Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Dangers of Harry Potter: The Occult Controversy

A photomontage of Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Pope Benedict XVI, and Harry Potter
Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Pope Benedict XVI, and Harry Potter

Although much of the spotlight and hype has been far removed from the Harry Potter book and movie series, a recent occurrence during my visit to a local Catholic parish had prompted me to revisit the occult controversy surrounding it, and subsequently publish today's post on the dangers of Harry Potter.

In addition, J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter has sought opportunities to parlay the book and movie series into new projects. You might already be familiar with some of them, the various Harry Potter theme parks throughout the world, the video games and more.

Rowling's most recently effort has been her screenwriting debut in a Harry Potter spinoff for a new film entitled, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The film's movie title was inspired by a textbook of the same name, given to pupils at the Hogwarts School, a school for learning witchcraft in Harry Potter.

Let me first explain what happened at a parish, here in my local community of Woodbridge, Ontario. It was during a recent visit to St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church that I was in conversation with two women in the parish office. We had briefly talked about the topic of children's readings and Harry Potter, and I had mentioned how some parents were pleased with the Harry Potter series because they found their children were reading books, as opposed to playing video games and other things. Before I had the opportunity to expand on this, one of women replied, "Oh, all my children were raised with Harry Potter, they have read all the books, seen all the movies." Her enthusiastic tone and disposition indicated to me, that she was not aware of the occult controversy surrounding Harry Potter. I did not reply to her comment, but kept quiet pondering what if anything, I should say or do about it.

In thinking and praying about it, it became clear to me that the best thing I could do was to share this experience on my blog. By doing so, not only can I fully reply to her comment, but help others who have confronted similar scenarios. At the very minimum, today's post seeks to spread awareness on the truth about Harry Potter.

The fundamental danger of Harry Potter is that it propagates and glorifies the occult. This is due to the fact that contained within the story lines are high levels of occult material. Add to this the target audience, primarily children and teenagers, and the danger becomes even more alarming.

The truth is that the Harry Potter stories, both print and film versions, seduce and corrupt souls that have just begun to develop. Children and teenagers due to their age and inexperience, lack the knowledge and understanding to determine what is evil and what is good. As such, when the youth read the books and see the movies, they do not reject them for their occult content, but on the contrary, they find the story lines exciting and entertaining. The added danger to this is that children and teenagers become desensitized to the occult, and indifferent to suggestions that such things are evil and wrong.

Whether you are new to Harry Potter controversy or you have little knowledge of the occult, I hope the following resources will clarify and strengthen your understanding of the dangers of Harry Potter. For your immediate reference, I have prepared a list of what the remainder of my post includes:
  1. Warnings from Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome's former Chief Exorcist and co-founder of the International Association of Exorcists
  2. Warnings from Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Australia 
  3. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Opposition to Harry Potter
  4. Quote from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians 
  5. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  6. J.K. Rowling's admission of Harry Potter's occult content
  7. Father Lazare de la Mere de Dieu's insights
  8. Michael D. O'Brien's extensive writings on the dangers of Harry Potter
  9.'s dedicated location, Harry Potter - A Whirlwind of Controversy
Warnings From Father Gabriele Amorth

Father Gabriele Amorth's first major public warning came in early December 2001, and was reported in LifeSiteNews article, Rome's Chief Exorcist Warns Parents Against Harry Potter. The article states, "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil...that J.K. Rowling’s books contain innumerable positive references to magic, the satanic art. He noted that the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil."

In 2006, Father Gabriele repeated his warnings on Harry Potter. LifeSiteNews once again reported the major warning in the article, Vatican's Chief Exorcist Repeats Condemnation of Harry Potter Novels. In the article, Father Gabriele is quoted as saying, "You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil. There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books. By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil." The warnings are clear, magic should always be avoided as it is evil and can lead to greater evils.

Warnings From Bishop Julian Porteous

In 2010, Father Jeremy Davies, co-founder of the International Association of Exorcists, led a discreet forum on the ancient rite of exorcism in Sydney, Australia at the Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney. At the forum was Bishop Julian Porteous, Exorcist and Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney. The forum was in response to the increased need for exorcists in Australia.

The need for increased amount of exorcisms has been a result of, as Bishop Porteous points out, an increased involvement with a variety of New Age and occult practices.  In an article from The Australian, Deliver Us From Evil, Bishop Porteous states:
What starts off seeming innocuous and not creating any difficulties at some stage turns dark. They start to experience quite frightening personal phenomena and it is at this stage that they turn for help. Bishop Porteous sees a link between the growing demand for exorcisms and the spiritual adventurism of young Australians. He says the growth of non-Christian alternative relaxation techniques such as yoga and reiki, as well as forms of divination such as tarot cards, fortune-telling and seances, pose temptations that could invite demonic trouble. He also points his finger at popular culture, saying the Harry Potter books and films, and the vampire-themed Twilight series, have revived curiosity with the supernatural. “While Twilight and Harry Potter are not in themselves demonic, they can lead to a fascination in this world and young people can be drawn and become more attracted to these things.
Clearly, the message from Bishop Porteous is to completely stay away from these deceptive instruments of evil. Why any one would willing even consider doing the opposite would have to be, in some cases, simply a matter of being uninformed and unaware of the dangers.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Opposition to Harry Potter

In 2003, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, entered into the debate and provided clarity on the Roman Catholic Church's position on Harry Potter, with his support for German writer, Gabriele Kuby.

Gabriele Kuby had raised objections about Harry Potter. The thrust of her objections was that Harry Potter corrupts the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil; thus, harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy.

Kuby was interviewed by Zenit, during which she quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's support for her efforts, "It is good that you shed light and inform us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable and precisely because of that deeply affect (children) and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it (the Faith) could properly grow.” This quote and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's opposition to Harry Potter can be read at LifeSIteNews article, Pope Benedict Opposes Harry Potter Novels.

Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians

In Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians, he states, "Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21) The key word is this passage is "sorcery," as it is rampant throughout the Harry Potter story line, with the casting of spells, creation of potions etc.

Catechism of The Catholic Church

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Three: Life in Christ, under Section Two The Ten Commandments: III "You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me," no. 2117 states: 
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.
At the same location, in Section IV "You Shall Not Make For Yourself a  Graven Image" . . ."no. 2138 states, "Superstition is a departure from the worship that we give to the true God. It is manifested in idolatry, as well as in various forms of divination and magic."

The above references are unambiguous, and clearly expose how far the Harry Potter story lines take the reader from the true worship that should be only given to God. No matter how well J.K Rowling packages a departure of worship from God, and simultaneously makes the worship of demons seem exciting in the adventurous tales of a young boy's life, the truth is, that under no circumstances should God be replaced with the worship of demons. For an adult reader, it does not take much to understand this. For children and teenagers, one can only wonder if there is any understanding of this truth. 

J.K. Rowling's Admission of Harry Potter's Occult Content

Back in 1999 in an interview on American radio, the Diane Rehm Show, J.K. Rowling the author of Harry Potter, had admitted and revealed that not only had she studied witchcraft and mythology in order to write the books more accurately, but one third of the Harry Potter content is actual occultism. One individual, Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D. wrote an article entitled, The Problem With Harry Potter, in which he details the occult elements in the story line. To illustrate how extensive the occult content is, below is a listing of just some of the occult elements:
  • Charms and Casting Spells: Accio (the summoning charm), Alohomora (a spell to unlock doors), Adava Kedavra (the killing curse), Mobiliarbus (magic spell to move objects) and several more.
  • Divination (Fortune Telling): arithmancy (divination through numbers), rememberballs (marble sized balls used by the holder to tell if anything has been forgotten), parseltongue (snake language) and the mirror of erised (divination mirror).
  • Sorcery: thujone (dangerous drug), mandrake (narcotic with magical powers), monkshood (deadly poison), wormwood (used for sleeping potion), elixer of life (potion to make a witch/wizard live forever), unicorn & blood drinking, Nicholas Flamel (an actual occult figure from France) and more.

Father Lazare de la Mere de Dieu, FJ Insights

Although Fr. Lazare's critique of Harry Potter was directed at the first book, his insights puts the entire book and movie series into perspective. In LifeSiteNews article, Harrycane: a sign of the times under the subheading, "Is Harry a Christian?" one of the key points that Fr. Lazare makes is with respect to the omission of God in Harry Potter. Catholic teaching tells us that we should never return evil for evil, but good for evil. Harry Potter and his friends throughout the story line return evil for evil. The fact that Harry Potter breaks rules and lies is no example of how children should behave. The underlying theme of Harry Potter is "the end justifies the means." This is not the message we want our children to learn.

Christians need to have their children raised with Christian values, which begins with an understanding in the existence of God, a fact never mentioned by Rowling. As Lazare states in his conclusion, "...For Christians, Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth and the life," and no matter what life situations they find themselves in or how difficult the journey, how they cope with it all will be determined by the presence of Jesus in their lives, and His faithful mercy."

The Writings of Michael D. O'Brien

Michael D. O'Brien is a Canadian author and artist, who seeks to contribute to the restoration of Christian culture in Canada. O'Brien has written extensively on the Harry Potter controversy beginning with his article, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Children's Culture. The article contains a wealth of information exposing the truth about Harry Potter's occult content as O'Brien states, "...[T]he series presents the world of witchcraft and sorcery in a positive light." He goes on to further expose the first four books. Here's a short list of just some of the occult content he has commented on:
  • the reader is introduced into the world of sorcery
  • the main character, Harry, enters Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry, where student witches/wizards are taught to cast hexes and spells, and there are different classes for divination, potions, spells, herbology and other occult knowledge
  • there is a false notion throughout that "the end justifies the means"
  • there is no reference to a system or moral absolutes against which actions can be measured
  • he quotes and refers to Fr. Gabriele Amorth, who has stated that sorcery is the growing cause of diabolic possession, and other forms of bondage to evil
O'Brien has also written a book, A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle For Your Children's Mind. O'Brien's analysis of the degeneration of books, films and videos for the youth is described as "incisive and detailed." O"Brien's most recent book is, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, which includes: an analysis of each Harry Potter book; parental strategies for a healthy family culture; information on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's opposition to Harry Potter; insights into the war of disinformation and opinion; other occult material such as Twilight of The West, and the Golden Compass. O'Brien presents a list of questions, and seeks to answer those questions, addressing the concern as to why the dangers of the Harry Potter have not been taken seriously:
  • Have people developed a misinformed opinion based on first impressions?
  • Is it due to a lack of knowledge of the occult and demonic activity?
  • Is there a presumption on the part of some, that children's books are automatically innocent in their content?
  • Is there incomplete knowledge of the Catholic faith, and as such, a lack of ability to identify sinful material?
Further in Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, O'Brien expands on the use of symbolism and how J.K. Rowling has negatively influenced readers. O'Brien explains, "...Then there is the moral 'values' narrative, which lies beneath the surface, and is still visible but not so easily discerned---the constant dramatization of the end justifying the means. Beneath this layer is the narrative of symbolism, astonishingly rich in details, and equally impressive in the way it references the world of occult ideas and rituals in its many manifestations." (35) Some other important points that O'Brien notes:
  • With hundreds of millions of readers of these occult books, the Harry Potter series is playing a significant role in a massive shift of consciousness, a lowering of our spiritual guard.
  • No where in the series is there any reference to a system of moral absolutes against which actions can be measured.
  • The argument that any type of reading is good, so long as children are reading is a flawed argument because it does not address the issue of the suitability of the reading material. Children should only be exposed to proper literary sources ensuring that the reading is moral and proper for their well being. 

In chapter eightWhere Is It All Going? O'Brien provides some key reflections and insights that are worth noting:
  • O'Brien identifies the problem of a reduced of Christian life amongst the population. Due to the fact that so many Christians have not been living a Christian life, they have failed to become a contradiction to what Blessed Pope John Paul II referred to as the "Culture of Death," and what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI referred to as, "the dictatorship of moral relativism." What has developed is a secular culture. For many who have any amount of faith, it is a faith that is compartmentalized. The consequences of this is that with each succeeding generation, God fades from the consciousness of our minds as the power of the mammon driven culture increases.
  • O'Brien highlights the effects of such a reduced Christian culture by pointing to the fact that three generations ago, Harry Potter and other occult content would have never been acceptable or tolerated. For so many Christians who have either abandoned their faith or are ignorant of it, they have failed to discern the immoral content in the media, be it television, the internet, films and books.
  • O'Brien also notes that there may be the incorrect presumption that occult material in the mainstream culture will end with Harry Potter. Based on the pattern that has developed in the last fifty years, it is very easy to put forth a compelling argument that there will be a host of new occult content to dazzle and deceive future generations.
Do we want children to be exposed to the pursuit of power, and esoteric knowledge as presented in the occult world of Harry Potter? No, we do not! As O'Brien states, "...In reality, magic is an attempt to bypass the limitations of human nature and the authority of God, in order to obtain power over material creation and the will of others through manipulation of the supernatural. Magic is about taking control. It is a fundamental rejection of the divine order in creation..." If you are a parent, and your children have been exposed to the Harry Potter book and film series, make no mistake, no matter how enjoyable your children how found them to be, the many dangers of Harry Potter are very real. 

One such danger is the very real possibility of exposure to Harry Potter may lead to the desensitization of occultism. For some children, who as they get older, it may lead to other aspects of the occult. As O'Brien states in his article, Harry Potter and The Paganization of Children's Culture, "...If magic is presented as a good, or morally neutral, is there not an increased likelihood that when a young person encounters opportunities to explore the world of real magic he or she will be less able to resist its attractions?" At the end of his book, Harry Potter and The Paganization of Culture, O'Brien has included his, Spiritual Strategies in The Pagan Tsunami. It is the answer to the problem of occult literature and how to protect the family from such evil. The article is available for reading at O'Brien's web site by clicking the above link. - Harry Potter Whirlwind of Controversy

For a comprehensive listing of articles and other sources on the Harry Potter controversy, please visit LifeSiteNew's dedicate Harry Potter page, Harry Potter Whirlwind of Controversy.

To conclude, thank you for your patience in reading this exceptionally long post. Knowing how hard pressed some may be to find the time and energy to research the occult controversy surrounding Harry Potter, I intentionally included all the above resources in an effort to make this post a "one stop location" for parents in particular and all concerned individuals.

May God send you the grace to be strengthened and empowered by the information from this post.  

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