The Liberating Power of Harry’s Blood
by Donna G. Ramos (aka The Black Adder)
Ever since Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter fans have tried to explain why there was a fleeting gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes when the old wizard was told Voldemort had used Harrys blood in his process of re-birth (GoF 69). Fans now suspect there is something significant about Harry’s blood. The idea was re-confirmed in Half-Blood Prince when Dumbledore rebuffs Harry’s offer to give a blood offering in order to open the magical portal in the cave, saying, “But your blood is worth more than mine” (HBP 560).
Why? Why is Harry’s blood of greater worth? Much of the speculation has focused on what effect Harry’s blood might have physically or spiritually upon Voldemort himself, now that it flows through the Dark Lord’s veins. My theory, however, is not on what Harry’s blood might do to Voldemort, but rather, what power or ability might Harry now have, in sharing blood with the most powerful Dark wizard in history.
I came upon this idea a bit indirectly, and admittedly with a leap of logic or two. Sometime back before HBP, I was wondering how it might be possible for the magical Dark Mark tattoo to be removed, short of the death of the Dark wizard who put it there. The Dark Mark is the skull and snake design Voldemort gives to each newly initiated Death Eaters left forearm as a sign that the individual has accepted the Dark Lord as his or her master. It means a lifetime of service or death, according to Sirius Black (OotP 112).
At the end of GoF, Severus Snape implied to Cornelius Fudge that when Voldemort called them by means of the Dark Mark, Death Eaters were able to Apparate to Voldemort’s location, wherever that might have been, without knowing beforehand.
Every Death Eater had the sign burned into him by the Dark Lord. It was a means of distinguishing one another, and his means of summoning us to him. When he touched the Mark of any Death Eater, we were to Disapparate, and Apparate, instantly, at his side.” (GoF 710)
It is likely that the reverse is also possible. Some have speculated that it may have been through the magical connection of the Dark Mark that Voldemort was able to track down and kill his disloyal Death Eaters, Regulus Black and Igor Karkaroff.
If there is a way to remove the Dark Mark, it must not be easily achieved, or else Regulus, Karkaroff, and perhaps even Snape would have utilized it before now. Some fanfiction has speculated that cutting off the tattooed arm might be a method of last resort. It is curious that not even someone as desperate as Karkaroff has attempted it, though perhaps not even dismemberment could free one from such a Dark Magic brand.
But perhaps someone as perverse as Voldemort has created a tantalizing counter spell, one that is brilliantly unattainable. Given the importance of blood throughout the series, what if it is the blood of the Dark Lord — and only the Dark Lord, voluntarily given — which is the counter spell that could remove the Dark Mark? In the cave of HBP, Voldemort demanded a blood offering in order to open the magical portal into the inner chamber where the Horcrux was hidden. Dumbledore thought it a crude method, but its appearance here may be a foreshadowing of Voldemort’s usage of blood offering in other spells as well.
If this is the case, then it could be of great significance during the current war. If Voldemort’s blood, willingly given, is the counter spell to the Dark Mark, then Harrys blood, willingly given, could also remove the Dark Mark from the arms of Voldemort’s followers. The end of HBP left us with the suspicion that at least a few of the Death Eaters may have some interest in coming over to the right side: Draco, Narcissa, and Lucius Malfoy, whose family was the target of Voldemort’s wrath in HBP.
Imagine the power in the simple act of Harry offering some of his own blood in order to free these former enemies from Voldemort… Imagine the powerful allies such grateful newfound friends might make… And I suspect they may not be the only Death Eaters who have been disillusioned by their master, and regret the choice they made to join him. A few perhaps may have been coerced into it. Imagine if word got out that there was a way to be free of the Dark Mark so that other secretly disloyal Death Eaters sought out that liberty… Imagine if Voldemort were suddenly deprived of many of his servants…
Many fans believe that some sort of reconciliation must eventually take place between Harry and Snape. Most of the speculation has focused on the need for Snape to save Harry in a way that is unambiguous as to whose side he is really on. I agree that Snape will continue to protect Harry in one way or another and that Harry must come to some enlightenment about Snape. However, Snape is not the hero or savior figure in the series. Harry is. Harry is the child of prophecy, The Chosen One.
Many have questioned why Snape doesn’t just get over his schoolboy grudge against James Potter and his friends. I suspect that his hatred of the Marauders, while not the only factor, was a major reason Snape chose to turn to Voldemort and become a Death Eater. The tattoo on his arm is a constant reminder of what the humiliation and anger of his youth led him to do, the servitude he is now eternally under. He will remain emotionally stuck in the past so long as he wears the Dark Mark.
What I believe could be an act that could have sufficient power to end the two generation-long feud, would be for Harry to free Snape from Voldemort’s Dark Mark, symbolically as well as literally, undoing at least some of the consequences of the thoughtless behavior of his young father.
There is support for this theory in spiritual alchemy, which many have seen as one layer of symbolism in the HP series. One of the animal images used for part of the process of the last, or Rubedo, or Red, spiritual stage is that of a pelican piercing its breast with its bill in order to feed its young.
The reddening or formation of the Red Stone was pictured through the symbol of the Pelican…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” (source)
In the beliefs of Christianity, the Savior allowed his blood to be shed in order to cleanse the sins of mankind. In the Harry Potter series, what better way to represent a cleansing from sin, helping others to overcome past mistakes, than for Harry to give of his blood in order to remove the Dark Mark of repentant Death Eaters?
Of course, we don’t yet know from the text that Voldemort’s blood can remove the Dark Mark, and one might rightly ask why Dumbledore never told Harry about the ability his blood might have. The answer may be that on a plotting level, this information might be too great of a clue; it would too easily give away part of the ending of the story.
Nevertheless, Dumbledore has told Harry that his power, one the Dark Lord knows not, is his ability to love. The series has shown us that Harry indeed does have love for his friends. He cares about Hermione and Ron throughout their ups and downs. He sticks up for them, as well as for the less popular Neville and Luna. Harry strives to protect those he cares for, even going to the Department of Mysteries when he thinks Sirius is in danger. At the end of Book 6, he broke up with Ginny in the interest of protecting her. He sacrificed his own happiness out of his love for her.
In addition, he shows compassion even for rivals and strangers. In GoF, Harry shared information and worked with Cedric during the Triwizard Tournament. He sacrifices his own chance to win the second task by saving Fleur’s sister when he believes her life is in danger.
It is said that an even higher level of love than loving one’s friends is the ability to also love one’s enemies. Several times in the series, Harry has shown the beginnings of this ability: sympathy for Snape after seeing his youthful memories; for Draco crying in the bathroom and under duress on the Astronomy Tower; and even for the orphaned Tom Riddle. I suspect that Harry’s ability to empathize with his enemies will continue to be a theme developed in Book 7.
Lastly, one might argue that Harry simply killing Voldemort would also be a way to free the Death Eaters from the Dark Mark. Except that Harry’s killing of Voldemort would involve an element of self-interest, inasmuch as the prophecy tells him, “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” In addition, no one could then determine which Death Eaters were genuinely remorseful, or glad that Voldemort was gone, as occurred at the end of the first war.
The more powerful, defining act, I think, would be for Harry to offer his blood for those repentant Death Eaters who approached him before Voldemort’s fall, when Harry has nothing to be gained for himself by the act. Harry’s ability to make such a selfless and liberating choice could make all the difference in the outcome of the war.