Posted on 5 April 2021
What if you read the books you love as if they were sacred texts? What would you learn about yourself?
How might they transform you?
These are questions asked by the group known as Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – who held a live reading at Friends House, London, in June 2018.
Their aim is explore the wisdom and meaning of J.K. Rowlings beloved novels in a series of 199 podcasts – one for each chapter of the seven books in the series. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text explains “we read Harry Potter, not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives”.
The connection between Harry Potter and the Society of Friends is seen in one of the epitaphs at the beginning of Deathy Hallows.
“Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.
This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.”
These words were written by Quaker William Penn in his 1703 volume More Fruits of Solitude. Rowling uses Penn’s text as a reworked complete quote, but the original text is written as a numbered series of small reflections upon his thoughts.
In the spirit of treating More Fruits of Solitude as a sacred text here are the original lines, which come from the section entitled, ‘Union of Friends’.
127. They that love beyond the World, cannot be separated by it.
128. Death cannot kill, what never dies.
129. Nor can Spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their Friendship.
130. If Absence be not Death, neither is theirs.
131. Death is but Crossing the World, as Friends do the Seas; They live in one another still.
132. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is Omnipresent.
133. In this Divine Glass, they see Face to Face; and their Converse is Free, as well as Pure.
134. This is the Comfort of Friends, that though they may be said to Die, yet their Friendship and Society are, in the best Sense, ever present, because Immortal.
Rowling says that these words by Penn “served as a guiding light” that led her “where I needed to go”.