Harry Potter Series, Spiritual Battles, Sorcery, Magic, Good vs. Evil
Harry Potter is a character in a series of books written by J. K. Rowling about a young boy who discovers he really is a wizard, (in other words, a sorcerer). Four books have come out in the Harry Potter series, with 3.8-million copies of the fourth book released in the U.S. on July 8, 2000. Worldwide, 35-million copies of the first three books are in print, with about half of total sales in the U.S. (USA Today, 6-22-00, p. D-1). The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was released in England as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The “Philosopher’s Stone” is part of the lore of alchemy and medieval sorcery, and supposedly was a stone which could be used to turn base metal to gold and was the Holy Grail of sorcery (Bill Whitcomb, The Magician’s Companion, St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1994, pp. 351, 485, 527).
Rowling has been hailed as a clever, imaginative writer who has enticed children into reading books again. no doubt this is true. yet, however clever or imaginative the stories are, they do center on a character who is learning the arts of sorcery and witchcraft. One defense, or minimization of the sorcery in the Harry Potter books, is that the stories are just a normal part of a child’s fantasy world. The stories of C. S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien are often brought up as examples. But are Lewis and Tolkien the standard for discernment? Even so, Lewis did not endorse the occult. And if Tolkien did, does that make it okay? (When I was an astrologer, my witch clients and friends loved Tolkien, by the way.) Yes, Lewis and Tolkien did write fantasy novels that included magical elements. The question for Christians should be: is the fantasy (in any story) centered on the occult, and what does God say about the occult?
It is pointed out that Harry Potter represents “good” fighting “evil”, and therefore, in the context of fantasy, this is okay. These views, however, raise several questions: Is the sorcery and magic in Harry Potter just fantasy? If not, are fantasy stories using occultism as a model healthy reading? Is it Biblical to accept the use of “good” magical power if it is used to fight evil? Is there such a thing as “good” sorcery? Any popular children’s book set in an occult environment offering a hero who practices the occult arts warrants careful examination and a Biblical response. Occult sources are used for this article to make the point that occultism is real and is part of a serious practice, philosophy and spirituality that is opposed to historic, Biblical Christianity.
Sorcery And Witchcraft Are Real
Although Harry Potter attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, what is really being described in the book is sorcery. Sorcery and witchcraft in some cultures are the same thing. According to one source, “European witchcraft grew out of sorcery, the casting of spells and divination” (Rosemary Guiley, Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, New York: Checkmark Books/Facts on File, 1999, p.315). Since there is no Hebrew word for witchcraft, some Bible translations will use the term “witchcraft” while others will use “sorcery.” Rather than using a label, Hebrew describes the practices of what is translated by each culture as sorcery or witchcraft, such as using potions (or poison), incantations to spirits, communing with the dead, etc. Each culture and its language comes up with the label of witchcraft or sorcery according to particular cultural understanding and practices. [See Note A at end of article for further explanation].
Contemporary witchcraft, especially in the United States, is a form of religious Neo-paganism and is not sorcery, which is an occult practice. Although varied in its beliefs from group to group, witchcraft and Wicca usually encompass the views of honoring nature as sacred, monism (all is one energy), polytheism (many gods), and pantheism (all is God/Goddess) or panentheism (God/Goddess is contained within the world). A well-known witch couple state that “The rationale of Wicca is a philosophical framework into which every phenomenon, from chemistry to clairvoyance, from logarithms to love, can be reasonable fitted” (Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches’ Bible, Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1996, p. 106). While witches and Wiccans might practice magick (occult magick is often spelled with a ‘k’) or cast spells, they would more likely consider it “white magick” and not sorcery. [See the CANA document on Wicca/Witchcraft at
Those who practice sorcery may adopt some pagan beliefs, but do not usually identify with witchcraft. Contemporary sorcery is based on a belief of accessing and manipulating energy through various methods. There are those who practice ritual magick, an involved form of sorcery based on teachings going back to ancient societies. Some equate ritual magick with ‘High Magic,’ described in one book as teaching “how to reach one’s personal genius, the Guardian Angel who watches over each individual life and who is waiting faithfully and patiently to make man’s every wish come true” (Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic, St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1996, 2d edition, p. 64). Many ritual magicians may also use some of the writings and philosophy of infamous magician Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947. [By the way, Crowley was not a Satanist, although some Satanists use him as a model and adopt his Thelemic Law, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” allegedly given to Crowley by his Guardian Angel/spirit guide, Aiwass, (Guiley, 71-72)].
Magic is “the art of changing consciousness and physical reality according to will,” and sorcery is “the manipulation of natural forces and powers to achieve a desired objective”(Guiley, 212, 314). Another definition of sorcery is offered by Lewis Spence as using “supposed supernatural power by the agency of evil spirits called forth by spells by a witch or black magician” (An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Citadel Press/Carol Publishing, 1996, p. 373). Here is a definition by a magician: “Magic is a collection of techniques, dating back 70,000 years, aimed at manipulating the human imagination in order to produce physical, psychological, or spiritual results” (J. H. Brennan, Magick for Beginners, The Power to Change Your World, St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1999, p. 44).
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