Ritual Magic of Rites of Essay

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Neither of the above rites of passages, though both are important and definitely bound by rules of magic, are especially ritualistic in a participatory sense. In this regard, the many layers of security that Harry and his friends must get through in order to arrive at the Sorcerer's Stone is the most clear example in the book. Each trial on the way to the room that contains the Stone tests some of the skills and knowledge that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have begun to acquire on their journey through adolescence and to adulthood, making the journey past each obstacle a very literal interpretation of a rite of passage. Each of these obstacles ends up requiring some literal form of the world's magic, usually in the form of a spell, in order to be overcome, tying magic to the rites of passage in a manner that is at once quite explicit and direct, ye also highly symbolic in the context of the full narrative.

One of these rites of passage, the game of life-sized wizard's chess that Ron plays, in which he must sacrifice himself, is especially important in terms of the evolution of magical thinking, and specifically of ideas concerning witchcraft. In a discussion of "liminal
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fluids' -- those that were of the body but no longer are -- James Brain argues that "what makes these substances so deeply threatening is that they remind us of death" (285). Though the fluids of sacrifice that Brain is discussing are not actually present here (this book can be considered the PG version of witchcraft), the effect of Ron's apparent death are similar -- he becomes tainted, and Harry must leave this sacrifice behind in order to progress towards his goal. There is a symbolic shedding of fluid in the symbolic death that Ron suffers, and this becomes a necessary element for Harry's rite of passage into adulthood.

Ultimately, of course, the primary rite of passage that Harry goes through in the action of the narrative concerns his facing off with Voldemort. This is not, however, the primary way in which Harry grows and develops as an individual. Rowling very carefully crafted this novel in such a way that, while magi is a necessary element for growth in this world, the real essence of magic is to enhance and make clear what an individual's own internal capabilities are. The rites of passage that Harry goes through abound with the outward trappings of magic, but the lessons he learns and the ways in which he grows are all very much internal, part of the universal magic of human progression. The murky details of our inner workings are often as unknown as the principles of magic, but knowing them is necessary to move…

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