Listening to an audio presentation from The Gnostic Society entitled “Harry Potter and the Roots of True Magic” -- Dr. Stephan Hoeller, in his strong accent (German?) is talking about the Harry Potter books with reference to other mythological themes -- the Authurian legends, Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings tales, C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, just to name a few. He talks about Carl Jung and about the fairy story. Now -- for some reflections on this topic:
The fairy story, mythology, the tales of the hero -- our contemporary disillusionment with things related to magic -- the tendency of contemporary literature towards realism (meaning, what seems to me, a dark and depressing type of realism...what I’ve sometimes believed seems to be an aversion to hope and happy endings). The question -- How do we (how do I) recover the proper perspective of magic -- of the fairy story, of myth, of religious literature, of wonder and fantasy? This, it seems to me, is the most important task in which I could engage whatever humble talents I may have as a writer and thinker.
I can see things in my head. I can feel things deeply. There are images and imaginations that sometimes bring tears to my eyes and set my neck tingling with goose bumps. Sometimes the magic spills over into my reality. That is what I want somehow to bring to life and deliver to the world. The reference to Harry Potter continually comes to mind, because those books have meant so much to me in finding my way back into a world of magic. The things I want -- need -- to write about explore a world of magic even more deeply astounding and real than the world of Harry Potter. I must bravely and confidently step foot into that land of magic and wonder, and danger, and tell about it.
When I was a boy, I used to dream of living in a house nestled between the Munsters and the Addams family. There is a delightful creepiness about these characters, and I wanted to be at the center of it. This too is part of the magic I want to capture. The magic of houses and landscapes and weird, yet loveable, characters. Often, the most truly detestable characters in the episodes of these TV shows are the “normal” characters who just don’t get it -- who are frightened and judgmental, and who jump to the wrong conclusions. Another character I just thought of who fits this pattern is Casper the Friendly Ghost. Poor Casper just wants to be a friend and to have friends. He is a genuinely loving spirit who cares about people and animals, yet they are horrified by him. They mistake his character and his intentions. I’ve often wondered about the nature of the boy to whom this disembodied spirit belongs. It must have been an exemplary child. This type of character must have a significant place in my fantasy world.
Some important themes -- there is good and evil, and often there is an unclear distinction about which is which. Evil comes in disguise, but no disguise is ever completely adequate. Good also comes veiled, but not in deliberate disguise. Instead Good comes shrouded in the misunderstanding and fears of those who don’t recognize it. There is also the fact that there is no truly perfectly noble character. The good character comes flawed, but it is the Good that always triumphs, sometimes in spite of imperfection, sometimes because of it.
Love in all its healing and redemptive power, and in the sadness of loss, must also find a home here in my world. Friendship and courage, rising above fears and weaknesses -- these too are part. And redemption -- oh, how wonderful and critical this is.