Just Wild About Harry
Potter books: Wicked witchcraft?
by Julie Foster
As kids around the world anxiously await the fall opening of Warner Bros.'
film "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," an occult expert has released a
documentary video, "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, Making Evil Look
Innocent," claiming the Harry Potter phenomenon is incompatibile with
With four books of the seven-book series published since 1999, Harry Potter's
popularity has skyrocketed. The young character is the creation of British
author J.K. Rowling, who is expected to finish the fifth installment of the
series next year. Now, with the first of several feature-film adaptations of the
children's story set to open on Nov. 16, Harry Potter fever has started heating
The books made headlines in the United States in 1999, after the first Harry
Potter installment was released stateside. Shortly thereafter, many parents and
religious groups expressed concern that the story should not be taken lightly as
mere children's fantasy literature. Critics disapprove of the books'
presentation of the occult as a positive, virtuous lifestyle.
To understand the controversy surrounding the books, it is necessary to
review their content. While not all of the characters and story lines may be
explored in this report, a few key elements should be discussed.
Set in England, the books chronicle the life of young Harry Potter, whose
wizard parents were killed by the evil Lord Voldemort. Because Harry escaped the
death curse of Voldemort, he was given a mark on his forehead – a lightening
bolt. On his 11th birthday, Harry receives an invitation to the Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each of the four published books represents a year
Voldemort is a non-physical "dark magic" being who inhabits the bodies of
various characters in the books. Perhaps most notably, Voldemort possesses
Quirrell, Hogwarts' "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher.
Voldemort taught Quirrell, "There is no good and evil; there is only power,
and those too weak to seek it."
The evil lord made Quirrell his slave and could be seen on the back of the
teacher's head, which Quirrell covered with a turban. Book one explains this
Where there should have been a back
to Quirrels head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had ever seen.
It was chalk white with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake.
"See what I have become?" the face said. "Mere shadow and vapor. I have
form only when I can share another's body but there have always been those
willing to let me into their hearts and minds. Unicorn blood has strengthened
me these past weeks. Once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create
a body of my own. "
Voldemort, according to Hogwarts' Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, "is looking
for another body to share. not being truly alive, he cannot be killed." When
Voldemort dispossessed Quirrell, the teacher died.
Rowling has said publicly that she intentionally created the graphic evil
characters and scenes in her wildly popular series.
"I made a very conscious decision right at the beginning that I was writing
about someone evil, and I wasn't going to tell a lie. I wasn't going to pretend
that an evil person is a paper cutout and no one really gets hurt. OK, if you're
writing about evil, I think generally you have a responsibility to show what
that means, and that's the way I'm writing them. I think they're quite, well
actually, I think they're very moral books," Rowlings told a television news
Many agree with the author's premise, but critics object to the use of
witchcraft and wizardry in fighting evil, not to mention the book's graphic
depictions of evil. Even the good wizards in Harry's world cause eyebrows to be
raised in many circles. One such example is found in Headmaster Dumbledore.
Dumbledore is the one wizard Voldemort fears. In book one, the headmaster
explains how his 666-year-old business partner Nicolas Flamel and Nicolas' wife,
Perenelle, will die. The couple discusses with Dumbledore their eminent suicide,
which will be a byproduct of their actions to stop Voldemort.
Explaining to an astonished Harry, the headmaster says, "To one as young as
you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is
like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized
mind, death is but the next great adventure."
There are varying degrees of opposition to the Harry Potter books, from those
who choose not to allow their own children to read the series to those who would
have the book banned. One woman, filmmaker and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana,
focuses her efforts on explaining what she believes are the dangers of the
series and how the books portray a lifestyle diametrically opposed to that of
Matrisciana, co-founder of Jeremiah Films with her husband, Patrick
Matrisciana, has spent 25 years researching the occult. A fifth-generation
descendant of a British colonial family, Matrisciana was born and raised in
Calcutta, India, where she was exposed to what she describes as the "black side"
of Hinduism. While in India, she saw first-hand Hindu religious practices
involving human blood and bones. She distinguishes the "black side" from the
"everyday religious practices" of Hinduism, which involve heavy reliance on
astrology for decision-making.
Upon moving to England, Matrisciana became involved in the occult – literally
meaning "hidden knowledge." But the filmmaker said her deep-seated fear of the
"black side" of mysticism, which she credits to her experiences in India, kept
her from performing more graphic rituals. Eventually, she became a Christian and
worked through the British media to raise awareness of the dangers of the
Matrisciana encourages Christians in her new hour-long documentary video to
take an honest look at the world children fantasize about when reading Rowling's
"Through Harry Potter books and audios, children as young as kindergarten age
are being introduced to human sacrifice, the sucking of blood from dead animals
and possession by spirit beings," the video states.
Matrisciana points to a quote from book one of the series, from which the
upcoming film was produced. In chapter five, Harry finds a dead unicorn in the
It was a unicorn all right, and it was dead. Harry had taken one step
toward it when a slithering sound made him freeze where he stood. A bush on the
edge of the clearing quivered. Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came
crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. The cloaked figure
reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and
began to drink its blood. The hooded figure raised its head and looked
right at Harry – unicorn blood was dribbling down its front.
Then a pain like he'd (Harry) never felt before pierced his head; it was as
though his scar were on fire.
While Matrisciana draws many symbolic parallels between Harry's world and
Christianity – Voldemort's "slithering" form to that of Satan in the biblical
account of creation, for example – the graphic nature of the scene is enough to
turn many parents off.
Indeed, "Voldermort's agenda of cruel revenge to those who oppose him, and
the ultimate physical death of Harry's friend, is carried out throughout the
rest of the Harry Potter series," said Matrisciana, who has read all four books
in the series.
Many parents, regardless of their faith, may not wish to have their children
read about evil non-physical beings who drink the blood of animals to gain
power. But the books are marketed to children ages 9-12. For Christians in
particular, the acclamation given Harry Potter's world is seen as unbiblical.
In the book of Deuteronomy, one of the Bible's books of "law" in Jewish and
Christian traditions, witchcraft and sorcery are specifically condemned.
Chapter 18, verses 10-14, read: "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices
his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets
omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist
or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the
Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out
those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The
nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.
But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so."
Noted Matrisciana, "Divination and sorcery are taught in an assortment of
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry classes, as is spell-casting. A
medium, demon-possessed teacher prophesies a message of death in a very
realistic trance state. Spirits appear as those who died and arrive at strategic
times to help Harry when he is in danger. His dead parents appear in the mirror
of Harry's desire and give words of encouragement as they, too, help him in
times of danger."
The video documentary details numerous similarities between the spells and
magic used by Harry Potter and those used in the witchcraft of the Wiccan
religion. Such striking similarity, said Matrisciana, is evidence that the
author has meticulously researched Wicca and included its tenets in her
"My greatest concern is that godly fear that protects mankind from dabbling
in the spirit world is being taken away from children who read these Harry
Potter books. The terrors and horrors of black magic and occult practice,
rituals, ceremonies and demon possession are being normalized," she said.
"Alarmingly, the Potter books are engaging in pagan discipleship, disciplining
our children to spiritual alternatives and also turning them away from the
biblical principles and God's protection."
Some children who read the books, often more than once, may find themselves
attracted to the magical world Harry lives in, she said. In attempting to create
their own spells and charms, kids may turn to other books that teach witchcraft.
Just as Christians find themselves increasingly attracted to Scripture and
the things of God, dabblers in the occult become more deeply entrenched in the
dark arts, remarked Matrisciana, who lived through the experience herself.
But John Monk, an editorial writer for The State in Columbia, S.C., said the
claim that Harry Potter lures children into the occult is "poppycock."
"You might as well say 'Gone With The Wind' teaches young readers to be slave
owners, or 'Treasure Island' entices children to be pirates, or 'Peter Pan'
urges children to run away from home," Monk wrote in a an October 1999
editorial, when anti-Potter sentiments began heating up.
Contrary to opponents' claims, "The Potter books promote – through their
characters – friendship, love, bravery, self-reliance, the importance of family
and tolerance toward those different from us. They depict the quest for
knowledge, wisdom and right action – the universal journey every human takes.
The books condemn bullies, falsity, rudeness, greed and Nazi-like tendencies to
denigrate and hurt those who aren't like us," he continued.
Monk acknowledges Rowling's raw depiction of evil, and compares the
characters to those in the Bible.
Rowling's characters, he wrote, "struggle within themselves. But no
worthwhile book, the Bible included, has only plastic people. Life is played for
keeps. Good books reflect that."
All that aside, however, Monk said he understands why some people dislike the
"Many people just don't understand that writers use the supernatural as a
prop. That's different from luring kids to the occult. That said, however, we
certainly should respect parents' rights to choose what their own children read.
We shouldn't force children to read books they aren't ready for. But school
officials, librarians and teachers must stand firm against any attempt to ban
Potter books from [South Carolina] classrooms or schools. This is a state where
tens of thousands of children read below grade level. And Potter books are
turning kids on to reading."
But in some schools, Harry Potter is not merely available to kids in the
school library. The books' publisher, Scholastic, encourages teachers to read
the books aloud in class and provides discussion guides for teachers and
parents. On the publisher's website, children are invited to enter a "discussion
chamber" where they answer questions about the Harry Potter series and related
One such question asked kids, "Although students are prohibited to practice
their magic in the Muggle world (the everyday, nonmagical world), what one spell
would you most like to cast in the real world ... if you had the chance? Why?"
Erik, 11, answered, "I would cast a spell to have peace in the world."
Sam, 9, said, "I would like to turn some books into real places, characters,
And 9-year-old Nicola replied, "I would like to cast a spell so when someone
thought bad thoughts about you they would be sent to a corn field to work there
until they started thinking nice things. The charm would be: 'Hocus Pocus 123
put this person in the corn field for me!'"
Other questions encourage kids to think about their own lives through the
lens of Harry Potter's world. For example, one question reads, "Of all the
characters in the Harry Potter book series, which one is most like you, and
why?" Another asks kids, "You are to report on your home town for Muggle Studies
class. What would wizards find most interesting?"
Matrisciana thinks introduction of the Harry Potter books into the classroom
as a springboard for curriculum is unacceptable. Because the books are so
well-researched, the values and ceremonies portrayed closely resemble Wicca,
which is a legitimate, government-recognized religion. A key tenet of that
religion is that there is no absolute truth, said Matrisciana. With a captive
audience, public school teachers are able, consciously or not, to embrace Wiccan
teachings, conditioning children to believe there are no absolutes, she
"The only absolute is that Christianity is wrong," she added.
But even some Christians are endorsing Harry Potter. In a November 1999
broadcast of his radio series "Breakpoint," author Chuck Colson commended Harry
and his friends for their "courage, loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice for
one another – even at the risk of their lives." Colson dismissed the pagan
practices as "purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic. That is, Harry and his
friends cast spells, read crystal balls and turn themselves into animals – but
they don't make contact with a supernatural world. [It's not] the kind of
real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns."
And popular Christian publication World Magazine reviewed book one of the
series in May 1999, calling it "a delight – with a surprising bit of depth."
Author Roy Maynard assured World readers that "Rowling keeps it safe,
inoffensive and non-occult. This is the realm of Gandalf and the Wizard of Id,
not witchcraft. There is a fairy-tale order to it all in which, as Chesterton
and Tolkien pointed out, magic must have rules, and good does not – cannot – mix
But Matrisciana disagrees with her Christian colleagues, and finds it hard to
believe the books do not portray the occult. As an example, she points to book
four, the most recent of the series, which contains a gruesome narrative in the
chapter titled, "Flesh, Blood and Bone"
In the chapter, Harry is magically transported with his friend Cedric to a
dark, scary graveyard. There, Harry is tied to the headstone of Lord Voldemort's
father's tomb by Voldemort's slave, Wormtail – a shapeshifter who takes the form
of a rat. A slithering snake, synonymous with the presence of Voldemort, circles
around Harry. Following an order to kill from a voice of unknown origin, the
slave utters a death curse. In shock, Harry witnesses the murder of his friend
"While Rowling had warned there'd be a death in this book and said Harry's
world would be getting darker, this is not a death per se. It isn't even a
murder per se," said Matrisciana. "The diabolical truth is this is an
intentional human sacrifice, a symbolic human sacrifice and very necessary for
the ritual that is about to take place within the next page or so. In serious
magic, a human sacrifice is essential for the power to work."
After Cedric's murder, the largest cauldron Harry has ever seen, filled with
a magic brew, is heated over flames Wormtail has magically conjured up. At
another command, Wormtail lifts a bundle Harry thought looked like a baby and
lowers it into the heated sparkling juice in the cauldron. But the thing is not
a baby – it is a gruesome crouching creature that turns out to be the human
skeletal being of Voldemort.
"Ugly, slimy, blind, hairless and scaly-looking, dark, raw, reddish black,
thin, feeble, flat and snakelike face with gleaming red eyes," the book reads.
This hideous frail human body makes "a soft thud" as it hits the bottom of
the boiling cauldron. Then Wormtail, using his wand and words of power, commands
bone to ascend out of Lord Voldemort's father's grave and join his son in the
cauldron. Powdered bone magically travels into the cauldron. The ritual
continues as the self-sacrificing slave performs a morbid self-inflicted
mutilation with his silver dagger and chops off his right arm. Writhing in pain
over "the bleeding stump of his arm, gasping and sobbing," he throws his fresh
flesh into the brew. With his spare left arm, Wormtail draws blood from Harry in
a grotesque ceremony. When Harry's powerful blood touches the smoking liquid of
the cauldron, the concoction is complete, and Voldemort is reborn.
"This is a satanic ritual, repulsively diabolical, because in Satan's twisted
method, it is meant to duplicate, with blasphemous sarcasm, God's requirements
for creation and resurrected, born-again life," said Matrisciana. "In
perfection, these only come through the power of God's word and work of his Holy
Spirit. 'Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh' was Adam's acknowledgment to God
for Eve's physical new creation. Jesus' self-sacrificing flesh and blood were
sacrificially given as a penalty for our sins, and through a personal acceptance
of that free gift, there is spiritual rebirth and newness of a resurrected life.
But in actuality, what is rising? A spirit creature that needs human flesh and
blood in order to survive? A type of cannibal and vampire? What is taking place
"It's hard to imagine Rowling can get darker than the following story but she
promises she will," the filmmaker continued. "Christians need to understand that
God finds witchcraft evil," she said, adding that the books cleverly mask the
true nature of their contents by repackaging evil in a fascinating, alluring
"Most people are probably reading this from the superficial level. But if you
start looking into the symbology of it, you see that it's a real religion," she
said. "If you start on the assumption that witchcraft is evil, then you can read
it with open eyes."
Known to Christians as the personification of evil and "Father of Lies,"
Satan's purpose is destruction and turning Christianity on its head, she added.
"Christians are so nave because they've been sheltered by Christian
America," she said. "This very Christian culture, while it's being protective,
it has also bred a sort of lukewarm Christian" that doesn't see evil as evil,
the filmmaker concluded.
Reprinted with permission from WorldNetDaily
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