Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
by Berit Kjos, July 2005
“Malfoy’s hex missed Harry by inches, shattering the lamp on the wall beside him; Harry threw himself sideways, thought Levicorpus! and flicked his wand, but Malfoy blocked the jinx…. “Sectumsembra! bellowed Harry from the floor, waving his wand wildly. Blood spurted from Malfoy’s face and chest as though he had been slashed with an invisible sword.”
“The story of Harry Potter is an allegory: It is written and packaged to look like fantasy when, in truth, it is a carefully written true description of the training and work of an initiate in an occult order…. The story line aligns with real occult books written by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, who, themselves, run the foremost school of witchcraft in the British Isles.“ Peter, a former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 1
‘I’m a fanatic. I love reading them. They get you hooked.” Ashley, age 14.
As Potter-passion soars to new heights, it’s time to take another look at the young wizard’s influence on Christian beliefs. After all, the sixth book in Ms. Rowling’s spine-tingling adventures into the world of the occult has broken all records. Almost 7 million copies were sold in the United States in its first 24 hours – averaging better than 250,000 sales per hour! What is happening? Why is Harry’s virtual world so enticing? Could this new mythology become the great equalizer of religions — fusing Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities with 21st century paganism?
An anonymous visitor to our website illustrates its enchanting power to deceive “Christian” youth:
“Harry Potter is merely a work created for readers to enjoy. It teaches children to read and to imagine. Our society has really overreacted to this, especially the church. I myself am a faithful follower who does enjoy reading…. Harry Potter encourages magic and I hope you all have the good sense to celebrate what gods gives [sic] us through wonderful stories like Harry Potter…. Are these evil? Are we not to celebrate halloween? When do you draw the line?”
Actually, our wise and caring God has already drawn some very specific lines for us. To guard us from dangers we can’t even grasp, He has given us clear boundaries that we would be wise to heed. For example, He tells us that anyone practicing witchcraft, sorcery, spell-casting, necromancy or divination (all occult skills that Harry learns and practices at Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry) is an “abomination.” [Deut 18:10-12] What does that tell us about God’s attitude toward spiritual models such as Harry and Dumbledore? How does it relate to His warning in Romans 12:9: “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
If those questions offend you, you may want to stop reading right here. I’m not trying to “impose my beliefs” on you or force you to hear what you don’t want to know. But if you want to understand the power of a tantalizing story and how to guard your children’s minds from the almost overwhelming pressure to conform and compromise, please join me in examining some timeless strategies of the mastermind behind all the corruption in the world.
Using the imagination to create virtual experience
The human imagination is key to transformation. Impressionable and gullible, it asks few questions and rarely resists deception. Through it, occult images and suggestions take on life-like dimensions that can distort and change our values as effectively than can facts or actual reality. It’s no coincidence that educational change agents want to train children to use and follow this popular alternative to rational thinking. Conditioned to respond to exciting suggestions with their imagination rather than intellect, children can easily be led and manipulated. [See “Brainwashing in America“]
Dr. Donald A. Cowan, president emeritus of the University of Dallas, summarized the strategy well. “What will take the place of logic, fact and analysis in the coming age?” he asked. Then he gave the following reply to his own rhetorical question:
“The central way of thought for this new era will be imagination…. Imagination will be the active, creative agent of culture, transforming brute materials to a higher, more knowable state.”
Our wise Maker is well aware of our imagination’s thoughtlessness. He told us that “…the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” [Genesis 8:21] And in Matthew 5:28, He equates the moral impact of imagining something with the actual deed. (“…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”)
The fact that enthusiastic Potter fans “merely” imagine the spell-casting, hexing, and deadly cursing doesn’t nullify the impact of the mental images. So, for the peace and safety of our hearts, we are told not to entertain these things in our minds! That may sound intolerant to those who have reinvented a more positive or permissive god for our times. But our unbelief doesn’t change the heart or will of our sovereign God. It only shuts Him out, leaving us to rely on our own futile resources. [Proverbs 1:27-33]
God has good reasons for warning us to shun virtual as well as actual occultism. Our minds may be able to separate the two, but our emotions blur those divisions. Think about it. Potter fans are saddened by the deaths of fictional heroes as well as real-life heroes. In their minds, they cheer each winning spell cast by Harry — just as they cheer a homerun by a favorite athlete. In the imagination, fantasy and reality flow together.
So do the light and dark forces of the occult. Harry’s adventures lead you to imagine that the young wizard’s magic is good and Voldemort’s magic is evil, but in reality, the seductive power behind both remains the same. Both rely on (1) a focused, intentional command of the human will and (2) some kind of occult formula designed to invoke a supernatural force. While the “dark side” seems more deadly, the “light side” is far more deceptive. People let down their guard, because it feels good, not evil. It seems exciting, not frightening.
Look with me at the following scenes from the latest book. They illustrate the kinds of encounters that readers enter into vicariously with Harry and his friends and enemies. What kinds of belief and values do they plant into “open” minds? What worldview do they seal in the reader’s memory?
In the first encounter, you meet Professor Snape, Harry’s hostile old “Potions” instructor, who has now been promoted to teaching “Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
“You will now divide,” Snape went on, “into pairs. One partner will attempt to jinx the other without speaking. The other will attempt to repel the jinx in equal silence. Carry on.”
…A reasonable amount of cheating ensued; many people were merely whispering the incantation instead of saying it aloud….
“Pathetic, Weasley [Harry’s friend, Ron],” said Snape, after a while. “Here — let me show you —“
He turned his wand on Harry so fast that Harry reacted instinctively; all thought of nonverbal spells forgotten, he yelled, “Protego!” His Shield Charm was so strong Snape was knocked off-balance and hit a desk. The whole class had looked around and now watched as Snape righted himself, scowling.
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying. Several people gasped, including Hermione. Behind Snape, however, Ron, Dean, and Seamus grinned appreciatively.
“Detention, Saturday night, my office,” said Snape. “I do not take cheek from anyone, Potter. . . not even ‘the Chosen One.”
“That was brilliant, Harry!” chortled Ron, once they were safely on their way to break a short while later.
“You really shouldn’t have said it,” said Hermione, frowning at Ron. [179-180]
The key character in the next scene is Ginny Weasley, Ron’s younger sister and Harry’s secret love. Some will remember that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she was possessed and controlled by the evil Voldemort after finding his old diary implanted with a portion of his soul. What kinds of values might it transmit to the reader?
“How come you ended up in there, Ginny?”
“He saw me hex Zacharias Smith,” said Ginny. “You remember that idiot from Hufflepuff who was in the D.A.? He kept on and on asking about what happened at the Ministry and in the end he annoyed me so much I hexed him — when Slughorn came in. I thought I was going to get detention, but he just thought it was a really good hex and invited me to lunch! Mad, eh?” 
Stirring emotions and creating memories
Our minds are far more receptive to contrary values than we like to think. And the more these occult images and suggestion arouse our emotions — whether love, laughter, fear, hate or rage — the more effectively they plant new values in our minds and seal those values in our memory. As a result, youth around the world have learned to love evil and despise truth — just as God warns us: “You love evil more than good….” Psalm 52:3
The anticipated release of Book 6 illustrated this principle well. The date, July 16, 2005, stirred excitement and fierce loyalty around the world! At 12.01 AM, huge crowds of children from America to Australia were lined up at their nearest bookstore to receive their coveted copy of Harry’s latest adventures. Dressed in black capes, glasses and pointed hats — and with scars on their foreheads and wands in hand — they celebrated the Potter domain of tantalizing power and mystical thrills.
‘I’m a fanatic,” announced 14-year-old Ashley, who apparently has read each of the first five books about five times each. “I love reading them. They get you hooked.” Her sister Lauren, 10, confirmed Ashley’s zeal. “She takes them everywhere,” she said.”
Of course, Harry Potter is not the first character — real or fictional — who learned how to excite the masses through evocative imagery and clever words. China’s revered leader Mao Zedong knew well the power of “emotion work.” That’s why he so effectively won the hearts of the people. He knew how to stir “bitterness” against landowners, hatred toward Christians, love for communism, and a sacrificial spirit that would give its all to his totalitarian reign. By identifying and isolating the key “enemy” as the most threatening evil, the new evils no longer seem so bad.
Some of Mao’s strategies, now seen in churches as well as other organizations, were described by Elizabeth J. Perry in a report given at Harvard University in the spring of 2000. Referring to the manipulative effects of myth-making fantasy (here expressed through community theater rather than books, but with similar effect), she said,
“The growth of the revolutionary movement was marked by increasing attention to the importance of ’emotion-raising’ in the process of mass mobilization.
“Theater was a critical means of eliciting an emotional reaction that was used intentionally to solidify popular commitment. … Staged public performances have constituted the very heart and soul of the Chinese Communist revolution…. This is not to imply, however, that the emotions expressed in such contexts are somehow phony or inauthentic. A distinctive facet of human feelings is of course their ambivalence and malleability; the genius of the CCP approach lay in its capacity to appreciate and capitalize on this fundamental reality.”
When Ms. Rowling wrote the first book, she could neither foresee nor plan the influence she would one day wield. The story, she said, came to her mind long ago as she was riding the train.’ But many others are intentionally riding on her coattails. Her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, has prepared public school curricula based on its pagan world view. Churches have designed Harry Potter Sunday school lessons and small group dialogues — a growth-producing “carrot’ for engaging children and youth in fun “learning” activities. Much of the learning takes place in small groups through the dialectic process as students share and blend their feelings about Harry with each other. Led by a teacher/facilitator, they are trained to think dialectically — for the sake of unity and tolerance, they practice reconciling relevant opposites.
But how do you reconcile opinions dealing with Christianity versus paganism, unity versus separation, good versus evil, etc.? What attitudes would the children learn from each other concerning good and evil in the Harry Potter books?
It would be natural for them to reconcile the conflicts between pagan myths and Biblical truth by redefining traditional words, find more tolerant interpretations of the Bible, rationalize away Biblical boundaries, and cheer the group consensus. They might even celebrate their new-found “freedom” to “think outside the box” of the increasingly offensive Bible. But none of those “solutions” can counter the truth of Scriptures such as these:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness….
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21
Consider the next example. Harry and his classmates are listening to the effusive Professor Slughorn, the potions teacher who replaced Professor Snape. He shows them a bottle of golden liquid, which Harry soon “won” by somewhat dubious means. What similar confidence-building, highly addictive “potion” is available to thrill-seeking youth today? (This year, Meth has captivated about 1.5 million users, but next year it could be something else.)
“Well, that one, ladies and gentlemen — is a most curious little potion called Felix Felicis. I take it,” he turned, smiling, to look at Hermione, who had let out an audible gasp, “that you know what Felix Felicis does, Miss Granger?”
“It’s liquid luck,” said Hermione excitedly. “It makes you lucky!”
“Quite right….Yes, it’s a funny little potion, Felix Felicis,” said Slughorn. “Desperately tricky to make and disastrous to get wrong. However, if brewed correctly, as this has been, you will find that all your endeavors tend to succeed… at least until the effects wear off.” 187-188
[Later in the year] “So, Harry — you going to use the Felix Felicis or what?” Ron demanded.
“Yeah, I s’pose I’d better,” said Harry. “I don’t reckon I’ll need all of it…. Two or three hours should do it.”
“It’s a great feeling when you take it,” said Ron reminiscently. “Like you can’t do anything wrong.”
“What are you talking about?” said Hermione, laughing. “You’ve never taken any!”
“Yeah, but I thought I had, didn’t I?” said Ron, as though explaining the obvious. “Same difference really….”476
“Well, here goes,” said Harry, and he raised the little bottle and took a carefully measured gulp.
“What does it feel like?” whispered Hermione.
Harry did not answer for a moment. Then, slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all…. He got to his feet, smiling, brimming with confidence.
“Excellent,” he said…. I’m going to Hagrid’s, I’ve got a good feeling about going to Hagrid’s.”
“You’ve got a good feeling about burying a giant spider?” asked Ron, looking stunned.
“Yeah,” said Harry, pulling his Invisibility Cloak out of his bag. “I feel like it’s the place to be tonight, you know what I mean?”
“No,” said Ron and Hermione together, both looking positively alarmed now. …
“Trust me,” [Harry] said. “I know what I’m doing… or at least” — he strolled confidently to the door — “Felix does.”477-478
“Sensory immersion helps learners grasp reality through illusion,” wrote Harvard Professor Chris Dede, a global leader in the development of education technology programs.
Of course, the “reality” these “learners” grasp through “sensory immersion” is not true reality, but a pleasing illusion — a pseudo-reality designed to please our human nature and change the way we think. These illusions seduce adults and children alike. Knowing the difference between truth and fiction doesn’t really matter. We may be perfectly aware that a carrot or piece of chicken will serve our body better than a piece of candy, yet our feelings drive us to choose the latter. [See The Power of Suggestion“]
Through television, movies, music and ads, most Americans are immersed in a sensory environment that bombard their minds and emotions. Without any effort of our own, we are trained to be receptive and “open-minded.” Yet, we are poorly prepared to resist these cultural pressures. Today’s postmodern ideas — which mock facts, truth and certainty — have stripped away the mental tools needed to make wise choices. And with each repetition, the deceptions become more believable.
“…till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind,” wrote Aldous Huxley over seventy years ago in Brave New World. “And not the child’s mind only. The adult’s mind too — all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides — made up of these suggestions.”
When children are so enchanted by Harry Potter’s world that they read each book again and again, discuss it among their friends, dialogue in classroom groups and write “fan fiction” based on the myth, they “make it their own.” Their minds and emotions are so “at home” in the story, that their old familiar home might even seem strange and foreign in comparison.
A former student at Clinton’s Governor’s School in Arkansas, who had happily read and played in an unreal learning environment isolated from his family, summarized it well: “The students. . . say, ‘This is the perfect place. I never want to go home.’ I caught myself saying that several times.”
This Governor’s school for future leaders had embraced several key brainwashing techniques that help us understand today’s strategies for change:
- Isolate students from family and friends (who cling to the old values)
- Discredit or undermine former authorities (parents, pastors, etc.)
- Reinforce new beliefs and values (those that fit the vision for pluralism and unity)
- Emphasize feeling-based learning
- Immerse learners in a desirable fantasy world
“It would be impossible for me to describe to you just how exciting and unusual this educational adventure is,” said former president Bill Clinton back in his days as governor of Arkansas. That was before one former student became so depressed that he committed suicide.
Immersing children and youth in a wildly exciting pagan belief system will change their minds, memories, beliefs and values. “Christian” fans who find the story irresistible will facecognitive dissonance, a form of mental and emotional confusion. To social and educational change agents, this intentional dissonance is an essential step in the process of “unfreezing” minds and “opening” them up to a new way of thinking. It occurs when the child tries to reconcile the shocking new suggestions with the beliefs they learned from their parents.
The next scene involves three characters so obviously evil that Harry and other “good” occultists seem almost saintly by comparison. The three villains serve Voldemort, the ultimate evil in the story. Narcissa is the mother of Harry’s taunting classmate Draco Malfoy. Her sister Bellatrix, a member of Voldemort’s cruel army of Death Eaters, killed Harry’s “godfather” Sirius Black and tortured to death the parents of Harry’s friend Neville using an excruciating spell.
“Certainly, Narcissa, I shall make the Unbreakable Vow,” he [Snape] said quietly. “Perhaps your sister will consent to be our Bonder.”
Bellatrix’s mouth fell open. Snape lowered himself so that he was kneeling opposite Narcissa. Beneath Bellatrix’s astonished gaze, they grasped right hands.
“You will need your wand, Bellatrix,” said Snape coldly.
She drew it… and placed the tip of her wand on their linked hands.
Narcissa spoke. “Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord’s wishes?”
“I will,” said Snape.
A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from the wand and wound its way around their hands like a red-hot wire.
“And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?”
“I will,” said Snape.
A second tongue of flame shot from the wand…
“And, should it prove necessary… if it seems Draco will fail…“ whispered Narcissa… “will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?”
“I will,” said Snape. 36-37
This vow, made early in the book, was fulfilled at the end. The hateful Professor Snape — who turns out to be the mysterious Half-blood Prince — did what Harry’s hostile classmate Draco Malfoy failed to do: kill Albus Dumbledore as the revered schoolmaster lay injured near the top of a staircase. But this fictional tragedy will probably strengthen Harry’s influence in the real world. For — just as terrorism justifies increased government surveillance — this evil deed helps justify Harry’s use of dark magic to finish his unbiblical mission.
Isolation and uncertainty
Though millions of children around the world are now absorbing the message in Book 6, most of them make this dark and disturbing journey into the occult realm alone. Unless the book is read aloud in a group setting, each reader encounters Harry, Dumbledore, Snape, and the Death Eaters through their own minds and imagination. Even if parents discuss the action afterwards, each individual reader must face the ominous atmosphere, the lighthearted spells, the cutting remarks, and the murderous cruelty alone. No one else shares their personal reactions as they turn each page.
Once planted in the mind, those memories will continue to color a child’s view of God. They will probably stir cravings for more occult thrills. Each new book and reading will reinforce the person’s growing familiarity with forbidden realms. Few realize that the actual world of the occult is far darker and more frightening than they can conceive. And few know God and His Word well enough to discern the spiritual distortions. Vital Scriptures needed for spiritual warfare seem alien to those who have embraced the postmodern mindset.
I have received many letters from children, youth, parents, pastors and teachers who all claim to be Christians yet love Harry Potter. Their emotional arguments show that their understanding of God’s Word has been compromised beyond recognition. In many cases, their expressed faith fits right into the spiritual transformation I described in The Rising World Religion.
They had learned to love the occult and to justify their rejection of Scriptures such as Jeremiah 10:2: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles.'” That last word refers to the pagan nations that surrounded His people. They were not to learn the occult beliefs and practices of the heathens who worshipped other gods and lived in bondage to demonic forces. Yet, Israel ignored that warning and was destroyed.
God alone can lead us safely through the tempting lures and illusions that bombard our children in this thrill-seeking culture. And He proves His faithfulness again and again to those who trust Him.
I was speaking at a Sunday School Convention about 15 years ago on the topic, “The Unholy Power of Charms and Symbols.” Parents and teachers were still crowding into the small auditorium, when I began showing transparencies of simple symbols such as the yin-yang, the peace symbol, and the ankh. We discussed their meanings — and why their popularity has skyrocketed today.
I showed my compound symbols, but had not had time to prepare a transparency with the multifaceted Theosophical symbol. So I began to draw its many parts on a clear transparency: first, a large circle, then two overlapping triangles forming a hexagram, then a small pentagram and swastika…. Suddenly, something large and dark hit me hard in the chest. For a moment I lost both my balance and my breath. Then, in a flash, I knew what was happening. I had made myself vulnerable by unwittingly performing what might have been a ritual with mediaeval alchemy and other religious traditions.
Still in front of the crowd and the microphone, I cried out, “Forgive me, Lord! Cover me with your blood. In the name of Jesus Christ, I declare Your victory over the evil one. In You, we are ‘more than conquerors!’ Thank you, Jesus, my Lord and my King!”
As fast as it came, the entity disappeared. I apologized to the startled audience, asking their forgiveness for foolishly, though unintentionally, opening the door to this evil. Then we all thanked God for His lesson and protection.
Among the people gathered around me afterwards was a woman who said, “I think I know what happened to you. While you were drawing that symbol, the man sitting next to me was moving his hands in strange ways and murmuring something as if he was casting a spell. He may have come to bring occult interference.”
Only our sovereign, omniscient God knows exactly what happened that day. I may not fully understand the details of the ongoing and intensifying spiritual war operating in the unseen, but He impressed on my mind three important lessons:
1. The reality and power of the evil one operating in the physical as well as the spiritual world we inhabit.
2. The victory we have in Christ who makes us “more than conquerors” when we know, love and follow Him.
3. The importance of living each moment in this warring world ready, with “the sword of the Spirit… the Word of God” at hand to wield against any assault on mind or body.
“Therefore keep watch… be ready,” Jesus warned His disciples. “Be on guard! Be on the alert!”
Today, more than ever, we must be alert and ready. We need to be “hidden in Him,” wearing His armor — the protective covering of our Lord Himself. We can’t afford to be presumptuous; we must not forget that whenever we choose our own way rather than His, we “take off” the “breastplate of righteousness” and stand defenseless in the raging battle. But walking with Him, in His ways, we are safe.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand….” Ephesians 6:10-13
For an in-depth study on the Armor of God, see A Wardrobe from the King
See also this chart: Opposing World Views
1. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Inc., 2005), page 522.
5. Spoken at a 1988 forum address at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. This address formed the nucleus for his book Unbinding Prometheus: Education for the Coming Age.
6. Elizabeth J. Perry, “Once Again –With Feeling: The Chinese Revolution Revisited.” Report given at Harvard University CBRSS Events, Spring 2000. (Apparently the article is no longer available online.)
7. God tells us that “the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 john 5:19). We don’t know all the ways he “sways” the people of the world, but his goal has always been to “free” minds from true devotion to Jesus Christ and manipulate our thoughts and feelings so that we serve him rather than God.
8. Chris Dede, “The Transformation of Distance Education to Distributed Learning.” While this and other papers by Professor Chris Dede focuses on education technology, it emphasizes the value of sensory immersion into synthetic environments as a tool to mold minds by instilling a programmed perception of “reality.” http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/distlearn/index.html
9. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (New York: HarperCollins, 1932), page xvi, 28
12. Mark 13:9, 22-23, 33, 37; Matthew 24:42, 44; 25:13.