The eternal pearl received us in itself,
as water does a ray of light
and yet remains unsundered and serene.
Paradiso, Canto II Lines 34 – 36
“Quickly as a bolt strikes, flies and releases from its catch” Dante enters the celestial kingdom with Beatrice. The poet is in lose of words to describe this experience. He retreats into the mythical realm when he compares his transformation during his ascent with that of the fisherman Glaucus who turns unexpectedly into a god by eating some weed he found at the shore. Plus, he invents the word ‘trasumanar’ – to transhumanize, to pass beyond the human.
‘To pass beyond the human’ means for Dante to get closer to the divine. In terms of Jung, Dante speaks of an ongoing process of individuation. The step from profane ego-orientated life to a more spiritual, immortal reality cannot be taken without the conquest of the instinctual side for the conscious. For a moment the seeker can’t clutch to outworn ideas and conventional patterns anymore. He looses contact with every aspect of the human self and sinks down to the level of the animal kingdom.
My transformations in those days were — were terrible. It is very painful to turn into a werewolf. I was separated from humans to bite, so I bit and scratched myself instead. The villagers heard the noise and the screaming and thought they were hearing particularly violent spirits.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Remus Lupin experiences the ‘loss of soul’, as primitive cultures call it, every full moon. Painfully, he turns into a monster without any trace of human awareness. For the year he worked at Hogwarts the Wolfsbane Potion, Professor Snape prepared for him, controlled the worst effects and made him keep his mind.
Yet, individuation is a very personal process and can’t be spurred on from outside. The monster that devours the conscious and holds it captive must be overcome. And traditionally, it can’t be killed. The seeker must find over ways to integrate his instinctual side. Hence, Remus Lupin had still a distance to travel for success. So, it was only consequent that his Boggart remained the Moon.
However, the Moon – first of the planets Dante visits in Paradise – can also be Lupin’s rescue.
‘I shall now reshape your intellect,
thus deprived, with a light so vibrant
that your mind will quiver at the sight.
Paradiso, Canto II lines 109 – 111
In the darkness of the soul’s night one’s intellect, the male Logos is no use. Or, echoing Aristotle Beatrice explains Dante that experience and man-made categories are perfect for human science, yet it needs another approach to understand what God and man is.
Moon represents Nature. And with its inconsistent appearance it seems to be chaotic. Yet it has its own kind of order. Once our eyes grow accustomed to the Moon’s pale glow, the usual boundaries become blurred and we discover a new world with our instinctual side.
Remus Lupin’s new world answers to the name of Nymphadora Tonks. Her appearance is as changeable as the Moon’s shape. More often than not however, she glows with bubblegum pink hair and in a punky-funky outfit. As the Moon’s essence is reflection, she reflects Lupin’s mischief maker side he lived with the Marauders.
With that she stands in one row with his friends James, Sirius and Peter. If it was not for a woman’s secret power and her magic, Lupin’s life might have gone on like. Yet, Tonks became – what the full moon symbolises – a mother.
Male logic told Lupin to flee:
‘I – I made a grave mistake in marrying Tonks. I did it against my better judgement and I have regretted it very much ever since.’
‘I see,’ said Harry, ‘so you’re just going to dump her and the kid and run off with us?’
Lupin sprang to his feet: his chair toppled over backwards, and he glared at them so fiercely that Harry saw, for the first time ever, the shadow of the wolf upon his human face.
‘Don’t you understand what I’ve done to my wife and my unborn child? I should never have married her, I’ve made her an outcast!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11: The Bribe
Had he done so, he had broken a vow – his marriage vow. Done for a greater good he would have been the perfect Moon dweller as the Moon is for those of the saints who failed to keep a vow. They were in their life as inconstant as the light o the Moon so to say.
‘You want to know if a vow left unfulfilled
may be redeemed by some exchange
that then secures the soul from challenge.’
Paradiso, Canto 5 Lines 13 – 15
Dante’s question doesn’t stay unanswered. Beatrice explains that God’s greatest gift to mankind is a free will. A vow is a sacrifice of this freedom in benefit of somebody else’s good or the greater good. If one doesn’t keep to one’s word, one takes the freedom back and is therefore possessing an ill-gotten gift. That means one has to remain faithful to one’s vows unless it was a sinful vow from the beginning. Hence, a vow stays a vow. Yet, the substance of a vow can be changed if a greater sacrifice replaces the earlier one.
Lupin, of course, offered a greater sacrifice, he thought:
‘I thought you’d say that,’ said Lupin, looking disappointed. ‘But I might still be of some use to you. You know what I am and what I can do. I could come with you to provide protection. There would be no need to tell me exactly what you were up to.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11: The Bribe
He offered in the consequence his life for the protection of the only hope of wizardkind and therefore for the greater good. Yet, his offer to vow himself to Harry was declined by him. What he took first not very good to say the least, was his rescue. He didn’t need to break his marriage vow and still was rescued by the Moon:
‘Yes, yes, she’s had the baby!’ shouted Lupin. All around the table came cries of delight, sighs of relief: Hermione and Fleur both squealed, ‘Congratulations!’ and Ron said, ‘Blimey, a baby!’ as if he had never heard of such a thing before.
‘Yes – yes – a boy,’ said Lupin again, who seemed dazed by his own happiness. He strode round the table and hugged Harry; the scene in the basement of Grimmauld Place might never have happened.
‘You’ll be godfather?’ he said, as he released Harry.
‘M – me?’ stammered Harry.
‘You, yes, of course – Dora quite agrees, no one better –‘
‘I – yeah – blimey –‘
Harry felt overwhelmed, astonished, delighted: now Bill was hurrying to fetch wine and Fleur was persuading Lupin to join them for a drink.
‘I can’t stay long, I must get back,’ said Lupin, beaming around at them all: he looked years younger than Harry had ever seen him. ‘Thank you, thank you, Bill.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 25: Shell Cottage
In the end, when Lupin had accepted with Tonks’ help that the basic stability behind all life and his inner indestructible essence has to be given to the next generation, his days became brighter. I bet his Boggart changed too and he was able to say as Picarda said in Paradiso, Canto 3 Lines 64 – 72:
‘But tell me, do you, who are here content,
desire to achieve a higher place, where you
might see still more and make yourselves more dear?’
Along with the other shades, she smiled,
then answered me with so much gladness
she seemed alight with love’s first fire:
‘Brother, the power of love subdues our will
so that we long for only what we have
and thirst for nothing else.