Use of Astrology in Harry Potter & His Dark Materials J. Lee Lehman, PhD

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Slide 21

Solar Chart: Hermione Granger, September 19, 1979 6:46 BST London, England

Slide 22

Solar Chart: Ron Weasley, March 1, 1980, 6:51 am UT, London, England

Slide 23

Solar Chart: Draco Malfoy, June 5, 1980, 4:53:09 BST

Slide 24

Solar Chart: Neville Longbottom, July 30, 1980, 5:27:29 am BST

Slide 25

Solar Chart: Harry Potter, July 31, 1980, 5:28:54 BST

Slide 26

Solar Chart: Tom Riddle, December 31, 1926, 8:13:08 am UT

Slide 27

Solar Chart: Minerva McGonagal, October 4, 1925, 6:10:33 am UT

Slide 28

Solar Chart: Harry Potter compared to Tom Riddle

Slide 29

The series from which the movie “The Golden Compass” was made.

Slide 1

Harry Potter His Dark Materials J. Lee Lehman, PhD ©2009 J. Lee Lehman

Slide 2

Astrology in Modern Fiction Led by the Romantic Movement in the 19th c., and revived by Tolkien in the 20th, Medieval and earlier settings have become very common in the fantasy genre. However, a large number of these works never include astrology in the setting, although historical accuracy would mandate it. Why?

Slide 3

Fantasy as Action/Adventure The Lord of the Rings is the signature example. In these works, there is very little character development, but a great deal of action. The entire corpus of Tolkien's works has a heavy emphasis on Good and Evil – but nothing of prophesy. Choice propels action – but there is no fate. There is seeing, however (e.g., Galadriel)

Slide 4

Sci Fi & Fantasy as Futurism These works suggest two probable outcomes to humanity: Either technology triumphs, and we go to the stars (Sci Fi) Or, environmentally catastrophic events reduce us to a technological world equivalent to the Middle Ages (Fantasy)

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Mixing the Deck: Other Variations Alternate universes where a critical “choice” in history went otherwise (e.g., The Dark Haired Man, which does have a lead astrologer character) Individuals from technologically advanced culture decide to “go native” at lower technological level (McCaffery Pern series; Herbert Dune series; McCaffery Doona series, etc.)

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Nouveau Medievalism Whatever the premise, apart from historical novels, these works generally embed 20th c. sensibility into Medieval technology The focus of many of these works is on applying low-tech solutions to produce a life style or social mores unimagined within traditional low tech cultures

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Example: The Dragons of Pern Here, Medieval agrarian culture exists apart from religion, esotericism, mysticism, even philosophy – all activity is craft-oriented. The interest of the series revolves around the dragons – who turn out to be a hi-tech case of genetic engineering adapted to a low-tech culture Modern “needs” such as lighting are filled by serendipitous plants such as “glows”

Slide 8

Magic However, many of the fantasy series include magic as an integral part of the universe. In many of these series, much of the dramatic tension originates from variations in magical talents For example, in Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series, the Deryni are people with genetically ordained psychic, magical and healing ability The Deryni live within a larger human society who do not possess those genes

Slide 9

Magic as Real In these various fantasy universes, magic is presented as completely real Variations in magical ability is a plot device The ethics of the use of magic is a plot device Theological objections to magic are a plot device

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Why Magic but not Astrology? In these works, magic is wielded, just as a sword is wielded – it's a martial art This type of magic thus fits well with action/ adventure Astrology, by speaking to time, place and fate, suggests that we cannot simply roam the earth as heroes and heroines, slaying the bad guys at will. Thus, astrology presupposes limits.

Slide 11

The Radical Departure of Harry Potter

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Premises of Harry's World Everything that Medieval people believed about the existence of magic, prophesy, divination and alchemy was true – it just wasn't necessarily evil. Witches and wizards found it expedient to separate themselves from muggles. However, wizards and witches could be born to muggle parents, or the reverse.

Slide 13

Magical Ability While everyone was either magical or muggle, magicians varied tremendously in innate ability and particular types of talent. However, much of magic could be taught (if there was innate ability present) or tempered. Different magical species (humans, house elves, centaurs, mer-people, goblins) have different innate talents and interests.

Slide 14

Astrology and Divination Within this universe, astrology is explicitly mentioned – and taught under the rubric of divination at Hogwarts. Centaurs use astrology as well as humans - but their focus is longer-term cycles, and a style much more similar to Babylonian astrology.

Slide 15

Sybill Trelawney Divination instructor at Hogwarts; teaches tea leaves, palmistry, crystal ball gazing and astrology Described as archetypal New Ager “bangles and beads” type Generally treated as a fraud, but makes two major prophesies which not only come true, but are critical to the story line

Slide 16

Astrology as taught at Hogwarts Trelawney tells Harry he must have been born in winter under Saturn, because of his dark hair and tragic past – a good guess, except that he was born in July. All of Trelawney's statements about the planets make astrological sense, leading to the conclusion that Rowling either has an interest in astrology, or did very good research.

Slide 17

Astrology Homework Ron & Harry take turns making dire predictions about each other (Trelawney seems to prefer these kind no matter the divinatory technology) – but they have a habit of coming true.

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The Houses of Hogwarts Astrologers have noted that the four houses of Hogwarts can be classified by element, but there is no consensus about the correct classification. Neil Spencer gives Gryffindor = Aries, Ravenclaw = Libra, Hufflepuff = Cancer, Slytherin = Capricorn http://www.astrologer.com/aanet/pub/journal/harrypotter.htm

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The Houses of Hogwarts Equinox gives Gryffindor = Fire, Ravenclaw = Earth, Hufflepuff = Air, Slytherin = Water http://www.astrology.co.uk/news/harrypotter.htm Both these systems were proposed before the series was complete. I would assign Gryffindor = Fire, Ravenclaw = Air, Hufflepuff = Earth and Slytherin = Water

Slide 20

The Characters of Harry Potter

Slide 29

His Dark Materials Philip Pullman

Slide 30

Pullman's Universe Pullman's universe consists of a series of interlocking worlds, some of which are very similar, and others not so. Two of the main one's chronicled, Lyra's and ours, appear to be the same world split between the “many worlds” hypothesis

Slide 31

Pullman's Universe In all these worlds, Spirit is present, whether called that, Dust, or Dark Matter All these worlds share a common afterlife In all these worlds, more-or-less simultaneous events occurred which altered consciousness The last great event corresponded to our Renaissance/Enlightenment, but resulted in the discovery/invention of the alethiometer and the subtle knife, two of the major artifacts of the series

Slide 32

Astrology in the Series? There is only one reference to a stargazer in the series. However, the prominence of the alethiometer in the series suggests an acceptance of fate that would make a horary astrologer seem fuzzy by comparison. One of the characters communicates with the spirits through the I Ching.

Summary: ©2009 J. Lee Lehman

Tags: astrology harry potter his dark materials golden compass literature kepler college

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