Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Druidly Hallows

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
-- Albus Dumbledore

This latest Harry Potter movie almost got me snoring in the theatre. But thanks to my love of symbolism and synchronicity, I at least found one thing in the movie that piqued my interest quite a bit: the symbol of the deathly hallows.

Incidentally I was learning about the cosmology of the Ár nDraíocht Féin druidic tradition[1], and one of the subjects I ran into was their concept of the Three Hallows: The Fire, the Well, and the Tree. These are symbols that correspond to the three worlds of their cosmology (the Upperworld, Middleworld, and Underworld) as well as the three groups of spirits that they worship (gods, nature spirits, and ancestors). Basically the Three Hallows embody the philosophies around which their rituals and beliefs revolve.

"In Druidic cosmology, we find that the center of the world has three parts: Well, Fire, and Sacred Tree...The center is not complete with only the tree, for while the tree grows high and is rooted deep, it cannot devour our sacrifices as the fire can, nor can it carry our voices to the depths of the earth as the well can..."

--Michael J. Dangler, ADF[2]

Each of these "druidly" hallows I think fits seamlessly into one of the components of the deathly hallows symbol: Fire is always represented as an upright triangle both in the alchemy of the West and in the tattvic symbols of the East. The Well can be perfectly represented as a circle, denoting not only its shape but also the meaning of infinite depth. The Tree, the axis mundi, is just right to be the vertical line in the center, uniting and conjoining the opposite worlds of fire and well.

In the image above, I colored each components to indicate their elemental correspondences (for me): fire for Fire, water for Well, and air - the harmonizing and uniting element - for Tree. I'd like to think that the entire symbol itself corresponds to Earth, which is the crystallization of these three elements.

Now I'm really not sure what I could make use of this for, but at least it gave me more lasting entertainment than that movie.

Censer, cauldron and willow branch as Fire, Well and Tree in my druidic altar.

Basbasan Nawa!

[1] The ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) is the biggest druidic organization in the States, with a hard polytheistic theology and focusing on scholarly study of ancient Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European cultures and beliefs. It was founded by Isaac Bonewits in 1984.
[2] http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nine-tenets.html


Michael Elamson said...

As an ADF member, I have found the three-fold cosmology to be elegant and simple. I had no prior pagan practice experience, but I understand that people who come to ADF from other pagan traditions sometimes have a hard time getting used to them.

I'm not that much of Harry Potter fan and wasn't previously familiar with the Deathly Hallows sigil, but I like how you have drawn the correspondences here.

By the way, Dumbledore was cribbing. That quote is from Jesus -- Matthew 6:21.

Murmur said...

It also took me sometime to be comfortable with the ADF cosmology as I've been used to the concepts of revivalist druidry/Wicca. But I'm liking it very much now. It just has that very pagan flavor to it.

Thanks about that bit of info about Dumbledore/Jesus. :)

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