Harry Potter

So, Harry Potter is Satanic, huh?

I've read a couple of books regarding Harry Potter and its supposed Satanic influences. There are always going to be those alarmist freaks who burn anything with the word "witch" in it and scream about how we all need to repent, but then there are people who actually take the time to think through and develop moral opposition to it. That's what troubles me.

I read most of a book called Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick, by Richard Abanes. The author explains that he's using the term "magick" rather than the "magic-with-a-c" that's used in the book, because he believes the characters are actually practicing something kids could copy: The "real" magick of the world of modern Witchcraft.

Well, being a Pagan myself, I find this amusing. I for one have never made a Polyjuice Potion, nor have I ever used dragon's blood that was actually, well, the blood of a dragon. (It's a folk name for an herb, guys.) I catch all kinds of cutesy references to "real" stuff in the Pagan world, such as names of alchemists, god and goddess associations with people's names, mythological and archetypal symbols, et cetera. Ms. Rowling has done her homework. So has Mr. Abanes.

This isn't some hysterical tome about how Harry Potter is poisoning our kids' souls or anything. I think that he truly did a good job with his research, except for the parts where the conclusions he came to are dishonest and don't match up. I think he's correct when he suggests that kids who are REALLY into Harry Potter might begin to practice Witchcraft if they realize that some of the book's references actually are based on real practices, modern or not. I can imagine the rare instance of children who are sucked into the Potterverse so strongly that they do research and find out about occult practices that really happen in the world, like forms of divination (Professor Trelawney in the HP series actually shows some real methods) and magickal objects and whatnot. Putting aside the fact that no one makes wands strung with unicorn hair or phoenix feathers, there definitely ARE some references to real Pagan behavior that kids could pick up on, being that the legends and folk tales that Rowling based her stuff on were actually given RISE to because of real practices.

So, I'll give him that--there are kids who could possibly get into Witchcraft through Harry Potter. Putting aside any judgments I have of whether this is a concern, I have to say that anyone who would begin to practice Witchcraft or follow a Pagan spiritual path because of a few references that check out was probably going to do it anyway as soon as they heard about its existence. Somehow, they would hear about these practices, and whatever chord was strummed by Harry Potter would be strummed anyway; it's their natural inclination to be curious about such things. There just are those kinds of people. And Harry Potter is not particularly Pagan in philosophy; there are a LOT more books with much more strongly Pagan messages, such as The Mists of Avalon and other fantasies. HP just gets so much crap because of its popularity.

That said, I would like to note that Abanes has a particularly interesting chapter about fantasy in general. In it, he compares and contrasts "good" fantasy and "bad," trying to show Harry Potter for dangerous and series like Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia (hmm, "coincidentally" written by Christian scholars) as being "safe" fantasy. He piles on a lot of garbage regarding Harry's getting rewarded for bad behavior and whatnot while that never happens in these other fantasies (suuure), but the thing that stood out to me was the magic. In Harry Potter, he says, the children are learning about the occult at school, learning it on purpose, which = bad. But in the Christian fantasy series, you either have only bad people using "sorcery," or you have (in the case of Tolkien's elves) characters who are just using their God-given talents. (Yes, he actually says this--that the elves are not bad for using magic because it was a natural ability given by the Creator.) Now. Where does this not exactly fit, huh? Yeah--because in Ms. Rowling's books, the characters are either born magical (wizards or witches) or born regular humans (Muggles). They're using "God-given" talents too. You think elves didn't have to learn the knowledge about their herbs? And what about when Aragorn goes around healing everyone? Oh wait, that's because he was supposed to be Jesus, I forgot. Jesus is allowed to do magic, remember--try to emulate Him, but don't practice anything occulty-looking. Best not to try to walk on water, guys.

Another thing that really got me is that the author said kids have trouble telling fantasy from reality. Ohhhkay. Well, kids generally take a while sometimes to realize that some things are made up, but I think even very early on most kids know the difference between a story and a real event. I can see why they might get confused, though, if the Bible is read to them. I know this might come across VERY offensive, but I have to say it. The Bible is framed as being "truth," and yet the stories in it depict weirdnesses such as a talking donkey, a woman getting turned into a pillar of salt, and burning bushes with holy messages. These are parable elements--I know I would be cast aside as a heathen because of my beliefs anyway, but bear with me here. Even if a bunch of the stuff in the Bible actually happened, I don't believe people lived for several hundred years, or any of that stuff that's sometimes literally interpreted. But if adults believe that the snake talked to Adam and Eve in the garden--if THEY don't know the difference between a parable and "reality"--then why would I be surprised that they think their kids can't tell the difference? If the Bible's talking animals and whatnot are passed off as "this REALLY happened," I can see why some parents might be concerned that kids will be interpreting any story as possibly being true.

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Comments from others:

Mikey: Oh yes, the devil and Harry Potter,someone couldn't just write a tale of magic and entertainment because it is always out to get the Christians of this world. I find it hard to think that people truly could see this that way but I guess that's what you get with people in a state of fear and misunderstanding and that's what it comes down to in my opinion. Anyway good stuff.

SinOan: Ha, I remember how I loved this scene in the Sci-Fi TV series Firefly, where this kid genius called River is ripping out pages from a Bible and crossing bits out, saying that it's "Broken - it doesnít make sense!"

I have read every one of the Harry Potter books, and I have never once felt inclined to want to go out and practice witchcraft, magic or Satanism. Amazing how these people will point and shout at anyone who gets interested in such things because of Harry Potter, and yet fail to mention the millions of other people who HAVENT been pulled over to the 'Dark Side' because of it. Its like when someone wins the lottery, and everyone is like Wow! Thatís amazing! And yet they forget that about a billion other people didnít win, so no, itís not that amazing or surprising. No one ever points out when terrible or amazing things spectacularly FAIL to happen, even though such things are far more frequent than the instances when things do happen.

And as you say, taking up witchcraft is not the same as taking up Satanism or becoming inherently evil. But I guess they just like having something to complain about.

D: You think elves didn't have to learn the knowledge about their herbs?

Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!!! I'm sorry to deviate somewhat (I do seem to do that in relation to your rants, don't I?) but since it's Harry Potter related, it's not too far off the mark.

I once frequented a Harry Potter roleplay forum. I had a character, who in reality (not literally, of course, but let me explain) was a full blooded elf, but I had to scale back to a half-elf. She was supposed to be a student (she did become one, for a time anyway), but she wasn't allowed to be a full blooded elf. Why? Well apparently in the admin's version of Hogwarts, elves are discriminated against because "they don't need no school learnin's of magic!" (not actual quote). Yup, being BORN with magical talent, they didn't need to go to Hogwarts to learn magic because they'd be taught by elven elders. 'Cause Elves are so insular and xenophobic they don't need no human learnings! So yeah let's make her a HALF ELF HALF HUMAN HYBRID BECAUSE THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE with all that xenophobia. T____T

Sorry... got carried away again. ^_^

Stephen: Now, Ivy... can't we just admit that reading Harry Potter causes kids to become witches and servants of Satan? Why is that a big leap of logic? I mean millions upon millions of people read HP, and its obvious that millions of people are witches!

Stephen: Please... don't you know that reading Harry Potter turns kids into witches? Although, it makes me wonder why, if millions of people read those books, there aren't tons and tons of practicing pagans aorund here...

Food for thought.

Toon Review: *Laughs at "occulty-looking."*

I have all the Harry Potter books, but haven't read a one of them. Maybe I should start. Too busy on the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Too busy being completely maniacally influenced by the series, as I'm now picking up a sword, telling a friend (who I now believe is a wizard of the First Order) to name me the rightful Seeker, so that I may destroy Darken Rahl. (If you haven't picked up on the sarcasm by now...)

Rubber Ducky: Ms. Rowling is a Christian and a member of the Church of Scotland. I don't think she'd write books offensive to her own religion.

Synesthesia: I looooove Harry Potter. Not so much the movies, which annoyed me and were, to me, like someone scooping the pulp out of an orange and replacing it with HFCS and fake orange flavour just to irritate me.
But the books are indeed NOT SATANIC. They are full of good messages of friendship, fighting against evil, learning to be less prejudice and more understanding.
The good stuff.
Urge to read HP, rising. Maybe I can finally get through Philosopher's Stone in Japanese!
Or not, Japanese is kind of hard and I don't know enough kanji.

commenter: But what about Gandalf? He uses magic too! Oh, wait, he's some sort of angel-like being so he doesn't count. Seriously, Lord of the Rings was once considered as bad as Harry Potter is today. This Harry-Potter-is-evil is just a phase and will pass away soon after years of pointing out very obvious Christian symbolism (because it couldn't be more obvious by the end of book 7).

Lanavis: This was just perfect! But you can't really blame them for thinking that kids will think unicorns, Dementors, Boggarts, and sugary rat-cake chickens are real if their own parents believe in talking animals, a basket of food feeding hundreds of people, a stairway to space (or heaven), and all the other highly doubtful "facts" in the Bible.

I also wanted to say that Satanism is actually just a belieg who's teachings are based on individualism, self-control and "eye for an eye". It's not about sacrificing human virgins or committing grave sins.

Lizzy: Fair points on both sides. To be fair, my mother didn't want me to read Harry Potter until I was 14, and yes, we're both Christian. But then, as a child, I did have a lot of difficulty separating myself and my beliefs from other people and their beliefs, so I'm pretty happy with that decision. When I was 14, I read the books, and I wasn't a fan; but that was more because of a technical standpoint.