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Chapter 10 - Kreacher's Tale

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  • Christina Nihill
    Harry wakes very early the next morning, in a sleeping bag on the floor of the drawing-room at 12, Grimmauld Place. Ron and Hermione are asleep next to each
    Message 1 of 2 , May 14, 2008

      Harry wakes very early the next morning, in a sleeping bag on the floor of the drawing-room at 12, Grimmauld Place . Ron and Hermione are asleep next to each other. `Ron had had a fit of gallantry and insisted that Hermione sleep on the cushions from the sofa, so that her silhouette was raised above his. Her arm curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron's.'  Harry wonders whether they fell asleep holding hands, and feels lonely.


      His thoughts move from the wedding and recent events, to his mission. His thoughts, Jo tells us, are bitter. `Why hadn't Dumbledore told him? Why hadn't he explained? Had Dumbledore actually cared about Harry at all? Or had Harry been nothing more than a tool to be polished and honed, but not trusted, never confided in?' Harry poses these key questions to himself and, unable to find the answers immediately by thinking, lets go of the mental search for a moment and begins a physical search. He starts by searching above.


      He climbs the stairs and goes into the bedroom shared by himself and Ron the previous year. Both the wardrobe and the contents of the beds have been searched. Phineas Nigellus is not visible in his portrait, and Harry assumes he is at Hogwarts.


      Harry climbs the next set of stairs and finds two doors. He enters Sirius' room for the first time, and finds a dusty teenager's room – Gryffindor banners, Muggle motorcycle and Muggle girl posters, a photograph of Sirius and his schoolfriends, each fastened to the grey silk-clad walls with a permanent sticking charm.  Harry reflects on the characters of the four schoolfriends: ` …or was it simply because Harry knew how it had been, that he saw these things in the picture?'


      `The sky outside was growing brighter: a shaft of light revealed bits of paper, books and small objects scattered over the carpet.'  Harry finds three things: scattered pages from `History of Magic' by Bathilda Bagshot, from a motorcycle maintenance manual, and  then he sees the first page of a letter written to Sirius by Harry's mother, Lily.  


      Through this he discovers a little about the world that he inhabited when he was one year old: that his family had a cat, that Sirius gave him a toy broom for his first birthday, Petunia and Lily still corresponded and sent eachother presents, that Wormtail visits Godric's Hollow, that James imagined that Harry would become a great Quidditch player and that he and presumably therefore also Lily are unable to leave Godric's Hollow, that Dumbledore has had James' invisibility cloak for some time, and that Bathilda drops in frequently to talk to Lily, often about Dumbledore.


      Harry ponders on the significance of the invisibility cloak: `I don't need a cloak to become invisible.'


      Harry asks himself further unanswerable questions, about `traitor' Wormtail's feelings, about the significance of the invisibility cloak: `I don't need a cloak to become invisible,' and about Bathilda's incredible stories about Dumbledore. He is once again confronting his search for the answer to his key questions about Dumbledore. He searches for the rest of Lily's letter, and finds the torn photograph, showing himself, baby Harry, on a toy broomstick, and James' legs.


      Hermione arrives, upbraiding him for his actions. They discuss the possibility that Snape has searched the house, but cannot determine why he might have done so. Harry's instinct wants to follow up the clues which all point to Godric's Hollow, but Hermione dismisses this as a pointless and self-indulgent diversion from what to her is a straightforward task that has been clearly delineated for them by Dumbledore.


        `It's not just that,' Harry said, still avoiding looking at her. `Muriel said stuff about Dumbedore at the wedding. I want to know the truth …'

        He told Hermione everything that Muriel had told him. When he had finished, Hermione said, `Of course, I can see why that's upset you, Harry-`

        `I'm not upset,' he lied, `I'd just like to know whether or not it's true or –`

        `Harry, do you really think you'll get the truth from a malicious old woman like Muriel, or from Rita Skeeter? How can you believe them? You knew Dumbledore!'

        `I thought I did,' he muttered.

        `But you knew how much truth there was in everything Rita wrote about you! Doge is right, how can you let these people tarnish your memories of Dumbledore?'

        He looked away, trying not to betray the resentment he felt. There it was again: choose what to believe. He wanted the truth. Why was everybody so determined that he should not get it?


      Hermione changes the subject, suggests they have breakfast. Harry agrees grudgingly, but sees the sign on the other bedroom door as they cross the landing, and its arrogance reminds him of Percy Weasley.  He realises they have found R.A.B., Regulus Arcturus Black, Sirius' younger brother. Hermione calls Ron to join them, and they search the room, which is decorated as a monument to Slytherin House. They note that the room has also been searched, and sticky ink from a smashed bottle tells them that it has been done recently. Harry notes that Regulus was a Seeker.


      They search unsuccessfully for the locket, and then Hermione suddenly realises that it may have been stored with other dangerous objects with the intention of protecting it, and she remembers that among the objects in the drawing room cabinet that they attempted to throw away the previous year there was a locket…


      Harry remembers Kreacher's involvement in this exercise, and leads them down to the kitchen to Kreacher's bedroom, noisily and rapidly. His search continues below …   


      There is only a dead mouse and a copy of Nature's Nobility; a Wizarding Genealogy in Kreacher's cupboard bedroom. Harry summons Kreacher, whose attitude appears to be unchanged, and starts addressing his questions to him. `I've got a question for you,' said harry, his heart beating rather fast as he looked down at the elf, `and I order you to answer it truthfully. Understand?'


      He immediately establishes that Mundungus stole the locket. But Harry recognises from telltale signs in Kreacher's behaviour that this is just a small part of a critically important story. He pins Kreacher to the ground as Kreacher lunges for the poker with which to damage himself, and orders him to stay still. Hermione, again failing to comprehend what is happening, tries to intervene, but this time Harry stands his ground and continues his investigation of the truth, asking his elf the key questions which the Kreacher must answer truthfully, even though every question and answer is torture for all four of them.


      Regulus joined the Dark Lord at age sixteen. When he was seventeen, he told Kreacher that the Dark Lord required an elf. Regulus told Kreacher that this was an honour and that Kreacher must do whatever the Dark Lord ordered, and then come home. Kreacher tells how he was taken in a boat by the Dark Lord across a lake in a sea-side cavern to an island in its centre, how he was made to drink all the potion from the basin, before the Dark Lord filled it again, having first dropped a locket into it. The Dark Lord then left in the boat, leaving Kreacher behind. Kreacher was thirsty, drak the lake water, was dragged under by the Inferi, and then disapparated – Ron guesses this -, returning to 12, Grimmauld Place as instructed.


      After that, Regulus told Kreacher not to leave the house.  A while later he asked Kreacher to take him to the cave, and Hermione guesses the rest of the story at this point. Regulus gives Kreacher a locket, and tells him to exchange the lockets when the basin is empty of potion, to go home taking the locket with him, to then destroy the locket and to tell no-one what has happened.


      Regulus drinks the potion and is dragged beneath the water by the Inferi. Kreacher returned home and tries repeatedly to destroy the locket, but fails. Kreacher's sobs increase and he becomes incoherent for a while. Hermione adjures Harry to stop Kreacher punishing himself; 'Harry had never seen anything so pitiful.' 


      Harry tries to reason with Kreacher, to link in his mind Kreacher's loyalty to Regulus with his betrayal of Sirius, and Hermione points out to Harry that it is beyond Kreacher to think in this way; that instead he is simply loyal to people who are kind to him, serves them willingly and parrots their beliefs.


        `I'm sure "Miss Cissy" and "Miss Bella" were perfectly lovely to Kreacher when he turned up, so he did them a favour and told them everything they wanted to know. I've said all along that wizards would pay for how they treat house-elves. Well, Voldemort did…and so did Sirius.'

        Harry had no retort. As he watched Kreacher sobbing on the floor he remembered what Dumbledore had said to him, mere hours after Sirius' death: I do not think Sirius ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human's …


      Harry sends Kreacher to find Mundungus Fletcher and bring him to Grimmauld Place , telling him that they intend to finish the work that Regulus had started, to  - er - ensure that he didn't die in vain. He then gives the fake horcrux locket to Kreacher, something of Regulus' given to Kreacher as a token of his gratitude. It takes half an hour for Kreacher to recover from the uprush of emotion this causes him. Kreacher leaves his locket in his blankets, while the trio assure him that they will protect it while he is away, makes two low bows to Harry and Ron, and even gives a funny little spasm in Hermione's direction, and then he Disapparates to carry out his new task.   





      1. What is the role of this chapter in the book?


      1. What is its role in the search for the horcruxes?


      1. What new facts does it reveal?


      1. Which old questions does it answer and which new questions does it pose?


      1. What are your thoughts and feelings when reading it?


      1. How does it change the reader's view of the characters that it describes and refers to? 


      1. If you were asked to choose at least one thing to change in it, what would you add or remove, and why? 





    • Christina Nihill
      Somewhere between night and dawn. Harry is beginning to wake up. He is alone in this, the others sleep on. But he is on the floor: rather low, down to basics.
      Message 2 of 2 , May 17, 2008

        Somewhere between night and dawn. Harry is beginning to wake up. He is alone in this, the others sleep on. But he is on the floor: rather low, down to basics.

        There is a great image here:

        The grief that had possessed him since Dumbledore's death felt different now. The accusations he had heard from Muriel at the wedding seemed to have nested in his brain, like diseased things, infecting his memories of the wizard he had idolised.

        Remember the idea that 12, Grimmauld Place is a symbol of the self, and that the spring cleaning process that they carried out in Book 5 was the Nigredo process of alchemy, a process of purging the self of its dark history? Well, here we see Jo using the symbolism more explicitly. The description of the memories in Harry's brain here is very reminiscent of their finding and driving out doxies from the curtains and puffskeins from under the sofa.

        And you could also see that as a passing reference to the film Muriel's Wedding, which I didn't see. Do you think that is a reference, or not?

        Could Dumbledore have let such things happen? Had he been like Dudley , content to watch neglect and abuse as long as it did not affect him? Could he have turned his back on a sister who was being imprisoned and hidden?

        Two things spring to mind reading this. One is that this parallels to some extent the situation in the family Jo grew up in, with her sister standing in place of Dudley .

        The other is that Dumbledore's sister represents his anima. This would fit the story pretty well - a very powerful magical female being, who is being suppressed in body, soul and spirit.

        Harry thought of Godric's Hollow, of graves Dumbledore had never mentioned there; he thought of mysterious objects left, without explanation, in Dumbledore's will, and resentment swelled in the darkness. Why hadn't Dumbledore told him? Why hadn't he explained? Had Dumbledore actually cared about Harry at all? Or had Harry been nothing more than a tool to be polished and honed, but not trusted, never confided in?

        Jo starts the paragraph with one of her key lists of three objects: in this case, there are no red herrings, each of the three is fundamentally important to the story.

        Resentment swelling in the darkness - we are back at the image of the diseased thoughts, rotting and giving off a gas. This is another great metaphor: to me it represents precisely what the thoughts of the ego do. Removing this kind of a disease is part of the process of becoming whole.

        Harry had thought that what lay between him and Dumbledore was love. Now it doesn't seem quite the same to him: as he examines it, instead of a pure love, he is finding something apparently rotting and flatulent, that leaves a bitter taste. Harry is finally beginning to address the ultimate question: what is love? which, it seems to me, is the question behind the whole HP series, and which is answered brilliantly, in my opinion, in this seventh book. The questions asked in this paragraph are key to understanding the answer, but they are perhaps not the questions that most people would ask, and are the result of the long and difficult journey that Harry's experience has been.

        Having posed these questions to himself without finding any immediate answers, Harry lets go of the mental search for a moment and begins a physical search. He starts by searching above.

        He notes the disturbance in his bedroom, and thinks about the three characters who are instrumental in unfolding the story in this book. Jo is setting the scene for the book in this chapter, laying out the key questions and the route by which she will expound them.

        Harry is recognising the signs that another seeker has been this way before him.

        Sirius' bedroom is that of a teenaged boy. Does that mean that he moved into his father's bedroom when he returned from Azkaban?

        With the pictures of muggle girls, Jo is laying to rest the suspicion that Sirius must have been gay, that sparked much literary activity within the fandom. Instead, we are shown a picture of arrested development, a life frozen in time.

        There is a reference to a shaft of light: this illumination is coupled with the finding of the page of Lily's letter, with its further slender clues about the answers to the questions Harry is at last posing to himself.

        Jo once again puts three things together, a page from A History of Magic, a page from a motorcycle maintenance manual and Lily's letter. And I don't think any of these are red herrings, either.

        I suppose Sirius read the letter and then followed up Lily's reference to Bathilda Bagshot by opening up A History of Magic, and the letter became a bookmark in it, and that was where Snape found it. 

        I wonder if that manual was 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.'? The character of Sirius is associated with that book in my mind, somehow, the lead character and Sirius had quite a lot in common, it seems to me. Did anyone else see that as a parallel? Incidentally, I noticed that Suzuki brought out a while back a retro-styled motorcycle which they named the 'Marauder'.

        Harry's extremities seemed to have gone numb. He stood quite still, holding the miraculous paper in his nerveless fingers while inside him a kind of quiet eruption sent joy and grief thundering in equal measure through his veins.

        These emotions are in equal measure, i.e. balanced, and in his blood, which, if he's the new soul, is where you'd expect them to be. A very Rosicrucian sentence.

        She had made her g's the same way he did: he searched through the letter for every one of them, and each felt like a friendly little wave glimpsed from behind a veil.

        He experiences the separation between himself and his mother, as with the separation between himself and Sirius, as if they are divided by a veil. In this book he finally learns to lift that veil.

        I wonder what happened to the cat, we don't find out in the book, I think? I hope Jo puts it in the Encyclopedia.

        Dumbledore's still got his invisibility cloak

        Jo gave us this clue in advance of the Book 7 publishing date, but I didn't get any further at guessing the answer to her riddle then than Harry does here.

        James, Padfoot and Wormy. Lily doesn't use a nickname for James, and she doesn't mention Lupin. Was he already persona non grata in the household by this time? I thought that happened as a result of the betrayal at Godric's Hollow, not before it happened? And the picture on Sirius' wall has Lupin in it – although that might be because once he'd stuck it up, he couldn't get it down either:- ) When I think of some of the things I stuck up on my bedroom walls as a teenager I'm very glad the Permanent Sticking Charm was not an option :- )

        It seems incredible that Dumbledore - what? But there were any number of things that would seem incredible about Dumbledore; that he had once received bottom marks in a Transfiguration Test, for instance, or had taken up goat-charming like Aberforth ...

        If he'd ever had a teacher anything like Snape, it would have been possible for Dumbledore to get bottom marks in any test, I would imagine. Surely such a feat as this would not be beyond Severus' capabilities :-)

        It seems to me that Aberforth represents the opposite aspect of Dumbledore. Just as his sister represents all the aspects of Dumbledore which he suppresses, and are therefore subconscious, Aberforth has all the qualities that are directly opposite to those of Dumbledore. Jo uses this particular aspect of liberation symbolism throughout her books. We get it with the two images of Sirius, the evil and the good one, we get it with the two Moodys, with Harry and Voldemort, with Dobby and Kreacher, with Narcissa and Bellatrix. I'll post about it separately, because it is only incidental to this particular chapter, or at least that's what I think at the moment - but there's no guarantee, because my views change as rapidly and dramatically as the perspectives we readers get on Jo's characters :-)

        Harry finds most of the photograph Lily has described in her letter. It is pretty clear by now that the mysterious seeker whose trail Harry is following is most probably interested in Lily, but I don't recall spotting this when first reading the chapter. Did you spot it? I imagine some Snape fans must have done so. Harry's own focus on Dumbledore makes him think that's what the seeker is after - a typical example of projection - but the way the letter is worded suggests this too.

        Hermione appears and upbraids Harry for not behaving in the way she considers appropriate to the occasion. She has apparently been worried about him. He pays no attention. The mind and the soul operate from completely different perspectives. They make a fantastic team when they're working together. Here, they are not.

        They briefly discuss who the seeker might be, the issue that exercises Hermione's thoughts, but Harry's interest in this is somewhat cursory: he wants to discuss his own seeking.

        Harry's instinct is to follow up the clues about Dumbledore and Bathilda, which are being handed to him by events, one after the other. He instinctively knows that these clues join together, that they relate to eachother somehow. He senses the hidden relationship, the hidden pattern under the surface, beneath the superficial appearance of things, and he instinctively recognises that he must explore this relationship and bring it to light.

        This is a classic example of following the path of liberation. Harry's instinct tells him what he has got to do: the directions are coming up from the subconscious and he has, through his six years of schooling at Hogwarts, learned how to identify, listen to and follow that inner voice. He has gradually acquired his listening skills throughout the books: long gone are the days when an instinct had to be as huge and powerful as Hagrid, breaking the door down with a loud crash and delivering the invitation to Hogwarts and insisting he was a wizard, in order for him to believe it. The lessons in understanding the subtle nuances of behaviour that Dumbledore gave him the previous year are being put to good use here.

          `It's not just that,' Harry said, still avoiding looking at her. `Muriel said stuff about Dumbedore at the wedding. I want to know the truth …'

          He told Hermione everything that Muriel had told him. When he had finished, Hermione said, `Of course, I can see why that's upset you, Harry-`

          `I'm not upset,' he lied, `I'd just like to know whether or not it's true or –`

          `Harry, do you really think you'll get the truth from a malicious old woman like Muriel, or from Rita Skeeter? How can you believe them? You knew Dumbledore!'

          `I thought I did,' he muttered.

          `But you knew how much truth there was in everything Rita wrote about you! Doge is right, how can you let these people tarnish your memories of Dumbledore?'

          He looked away, trying not to betray the resentment he felt. There it was again: choose what to believe. He wanted the truth. Why was everybody so determined that he should not get it?

        Harry knows that he must clean up his own personal Grimmauld Place by finding out the truth. He recognises that he must do this even though Hermione his mind insists that this is wrong, and Ron his personality is indifferent to the idea and would anyway prefer a more comfortable existence, in ignorance.

        His thoughts and feelings about Dumbledore are causing him discomfort and unease, they represent a hot spot in his normally much cooler and more balanced approach to life, and he has to follow up this clue, seeking out the truth. When he has done so, his thoughts, feelings and emotions; his mind, his spirit and his body - all three; will be cool, relaxed and back in balance again.

        Harry has learned the lesson that Sirius, Molly and Dumbledore, each in their own way, tried to teach him in Book 5, and which Dumbledore reinforced in Book 6, that he must clean out his mind until what remains is the pure and the whole truth. He has become the ultimate Seeker, even though Ron and Hermione have so far failed to understand the importance and significance of this task.

        Truth is a key word here. Nothing but the whole truth will satisfy Harry. It is perfectly possible to live one's life without discovering the whole truth, to live with some partial perspective on it, but if one does so, the seven horcruxes will remain in place and liberation will not be achieved. Harry has the key, which both Hermione the mind and Ron the personality lack.

        The problem is that both Hermione and Ron are wedded to their own personal perspective, while thinking that their view is identical to that of Dumbledore, when in fact they don't understand Dumbledore's real intentions at all. They have set their view of him in stone, based on what they knew of him at the point at which he died, thus making their view of him a sort of fixed memorial tombstone.

        If it was left up to the mind and the personality, the truth about the horcruxes would remain buried.

        This is because the mind interprets experiences by making judgments about them and then storing the results - when we remember something with the mind, what we remember about it is our judgment of the event, rather than the event itself, and our judgment is stored in the form of opposites i.e. we remember something as being good or bad, and we remember the thoughts we had about it, instead of re-experiencing it.

        Contrast this with when something like a particular smell triggers a memory - then the real memory comes flooding back and fills us with the same emotion we felt at the time - this is real memory, and it is completely different from the mental judgments we usually regard as memories, and which are all that the mind can recall.

        Real memories are a re-experiencing of events, and they are not controlled by the mind. In comparison, the memories which can be accessed by the mind are second-hand, in the same way that Hermione and Ron's understanding and experiences of Dumbledore are for the most part via Harry's descriptions and explanations of his meetings and lessons with Dumbledore, they are not their own experiences.

        The mind is very subtle, much more subtle than the ego, and its voice is stronger than that of the instinct. It presents the greatest barrier to real understanding, because it is so eminently sensible and what it says fits our prevailing view of things. But when it says that something is impossible, that's the time to watch really carefully. Sometimes just as little as five minutes spent in acceptance that the impossible may actually be possible is enough time for the instinct to develop a little further, to strengthen its argument further and perhaps to tip the balance of probability in its favour, such that the mind begins to recognise that it is right. 

        What usually happens in my head is what happens here: the mind changes the subject and the instinct is overwhelmed by the strength of the mind's thought. Hermione suggests breakfast, and Harry's train of thought is broken, because a familiar, concrete idea pattern has overwhelmed the tentative new development, which is not concrete thought at all, but something much more ephemeral.

        This is why Harry has to spend almost a year trying to break through Hermione's fixed patterns. It's why liberation, which is possible very rapidly, usually takes such a long time. It is much easier to see past the self-seeking ego than it is to see past the fixed patterns of the mind. And once the mind and the personality are reconciled to eachother, which happens as the seeker advances along the path to liberation, they team up – `they had fallen asleep holding hands' - the quarrelling couple of alchemy are no longer quarrelling. And once this happens, they present a united front which is that much harder for the gentler instinct to break through.

        But the gentler instinct needs the support of the mind to put its ideas into a concrete shape so that the seeker can start to undertake the activity, with the third aspect, the personality, smoothing the way for this to happen. The trio must achieve its task jointly.

        This effectively means that the trio cannot advance until this crystallised position of theirs is broken up and fluid once more: until they once again open up and start assimilating new information. So Harry the new soul has the job of moving them all forwards even while his words fall on stubbornly deaf ears.

        Hermione leads the way towards breakfast, but Harry is resisting her will, he's still seeking. He sees the scratch marks on Regulus Black's door – did they happen when Voldemort decided that Regulus was surplus to requirements? – and realises the identity of RAB. The pompous note on the door suggests to me that Regulus is the rejected opposing half of Sirius, just as Aberforth is the rejected other half of Dumbledore. 

        Ron's ability to deal with spiders has changed dramatically – he is now better able to deal with them than Hermione is, but does require bribery :- )

        The sun's light is dazzling now: Hermione realises that they had the locket horcrux in their hands the previous year. It was in the Drawing Room, in a cupboard: imagine the house as a person again - the locket was in a cupboard representing the heart of the house, the Drawing Room. 

        Harry felt as though a brick had slid down through his chest into his stomach.

        I think this must be the stone that the builders rejected, and that becomes the cornerstone :- ) These builders certainly rejected the locket when they were demolishing and reconstructing the house during their spring-cleaning exercise …

        Harry remembers Kreacher's involvement in this exercise, and leads them down to the kitchen to Kreacher's bedroom, noisily and rapidly. His search continues below …   

        In Kreacher's cupboard is a copy of Nature's Nobility – a Wizarding Genealogy. This is the Grimmauld Place equivalent of Tom Riddle's diary – it represents the past lives of the seeker, his past karma, and is generally to be found down in the basement of the house or temple that is the human being, in the sacral plexus. In Grimmauld Place Kreacher's basement cupboard houses the boiler, which is a great parallel for the sacral plexus, which powers the whole body.  

        Harry summons Kreacher, whose attitude appears to be unchanged, and starts addressing those key questions to him.

        He would have found Kreacher, with his snout-like nose and bloodshot eyes, a distinctly unlovable object even if the elf had not betrayed Sirius to Voldemort.

        `I've got a question for you,' said Harry, his heart beating rather fast as he looked down at the elf, `and I order you to answer it truthfully. Understand?'

        He is asking these questions of his elf – himself. He is asking for the truth from the negative, rejected aspect of his instinctive lower nature. And Kreacher tells him. As he would have told anybody who had actually cared enough, and dared enough, to ask.

        Kreacher has no problem communicating events where he has been able to carry out the orders he has been given successfully. But where he has been given an order which, due to its nature, he is unable to carry out, the result is trauma. This trauma gives rise to repetitive behaviour patterns, which in this particular example can be clearly recognised as those of self-punishment. (It is not usually so obvious to people that this is what these actions represent. Different people respond to this trauma in different ways and the results appear slightly different in different people. The responses are different in males and females as well, due to differing polarisation, but I'm starting to get into a topic too complex to be discussed here, so I'll cut this short.) Basically, we have told our self to suppress behaviour that we are actually unable to suppress, and our self does its best and a hot spot results; it is marked by some psychological discomfort accompanied by pointless, repetitive behaviour that releases the surplus energy that has been trapped by the attempt at suppression.

        On the path to liberation, this suppression has to end: the energy needs to flow freely, and to achieve this the suppression has to stop. This can only be achieved through the seeker following his instinct and asking himself what is happening, and confronting the truth in the depths of himself, just as is so brilliantly described by Jo here. 

        It is all too easy for a house elf to lay a hand on himself, and Harry the new soul has to stop him, which he did here the instant Kreacher lunged for the poker standing in the grate. As described, Harry can stop Kreacher's repetitive behaviour without the intervention of Hermione the mind or Ron the personality. He can stop Kreacher's behaviour even in spite of Hermione's voiced objections, and he can also do it in response to her suggestion. And it is up to him to teach Hermione the mind that is it is the right thing to do - her confused intellectual notions of freedom can get in the way of recognising what is the right action to take in a given situation, while Harry the new soul as an instinctual being is not affected by this problem. His reactions are pure and completely responsive to the immediate situation, rather than following a learned behaviour pattern which can never be an exact match to current reality.

        The House Elf (our self) is divided into two halves, or opposites, the half we recognise as good, or Dobby, our positive body image, and the half we reject as animal in nature, Kreacher. We start out by teaching the good side of our self, Dobby, not to lay a hand on himself, and to learn respect for himself. But we don't do the same for the aspect of ourself which we think is wholly under the influence of the lower nature, often we treat it as if it isn't there: its something we are generally rather ashamed of and we tend to brush it under the carpet, so to speak, and hope that it'll be cured by some future event, and/or send it somewhere so we don't have to face it. Sending Dobby and Kreacher down to the kitchens at Hogwarts is a recognition, however, that their power derives from the sacral plexus, the engine room of our house/school/temple/body. 

        These two opposing aspects of our self fight every time they get near eachother just as Voldemort and Harry do, and although it isn't true for them that neither can live while the other survives, neither of them can have a satisfactory life while they are divided in this way. On the path to liberation the seeker has to reconcile these two opposites. He does this by allowing the good aspect of his self to be sacrificed, so that only one survives, that one having become whole. Effectively, the powers of the two divided halves are then joined into one. This is what happens in the Easter burial scene at the end of Chapter 23.

        Kreacher told the sneakthief to stop, but Mundungus Fletcher laughed and r –ran ..

        This is where the theme of the merry thief begins. It continues later in the description of Grindelwald. I need to spend some more time thinking about this, but at first glance we are looking at a symbol of Mercurius, in his aspect as the trickster archetype. It is this power of breaking up the old patterns and transforming them into new ones that is fundamental to the success of the liberating alchemical process.

        Harry could visualise them quite clearly, the frightened old elf and the thin, dark Seeker that so resembled Sirius …

        Harry recognises from the Quidditch photo in Regulus' room that he was a seeker. By the time Kreacher is half way through his story, Harry is acknowledging Regulus' Seeker qualities …

          `And he made you drink the potion?' Harry said, disgusted.                                                                                                    But Kreacher shook his head and wept. Hermione's hands leapt to her mouth: she seemed to have understood something. 

        This is a key point in the alchemical process; a transformation is taking place. And Regulus, too, is a trickster figure here, albeit a tragic one.

        I don't think a house elf would be able to destroy any of the horcruxes, just as they would not be able to create them. Their magic is of a different, a natural, kind, unlike Voldemort's, occult, magic or the alchemical magic of Harry.

          `Oh, Kreacher!' wailed Hermione, who was crying. She dropped to her knees beside the elf and tried to hug him. At once he was on his feet, cringing away from her, quite obviously repulsed.


          Kreacher began to sob so hard there were no more coherent words. Tears flowed down Hermione's cheeks as she watched Kreacher, but she did not dare touch him again.

        These lines really hit home for me. The hardest thing to bear in this life is standing by, powerless to help, while someone is suffering excruciating pain and grief; when you know what the problem is and you know what the answer is but although you are willing to offer everything that you have, you cannot communicate it to them. All you can do is stand by their side and take their pain and grief upon your own shoulders, and wish with all your heart that you could do something more.

        But Harry, the new soul, can cure this pain and grief instantly, and he does so. He gives Kreacher the fake locket, the fake heart, and that act of pure giving transforms the fake heart into a real one, and unlocks Kreacher's heart, and breaks the trauma.

        That funny little spasm he gives in Hermione's direction has me in tears too, though I don't suppose I'll ever earn such a gesture myself!   

        When Harry starts his search, he searches above, at the top floor of Grimmauld Place , and he finds information to do with Dumbledore, Lily and Sirius and, to his surprise, Regulus. This is the spiritual aspect to his quest.

        Hermione suggests breakfast, suggests satisfying the inner man, or the belly-god as he is sometimes called, the middle. But Harry is drawn to continue his search down below.

        And down below is Kreacher, his rejected, his disregarded instinctual nature, his animal side. Seeking involves investigating both the spiritual and the physical, the heights and the depths. Both the top and the bottom of the house or temple that is ourself need to be opened to the full light of day, to full understanding.

        And Harry's search for the horcruxes, while occasionally taking him above, repeatedly takes him down below: the basement kitchen at Grimmauld Place, the graves at Godric's Hollow, the bottom of the pool in the Forest of Dean, the cellar at Malfoy Manor, Dobby's grave and the vaults of Gringotts are all places where, at the lowest point, he achieves a breakthrough.   

        There is a lot more to this chapter that I haven't touched on – Kreacher's trip to the cavern, and his return there with Regulus, for instance, but I need to think about those further before I get enough of an understanding to say anything worthwhile about them … and besides, this post has already become extremely long. When I started writing about the chapter, I had no idea what I was going to say about it and in the process of writing about it I discovered a great deal of unexpected symbolism in its twists and turns, which I am grateful for. Thank you for bearing with me, those who have stuck it out to the bitter end :- )



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