Reviewed by Gail A. Grynbaum

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ,New York, Scholastic Press, 1997.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, New York, Scholastic Press, 1999. 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, New York, Scholastic Press, 1999. 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, New York, Scholastic Press, 2000.

This article was originally published in the San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal: Reviews From a Jungian Perspective of Books, Films and Culture, Volume 19, Number 4, 2001, pp 17-48. It is reprinted here with the expressed permission of the Editor.


The four Harry Potter books that have recently taken the American publishing industry by storm are part of a projected seven-volume British fairy tale series about magic, individuation, and the mundus imaginalis. They record the coming of age of an intuitive boy, in which the traditional young hero's journey is woven through an unfamiliar hermetic world, engaging masters of liminality and wizardly sophistication in the effort to balance the forces of good and evil. Recently, a friend and I were discussing the world-wide, across-age, Harry Potter phenomenon, and how it has occasioned a rise of reading zest in kids, especially boys. He had asked his 10 year old son Sam-- previously an avid nonreader--what made him such a Harry Potter devotee. Sam's quick response was "he takes me to another world." That J.K. Rowling has been able to tap into even men's longing for the world of the imagination adds to the secret mystique of the Harry Potter series and its universal appeal.

These tales were categorized by the publishing industry as children's books. But as friends and colleagues began to talk about them, I became intrigued. Upon entry into the world of Harry Potter, I was soon enchanted, caught up like so many of us in the alive, visceral experience of reading. The real surprise for me, as an analytical psychotherapist, was the psychological and symbolic depth that emanated from the images in the books. The more I focused on their alchemical, dreamlike images, the greater was their capacity to release psychological energy. This was an alchemical reading experience, a revelation of secrets and strata previously reserved to the contemplation of the woodcuts in Jung's essays on alchemy or to the Jungian analysis of dreams.

For the uninitiated, Harry Potter is the boy hero of the tales, a recently enrolled student at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. When he was an infant, the boy's parents, both great wizards, were killed by a dark sorcerer, Lord Voldemort. Orphaned, Harry was forced to live with cruel "Muggle" (non-wizard) relatives until he was informed of his heritage and transported to Hogwarts. There he is finally able to realize his native gifts through a sorcerer's apprenticeship under the tutelage of Headmaster Dumbledore.

At school, Harry goes through his Training with two new friends, Hermione Granger, a soror mystica who is also a lively, challenging presence, and Ron Weasley, a good brother figure. There is also a student foe, Draco Malfoy. These four young people, each with a distinct and developing personality, must cope with the tutelage of the colorful adult characters, such as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor Minerva McGonagall, as well as the sinister Lord Voldemort, and a few ghosts and pets. Hogwarts is evidently more than a school for wizards; it is the crucible for the development of Harry's capacity to become a contemporary shaman.

J.K. Rowling has said that she plans to write a total of seven volumes, each book intended to contain Harry's initiatory ordeals over a single academic year, ending with High School. The number seven is an apt one to mirror a shaman's journey; seven is frequently used in fairy tales and spiritual/religious texts to refer to the completion of a cycle that symbolizes dynamic wholeness. In ancient Egypt seven, which analytical psychologist's today think of as signifying initiation, was the symbol of eternal life. What Harry is undergoing in the course of these books is nothing else but the development of the ability of a mediumistic nature to survive in two worlds.

The magical parallel world that seems as if it is just "on the other side" of the everyday world is the environment in which the stories unfold, once they get fully underway at Hogwarts. The tales have the internal consistency of a dream atmosphere, in which each detail is allowed both to speak for itself and to become a signpost towards another level. The universe spun by Rowling, the Scottish woman new to authorship, resembles "The Dreaming" of the Australian Aboriginals and yet never quite loses its connection with the British dayworld of tea, sports, and competition.

Fortunately the same language is spoken on both sides of the imaginal divide, although Rowling developed a new vocabulary to enable characters to describe experiences that were foreign to dayworld "Muggles." The author introduced enough of a lexicon that one dedicated fan has developed a Harry Potter website, called the "Encyclopaedia Potteratica." Rowling has said that her neologisms came to her in the manner that she imagines colors must emerge from the palette of an Impressionist painter trying to capture a landscape on canvas: the hue is called forth by what is already there. (Diane Rehm Show, October 20, 1999, National Public Radio)

To move into the Hogwarts setting, Harry and the other students must shift into another reality. Harry and his fellow initiates come to London's King Cross Station and must cross through an invisible barrier leading to a secret platform, number nine and three-quarters, to catch the Hogwarts Express. The "non-Muggle" world of Hogwarts is one where pictures and paintings are animated, brooms fly, time is three dimensional, animals speak, owls are the mail carriers, and people can transform themselves into animals. The threshold between the Muggle and Hogwarts worlds is via the Leaky Cauldron cafe, which is located on Knockturn Alley and Diagon Alley; visitors, in other words, need to move "nocturnally" and "diagonally" into this imaginal space.

In his studies of the archetypes energizing the collective unconscious, C.G. Jung found that the individuation journey is reflected in the "operations" of alchemical processes and the dynamic motifs of mythology and fairy tales. Rowling's ingenious use of details and themes from these sources establishes the contemporary symbolic environment in which the characters undergo their ordeals. Three archetypal themes that have emerged from her tale so far are: the Orphan, the Vampire, and the Resilient Young Masculine. These forces speak to us as we read the Harry Potter stories, and they provide the key to Harry's particular pattern of initiatory individuation.

In his adventures, Harry's primary task is to learn the skills that will enable him to navigate between worlds, whether these be conceived as Muggle and Wizard, student and teacher, upper and lower, or inner and outer. As his Pilgrim's Progress proceeds, he must draw upon the resources implied by the figures of Orphan, Vampire, and Resilient Young Masculine.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the enchanting first volume, is bathed in alchemical operations and symbolism. In Great Britain, the title was more properly, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, (it was changed for the American audience to the "Sorcerer's Stone.") Rowling simmers her characters and plot in a medieval retort that provides the perfect magical medium in which to initiate Harry's individuation process. In each of the books the three worlds of images described in alchemy, the black (nigredo,) the white (albedo,) and the red (rubedo) are present and form an essential part of the mood and energy of the plots.

The first book limns the container and the key elements that will undergo the varied alchemical processes. The story is about a search for an alchemical Philosopher's Stone that is both literal and metaphoric. From the first step into the tale the reader feels the tension of opposing forces-- love and abuse, community and orphan. As if embodying the transcendent function itself, Harry must find a way to survive and grow beyond the collision of opposites in his life.

As an infant Harry was wounded by Lord Voldemort during the murderous slaughter of his famous wizard parents, Lily and James Potter. A lightning-bolt scar on his tiny forehead was the only visible mark from the attack. Voldemort was said to have lost his powers and vanished after his effort to kill Harry failed. However, whenever evil is nearby, Harry experiences a terrifying, painful pull inside the remaining scar, as though he is being energetically drawn away from the upper world.

The thunderbolt, mythically symbolic of the spark of life and enlightenment was hurled by Zeus down to earth as a dramatic symbol of that god's dual capacity for creation and destruction. Harry's wound was the first evidence of a shamanic calling as well as the battleground between enormous conflicting forces within his young body and psyche. Increasingly in the stories, Harry's private experience of the opposites representing good and evil becomes reflected in the external struggles.

Harry's parents, with an aura of King and Queen, are a profound absent presence; their actual absence aches in their son's unconscious and they appear to him in dreams, visions, and visitations. Their names, James and Lily, carry mythological symbolism. St. James was the patron saint of alchemists and physicians. According to Spanish legend, St. James defeated Hermes in battle and took charge of his secret knowledge. (Alexander Roob, Alchemy & Mysticism:The Hermetic Museum, Koln, Taschen, 1997, p. 700) The lily represents heavenly purity, a promise of immortality and salvation, and in medieval iconography was seen as a symbol for the Virgin Mary. ( J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, New York, Dorset Press, 1971, p. 189)

Harry's early orphan life was spent alone in a cupboard under the stairs. The hero-child is nearly always portrayed as abandoned in myths and fairy tales, but Marie-Louise Von Franz cautions in The Interpretation of Fairy Tales, that we should not interpret this through the lens of personal neurosis of the abused and neglected child we have all come to know so well from the lore of psychotherapy, but leave it in an archetypal context to mine for deeper meaning. That is, "namely that the new God of our time is always to be found in the ignored and deeply unconscious corner of the psyche (the birth of Christ in a stable.)" ( Rev. edition, Boston, Shambhala, 1996, p. viii)

Nevertheless, Harry's cruel step-family kept him in miserable deprivation, and the boy often felt consumed with anger and frustration. On the other hand, the endurance of a painful and isolated childhood helped forge his (and many readers) character. As Edward Edinger says, in reference to one of the key alchemical operations, "The fire of calcinatio is a purging, whitening fire. It acts on the black stuff, the nigredo....Psychologically... development will be promoted by the frustration of pleasure and power...." (Anatomy of the Psyche, Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy, La Salle, Illinois, Open Court, 1985, pp. 26, 27)

Harry grows up as a spirited yet lonely boy who, like many orphans and other alienated children, fantasizes about being rescued by someone special who will recognize him for his true value. It isn't just unruly hair, physical incoordination, or broken glasses that set him apart from others. Early on, Harry notices he has unusual talents, such as an ability to talk to snakes at the zoo, that position him uncomfortably between two worlds. He later learns that this linguistic gift was passed to him in the clash with Voldemort.

On the boy's eleventh birthday, Rubeus Hagrid, a messenger from the wizards, arrives with news that Harry is to come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the next stage of his Training. In preparation for Hogwarts, Harry has to shop for his school supplies and, most importantly, a wand. In the magic shop, the wand that is to be his, chooses him. It is made from one of a pair of feathers from a phoenix tail; the other tail feather from the same bird is said to have gone into Voldemort's wand, the very wand that gave Harry the defining head scar.

Harry's instincts quicken as he absorbs into his body the energetic connection to the dark side represented by the link between these two wands and their owners. As he becomes conscious of carrying this connection, he feels his skin prickle with fear. Harry has received yet another signal of his liminal position between the thrusts of the two worlds. He must find a way to straddle yet penetrate these two opposites. The phoenix is the mythological bird known for periodic destruction and re-creation.

The boy is anxious since he knows that because of his heritage, many expect great deeds from him, even though he still lacks knowledge about wizardry. Hagrid looks at him and says, with words that nod towards the primal appeal of these stories: "Don' you worry Harry. You'll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you'll be just fine. Just be yerself." (Sorcerer's Stone, p. 86)

With leaden legs, Harry boards the Hogwarts Express train to School. The story unfolds with his movement towards the magical world. In one of the best scenes, Harry gets introduced to the wizard ancestor world by his new friend Ron via "animated" collectible cards. Figures like medieval French alchemists Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel, Arthurian fairy Morgana, Swiss alchemist Paracelsus and Arthurian magician Merlin add their energy to the metaphysical alembic being established. The archetypal images come alive as we read.

The characters begin to cook together and the environment reflects the blackening descent into the seat of the unconscious. The train spirals from rolling plains into deep woods, carved by twisting rivers under a dark purple sky. The train arrives at Hogwarts Castle which sits high atop a mountain next to a black lake. Hogwarts is the image of the secure new home, "the place where soul and Self meet, the Home that is the heart of the new order." (Marion Woodman, The Ravaged Bridegroom, Toronto, Inner City Books, 1990, p. 205)


The students arrive and are faced with their first rite of passage. As in the alchemical operation of separatio, the youths are sorted by an enchanted, speaking hat. When placed on their head, the hat directs them to one of four Houses where they will live, each House known for a particular wizardly virtue: Bravery, Loyalty, Wisdom, and Cunning. The conical hat seems to represent the young peoples' orientation towards new ideas and world view. Harry is chosen for the "brave" Gryffindor House, although the Sorting Hat recognizes his dual nature, saying he would also do well in the "cunning" Slytherin House, known for producing dark wizards.

Harry begins his training with classes in History of Magic, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, and Broom Flying. He is truly a whiz on the broomstick and is quickly selected for the most important position (the Seeker) on Gryffindor House's Quidditch team. For the first time in his life, Harry is valued for his instincts, and athletic in the exercise of them. The ecstatic experience of Quidditch is the leap into Harry's shamanic training.

Quidditch, a fast game with three balls and played on flying broomsticks, resembles a cross between cricket and basketball. The Seeker needs to catch the third ball, a small gold one with tiny fluttering silver wings which is called the Golden Snitch. The arduous effort to catch the elusive golden ball is much like the individuation journey to find the Philosopher's Stone in alchemy and makes the Snitch the most important ball of the game. Like a Mayan warrior on the ball courts, Harry knows he is involved in a sacred act. We watch him become a Quidditch player of the soul.

In the air, on his Nimbus 2000 broom, this intuitive boy with his eager body finds his true home. He is an ambitious and hard working adept. Harry's studies take him to varied levels: through hidden tunnels, up in the air, or down watery pipes. When nooks and crannies get too dark, he waves his trusty wand and calls out for "Lumos," light. Sometimes he moves with the invisibility cloak that once belonged to his father, and at other times he place-shifts with the help of transporting "floo" powder. Harry embodies resilience in learning the skills necessary to move with agility through the strata.

The relationship of the trio of school friends, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, is vital to each of them, and they spend their time talking, arguing, and exploring together. They express their feelings of elation, isolation, fear, anger, and tenderness to each other. Although not competitive, they challenge each other. This related two boy, one girl family is a poignant central attraction of the series in these alienated times, a reminder to many readers who have felt alone since early childhood, of the lost archetype of comradeship.

J.K. Rowling says that she modeled Hermione on herself at eleven. Hermione has been an outsider most of her life, since she was a witch with unrecognized special talents raised in a Muggle family; at Hogwarts she initially overcompensates by studying all the time. She is certainly self-reliant, the smartest and highest achieving student, organized, focused, and filled with integrity. Perhaps this girl with sparkling, disciplined intellect, who is hard driving even though she lives in a liminal zone, has the name "Hermione" because it is the female form of "Hermes." In each of the books, Hermione is repeatedly the truth-sleuth, comfortable in the library, who finds the clue that makes sense of the mystery at hand. She is always the one standing at a crossroads pointing the way.

In The Sorcerer's Stone, Hermione researches the name Nicolas Flamel and discovers that he is an alchemist, over 600 years old and Professor Dumbledore's colleague. Flamel, it turns out, possesses the only Philosopher's Stone in existence; this Stone has the dual capacity to transform base metals into gold and to produce the Elixir of Life which gives the drinker immortality (viz Flamel's own longevity). The trio of friends learn that the Stone is hidden in the Castle.
Hermione is able to stand up for her beliefs to Harry and Ron and is not as prankish or immature as the boys. The two boys value her keen insights and persistence. She also has a close mentor relationship with Quidditch-loving Assistant Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. As the books progress, Hermione becomes more relaxed and emotionally expressive.

One of Harry's early psychological tasks is to encounter and reflect on the loss of his parents and to suffer his consequent identity as orphan, survivor, and savior. One night while looking into a magical mirror he sees his entire family, like guardian spirits, waving at him. He feels a "powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness." (Sorcerer's Stone, p. 209) Professor Albus Dumbledore comes out of the shadows of the room. The silver-bearded elder, who oversees Harry's training, tells the youth that the mirror shows the deep, most desperate desire of the heart but it does not give truth or knowledge; Harry must not dwell on his yearnings and forget to live. He must put his energy into his life.

This in alchemical terms, is a "whitening," an albedo time of reflection and discovery of the positive side of a dark fate for Harry. It is also a time to experience the transformative power of Hermes-Mercury, the trickster companion of souls to the underworld, protector of travelers, and the master of legerdemain. "The trickster is ideally suited to be an agent of transformation because he/she carries both sides of a split in the psyche. The trickster is evil and good, loving and hateful, male and female, and thus holds the opposites together while also keeping them differentiated." (Donald E. Kalsched, The Inner World of Trauma, London, Routledge, 1996, p. 189)

It is time for Harry to learn more about the trickster, and author Rowling's lesson plan for him calls for greater involvement with the mercurial Rubeus Hagrid, the giant, black-bearded, unpredictable yet endearing Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts. This inhabitant of liminal space is Master Wizard Albus Dumbledore's special messenger. Hagrid has a way of getting embroiled with the incarnations of Lord Voldemort and plays a pivotal role as he weaves close to conscious and unconscious spaces stirring the energies together and agitating Harry to greater depths and steeper edges.


Each encounter that Harry has with Voldemort or one of his avatars becomes darker. In the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, Harry suddenly comes upon a horrific scene of a cloaked figure with blood dripping from its mouth, leaning over an open wound on the dead body of a gleaming white unicorn. It is drinking the animal's blood. Harry is rescued by a centaur who tells him that Lord Voldemort is nearby and, thirsting for immortality, is after the Stone. Von Franz, in Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche, says that anyone who earns the gratitude of animals, or whom they help for any reason, invariably wins out....It is psychologically of the utmost importance, because it means that in the conflict between good and evil the decisive factor is our animal instinct or animal soul; anyone who has it with him is victorious.... (Boston, Shambhala, 1994, p. 89)

Killing a unicorn is a desperate vampiric measure since the unicorn is a sacred creature. As the centaur says:
Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of the unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips. (Sorcerer's Stone,p. 258)

In alchemy, the unicorn symbolizes the path to the Philosopher's gold.

The vampire myth is like a deep vein that pulses through the Potter stories. The vampire as an archetypal motif and image has been present in many cultures throughout the world for over 3000 years. The character of Voldemort here represents the dark demonic energy that thrusts Harry towards his spirals of initiations. Like Lord Voldemort, the Vampire, is foremost a dehumanized shapeshifter who although appearing in a variety of guises, has the primal urge to suck the blood, soul and libido of others to revivify himself. His frightening visage communicates an overpowering doom and depressive despair.

Harry is terrified that if Voldemort gets the Stone he will come back to power. He decides he must fight him. Ron and Hermione worry that Harry will be expelled. But Harry operates out of a far deeper level of fear:

don't you understand?... I [have to get the Stone] If I get caught before I can get to the Stone, well, I'll have to go back to the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it's only dying a bit later than I would have, because I'm never going over to the Dark Side! (p. 270)

Descending into the sinuous bowels of the School through a series of traps set by different teachers to protect the Stone, the three friends figure out how to navigate the dangers, each time passing through another door. Harry goes into the last dark chamber alone, knowing he must face the danger ahead. Inside he encounters his Defense against Dark Arts teacher, who declares that he has allowed his body to become possessed by Voldemort so they can get the Stone. Afterwards, he and Voldemort plan to kill Harry.

The teacher confesses: "Lord Voldemort showed me...there is no good or evil, there is only power." (p. 291) As the teacher removes his hat and turns his back to the boy, Harry is face-to-face with a monstrous, chalky, snake-like visage: Voldemort. He hisses

See what I have become?...Mere shadow and vapor...I have form only when I can share another's body...but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds....once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own.... (p.293)

Like a vampire, he needs another body on which to feed.

Harry feels the heat of his rage and terror rise. The "man with the two faces" tries to strangle Harry. The emboldened boy fights back, seeing how the creature can't touch him without receiving scalding burns. In a power coniunctio of conflicting passions, both desperately fight for their lives, and suddenly Harry blacks out. This is the alchemical rubedo stage of his journey, in which libido, heat, and opposing elements melt together to form the Gold of the boy's ripened consciousness. This is the moment of death for the old attitude of helplessness in the orphan, and a birth of the new seasoned strength of the Initiate.

Harry revives. Headmaster Dumbledore has rescued him and explains that the creature couldn't touch Harry without getting burned.

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.... It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good." (p. 299)

Like Merlin who trained the orphan King Arthur, Dumbledore is a master wizard overseeing Harry's training. Helping Harry to move through the doorways into deeper chambers of his growth, Dumbledore is the alchemist who maintains the perfect balance of temperature and pressure in his adept's retort. Dumbledore doesn't under or over-manage Harry's training; he keeps the youth on edge to encourage the development of his self-reliance and skills. Understanding more about the sacrifices in his past, Harry develops a special relationship with this wise "Headmaster" and grows in his understanding of the real nature of the Elixir of Life.

The second volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, takes the reader into yet deeper layers of the archetypal themes of the Orphan and Vampire. The Dickensian Dursley stepfamily return as characters and continue to treat him as though his magical powers were a disgusting anomaly. The outsider experience of personal isolation, the xenophobic threat of "the foreigner," and the projection of the shadow are all viscerally portrayed in this volume.
A notion of elitist superiority was hinted at in The Sorcerer's Stone, in comments by Slytherin Draco Malfoy to Harry such as "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others..." (p. 108) By now the whispers have turned to threats. When Harry returns to School there is a growing movement led by the Slytherins to intimidate all the Hogwarts students who were born into "impure" Muggle families. They are considered to be "Mudbloods."

The sense of danger is everywhere. A puzzling force is loose and attacks students by turning them into stone; they are being petrified. Harry hears a horrifying, bone chilling voice that seeps out of the walls saying "Come...come to me...Let me rip you....Let me tear you...Let me kill you." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 120) And Harry is the only one who can hear and understand it.

The curse of petrifaction weaves the Medusa myth into the fabric of the story. "Medusa's eyes were so glaring that they turned to stone whomever looked into them."(Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant, Dictionary of Symbols, London, Penguin Books, 1994, p. 940) A highly polished shield like a mirror, was used to kill her. The mirror allows reflection, with the light of consciousness, on the unseen power in us that is enlarged and projected onto another.

In a heightened state of anxiety, the students go to their History of Magic class. Prodded by ever-curious Hermione, Professor Binns describes how Hogwarts was established over one thousand years ago by two wizards, Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, and two witches, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw. "They built the castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 150)

We learn, along with the class, that an ideological controversy developed between Slytherin and the others around "magical" superiority. Slytherin wanted to restrict sorcery education to heirs of pure-blood wizard families and to reject all students from mixed or "Muggle" families. Ultimately, Slytherin left the school but before his departure he built a secret chamber, which housed a horrific serpent whose power only his true heir could unleash. It would then be used to purge the school of all unworthy mudbloods. Somehow, the Chamber of Secrets, last opened fifty years earlier, has been re-opened. A new chapter in "Muggle cleansing" has arrived .

Harry realizes that he alone understands the special "voice" in the walls because he can speak snake language. Apparently this linguistic talent, one of the marks of a dark wizard, was one for which Salazar Slytherin was famous. Like the phoenix feather on his wand, Harry once again is reminded that he has one foot in the Darkness of the underworld and the other in the Light of the upper world.

Harry finds the secret diary of Tom Riddle, a boy who was a student at Hogwarts fifty years ago, when the Chamber was last opened. Riddle, like Harry, came from "mixed" parentage and was an orphan. Riddle, who hates his parents, is like a dark mirror image of Harry. The Riddle boy brings Harry into his memory through the diary, to show him the Hogwarts of fifty years earlier. This revenant tricks Harry into believing that he is trustworthy. Rowling's four dimensional, cyberspace-like use of time in this section is an imaginative move into another reality.

Like the scapegoating and projection of evil throughout history, the movement towards ethnic cleansing of Hogwarts gains momentum. Ron's younger sister, Ginny, gets abducted into the Chamber. Harry and Ron decide they must go and attempt her rescue.

Towards the climactic endings of each of her tales, Rowling uses evocative body-based images, involving the senses, breathe, eyes, and sound to heighten the mounting pace of the instinctual-archetypal battle ahead. In this story, the boys descend into the dank catacombs of the School. They pass a massive twenty-foot snakeskin shed by the serpent and come to a solid wall on which two emerald-eyed entwined snakes are carved--a horrific caduceus. Again, echoes of Harry's initiatory ordeal are audible in the dark tunnels; the snakeskin that is shed yearly recalls the process of death and rebirth.

Alone inside the darkened Chamber, Harry sees Ginny, nearly dead and lying like a sacrifice, at the foot of a massive stone statue of Salazar Slytherin. Then, he observes a black-haired boy whom Harry recognizes as Tom Riddle. Riddle coolly reveals that he is the young Lord Voldemort; while a student at Hogwarts fifty years ago he changed his name to Voldemort and vowed to become the greatest Dark Wizard. He preserved himself as a memory in his own diary and now has become freed to be the rightful heir to Slytherin.

The cunning Riddle/Voldemort describes how lonely little Ginny, who found the diary well before Harry, poured out her heart and soul into its pages--and into Tom. He boasts how he was able to "charm" Ginny and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted....I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her....[[She] daubed threatening messages on the walls. She set the Serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods....(p. 310)

In other words, this Hogwarts anima became possessed by a psychic vampire, to whom she gave the goodness of her young soul while he filled her with venomous hate, to become the poisonous soul of the psychological catastrophe currently haunting Hogwarts.

This penetrating description of psyche/soma possession and projection is one of the strongest and most chilling images in the book. It is both a vision and physical sensation of a terror to which both children and adults can relate. Ginny is the youngest sister of six brothers in the Weasley family. She was lonely and fearful about attending Hogwarts and used the secret Riddle diary to find desperately needed connection. Her soul was ideal "bait" for his hunger and his false responsiveness was seductive to her need to feel visible.

The mythic vampire can exist only by exploiting others--it is a parasitic beast that dies in isolation. The vampire archetype is essentially the shape we give to a dark potential in all human relations, an ominous shade that creeps over us when we feel (or imagine) the absence of love and settle for exploitation. (Barbara E. Hort, Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves & Others, Boston, Shambhala, 1996, p. 33)

Having hid in the moldy diary for fifty years, Riddle's unlived life energy has distilled into pure Voldemort poison. The dark fury towards his abandoning Muggle father fueled his determination to retaliate against all Muggles. Unable to see his own self-hatred Riddle tells Harry that annihilating Mudbloods no longer interests him; he only wants to kill Harry.
Ginny and Harry, still inexperienced with recognizing and battling evil are not yet strong enough to fight it on their own. They need help. Unearthly music begins to flow into the Chamber, and, as it grows louder, Harry feels his heart expanding and hair rising on his head. Then he sees flames. A golden-beaked phoenix appears and flies to Harry. As its golden claws land on Harry's shoulder, he recognizes Dumbledore's pet, Fawkes. He is carrying the magical Sorting Hat. The arrival of the Hat augurs the imminence of yet another process of separating distinctions (the alchemical separatio.)

An infuriated Voldemort screams for the giant serpent to kill Harry. The terrified boy shuts his eyes as the phoenix dives at the serpent eyes, puncturing them with his golden beak. The red blood of death, giving Harry life, spurts everywhere. Thrashing blindly, the snake manages to bite Harry, impaling him with a poisonous fang. Amidst the turmoil, the serpent sweeps the Sorting Hat to Harry, a ruby-handled silver sword falls out, and Harry plunges it deeply into the reptile's mouth and kills it.

These images of the serpent suggest a penetrating visceral connection with the unconscious in its death dealing aspect. In killing the serpent, Harry is a hero able to transform the evil eye of the snake monster within, where monsters are created with "looks that kill." Though not yet fully revealed in this story, Harry has internal mother images of the loving spirit of Lily Potter and the cruel stepmother, Petunia Dursley. In Symbols of Transformation, Jung wrote about the relationship between the mother imago, the unconscious, and the developing instinctual life of the son. In order not to fear life, the boy needs to deliver himself from his unconscious mother complex:

The demands of the unconscious act at first like a paralyzing poison on a man's energy and resourcefulness, so that it may well be compared to the bite of a poisonous snake. Apparently, it is a hostile demon who robs him of his energy, but in actual fact it is his own unconscious whose alien tendencies are beginning to check the forward striving of the conscious mind. (Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 298-299, par. 458)

As Harry pulls the fang from his arm, Fawkes flies to the adept who is rapidly becoming weaker from blood loss and spreading poison. The bird lays his head onto the wound and begins to cry thick tears. In alchemy and homeopathy there is a relationship between the poison that kills and the elixir that heals. The phoenix too, has a dual nature; it can be a killing force but its' empathic pearly tears can transform it to a healing remedy.

Young Voldemort begins a sarcastic eulogy for Harry but the youth regains consciousness. Fawkes flies to the diary and drops it into Harry's lap. As in killing a vampire, Harry grabs the serpent fang and plunges it into the heart of the diary. There is a piercing scream, ink spurts out of the diary, Voldemort writhes in agony on the floor, and once again disappears.


Most of the Hogwarts community refer to Voldemort as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." Voldemort, who has been trying to seize power for eons, is the personification of evil. The irreverent Harry, with Dumbledore's encouragement, keeps naming him while others shudder. Such an identification of him on the objective level is necessary to move Harry's connection with him out of the realm of participation mystique. To name means to separate, to halt the merger that occurs when there is a projection. Harry's rebellious attitude is not just an adolescent phase; it is critical in challenging the status quo. As the youth learns about his own power, he is able to withdraw his projections of power from Voldemort and locate his own.

The presence of the golden bird bearing the silver sword allows a new transcendent force to appear. The death, an alchemical mortificatio, of the serpent and then of Riddle/Voldemort, brings the young feminine back into the fullness of life. Little Ginny, whose soul is extracted back from the enigmatic sorcerer, emits a faint moan as she awakens and begins to cry. She says "I d-didn't mean to--R-Riddle made me, he t-took me over...." (Chamber of Secrets, p. 323).
Safely back, there is a postmortem of the events from the Chamber. Harry asks Professor Dumbledore to explain the meaning behind the Sorting Hat's statement from the first day at School when it said that Harry could have done well in Slytherin or Gryffindor. He also wants to know why is he able to speak snake language, if it is the mark of a dark wizard. Dumbledore explains that when his mother died, Voldemort transferred some of his powers over to Harry.
The youth worries that maybe he is of Slytherin, not Gryffindor. Dumbledore reminds him that in the sorting process, Harry asked the Hat: "Please don't put me in Slytherin." The Headmaster says that's what "makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." (p. 333) He urges Harry to look more carefully at the ruby-studded silver sword handle: Godric Gryffindor, the name of the founder of his and his father's house, the rival of Slytherin, is engraved on the sword in his hands. Harry used his sword to separate from his shadowy projection.

In the Anatomy of the Psyche, Edward Edinger wrote:

Psychologically, the result of separatio by division into two is awareness of the opposites. This is a crucial feature of emerging consciousness....To the extent that the opposites remain unconscious and unseparated, one lives in a state of participation mystique, which means that one identifies with one side of a pair of opposites and projects its contrary as an enemy. Space for consciousness to exist appears between the opposites, which means that one becomes conscious as one is able to contain and endure the opposites within.
p. 187)

Harry will need a lifetime of training and support to use the blade wisely as a tool of discernment and discrimination.
In Volume Three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is thirteen and entering his third year at Hogwarts. This time he encounters still darker aspects of the archetypal and magical world. Sophisticated psychological concepts serve as carpets that move Harry and the reader into profound realms of emotional experience. His parents become more present in his consciousness.

As part of his development as a teenager and wizard, Harry's attitude becomes increasingly rebellious. He is "talking back" to the Dursleys, who say terrible things to him. Like many child abuse survivors, Harry has learned to cope with torturous mental treatment. Although often burning with rage, he tells himself not to respond and to stay focused on his goals. An aunt insults him via his dead mother with "You see it all the time with dogs. If there is something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup--" (p. 25) But he can no longer keep body and mind split. He retaliates by making the relative inflate like a giant balloon. Then he runs away to Hogwarts.


Out on the street at night, Harry panics that he'll get expelled as punishment for performing magic as an underage wizard, away from Hogwarts. The threat of expulsion is always in the orphan's mind when he doesn't follow the established rules. As part of owning his authority, Harry is more drawn to obey inner values that are more compelling than any collective law. His anxiety is compounded when he senses a massive black dog-like creature watching him.

The dog in most mythologies is seen as psychopomp. Dogs are intermediaries and "stand at the gateway....they are guardians between life and death, between known and unknown. They are an intuitive bridge between conscious and unconscious, connectors to the psychoid level of the psyche." (Woodman, The Ravaged Bridegroom, p. 195)

On his way back to Hogwarts, Harry learns that Sirius Black, an inmate at the Azkaban wizard prison and purported supporter of Voldemort has escaped. Black had once been a Hogwarts student and best friend of Harry's dad. The wizard community fears that Black went insane in prison and is hunting Harry to kill him. The Minister of Magic arranges to have the Azkaban prison guards, called "Dementors," stationed outside of the School gates to watch for Black. The Dementors appear as giant, rotted, black-cloaked figures. They are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them....Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soul-less and evil. (p. 187)
The Dementors are magnetically attracted to positive emotions, like starving beasts after their prey. These hellish embodiments of evil overwhelm and dissociate their victims and then, reminiscent of vampire lore, they deliver the final "kiss."

Harry has a strong physical reaction to his first encounter with a Dementor on the Hogwarts Express. He collapses to the floor, feels as though he is drowning in swirling icy water, and blacks out while hearing screams inside his mind. Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defense against the Dark Arts instructor, is in the same train compartment and performs a curse against the soul-stealing dementors. Like the garlic that wards off the vampire, the professor gives Harry the remedy, chocolate (!), which rebalances his body.

Each time he is near a Dementor, the effect is more disabling. The next meeting occurs during a Quidditch match when, from his broomstick, he sees a giant silhouette of a dog on a cloud. He then sees a mass of nearly a hundred Dementors below on the Quidditch field. Again the frigid drowning sensation, but now it is accompanied by hearing his mother's screams. "Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead..." (p. 179) He faints, falls off his Nimbus 2000, and lands on the ground. Some force bigger than Harry brought him down.

The image of the black dog on the cloud could be viewed as a projection of Harry's fears of failure, abandonment and death. The early childhood trauma is playing back in his mind and bewitching tyrannical forces entrance him from within. Lying in the infirmary, Harry can't understand his reaction to the Dementors. He feels crazy and alone with his thoughts. He cannot grasp why he was hearing the last moments of his mother's life and Lord Voldemort's laughter before he murdered her. Like night vapors, horrible dream images seep into his sleep.

Lupin explains that Dementor energy can possess a person, and it effects Harry profoundly, not because of a weakness, but because those with a greater history of trauma are more susceptible. "And the worst has happened to you, Harry, [and] is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel ashamed of." (p. 187)

Because of the Sirius Black danger Harry is not permitted to leave Hogwarts to go on a school trip. He feels isolated. Friends sneak him a magical "Marauders Map," designed long ago by former students "Messrs. Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief Makers," so he can sneak away from School for an outing. In true daredevil adolescent style, Harry can't worry about danger when adventure calls.

Successful in his escapade, he catches up with Ron and Hermione, and they eavesdrop on Hogwarts faculty gossip. The teachers suspect Black went over to the Dark Side and sacrificed the Potters as proof of his loyalty to Voldemort. The faculty fear that although Voldemort is weak, with his most ardent supporter he could rise again.

Harry is shaken by the news. Feeling conflicted by his desire to hear his parents voices when he falls into the trauma bewitchment and his simultaneous need to survive, he knows that when seized by dementor energy he teeters on the edge of madness and death. He needs to become empowered to save his life. Lupin agrees to mentor Harry. First he will practice by using a "boggart." A boggart, explains Hermione, is "a shape-shifter....It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us the most..." (p. 133) It is an embodiment of terror, yet powerless. The Charm that counters a boggart is a concentrated humorous feeling that must be as strong as the fear, in order to transform the negative energy. As in a homeopathic visualization, the victim of the boggart must imagine himself in a paradoxical situation, in order to dissipate the energy.

Next, Harry must learn the most powerful Dark Arts Defense against the dementor, the Patronus Charm. It calls for his full concentration to find his authoritive standpoint. The Charm conjures up a Patronus...which is kind of an anti-dementor--a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor.... a positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon--hope, happiness, the desire to survive--but it cannot feel despair, as real human can, so the dementors can't hurt it. (p.237)

He utters the charm and on the third try, an important number in fairy tales, he succeeds in stopping the takeover of his spirit.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron finally meet up with Sirius Black who tells them who it was that really killed James and Lily Potter. Sirius, also the name for the "dog star," becomes a source of light and insight about the death of the royal couple. But it's too late. The Dementors start closing in. Harry musters up a Patronus Charm to ward them off but lacks the power to repel the herd of one hundred. As something begins to encircle him, miraculously the cold wave begins to leave his body. Harry sees an animal, glowing in the moonlight.

He screwed up his eyes, trying to see what it was. It looked like a horse. It was galloping silently away from him, across the black surface of the lake. He saw it lower its head and charge the swarming dementors.... They were gone. The Patronus turned. It was cantering back towards Harry....It was a stag....Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly it bowed its antlered head. And Harry realized...'Prongs,' he vanished. (p. 411-12)

James Potter was a specially trained "animagi," a wizard who was able to transform at will into an animal. His animal self is Prongs, a stag. Sirius Black, also an animagi, can shift into Padfoot, the black dog. They were two of the original Magical Marauders, the source of the Map given to Harry. But James Potters' choice of the stag form to preserve himself deserves comment.

The stag has archaic symbolic links to the Tree of Life due to the resemblance of its antlers to the cyclic life of branches. It is also seen as the forerunner of daylight or guide to the light of the Sun; it is a harbinger of supreme consciousness. In alchemy the cervus fugitivus, the fugitive stag, is often the name for the highly elusive, metamorphosing Spirit Mercurius. (Mark Haeffner, Dictionary of Alchemy, London, Aquarian, 1991, p. 142) Jung said that "the secret of Merlin was carried on by alchemy, primarily in the figure of Mercurius." ( C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, New York, Vintage Books, 1961, p. 228)

Like the shaman that aligns with special animals, Harry connects with his father's animagi, animal spirit and it gives him new strength to fight against the takeover and loss of his soul. A stunned Harry tells Dumbledore that the Patronus couldn't have been his father, because his father is dead.

You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? You father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night....You know Harry, in a way, you did see you father last night....You found him in yourself. (p. 427-428)

Like the babe in the manger to whom the Magi brought their gifts, Harry at Hogwarts is saved by the animagi. The chthonic encounter with his paternal authority in his 13th year pushes Harry over a new threshold of initiation.


Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the recently published fourth volume of the series, is Rowling's olympic showcase for Harry and his magical talents. In relation to what has come before, everything in this 734 page magnum opus is more elaborated. Two major international events, the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament, add external pressures (and new imported contents) to the expanding Hogwarts vessel. Surprise operations and plot twists crystallize deeper courage as well as blacker magic. Although Harry's ostensible goal through the maze of the three tasks set for him in this installment of his initiation is the Goblet of Fire, even that, once attained is but an auxiliary support on his way to the Holy Grail.

Making their developmental leap as fourteen year olds, Harry and Hermione move though the story with heightened maturity and understanding. While Harry does show interest in another girl (only to become tongue-tied), he is mostly vigilant, concentrating on his need to survive if his journey is to continue. His compassion and affection has grown for Ron, and his integrity with rival Quidditch player Cedric is inspiring.

Hermione, ever an anima and tutelary figure, wisely guides Harry while confidently grappling with powerful energies of her own. She, too, is learning compassion: she actively imagines ways of helping Harry as well as the House Elves, the slaves traditionally assigned to wizards. Most Hogwartians believe the Elves are happy with their lot, but Hermione sees their need for liberation and civil rights. Her social consciousness stems from a mixture of exquisite sensitivity to unfair treatment and identification with a group that mirrors her own outcast status, as a witch in a Muggle family. Her special psychic gifts feed a thinking that is becoming a trusted road map for Harry.

The connection between Harry and Voldemort has been a leitmotif in the series thus far. While the orphan and the dark magician are opposed moral personalities, living on reverse sides of the mirror, in this story their shared traits are becoming more obvious and provocative. Both figures have Muggle heritage, are orphans who have been exiled, are seen by others as saviors, and have wands with a tail feather taken from Dumbledore's magical phoenix. The kinship between good and evil is as palpable as the scar on Harry's forehead that throbs whenever Lord Voldemort is near or contemplating murderous thoughts. "Good qualities that are contrary to instinct cannot last, but neither can evil when its one-sided demonism runs counter to instinct." (von Franz, 1994, p. 89) Author Rowling compels us to participate in a meditation on good and evil as two sides of the heroic coin.

Dark action jump-starts the tale: with a reverberating jolt, Harry awakens from a nightmare in which he knows that Voldemort has returned and that he and his servant Wormtail are plotting to kill him. Harry's trust in his psychic abilities is growing and he accepts the reality that the dream presents.

Throughout the tale, Voldemort, an extraverted intuitive schemer, is shadowing the introverted intuitive Harry. As these two aspects of intuition engage, the reality is shifting all over the narrative, as new rooms open up in every direction and dimension. The dark force becomes stronger as "Death Eater" Voldemort supporters appear with black marks branded on their left forearms, openly pushing for ethnic cleansing of the mixed-blood wizards. The history of family feuds among generations of wizards, their closets filled with ghosts, suddenly erupts into plain view. Political intrigues and power struggles intensify at the Ministry of Magic as they are in denial about Voldemort's return. Only Headmaster Dumbledore doesn't talk about ending the encroaching evil; since he knows it will always exist, he has the attitude that we need to see it, call it by name, and meet it. He is conscious of his own shadow and does not distance it by projecting it onto others. We are given an insight into the source of such wisdom: Dumbledore has a magical apparatus, an enviable "projective" device called the "Pensieve," into which he can siphon out his overflow thoughts and memories into a vessel and reflect on them in 3D form. Harry finds it by noticing a silvery patch of light while waiting in the Professors office to tell him an ominous dream.

A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols that Harry did not recognize. [It was filled with a silvery liquid or gas moving like water or clouds, and Dumbledore says to him] It becomes easier to spot patterns and links...when they are in this form....Dumbledore placed his long hands on either side of the Pensieve and swirled it, rather as a gold prospector would pan for fragments of gold.... (Goblet of Fire, p. 583, 597)

Meanwhile the students at Hogwarts get a lesson in the morality of magical power when they learn about casting spells including the three "Unforgivable Curses" that should never be used against other humans. The penalty for use is a Azkaban life sentence. The dark arts curses are: Imperius, which gives total control over another and may be reversed only by someone with great strength of character, Cruciatus gives one the ability to torture another, and Avada Kedavra, gives a wizard the power to kill another. Harry is the only person ever known to have survived the death curse.
Finally all roads in Hogwarts converge on the Triwizard Tournament in which four contestants will compete. There are three symbolic tasks which involve a terrifying encounter with a Dragon whose egg must be stolen, an icy plunge into the dark waters of Lake Hogwarts where the competitor must retrieve what is most important to him, and a passage through a maze in which the adept must concentrate on the essence of everything he has learned in order to survive. Harry completes all three tasks with the same unerring spirit of integrity that has accompanied him in his wizardly eduction thus far--a relational, intuitive, urgent way--never taking the traditional road to sensation prowess of the conventional hero.
Ready to reach out to the Goblet of Fire prize, Harry is tricked. He falls into a hellish fourth dimensional abyss and lands in a darkened graveyard. A hooded man is carrying a bundle or a baby:

Harry had never seen anything less like a child. It was hairless and scaly- looking, a dark, raw, reddish black. It arms and legs were thin and feeble, and its face--no child alive ever had a face like that--flat and snakelike, with gleaming red eyes. (Goblet of Fire, p. 640)

Harry quickly realizes that this demonic inversion of the divine child is the living remains of Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord has finally trapped his Hogwarts student rival. Voldemort now makes his mercurial plan clear which is to arrange to mix a brew of these remains of himself, Harry and two additional substances to achieve a full reincarnation. A huge steaming cauldron appears. The wizard submerges his putrefied child remains in the alchemical bath as the first body in a perverse coagulatio. Amidst bizarre magical chants the dark trickster creates a diabolic conjunctio of something old (Voldemort's father's bones,) something new (Harry's blood,) something borrowed (his apprentice Wormtail's arm,) and something Blue (the color of the poisonous water.) Like the Savior he believes himself to be, the incarnated Voldemort has shifted shapes and rises out of the steaming vapors. Alchemical Black Magic has created the demonic side of a dual-natured tricksterish Mercury.

Unlike the royal marriage of the King and Queen in the Rosarium Philosophorum "where love plays the decisive part," here power rules: the egomaniacal Voldemort uses only himself and three dismembered parts to transform into a red-eyed, murderous bridegroom. There is no feminine partner, no bride. (Collected Works, Vol. 16, p 217, para 419)
Surrounded by his Death Eater supporters, the revived Voldemort arrogantly challenges Harry to a duel. He hands the youth's wand back to him and begins casting a torturous Cruciatus spell in Harry's direction. At first in his terror, Harry doesn't feel anything, no words, no vision, as his mind slips blissfully away. But as he manages to speak, Harry breaks the spell, and his Quidditch-trained body comes alive. With twin-feathered wands, the two adversaries begin a ferocious duel. The wand tips connect by a thread of golden light, and Harry and Voldemort rise up into the air. Their wands vibrate wildly to form a golden arched web of light between them.

The alchemical "sublimatio is an elevating process whereby a low substance is translated into a higher form by an ascending movement." (Edinger, 1985, p. 117)

As Harry duels with this incarnation of evil, psychologically he confronts his shadowy projection and moves towards greater integration and wholeness. In the heat of the battle, Harry actively concentrates the power he needs to regain the advantage over Voldemort. Beads of light travel down his wand towards Voldemort. Screams come from inside Voldemort's wand as smokey ghosts of people he has slaughtered are regurgitated from its tip. The victims call to Harry, encouraging him to keep fighting, hold the connection, and to not let go. Finally, images of Harry's father and then his mother come forth, eager to support him and tell him how to escape. They distract Voldemort and Harry makes a run for it, magically finding his way to Hogwarts. For the first time in such a process he does not dissociate, fall into unconsciousness, or need Dumbledore to save him. Harry stays present and uses his intuitive powers to save himself.
The episode allows the readers to gain a better sense of Voldemort's character. Propelled by compulsion and a vengeful vampiric nature, he so desires blood from his foe that he cannot reflect on the meaning of having received Harry's essence into himself, or on the significance of using wands that are of the same core. He completely misses the deeper connection between him and Harry. As in the earlier stories, Voldemort gets taken by surprises that derive from his adversary's essential similarity to him; he is a trickster tricked by his own tricks. And so, instead of the Philosopher's Stone, he finds fool's gold and the fleeting illusion of power.

But unconsciously there does seem to be a motivation in Voldemort wanting to bring a piece of Harry into himself, as the filius regius of alchemy, the royal son who will force him to connect with the light of the Sun-- and the new consciousness where masculine and feminine are united. As we wonder how Harry's blood will affect Voldemort, we might consider Donald Kalsched's discussion of Bluebeard in the fairy tale who gave each of his wives an egg with the instruction to preserve it at all costs and not to let any harm come to it....The egg is an image of potential life--of the Self....The wife represents something he wants....[That the] wizard has given the her suggests that the wizard wants to be transformed also. Ultimately, the wizard wants his inflated power to be seen through, which will force him to become the human being that he wants to be instead of being the isolated wizard.

On the other hand, Kalsched warns us:
It's as though the people who stand for wholeness and integration of the opposites are a terrifying, devastating threat to people whose psychic economies require projection. (Kalsched, interview by Anne Malone, for www.CGJUNGPAGE.ORG, n.d.)

Of all the characters we have met in the series, Head Master Dumbledore has attained the highest degree of psychological integration. He is conscious of his shadow and his suffering and does not need to project or demonize the dark characters (like the ex-Death Eater and Potions teacher, Severus Snape or the residents of Slytherin House.) He has, and encourages, a relationship with them.

"Time is short, and unless the few of us who know the truth do not stand united, there is no hope for any of us....Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. (p. 712,723) However, Wizard Dumbledore knows from his past experience the danger of Lord Voldemort whose only interest is Power.


The global attraction to Harry Potter is due to many forces. Of central importance is J.K. Rowling's unique and clear writing style. She presents a modern fairy tale, replete with compelling archetypal themes, about the ancient rites of initiation with an angle that stays close to the reality of the actual child, yet also intersects with core imaginal needs of the adult's inner child. Children and adults read the books together. Rowling gives enough detail to establish place and character, spins a terrific story, then plunges the reader into a multi-dimensional imaginative world that glows with the best of literature and cyberspace.

Nearly fifty years ago The Little Prince magically appeared from the "other side" to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Like Harry Potter, the book touched into the archetypal world and attracted a diverse audience. P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, detected the three essentials required by children's books. It is true in the most inward sense, it offers no explanations, and it has a moral... 'what is essential is invisible to the eye.'...she surmised that The Little Prince will shine upon children with a sidewise gleam. It will strike them in some place that is not the mind and glow there until the time comes for them to comprehend it.(Program note. Exhibition of Saint-Exupery's Manuscripts and Drawings for The Little Prince. The Morgan Library. New York. June 2000)

As someone who is interested in the cultural unconscious and socio-cultural trends, additional questions occur. What is the coincidence of these particular archetypal characters in the Harry Potter stories with the millennial timing of the books' release? What is it about the conscious situation on the planet that may be compensated by this story? The Harry Potter books have consistently held the top slots on the New York Times Book Review Best Sellers List for two years, have been translated into forty languages and published in one hundred fifteen countries, in addition to being an unprecedented publishing phenomenon.

Jung argued that when an archetype is activated in a group's collective psyche, the images of its energy will appear in the group's stories, myths, and folktales. He further believed that any story that has spread across oceans and the millennia has done so only because it speaks to a psychological experience that is common to us all. (Hort,p. 6)
The psychological climate in much of the rapidly changing technological world is one of spiritual depletion, emotional alienation and personal isolation. Perhaps one secret of Harry Potter's success is that this story of a tribe of three kids who struggle together and fight to defend their personal spirits from soul-sucking demonic forces, is feeding a profound soul hunger in the people around them. Harry and his friends represent a new image of human cooperation and hope required for redemptive healing. Jung wrote in Mysterium Coniunctionis:

The ultimate fate of every dogma is that it gradually becomes soulless. Life wants to create new forms, and therefore, when a dogma loses its vitality, it must perforce activate the archetype that has always helped man to express the mystery of the soul....the psychic archetype makes it possible for the divine figure to take form and become accessible to understanding. (Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 347, par. 488)

The archetypal battle between the young Orphan and ancient Vampire is the life and death struggle of opposites that allows for the birth of a new divine figure. Harry Potter is an image of creative resilient energy characterized by qualities that will be refined in the seven volumes along the Hogwarts journey: emotional empathy, discernment, compassion and empowerment.

The archetype of the Vampire has caught peoples imagination for centuries. This dark theme powerfully connects the forces of doom in the books, pointing to similar virulent features in the demonic faces of Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle, and the Dementors. All three are able to possess their victims, are not truly embodied, and need the spirit of their victim to survive.

Harry on the other hand, lives in the link between the two worlds of good and evil. Voldemort infected the boy during the murder of his parents and his "bite" transfused some dark wizard attributes into the infant. As Dumbledore tells him, it is his choices, rather than his abilities, that will determine his future.

In The Problem of Evil in Fairy Tales, von Franz highlights wicked figures that seem to personify evil because they are "especially gruesome, taking the form of utter heartlessness...[the evildoer is invulnerable] because his heart is not in his body." (Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p. 87 ) A Jungian way of saying this is to insist that Harry must get to know his shadow complex well, endure the forces within, so that he can consciously follow the Griffin rather than blindly be bitten by the slithering serpent from behind. Staying close to his retrieved instincts, his heart, and valuing his feeling will be his life preservers.

The orphan belongs to the alchemical symbolism of separatio, since an orphan is one who is separated out, unparented, out of connection, and the one who must stand alone without being nursed. Jung's words on the Stone in Bollingen were: "I am an orphan, alone; nevertheless I am found everywhere. I am one, but opposed to myself. I am youth and old man at one and the same time...." (Jung, 1961, p. 227). This standing alone is part of the process of becoming an individual, and becoming "individuated." Initiation is the period of aloneness, when one is alone in the liminal space. (Joseph Henderson, M.D., Personal Communication, February 23, 2000) In each book's climactic ending, Harry is separated from his tribal group and must struggle alone. It is during these most intense ordeals that an old aspect dissolves and some new quality is formed in an alchemical coagulatio.

Ultimately, what is created inside of Harry is new psychic energy. He is becoming the container for a new, emerging vision for the future. Von Franz, in her seminal work, Puer Aeternus, writes of the youths who have a "certain kind of spirituality which comes from a relatively close contact with the collective unconscious...they do not like conventional situations; they ask deep questions and go straight for the truth.... "(Sigo Press, 1981,p. 4) Marion Woodman adds that this type of authentic masculinity is interested in genuine empowerment grounded in the instincts... Men and women have to honor this young man in themselves.... the discovery of the creative masculine involves dream sequences that swing from encounters with intense light or swift winds to equally powerful encounters with chthonic passion. Woodman, 1990, p. 204)

The world's identification with the image of Harry Potter points to the formation of a new archetype of the young masculine that is distinct from established patriarchal values. This vibrant boy who has been wounded by severe trauma, shows human scale emotions and values doing the right thing, However, Harry becomes neither inflated by his successes nor has the fantasy of immortality. He inhabits a paradoxical alchemical world and unlike other magical boys, such as Peter Pan and the Little Prince, he has been infected with evil and must be mindful of that inoculation.

Harry's early relationships are appropriate for his stage of adolescent development and have to do with strengthening his masculine identity and authority. His feminine connections however, are beginning to work on him, steering him from below. Glimpses of his budding anima and unconscious relationship with the feminine are seen in how wrenched he becomes when he hears the screams of his dead mother, that sometimes he needs Hermione to act as a crossing guard when he is unable to contain his wildness, and how Headmistress McGonagall introduces him to his body and special physical abilities when she chooses him for the Quidditch team.

Perhaps Harry Potter's fans constitute a generation across age lines that feels somewhat orphaned and unprotected and along with Harry, know the despair of spiritual emptiness and emotional starvation. It is only because of his near death encounters with Voldemort and the proximity to a force that can crush or devour, that Harry is forced to find his true sources of spiritual power and strength. Therefore, he represents embodiment and resilience in a world that represses the spirit. Harry Potter is an inspiring vision of a contemporary Western shaman with whom a hope lies that he will show us how to retrieve lost soul.

At this mid-point in the book series, it has become evident that evil is what harms life. What saves it? J.K. Rowling's answer throughout these stories about the initiation of wizards, is an educated, embodied intuition. The Animagi are the most gifted of the wizards and have the ability to transfigure into animals. Rowling implies that intuition is an animal instinct that can be brought out in the work of shamanic education Harry is able to find at Hogwarts. Why does having the animal instinct with one, incline one to good? Rowling is clear that it pays to trust the self, and that the "self" is a progressive undertaking of one's own personal power. Evil for her seems to be a form of unconsciousness.

 Consciousness, of the kind Harry is developing, leads to greater integrity and compassion.

This is an exciting urgent series for the children of our time, who will be called upon as never before to open themselves to their spiritual and somatic capacities if they are to overcome the challenges placed in the way of their survival, in a world so threatened by greed and the power drive as our own. If the fallout of ego-chemistry is a melting ice cap on the North Pole, perhaps J.K. Rowling's alchemy is the right antidote for our present inability to listen to our true natures.


Gail A. Grynbaum RN, PhD, is a psychologist practicing in San Francisco,
a candidate in the analytic training program of the C.G. Jung Institute
of San Francisco, and a member of ASD. She has a long-standing interest
in Womens Psychology, Alchemy and Dreamwork.



  Copyright 2003  Gail Grynbaum