In my opinion, The Contendings of Horus and Seth gives us the clearest peek into the ending of Deathly Hallows and the explanation behind that scene so vividly depicted on the Scholastic cover by Mary Grand Pre. I believe we will see the tribunal of Horus and Seth come to life on the pages of this grand finale.
To me, the GrandPre cover clearly depicts Harry and Voldemort in a tribunal type of challenge. We see them both dressed similarly, as if uniformed in competition. Their gazes are locked on something that Harry is reaching for, while Voldemort actually seems afraid. And behind them are arranged a series of shadowy images, the judges and the witnesses.
But who could possess such control over Voldemort as to force him into a tribunal competition -- perhaps akin to the Triwizard tournament -- against this youth Harry? Voldemort would surely just say, "heck no," and zap them all with Avada Kedavra.
Unless...the gods calling the tribunal were the Hogwarts' founding four. Harry and Voldemort could be drawn into another realm -- either back in time or behind the veil -- to face a god-like, semi-impartial tribunal to decide their fates once and for all. After all, Voldemort does have his supporters. Clearly some people, either back in time or beyond the veil, would support Voldemort in his quest to erase all Muggle infiltration into the wizarding world by way of "Mudbloods." Remember, too, that much of the final verdict for WWII, after which we know JKR has based some of her story, ended at the Nuremberg trials.
Thus, I believe the final determining conflict between Harry and Voldemort will take place in a trial-type of atmosphere, a primordial tribunal of challenges of strength, merit, and truth to determine for the wizarding world as a whole whether to remain divided or unite under one banner of diversity. One of the aspects I like best about a tribunal challenge for the ending of the series is that it allows Harry as hero to defeat Voldemort, while also putting Voldemorts final end in the hands of a jury.
However, for Voldemort to accept a trial by jury, the jury will have to be god-like in nature and have total power over him so that he cannot refuse. That could only happen back in the time of the Hogwarts founding four, or beyond the veil. I believe that is exactly what will play out for the following reasons.
Slytherin's Time-TurnerWeve seen a time motif implemented early in the series, with the expectation that it will be followed up before series' end. As I said on the forum of my prior essay, One Last Memory, the day after the Scholastic cover was released, Slytherins locket, the way Harry is wearing it, reminds me very much of Hermione's Time-Turner.
Why would a man, Slytherin, own a locket unless it had other powers? We know from what Dumbledore has taught Harry that Voldemort seems to have selected each of his Horcruxes for their extra magical powers besides simply protecting his soul. The diary was able to lure a student into opening the Chamber of Secrets and releasing the basilisk to attack Muggle-borns. Hepzibah Smith specifically mentioned the special magical powers that Hufflepuffs cup contained.(10)
Maybe old Slytherin did some Time-Turning, maybe even into ancient Egypt. Maybe when he planted the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, he also planted a method of returning his future heir to face him for further instructions. Thus, I believe the locket's special power is to return the wearer to face the great Slytherin himself.
Passing Through the VeilOr perhaps the other realm will be behind the veil. Harry already knows one entrance to the world beyond; there may be other portals. Perhaps too there is a magical method of entering that world without first facing death.
This passing through the Underworld is the classic journey in many ancient myths. Theseus enters the Underworld of the labyrinth to face the Minotaur, with a ball of thread his guide in and out. (Perhaps Ginny would play the role of Ariadne). Orpheus enters the Underworld to retrieve his wife Eurydice with protection from the god, but loses her during their ascension when he looks back to gaze upon her face. Persephone is carried off into the Underworld by Hades, but allowed to return to the earth six months out of the year.
One of the Horcruxes could serve as a Portkey to the Underworld, but I believe the most likely place for a portal, either back in time or to the Underworld, will be found in the Chamber of Secrets. (More on this in the last part of this editorial).
Of Horcruxes Not Yet CreatedIf called back in time, Voldemorts Horcruxes will not yet exist. Thus they would do him no good. Horcruxes not yet created will not save Voldemort from dying. Imagine the anguish he'd experience to know all his work had gone to naught.
Perhaps this is also true beyond the veil. With Voldemort on one side of the veil and his Horcruxes on the other, I have my doubts that they would protect him in the manner intended. It seems that they act as an anchor, pinning his soul on the living side of the veil. But if he's already crossed beyond the veil, by some magical means, would the Horcruxes then be ineffective?
A Ghostly Court of JudgesVoldemort will not be able to Avada Kedavra anyone back in time because to do so would be to possibly destroy his future self or the world he has built. Hermione informed Harry and the reader in Prisoner of Azkaban as to how tricky time travel could be. You could forever alter the future. As inter-related as the magical world is to each other, as witnessed by the Black family tapestry, Voldemort could kill no one from 1,000 years ago without risking killing himself.
Likewise, if the scene is beyond the veil, Voldemort can do nothing to harm those who are already immortal. I think the reverse would also be true. The onlookers must watch, not interfere aside from offering advice, as did the echoes of Harrys parents from Voldemorts wand in the graveyard of Goblet of Fire. Harry and Voldemort would be completely alone, the only combatants, perhaps with Ron and Hermione as onlookers, their success completely dependant on who they are, their skills, their understanding. The feather of Ma'at, of truth, would weigh heavily against Voldemort.
The Four Halls of CombatThe Contendings of Horus and Seth played out on four halls. I believe Harry's and Voldemort's battle will also cover four areas of competition as well, perhaps one of each designed by the Hogwarts' founding four, akin to the obstacle course beneath Hogwarts in Philosopher's Stone set up by the various professors and the three challenges of the Triwizard Tournament. The four battlefields would thus represent each one of air, water, fire, and earth, with the victor demonstrating mastery of the four elements.
The Wizarding EnneadIn the Contendings of Horus and Seth, the Ennead (the group of nine judging deities) is conveyed to the Island in the Middle where the matter is to be decided. If I had to predict an Ennead in the final tribunal, these would be my guesses with their Egyptian counterpart (though Im not sure JKR will use an Ennead):
In her role as Nephthys, it is possible that Aunt Petunia will accompany Harry somehow on his journey to this other realm. She could give him the clue he needs to access the portal. Perhaps this is the major secret Petunia is withholding. As she overheard that awful boy talking about Azkaban, she might have overheard other useful things as well or Lily could have entrusted her with an important artifact or document, hoping to hide it outside the wizarding world from Voldemort.
My best guess for who would serve as the head judge of the wizarding Ennead -- either Salazar Slytherin or Amelia Bones. If the scene takes place via a Time-Turner, then I think Slytherin will serve as a judge, because his presiding over a court that condemns Voldemort will have a much more profound effect on his last remaining heir. Plus, in the Egyptian tale, it was Re's support of Seth due to his position alongside Seth in the solar bark which kept the tribunal from ending quickly. Whereas if the scene takes place behind the veil, then Amelia Bones might be a good choice as she would be fulfilling the position of Head of Magical Law Enforcement she recently left behind.
I fully acknowledge that this description of the Ennead works best with the tribunal taking place behind the veil rather than back in time. All of the wizarding Ennead listed would indeed exist beyond the veil, but only the Hogwarts founding four would be found naturally back in time. Or perhaps both ancient history and Underworld are somehow merged into one in the wizarding world which would be a testimonial to Professor Binns as he blends history and death so well.
The Feather of TruthAs mentioned in part one, in Egyptian mythology, in the final judgment scene in the Hall of Osiris, the deceased's heart is weighed against the feather of Ma'at, of truth. If the heart is weighted by evil or misdeeds, his heart is thrown to an awaiting monster, Ammit, who gobbles the heart down, thereby killing that person for eternity.
Remember the weighing of the wands which we saw in Goblet of Fire after the selection of the Triwizard champions? If such a weighing were to occur between Harry and Voldemort, prior to their tribunal, it would weigh the phoenix feather of Harrys wand against the phoenix feather of Lord Voldemorts.
However, I would not be a bit surprised if what Harry and Voldemort are both focused on in that GrandPre scene is a feather, the feather of truth, of the weighing of the hearts, and it's coming down (perhaps descending from a phoenix) announcing Harry's heart as the lighter. If it's not a feather, then I think it's a form of the Snitch, which is the top of the caduceus and an emblem for the fully realized Philosopher's Stone. Either one would symbolize the completion of Harry's transformation and the destruction of Voldemort's own soul.
What is the Opposite of a Horcrux?One thing I think will become obvious and taken into account during the weighing of the hearts scene mentioned above will be the lives Harry has saved opposite the lives Voldemort has taken. In each book, Harry has directly or indirectly saved at least one life:
One element I think is missing from this Egyptian myth of Horus and Seth which will be of high importance in the final book of Harry's is the element of self-sacrifice. I discussed this quite a bit in my Snape section of One Last Memory. I do think Harry will sacrifice himself for others, as he has already done throughout the series in these numerous examples, and I think in this final book he would risk his life for the one most unlikely -- Severus Snape.
The End of VoldemortSo, what will be Voldemort's final fate? We cannot rely on the Egyptian myths for an ultimate hint as there are so many versions of Seth's fate after the tribunal. I've always noted the numerous references throughout the Harry Potter series to decapitations and hungry beasts, and think it is entirely possible that Voldemort will lose his head to a very hungry Ammit-type of creature, probably a dragon, swooping down at the pronounced judgment.
However, I also think that as there are fates worse than death, Voldemort could be totally alive, but trapped in a time long gone. If he is forced to remain in the other realm, hell suffer an existence knowing essentially that he is already dead to the future, and with his Horcruxes out of his reach, doomed to his Time-Turner present. He would in a sense thus suffer a double death, fully aware of what is to occur. Or life beyond the veil would be the same as death to the Dark Lord.
Loss of an EyeFinally, one of the defining characteristics of Horus that occurs in his battle with Seth is that Seth tears out his left eye. The Eye of Horus became one of Egypt's best loved amulets of healing and protection. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see something happen to Harry's eye, probably his left. But Ill discuss the whole eye imagery more in part three.
Put It All Together in a Golden Cage of Truth
The golden thread connecting Harry and Voldemort splintered; though the wands remained connected, a thousand more beams arced high over Harry and Voldemort, crisscrossing all around them, until they were enclosed in a golden, dome-shaped web, a cage of light, beyond which the Death Eaters circled like jackals, their cries strangely muffled now...(12)Jackals in Egyptian mythology are associated with the dead, with graveyards, and with Anubis, the god of the dead. Are the Death Eaters circling to protect their master, or to devour his remains? Either way, Voldemort is afraid. He tries to break the connection. Harry hangs on more tightly. It is then that he hears the phoenix song, a song of hope, a message from Dumbledore... Dont break the connection.(13)
Through this scene in Goblet of Fire, I think JKR already gave the readers a preview of what is to come in Deathly Hallows, where the Egyptian myths have led us thus far Harry and Voldemort, connected by their wands, drawn away and into a protective cage where those surrounding them cannot interfere, leaving Harry and the Dark Lord to battle it out one on one. The phoenix song of love empowers Harry to maintain a connection that leads to the Dark Lords undoing.
Once before, Harry came out the winner, because his feather-wand was lighter than was his who had killed so many. If JKR is indeed using ancient Egyptian myths as a guide, we could well see Harry and Voldemort once more forced into some sort of portal to the beyond to face a divine tribunal the result of which will either divide the wizarding world forever, or reunite the hurting world under one magically connected golden web of love.
Of Wombats and LinksJKR has recently given us a very strong clue as to how the Egyptian myths fit into her world. This from the last W.O.M.B.A.T.:
The world's largest Centre for Alchemical Studies is situated in Egypt.This was a true/false question. I definitely believe the answer is true, and I also believe the reason the question was on the test was to give readers one final clue toward the two main frames for the series and their connection to each other.
Much has been written in fan forums, editorials, and published books regarding the alchemical connections, symbols, and motifs in the series. The alchemy allegories have been evident as the first book, Philosopher's Stone, not only used alchemy as a title but as the major plot device. Readers have been onto the alchemy for a long time and have analyzed the symbolism remarkably well.
However, the Egyptian connections are just as strongly embedded within the series, only deeper below the surface. The analogies are there, the symbols, the motifs, but they are hidden from view more so than the alchemy. To point us in the Egyptian direction, JKR has laid several obvious clues -- primarily Bill as a curse breaker in Egypt with the Weasley family's visit before the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban. But there have been other sly references to Egypt scattered throughout:
Chamber of Secrets -- Fawkes plays a prominent role. The phoenix is originally Egyptian where is was known as the bennu or benben bird.
Prisoner of Azkaban -- The mummy which Pavarti fears as part of the Boggart lesson.
Goblet of Fire -- The Egyptian referee at the Quiddditch World Cup, the sphinx with the riddle in the middle of the maze during the last task is distinctly Egyptian.
My gut feeling as to what happened with JKR as she planned this series is that she started out with the idea of using alchemy and its seven-step progression as a frame for the series. As she delved into alchemy to learn more, she discovered the Egyptian connections relating directly to alchemy. (Or she could have been very aware of the connections from the beginning as she does have a Classics background). Either way, she began using the Egyptian motifs as a more subtle co-frame for the series since it worked so well with alchemy and gave an added dimension of meaning and esoteric truth.
Bottom line, what alchemy and these Egyptian myths both signify, and the reason I believe JKR would have used them together, is that they both trace the development of the soul toward spiritual perfection. By using myths that are thousands of years old along with the more recent alchemy, JKR presents to the reader the primordial concept that human enlightenment and understanding, coupled with the choice to resist the dark side, are concepts as old as time and yet as fresh as tomorrow morning.
NotesThis is the second part of a three part editorial connecting ancient Egyptian myths to the Harry Potter series.
Please keep in mind that these ancient myths developed and changed over thousands of years, and thus have many variations. Ive included those that I see as most relevant to the series. Also, to keep the editorial to a reasonable length, Ive not discussed all the links that can be made. That would take a whole book!
Do I think I'm overanalyzing and seeing points of comparison that are not there? Quite definitely. However, that does not negate the overwhelming evidence that JKR knows and uses Egyptian myths and motifs to frame and enrich her series.
There are many ways to spell some of the Egyptian names. I've chosen the ones that seem to me to be the most common.
About the author: S.P. Sipal is a professional writer who also happens to be a Harry Potter fanatic. Her prior featured editorial on MuggleNet was One Last Memory. One of the authors published in the MuggleNet/Wizarding World Press fanbook, The Plot Thickens, her essays included "Chamber of Thoth" and "Geomancy and Alchemy Gems in Harry Potter." In July, she will be presenting two workshops, "Writing with Magic (for Muggles)" and "Seeking Egyptian Myths in Harry Potter" at the Sectus Harry Potter Conference in London during the release of Deathly Hallows! You can reach her through the comment trail, her website at www.spsipal.com, or e-mail at spsipal at yahoo dot com.
(1) The Contendings of Horus and Seth, Horus and Seth, The Book of the Victory Over Seth, The Battles of Horus and Seth
The Fat Friar told me that Umbridge tried to get back into his [Dumbledore's] office last night after they'd searched the castle and the grounds for him. Couldn't get past the gargoyle. The Head's office has sealed itself against her. Apparenly she had a right little tantrum...
Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28, Page 625
The name Voldemort comes from the French words meaning "fly from death," and his entire goal is to conquer death.