Hary Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
By Berit Kjos
Spells, potions, dark arts, psychic writing, magical healing, trance possession, ghostly encounters with the dead.... All fit together in the new Harry Potter movie. And all enter into the viewer's virtual experience and mental bank of occult suggestions - whether they realize it or not.
Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is full of occult thrills and forbidden rituals, but few seem to mind. The poor, victimized hero is such a polite and sympathetic wizard that his fans naturally want him to win. His magical spells only make his triumphs more exciting. So viewers simply shut their minds to God's warnings, flow with the fast-action story, identify with the "good guys" and cheer the power they wield. Immersed in this occult fantasy world, they adapt their values to fit their new fellowship.
Surrounded by children and teens in the sold-out movie theater on November 16, I sensed that empathy. The audience laughed together when Harry's muggle (non-magical) uncle fell from the window. Horrified silence reigned when an army of big, flesh-eating spiders descended on Harry and his friend, Ron, seeding nightmarish images into the minds of the children. And when the staff and students at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry clapped for Harry at the movie's end, the enthusiastic audience joined in the applause.
I didn't. Troubled by the message and suggestions behind the enticing story, I pondered a dialogue near the end of the movie. It takes place in the mysterious Chamber of Secrets. Harry had discovered the entrance, slid down a massive pipe, and found Ginny, Ron's lifeless little sister, in the cavernous depths. Now he faces Tom Riddle, a youthful representation of the dreaded wizard Lord Voldemort who, like Darth Vader of Star Wars, had chosen the evil side of the force. But Harry's first concern is Ginny. He calls out to her,
"Please don't be dead. Wake up, wake up!"
"She won't wake," says the handsome Tom Riddle.
"What do you mean, she won't wake? She's not...."
"She's still alive, but only just."
"Are you a ghost?"
"A memory preserved in the diary for 50 years."
"She's cold as ice. You've got to help me, Tom.... Give me my wand...."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Harry. You see as poor Ginny grows weaker, I grow stronger...."
Harry is puzzled, so Tom Riddle spells out his true identity with the wand and the words appear on the wall: "I am Lord Voldemort."
"I fashioned myself a new name," he explains, "a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
"Albus Dumbledore is the greatest sorcerer in the world!" argues Harry. His declaration of loyalty to the beloved headmaster summons an unexpected helper. A fire erupts on a nearby pillar and out of its flames rises Dumbledore's crimson phoenix. It flies to Harry and lands on his shoulders.
The book behind the movie gives a clearer description of this scene. Consider this dialogue between Harry and Voldemort, alias Tom Riddle:
"Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted.... I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her...."
"What d'you mean?" said Harry, whose mouth had gone very dry.
"Haven't you guessed yet, Harry Potter? said Riddle softly. 'Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber of Secrets. She strangled the school roosters and daubed threatening messages on the walls. She set the Serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods...
When Harry wonders "why", Riddle answers, "Because I told her to..." He continues,
"Of course she didn't know what she was doing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries.... Dear Tom, he recited.... I think I'm losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don't know how they got there. Dear Tom, I can't remember what I did on the night of Halloween.... There was another attack today and I don't know where I was.... I think I'm going mad.... I think I'm the one attacking everyone, Tom!"
Ginny was right. Controlled by Voldemort's curse and filled with a part of his soul, she did what she was told. Riddle admits that she was in a trance -- an altered state of consciousness -- and wasn't consciously aware of her violent actions.
Keep in mind, this phenomenon is not just a fantasy that one can indulge in without consequences. In today's real world, those who dabble in virtual occult experiences risk spiritual bondage to forces they can neither see, control, nor escape.
The diary is important, for its blank pages carried the mystical communication between Tom and his victim. Just as symbols have traditionally been used by sorcerers and shamans to transmit magical forces, so this diary became a vehicle for the dark forces that were now draining her life.
In a dramatic scene, Voldemort summons the massive slithering basilisk and tells it to kill Harry. Well aware that a glance into the evil eyes of this serpentine beast would kill him, Harry fights and kills the basilisk -- but not until one of its poisonous fangs had pierced his arm.
The legendary healing power of the phoenix saves the young wizard, but by now nearly all of Ginny's life has been drained from her body. Desperate to save her, Harry grabs the bloodied fang and plunges it "into the heart" of the mystical diary. Riddle screams, then quickly disintegrates and disappears. Ginny awakens, her life force restored.
Perhaps you noticed a similarity between voodoo and the magic that saved Ginny and destroyed Voldemort. Rooted in the polytheism of West Africa and Haiti , voodoo (vodun) includes curses and spells that require effigies or fetishes -- dolls, carved wood, animal parts or other physical objects that would embody the spirit of a targeted person. By stabbing the effigy, a sorcerer could injure, sicken or kill the targeted person. And the demonic spirits would usually comply -- as long as their servant stayed loyal to those forces.
The Wiccan leader Starhawk, founder of the Covenant of the Goddess, affirms the use of symbols, charms and other objects as transmitters of spiritual forces. "To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol," she wrote in The Spiral Dance, her popular manual for witchcraft.
Does this sound like a movie for children? Or for teens whose schools and computers offer countless tempting doors into the deadly world of the occult?
The Harry Potter books and movies are merely the beginning -- the first enticing steps into the world of dark arts and deceptive lures. Their message is affirmed by captivating games, popular posters, action figures, videos and audio recordings, which intensify the cultural pressure on everyone to accept and adapt to this occult phenomenon. Since the cruel nature of this occult world has already lost its shock value, these dangerous forces now seem almost "normal" to many of our youth. They don't realize that demonic possession, evil curses and spiritual torment once characterized most of the world's pagan civilizations. As happened many times in past centuries, they could quickly change today's cultural landscape. [See Charts: Total transformation]
But our caring God, who wants us to find safety in Him, tells us, "Do not be conformed to the world..." Instead, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." That means filling our minds with the saving truths that set captives free and bring peace and triumph now and forever. [Romans 12:2]
Those truths include all the Scriptures that show us His heart and will. Politically correct or not, His eternal Word can't be adapted to fit our pluralistic culture. When He tells to “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9) we need to guard against the popular practices that increase our love for evil.
And if we wonder what God calls evil, we need only look at Deuteronomy 18:9-12 for an answer: "There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord..."
That doesn't mean imposing God's standard on others. In America ,
each person is free to choose the wide or the narrow way. And those
who choose His way know well that, only by His grace and His Spirit
within us, can we share His love and live the life He has shown us.
For a practical list of suggestions and Scriptures that highlight the dangers of deception, the power of God's Word, and the victory we have in Christ, see Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies.
1.In the end of the movie, Professor Dumbledore says to Harry, "You must have remained faithful to me while you were down there...that is what brought the Phoenix to you."
3. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1999), page 310-311.
4. See A Twist of Faith - Chapter 3 and Chapter 6 and Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft.
5. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 62.
6. Gaming News
© 2002 Berit Kjos - All Rights Reserved
Kjos first became aware of New Age and occult influences in our society at a 1974 conference on holistic health. As a registered nurse, she was interested in methods of healing, but soon discovered that the occult powers found in New Age methods brought bondage instead of true healing. As a parent, Kjos became aware of similar New Age influences in education. She began to monitor the schools for classroom programs that taught occultism and New Age spirituality, then began to share what she learned with other parents and teachers. She also explains what programs such as Goals 2000 are all about, and why all students-even homeschoolers-eventually will be required to demonstrate competence in the new social and thinking skills before they can move on to higher education or jobs.
Kjos has given workshops and seminars at conferences such as the Association for Christian Schools International and CHEA. She has spoken at conferences for such groups as The Steeling of the Mind, The Constitutional Coalition, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Concerned Women for America.
A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed several times on The 700 Club, Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on "Talk Back Live" (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Kjos Ministries Web Site: http://www.crossroad.to/index.html
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]