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.
Ankerberg: Welcome. The third Harry Potter book is called Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. What takes place in this book, and are the things practiced by Harry and his friends teaching our children the principles and worldview of witchcraft? Filmmaker, author and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana talks about the things in Book #3 that she found surprising.
Matrisciana: Book #3, we learn about several more very dangerous concepts within black, dark occultism: the changing of human beings into animals, not by mistake. In Book #2 there was a mistake where Hermione took some potion with a little bit of cat hair in it and she became an animal by mistake. Book #3 teaches that you can actually learn how to become an animal. It’s very, very important. We learn that there were three people who were illegally transformed into animals–and that’s Harry’s daddy, and Harry’s father’s two best friends, and a werewolf. This little boy actually got bitten, so he became a werewolf by accident through a bite. But what J. K. Rowling is introducing in Book #3 is that, through potions, an animal can be transformed back into a human and can become an animal again—and this can be controlled.
Ankerberg: Maybe you’re thinking, does anybody really believe that people can change into animals? Well, to answer that, look at this: TheEncyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft states: “It is a very ancient belief that witches possess the power to transform into animal form.” In the Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, under the word “metamorphosis,” we find: “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.” The transformation of a human being into a wolf is called “lycanthropy.” According to the witchcraft encyclopedias, there are two types of lycanthropy. The first is when a person just imagines himself to be a wolf and exhibits a craving for blood. In the second, there is the magical, ecstatic transformation of a person into a werewolf, usually accomplished with ointments or magical charms. In The Spiral Dance, a Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, “An Overview of Contemporary Witchcraft” the witch Starhawk says about “trance,” “We may have experiences such as [this]: ‘I moved into a region of strange life forms, neither above nor below the human level but strange beings and strange shapes, metabolisms, thought forms and so forth.’”
What does all this mean? First, these practices and ideas are part of witchcraft history and lore. Second, not all witches believe in shape shifting or transformation or lycanthropy. On the other hand, some still do. Third, whether we believe it or not, changing into animals or merging with an animal spirit is still practiced today by those in the Dark Arts, sorcery and the occult. These dark practices and beliefs are clearly presented to children through the Harry Potter books.
But they are also being introduced in our classrooms by Scholastic Publishing. Berit Kjos is an author who has written about contemporary witchcraft as well as about the books that our children are reading in schools. Some of the books teach children about how to cast spells and imagine what it would be like to change into an animal, just like in the Harry Potter books:
Kjos: I want to just give you some of the titles that are going into classrooms. This is called A Book of Enchantments and it says, “Cast a spell, any spell,” and it’s full of short stories that show children, or illustrate to children, how to cast spells and model the people who are really powerful, strong: earth witches and wizards and so on who know how to manipulate spiritual forces.
Animorphs–and the cover shows a girl who is morphing into a cat. J. K. Rowling calls it “transfiguration.” This woman is becoming a cat.
Ankerberg: Robert McGee is an author and the founder of Rapha Christian psychiatric units. He talks about how children’s imaginations are excited to try spells and imagine other aspects of witchcraft by the Harry Potter books.
McGee: Now, we’re going to ignore the fact that they’re accessing and utilizing demonic power because we’re so desperate to try to find something redeeming in these books. We’re going to completely ignore the power they’re using. We’re going to completely ignore what happens in the imagination of our children, because we are so desperate to find something redeeming in these books that we’re going to say they’re good because of that.
And then, those who simply say it’s not about witchcraft, they obviously don’t know what witchcraft is about! They don’t understand that, no, technically, it’s not the witch’s handbook, alright? But the very sense of what witchcraft is about, which is, accessing a power greater than your normal power, in order to accomplish certain things or to discover certain things about the future—is what witchcraft is about.
See everybody gets caught up in this little minutia. Well, is this exactly the way it’s done? No. In general we have to understand philosophically the overarching issues there and that’s what they are. It teaches our children that there is a way, without going to God, to resolve their issues by accessing some power greater than themselves, and in doing so they get caught up in witchcraft.
Ankerberg: In Deuteronomy 18, God’s Word says we as Christians are not to learn to imitate the ways of the nations which have practiced “divination or sorcery, interpret omens, engage in witchcraft or cast spells or one who is a medium or a spiritist or one who consults the dead.” [Deut. 18:10-11] Yet, all of these practices are clearly presented in the Harry Potter books. Caryl Matrisciana describes more of what happens in Book 3.
Matrisciana: So we learn about the generation, the older generation—Harry’s father’s generation— deliberately, disobediently, becoming animals in order to accompany a werewolf. That’s Professor Lupin, and, of course, loup in French is “wolf.” So immediately we understand that as we’ve got the new professor of the Dark Arts—in each book there’s a professor that is a dark occultist that teaches the children how to become darker and darker in dark magick. So, Professor Lupin is the one in Book #3 who is a werewolf, who once a month—we now are learning the concept that when the moon comes up to its highest, when it waxes, a human being turns into a wolf. And, the wolf is out to kill human beings. So we learn that here, this demon possessed Lupin kills human beings, but Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which is the boarding school that all of this is taking place in the three books, the headmaster allows this werewolf, this young child, a teenager who turns into an animal each month, possessed by the moon—he can be in the school with the headmaster’s blessing. His three best friends, then, become animals, too. One becomes a rat; Harry’s father becomes a stag; and Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, becomes a black dog.
Ankerberg: Now, Harry’s father and friends don’t become turtles or elephants; they become a rat, a stag, and a big black dog. Why these animals? Well, these animals all carry occult symbolism which can be discovered by reading any encyclopedia about witchcraft or the occult.
McGee: And for those who also think it’s just fantasy, why was it so necessary for her to get it all accurate? Why did she have to have a unicorn? Why couldn’t she have had a zebra? Why couldn’t she have a crow instead of a phoenix? I mean, in other words, they say, well, it’s just fantasy. But then, why did she have to make sure that everything was totally accurate?
Ankerberg: What else do we learn in Book #3?
Matrisciana: However, we learn that this wolf each month when he’s put into this tunnel, this cave, this room under the ground, that he bites himself brutally, lavishly eating, gnawing away. He’s in pain. He’s in agony. So we are learning that to be possessed by an animal is horrendous, painful, agony; yet, Harry’s father, a “good” wizard does it—in disobedience. They don’t register themselves. Hermione finds out later on in the book that every human being that changes into an animal, or has the ability to do that, has to register with the Ministry of Magic. These three don’t. So it’s an “illegal” transformation.
So we’re now beginning to accept, here again—deeper, deeper, darker magick. A child is accepting it. And Sirius Black, the godfather of Harry, later on in Book #3, says that he wants to murder the rat. So now we’re learning that the “good” guy wants to murder and kill, and he’s just ferociously waiting in a whole chapter ready to kill this Peter Pettigrew who sets him up and puts him into prison. Book #3 is called The Prisoner of Azkaban and that’s the point. Sirius, the godfather of Harry that becomes a black dog and who is also a human being possessed as an animal, is put into jail for 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He is accused of killing 12 non-magical people and one wizard. Actually, the one wizard was the one that did the murder. He’s the one that turns into a rat and now Sirius is back at the end of the book to kill the rat.
So, we’re learning all these horrible concepts.
Ankerberg: Next, what is the Prison of Azkaban? How are the guards of this prison described? And again, is this the kind of information we want our children to think about?
Matrisciana: Another terrible concept is the prison. Azkaban is a sort of wizards’ prison, dungeon. And the guards are dementors. These guards are black-hooded, satanic creatures that shift. They’re described as dead bodies that have decayed in water. Another description of them is that they’re soul-suckers; that they suck the happiness out of people. Another description of them is that when they suck your soul out of you with the dementor’s kiss, that you’re not even alive. See, they suck your soul out. This is teaching demon possession. When your soul is sucked out, your spirit is still there, but you’ve given yourself over. And so the person whose soul is sucked out is described as somebody who is just so depressed and isn’t living, doesn’t exist. So they’re being set up for this even being a concept a child should contemplate wanting to get into.
Ankerberg: Some of our Christian leaders have said that the Harry Potter books do not really deal with the supernatural aspects of the occult. Here are some reasons why that is not true:
Matrisciana: I find when I was reading the book, the child sort of is, when they’re thinking of the werewolf who’s cutting himself up and wanting to tear himself apart, remember that there’s a story where Jesus casts out the demons in Legion who’s tied up in the graveyard because he lacerates himself and tears at himself. This is a horrible, horrible concept to be in, a terrible position. Yet in these books they’re just put in as though it’s nothing. And, by the way, there are Christian leaders who say that Harry Potter isn’t dealing with the supernatural, therefore, they are not dangerous books. This is supernatural possession that is taking place!
Another introduction of supernatural possession, a terrible concept, again, in Book 3, is that we learn the divination teacher Madam Trelawney becomes possessed. She’s a full medium. Her body changes; her eyes become tranced; she gets into an altered state. This thing comes into her and predicts in a voice that isn’t hers that something’s going to happen in the future. And guess what. It does happen.
So the reader is set up to believe that a possessed person who predicts something in the future—it works. That it’s true. That it can happen. In fact, Harry even looks into the future. He takes a test called scrying, a scrying test which is a form of divination, looking into a crystal ball. And the concept is that you look into reflective images, whether it’s a mirror, or water, or crystal ball—any shiny object that you can see a mirrored reflection of the future. So this is taught in a class that children ask questions; the teacher answers. They take tests. They talk it through in a conversation with each other in the book. So a child can understand.
Ankerberg: If you are a Christian, spirit possession, or divination, scrying—which a form of divination which is a person looking into the future through crystal balls or mirrors—these are all practices God condemns in Deuteronomy 18. God says He doesn’t want His people to practice these techniques or to teach them to our children. Yet we are doing so through letting our children read the Harry Potter books, because these techniques are all presented there. Now, there’s another objectionable element in the Harry Potter books. Harry, Ron and Hermione, as well as the adult teachers, lie, cheat and steal to get their way. Is this what we want our children to learn?
Matrisciana: Another thing that I found quite interesting in Book 3 is the whole concept of relativism—how the kids can lie, cheat, steal, and all this sort of thing that we hear again and again that it’s all right. In fact, in the beginning of Book 3, Harry does this horrible curse on his aunt, and he knows that he is an underage wizard doing this curse. He knows he should be expelled. And yet, he is let off because there is a more serious thing happening in Book 3, that is that one of the prisoners of Azkaban—Harry doesn’t know it yet but that’s his godfather, Sirius Black, the dog—has got out and that is more important: to protect Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from this escaped prisoner who they say killed Harry’s father—and that’s why the dementors, these awful, awful spirits, are going to protect Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the murderer. So they use black creatures to do the protection. And children now understand that the “black things” can protect you. And all their positive thoughts can protect them.
They can lie and cheat, they can be involved in all this relativism, but guess what doesn’t lie—a map! The things that are possessed by spirits don’t lie—the Marauder’s Map that Harry Potter’s father and these three other kids that all became animals that got into this horrible Black Magic and could all change into animals—they made this map called the Marauder’s Map and the map never lies.
So again, the children are thinking that there are things that are spirit-filled, like the sorting hat, the sword of truth, supposedly, of the House of Gryffindor, the Marauder’s Map—these things don’t lie. But witches and wizards are permitted to because the code of witchcraft, the belief of witchcraft, is that there is no good or bad; there’s no right or wrong; there’s no evil; there isn’t a Satan; good is what you perceive it to be. A child can get very easily confused. I think that is one of the things that Christian parents are missing in allowing their children to read this book because it is a confusing philosophy. The whole concept of paganism is confusion because Satan himself is called “the father of lies,” “the god of confusion...the author of confusion...the god of chaos.”
McGee: My goal is for people to understand what witchcraft and paganism is all about and how it’s reflected in these books. You see, the church for years has ignored witchcraft and paganism in all its forms. We haven’t taught our people anything about this. Now, this is a great threat to us. But also is a tremendous opportunity. Because, where before they would bring in elements of paganism and witchcraft in sort of a tangential way, here is a direct assault, it’s a clear, clean representation. So, perhaps for the best time we’ve had, we have a tremendous opportunity to tell our people, this is what witchcraft is all about, and this is why these books and movies are unacceptable. And in the process, actually teach our people what witchcraft and paganism entails.