July 2011 - In 2005 I wrote that astrological symbolism lurks in the background of the Harry Potter books. It was speculation at the time as there was no evidence that Joanne Rowling had even a passing interest in astrology.
However, on the BBC TV series "Antiques Roadshow" (screened 12 July 2010), a woman submitted a horoscope in a plastic folder containing 12 typed pages with a hand-drawn coloured image on the front. The natal analysis had been prepared by Rowling who had become friends with the lady. The pair of mothers-to-be had attended childbirth (antenatal) 'classes' together. The horoscope was prepared for her son Jack David Buchanan born in 19 February 1994 who was naturally contemporary with Rowling's daughter Jessica.
It was reported in July 2010 that this rare unpublished work by J K Rowling was being offered for sale at £25,000. The auctioneer describes it as follows:
An incredibly rare unpublished work by J.K.Rowling
A personal Horoscope with a hand drawn natal chart for Jack David Buchanan, born 19 February 1994, 5.01 p.m.
On white paper, with double-sided typescript on yellow card providing a detailed interpretative reading, including of the sun sign, ascendant, ruling planets, significant conjunctions and oppositions, and their effect on character, personal strengths, possible careers, emotional and erotic characteristics, and compatibility with other signs, and a cover illustration depicting the chart's key astrological symbols in pen, ink, and coloured pencil laid down on bright blue coloured card.
Comprising 12 loose pages in a plastic folder. In excellent, mint condition.
Rowling prepared this horoscope while she was writing her first Harry Potter novel: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published 1997).
The US publishers altered the title to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the belief that the term sorcerer would have more appeal to children than philosopher. However, Rowling's original term Philosopher's Stone has to have been a carefully considered choice as it refers to the key substance for transformation in alchemy.
Firenze - the stargazing centaur & astrologer?
Firenze - wounded mentor, healer and teacher - Chiron?
Harry is taught by Firenze, the Centaur who foretells the future using his observations of the heavens. Firenze is the closest character to an astrologer in the book. He is something of a Promethean character as he is, at one stage rejected by his herd in the forbidden forest for working with the human wizards. Prometheus was punished by Zeus for teaching humans how to make fire as they could become like gods. As a centaur he also resembles Chiron who was a teacher, mentor and was like Firenze wounded in the leg.
Firenze - inspired by a real astrologer teacher? Steve Eddy, co-author of The New Astrology: The Art and Science of the Stars with Dr Nicholas Campion was also J K Rowling's English teacher when she was 11 years old at Wyedean comprehensive (school) in Sedbury, Gloucestershire in 1976. He revealed that he regrets discouraging her from writing about fantasy and fairies and mythological creatures and encouraging her to focus on 'grittier' stuff.
The Sunday Mirror quotes Steve Eddy "Joanne's work always showed impressive imagination and in class she was always bright and enthusiastic, much in the way of Hermione in the Harry Potter books. But when it came to her stories they were always about elves or pixies or fairies. I was constantly telling her that she was at an age where she should be writing about grittier, more real-life things. But - thank goodness, as it turned out - she never heeded my advice and kept presenting me with her fantastic stories about made-up creatures. Looking back I am a bit embarrassed about it, but I had no idea what she'd go on to achieve."
According to the newspaper Rowling repaid her old teacher by basing the centaur character Firenze on him.
In a message in response to this article, astrologer, Chris Brennan commented "In C.S. Lewis' Narnia series the only time an astrologer explicitly appears is in the last book, and he is a centaur named Roonwit. I always figured that Rowling's use of Firenze as a centaur astrologer was a hat tip to Lewis there."
4 Houses of Hogwarts = 4 Elements?
The qualities of the four school houses at Hogwarts are remarkably like the four elements: [Note some of the elemental colours are reversed on the shield. However, it is not unreasonable to depict air as sky blue and water as sea green.]
Stars of the Black Family
The Black family are all named after a fixed star such as Sirius (Canis Major), Regulus (Regulus Arcturus Black R.A.B.) (Leo), Bellatrix (Orion) or constellation: Draco or Andromeda. Though this may seem a like a simple nomenclature - possibly a pun on the word black, the star lore symbolism is carried onto the characters. For example, Harry's godfather, Sirius Black is able to transform into a dog (his animagus). Ancient Egyptians called Sirius the 'Dog Star', after their god Osiris, whose head in pictograms resembled a dog. Sirius had a younger brother who was named after another bright star, Regulus in the constellation of Leo. However, JKR resists the obvious ploy of having Regulus turn into a lion or cat or a bear (after his middle name Arcturus) - even though Regulus turns out to be very brave and lion-hearted like Harry.
"Detailed technical knowledge of Astrology"
"This horoscope provides a fascinating example of Rowling's prose. It is possible to detect in this short piece some of the characteristics that were shortly to bring Rowling's prose such extraordinary success: a great and varied sense of humour, flights of fancy underpinned by an internal logic, and - of course - a mingling of the everyday world with the strange and magical.
The horoscopes show Rowling to have a detailed technical knowledge of Western astrology. She is at ease explaining the significance of having one's Moon in the First House but peppers her interpretations with quotations and wryly amusing comparisons. In general the astrologers that she cites tend to be popular rather than academic.
Rowling's knowledge of astrology has undoubtedly played into the Harry Potter books."
~ Paul Fraser, Vendors of the Horoscope
Excerpts from JKR's horoscopic analysis:
"Born the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. He will enjoy school, perhaps be accident-prone, (like all Pisces) could be prone to alcoholism, and (perhaps like us all) may well fall in love with someone totally incompatible.
The chart apparently suggests that the boy will have great literary talent ("...the planet of fantasy and imagination meets a sign frequently associated with bookishness...") Rowling wonders whether his "ability to weave a good yarn" could perhaps bring fame and fortune, before deciding that becoming a film director would better suit his talents. J.K. Rowling wonders if the boy would perhaps at least mention her in his Oscar acceptance speech ("...This peculiar woman my mother knows predicted I would be standing before you today ... of course, my parents laughed at the time...") From Paul Fraser Collectibles
While J K Rowling may not be an accomplished astrological consultant, it is clear that she has a deep understanding of astrology and mythology that goes well beyond her studies of the Classics at Exeter University. And she has used this knowledge to great effect in her Harry Potter novels. However, perhaps wisely she didn't hook her wagon to stargazing from the start as there is plenty of prejudice and ignorance that could have adversely affected sales of her outstanding books. In fact, the incompetant antics of Sybill Trelawney, Professor of Divination at Hogwarts, who was often right in her dire predictions but for the wrong reason, should have been enough to send most people on the wrong trail. So Rowling, joins the ranks of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind) and C S Lewis (Narnia) in an illustrious group of writers who were inspired by astrology.
The New Astrology: The Art and Science of the Stars by Dr Nicholas Campion and Steve Eddy, Bloomsbury Publishing (1999) ISBN 0747531196
Boniface, Susie. Teacher's Bad Rowling Advice, Sunday Mirror, (8 July 2007) sundaymirror.co.uk Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J. K. Rowling published: 1998 Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine books, USA "The title was changed because Scholastic thought that a child wouldn't buy a book with the word "philosopher" in the title" Source: lexicon.org Flood,Alison. Potter tops 400 million sales
17 June 2008, bookseller.com  Muggle is a term devised by J.K.Rowling and used in the Harry Potter fictional series for anyone who is not part of the world of magic and wizardry. According to the OED (2003): Muggle:invented by JK (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (b. 1965), British author of children's fantasy fiction (see quot. 1997).
In the fiction of JK Rowling: a person who possesses no magical powers. Hence in allusive and extended uses: a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way.
J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series with over 400 million books sold was born on 31 July 1965 in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol. (The same date but not year as her protagonist, Harry Potter). Her time of birth is unknown and I have considered a possible rectified time:
Why dates of birth are significant here ...
Astrology provides the structure and basis of the characterisation of the Harry Potter series. One of the first clues is that every major character has a birth date. Anyone familiar with J K Rowling's style of writing will know that every detail has meaning - this is a magical Neoplatonic world - not a random, meaningless muggle universe.
Harry is born 31st july – twinned with J K Rowling - both Leos. The septology covers Harry’s heroic inner and outer battles to find his courage, destiny and to 'own' his fame. Along this journey, Harry undergoes a gradual process of individuation as he learns to accept his 'shadow' serpentine side.
Hermoine is born 19 September . Her studious, brilliant, observant and critical nature is in line with her Virgo Sun Sign.
Ron is born 1st March and his emotionally volatile and sensitive nature complies with Pisces. He is Harry's devoted side-kick who is sensitive and feels insecure about his lack of recognition compared to his illustrious friend.
Birthdays and signs of principal characters in the Harry Potter novels.
Fred & George Weasley
* Some sources give Dobby's date of birth as 29th. ** If he was born in the British Isles, Percy Weasley is 94% likely to be a Leo and 6% chance of being Virgo. The uncertainty is because he was born on the cusp of two signs. The date and time of every solar ingress (change-over into the next sign) varies from year to year.
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