there is good reason to hope for an afterlife." Page 64
What kind of comfort is that for the reader? If a Christian, he receives a far clearer and more certain message from the Bible. Those who need Harry Potter to affirm life after death in order to believe God's truth are probably not true Christians. As for unbelievers, this "encouraging" wizardly message would only bring deception and false hope.
Granger: "Dumbledore calls the 'ancient magic' he used consequent to Lily's sacrifice 'the bond of blood.' He places Harry with Lily's sister because her home is a place where Harry's mother's blood dwells. As Dumbledore put it, 'Her blood became your refuge.'" Page 66
Their confidence was not in the blood of Christ, but in the blood of a witch who demonstrated maternal love. Granger goes on to describe what he sees as the meaning of salvation.
Chapter 8 - The question of identity
"Harry defines himself through choices, change, and destiny" Page 71
Granger: "Let's look at the choices Harry makes — choices that will define who he is. ... He chooses (with one exception that has heavy consequences) loyalty to the good. Page 71
Harry Potter overview
He does? While he usually shows loyalty to his friends (a good trait in all cultures — Christian or pagan), he also lies, steals, breaks rules, "snarls," and becomes increasingly rude and angry as the years go by. What's worse — he models all the levels of magical training for an adept in an actual occult order — such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. See
Granger: "We participate imaginatively with the characters when they make good choices — and this reading experience positively influences the decision making in our own lives. Sort of like vitamins for the soul." Page 74
"Young wizards and witches at Hogwarts are taught from the first year on the basics... up to the advanced magic of 'turning [your] friend into a badger.'" Page 75
"By the end of Goblet of Fire, Harry has transformed into a real he-man of sacrificial virtue and is nearly a superhero....
"By the end of [Order of the Phoenix], Harry has learned to look to his heart for his bearings and to the world for very little." Page 78
At the end of Phoenix, he is an angry, bitter, and grieving wizard desperately searching for ways to communicate with Sirius Black who died because of Harry's mistakes. But his conversations with Luna (moon), eases his mind. She, like Harry, is set apart because of her sensitivity to occult messages and mystical experiences.
Chapter 9 - Evidence of things unseen
"The symbols in Potterdom are powerful pointers to Christian reality" Page 83
Granger: "Once we understand symbols we can better understand what it means to be human. As creatures made in 'the image of God,' we are three-dimensional symbols, in time and space, of the Trinity." Page 83-84
The next statement is amazing! Reality would be incomprehensible except in the light of God's Word — not the light of subjective symbols that can be interpreted according to cultural values and changing beliefs.
Granger: "The world we live in is incomprehensible except in light of symbols. As Martin Lings, tutorial student and friend of C. S. Lewis, wrote:
"'There is no traditional doctrine which does not teach that the world is the world of symbols, inasmuch as it contains nothing which is not a symbol. A man should therefore understand at least what that means, not only because he has to live in the here below but also and above all because without such understanding he would fail to understand himself, he being the supreme and central symbol in the terrestrial state.'" Page 84
Mr. Granger validated his point about symbols with a quote from Symbol and Archetype: A Study of the Meaning of Existence (1991) — a book which offers a metaphysical alternative to the Biblical view of reality and existence. The author, Martin Lings, a British authority on spirituality, Islamic symbols and mysticism, graduated from Oxford in 1932 and became the Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the British Museum. His other books include The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrine of Faith, Wisdom and Gnosis (1952), Ancient Beliefs and Modern Superstitions (1964), A Muslim [Sufi] Saint of the Twentieth Century (1961), The Secret of Shakespeare, and The Eleventh Hour: The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern World in Light of Tradition and Prophecy (1989).
A review of the last book reveals that it mentions the millennium and end-time prophecies, but not from a Christian perspective. It includes a Scripture to validate its metaphysical message, but the Scripture is taken out of its Biblical context:
"The Eleventh Hour has its roots in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. The following questions run through the book: why did the latecomers receive the same wage as those who had laboured throughout the heat of the day? Why were they the first to be paid? And why, did Christ say ‘And the last shall be first?’
"These questions are answered in the light of the concept of the Millennium, which is clearly the equivalent of the new Golden Age of the next cycle of time, and which is found in all three monotheistic religions, bringing them into line, in this respect, with Hinduism, Greco-Roman Antiquity and Buddhism. This new and expanded edition now includes the fascinating ‘St Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes’, a remarkable twelfth-century prophecy which Lings analyses in depth, according to which the end of time is predicted and also an appendix concerning the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal and other places."
Remember, adding a few Bible verses doesn't make a human observation true or good. Satan's deceptions are often cloaked in Scriptures taken out of context. From the beginning, he has been a master at deceiving people with tempting blends of truth and lies.
Granger: "This is the power of myth: that we can experience invisible spiritual realties and truths greater than visible, material things in story form. Tolkien described Christianity as the 'True Myth,' the ultimate intrusion of God into the world through his incarnation.... Tolkien's explanation of this idea was instrumental in C. S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity; it is this understanding to the purpose and power of story that gives his fiction its depth, breadth, and height." Page 86 (SeeTolkien's Lord of the Rings: Truth, Myth or 'Discovered Reality"?)
"Knowing that symbols are points of passage between this world and the greater world 'above' and 'within' us explains a lot about Harry Potter and Potter-mania. Magic, for example is not demonic or contrary to Scripture when used (as it is in Harry Potter) as a symbol of the miraculously power of God that mean as images of God are designed to have."
God never designed man to manipulate supernatural power with his own will and imagination — which is what Harry and the other wizards demonstrate. They practice the timeless formula for magic taught by Starhawk, the Wiccan founder of the Covenant of the Goddess. In The Spiral Dance (p. 62), she explains that the purpose of magical training is -
See "My Will be Done."
"To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality... to leap beyond imagination into that space between the worlds where fantasy becomes real; to be at once animal and god...
"Spells [and magic]... require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection.... To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol."
Mental projection means using your will to project the visible or invisible images created in the mind as needed to accomplish the magical feat. It works in these times, because America has changed. As the masses shifted their love from our sovereign Lord to countless other gods, forces and enticements, more and more people were able to communicate with the demonic realm through pagan rituals (spirit quests, sweat lodge ceremonies...), which yielded few results some years ago. It seems that God is withdrawing His protection over his land — just as He did in Old Testament days when Israel sought and followed "other gods."See Deut 8:10-20
Granger: "Books that are rich in symbolism necessarily support a Christian worldview. ... Symbolic literature requires — and celebrates — this otherworldly perspective that magically undermines the worldly, atheistic, and materialistic perspective of our times." Page 87
"Tertullian said that 'all souls are Christian souls' and Augustine echoed him in writing that 'our hearts are restless 'til they rest in Thee.'" Page 87
Who is our authority in matters of faith — God's Word or human quotes? If Tertullian did make that universalist statement, he was wrong. In contrast, Augustine was speaking as a Christian would be speaking to his church family.
The fact that Granger would quote the statement attributed to Tertullian causes me to wonder if Granger believes in universalism. Does he believe in a broad, universal "Christian" umbrella of spiritual safety that includes people from all the "major" religions he mentioned earlier (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam with its mystical branch Sufism)? It almost sounds that way.
Granger: "Unlike most contemporary novels, which portray realistic morals or earthbound allegories, Harry Potter is very much a myth pointing to the True Myth.... I already explained how Harry's two friends are ciphers for the 'quarreling couple' of alchemy." Page 88
"The trio's love for one another and our identification with them makes their hard times with each other the most painful parts of the stories.... We become aligned in this identification—spirit to mind to body—and fell strangely upright and all right for the change. Good literature trains us in the 'stock responses' and lets us see and pattern ourselves after the right alignment of the soul's powers. When our desires are in line with our will, and both will and desires are obedient to directions from the heart or spirit, we are in operation the way we were designed to be." 88
In light of Granger's quote leading up to this point, 'all souls are Christian souls,' do you wonder whether that "spirit" is the Holy Spirit or a human or universal "spirit" in all people? Since he didn't capitalize "spirit" — and since elsewhere in his book he refers to man's "spirit" — I tend to believe he is referring to the human spirit, not God's Spirit — unless he sees the two as one.
Granger: "Harry also decides to go to Hogsmeade on Ron's advice and against Hermione's pleas—and narrowly misses being expelled." Page 89 (always chooses good?)
"Mythical Beasts in Harry Potter - Page 91 (All these real or mythical beasts are popular pagan symbols — often featured in the complex symbolism of Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.)
"The Unicorn: 'the symbol of Christ.' ... Scholars of symbolism as diverse as Carl Jung and Narnia expert Paul Ford confirm the interpretation of the pure white animal whose single horn symbolizes the 'invincible strength of Christ.'" Page 93
"The Phoenix: ... Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet. ... How is the phoenix a symbol of Christ? In the Middle Ages, the phoenix, because of its ability to 'rise from death,' was known as the 'resurrection bird.' Like the griffin, it was used in heraldic devices and shields to represent the bearer's hope of eternal life in Christ." Page 94
"The Phoenix completes this process of soul development. The Phoenix bird builds its nest which at the same time is its funeral pyre, and then setting it alight cremates itself. But it arises anew from the ashes transformed. Here we have captured the alchemists experience of spiritualization. He has integrated his being so much, that he is no longer dependent upon his physical body as a foundation for his being. He now stands upon the sureness of the spiritual - he has in this sense attained the Philosopher's Stone, the Spiritual core of his being. Thus we can sketch shortly the process of Soul alchemy, the integration, purification and transmutation of the soul, as pictured in this series of bird symbols." http://www.crystalinks.com/birdsalchemy.html
From an occult website:
"The Stag: ... Just as the phoenix is the 'resurrection bird' because it can rise from its own funeral pyre, so the noble stag 'came to be thought of as a symbol of regeneration because of the way its antlers are renewed. The stag's antlers break off and grow back, tying the animal symbolically to the tree of life and the Resurrection... a symbol for Christ." Page 95
In Celtic mythology and witchcraft, the stag is the horned god, the consort of the sensual goddess.
From Peter: The graph on page 99 of his book says the stag is the tree of life > Christ. This is bizarre Bible bungee. What the stag has to do with the tree is life is absolutely NOTHING. Take a look at this site: http://www.crystalinks.com/kabala.html Here is a picture of the Kabbalistic tree (Qabbalistic) of life. A stag has nothing more to do with this tree of life than it does with the tree of life in the garden. This is a true Kabbalistic website.
Scroll down to see the word alchemy in blue (it's a link). When you click on the link you come to this site: http://www.crystalinks.com/alchemy.html where you can read the history of alchemy and how alchemy has been a part of all the world's major religions back through the centuries.
"The Centaur: The head and chest of a man are man's will, thought and spirit; the horsy bottom is his desires and passions." Page 96
"The Philosopher's Stone: (not exactly a beast) The end result of the alchemical Great Word was the stone that produced the Elixir of Life (often called the red lion). This magical object... gave its owner immortality and infinite wealth. Historians of science, region and literature.... do agree that the philosopher's stone is a symbol of Christ.... The end product or aim of alchemy is life in Christ; English authors and poets of many centuries have used this symbol of Christ... to dramatize the search for an answer to death and human poverty of spirit." Page 97-98
See Popular Occultism
The occultists that practiced alchemy were not seeking for the Christ of the Bible. They had invented their own counterfeit alternative to the Biblical story.
"The Red Lion: ... the Elixir of Life coming from the philosopher's stone, a symbol of the blood of Christ received in Communion." Page 99
"The Harry Potter stories, in their formulaic journeys that end every year with love's triumph over death in the presence of a Christ symbol, find their power and popularity in the resonance they create in our hearts. We connect with them because they point toward the True Myth that saves us." Page 100
Or is it because Rowling tickles our ears with the kinds of enticing stories and power-filled myths that gratify natural desires and stir the imagination with images of supernatural power?
Granger: "Much of Harry Potter.... foster a Christian perspective by 'baptizing the imagination.' The gospel has rarely, if ever, been smuggled into the heart and minds of readers so successfully and profoundly." Page 100
"But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward." Jeremiah 7:24
Chapter 11 - The purification of the soul
"Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" Page 117
Granger: "Perhaps the scariest scene ... is the detention in the Forbidden Forest where Harry and Draco see the Dark Lord drinking unicorn blood." Page 118
"As we saw earlier, the centaur is a symbol of a perfect man and an imaginative icon of Christ riding into Jerusalem. ... That the blood of the unicorn will curse those who drink it unworthily, and that it has life-giving power, echoes Paul's discourse on the unworthy reception of Communion, which is the blood of Christ." (1 Cor 11:23-29) Page 118
Remember, Satan counterfeits all that God offers His own people. The blood has also played an important part in occult rituals performed by the various occult orders that grew during the Middle Ages, blending selected Biblical phrases with Egyptian mythology, alchemical symbolism, the Kabala and Hermetic magic. The blood rituals in these groups were a mockery of Christ and His holy Word, as it is in the Harry Potter series.
Granger: "The authentic and accomplished alchemist is able to produce the Stone because of his spiritual achievement. It is a by-product to that perfection, as are the immortality and the riches of transcending the world.... We know Dumbledore and the Flamel are of this perfected type because they destroy the Stone at the book's end." Page 123
Three problems: (1)The two wizards follow a path God forbids in His Word! (2) The word "perfection" here doesn't correspond to Biblical sanctification. (3) Granger gives credit to human achievement in contrast to Christians who know that achievement is by God's grace, not our own wisdom or strength.
Granger: "So what is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone about? Written in the symbolism of alchemy and traditional Christian doctrine, it is an ode to the purification and perfection of the soul in Christ and His saving, sacrificial love. The perfected soul at death will experience the glory and love of God as joy." Page 126
Where is the cross, repentance, confession? This is a counterfeit gospel, twisted to justify and accommodate popular occultism and "white magic."
Chapter 12 - Dangerous books and edifying Books
"Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" Page 127
Granger: "When Harry and Ron discover the diary in Moaning Myrtle's toilet, Ron warns Harry about the dangerous magic contained in books to keep him from looking at it. Harry, after Ron's hysterical warnings and barely concealed prediction of a fate worse than death, decides he'll have to read it to find out. I don't doubt that this is a bit of advice for the sensible, sober reader: in the matter of a controversial or supposedly dangerous book, you should read it and decide for yourself what it is about." Page 128
Should you? What about the occult books in Acts 19:17-20? What if you were told this "dangerous book" was full of spells or pornography? Would it still be wise to read it and decide for yourself? See Harry Potter and the Power of Suggestion
Granger: "The effect of the book on Ginny is that she turns into a rooster-murdering, basilisk-releasing servant of Riddle. She thinks she is losing her mind—and she is right. Her mind is now Voldemort's." Page 129
[Page 130] But much of the occult world has been steeped in materialism! After all, possessions are some of the coveted rewards for successful magic or alchemy. That's one reason why the early alchemists sought to create gold!
Yes. She became possessed by his spirit. Yet, Granger doesn't see the danger of introducing occultism to children. Instead he equates the magic in these books with "a counter-spell" that would protect young readers from "the enchantment of modernity" or materialism.
Granger: "...this kind of book [by the arrogant Gilderoy] is as corrosive to right spiritual formation as the moral relativism and other poisons hiding in textbook. Godless fiction is slow poison to the soul." Page 132
Do you wonder what Granger means by "right spiritual formation?"
Chapter 13 - Despair and delivery
"Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" Page 137
Granger: "Prisoner of Azkaban is really a book about escapes and revealed secrets.... Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban...."137
"Harry... escapes from Privet Drive and the badgering of Aunt Marge.... revealing himself to be an angry young man with a host of unresolved issues about his parents and his own identity. He escapes from these passions via dissolution of his confusion.... in the alchemical crucible of the Shrieking Shack." Page 139
"Lupin acts as Harry's tutor and de facto Jungian analyst." Page 140
"Lupin tries to teach Harry... how to conjure a Patronus using the Patronus Charm.... [concentrate on a happy memory, then project with the will using the words 'Expecto Patronum!' " Page 141
Deceived on Purpose
Remember Starhawk's formula for spells and magic: "relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection...." Here the key is exercising the will and counting on results. In other words, expecting the power tapped by the magic to deliver results. In Hermetic magic the process is summarized thus: As above, so below. See Popular Occultism and
Granger: "As Harry said, 'I'm not doing this [preventing his father's friends from killing Pettigrew] for you. I'm doing it because I don't reckon my dad would've wanted them to become killers. This humility, compassion and mercy is evidence that he has indeed achieved a degree of spiritual perfection; his will and his father's will are one and the same, just as we see in John 17:21 and Matthew 6:10; 26:39." Page 144
In other words, Harry has gone through the alchemical process (dissolution, purification and perfection) and ends up perfect. Of course, he is anything but perfect when we start the next book, and this formula for occult transformation has nothing to do with Biblical salvation. It's absurd to equate an alchemical process in a pagan setting with God's sanctifying work in a person joined to Him through the cross.
Granger: "Harry is not equal to this magic until his ego concerns have been purified and dissolved." [More Jungian and alchemical psychology]
Jung received his information from at least three different spirit guides. These revolutionary teachings would captivate the world. See Carl Jung, Alchemy and Neo-Gnosticism. Notice the references to those spirit guides, to Gnosticism, and to the occult practices of channeling and automatic writing.
Chapter 14 - Girded with Virtue
"Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" Page 149
Granger: "The social drama of good versus evil. Page 150
"The Tournament tasks are keyed to the four elements of alchemy: air, earth, fire, and water." Page 150[See A Twist of Faith]
"The Harry Potter books seem to be telling us that it is not study, your special external preparations, or even your piety that save you in the end. Rather, it is your internal quality—the courage, love and virtue within—that determines your receptivity to the graces that will save you in spiritual warfare." Page 154
What about confidence in God's promises, the cleansing Blood of Jesus, His righteousness in us, and the shield of faith of God's armor? Or the meekness and humility taught in the beatitudes?
Granger: "In Arthurian legend, the magical object that selected those champions worthy to behold it was the Holy Grail. ... It has power because it is the Communion cup of Christ's Last Supper; others say it caught the blood of Christ as He was crucified. ... Readers of the Arthurian tales know that it could be found only by the most pure of heart." Page 156
The apparent surface similarities between Christian truth and occult myths cannot not make the myths true or holy.
"...what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God." 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Satan is a deceiver who twists God's truth and mimics His promises in order to tempt and divert Christians from the true truth.
Granger: "The strangest characteristic of the fire in this Goblet is that it is a nonconsuming fire.... Though it may seem a stretch to modern Americans, most Christians can't help but note its parallels with the nonconsuming fire of the burning bush on Mount Sinai, the purifying flames of what Catholic believers call purgatory, and the glory of the love of God....All these are signatures or correspondences with God's Word...." Page 157
"‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding,
Who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not:
Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.
‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea....
But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart....
They do not say in their heart, 'Let us now fear the Lord our God....
'An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so." Jeremiah 5:22-30
Chapter 15 - Dark night of the soul
"Order of the Phoenix" Page 159
Granger: "Lyndy Abraham's Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery describes the nigredo as: 'The initial black stage of the opus alchymicum in which the body of the impure metal, the matter for the Stone, or the old outmoded state of being is killed, putrefied, and dissolved into the original substance of creation, the prima material, in order that it may be renovated and reborn in a new form.'
"Citing the alchemists' dependence on Christ's teaching, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John 12:24, KJV) -- Abraham concludes:
"The beginning of spiritual realization is always accompanied by some kind of sacrifice or death, a dying to the old state of things, in order to make way for the new insight and creation. Burckhardt [his metaphysical philosophy was introduced earlier] observed that the turning away of the outer world to the inner to face the shadow of the psyche is frequently experienced as a nox profunda, before the dawning of the new light of illumination)." Page 161-162
"If the language of alchemy and Christianity makes your eyes go glossy, look at it as a psychology course. Understand the 'old man' as 'dad,' the way we use the phrase in common speech. Phoenix is, in large part, about Harry's coming to term with his being the heir of his biological father, James." Pages 164-165
"Our discomfort with the Phoenix segment of the Harry Potter saga might be summarized as our resistance to the demands of Christian life." Page 167
"Reading about the Bond of Blood that protects Harry, we must examine our understanding of the bond of blood we have in Christ by his sacrifice and the Eucharist he left us to preserve us in that bond." Page 167
"Order of the Phoenix contains the most explicitly Christian references of the series so far. Harry gets a glimpse beyond the Veil, a reference both to the Veil of the Temple and the Shack in Lewis' Last Battle —to an afterlife where the righteous will meet again. She [Luna] points again to the Mysterious power behind the door which is both 'more wonderful and more terrible than death, than Human intelligence, than forces of nature.' Page 168dialectic process leapt into greater prominence -- first under Communist leaders such as Lenin and Stalin, then in Western education and culture -- through the more sophisticated methodology of Georg Hegel, who studied Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Hermetic Magic, Kabala and Freemasonry.
Granger's arguments make the occult seem one and the same with Christianity — thus prompting the kind of dialectic thinking that has blurred the line between truth and deception throughout history. The
Granger: "The word 'order' is a religious term, after all, referring to a group with a specific vocation (until modern times almost always primarily contemplative) within the Church. That this order is the 'of the Phoenix' a traditional symbol both of the ends of alchemy and of Christ Himself highlights this otherworldly meaning." Page 169
Note from Berit: Although I have debated John Granger on radio and exchanged email with him, I don't know him personally. This analysis is not a personal criticism of his beliefs and values. Instead it is an open response to his public teaching on the topics of Harry Potter, alchemy, sorcery, magic and Jungian psychology — and how all these supposedly enhance a Christian's understanding of God. Since Mr. Granger's book is already in the public domain, it calls for a public and Biblical response.
See alsoComment on Alchemy & Christianity
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix | Twelve Reasons not to see Harry Potter MoviesHarry Potter and the Power of Suggestion | Bewitched by Harry Potter | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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