With the constant efforts of Christians to bring back the Bible,
the Ten Commandments, Christian prayer, values, morality, etc.,
into public schools and libraries, Atheists have a right to wonder
if another persistent group, Pagans, are behind elements of the
Harry Potter books for purposes of Pagan proselytizing.
As a Celt, nominally Pagan, who has been working in the area
of Celtic/Pagan rights for forty years and now publish a worldwide
Online Celtic/Pagan news service, I believe that I can offer my
opinion as a Pagan.
Author J.K. Rowling is not a Pagan (presumed a Christian),
Pagan leaders have made no efforts to promote, distribute, sell,
etc., the Harry Potter books and most all Pagans parents love
the four Potter books and how it assists their children to read.
Pagans don't consider the Harry Potter books any more
representative of Paganism than they think Cinderella , Wizard
of Oz or Jack and the Beanstalk are Pagan texts or tracts.
Additionally, currently, Pagans have an almost virtual
prohibition against proselytism, which would preclude the
stealth or subliminal use of Witch mentioned bestsellers
like the Harry Potter books, the Mysts of Avalon, TV series
like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Sabrina, etc., to be used
to proselytize, even if Pagans had the ability to purposely
Atheists should thus not be worried about presumed covert
Pagan efforts relative to Harry Potter.
As a child, I remember costumed storytellers, and school
and library promotions for books, in which I got a handful of
happy beans for reading Jack in the Beanstalk, and others got
lion masks and Witches hats for reading Wizard of Oz,
little crowns or magical wands for reading Tales of King
To my memory, these were Christian and Jewish teachers,
librarians and storytellers, and there was no hint that they,
with their reading or "graduation gifts" were promoting
Similarly, there seems to be no apparent intent to push
Paganism by the non-Pagans in the Jacksonville Library
even with their use of Harry Potter graduation certificates.
While I believe that the Christian group most vocal about
the presumed religious nature of Harry Potter books is also the
group pushing for Christian prayers in public schools, many
Christians actually have a different and positive view and are
actually some of the biggest Harry Potter fans.
A Church in England has recently had a special Sunday Harry
Potter service where everybody dressed up as Harry Potter
characters, Witches, Merlin and all, even the minister was
in costume - the Wizard?
It had the approval of higher ups.
The movie about Harry Potter will be filmed at the 800 year
old, Christian Gloucester Cathedral, whose head is a self
described Harry Potter fan.
Many Christians have commented on the rigid actions and
"outrage" of fundamentalists against any book with any Pagan
names, in spite of their usual apparent Christian moral content.
Finally, there is a unique story relative to the real
background of Harry Potter.
Pagan King Arthur and the Druid Merlin were real people and
lived about 500 AD., in Cornwall, England or Wales.
Supposedly, King Arthur had a unique and fair administration
and Merlin was believed to be the most outstanding Druid of his
Other than that, and now and then mentions of Arthur, we know
almost nothing about the real Arthur and Merlin.
This is probably because of the recorded abject destruction,
bowdlerization, censorship, etc., of all recorded information, by
the Roman Catholic Church as it attained hegemony and made the
church/state pacts to destroy all elements of other religions.
Eventually Roman Catholic writers, the only writers permitted,
finally started writing the history of pre-Christian Europe.
However, as Catholics under the full official censorship and
nihil obstat (nothing offensive to the Church), the bowdlerized
versions contained obvious omissions and revisionist histories
(nothing lasted about Pagan Solstice celebrations even though there
are hundreds of Solstice monuments in Europe, for instance) and only
strained glimpses into the real pre-Christian history.
About 1160 AD, the Catholic French writer, Chretian de Troyes,
wrote a series of romantic Christian morality plays and grabbed
the name of Pagan King Arthur and other 500 AD Pagan characters,
put them into medieval clothes and castles and gave them Christian
This is the first of the modern romantic/Christian Arthurian
Both Arthur and Merlin are Latin versions of their Gaelic
names, as expected.
Celtic Artous Viros (bear man) or Welsh Arth Gwyr are
recorded as the non Latinized name of Arthur, and Latin
Merlin is Myrddin in Welsh.
Apparently, Christians disliking the literal translation
of Myrddin as Latin Merd (dung), changed it to Merlin.
Following the same de Troyes/Christian romance formula,
many other Catholic writers wrote romantic tales with Arthurian
or Arthurian like elements in titular or background format.
The most notable in English is Sir Thomas Mallory's Morte
d'Arthur of 1496.
Harry Potter is apparently a direct decedent of Mallory's
Perforce, the Arthurian tales have continuing background
Celtic and Pagan elements.
The constant white horse is the Celtic horse/Goddess Epona,
revered also by Pagan Romans, and used as a modern symbol by
many corporations, including Tri-Star Films, and every "good"
The sword Excaliber, stuck in a boulder, will only be
released when the Earth Goddess/Mother gives permission - no
solar deity here.
Excaliber must be returned to the "lady", and is finally
thrown into a lake, was caught by the "Lady of the Lake" and
The Holy Grail is assumed to be a christianized Pagan
cauldron that originally restores life to any dead Celtic warrior
placed in it.
But, all in all, most all Arthurian tales and their progeny, are
Christian, rather than Celtic or Pagan modalities.
Again, the Harry Potter books are great and proven devises
to encourage all children to read, but contain Christian morality
and Pagan names, with very little real Paganism.
Even though Celtic and Pagan beliefs contain much non-rational
elements, relative to Atheist thought, Harry Potter is not part of
Lowell McFarland is a commercial photographer, living and
working in Connecticut.
For the last forty years he has been involved in Celtic matters,
including being an officer of the Clan MacFarlane Society, Pagan
rights, promotion and information, and projects like getting Net Cams
into the 5000 year old megaliths at Newgrange, Ireland and Maeshowe,
Scotland, to broadcast the Winter Solstice worldwide.
Contact Lowell McFarland.