„This is the beginning, this ist he living spark
that swells into a living flame
and shines within me like a star in heaven.”
Paradiso, Canto 24 lines 145 – 147
When Dante enters the sphere of the Fixed Stars the apostles Peter, James and John approach him. They test him one after the other on the three theological virtues faith, hope and love.
It is Peter who appears first. He could be called a coward as he denied knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. And act of hacking off an ear of a High Priest’s servant speaks of quite a temper. Yet, despite all these flaws he is entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Keeper of Keys – this sounds familiar:
Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, ‘Whoare you?’
The giant chuckled.
‘True, I haven’t introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter 4 The Keeper of the Keys
Hagrid is in many ways like Peter. His reputation isn’t the best in the beginning:
‘Hagrid’s bringing him.’
‘You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?’
‘I would trust Hagrid with my life,’ said Dumbledore.
‘I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,’ said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, ‘but you can’t pretend he’s not careless. He does tend to – what was that?’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chapter 1 The Boy Who Lived
And in times of trouble even his friends think first of him when a secret has slipped:
‘Yes, and zat eez all very good,’ snapped Fleur, ‘but still eet does not explain ‘ow zey knew we were moving ‘Arry tonight, does eet? Somebody must ‘ave been careless. Somebody let slip ze date to an outsider. Eet eez ze only explanation for zem knowing ze date but not ze ‘ole plan.’
She glared around at them all, tear tracks still etched on her beautiful face, silently daring any of them to contradict her. Nobody did. The only sound to break the silence was that of Hagrid hiccoughing from behind his handkerchief. Harry glanced at Hagrid, who had just risked his own life to save Harry’s – Hagrid, whom he loved, whom he trusted, who had once been tricked into giving Voldemort crucial information in exchange for a dragon’s egg…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 5 Fallen Warrior
Yet, he is the most faithful of all and always remains like Peter (Peter/ Petrus derives from petra = rock) the rock in troubled water for all and especially for Harry. He is trusted with the keys of Hogwarts, with baby Harry and with the Philosopher’s Stone. Therefore, this picture of the Fixed Stars is dedicated to Hagrid.
Dante enters the Fixed Stars in the constellation of Gemini, under which he was born. The twins naming Gemini (Gemini = twins) are Castor and Polux, twin sons of Leda and Jupiter. When Castor died, Polux asked their father to grant his brother the gift of immortality, he already owned. Jupiter obliged by placing both of them into the nightly sky. As brightest stars of the constellation Gemini they became protectors and guiding stars of sailors.
Up to the point Harry meets Hagrid, he was an orphan without roots. He did know next to nothing about his family and what he knew were lies. More so, the Dursleys forbad him to ask questions. And they hated it even more when Harry used his imagination to explain things. Their life was ruled by intellect and they wanted Harry’s to be ruled by it as well.
Hagrid opened up a whole new dimension of understanding for Harry. He not just literally destroyed the door of the little hut on the rock in the sea, he also blew up the narrow-framed apertures of Privet Drive #4. With his name he gave Harry the family he later sees in the Mirror of Erised around him. He gave him more than lasting pictures in a photo album.
‘You are so near the final blessedness,’
Beatrice then began,
‘your eyes from now on shall be clear and keen.
‘Thus, before you become more one with it,
look down once more and see how many heavens
I have already set beneath your feet,
‘so that your heart, filled with joy,
may greet the triumphant throng that comes
in gladness to this aethereal sphere.’
Paradiso, Canto 22 Lines 124 – 132
When looking back Dante identifies the 7 planets by their mythological parentage. A myth goes that all souls upon birth descend through these planetary spheres. While travelling down they pick up the qualities belonging to the various planets. They borrow illumination, energy and talents from the stars. When we die the downward movement is reversed, so that the qualities are returned replenished, enhanced or perhaps tainted to their respective planets to be used by the next generation of newborn souls.
It’s a circular rhythm that implies a connection between the heavenly bodies and whatever is taking place below.
All that is above
Also is below.
We all are linked to the generations and times before us. Like the stars, the generations before us shed their light, that started its journey perhaps millenniums ago, on us today. By opening the door to his family and his ‘kind’, Hagrid gave Harry a glimpse of eternity and the part he plays in it. By allowing him the right to ask and to use his imagination he opened him the door to the world – the world outside like Diagon Alley, Platform 9 ¾ and Hogwarts and the world inside his head.
‘Tell me one last thing,’ said Harry. ‘Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?’
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.
‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is nor real?’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 King’s Cross
Hagrid is Harry’s guiding star, fixed in the sky of Hogwarts during his night sea journey. King’s Cross and the generations that have travelled through it became real for Harry because he was around.