I know, I know, bad timing. The thing is, I’ve had this idea for a very long time and I really want to go through with it. So even though J.K. Rowling has put a damper on the whole franchise, I am going to be doing a series of posts and podcast episodes that walk us through the entire tarot deck using Harry Potter characters, events, and themes. If you are a fan of the books (or movies), love tarot, or even just want to deepen your understanding of the cards, this should be a great tool for you going forward. Yay! Before I jump into why I think the Harry Potter series is an amazing tool for learning tarot, I want to tell you my history with the stories and touch on the controversy surrounding their author.
My Story with Harry Potter
My love for the Harry Potter series began my freshman year of college. A friend dragged me to the 2001 film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, sort of against my will. I had no idea what the movie was about and when she tried to explain it to me, I wasn’t really impressed. I was twenty years old, going to see a children’s movie that I’d never heard of. I had no idea how deeply the characters portrayed in the movie would become a part of my life.
Of course I loved every second of the movie, and immediately drove to Borders and bought the first four books. I finished them over Fall Break, cuddled up on the couch in my apartment under a warm blanket, devouring the magic of the story while rain beat down on the windows outside. If I could go back in time and experience that week again, I would in a heartbeat. It was one of a handful of truly happy and content moments in my life.
I was lucky enough to experience the legendary midnight pre-order parties for the last three books (sadly, I didn’t dress up, I was a senior in college after all). I read each of those three books in under 24 hours, balling my eyes out at that ONE tragically beautiful scene in the last book that pretty much broke everyone. I actually didn’t hate the ending, or the epilogue. I let it be what it was, and left Harry, Hermione, and Ron on Platform 9 ¾ with a bittersweet farewell.
I still love Harry Potter. I’ve read the books as an adult twice and I even have Hermione’s wand tattooed on my back. My best friend, who dragged me to the movie 19 years ago, has suggested we plan a girls grip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before we turn 40, and I am all for it. I hope you can see that I have passionately loved these novels for almost 20 years and dammit, JK isn’t going to ruin that for me…or for you either.
Alright. I guess it’s time to address that…
Why J.K. Rowling, why?
Since the last book’s release in 2007, things in the Harry Potter world have gotten weird. Dumbledore’s sexuality. Hermione’s race. Wizards’ bathroom habits. Cursed Child. Fantastic Beasts. Native American cultural appropriation. The list goes on and on. It’s not that there is anything wrong with or weird about any of the things listed above, it’s that JK Rowling seems to keep adding in elements of the story that weren’t evident to begin with just to be edgy or relevant.
Then, in 2020, JK Rowling really struck a nerve with comments she made surrounding the transgendered community. I am not going to comment on these statements specifically (big, complicated issue), but Rowling definitely seems to have some transphobia, or at the very least is operating out of a willfully misinformed stance. Unfortunately, she is the author of THE most famous book of the last 50 years, and her statements have caused many people to separate themselves from the Harry Potter franchise, and to disown their affiliation and affection for the entire story.
I understand why people are distancing themselves from J.K. Rowling, and I can see why this may include disavowing the Harry Potter franchise. I think each of us must decide how to handle a situation such as this, and if that includes distancing yourself from Potterverse, I get it.
However, despite all the authorial drama, I still love Harry Potter. He is a fictional character that stands for love, friendship, courage, and fighting for good. The world he lives in is exciting, funny, and …feels like home. I think that sense of comfort and familiarity is why many people fell in love with the books in the first place. For me that doesn’t disappear because the woman who created this world has turned out to be controversial. I believe the story itself still stands. The wizarding world is an amazing setting and the characters still feel like friends (or my children now that I’m old!). I have personally made peace with still loving these characters and their story. I feel I am able to separate the author and her remarks from the word she penned, especially when it comes to recognizing the universal themes present in the books.
If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing you may feel the same. In that case, let me tell you why Harry Potter is an amazing tool to help you learn tarot.
Why use Harry Potter to teach tarot?
One of the most compelling reasons to use these books, is that Harry Potter’s journey is one of the best modern examples of the Fool’s Journey featured in the tarot. Most tarot decks begin with the fool, an innocent character who is about to be thrust into their life’s journey. The Fool goes through a series of universal experiences and meets different types of people, all representative of universal stages and themes in life. The Fool learns and grows throughout this journey and eventually comes out on the other side, a wiser, more worldly person.
There are plenty of examples of this in literature and film. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Odysseys in the Odyssey, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, and even Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, are all examples of the hero or Fool’s Journey, but the Harry Potter series surpasses them all in my opinion. It is simply chock-full of archetypal characters and imagery that almost seems lifted from the tarot (I’ll be delving into those specifics later).
Another reason is that Harry Potter is just magical enough that it doesn’t feel completely mundane, but still relatable enough that we can truly see how these characters and situations relate to the meanings of the tarot cards themselves, as well as to ourselves, our journey, and the people and situations happening around us.
When I describe the Empress card as the ultimate mother, the consummate nurturer, and an earthly energy that brings us comfort and compassion, who do you think of in the Harry Potter universe? I’m guessing Molly Weasley. When I talk about the Magician, the first image that comes to your mind is most likely Dumbledore, in his signature wizard hat and robes. What about the Hierophant? If you are just starting to learn tarot, this card can be difficult, but when I tell you that this card usually deals with rules, societal laws and customs, authority and influence, you will probably imagine Cornelius Fudge (at least early on in the novels), running the Ministry of Magic and ensuring the rules are followed.
As I delve into the cards you will come to see just how connected Harry Potter and the tarot are. Honestly, it’s a little scary how things line up – almost like she took out a tarot deck and started writing…
In this series of posts and podcast episodes, I’ll be taking a whimsical look at the tarot and matching the characters, symbols, and situations to the cards I feel they best represent. Developing these connections has helped me gain a much deeper understanding of the tarot, which has helped me do readings for myself and others. I hope that my observations help you in the same way, and that you will have a more thorough understanding of not just ‘card meanings’, but also the overall narrative these cards represent in your life and the lives of those around you!
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, where I’ll be diving into the Major Arcana.