The Half-Blood Prince


From a psychological perspective, I found the latest Harry Potter movie to be one of the best I have ever seen for illustrating the different paths the orphan hearted can take once they are awake to their own pain. We have Harry Potter, an orphan raised without love, and Tom Riddle (who becomes Lord Voldemort), also an orphan raised without love. Harry takes the path of the heroic orphan, Tom that of the tragic one. Harry uses his loss and pain while Tom abuses others for his. One is a giver, the other a taker.

The young actor who plays Tom as a boy is brilliant; look at the petulant, angry expression on his face when he first meets Dumbledore, and then look at the transformation as Tom realizes that he can make use of Dumbledore. Through Dumbledore he can learn how to harness his powers and get revenge for his suffering. Through Dumbledore he can experience vindictive triumph.

Finally, look at Dumbledore’s character and aims: in both relationships his goal has been to teach young wizards how to use their powers for good. He’s a wise old wizard doing what wise old wizards do. Yet even a wise old wizard like Dumbledore can’t predict outcomes.

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To celebrate his 75th birthday, Carl Jung hewed a four-sided stone mandala he set outside his house in Bollingen. One of the sides said this:

I am an orphan, alone; nevertheless I am found everywhere. I am one, but opposed to myself. I am youth and old man at one and the same time. I have known neither father nor mother, because I have had to be fetched out of the deep like a fish, or fell like a white stone from heaven. In woods and mountains I roam, but I am hidden in the innermost soul of man. I am mortal to everyone, yet I am not touched by the cycle of aeons.

We are all orphans in a part of ourselves. The question is how we manifest our orphan heart and whether we are heroic or tragic orphans in that part of ourselves.

8 responses to “The Half-Blood Prince”

  1. Thom E. Avatar
    Thom E.

    To tell the truth, what Jung was saying in regards to this “Orphan”, it was first an analogy to the “prima materia” of the beginning of the alchemist’s work and also the result of the work. It is also, then secondarily, a reference to the nature of the “Self”, not the self as we know the term in general, but the Self as sort of the inner organizing principle of the psyche and it is sort of the hidden “God” deep within the unconscious, it is the archetype of all the archetypes and contains them all. And it is the hardest and most difficult to get even a glimpse of, although it does guide us for good or for ill, but it also obeys the law of the universe and knows better for us and knows us millions of times better then we “think” we know about ourselves.

    1. Thom E. Avatar
      Thom E.

      Sorry, I didn’t realize this was a place for psychological musings, I thought it was a general blog, with this topic being on Potter.

      1. Eve Avatar

        Thom, general musings, psychological musings, and musings of all kinds are welcome. I’m quite interested in the orphan archetype, having written a master’s thesis on the topic. Being an adoptive mother many times over, it’s an archetype that has personal and professional significance to me. In this post, I was musing about how we respond to an archetype that is (presumably, being an archetype) resident within each of us (theoretically, that is), whether heroically or tragically. Thoughts?

        1. Thom E. Avatar
          Thom E.

          I actually found a lot of interesting parallels with the Potter story, another being that his story is also another retelling of the Cinderella myth, except in this case, it’s a male figure at the center. And I guess you could say that the Self is orphaned/abandoned/forgotten, or at least so by the Ego.

  2. Irene Avatar

    I love the way you look at these stories. Unfortunately I haven’t caught up on these yet.

    I was a bit of a tragic orphan, always blaming the outer world or people. I still have bits here and there, but hopefully the balance is now slowly going the other way. It’s amazing how we can be tragic or heroic simply by making a different choice, every day. As you say, consciousness is the key.

    1. Eve Avatar

      Irene, honestly I thought the entire movie worth seeing for this one extraordinary scene played in the clip above. Isn’t the orphan Tom’s face just haunting? If you get a chance to see the film, even if you haven’t read the books, I think you’ll appreciate the artistry. The entire film is so dark and brooding, and the evil orphan character played so well by the child and adolescent actors who play him. Though I am a Harry Potter fan, I don’t think you’d need to read the books to appreciate how this one character’s need for “vindictive triumph” overcomes him and drives him to the darkness. They did an exceptional job at showing this in the film.

      And, yes, habits become character. As Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

  3. deb Avatar

    I’ve been feeling an orphan today. I read a little about mother and father complexes last night, then sighed heavily. My life is not special or different, it’s like so many others, which is both disconcerting and comforting. I am apart and connected, which leads me back to my family.

    It’s time to grow up and be myself and not what my parents or my siblings need me to be. What they want me to be is the good, dutiful, obliging girl. It’s easier for them that way. I have never been good, dutiful or obliging. I’ve tried but my real self has always leaked out sideways, leaving a trail behind me, making a mess.

    I dreamed last night I was out with my best friend. We stayed up all night. We partied, danced, sang, drank and had so much fun. I need to let myself loose from all the constraints I’ve placed around myself so that I would fit.

    1. Eve Avatar

      Deb, I believe that each of us has a good, dutiful, obliging part and a partying, dancing, singing, drinking and fun part. Sometimes we can be good and dance, dutiful while we sing; but often times we keep these two parts of ourselves apart. My husband and I were just talking about this today, and about how we need to keep trying to manifest both sides at once lest we over-do either side and end up in a ditch! Hehe.

      Our real selves do “always leak out sideways.” I love that. I know mine does. No matter how we try to hide it, we still show who we are. I think that sometimes we’re the most surprised at ourselves, which once again points to the value of simply being conscious.

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