Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone
It's More than Just Fantasy
grand objects of alchemy were (1) the discovery of a process by which
the baser metals might be transmuted into gold and silver; (2) the
discovery of an elixir by which life might be prolonged indefinitely;
… (Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism,
Philosophers Stone [Sorcerer’s stone] was supposed to contain
the secret not only of transmutation, but of health and life, for
through its agency could be distilled the Elixir of Life. It was the
touchstone of existence. (Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of
Occultism, p. 322)
Flamel,… continuing his researches discovered the elixir of life,
which enabled him to prolong his life—and accumulate gold—to the
venerable age of 116…. his followers believed that he was still
alive though retired from the world, and would live for six centuries.
(Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, p. 162)
His mum and dad are killed by an evil wizard. He is left with a scar
from an attempt on his own life. Somehow, in the process of this
attack, baby Harry manages to defeat the evil dark wizard—something
many adult wizards had been unable to do. There is something special
about Harry. He must be kept safe! Where better to hide him than in
the care of his non-magical aunt and uncle!
of baby Harry to his safe haven is monitored by Albus Dumbledore, who
appears suddenly, as though "he’d just popped out of the
ground," and by Minerva McGonagall, who has been watching the
street all day in the form of a cat. Harry arrives on a flying
motorcycle, accompanied by a giant named Hagrid.
For the next
10 years Harry lives with the Dursleys, sleeping in the closet under
the stairs (because cousin Dudley needs the spare bedroom for his
toys), wearing Dudley’s cast off clothes (which are four sizes too
big), celebrating Dudley’s birthday while his own is ignored, and
getting in trouble any time something happens that is slightly odd—in
the Dursley’s minds. Then, too, "The Dursleys had never exactly
starved Harry, but he’d never been allowed to eat as much as he
liked." (p. 123)
tell him that his parents were killed in a car crash—which is where
he got his scar. Of course, they never hint to him that there might be
such a thing as a wizard, let alone that he might be one: "We
swore when we took him in we’d put a stop to that rubbish,"
said Uncle Vernon, "swore we’d stamp it out of him!" (p.
then, on his 11th birthday something odd happens. A letter arrives
from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry telling Harry that he
has been accepted as a student. Harry finds out he is a wizard—a
he gets to escape his miserable existence among the non-magical people—Muggles,
as they’re called—and find a fun, exciting life, filled with
friends and lots of food and great adventures in the magical world.
Hagrid, who had delivered Harry to the Dursley’s door, now takes
Harry to buy the equipment and books he will need for school. They go
to a place in London called Diagon Alley, which can only be reached by
meanwhile, was counting bricks in the wall above the trash can.
up…two across…" he muttered. "Right, stand back,
tapped the wall three times with the point of his umbrella.
brick he had touched quivered—it wiggled—in the middle, a small
hole appeared—it grew wider and wider—a second later they were
facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway onto a
cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight. (p. 71)
Harry needs for school include a wand, a cauldron, and an owl OR a cat
OR a toad. (pp. 66-67)
Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s, The Encyclopedia of Witches &
Witchcraft, we find that these are things that witches actually
The wand is the instrument of invocation of spirits. It represents the
element of fire (in some traditions, air) and symbolizes the
life-force within the Witch. (p. 380)
Some traditions use a cauldron to represent the fifth element of Sprit
and the Mystic Center. (p. 380)
in contemporary Witchcraft. Many modern Witches have animal familiars,
usually cats, which are their magical helpers. (p. 120)
reach Hogwarts by way of the Hogwarts Express, which leaves King’s
Crossing station from Platform 9 ¾. The problem is, there is no
Platform 9 ¾.
stopped a passing guard, but didn’t dare mention platform nine and
three-quarters. The guard had never heard of Hogwarts and when Harry
couldn’t even tell him what part of the country it was in, he
started to get annoyed, as though Harry was being stupid on purpose.
wondered if he should get out his wand and start tapping the ticket
inspector’s stand between platforms nine and ten....
that moment a group of people passed just behind him and he caught a
few words of what they were saying. "–packed with Muggles, of
course–" (p. 91)
found other students going to Hogwarts! He watches closely: "Now
the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrier–he was
almost there–and then, quite suddenly, he wasn’t anywhere."
Harry finally approaches the family to ask them how to reach the
to worry," she said, "All you have to do is walk straight at
the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don’t stop and don’t
be scared you’ll crash into it, that’s very important. Best do it
at a bit of a run if you’re nervous. Go on, go now before Ron."
a run at the barrier—with his eyes closed!—and sure enough, when
he opens his eyes, he is on the other side of the solid brick wall,
standing on Platform 9 ¾.
arrives at school where he is assigned to the house of Gryffindor by
means of a "Sorting Hat"—"a pointed wizard’s hat.
This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty." (p. 117)
The hat is placed on the student’s head, and "reads" the
student to determine which of the four houses suits him.
encounters ghosts, including a poltergeist named Peeves and Nearly
Headless Nick, the "Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower," who
had been nearly beheaded 500 years earlier. One student asked him:
can you be nearly headless?"
Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn’t
going at all the way he wanted.
this," he said irritably. He seized his left ear and
pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder
as if it was on a hinge…." (p. 124)
The door to
Harry’s dorm is guarded by "a portrait of a very fat woman in a
pink silk dress. "’Password?’ she said. ‘Caput Draconis,’
said Percy, and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in
the wall." (pp. 129-130)
other unusual things about the Hogwarts castle. For example:
were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping
ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a
Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember
to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked
politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that
weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was
hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move
around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each
other, and Harry was sure the coats of armor could walk. (pp. 130-313)
are the classes. "There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly
found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words."
(p. 133). He has lessons in Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic
(taught by a ghost), Charms, Transfiguration (turning one object into
something else), Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Potions.
A check of
an encyclopedia on the occult or witchcraft will reveal that many of
these are practices used by modern day witches:
are medicinal and magickal plants that may be employed in Wicca and
Witchcraft…The herbal plant is a living vessel for a spirit or
entity….Herbs may also be used in a spell for their physical
properties, such as in potions and the like…" (Raven Grimassi, Encyclopedia
of Wicca & Witchcraft, p. 180)
Magical words, phrases, chants and incantations used in spellcraft.
(Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches &
Witchcraft, p. 53)
Witches, sorcerers and other magically empowered persons have been
believed to have the power to transform themselves and other humans at
will into animals, birds and insects… (Guiley, p. 226)
theme throughout the book is that "rules are made to be
broken." As examples, even though "first years are not
allowed their own broomsticks" (p. 67), Harry is a
"natural" at flying, so a teacher gives him one. (p. 164)
been a pest, quoting rules to Harry and his friend Ron. But "Hermione
had become a bit more relaxed about breaking rules since Harry and Ron
had saved her from the mountain troll, and she was much nicer for
it." (p. 181)
adventure in this story is based on an object called a Sorcerer’s
Stone (or philosopher’s stone). The evil lord Voldemort, the dark
wizard that was nearly killed during the attack on Harry, is trying to
make a comeback. He needs to get a body, and he wants the Sorcerer’s
stone to help him accomplish that.
obsessed with finally defeating this upstart young wizard. He does not
understand how a mere baby could have survived his attack. Once he
gets a body, he plans to finish what he started. We are told at the
end of the story that Harry survived because:
mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot
understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as
your mother’s for you leaves its own mark…. To have been loved so
deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some
protection forever." (p. 299)
"mother goddess" theme is an important part of many modern
witchcraft beliefs. It comes up again in later books in the Harry
course, must keep Voldemort from getting the stone. This involves a
series of encounters with charmed (possessed) objects.
He is given
an invisibility cloak that had belonged to his father. (p. 201)
He uses the
cloak to access the Restricted section in the library where he
encounters possessed books: "Maybe he was imagining it, maybe
not, but he thought a faint whispering was coming from the books, as
though they knew someone was there who shouldn’t be." (p. 206)
the Mirror of Erised (Desire spelled backwards) that reveals
"nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of
our hearts." (p. 213) In it he sees his parents and family. Later
in the book he finds and recovers the Sorcerer’s Stone with the help
of the mirror. (p. 292)
encounters a creature that sucks unicorn blood (p. 256) and centaurs
that practice astronomy: "we are sworn not to set ourselves
against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements
of the planets?… Have the planets not let you in on that
secret?" (p. 257)
He has to
use skills honed on the Quidditch field to catch a flying key (p.
279); he plays a game of chess with life-sized, charmed pieces (p.
282). And finally, he encounters Voldemort, who has possessed the Dark
Arts teacher, Quirrell.
he watched as Quirrell reached up and began to unwrap his turban. What
was going on? The turban fell away. Quirrell’s head looked strangely
small without it. Then he turned slowly on the spot.
would have screamed, but he couldn’t make a sound. Where there
should have been a back to Quirrell’s head, there was a face, the
most terrible face Harry had ever seen. It was chalk white with
glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake. (p. 293)
In the end,
the Sorcerer’s Stone is safely destroyed, ending Voldemort’s
chances of getting it. But in choosing to destroy the Stone,
Dumbledore (headmaster of Hogwarts) has also chosen to end the life of
his friend Nicholas Flamel. Flamel (an actual historical figure) is
supposed to have discovered the Sorcerer’s Stone, and lived off its
power to the age of 666 (according to J. K. Rowling). In actuality, he
died at the age of 116 in 1414 A.D. But in the book The Sorcerer’s
Stone, the destruction of the stone also means that Flamel’s
life would come to an end. Dumbledore comforts Harry by telling him:
one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicholas
and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very
long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next
great adventure. (p. 297)
book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is well-written
and entertaining, it contains elements of occult philosophy and
descriptions of occult practices that are completely unsuitable.
Parents, especially Christian parents, should be alarmed at having
their children read a story that promotes the idea that they can
escape a painful situation by going to the occult; that
demonically-possessed things or people can help them or protect them;
that a mother’s sacrificial death gives protection; that death is
nothing to be afraid of—in fact, it is an "adventure."
practices divination (p. 121); interprets omens (p. 264); engages in
witchcraft (p. 138); and consults the dead (p. 124) in this book. Each
of these is a practice God has commanded His people not to be involved
in. Please read the companion article on God’s Warning About
Witchcraft: Definitions of Terms from Deuteronomy 18.