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Makkai by Ellen Makkai


There is a peculiar people out there -- anti-Harry Potter parents.

J.K. Rowling's highly readable and imaginative Harry Potter series -- about a young wizard's tutelage and mastery of the black arts -- is a publishing phenomenon. But these parents see him as Satan's secret agent sent to surreptitiously ensnare souls.

The world has morphed into Planet Potter. The series has been translated into 42 languages, including Zulu. Kids wear Potter PJs, eat from Potter plates and sleep on Potter pillows.

Young witch/wizard wannabes wait in 'round the block lines for the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. "I want to be a wizard," responded the two young sons of actor Rob Lowe when asked what they gleaned from the movie.

San Diego movie critic Holly McClure lauds the movie's excellence but says bluntly both print and celluloid versions "Lay it out there; it's about witchcraft."

Carol Rookwood, head teacher in a Church of England school, banned Potter saying, "The Bible is clear about issues such as witchcraft, demons, the devil and the occult. It says clearly from Genesis to Revelation that they are real, powerful and dangerous ... (we) should have nothing to do with them."

But for parents vexed by video games, Harry Potter is the Holy Grail. Kids once hunched in front of Sony Play Stations now curl up with Harry, reading the voluminous texts for hours on end.

The IRS recognizes certain witchcraft sects as religions but church/state issues have been jettisoned here. Public school teachers read Harry Potter aloud as captivated students sit transfixed. Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port Washington, Wis., sent 500 students to the film.

Still, headlines read, "Parents Protest Potter." According to a July 2000 Gallup Poll, Harry gets nixed by 8 percent of parents with children under 18. "The books have a serious tone of death ... of evil," says Columbia, S.C., parent, Elizabeth Mounce, when addressing the state Board of Education.

To some, Harry is a Trojan horse -- a clever vehicle able to implant a sort of satanic receptor in the human soul -- making youngsters vulnerable to demonic activity and possible infestation. Who can forget Linda Blair in "The Exorcist"?

"The power of Satan ... is very dangerous, and our children have gone into it," says Caryl Matrisciana, occult expert and producer of the video "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged."

Potter fans argue that Harry cavorts in a realm similar to that in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. But the Lewis' allegory draws readers to the beneficent Judaic/Christian God, whereas Harry has no sovereign governing his use of self-seeking manipulative power.

Contrast Harry Potter and "Idylls of the King," Alfred Lord Tennyson's poetic masterpiece interpreting Arthurian Legend. Tennyson's sorcery is recognized as mythological evil while much of Harry's hocus-pocus -- packaged as harmless fantasy -- is genuine. Necromancy, blood sacrifice, incantations, and so on, mirror actual occult ritual.

"There is a tremendous smoke screen in the (Potter) PR machinery," Matriciana says. "Does being packaged as 'fantasy' mean we're not to question content?"

Rowling exhaustively researched the occult to better animate her characters' skills. According to Iowa Licensed Master Social Worker, William Schnoebelen, former Church of Satan member, Potter characters execute satanic ceremony and technique as practiced today.

Schnoebelen, also a former instructor of witchcraft, says Potter imitators are blind to the entities that respond from "an unknown beguiling arena. It seems so enchantingly fun and innocent, but they are trafficking in evil spirits. The books definitely draw kids to witchcraft."

High Priest Egan of The First Church of Satan in Salem, Mass., celebrates Harry's contribution, saying, "Harry is an absolute godsend ... we've had more applicants than we can handle lately."

Former Satanic mystic, Johanna Michaelson, says, "There is a beautiful side of evil -- deceptive, subtle, adorned with all manner of spiritual refinements, but no less from the pit of hell than that which is blatantly satanic."

Witchcraft and sorcery permeate Rowling's books and parents would do well to attempt the impossible; steer kids clear of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

At the very least, children determined to explore Harry Potter's realm should be grounded in a flame-retardant faith, that enables them to ride the lightning and still walk away unscathed.

Ellen Makkai writes about popular culture from a traditional perspective. To find out more about Ellen Makkai, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Originally Published on Tuesday November 27, 2001

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