Flowers, Green Eyes, and Snakes = Rebirth?
I recently decided to look up all the questionable symbols in the Harry Potter series and began to notice a very strong trend: Rebirth. Of all the unanswered questions, three in particular were really starting to get to me. It all started when I was on an HP site the other day. A trivia quiz asked me what song Uncle Vernon hummed while boarding up the doors in the first book. The answer, of course, was “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips.” Well, I decided to look up all the words to this particular song. They are as follows:
Tiptoe through the window
By the window, that is where I’ll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with meOh tiptoe from the garden
By the garden of the willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me
Knee deep in flowers we’ll stray
We’ll keep the showers away
And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight
Will you pardon me?
And tiptoe through the tulips with me?
I am sure you recall the opening scene in OotP where Harry is laying in the garden by the window listening for news. That reference is obvious. Then there is the mention of the willow tree, “if I kiss you” (dementor’s kiss?), and “in the moonlight” for good ol’ Professor Lupin. I personally find it hard to believe these all to be coincidences. This was most definitely one of Rowling’s first clues to later happenings in the books. “But,” you may ask, “why show us this now? It tells us nothing new!” Au contraire. Notice what the song is about.
Flowers are no doubt a huge running theme in the HP series (Petunia, Fleur, Pansy, Narcissus…). Flowers themselves are symbolic of the hope of rebirth as well as the human life span. Narcissus (Narcissa Malfoy) is the flower that Persephone was picking when captured by Hades, lord of the underworld (Lucius?). The flower itself has been known to be planted on graves symbolizing rebirth and the idea that death is only a sleep (remind you of anything? Dumbledore’s wise words perhaps?).
Another questionable running theme in the series is the color green, for Harry and his mother’s eyes, obviously. So I decided to look that up as well and what do you know, green symbolizes rebirth. Green is also symbolic of life and new beginnings.
And then there is the phoenix. Good ol’ Fawkes. The phoenix is famous for its association with rebirth. Eventually, the bird came to be linked with Christianity, which saw an analogy with the story of Christ’s resurrection three days after his Crucifiction. Most likely because of the legend of the Phoenix, fire is believed to be an emblem of rebirth as well.
Why did Voldemort not die when his curse back fired? Most likely because he had already taken measures to ensure his own immortality. And we all know now that some of his powers passed on to Harry. Could a resistance to death be one? Harry has survived quite a bit during his five-year attendence at Hogwarts, not to mention life with the Dursleys. Can it all just be dumb luck? Why did Dumbledore not kill Voldemort when he had the chance? Perhaps you can answer that question. But I found out a few more things that just may help.
I couldn’t just stop at the color green, flowers, and a bird. Snakes have been very relevant as well. And guess what I found! Do you recall the smoky snakes Dumbledore’s gadget conjured? They are very close to two other snake images in ancient folklore. The first is the Caduceus, which is an image of two spiralling snakes sometimes around a cane with wings atop it. This later came to be identified with the medical field (I guarantee you’ve seen it before). Oringinally it formed the idea of opposing forces unified. Reminds me of the warnings of a talking hat. Interesting, huh?
The second is the Ouroboros, which is a circular image of a snake swallowing its tail. This is thought to symbolize death and rebirth. In the Greek cult of Orphism, the blank space encircled by the snake stood for the egg of reincarnation. Snakes in general symbolize wisdom, protection, and, you guessed it, rebirth.
So say that rebirth is the topic (which it most certainly is), where does that leave us? Are we to wonder about the possibility of Harry’s death and hence rebirth? Bare with me. There is the question of being able to see into the future. Owls have been linked with powers to see into the future because of the their large reflective eyes. And magicians were once thought to be able to see into the future by looking into mirrors or reflective surfaces. Not only have mirrors been associated with seeing the future but with seeing one’s inner self. There is the saying, “The mirror never lies.” What about the mirror that Sirius gave Harry? In Japanese folklore, there was a god by the name of Izanagi who made his children kneel before a mirror to examine their thoughts and to rid themselves of self deceit and evil desires. Perhaps a mirror could see all desires, not just evil (Mirror of Erised). This belief in seeing the future in reflective objects is a common myth in most folklore. But one stands out. In ancient Parsee custom, a dog was brought to the bed of the dying so that they could see the afterlife in the reflection of the dog’s eyes. Dogs and death is another common theme. Dogs are said to be “faithful until death” and have been believed to be guides in life as well as death, as a companion in transition from life to death (Sirius anyone?). And wolves have been thought to lead souls to justice (Lupin?).
I will not include an opinion on how this all may relate together. Instead, I would much rather give you the facts and let you make your own decisions. Because in the end, we really don’t want to find out the ending to our beloved story, we need J.K. Rowling to do that for us. But in the mean time, it gives us something fun to do.