Monday, March 07, 2011

Mirror of Erised

The word "Erised" (pronounced eer-ih-sehd) is "desire" spelled backwards meaning the name could also be known as the "mirror of desire." The backwards text is a symbol of the odd nature of the mirror, because the mirror works in a very backwards way from regular mirrors in a way that it shows the inside and not the outside of a person. The inscription around the mirror reads "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi" The message backwards is "I show not your face but your heart's desire."

The Mirror of Erised is a magic mirror, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, shows the "deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts." The happiest person in the whole world would look in the mirror and see a reflection of exactly the way he or she is. Inscribed across the top of the frame is the following text:
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi
Reversing the inscription and rearranging the spaces produces:
I show not your face but your heart's desire

Through the recent journey I've taken through death and life, I have made some discoveries about love. The first is that love is always there. Whether we know it or not, we are surrounded by an ocean of love. Our challenge is not to find love, as though it were a distant, half-mythical goal. Our challenge is to become aware of love. Like the object you search the house for and then find was in your pocket all along, love is right with us. Our task is to abandon the distraction of searching and give ourselves to the love that is always there.

Perhaps, when reading this, you thought as I did of the scene before the Mirror of Erised where Harry sought the Stone and suddenly found it in his pocket.

I would like to quote from this book 'Facing Death Finding Love -The Healing Power of Grief & Loss In One Family's Life' (1994) by Dawson Church.  This is mainly a meditation over the author's loss of a new-born child.  Writing of the earlier birth of his other son, in a chapter called 'Welcoming the Soul' -- to compare with what Ms Rowling wrote of the contrast between Voldemort and Harry:  the different circumstances of their birth and the choices they made later.

And finally, from the same book --

If your heart is open, the soul of your baby will surely know it.  Just imagine you were a stranger landing in a strange country, where you didn't know any of the customs or the language.  How grateful you would be for a guide who would feed you, clothe you, teach you the language, and care for and protect you while you were learning to fend for yourself.  If the soul of your child knows you welcome it and will be a loving guardian of its growth, it can easily make the confining transition into a physical body.

Lionel was traumatized by his difficult birth.  It toook several hours after the umbilical cord was cut for him to calm down and got to sleep.  For the next few days, he cried and cried.  I knew that newborns can cry a great deal, but Lionel's constant crying began to weary me.  We tried everything.  We would feed him, clean him, burp him, cuddle him, and he still cried.  After six weeks of relentless crying, I was at my wit's end.  I felt as though I was on the brink of insanity.  I wanted to throw him out the window.

'Why don't you try giving him an attunement?' Brenda then suggested.  Doing this frequently when Lionel was in the womb had conditioned me to think of this primarily as a prenatal technique, not something to do after birth.  I placed my hands over his body and shared a long, loving attunement with him.  I spoke to his soul  'What is going on with this baby?  Why is he so distressed?'

'He didn't know you were here,' his soul replied.  'You spent time with him in spirit like this every day while he was in the womb, then once he was born, this conscious contact suddenly stopped.  He's reached out to you in spirit and found no one there.'

How could I have been so blind?  I had been a presence welcoming and loving him all through gestation, and suddenly he finds himself born into this uncertain new environment, and his friend isn't there!  The constant attunement signal he has been orienting to has suddenly disappeared, and he finds himself all alone.  Of course he is distressed.  I had been so focused on the physical level of actually having a baby I could hold and see that I had completely forgotten the spiritual level of parenting.  At the soul level, I had abandoned my baby.

As I held my hands over Lionel's body, his crying stopped.  His breathing became regular, and he fell asleep.  He had rediscovered his friend.  From that day on there was a complete change in his behavior. He cried infrequently and quickly stopped when we took care of his needs. He became an amazingly happy baby,and to this day is the happiest person I have ever met.
The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.
In 1992, the Mirror was the final guardian of the Philosopher's Stone in its Chambers. Dumbledore placed an enchantment on the mirror, hiding the stone inside of it and allowing the mirror to transfer the stone to anyone who wanted to find the stone but not to use it. Anybody wishing more than simply finding it would see themselves making gold or the Elixir of Life, or in Professor Quirrell's case presenting the stone to his master.

When Quirrell/Voldemort ordered Harry to look into the mirror, Harry focused on finding the stone, and, uninterested in actually using the stone for his own purposes, saw his reflection pocketing the stone, at which time it magically appeared in his real pocket.[1]

Harry did not do the hero's thing and slay the villain.  Harry was the means that Voldemort brought death upon himself.  Harry was the mirror that destroys the basilisk by reflecting the basilisk's gaze.  He is like the 'fetch' that Emerald mentioned, 'a spirit counterpart of one's own soul that connects it to the realm of the Gods.'  Loosely speaking, that could be the substance which produces the ecstatic state....
But how did Harry become able to be that mirror to begin with? Through Voldy's inadvertent semi-transformation of him. (I say "semi-" in the sense that the transformation, or alteration, was temporary, to the tune of 16 years.) The basilisk does not create the mirror with which it can itself be destroyed. But Voldemort does. (And he does so by choosing to act on the Prophecy, as DD drives home in HBP.)

But... even though Voldy made his own mirror, by altering/transforming Harry, Harry's response to that transformation - to use it against V rather than give in to the allure of Dark Magic - was all Harry. Even his mother's love protection didn't achieve that all on its own. He wasn't a static instrument, like a literal mirror would be; he was a participant. DD also tells us that it was Harry choosing to live up to the potential for love that his mother gave him that had allowed Harry to stay in the Light. And it was by choosing to stay in the Light that put Harry put himself into the position of being a mirror at the right time and place.

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