Harry Potter and the Saviour King
An original editorial by Michelle B.
The Saviour King is known by many names: the sun god, the Sun King, the Son of God,
the Savior, the Messiah, the Good Shepard, the Sacrificial Lamb, the Divine King (1), etc.
Those of you who think you are unfamiliar with this mythological character are
mistaken. This basic story line has been common to so many famous personages it is
ubiquitous. Examples include King Amenhotep III of Egypt (1538-1501 BCE), Egyptian
god Horus, Greek god Dionysius, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, and King
Arthur. The particulars of the story sometimes vary, but the Harry Potter story contains
enough of them for this to be beyond coincidence. Along with the plot elements,
Rowling reinforces the importance of this archetype in the series with character
names and other symbols.
In many cases, as with Harry Potter, the story can be said to begin with a prophecy.
This prophecy told of a child that was to be born that was so powerful that it
would be the only one who could rid the world of the Evil which had come to power.
As an infant he is recognized by powerful mages to be The One (couldnt the meeting
of Dumbledore, McGonagall and Hagrid be seen as reflective of the Three Magi?). In
response to this threat, Evil sets out to destroy the child through some variant of
the Slaughter of the Innocents. He is saved through magical protection, in this
case through his mothers blood sacrifice. The child Messiah must be protected, so
he is sent away to be brought up in safety and secret until he is of age. In Harry's
case, of age is eleven years old, and the number 11 is one with important
numerological significance. He is then presented to the scholars to be educated
and is found to be exceptionally gifted. Small and seemingly common though he is,
he repeatedly faces great foes and is inevitably victorious. In the end, he must
either conquer the Evil force or be sacrificed for his people.
This is the classic plot of the archetypal story of the Saviour King. The line
between goddess/god and Queen/King is hard to interpret when looking at ancient
history; every political leader would be said to be acting as a deity, were often
called by the names of the goddess/god, which they were considered to embody. In
the cultures of Europe and Asia of ancient times, prior to the laws of
primogeniture, Kingship was not patrilineal. It was granted based on symbolic
marriage to the Queen as goddess, through the hieros gamos, translated holy
matrimony. Only by displaying worth and virility through either victory in battle
or success in a symbolic trial would he be chosen by the Queen. In order to become
King, the Prince first had to slay some dragons. In some cases the dragons were
real physical enemies, in other cases these were thinly veiled sexual metaphors.
This is why so many fairy tales involve princes setting out to find their fortunes
in the guise of far-off Princesses instead of simply marrying some girl of their own
kingdom. The word fortune here connotes the Roman triple goddess of Fate. She
had many titles prefixed Fortuna including Fortuna Augusti, the foundation of the
Emperors right to rule (2). However, the King was the physical manifestation of the
sun god and thus his rule must end in sacrifice -- physical or symbolic. In the pagan
European world, the sun god was sacrificed at the end of summer to be reborn every
spring, saving the people from an endless deadly winter. The period of his rule was
thus often annual; the month of March was a common end, which is why the Ides of
March was a dangerous time for Kings (3). In any case, it was only through death and
subsequent rebirth that the King truly became a god.
The surname Potter may well have been chosen for its commonality as is claimed.
However, there is a recurring theme in many cultures of god/goddess as a Potter,
having made human beings out of clay. In the ancient world, pottery was a craft of
high importance, as everything from vessels keeping and transporting food and water
to sacred idols were made of clay. The first man in Hebrew mythology is called
Adam, from adamah meaning female clay or female earth, a euphemism for menstrual
blood. The Sumero-Babylonian goddess Aruru/Ishtar/Inanna (etc.) was called the
Potter based on the same clay creation story. The Indian goddess Kali made the
first man out of clay so her people were called Aryans, meaning people of clay.
This word was falsely appropriated by white-supremacists along with the
swastika, an ancient symbol of fire and, indeed, the lightening bolt.
The lightening bolt scar that would mark him as (Voldemorts) equal is another
part of the story fundamentalists like to point out. This is not the mark of the
Devil, but a long-time symbol of male virility and power. The fact that it has
been associated with Lucifer is only because Lucifer was also a "god" before he was
a devil. Lucifer means Light-bringer, Latin title for the Morning Star god who
announced the daily birth of the sun (4). The lightening-bolt was also held by the
Greek gods Zeus and Dionysius, the Roman Jupiter, the Vedic god Agni (Kalis
consort), the Celtic god Lanceor (who became Sir Lancelot), and the Viking god Thor.
The Lance, the spear, and the lightning bolt were interchangeable, explicitly
phallic symbols in these stories.
Harrys mothers name, we find out, was Lily Evans. Among other things, the lily
represents tenderness, purity, love and motherhood. The Greek goddess Hera created
lilies when she breastfed her son and caused milk to fall from the sky. Earlier
associated with virginity and Lilith (the Sumero-Babylonian goddess of creation and
Biblical Apocrypha bad girl), it came to be seen as representing the Virgin Birth.
It is thus often found in images of the Virgin Mary. The Mary(s) of Christianity
are believed by many to be the representations of the goddess, the female deity in a
form that could be worshipped without persecution by the Church. As in ancient
traditions of kingship the king is selected by the goddess, she gives birth to the
hero (5) and also bestows on him magical power. Thetis dips Achilles in the river Styx to
give him his powers, the Lady of the Lake gave Arthur Excalibur, Lily Evans gives
her son Harry magical protection and part of Voldemorts powers through her
incredibly powerful love for him.
Albus Dumbledore is the powerful mage who, like Merlin, becomes a Father/god figure
for Harry. The name Albus is said to be associated with whiteness, and therefore
goodness, a dualism which is in my opinion one of the most unfortunate themes in the
series. As the word El is a Semitic term for any god or divinity, so is its variant
Al, such as in the Moslem Allah. The Christian St. Alban is probably
appropriated from one of the names of the British goddess, Albion or White Moon.
(1, 2, 4) All mythological references taken from Barbara G. Walker, The Womens
Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.
(3) As in Shakespeares Julius Caesar.
(5) The very word hero is derived from the Greek term for a man who was sacrificed
to the goddess Hera, another ancient example of the divine savior king. (see 1)