Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Oppositional Role of Dumbledore to Hagrid in Harry's Development

Potter fans rejoice! The release date for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie was announced this week. We only have 1 yr, 10 months, 4 days, and (as of this posting) 14 hours to wait. And with waiting, to examine and over analyze every detail Jo releases.

So it's time for me to stop slouching around this blog and get back into the game. Hopefully Pottermore will give us some clues to go on. After all, FBWFT will be set in the same universe, if not the same time period as Potterdom, and Newt was Luna's great grandfather-in-law. ;-) Plus, Jo has finally gotten on board with Twitter and has been releasing clues there.

But, in trolling through Pottermore for the few juicy nuggets Jo gives us regarding the mythical subtext of her series, I was thrilled to come across this bit:
Colours also played their part in the naming of Hagrid and Dumbledore, whose first names are Rubeus (red) and Albus (white) respectively. The choice was a nod to alchemy, which is so important in the first Harry Potter book, where ‘the red’ and ‘the white’ are essential mystical components of the process. The symbolism of the colours in this context has mystic meaning, representing different stages of the alchemic process (which many people associate with a spiritual transformation). Where my two characters were concerned, I named them for the alchemical colours to convey their opposing but complementary natures: red meaning passion (or emotion); white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm, physical man, lord of the forest; Dumbledore the spiritual theoretician, brilliant, idealized and somewhat detached. Each is a necessary counterpoint to the other as Harry seeks father figures in his new world.

I was thrilled! Thrilled I tell you to read this...and have been meaning to write about it for quite a while. While many Harry Potter analysts have long understood the link between the colors of Sirius Black, Albus (white), and Rubeus (red) to their respective alchemical stages, I'd also pointed out the oppositional nature between Hagrid and Dumbledore back in an essay I wrote for The Plot Thickens in 2004 then later expanded for a paper given at Accio 2005, University of Reading, UK.

Using Geomancy to Divine Jo's World:
In "Geomancy and Alchemy in Harry Potter," I used Jo's Gryffindor passwords of Caput Draconis and Fortuna Major to analyze how Jo was weaving secrets from geomancy into her story...particularly the opposing nature of Rubeus Hagrid to Albus Dumbledore.

Geomancy was a form of divination particularly popular during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It was composed of 16 opposing characters divided into eight pairs of opposites which were used to determine the fate of the question asked. Albus and Rubeus were one set of these opposing characters, defined like this:

Albus and Rubeus form one set of opposing figures. Albus (White) represents peace, wisdom, and purity, while Rubeus (Red) indicates passion, power, and violence.

Albus (White)
Rubeus (Red)
Mercury/ Earth
Mars/ Fire
Gemini/ Air
Scorpio/ Water
Peace-loving, honest, pure, and charitable.
"Hot, passionate, and fond of strong language.  Tends to stir up trouble." (Greer 44)
"Illumination, wisdom…Spiritual growth and harmony. Patience, thoughtfulness and the ability to balance all areas of life." (SerenaPowers.com)

Related to intellect and mysticism.
"Rubeus is a figure of passion and involvement in life, balancing the abstract detachment of Albus” (Greer 44).

Rugged and emotional.
Good with agriculture and animals.

Note: This chart bases the planet, element, and sign attributions according to Henry Cornelius Agrippa--who as coincidence would have it, Ron mentioned three times (SS 102) on the Hogwarts Express in his desire to collect Agrippa's Chocolate Frog card. Agrippa, an alchemist of the sixteenth century, was both feared and revered in his day as a sorcerer. He was most famous for his book Occult Philosophy, in which "Of Geomancy" was a part.

Albus is considered a positive figure, while Rubeus is negative--meaning if Albus appears in your geomantic chart in regard to a question, the outcome you seek is usually favorable, whereas if Rubeus appears, except in certain situations (love, war, and agriculture), your answer is unfavorable.
Now, keep in mind that I was writing this back in 2004, when Order of the Phoenix had just been released, when you read my own divination for how this opposing nature could play out:

My Analysis (from 2004) and What This Means for Harry

In my opinion, while I do suspect Hagrid has a darker and more powerfully magical side than he is given credit for, and while I think it entirely possible Dumbledore is not quite the god-like all-knowing wizard when it comes to deciphering others' characters (I think he tends to see their potential rather than the reality), in the end it is my belief that these two characters are as upfront as they appear to be.

What I believe Ms. Rowling has done with the geomantic opposites of Albus and Rubeus is to show two sides of the same coin. Even though Dumbledore and Hagrid are diametrically opposed, they’re on the same team. They will fight side by side. Yet, their personalities are complementary.

This dichotomy suits their relationship with Harry just perfectly. Each offers a fatherly example to Harry in his own way. Harry can garner their different strengths and go to each for his own brand of support and understanding. As always, diversity contributes to growth. In this case, to Harry's growth.

What do I think will happen in the last book of the septology based on this geomantic interpretation? I believe that before the end of the series, Dumbledore and Hagrid will possibly come into direct conflict. More than likely, the subject will be Harry and his best interests (much like was covered in OotP by the bickering between Mrs. Weasley and Sirius). I think it entirely possible Hagrid will figure into a death threat against Dumbledore--hopefully by saving Dumbledore's life.

Finally, just a side note of interest--the zodiac sign associated with geomantic Albus is Gemini. Gemini is, of course, the twin. Could Albus and Aberforth be twins? And if so, how would that relate to the septology? Will Aberforth play a more prominent role in the last book with the removal of his brother? And if so, what type of role?

As we know now, Aberforth, while not a twin, definitely played a strong role in Deathly Hallows. And while Hagrid was not on top of the Astronomy tower when Dumbledore was killed, he did battle the Death Eaters as they fled and set fire to his hut.

In JK Rowling's deft hands, character names are more than just a reflection of the personality of its owner. But JKR's talent was not just in giving her characters a whimsical, though accessible, name which made them seem fully a part of their magical world.  It was most importantly her ability to craft a name which carried hints of the mystery surrounding that character that intrigued her rabid audience.

As we start getting names for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and hints of the plot, we should also be able to dig below the surface and discover some of the mysteries Jo will be developing for this new series.

Let the games begin!

Note: The full "Geomancy and Alchemy Gems in Harry Potter" is way too long to reproduce on a blog. But if you're interested, it's been on the web here for quite some time.

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