The Deadly Magic of Potter Movies: The Order of the Phoenix
The Deadly Magic of Potter Movies
The Order of the Phoenix is not “just fantasy!”
“…it can’t be much darker – or more dramatic – than the challenge the young wizard faces with the re-emergence of Lord Voldemort…. Claiming to have seen the mysterious Voldemort, Harry is met with disbelief and derision … and the suspicion that he’s a liar rapidly spreads through the school. More than ever before, the thing that makes Harry special also makes him an outcast.” Movie review
“Harry longed to bite the man… but he must master the impulse. He had more important work to do. But the man was stirring…. He had no choice…. He reared high from the floor and struck once, twice, three times, plunging his fangs deeply into the man’s flesh…. The man was yelling in pain… then he fell silent…. Blood was splattering onto the floor…. [Harry’s] forehead hurt terribly.” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Parents who watch the Harry Potter movies may not always be aware of the dark occult world that empowers this series. Unlike the book, this dark movie doesn’t explain the nightmarish scene above. Nor does it describe the murderous spells and curses that kill Sirius Black, Harry’s beloved friend and “godfather.” To better understand those forces you may want to read our review of the book behind the fifth movie, The Order of the Phoenix.
You may not know that Sirius, like Harry, was an animagus (shape-shifter) who could turn himself into a large, black dog. This shape-shifting process is sometimes called transmutation. Its roots may not trouble those who delight in Harry’s magical world, but Christians should remember that shape-shifting has been part of sorcery and shamanism through the centuries.
In this segment of the seven-part series, Voldemort, the evil wizard with the cravings of a vampire, repeatedly makes his deadly assaults through the jaws of a serpent. And since Harry was psychically linked to this devilish wizard, he participates in the attack as if he were actually inside the snake — as if Voldemort’s spirit had possessed Harry’s mind.
Yet, this event is not an example of shape-shifting. Both Harry and Voldemort have the magical ability to “talk” with snakes (parseltongue), but this is different. Harry is now an unwilling participant in Voldemort’s mind. He feels his enemy’s hatred, shares his thirst for blood, and participates in his murderous action. As Harry explains in the book,
“I thought I was a snake, I felt like one – my scar really hurt… It was like something rose up inside me….” (Page 481)
Not a nice story for children, is it? The rest of this sinister plot isn’t much better. Harry is depressed and angry. His best friends don’t understand him. Professor Dumbledore, Harry’s father-like former protector avoids him. Though most Hogwarts students once admired him, they now distrust him. And the end of the movie leaves little hope in a better future. In fact, a coveted but hidden prophecy — one that fueled some of the cruel curses near the movie’s end — warns that either Voldemort or Harry must die. One must kill the other.
Throughout the book, rage, revenge, lies, sarcasm and sorcery bombard the imagination of the reader. The movie dramatizes the same somber mood. Harry fears he is becoming increasingly like Voldemort, while the merciless wizard is rebuilding his army of scheming death eaters, many of whom are the fathers of Harry’s most hostile classmates. Scene after scene immerses viewers into unforgettable evil — often wielded by supposedly “good” wizards.
Today’s love for such depravity shows that God’s warnings are as relevant as ever. Here He describes ancient Israel, which had turned from God’s loving protection to the deceptive guidance of diviners and sorcerers:
“…they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart.” Jeremiah 11:8.
From enticing fantasy to demonic reality
In some ways Rowling’s wizards resemble the real wizards behind medieval alchemy. The facts and philosophy behind alchemy are rarely mentioned these days, which might explain why Biblically illiterate “Christians” are so easily persuaded to equate it with Christianity. Author John Granger first introduced this deception in his 2004 book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, published by the “Christian” Tyndale House. He argues that alchemy (plus mysticism), rather than the cross of Christ, is the pathway to redemption — and that Potter will show us the way:
“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…. [H]is 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….
“It is essentially a super-conscious or spiritual work that happens through correspondence with archetypes that are above, not below, individual consciousness…. 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…. Rowling’s novels are so popular because her works transform the human person via imaginative identification, catharsis, and resurrection.” [Emphasis added]
Yes, Rowling obviously understands both alchemy and sorcery. And her occult wizard-world may well “transform” members of emerging and market-driven churches through “imaginative identification.” But Granger’s misplaced reference to “resurrection” has nothing to do with Jesus Christ who gave His life to free us from bondage to the forces of evil.
In contrast, his usage of words such as “correspondence,” “above” and “below” fit right into medieval alchemy and Rowling’s magic. The phrase, “as above so below” dates back to ancient “mystery religions” and to the mythical Greek god Hermes. The occult philosophy linked to his name also gave birth to Hermetic magic, the mystical Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and other occult organizations that flourished during the 19th and 20th centuries.
A former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn who became a Christian and renounced these works of darkness, explained it to us in these words:
“I was taught in ritual magick how to go to different planes of existence outside the physical body. I could create a realm there in which I could practice ritual magick and perfect my magical skills…. Through my will and imagination, I made things happen on the physical plane. As above, so below! This ritual magick is a manifestation of the power of your will.”
His words remind me of the Wiccan author Starhawk’s formula for magic and spells. Author of The Spiral Dance and founder of the “Covenant of the Goddess” she taught her followers exactly what Harry and his young wizard friends were learning at Hogwarts. Rowling seems to know those occult principles well:
“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.”
From pagan bondage to Christian freedom
To equate the wizard world with Christianity, Rowling and “Christian” Potter fans must divide the wizard population into two categories: good and evil, or light and dark. The “good” wizards can then be likened to “Christians” who fight the forces of Satan.
But this wishful logic is flawed. Unlike the “good” and “evil” wizards, Christians and occultists turn to opposite sources of strength. And while Christians trust God’s grace for victory, occultists trust their own magical skills and concentration for victory. There are no enlightening parallels between God’s people and occult adepts!
Before the spread of Christianity, cultures around the world relied on the dark forces of the occult. Contrary to the modern illusions of noble, earth-loving primitives, tribal people of the past lived with constant, justifiable fears. They sought peace and healing, revenge and rewards through divination, sorcery and magic. Their shamans or medicine men could be kind or cruel, but their only source of supernatural relief was a dark pool of capricious demonic forces.
In those days, ordinary people feared angry spirits as much as they feared their jealous neighbors. So to save a sick child from a supposed angry spirit, a mother might offer a sacrifice to a “benevolent” spirit. To kill a rival, an offended warrior might rely on a powerful deity. Both might hire the services of the tribal shaman — one who had “sold his soul” to gain his power.
That pagan world illustrates Harry’s wizard world. Rowling’s spiritual forces may seem less personal and more predictable, but neither world offers anything comparable to our Biblical God. There is no “good side” apart from knowing Christ.
The timeless results of popularizing spiritual alternatives are all around us. Our children and grandchildren are learning to —
1. Love tempting alternatives rather than God. (Revelation 2:4-5)
2. Enjoy evil more than good. (Psalm 52:3 & Isaiah 5:20-21)
3. Trust fantasy more than Truth. (Jeremiah 7:24, 23:16)
4. Reject God’s unchanging Truth and adapt home-taught values to changing culture. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
5. Redefine Biblical words to support today’s thrills. (Isaiah 5:20-21)
6. Ignore contrary suggestions and follow the crowd. (2 Timothy 3:1-14)
The solution, of course, is to turn back to God, to heed His warnings, and to follow His way:
“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, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out…” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10
1. “Magical, but dark” at http://www.mercurynews.com/harrypotterheadlines/ci_6338686