Announcer: Today on The John Ankerberg Show—“What Should Parents Know About Harry Potter?” Over 100 million books have been sold in over 200 countries, and Harry Potter has been translated into more than 40 languages. Now the first Harry Potter movie is opening in theaters all around the world.
[From Film Trailer for Warner Bros. Movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (excerpted from “Witchcraft Repackaged” (Jeremiah Films).]
“There’s no such thing as magic!”
“Dear Mr. Potter: You have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Announcer: One survey reports that over half of all children in America between the ages of six and 17 have read at least one of the Harry Potter books. Are these books harmless fantasy stories or, through fantasy, introducing real principles of witchcraft and sorcery to our children? Today John’s guests are filmmaker, author and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana; author and founder of Rapha Counseling Centers Robert McGee; and author and columnist Berit Kjos. We invite you to join us.
Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome. As you just heard, over half of all children in our country between the ages of six and seventeen have read at least one of the Harry Potter books. What has attracted so many children? Are these just exciting adventure stories, as some say? Or are they an introduction, through fantasy, to the principles and practices of witchcraft? To help answer these questions, three special guests will help us examine each of the four Harry Potter books. Today, Book 1: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” What is the story all about?
[Excerpt from “Witchcraft Repackaged”]
“There’s no such thing as magic!”
“Dear Mr. Potter: You have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Narrator: Harry is magically selected to attend the one thousand-year-old Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Both Voldemort and Harry’s parents attended the prestigious boarding school before him. All of Hogwarts’ teachers are practicing occultists and instruct their students in the proper use of magic tools, spells and rituals. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore owns a phoenix, the powerful mythological bird, the symbol of resurrection. The magical wands of both Harry and Voldemort share the same power, which is a tail feather from Dumbledore’s phoenix. Therefore, in the world of Harry Potter, the power source of Harry’s so-called good magic and Voldemort’s evil magic is one and the same. The question is, should parents be concerned that the alluring power behind witchcraft is being made to look innocent and is being targeted towards their children through the Harry Potter phenomenon?
Ankerberg: The title of the first book is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. What is the Philosopher’s Stone? Interestingly enough, information about the Philosopher’s Stone can be found in the Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft and in the Encyclopedia of Occultism. In fact, it is the same information found by Harry, Ron and Hermione when they visit their own Wiccan library at Hogwarts School. Hermione tells them: “The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Sorcerer’s Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the elixir of life, which will make the drinker immortal.” (p. 220) Filmmaker, author and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana explains why the Philosopher’s Stone is an important concept in occult thinking and why J. K. Rowling made it the centerpiece of her first children’s book.
Caryl Matrisciana: The Philosopher’s Stone is very important to understand in occult magick, which is spelt with a “k.” Occult magick with a “k” is spiritual magick. Without the “k,” it’s just an illusionary sleight-of-hand, and that’s what magicians do. So the Philosopher’s Stone in occult magick is the symbol of everlasting life, that occultists could actually tap into the energy that gives eternal life and be able to somehow keep it so that man could design eternal life through the Philosopher’s Stone.
In Harry Potter, Book #1, the name—Sorcerer’s Stone—was changed from Philosopher’s Stone. Now, I don’t know whether it’s because in Europe we all know what Philosopher’s Stone meant and it’s the stone, philosophical stone, of occult magick. Perhaps in American translation the word “sorcery” is more appropriate to the American mind and so the “sorcerer” sort of brought in the occult dark side of the stone of immortality. For whatever reasons, the title was changed. So in England it’s called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in America it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but the basic concept is the same.
Ankerberg: Author and columnist Berit Kjos grew up in Norway and has written extensively about contemporary witchcraft. I asked her to comment on the significance of Hermione telling Ron and Harry the Philosopher’s Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the elixir of life which will make the drinker immortal.
Berit Kjos: Now, this is a very important point because what Hermione is telling Harry and Ron is that here’s an alternative way to gain eternal life. It’s not through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. There is another way: you can win eternal life through magic. This is totally contrary to the Bible. And you might say, “Well, this is just fantasy.” But there’s more to it, and our minds have a tendency to absorb all these suggestions and they take root in our mind and in our memory and they desensitize us to the occult ideas.
Ankerberg: In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling places a real historical occult figure, Nicholas Flamel, in her book. Hermione reads to Harry and Ron about him and says: “There have been many reports of the Sorcerer’s Stone over the centuries, but the only stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicholas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera lover” (p. 220). Now, why would J. K. Rowling place a real historical occult figure in her children’s book?
Kjos: Now, here we see the Sorcerer’s Stone given a place in history. That gives the whole Harry Potter myth credibility. It becomes more believable when you can tie it to history.
Matrisciana: Book #1 in the Harry Potter series teaches that there is a change, a spiritual change, an inner alchemy. And the adventure in the first Harry Potter book is all about how to have that inner transformation, how to be changed. And our little Harry discovers at eleven years old that he’s a witch. This is the first time we know about it. So Book #1 actually is much more, if you will, a basic 101 in witchcraft; a basic 101 of where J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is going to take us. Book #1 establishes occult language, establishes occult tools, tools of the trade of witchcraft that are going to be used in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the thousand-year-old most famous school in Europe of occultism. The teachers are going to be established in Book #1. Each of the classes is defined; what transfiguration means, what divination means, what the purpose of astrology, numerology, arithmancy, whatever the subjects are—potion mixing, herbology—all these things, which, by the way, are practiced today in the craft of occultism, paganism, neo-paganism, and specifically, in witchcraft.
Now, not all the things that J. K. Rowling talks about are practiced by all witches. Today’s witchcraft is much more serendipitous. Today’s witches can “pick and choose.” Today, neo-paganism is a potpourri. It’s no longer the disciplined Black Arts which, perhaps it was ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Fifty years ago certainly the seers of old took their Dark Arts very seriously, and the study of Dark Arts involved the disciple, the devotee, in strong discipline. Today, with the modern concept of instant enlightenment, being able to pick and choose, going into the Internet, having the vast array of books around, today’s witches actually can be a solitary witch, just somebody that does it all on their own, going through the Internet, going through witchcraft, or they can be involved in covens of 13 or less, or in actual schools of magick or witchcraft like the Alexandrian or the Gardnerian Schools.
Ankerberg: Caryl Matrisciana has traveled with her husband making documentary films about witchcraft, filming their practices and ceremonies. When she lived in England, she was considered by the BBC to be an authority on witchcraft and the occult. I asked her what she thought about J. K. Rowling’s remarks that one-third of her research for the Harry Potter books came from real books on witchcraft.
Matrisciana: She actually majored in mythology. She said that more than a third, over a third of the research that she did was from actual witchcraft books, which is interesting to note for fantasy literature. Remember, this is being packaged as fantasy literature for children. But she has brought in her solid research, grounded in history, historical fact, historical religion which she has brought in and she has kept very, very close to in all her books. Her classes are not “made up” classes of occultism. Some of the words may be, some of the spells may be, some of the little humorous twists may be, but it’s based on knowledge, on actual research and she said that more than a third of the research that she did in witchcraft is included in these books.
So, we see that she has actually gone to historical figures, historical facts and brought them in—and she has brought in the historical fact about black and white witchcraft and magick and introduced the reader as though there’s a difference.
Ankerberg: When you talk about the impact of the Harry Potter books, many people, even Christians, say, “There can’t be anything wrong with them. They’re only simple fantasy stories. What difference does it make if these fantasy stories are set against the principles and worldview of witchcraft?” I asked this question of best-selling author Robert McGee. He is also the founder of the Rapha Counseling Centers in hospitals across the country. Listen:
Dr. Robert McGee: That it’s just fantasy is a mindless answer. We need to think about that because obviously we judge fantasy. We wouldn’t give our children some Playboy magazines that have some kind of story in it that had very sexual nature that was “fantasy-ful.” Obviously we wouldn’t do that. We wouldn’t give them a book that had to do with tremendous violence. We wouldn’t do that either. So what we really are saying is we do not believe there’s anything to witchcraft.
Now this is really news to God. Because God, in His Word, says it’s an abomination. And I’m not sure what part of that word abomination we haven’t got yet. I mean what’s happened to witchcraft? Has witchcraft changed so much that now God accepts it?
Ankerberg: Do you know that our society has taken a stand against fantasy figures in the past? Do you remember the cartoon figure of Joe Cool, the camel smoking a Camel cigarette? Caryl Matrisciana does.
Matrisciana: See the danger of the Harry Potter series in the context of let’s say, cigarette smoking. If an advertisement is enticing somebody to smoke, but its target is children, using the format of, let’s say, cartoons or caricature drawing which is what a child relates to, a child will be enticed to the advertisement because the advertisement is communicating to the child through what the child understands. Therefore, if you get an animal in a cartoon, Mr. Joe Cool smoking a Camel cigarette targeting to the teenage child, even if the tobacconeers say, “No, no. We’re targeting adults,” they’re using the communication that a child understands, thereby saying to the child, “It’s okay to smoke a cigarette.” Now, when that happened, adults went up in arms saying, “We need to protect our children.”
That is exactly what we are saying about the Harry Potter books. Occultism is being communicated through children’s eyes in a classroom situation, through the Hogwarts boarding school, in a format that children understand because they are raised in classrooms with teachers, the authority figures are teachers. So here we have adults endorsing, that is, the teachers within Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, encouraging and endorsing the children to be involved in something that is, first of all, what God says not to be involved in; and secondly, it is targeting and teasing and luring a child to open up doorways to an area that is dangerous.
And the child can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality. Now, of course, people say, “Oh, yes, they can.” I’ve spoken to many children who love Harry Potter’s books, who read them again and again, and then when I say, “Do you think witchcraft is real,” they say, “No. I don’t think so.” I say, “Do you know any witches?” “No, not really.” “Well, do you think that you can do magic?” “No. I don’t.” Well, these children don’t understand that outside their little American context, out there, there are hundreds and thousands of witches. We’ve interviewed them on camera. They’re very normal people. And they believe in magic. And they are witches and they have a worldview that is exactly parallel to Harry’s world.
Ankerberg: Now, in talking about the first Harry Potter book, I discovered that there is a very subtle link to the occult conveyed in the Hogwarts School motto. Below the picture of the school logo, you can see the school’s motto in Latin: Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus. What do the words mean and how do they relate to the world of the occult? You might be surprised.
Matrisciana: The motto of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry goes, has in Latin not to tickle a sleeping dragon. In Indian mythology the dragon or serpent is coiled at the base of the spine and when one gets involved in yoga, you wake up the serpent energy to come up and have the cosmic meeting in the third eye to give you enlightenment and ultimate power to be able to plug into, to tap into your largest potential energy.
So here we have in occult thinking that you have to wake up the serpent power within you in order to have your potential, your psychic potential and your occult manipulative powers. So Hogwarts School is represented by waking the sleeping dragon, by tickling him.
So what we see is the tickling of children’s inclinations, the fascination of occultism, being aroused through tickling, through teachings that are based on, parallel with, the teachings of witchcraft today.
So to say that it’s not Satanism and “What’s the problem? It doesn’t mention Satan and there aren’t inverted crosses or the rituals of Satanism that many Satanists do and are involved in it.” But it doesn’t matter. The rituals that are practiced in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are taught to us. God warns us not to be involved in divination, walking through fire, sorcery, drawing circles—the Hebrew word of drawing lines and circles in order to have wondrous miracles, in order to work wonders—all these things are being taught in Harry Potter. And the source that Harry and all his peers are directed toward is a source that we in Scriptures are told not to be involved in because God knows that they are dangerously rooted in opposition to Him.
Ankerberg: Another objectionable element in all four of the Harry Potter books is that what is right and wrong, such as lying or obeying your parents, are discarded in favor of situational ethics. Robert McGee tells us why it’s critical that the stories we allow our children to read reinforce the absolute standards of right and wrong.
McGee: But we have to come back and say, well, let me get this right? Harry Potter teaches relativism—that there is really no right or wrong; that Harry actually is rewarded for doing that which is against authority, for lying, okay? And that violates Philippians 4.
We talk about Harry communicating with the dead. Now where does that fit in with what God has given as standard? I mean, God didn’t leave us without the ability to judge these things. Well, I don’t think that’s something that God would find all that lovely. He said he didn’t. He found it an abomination. I mean how about the fact that Harry is involved in all these sorcery and divination and all these things that God says is an abomination?
Well, just purely from that one specific point, you have to say that God is not for our children contemplating that. Now, there have been books where there are witches, and the witches have done certain things. But, the child is not being taught how to do those things, and typically, the witches are held up as being bad and wicked. I will tell you that I don’t care what book it is, and what “historical value” it is, if you find a book you think is wonderful that portrays a witch in a positive light, that is not something God finds acceptable. I mean, it’s not difficult.
Ankerberg: Now, this is just the start of our examination of the Harry Potter books. And, yes, I have read all four books carefully, and I believe the content of these books is something Christians should stay away from.
J. K. Rowling has written in such a way that absolute standards of right and wrong are eroded. The topic of witchcraft and its practices are placed in a good light, where God warns us to stay away from it for our own good.
Death is wrongly described as “the next great adventure (p. 297), but it is not, unless you’ve invited Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and be your Savior.
Casting spells and curses, mixing magick potions to change shapes or to change into an animal are all occult practices and concepts that God warns us about. We are not to practice them or try them out.
Possibly, many of you have already tried some of the practices of witchcraft, and you’ve been frightened by what took place. Right now, if you’ll turn to Jesus Christ, He can conquer whatever powers are bringing you fear. Christ can forgive you and give you peace.