Harry Potter and the New Spiritualism

taijasi

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Something occurred to me the other day, after speaking with my mother, who is a big Harry Potter fan (and former librarian). Knowing that my maternal grandparents may find themselves in the next world sometime in the relatively near future (as shall anyone that has reached the age of 90!) … I found myself reflecting on my sister, who has been naturally clairvoyant since childhood. A recent conversation confirmed for me that my sister does indeed still catch glimpses into the astral, complete enough on many occasions even to hold conversations with the deceased, or to perceive and observe them in the very least. Her own descriptive term was `wispy,’ yet my understanding is that the kind of perception we see in Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense is not that far from truth (though, fortunately, not usually so dramatic).

Where all of this led me, since I too am a fan of Harry Potter, was to a pondering of the matter-of-fact presentations of ghosts that JK Rowling has made, and how this fits in with A New Spiritualism. I do not mean to suggest that Rowling is single-handedly inaugurating a new phase in the evolution of this Movement, but I do wish to say that her writings are pioneering in the sense that they afford our contemplations a whole new measure of light, and also help to anchor firmly a growing acceptance of the `next world’ as being as much a part of the cycle of life & death, as this one. Similar workers in the field of Spiritualism are such well-known mediums as John Edward and James Van Praagh, as well as all those legitimate and sincere scientists, such as J.B. Rhine, and the latter-day Gary Schwartz of The University of Arizona, who are making serious inquiry & applying rigorous scientific methodologies rather than merely dabbling, or practicing pseudo-science.

When it comes to the entertainment industry, there have been both literary advances and major blockbuster releases that have contributed to our understanding. Movies such as the widely popular Ghost (1990), featuring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, and Robin Williams’ What Dreams May Come (1998), have launched us into a new stage of acceptance of the afterlife, by showing us that the subject is not one of pure speculation, or lofty philosophical idealism. It is practical, it is approachable, and the time to ask the important questions is now.

The death of family members affects us all, but perhaps not often enough. The conditions of wartime raise our consciousness to a contemplation of this timeless mystery, where otherwise we might grow complacent, or continue to postpone the issue … until the inevitable warnings of our family doctor jolt us back into the reality and immediacy of the situation. Death is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of what we call `life,’ and that is why I think J.K. Rowling’s contribution is a timely and a significant one. Children around the world are beginning to approach this subject at long last in simple, understandable terms, on the comfortable ground of the imagination and in the fantastic yet powerfully suggestive world of Harry Potter and his experiences at Hogwarts.

The first ghost who came to mind for me was Moaning Myrtle, the squealing apparition from the girl’s bathroom on the second floor of Hogwarts in Chamber of Secrets. We find that Myrtle can clearly interact with the living, she can roam about freely without the restrictions of gravity or solidity, yet she can also interact to some extent with physical matter – as evidenced by the splash of the toilets when she gets upset and dashes about. All of this behavior is exactly what mediums and Spiritualists have been pointing to for over 160 years, as well as during earlier periods, even from times immemorial. But of course, Moaning Myrtle is just the beginning! :)

And in fact, this isn’t the first place that readers of Harry Potter encounter the idea of apparitions. I am only on chapter 4 of the first book, so forgive me you literary fans who know the books as well as the movies. I can only recall from the first movie, Sorceror’s Stone, the introduction of Harry, Hermione, Ron, et al to Nearly Headless Nick (comically portrayed by John Cleese) in the foyer of Hogwarts. We see this ghost come crashing in through the stained glass window on horseback, and go trotting down the main isle of the banquet hall! At one point, I think in answer as to why he is called “nearly” headless, the ghost grasps his own head by the hair, and tips it at a right angle, to answer the question soundly – and graphically! :p But of course, this is done in good humor (something like that), or at least, it is all a bit of harmless fun.

I think we also see Nearly Headless Nick poking up through the tables in the banquet hall, and again, it is evident that he is quite acquainted with the substance, inhabitants, and surroundings of the physical world throughout his various antics. The movies do not explain, to the best of my recollection, the presence of Nick, although I can find some background info online … in which it seems we are told that his execution dates back to 1492 (!), which would technically make him an `earthbound.’ Similarly, Moaning Myrtle was the victim of the Basilisk, so again, another potential earthbound, though it’s not clear how long ago she transitioned from the physical.

What these two friendly ghosts display for us, is that even under unusual circumstances (neither one being a natural death), death is not the horrible and terrifying end of our existence, but is rather, simply the gateway into another state of being. Further, as these two characters clearly show, we do maintain a certain degree of corporeality even in the (immediate) afterlife, instead of just evaporating into a wisp of vapor, or perhaps dissolving into nothingness. Certainly our existence and consciousness is continued, so fully that as both ghosts demonstrate, it is even possible (in some cases, let us say) to interact with physical matter! Our thoughts, our desires, and our self-consciousness are all maintained, and we meet neither with immediate enlightenment, nor with some kind of sick & twisted eternal torment, as imagined by various religious authors over the years who apparently suffered from a guilty conscience and fearful expectancy. :rolleyes:

There is much, much more that we can learn from Rowling’s Harry Potter books, but to touch on some of the remaining highlights, I would call attention to a few scenes from the movies with which many folks will be familiar. One of these is the entire series of experiences undergone in Prisoner of Azkaban by Harry, and later by Sirius Black, each time a Dementor got close enough to begin to drain the life essence. Spiritualists will recognize the obvious symbolism involved here … being what the medium calls ectoplasm, yet more accurately the actual nephesh (Hebrew ‘breath of life’) or ruach, found in Eastern teachings as prana, in the martial arts as chi (e.g., Tai chi), and spoken of by Henri Bergson as élan vital, or `vital force.’

The implication is obvious – if this force, or aspect of our being, is completely removed (or separated) from the physical body … we cease physical activity. We die. This occurs to Sirius Black in the first go-round, yet Hermione and Harry manage to save Sirius when they return to put things right, using Hermione’s time-turner and Harry’s powerful spell, the (Expecto) Patronum. The latter, it is worth pointing out, is defined at www.hp-lexicon.org as “a silvery phantom shape, usually that of an animal, which is the embodiment of the positive thoughts of the caster,” in Harry’s case, a stag. Esotericists might find this significant, since in the Fourth Labor of Hercules, it was necessary to save the hind or doe, which was sacred both to Artemis, Diana, and Apollo. For Hercules, the hind signified the Intuition, which is identical with the Christ aspect in man. The symbolism is that of spiritual love and the wisdom that comes by directly knowing the heart of another. Yes, this does sound quite a bit like the patronum to me! ;)

The final lesson that seems helpful to mention, and one that is fairly fresh in my visual memory – since I finally saw Goblet of Fire just a few weeks ago – is the most powerful reminder that those who have passed over, even after moving on (into higher spiritual worlds) do not fully retreat from all relation with the outward, objective world. Harry learns this when he sees his own parents, after confronting Lord Voldemort at the end of the Tri Wizard Tournament. Yes, this is under very unusual circumstances, as the Goblet has been rigged to serve as a transporter, removing Harry and Cedric to a graveyard, which in & of itself invokes familiar thoughts and apprehensions regarding death. In fact, Cedric is actually killed in this scene, being the first Hogwarts student to die, as I recall. But the moment of triumph occurs when Harry is assisted by his parents, who were both accomplished wizards and have been dead for exactly 13 years at the time the Tournament takes place.

The details are sketchy in my mind, but I believe it was unquestionably thanks to the intervention of Harry’s parents, and their efforts to hold back Lord Voldemort, that Harry was able to escape the cemetery with Cedric’s body … and return (via the Goblet’s power of teleportation) to the maze. This is demonstration enough for me of what I have long known and held sacred – that our loved ones do not ever truly leave us, but simply withdraw (after and for a time) onto the inner planes, or higher states of consciousness. Notably, it is because of this withdrawal and moving on that necromancy – even as practiced by those who think they are well motivated in their attempts to say hello to long-dead Aunt Edna – is actually a detrimental practice with regard to the deceased, as well as a dangerous (not to say, selfishly motivated) endeavor for the medium and non-medium alike.

But for the fanatical preacher, rabidly foaming at the mouth as he spews forth his warnings and watchword of wickedness … I’m afraid we must disappoint. Those who are obsessed with images of witches the likes of Margaret Hamilton in Frank L. Baum’s familiar story, The Wizard of Oz … or with scenes of séances involving the Parker Brothers’ ever-popular Ouija board … will have to look elsewhere for their satiety than between the covers of a Harry Potter novel. What they will find if they can forestall their own demons long enough to invite the Spirit of Wise Discernment and Higher Reason … is a world of insight tailor-fit to the innocence, the imaginations, and the natural curiosity of young people – and adults alike! There is so much we can learn – about life, death, friendship and a long, long list of positive character-traits & necessary spiritual virtues – if we can but smile, and answer Rowling’s invitation to come meet Harry Potter! :)

In Love and Light,

taijasi
 

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There... Just, books..... Heh. Of course there are ghosts... It is a fantasy story of magic and wizards and what not.... *whispers* No one show him the sword of truth series... He'll go nuts!!...

I think you're just, looking way too much into it. Stories... They're only stories.....
 

shawn

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Yes, she is brilliant, as her billions of dollars of revenue indicate.

The most brilliant part is how she has, through her books and movies, helped to ignite the imaginations of young people.

But the down side is that there is much misguided nonsense which young people will then accept as being "the way things are", without really thinking them through.

Cultivate discernment.....without which you are a fool at worst, gullible at best.;)
 

taijasi

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Hmmm, with discernment I have revisited my original post from 3 1/2 years ago. I do not find one word that needs changing today.

I am a fan of Ghost Whisperer, though I am a bit disappointed that the series began to focus on such abnormal cases as `earthbounds,' and quickly catered to what Hollywood wants to present.

The Harry Potter books do much more than just contribute wonderfully to a new, or contemporary Spiritualism .... but this was the subject of the thread, so I kept my focus fairly narrow. The books certainly also do a great deal to stimulate the imaginations of young people today. Best of all, they make the Hollywood producers happy, while preserving the true spirit and integrity of the stories as Rowling authored them.

An all new Spiritualism they are not, because frankly, these teachings were available in plain language by the mid to late 1800s. The great appeal, at least for me, is that we are able to learn so much via a work of fiction ... but then, this is often how we learn, when a subject (like death) is so uncomfortable.

Rowling, as others have done, helps us to see that we need not fear what comes on the other side of the veil. That veil has been lifted, and the life beyond has been described for us. One of the discoveries that some of us reading this post will quite possibly live to see ... is technology which will allow us to communicate with the (recently) dead as easily as we use a telephone. Such a device existed long, long ago - and once re-`invented' I certainly imagine it will help revolutionize our understanding of Man, God, Nature, the World, and so forth.

For now, there's Harry Potter and Ghost Whisperer. ;)
 
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