Summary: An editorial noting the odd similarities between two of the most complex bits of magic in the series, in response to Brandon's essay: "The Resurrection of Harry Potter." Given its wild theoretical analysis this essay is not for the faint of heart, but may be of interest to fans of the MuggleNet podcast, Alohomora!
Having now read all seven of the Harry Potter books we can safely say there are many instances where Lord Voldemort and Harry seem a lot alike. Both orphans; both enamored with their magical schools; both celebrities in their own right. This eerie connection is often times noted by Harry himself throughout the series, and it makes him supremely uncomfortable.
However the two characters have yet another thing in common - each is virtually indestructible. Voldemort - (as we all know) - has a real knack for coming back from the dead!...then again he never actually dies until the end of the series, does he? In the one instance where Voldemort's body is actually destroyed at the start of the Potter series, his soul remains on earth because he has previously stored various bits of it in coveted objects around Britain. These, of course, we know to be Horcruxes.
And then we have Harry Potter - the boy who lived (actually more precisely "lives" as he does so on more than one occasion). In fact, its safe to say he matches Voldemort for his track record of near-death survivals. We learn over the course of the series the reason for his survival is Lily's love-protection; information given to us at the end of Philosopher's Stone by Dumbledore and reiterated (by Dumby) again at the end of Deathly Hallows.
Now! This editorial from my fellow staff member Brandon has got me thinking about something. It seems intuitive to think that love-protection magic and Horcrux-making are completely opposite kinds of spells. While Lily's (and later Harry's) sacrifice proves to be the ultimate, most powerful and pure kind of magic in the series, the making of a Horcrux, on the other hand, involves the very darkest magical arts.
But as Brandon has pointed out in his quibble, didn't Lily's love protection behave very much like a Horcrux when it saved Harry at the end of Deathly Hallows? Didn't Lily's/Harry's blood in Voldemort's veins anchor Harry to the living world in much the same way a Horcrux would? This odd connection has left a lingering question in my mind: given their similar effects, is there some connection between these two highest forms of magic in the Harry Potter series?
What if the magics involved here are only different as far as their significance in the series is concerned, but really do the same thing? As weird as it sounds, I think Lily Potter and Tom Riddle evoked the exact same kind of magic, though one manipulated blood - and the other, soul. If you think about it, the act of sacrificing yourself for another person and thereby preserving life in that person produces the same effect as creating a Horcrux, with your own soul being the necessary sacrificed energy for that process and another soul reaping the immortal benefits of that sacrifice.
Making sense? OK - I might be going a little wild here with the connections so let me backup and explain my reasoning. I am going off of several premises to make my claim that Horcrux-making and creating a love shield are similar types (if not the same type) of magic. Here they are, in a nut-shell - (brace yourself, I'm about to nerd-out):
1) All living beings in J.K. Rowling's world possess a soul, or a certain allocated amount of life-energy.
2) Certain spells require using that life-energy as well as energy of the universe around.
3) All spells are likely a combination of the two energy sources; some spells draw on (or require) the use of personal energy more than others.
4) Spells that require emotion or feeling to work are likely the kind that require the use of personal energy, i.e. the unforgivable curses ("You have to mean them!") and the patronus charm, which requires one to think a happy thought - (doubtless that happy thought in a way becomes the patronus!)
5) Making a Horcrux and producing a Love-shield are complex spells that pull on individual energy more than any other form of magic, considering that both require a cost of exactly one soul.
6) Of the two spells mentioned in Premise 4, the main difference between them is that one allows another's soul to act as fuel for the casting of the spell - yielding protective benefits for the caster - and the other requires sacrifice of the self as cost, with all protective benefits going to another target person.
7) (My theory:) Creating a love shield and making a Horcrux are essentially the same thing on a technical level, both involving two souls and one of them sacrificed to fuel the spell.
This theory (Premise 7) falls heavily on my understanding of how the Horcrux is made, and can possibly be contested, given the fact Jo has not yet come out with the gory details about how that works. My belief is that, in making a Horcrux, the entire magical action of sealing a part of the soul inside an inanimate object requires the sacrifice (or life-energy) of a human being. We know committing murder splits the soul and therefore let's the horcrux-making be possible - but what if the destroyed soul also acts as a sort of energy cost - a kind of fuel that lets the spell work in the first place? By harnessing the spent energy Voldemort can successfully seal his piece of soul in the object.
Similarly in the case of Lily's sacrifice, what if her death fueled the love protection that would last throughout the rest of Harry's life? As this love protection resides in Harry's blood it gives a very physical dimension to the magic, as if Lily is in some small part alive within Harry. This, at least, is a very specific idea that is carried throughout the series, usually in connection to Harry's eyes which are like Lily's.
In a way, perhaps Lily Potter is physically a part of Harry just as much as Voldemort is. Perhaps a bit of her life energy in death was literally placed inside of him the night Lord Voldemort attacked - placed in his blood - a Horcrux of Love.
There is one issue with the theory, however, which potentially invalidates it completely. At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry goes to the Forbidden Forest with the intent of dying for everyone in the castle, giving them all the very same protection his mother gave him when he was a child. Check. But Harry doesn't actually die...so where did the energy come from to fuel the spell and protect everyone, if the cost wasn't Harry's soul?
There are several answers I can think of, including several which leave me theory intact! One such answer is that Harry really did die when Voldemort used the killing curse on him - providing the energy for the spell - and then literally came back to life, because he had been previously protected by Lily - and his blood was in Voldemort anchoring him to life... Yada yada. Another potential answer is that Harry got lucky, because he was protected, and the Universe covered the energy that would have been supplied from his sacrifice allowing Harry to give the magical world something like an "I-owe-you"...
Or there's the third answer, that there is simply no problem here - that Premises 2-7 are actually wrong and personal energy does not come into play when you create a Horcrux or a Love-shield, at all... and that it's rather all in the "act" of either sacrificing yourself or killing someone.
Ooh but if that were true than I would have just wasted loads of your time...
Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy? You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain — to enjoy it — righteous anger won't hurt me for long — I'll show you how it is done, shall I? I'll give you a lesson —
Bellatrix Lestrange Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36, Page 810
J.K. Rowling said that if she were to be a teacher at Hogwarts, she would teach Charms. If she had a job in the wizarding world, she would write spell books.