by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
FORWARD: RJ had been after me to give the readers a little taste of the “Harry Potter and Freemasonry” presentation that I’ve been giving to lodges in the 7th Eastern District in Illinois. We were in a pinch for an article so I present part of my presentation below. I hope that it is well received. - DL
It may or may not come as a surprise to you that author JK Rowling has gone on record to say that the symbol of the deathly hallows from her Harry Potter series of books may have been subconsciously inspired by the Masonic Square and Compass. In the below link, you can hear her in her own words discuss this. (https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/jk-rowling-deathly-hallows-symbol-harry-potter-inspiration-mason-a8025626.html) Although Harry Potter is filled with a plethora of interesting symbolism, I see a lot of other symbols used in Harry Potter which have connections with Freemasonry. I will attempt cover one of these below.
First and foremost, the monomyth or hero’s journey is applied quite well to the journey that Harry Potter takes in each of his books, as well as the overall series. Our own progress through the degrees also follows the monomyth.
Step 1: The Ordinary World - This is where the hero exists before his adventure begins. The hero is oblivious to the adventure to come. In general, this part of the monomyth humanizes the hero so that we can identify better with them and empathize with them during their journey. This is Harry prior to getting his invitation to attend Hogwarts. Masonically, this would be a candidate prior to petitioning a lodge.
Step 2: The Call to Adventure – This is where the hero receives the invitation for his adventure For Harry, this occurs when Hagrid shows up at the Dursley’s doorstep with his invitation to Hogwarts in his hand. Masonically, this represents the candidate when he decides ultimately to petition a lodge, undergoes his investigation, and ultimately is accepted to receive his degrees in Freemasonry.
Step 3: Cross the First Threshold – When the hero enters the world which is foreign to him. This occurs when Hagrid brings Harry to Diagon alley and to Gringots, he introduces him to the wizarding world. Masonically, this occurs when the candidate knocks 3 times on the door of the preparation room and enters the lodge for his first degree.
Step 4: Trials, Friends, and Foes – Just as it suggests, the hero has trials, meets allies and his foes. In the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry meets Hermoine and Ron, they make it past Fluffy and enter the trap door in the forbidden corridor, together overcome the obstacles in their path, allowing Harry to confront Voldemort for the 1st time, who has partially possessed Prof. Quirrell. You continue to see Harry repeat this step in the subsequent novels where he overcomes obstacles with the aid of his allies. Masonically, this represents the candidate who is received by the Senior Deacon, who leads them around the lodge, where they are challenged by the Junior Warden, Senior Warden and Worshipful Master.
Step 5: Magical Mentor (or the Mentor with Supernatural Aid) – The hero meets an older and wise mentor, often with magical powers and/or possessing a magical object. In the Harry Potter novels, Dumbledore fills this archetype (giving Harry the Invisibility Cloak in the Sorcerer’s Stone), however Sirius Black (Gives Harry the Firebolt Broomstick) and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix, and Dobby (gives Harry the Gillyweed in the Goblet of Fire) also act as Mentors for Harry. Masonically, the Senior Deacon would fulfil this role, as the Senior Deacon who escorts the candidate around the lodge, and assists the Worshipful Master with the candidate at the altar where they take their obligation, receive the due guard, sign, pass and token of each degree.
Step 6: Dragon’s Lair – When the hero crosses a second threshold, he faces a significant physically and psychological risk. This would be represented by Harry’s journey to his second confrontation with Voldemort at the end of the Goblet of Fire, where upon touching the triwizard’s trophy at the same time as Cedric Diggory, it reveals itself to be a portkey, bringing them both to a graveyard where his blood is used to reconstitute Voldemort. Masonically, this would be when the candidate takes his steps toward the altar, to undertake his obligation.
Step 7: Moment of Despair – The hero is close to defeat, and he has to dig deep inside himself to be able to escape the moment. In the Goblet of Fire, Harry uses knowledge he has been taught (the disarming spell) to counter Voldemort’s killing curse. The wands are connected, and the spirits of Voldemort’s past victims emerge from his wand. Once the connection is broken, the spirits remain, protecting Harry and allowing him time to grab Cedric’s body and escape by grabbing the trophy. Masonically, this can be thought of when the candidate takes his obligation. He must honor the obligation every day for the rest of his life, or face the penalty of his obligation.
Step 8: Ultimate Treasure – The hero receives a prize for successfully escaping from his moment of despair. The reward can take on many forms, however it normally is secondary to the personal transformation the Hero undergoes. For Harry, the second confrontation with Voldemort transforms him, helping instruct Defense Against the Dark Arts to Dumbledore’s army in the Order of the Phoenix, as well as giving him courage to face the obstacles ahead of destroying the horcruxes and defeating Voldemort . Masonically speaking, the reward given to a candidate is the password, grip or token, due guard and sign, how to wear their apron and their working tools, as well as the explanatory lectures and charges for that degree, but also the transformation that takes place where the candidate becomes a brother.
Step 9: Homeward Bound – This represents a retracing of the hero’s steps in reverse order. This means that once again the hero must face challenges, resolve to defeat his enemy and return home. There might be a moment where the Hero is forced to choose between personal objectives, or to answering to a higher cause. For Harry, this covers the events of The Deathly Hallows, where Harry and his allies hunt Horcruxes, they are captured, escape, and ultimately Harry faces Voldemort for the last time. Masonically, this can be thought of as the beginning of the second section of the third degree, where the candidate represents Hiram Abiff, and the three ruffians attempt to pry the secrets of a Master Mason from him.
Step 10: Rebirth & The Champion’s Return – This is the climax of the hero’s journey, where he faces his final and most difficult encounter with death and returns back to the Ordinary World changed. For Harry, this occurs when he goes to the Forest encampment outside of Hogwarts and allows Voldemort to kill him. He wakes up in a dreamlike version of Kings Cross Station, where he meets Dumbledore and learns that he hasn’t died. He learns that the protective charm his mother Lily placed on Harry is kept alive inside of Voldemort, because Voldemort used Harry’s blood to reconstitute himself. Thus, Voldemort could not kill Harry, and Harry can now go back and finish him off. In Masonic terms, I think this is pretty self-explanatory to those that have gone through the 3rd degree. There is a deeply moving and profound thing that happens which transforms the candidate.
It’s probably appropriate that Harry’s journey begins in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone. It’s during this first book that Harry begins his adventures as a Wizard. In the book, the philosopher’s stone is an artificial stone created by an alchemist named Nicolas Flamel. The stone is used to create the Elixir of Life, which extends the drinker’s lifespan, as well as transmute any metal into Gold. The main villain of the series, Lord Voldemort, wants the stone so that he can regenerate his body as he only exists in a non-corporeal form. As a quick aside, Voldemort’s name roughly translated from French means “Theft (Flight) From Death”, which is an illusion to his obsession with conquering death. He’s robbed death of taking him at Godric’s Hollow by his creation of the horcruxes. He spends the first few books attempting to regain his corporeal form, only doing so in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In legend, the stone was an alchemical substance with the powers as ascribed above.
The perfect ashlar that all Freemasons aspire to transform themselves into is another representation of the Philosopher’s Stone. By following the lessons of Freemasonry, we transform ourselves from imperfect material to a perfected one, much like the Philosopher’s stone would transmute imperfect metal (like lead) into Gold. The elixir of life from the Philosopher’s stone that grants immortality parallels the idea that since we as Masons are humans in an imperfect state, we aspire to become a perfect one, so that we may obtain immortality in that lodge on high which was not built with Human Hands. Manly P. Hall states in The Secret Teachings Of All Ages (https://archive.org/stream/The_Secret_Teachings_Of_All_Ages_-_Manly_P_Hall/The_Secret_Teachings_Of_All_Ages_-_Manly_P_Hall_djvu.txt):
“Albert Mackey sees a correspondence between the Philosophers Stone and the Masonic Temple, for both represent the realization and accomplishment of the ideal. In philosophy the Stone of the Wise Man is "supreme and unalterable Reason. To find the Absolute in the Infinite, in the Indefinite, and in the Finite, this is the Magnum Opus, the Great Work of the Sages, which Hermes called the Work of the Sun. He who possesses the Philosophers Stone possesses Truth, the greatest of all treasures, and is therefore rich beyond the calculation of man; he is immortal because Reason takes no account of death and he is healed of Ignorance --the most loathsome of all diseases. The Hermetic Stone is Divine Power, which all men seek but which is found only by such as exchange for it that temporal power which must pass away. To the mystic, the Philosophers Stone is perfect love, which transmutes all that is base and 'raises' all that is dead.”
In order to create a perfect ashlar, we are instructed as an Entered Apprentice Mason to use the common gavel. In using the common gavel, you will begin to remove these rough edges and shape your character so as to "divest your heart and conscience of all the vices and superfluities (excesses) of life". In order to first do this, the Entered Apprentice must look deep into himself and examine his own soul. We see a parallel with Harry looking into the Mirror of Erised. Harry discovers the “Mirror of Erised,” a mystical mirror that shows us the “deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts.” The mirror shows Harry images of himself surrounded by a loving family, and he becomes entranced by the images he sees, wanting to return to the mirror again and again to stare into it. The school’s headmaster, Dumbledore, warns him, “The mirror will give us neither knowledge nor truth,” and that “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
Later Harry is able to retrieve the Philosopher’s stone from the mirror because as Dumbledore puts it:”Ah, now, I’m glad you asked me that. It was one of my more brilliant ideas, and between you and me, that’s saying something. You see, only one who wanted to find the Stone – find it, but not use it – would be able to get it, otherwise they’d just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life.”
A man can only become a Freemason if he is uninfluenced by Mercenary motives, as affirmed by his answer to the secretary during the 1st degree interrogatories. If he enters the lodge due to someone else’s desire or due to his own desire to use Freemasonry for personal gain, then he is not able to form himself into the perfect ashlar, ie: Posses the philosopher’s stone. The freemason that aspires to become the perfect ashlar does so only out of the pureness of his own heart and spirit, and without any thought of selfishness or material gain.
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at email@example.com
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