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The Importance of Alchemy



 
 
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  #41  
Old September 24th, 2003, 9:37 pm
Red Herring  Female.gif Red Herring is offline
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I'm currently rereading PoA (about a paragraph at a time, thanks to real life butting in), and because of the bit about snakes being the lower form of dragons, the following passage jumped out at me. This is right before the final Quidditch game...

Quote:
PoA (Scholastic) p302-3
Harry slept badly. First he dreamed that he had overslept, and that Wood was yelling, "Where were you? We had to use Neville instead!" Then he dreamed that Malfoy and the rest of the Slytherin team arrived for the match riding dragons. He was flying at breakneck speed, trying to avoid a spurt of flames from Malfoy's steed's mouth, when he realized he has forgotten his Firebolt. He fell through the air and woke with a start.
How does this fit into the theory (or not)?


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  #42  
Old September 25th, 2003, 3:55 am
Venustas  Female.gif Venustas is offline
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Ellen, thanks so much for those links- I've looked forever for a simple explanation of the 7 steps.

Some of the steps really reminded me of particular characters- Luna and her mother especially in Distillation, with it's concentration on science and experiments, as well as love. Luna also seems to be removed from mundane things, not really caring what people think. I think Trelawny somewhere connected Harry to Saturn because of his tragic past and dark hair (?) Could she have been referring to Calcination? Do you think that each book represents a stage, or are the steps between and together in several books? Or do they all have to cometogether in the end? Or am I completly off and completely not understandable (I'm sure there's a better phrase for that...)

The more I hear about these steps, and all the info y'all offer, the more I wonder about the role of death. We know that avoiding it is Voldemort's main objective. Everything he does is in order to gain immortality. Is he going about it the wrong way? How is his journey compared to Harry's? He obviously has immortality as his main goal, and Harry doesn't- do one's motives make a difference in purification? I would think that they would. Can Harry achieve purification without having it as a goal?

Also on death- Hermes was thought to have had power over death, or to lead the dead (associated with the caduceus). Is the caduceus part of the ultimate goal/purification? If so, does purification, or reaching the final step ensure immortality? What does reaching the final step mean? Is it different psychologically than physically? Is one way better than another? How can we expect it to go in these books? Have Dumbledore or Flamel achieved this perfection through the stone? Why would Flamel die, then? Assuming that Luna's mother was in the Distillation process when she died, did she attain perfection through death? Is anything supposed to happen after death for those who reached the last step?

Oh, so many questions! It's depressing to have all the questions and none of the answers (I can just hope that they will end up to be constructive).


Silver Ink Pot- Thats really interesting imagery of Harry ON Slytherin's head when he kills the basilisk. You think that Slytherin may not be evil, but that Harry is the key to bring Slytherin back into harmony with the other houses- I see what you're getting at, but I still see Slytherin as being a little evil- he did, afterall, put a basilisk down below the school to kill muggle-blooded students. But besides that, I do agree that he may not be "all" bad, and that he has been and will be instrumental in Harry's growing in maturity. He was, at one time, the best friend of Gryffindor. I wonder if (assuming he's actually still alive) Regulus represents the essence of Slytherin, in it's actual "pure" form, rather than the distorted "pureness" that Slytherin house and Voldemort now have.

The elements in the scenes are very, very interesting to me. I haven't read the series from beginning since learning of the alchemy imagery, but it seems to give compelling scenes even more interest and meaning.

Red Herring- great quote! "We had to use Neville instead!"- wow. That did not have the same meaning before reading OotP, but now.. wow. It really does seem to go along with the transmutations Iggie was talking about. I'm sure it's highly symbolic (as most of his dreams are) but that's about all I've got... Iggie?


  #43  
Old September 25th, 2003, 4:05 am
Jaded_Wanderer  Female.gif Jaded_Wanderer is offline
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Sorry, can't figure out how to quote people (everything's changed!! lol)....anyways, Venustas said:

"When itís washed it is a mirror- I would bet that Siriusís mirror is going to be used yet, and it sounds like it will be between Harry and Regulus- it just needs to be Reparo-ed"

Although I believe that the mirrors are going to become significant, I can also think of another mirror which could relate to things: The Mirror of Erised - it shows one "the deepest and most desperate desires of [their] heart" - a person's purest and most unconscious thoughts/feelings/beliefs. I really don't know much about alchemy, but from what I've read here, this might fit in somehow with the moon was it, that represented the subconscious? I'm really not sure actually how it fits, but I think it probably does somehow.....


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  #44  
Old September 25th, 2003, 4:23 am
Ellen  Undisclosed.gif Ellen is offline
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As far as death goes, I think Dumbledore explained it to Harry in the first book. Immortality, in the end, is not a good thing. His discussion of it reminded me of some things I once read on the 'fortunate fall,' as it's sometimes called (the POV that the fall of Adam and Eve was a good thing in the long run rather than a bad one). Essentially that, in this life, we're cut off from God but this is good in that it gives us a time to deal with our mistakes rather than face immediate judgement for them. Being mortal is also good because the state of being cut off from God is not eternal.

Voldemort's attempts to escape death have trapped him more and more in a state of living death. Death, to the alchemists, represented the ultimate form of corruption (one of the reasons Ravenclaw's symbol isn't a carrion eating raven - alchemists weren't too fond of the bird). In this, Voldemort represents the black phase as a chosen state of corruption rather than the way it seems to be for Snape, a part of his life he is trying to deal with (the positive form). Voldemort would rather survive in any form, no matter how gruesome or degraded (and no matter what the cost) rather than face the unknown. At a guess, then, immortality in Rowling's alchemy is based on accepting death.

Oh, and Nuada was a Celtic god with a silver hand. I haven't found a reference to him facing anyone with a burning head, but he did face Balor, a sort of personification of death deity, whose eye could kill with a glance. Perhaps there's a myth where this is referred to as a burning eye? Very Sauron like, in that case.


  #45  
Old September 25th, 2003, 9:43 pm
Constant Vigilance  Male.gif Constant Vigilance is offline
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Alchemy

This is a very great thread and has given me a lot of ideas.

Venustas: you say the basilisk is a simbol of death, yes it is, but it's also a snake and snakes are a simbol of eternal life (that's why Voldemort likes them). Snakes shed old skin and are made jounger again. This is happens in the epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world's oldest pices of literature. Gilgamesh fears death and seeks eternal life and finds it, but due to a fluke the snake gets it and sheds skin.
Silver Ink Pot explained the realtion between Snape and Hufflepuf. That was great! It explains a question I've had for some time. Herbology and Potions are the two big classes where you don't need wands (divination is trash and we don't see mugglestudies or aritmancy). Neville is good at both (he does well at the OWLS because Snape's not there to bug him). This 2 classes are taught by the heads of Hufflepuff and Slither, so they are important to the houses.
If we think alchemy is important in the books we should look up the potions class. It's the alchemy class! We alredy know it's a hard work class (again hufflepuff) because of the "no silly wand play" Snape talks about. It's also an explanation to why Snape is not DADA teacher. He has not evolved enough to teach that (I would be scared of him teaching DADA as of now).
What is exactly the potions class: a Laboratory. To alchemists the laboratory is the place were you PRAY and WORK. Its made up of LABOR and ORATORIUM.
The work part is fine, Harry and Neville have worked like house elves here but we haven't seen the praying part. (unless Neville prays to God to send seven plauges on Snape). But I think we'll see something like prayer. Alchemy is very spiritual, that's a way of seen inmortality: spiritual excellence. And the HP books are a "coming of age story" so Harry will show some spiritual advancement in the 7 books.
I think this books forces Harry to make spiritual questions that he will have to answer with the help of his potions (alchemy) master (not proffessor). I see occlumency as a first step. Snape's teaching Harry stuff about him he does not like, gives him enlightment. But I'm waiting for Snape to learn a bit himself. We have noticed he's no Yoda.
Why do I think JK Rowling digs the spirituality of alchemy? Because OotP ends with Harry thinking about death for the first time. Anybody noticed he is completely ignorant of the subyect when he talks to Sir Nick? (I also think it shows Harry is an atheist because nobody has taugh hin anything spiritual). This is odd, JKR has avoided spiritual themes in HP (to avoid the book burners, no doubt) so it must mean something important. There's to much on Voldemort looking for eternal life, Dumbledore thinking of death as an adventure to no get really spiritual and fast.
On Paralcelsus (one of Victor Frankeinstein's reads, he made a Humunculus, an artificial little man) his name means "bigger than celsus" a greek sage. It was a name he chose for himself, he was definitively ambitious like a slitheryn. On Peeves hurling his statue, Paralcelsus died (I think some say maybe murdered, not sure) falling of a staircase.
If you enyoyed this thread remember to see the info on Mugglenet on name origins on Nick Flammel (there's a cool old story on him) and Voldemort, so you can know of the famous Voldemortist, a real wizard who wanted the Philosofer's stone.
As a last note, for the fans of alchemy, China also had alchemists that wanted eternal life.
(sorry for my english spelling)



Last edited by Constant Vigilance; January 14th, 2004 at 9:09 pm.
  #46  
Old September 25th, 2003, 10:04 pm
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Sabine  Female.gif Sabine is offline
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I really enjoy reading in this thread and following all your links.

Thanks for all the effort you all put in here.

Sabine

P.S.: Off topic:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Constant Vigilance
so you can know of the famous Voldemortist, a real wizard who wanted the Philosofer's stone.
I'm sorry to spoil that for anyone, but I think there has never been a Voldemortist. I did a very careful search on that one... and I found nothing to proove that he ever existed. All one can find are HP-related sites.


  #47  
Old September 25th, 2003, 11:11 pm
Constant Vigilance  Male.gif Constant Vigilance is offline
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Sabine is right on Voldemortist

Sabine is right on Voldemortist, it seems to be a fake rumor and it has given some problems to arturian scholars tring to pin point the source. I feel dumb! I fell completely like Hermione for Lockhart's books! I'm emailing mugglenet to complain. Just in case I'm going to ask an arturian enthusiast I know. Nice work Sabine!
I looked up Flamel, He's real!


  #48  
Old September 26th, 2003, 7:22 am
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Constant Vigilance: Awesome and Awe-inspiring post!

We all know that Harry is missing something in Potions class! On a mundane level, he doesn't pay enough attention to details. He doesn't read the directions correctly. He is watching Snape or listening to Draco, and he gets distracted.

He is missing the Zen of potion-making. He needs to become more involved with the act itself, and then, I think, that would be the sort of prayer or worship that he is missing.

When you think about making an important potion, one that might save someone from death or poisoning, you would have to be prayerful over it. You would have to have more respect for that potion and the act of making it than Harry has.

I really dig this idea, Constant Vigilance, because when I project what might happen to Harry in the next two books, I often imagine him having to make a potion to save someone important. He might need to save someone's life, even Snape's life, and to make a mistake would be the end for everyone. I bet Harry could put a little prayer into it then!

But all your observations are wonderful! I love the idea of herbology and potions being connected. Of course some plants are associated with alchemy. In the movie version of CoS, Madame Sprout and Madame Pomfrey are given credit for making the potion from the Mandrakes. In the book, it is Snape, because when Lockhart offers to make the potion, Snape argues with him - page 144, American, Chapter 9. This is interesting because it is hinting that JKR does feel the connection between the two houses and is letting it come out in the movies.

I found this on a great website about magical plants:

http://www.magialuna.net/l.html


Quote:
Alchemilla is a patron herb of Alchemists. Lady's Mantle increases the working power of any type of Magick. In ancient times Lady's Mantle was said to contain the ability to transmute the formulae of an Alchemist. Because this herb is an aphrodisiac you can use it in any love potion. Collect the pollen from the flowers, or the roots may be dried and powdered, or (not as potent) you can dry and powder the leaves for Magickal use. You may also collect the early morning dew from its leaves for use in any Magickal working. One may think of Lady's Mantle as having the ability to add a metaphysical exclamation mark to one's Magick.

Lily is ruled by La Luna, The Moon, and is an herb of fertility and protection. The white Lily is associated with Eostara, renewal, and rebirth. The Lily has strong associations with fertility goddesses. To dream of Lilies in Spring foretells marriage, happiness and prosperity; to dream of them in Winter indicates frustration of hopes, or the premature death of a loved one. Some use the Lily to break Love Spells.

And here is a wonderful picture of an "Alchemy Lab"! Snape would feel right at home here:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/alchlab.html

Finally, here is the website of our dreams! I stumbled across this and it has tons and tons of links to Alchemical websites, including many that have to do with plants.

http://www.geocities.com/babech.geo/home.htm


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  #49  
Old September 26th, 2003, 5:44 pm
Constant Vigilance  Male.gif Constant Vigilance is offline
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Alchemy and Lions

I read the link on alchemy and lions posted by silver ink spot. It was really interesting. The image of the crowned male and female lions fighting really seems apropiate for HP.
Could Jo Rowling be familiar with it? Maybe because it fits descriptions of the book. Maybe she knows it or maybe she has been influenced by other authors who did know it. Maybe it just fits because of the archetype theory that says we can explain world ideas with archetypes, images known to all cultures. This lion thing was used to explain psicological development, and that is a big theme for Harry, because the series is a coming of age story (remember JKR does not like Peter Pan). So even if Jo Rowling never heard of Jung, it still helps to understand Harry Potter because they are after the same thing: understanding the psicological evolution or growing up of a person that tries to deal with his past.
So are the fighting lions Ron and Hermione.? Probably, but they could apply to other things. Johannes Fabricius (he is cited along Jung) says this is a mother-father image. The "origin" of a person and that sets the stage for development. Well, Ron looks like a ****** of lion all right but he's no father figure. He's like a brother, since he's got the normal family life Harry wants, maybe he is a figure of what Harry lacks, or maybe what he wants to be, or a part of him that has not come to terms with his slytherin side. This is complex! So Ron could (maybe) be a simbol for Harry. A Ron/Hermione union could be a simbol for a totally developed Harry in balance with himself. (Im on an amateur jungian analisys roll here!) Since Harry is having such a complex adolescence, the Ron/Hermione conflict (like the male female lion conflict) could be a symbol of his current internal conflict, the seed of what he will become as an adult. (I hope this makes sence, I swear I'm thinking this over with out any allucinatory drugs).

So theoretically Harry's life looks like a lion figtht. Ok. What if the lion fight is about parental figures. I guess Harry's mom figure is Molly Weasly. (On some level Hermione may be a mom figure, I don't know)His "fammily" figure could be the Molly/Arthur mariage. His Daddy figure I think was Sirius Black (and could now be Lupin). They are all Griffindor lions, and Molly has a fights with Arthur an Serius. The fight in St Mungos over "alternative medicine" (stiches) was maybe similar to the JULE BRAWL in GoF. Sirius and Molly also fight. Maybe I just see what I want to see and this is just crazy. Maybe this love/hate relationships are a symbol for Harry's jourey of self discovery.
The text on alchemical lions talks a lot of psycollogical development by contact with the passions of childhood. Ok, Harry is clearly in contact with the passions of his early childhood. First: mirror of Erised, Second: the dementors do a sycoanalisis of sorts on Harry, they bring back a represed memory (an audio memory of his mom's death screams) that finally leads him to a healing process: the Patronus (contact with dad) Third: occlumency where Harry gets childhood dreams of perfect parents shatered.
When Snape talks of controling emotions, is he talking of this? Is Harry's peace with his personal history of loss the key to beat Voldemort? If so, I want somebody else to take the same journey. If Snape does not "wear his heart on his sleeve", where is it? Ah, the compelling PERSUES EVANS theory. I need to know more about this because I have a VERY SCARY OFF TOPIC THEORY. Petunia Evans knows about the wizard world. She knows about dementors, a "horrible boy" told her (I don't have my book here to do exact quotes). Snape was a horrible boy and an expert on dementors and dark stuff. Now that's a possible relationship that could be embitering and cause denial of the wizard world or hatred of Harry. In any case, Snape's grudge on Harry is childish trauma, he has to grow out of it to find his place in the HP world.



Last edited by Constant Vigilance; September 26th, 2003 at 6:09 pm.
  #50  
Old September 26th, 2003, 6:59 pm
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Quote:
. (Im on an amateur jungian analisys roll here!) Since Harry is having such a complex adolescence, the Ron/Hermione conflict (like the male female lion conflict) could be a symbol of his current internal conflict, the seed of what he will become as an adult. (I hope this makes sence, I swear I'm thinking this over with out any allucinatory drugs).
Constant Vigilance! Just keep rolling! And keep Rowling! Now I am free associating without drugs, myself!

I totally agree with your views on the "bickering" parental figures! Many people on many threads here have commented about the Molly/Sirius argument, that they sound like a divorced couple who can't agree. They are symbolic of two extremems of thought. Now that Sirius is gone, and Harry is estranged more from Dumbledore and certainly from Snape, who will his Father-Figure be? There's Lupin, Moody, Arthur, and perhaps someone new.

I love all your theories! Oh my gosh, your post made me go get my copy of Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, Carl Jung's autobiography. It is a difficult, dense book, and I haven't read it since my college days, but just flipping through it I realized that at a certain point in his life, he began to seriously study Alchemy. In his chapter called, "The Work," he says that he had a dream of someone locking him in a garden with shelves and shelves of ancient books which he was compelled to study. He acted on this dream and began to study Alchemy, and at first he was like us - baffled by alot of the language. But he was fascinated by Alchemy and Religion, and began to think of Christ as the Sorcerer's Stone. However, he realized it could apply to many things, and here is a dream he relates that should sound seriously familiar if someone has just read OotP.

You'll like this, and it confirms to me that JKR is definitely familiar with Jung:

Quote:
I dreamed once more that my house had a large wing which I had never visited. I resolved to look at it, and finally entered. I came to a big double door. When I opened it, I found myself in a room set up as a laboratory. This was my father's workroom. However, he was not there. On shelves along the walls stood hundreds of bottles containing every imaginable sort of fish. I was astonished: so now my father was going in for ichthyology!

As I stood there and looked around I noticed a curtain which bellied out from time to time, as though a strong wind were blowing. Suddenly Hans, a young man from the country, appeared. I told him to look and see whether a window were open in the room behind the curtain. He went, and was gone for some time. When he returned, I saw an expression of terror on his face. He said only, "Yes, there is something. It's haunted in there!"

Then I myself went, and found a door which led to my mother's room. There was no one in it. The atmosphere was uncanny. The room was very large, and suspended from the ceiling were two rows of five chests each, hanging about two feet above the floor. They looked like small garden pavilions, each about six feet in area, and each containing two beds. I knew that this was the room where my mother, who in reality had long been dead, was visited, and that she had set up these for visiting spirits to sleep. They were spirits who came in pairs, ghostly married couples, so to speak, who spent the night or even the day there.

Opposite my mother's room was a door. I opened it and entered a vast hall; it reminded me of the lobby of a large hotel. It was fitted out with easy chairs, small tables, pillars, sumptuous hangings, etc. a brass band was playing loudly . . .

No one would have guessed that behind this loud facade was the other world, also located in the same building. The dream-image of the lobby was . . . a caricature . . . of worldly joviality. . . . Behind it lay something quite different, . . . the fish laboratory and the hanging pavilions for spirits. Both were awesome places in which a mysterious silence prevailed. In them I had the feeling: Here is the dwelling of night; whereas the lobby stood for the daylight world and its superficiality.

. . . Something had remained unfinished and was still with my parents; that is to say, it was still latent in the unconscious and hence reserved for the future. I was being reminded that I had not yet dealt with the major concern of philosophical alchemy.
Wow! This is so reminiscent of the MOM, with the cheery statues in the lobby, and the strange Department of Mysteries upstairs. Day and Night. Harry is lured to the night side by Voldemort, but then Harry sheds "light" on the Dark Lord and the DEs by luring them into the lobby, where they are "seen" by all. Especially since the prophecies are involved, I think you can safely say that Harry's purpose in knowing about this place lies in the future, and it is involved with his parents, even though they are dead! I think the vision of the Mother and the sleeping spirits may be a scene we see in one of the next two books.

Whew! My fingers just fell off from all this typing. Memories, Dreams, and Reflections may be online - but I'm copying from my own book.!


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  #51  
Old September 27th, 2003, 5:20 am
Jaded_Wanderer  Female.gif Jaded_Wanderer is offline
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Wow...that does sound much like the MOM - good work!! We know there are a lot of mysteries surrounding the Potters, especially Lily. Hope somehow they tie into this Alchemy thing too.


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  #52  
Old September 27th, 2003, 7:10 am
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Thanks, QueenGumby - love your name, by the way!

A few other Harry parallels with Carl Jung.

His name means "Young" and his orginal family coat-of-arms was a Phoenix! His great-great-grandfather was friends with two alchemists: Michael Maier (1568-1622) and Gerardus Dorneus, who wrote a book on Paracelcus called "De Vita Longa," which is about the process of becoming an individual. Jung used this book in his psychological research - I'm going to try to find this online.

As a child he had trouble in school due to strange fainting spells, from which he eventually recovered. He was tormented by terrible dreams that he couldn't decide were from God or the Devil. These dreams were so powerful that he remembered them all of his life and later did research on the symbols in them.

His teachers often berated him, in the manner of professor Snape, and thought he was a lazy student who sometimes cheated. He was sometimes chewed out by professors for doing the opposite of what he was told. Also, he often got into fights with other students. At one point, he decided he would rather be second in his class than have to be in competition with everyone. That really sounded like Harry to me!

He wrote a book called Psychology and Alchemy. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of it.


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  #53  
Old September 27th, 2003, 8:45 am
Jaded_Wanderer  Female.gif Jaded_Wanderer is offline
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Holy heck Silver Ink Pot you're an efficient researcher!! (love your name too btw ) This Jung stuff's has some incredible similarities to HP.....will definitely try to get my hands on that book!

On a completely different line of thought, could creatures like the hippogriff (half griffin, half horse), etc. have any significance when it comes to alchemy?


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Last edited by queengumby; September 27th, 2003 at 8:55 am.
  #54  
Old September 28th, 2003, 11:52 pm
Venustas  Female.gif Venustas is offline
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Good question, Queengumby,
The hippogriff is symbolic in alchemy as representing two parts in one- that is, one part is belonging to the earth (horse) and the other to the sky (eagle). In Medieval alchemy of the Church the hippogriff was used to symbolize Jesus, -being of the earth (man) and at the same time of Heaven (God), in one person.
(which is quite interesting applied to book 3, as the hippogriff was unfairly judged, then killed, but is now alive, and then acted as 'savior' for Sirius, saving him from the Dementor's kiss and worse-than-death)

Many other creatures of HP are symbolic as well- we've already discussed the phoenix and basilisk as symbols of new life and immortality, the Unicorn is also a symbol along with the Stone, symbolizing perfection and purity. Hmm. we've also already mentioned the dragon, griffin and swan... I can't think of the others at the moment.

Oh, I think the centaurs fall into that same category, as part animal, part man, but I don't remember how it works.

Ellen, you make it all seem so simple. Thanks for neatly summing up "death."

Silver Ink Pot and Constant Vigilance- Keep it coming with the Jung, SIP! It is interesting that Jung associated the Stone with Jesus. Alchemical images have often been used in Christian/religious art. Stained glass windows from Medieval churches sometimes show alchemical influences, especially with the unicorn, but as well with the phoenix, and also with snakes and dragons representing Satan/evil. Religious stories have also been written with the imagery (think St.George and the Dragon), and even more recently the Chronicals of Narnia- who's author, by the way, was an expert in Medieval literature and world view.



Last edited by Venustas; September 28th, 2003 at 11:59 pm.
  #55  
Old September 29th, 2003, 4:45 pm
Constant Vigilance  Male.gif Constant Vigilance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venustas
Oh, I think the centaurs fall into that same category, as part animal, part man, but I don't remember how it works.
The ancient greeks used the cantaurs as a simbol of the union of man and beast. They are like a living contradiction: the union of the intellect and brute force. Thus they were dangerous (Hercules' nemesis was a centaur). This description fits HP: "stargazers" with a bad disposition.

The greeks also used the hipogriff as a simbol of love. If you visit Symbolic Flight (a H/Hr shipping site) you can read an essay on the hipogriff and it's meaning in HP. Very scray for us R/H shippers!



Last edited by Constant Vigilance; October 1st, 2003 at 10:33 pm.
  #56  
Old October 1st, 2003, 6:14 am
Etoille  Female.gif Etoille is offline
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All I can say is WOW! I feel like (I donít know what age, but old enough to know terribly intelligent stuff is being discussed) into a (if there was such a thing) Ravenclaw PhD program! Iíve never studied any of this, I love it and you all have presented such impressive exceptional points/research/theories. I just canít believe it. All of it ties into the HP series (thus far) so well. Well done everyone!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venustas
Alchemical images have often been used in Christian/religious art. Stained glass windows from Medieval churches sometimes show alchemical influences, especially with the unicorn, but as well with the phoenix, and also with snakes and dragons representing Satan/evil. Religious stories have also been written with the imagery (think St.George and the Dragon), and even more recently the Chronicals of Narnia- who's author, by the way, was an expert in Medieval literature and world view.
Something I remember as a child (having grown up Catholic) about the four apostles Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, having animals associated with them. Unfortunately, I canít remember if this is indeed true, or what the animals were, or if they would even fit into this thread. But reading this particular post, it reminded me of it (for what it is worth).

Keep it going, I canít wait to read more (though I probably wonít state much more, other than perhaps to jump in from time to time to let you all know how much Iím impressed and to pat you on the backs for doing such a **** good job)!


  #57  
Old October 2nd, 2003, 1:59 am
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Quote:
Good question, Queengumby,
The hippogriff is symbolic in alchemy as representing two parts in one- that is, one part is belonging to the earth (horse) and the other to the sky (eagle). In Medieval alchemy of the Church the hippogriff was used to symbolize Jesus, -being of the earth (man) and at the same time of Heaven (God), in one person.
(which is quite interesting applied to book 3, as the hippogriff was unfairly judged, then killed, but is now alive, and then acted as 'savior' for Sirius, saving him from the Dementor's kiss and worse-than-death)
This is fascinating to me, Venustas! Guess who is compared to a Hippogriff in PoA?

PoA, Chapter 14, page 282, American

"Snape's eyes were boring into Harry's. It was exactly like trying to stare down a hippogriff. Harry tried hard not to blink."

This refers back to page 115, when Hagrid tells the children that the Hippogriff won't trust them if they blink too much. What's interesting is that BuckBeak DOES trust Harry, and even bows to him, then allows Harry to climb on his back and fly. So what does this say about Snape - foreshadowing hope for their relationship? Also, Buckbeak attacks Draco! So is Snape a good guy?

And being a "horse/eagle" reminds me of Perseus who tamed the winged Horse Pegasus. (Perseus Evans is an anagram for Severus Snape)

Snape's nose is certainly "beakish" - don't you think!

There are certainly other animals associated with alchemy. Alchemists were lovers of symbolism and art, I think! There is the pelican:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/animal.html

Quote:
The white pelican bird with its long bill reaching down over its breast, was in medieval times mistakenly observed piercing its breast with its bill and feeding its young on its own blood. What actually happens is that the bird regurgitates food it has caught earlier and its young feed on this ground up fish, bits of which fall onto the breast of the pelican and it appears as if its breast is bleeding. This myth of the sacrificial act of the Pelican in feeding its young on its own blood, was more powerful than the prosaic reality and during medieval times the Pelican became a symbol for Christ’s sacrifice of his blood. Alchemists also took this symbol aboard and readily incorporated it into their symbolic menagerie.
For some reason, the pelican reminds me of Lilly, who nurtured Harry and then died for him. The pelican is also a type of vessel used in alchemy with a pipe coming out the top that looks like a pelican's twisted neck. We haven't really seen an actual Pelican. Perhaps in the next books, the action will move to the seashore at some point?

http://tampa.us.mensa.org/pelicanexplan.php
The pelican is also a symbol in alchemy, not only as a specific type of retort whose “beak” bends down toward its “pot belly,” but also as an image for the philosopher's stone, which, when pulverized and mixed with molten lead, transforms the lead into gold. In this sense, the pelican symbolizes selfless striving for purification. The Knights of the Rosae Crucis (Rosicrucians) were also sometimes called the Knights of the Pelican. There is a medieval hymn that contains the words “Pie pelicane, Jesu domine” (“O merciful pelican, Lord Jesus”).

We've talked about the Red Lion being like Ron, and the White Lion being Hermione, but I found a reference to a "Green Lion" which is used in plant alchemy. Notice the reference to "sap" which reminds me of Neville and his stinksap!:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/animal.html
Quote:
. . . To other alchemists who worked primarily with vegetable matter and processes, rather than the mineral work, the Green Lion was an image of the green raw energy of nature, "the green fuse which drives the flower" as Dylan Thomas elegantly expressed it in one of his poems. Here the Green Lion which devours the sun is the green pigment chlorophyll. The green leaves of the plant are formed out of the energy of sunlight. Alchemists often attempted to create living processes in their flasks and looked especially for precipitates or crystallisations which resembled leaves or plant forms. The Green Lion here could be a plant sap extract which was often the prima materia for their alchemical work. The Gryphon, half-eagle and half-lion, was sometimes associated with the end of this stage. The eagle nature of the Gryphon gave this hybrid being an ability to ascend in the flask, so it marked, in a sense, the spiritualisation of the Green Lion.
Then there is the "Grey Wolf"

Quote:
In the work with minerals, the metal antimony was referred to as the Grey Wolf, because when molten it greedily swallowed up many other metals, such as copper, tin and lead, by forming alloys. In this sense it behaved like metallic mercury which also readily amalgamated with metals. The Grey Wolf of antimony became especially important in early 17th century alchemy - its curative properties being popularised through the writings published under the name of Basil Valentine.
That's enough for tonight! I love this thread!


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  #58  
Old October 2nd, 2003, 3:25 am
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Wow, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the information in this thread. I know there aren't any concrete theories here, but I am convinced that JK had a lot of this in mind while writing the book. I don't know that we'll see explicit references to it in future books (at least, I don't think JK will come right out and write, hey, the whole point of this book is alchemy), but I think it'll be a running theme that gives us huge clues as to the underlying message of the series and relationships between characters and all that.

I won't have time to go and research alchemy until Christmas break , but I want to keep up with this thread nonetheless. I'll just mention things that come to mind sans research while reading this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot
I really dig this idea, Constant Vigilance, because when I project what might happen to Harry in the next two books, I often imagine him having to make a potion to save someone important. He might need to save someone's life, even Snape's life, and to make a mistake would be the end for everyone. I bet Harry could put a little prayer into it then!
I'm reminded of Snape's high expectations for his NEWT students and Harry's need to get into that class. I know DADA is more Harry's cup of tea, but I think Potions will end up being much more important to him than he suspects. Potions and Snape are mentioned way too often in the books for Harry to just not take it in sixth year.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot
But all your observations are wonderful! I love the idea of herbology and potions being connected.
I can't really say anything specific here, except that I think the fact Neville's most feared subject is Potions and his favourite is Herbology is significant.

All that talk about plants in this context, too.. Lily, Petunia, Narcissa.. I wish I knew more about them!


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  #59  
Old October 2nd, 2003, 7:45 am
Red Herring  Female.gif Red Herring is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggie
Basil Valentine, not featured on a card, published the twelve keys of alchemy, and believed that love played a crucial role in spiritual alchemy. (The "love" room in the DoM?)

Might the 12 keys of alchemy correlate to the 12 doors? Do you have a link to the 12 keys? *goes to google it*


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  #60  
Old October 2nd, 2003, 8:07 am
smenkhare  Male.gif smenkhare is offline
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I don't know if anyone has posted this and it is a little of topic but scientists have actually managed to turn lead into gold by altering the molecular structure, however the process is too expensive to be practical


 
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