|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1999|
|The 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 ofOccultism, p. 10)|
Poor Harry. 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!
The delivery 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)
The Dursleys 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. 53)
But 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 famous wizard!
And suddenly 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.
The giant, 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 magical means:
The items Harry needs for school include a wand, a cauldron, and an owl OR a cat OR a toad. (pp. 66-67)
Checking Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s,The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, we find that these are things that witches actually use:
Students 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.
Harry has 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 proper platform:
Harry takes 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.
Harry 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.
He 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:
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)
There are other unusual things about the Hogwarts castle. For example:
Then there 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:
A frequent 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)
Hermione has 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)
The 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.
Voldemort is 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:
This "mother goddess" theme is an important part of many modern witchcraft beliefs. It comes up again in later books in the Harry Potter series.
Harry, of 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)
He discovers 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)
He 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.
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 bookThe 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:
While the bookHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoneis 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."
Harry 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 onGod’s Warning About Witchcraft: Definitions of Terms from Deuteronomy 18.