By Corey Patterson
My wife has been re-reading the Harry Potter books — a tradition she’s stuck too for the greater part of her adult life. This die-hard Potternerd is not content to simply watch the Harry Potter weekends every October and December. To her, a true fan must embrace the medium from which the magic originally sprung.
After some light discussion over Deathly Hallow theories, my wife mentioned certain similarities between the fictional items’ purposes and the Trinity in Christian belief. Her comment launched us into a great conversation about which member of the Trinity each Hallow represented. I have listed our ideas below:
- Elder Wand = God the Father
- Resurrection Stone = God the Son
- The Invisibility Cloak = God the Holy Spirit
You may have your own interpretations, and that’s great — in fact, I hope you do. The beauty of fiction is its ever-openness to interpretation. We come to stories like Harry Potter with our own life experiences that resonate with those of the characters, a beautiful mingling of reality and ideals.
I want to explore how each of these three Hallows represents a distinct aspect of the Christian conception of God.
The Hallows Tale
According to the Deathly Hallows legend, three brothers “cheat” death by building a bridge across a rushing river. As a faux sign of good faith, the personified version of Death offers each of the three brothers a gift of their own request, all the while plotting a way to use their gifts against them.
The Elder Wand
The Elder Wand is described as the most power wand ever made. The first brother sought after its vast power and asked Death to grant it. Upon receiving the Hallow, the brother proceeds to conquer his enemies with ease. But the power goes to his head and he begins to believe he’s invincible. The brother ends up letting his guard down; leaving the wand unprotected while sleeping one night, a thief breaks into his home, steals the wand and ultimately kills him.
The potentiality of destruction in the Elder Wand is hard to brush past. While not evil in and of itself, its power handled by those with nefarious motivations can cause great pain in the world.
This is a nice allegory to the power of God the Father. God is said to have great power, especially in the stories of the Old Testament. But we often use the influence of God’s immense power and wield it over others, just like the brother with the Elder Wand.
The Resurrection Stone
While slightly on the nose, it’s clear that the Resurrection Stone serves as a representation of Jesus Christ. The stone generates a magical elixir that grants users an everlasting life and is said to resurrect deceased loved ones.
In the Hallows tale, one of the brothers uses this gift from Death to resurrect his dead wife. Unfortunately, she turned out to have transformed into a completely different person than the person he knew when she was alive. And her resurrected body failed to mesh with the living world again, fading back to dust.
Once again, we see how humanity has taken a Hallow and attempted to commandeer its power. Clearly, the brother’s purposes were commendable, but controlling the stone himself led to an imperfect resurrection.
The Invisibility Cloak
Last but not least we have the Invisibility Cloak, made famous by Harry Potter himself. The Cloak gives the user undetectable invisibility.
In the Hallows story, the last of the three brothers simply asks for a gift to help him stay out of the limelight. The humility in the request ultimately allowed him to be the only brother able to wield his gift effectively and avoid detection from Death. He eventually reveals himself at the end of his life and walks with Death hand in hand into the afterlife.
The Cloak represents the Holy Spirit to me: undetectable, invisible and often pushed to the background. Indeed, God’s Spirit was conceived as an intangible yet living presence in early Jewish and Christian theology, but was soon pushed further away into more of an abstract concept, as theologian Grace Ji-Sun Kim claims:
“But once Christianity became more Eurocentric, it became this philosophical concept. The Spirit was this kind of philosophical concept “out there,” and Christian theology forgot about the Spirit. It has become the stepsister. We’ve kind of neglected the Spirit.”
The other Hallows are tangible, and their powers are straightforward. But the Cloak’s humble hiddenness is often looked over. But what if the Hallows story, read in a Trinitarian light, can show us how to relate to the Godhead?
God the Father and God the Son are clearly more tangible than the Spirit, which is probably why so many of us are naturally drawn to them and use their authority for our own purposes. But the Spirit reminds us that God cannot be placed in a box for our own uses.
God can only work with us if we stop trying to make God work for us. If we humble ourselves as the third brother did with the Cloak, we can truly let the Triune God shine in our lives.
Corey Patterson is a writer and webmaster. He is passionate about the synthesis of theology and geek/pop culture stories. His interests lie primarily in superhero and fantasy genres. Check out his blog here and some of his reviews on Monkeys Fighting Robots.
- Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. (2016, June 28). Grace Ji-Sun Kim: It’s time to recover the Spirit. Retrieved from https://www.faithandleadership.com/grace-ji-sun-kim-its-time-recover-spirit