This article on the astrology of Harry Potter was featured on Astrodienst and is also available as a YouTube presentation. By the way, on the day there were 6 of the 7 traditional planets in their natural houses (except Venus), Venus was transiting Harry Potter and JK Rowling’s Sun in Virgo. Rowling was taking quite a bashing on social media for her upcoming book.
On the 26 June 1997, as Mercury was conjunct the Sun in Cancer, the first in a seven-part series of Harry Potter books – originally written for children – was published. Some people might say the literary world has never been the same since: magic, wizardry and obscure Latin phrases enchanted Muggles in a way no other books have. J. K. Rowling was instantly transformed from destitute single mother to globally-acclaimed author. To date over 500 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide.
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Keep an eye out for my astrology Adolescent Report aimed at young people taking their first steps in astrology.
From the beginning, astrologers discussed the possibility that Rowling herself was an astrologer. The first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone must have had astrologers cheering everywhere with several characters named after stars or constellations. The book also contained the centaurs, Ronan and Bane, discussing the brilliance of Mars as well as a ghostly appearance by the famed alchemist Nicholas Flamel. There was even a banished centaur called Firenze who seemed to confirm he was an astrologer when he said: “Good luck, Harry Potter. . .the planets have been wrongly read even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times.”
By the fourth book however, it seemed that Rowling herself was deliberately dispelling any rumours of being an astrologer. It had also emerged she had been a student of the Classics at Exeter University and would have learned much about mythology and other related subjects. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” even introduced the character of divination teacher Sybill Trelawney who seemed as fraudulent as the proverbial three-dollar bill. The mandatory study of astrology (and other forms of divination) clearly did not sit well with Hermione who, along with other characters, scoffed at the inaccuracy of the divinatory arts.
It seemed the best astrologers could do was speculate that J. K. Rowling had a vague interest in astrology at some point in her life.
However, in 2010 a very strange item turned up at the Antiques Roadshow. The object was a plastic folder containing a hand-drawn natal chart, a 12-page analysis and an illustration of the key astrological concepts of the owner’s personality—signed by none other than Rowling herself. The contents of the analysis clearly showed Rowling possessed information she would not have learned from Exeter University. Rowling had been rumbled. The folder, by the way, was valued at £25,000.
It’s all well and good having confirmation that J.K.Rowling, one of the world’s best-selling authors was an astrologer but, besides naming characters after stars and constellations, could she have used astrology to bring her characters to life?
Curiously, aside from Dumbledore and Voldemort, most of the characters have dates of birth but establishing times of birth could only be possible through the process of rectification. Rectification can be confirmed by looking at the transits of important events.
Many astrologers are dubious about using rectification and prefer to only use charts if the time is reliable. There can be no doubt that reliability is important but in the absence of any evidence of time of birth, rectification is sometimes necessary.
An excellent analysis and rectification was done by Karin Hoffmann in “Harry Potter—A Hero’s Journey“. She used the time of 15:25 on 31 July 1980 in the Muggle town of Ammanford in South Wales. This places the ascendant at about 20 degrees Scorpio. She points out the lightening shaped scar above Harry’s eye is a perfect indicator of Uranus conjunct the ascendant. Using solar return charts, she explained how the events of the books matched the astrology.
As someone whose primary interest is child development, I wanted to concentrate on using Jupiter and Saturn to outline the main events of the most famous teenagers in the world as a further indicator that Rowling possessed more than just a rudimentary understanding of astrology. If Rowling had used astrology, then Harry Potter would be an ordinary teenager astrologically too. So for me the clincher of the rectified chart was Jupiter on the MC.
Jupiter in the birth chart is the prime key to understanding how children learn. As Jupiter changes signs every year, teachers can use this planet to help them understand how academic classes change every year. Saturn, so important in understanding limitations and difficulties, can help parents and teachers understand how to discipline the children in their care. Together Jupiter and Saturn create an astrological signature that can be enormously helpful to busy teachers or parents.
Jupiter makes significant transits to its natal position about every three years whilst Saturn’s makes significant transits to its natal position about every seven. In adolescence, the key transits are: the Jupiter return at twelve, the first Uranus sextile at fourteen, the Saturn opposition at about fifteen, the transiting Jupiter square at fifteen and the transiting Jupiter opposition at eighteen.
If I were creating an adolescent character using astrology, I might have started looking at the natal position of Jupiter and Saturn because the planets of growth and stability would be affected by those important transits. I thought Rowling missed out on an opportunity to elect the chart of one of her characters to have a great conjunction. Great Conjunctions were noted for heralding important events or the birth of important people. For example, it has been theorised that the Star of Bethlehem was a great conjunction.
Although visually less spectacular than solar or lunar eclipses, Great Conjunctions caught the imaginations of astronomers such as Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, who indicated such events were auspicious. Galileo, who built on the work of Brahe and Kepler, eventually helped to convince a disbelieving world that the earth revolved around the Sun, was born during a Great Conjunction. Shakespeare, whose work is littered with astrological references, was also born during a Great Conjunction.
Nevertheless, despite this seeming oversight (and what do I know about writing best selling novels?), the symbols of astrology practically sing during the important events of Harry’s life. And Rowling gives us the dates so we can follow.
An event that echoes over and over throughout the series is the death of Harry’s parents on 31 October 1981. (In fact, in every book of the series, this date is an important one.) Years before, Sybill Trelawney had made a prophecy that essentially marked an unnamed child as Lord Voldemort’s equal and had warned that neither could live while the other survived. Voldemort, obsessed with conquering death, found the risk of a child growing up to defeat him was unacceptable. He deduced, based on other details provided in the prophecy, that this child was either Harry or Neville Longbottom. Voldemort went after Harry first, killing his father almost immediately. It is made very clear that Harry’s mother sacrificed herself to save her son and because of this, the curse that Voldemort subsequently tried to use to kill Harry rebounded onto him. The news of Harry’s survival quickly spread throughout the magic community. Sacrifice and survival are the important words that are repeated from the story.
On this particular day, the transiting Sun was exactly square to Harry’s natal Sun (death of the father) and the Moon is conjunct his natal Neptune (mother’s sacrifice). Transiting Mercury was exactly conjunct Harry’s Pluto (Professor McGonnagall had declared prophetically after his survival: “The boy will be famous. There won’t be a child in the world who won’t know his name.”). Everyone who met Harry was impressed with his survival.
However, there’s a little more symbolism here. Because of his evil deeds, Voldemort’s soul was unstable. When he unleashed his curse onto Harry and it rebounded onto him, a piece of his soul splintered and hit Harry, leaving him with his lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. Let us remember that Harry’s ascendant is in Scorpio, conjunct Uranus. Hoffmann points out that the progressed MC is exactly conjunct Harry’s natal Jupiter which perhaps can account for his fortuitous survival.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we get a picture of Harry’s early life and first year at Hogwarts. The former is not a pleasant existence. The latter, which coincides with his first Jupiter return, is decidedly better. First, let us examine Harry’s life pre Jupiter return.
Saturn is in the middle of a series of three conjunctions to Uranus 1985. Harry is 5 years old, when an aunt whacks Harry on the shins to prevent him from beating his repulsive cousin at musical statues at a birthday party. In June 1988, at the same cousin’s birthday party, the same aunt gives the cousin a computerised robot and Harry a box of dog biscuits as Jupiter opposes Uranus. Two years later, at another birthday party and as transit Jupiter opposed his natal Mars, the aunt’s dog chases Harry up a tree where he remains until around midnight. For Harry’s 10th birthday, just after transit Jupiter square his natal Mars, he is given a coat hanger and a pair of his uncle’s old socks.
However, things begin to change for the better just after Jupiter was conjunct to Harry’s natal Sun for the first time in May 1991: he has his first animal communication experience with a boa constrictor that thanked him for freeing him by magically removing the glass in front of its tank. This begins a key clue to Harry’s burgeoning personality as a wizard and the theme of this scene is re-visited in later books.
A few months later, as transiting Jupiter is conjunct his natal north node, Harry begins to receive owl posts inviting him to Hogwarts in the week before his 11th birthday. Counting the days in the book, the first day the first letter arrives is 23 July: the day of the exact conjunction of the Sun and Chiron. The letter from Hogwarts is Harry’s ticket out of his miserable existence and would allow him to begin to understand who he really is. Banned from even asking about his parents, Harry had serious questions to ask (he had been told his parents died in a car accident and his aunt and uncle who adopted him refused to talk about the magical world). As the letters are charmed to know if they’ve been read, more letters keep arriving to give Harry the chance to open them and accept his place at Hogwarts. His uncle goes to extraordinary lengths to keep these letters from him, even taking the family to a run down shack where no one could possibly find their address.
At the stroke of midnight on Harry’s birthday, the giant Hagrid arrives at the shack to personally deliver the invitation. Transiting Pluto is on the descendant of this time and the ascendant is conjunct Harry’s natal Chiron. This is the moment that Harry’s life completely changes. Although Rowling says Harry’s birthday is on a Tuesday, this appears to be a rare mistake: the 31 July 1991 was a Saturday.
As transit Jupiter squares his natal Uranus at the beginning of August 1991, Harry is taken shopping for his wizard school supplies by Hagrid who has liberated him from the Muggle world. Being a pupil with Jupiter in Virgo, Harry selects the very best items to ensure he would be good student.
As Harry approaches his first Jupiter return he discovers he excels at Quidditch and flying and is crowned the new ‘seeker’ for the team. The date is 12 September 1991, the day Jupiter enters Virgo. At the end of October 1991, just a few days before Jupiter reaches his MC, Harry and Ron Weasley fight a mountain troll and rescue Hermione, cementing their friendship (and later Hermione becomes Ron’s wife!). At Christmas that year, Harry has the best Christmas of his life as he receives his father’s invisibility cloak. This demonstrates the sheer joy of the first Jupiter return which also extends to meeting new and interesting people. In Harry’s case, he meet Severus Snape, the Defence Against Dark Arts teacher and Quirinus Quirrell who, it emerged, has been controlled by Lord Voldemort all along.
Transiting planets can have up to three contacts to a planet and it stands to reason that the more contacts, the more profound the effect. Thus Harry’s Jupiter return is extended because of Jupiter’s retrograde and forward motion and essentially lasts the whole school year. It extends until well past his first detention served in the Forbidden Forest where he meets centaurs and had witnessed Voldemort sucking the blood of a unicorn.
This school year also coincides with a transiting Saturn square to his natal Chiron twice: once when he receives his first detention and again during his conflict with Quirrell.
The final transits of Jupiter to its natal position is just before Harry’s 12th birthday when Harry is visited by Dobby. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chronicles Harry’s second year at Hogwarts which can be marked out by Harry’s transiting Jupiter, in Libra, conjoining his natal Mars. In December of this year, as transiting Jupiter is conjunct Harry’s Mars for the first time, the boy wizard discovers he can speak ‘Parseltongue’ the language of serpents and typically the mark of a dark wizard. A few weeks later, Harry, Ron and Hermione take Polyjuice Potion which allows them to shape-shift. For the second conjunction of these two planets, Harry receives a Valentine from the mysterious T.M. Riddle. For the final conjunction between these two planets, around the time of Harry’s 13th birthday, Harry sees Sirius Black on Muggle television.
In the third installment in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the symbolism of transiting Jupiter conjunct Harry’s Pluto and square to his Mercury in Cancer is very clear: Harry is being targeted not by Voldemort but by Sirius Black, a mass murderer who is assumed to have played a hand in the death of Harry’s parents. Further, the deeply frightening dementors who have the power to devour human souls pursue Harry. Transiting Saturn also makes awkward aspects to these natal planets as a werewolf and other shape shifting characters interact with Harry. Dementors are just about the most apt manifestation of Saturn that there could be. There is also another frightening side story of Buckbeak the hippogriff’s impending execution.
During this whole academic year, in the book about an escaped prisoner, Saturn makes a series of transits by opposition Harry’s MC and natal Jupiter and also transiting Jupiter makes a series of transits to his MC and natal Jupiter.
Buckbeak’s near execution takes place on 6 June 1994. Transiting Venus is conjunct Harry’s Mercury, the North Node is conjunct his ascendant and the transiting Moon is conjunct his natal Chiron. On this day, Sirius is re-captured and narrowly escapes being given the death kiss by dementors. Sirius rides to freedom on Buckbeak’s back.
Later that summer, Harry meets his first crush, Cho Chang as Saturn opposed his MC (we know this one isn’t going to work out!).
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry would experience his first Saturn opposition, a tricky time for maturing adolescents. During this time, Muggle adolescents would be facing up to the seriousness of exams and typically demonstrate a strong fear of failure. In this book, on top of exam preparation, Harry becomes an unwilling participant in the Triwizard Tournament. Readers noted that this book sees a darker, angrier Harry.
Harry is chosen to represent Hogwarts on the 31 October 1994, when Jupiter is exactly conjunct his ascendant. Harry and Ron end up having an argument and do not reconcile until after the first task of the tournament—on the day transiting Jupiter is semi-square Harry’s natal Mars.
Harry asks Cho Chang to be his date for the Yule Ball but she has to turn him down as she has already accepted and invitation from popular Cedric Diggory. At the second task of the Triwizard tournament in November, Cho is kidnapped and held hostage. She has to be rescued by Cedric of course.
The final of the Triwizard Tournament takes place on the evening of 24 June 1995 and features tasks that are almost death defying. Although Harry would emerge the winner, fellow competitor Cedric is killed by Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) and Voldermort. It is a shocking death (as it is a children’s book) as well as a terrible price to pay for a victory. Harry’s series of Saturn opposition has begun a few weeks before so an unexpected encounter with death seems suitable. The final opposition would be during the next academic year in the next book.
In the fifth book of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, later that summer, on 2 August 1995, Harry is forced to use the Patronus charm to save his cousin from dementors. It is the day of one of his Saturn oppositions and wouldn’t you know it, Saturn turned retrograde the day before. The incident triggers off disciplinary action against Harry that would have resulted in his expulsion from Hogwarts if Dumbledore had not intervened.
Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts did not get off to the best of starts: he meets his Professor Dolores Umbridge, a character so irritating that it’s hard to believe that same author who created such lovable characters could also create one the reader would like to throttle. Evil, sadistic, condescending and cruel, master of horror Stephen King once described her as “the greatest make believe villain since Hannibal Lector”. Sadly, although her date of birth is known (26 August), the year is not. Harry hates her immediately and he cannot hold off his anger. Transiting Jupiter has made its final square to Harry’s MC and it is represented by a centaur-hating witch with the power to short circuit his education.
Further difficulties are the awkward relations between Harry and Cho who are both still grieving for Cedric. However, Harry finds the courage to kiss her under the mistletoe during a transit between a conjunction of transit Jupiter and natal Neptune. By Valentine’s Day, the pair sufferes the humiliation of having their disastrous date reported in the wizard newspaper The Quibbler as Harry’s Saturn makes its last opposition to its natal position.
The big event of this academic year is the death of Sirius Black who expires on the 17 June 1995. As Harry watches him fall through the veil never to return, the transiting Sun is within a degree of his natal Venus. Transiting Saturn is also beginning a series of three oppositions to his Sun, a symbol of his sadness and loss is only just beginning.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Price features the death of Albus Dumbledore. The date is 27 June 1997 and on this day transiting Saturn in Aries begins its exact opposition to Harry’s natal Pluto as well as squaring his natal Mercury.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows coveres Harry, Ron and Hermione’s last year at Hogwarts. In late March 1998, Dobby the House Elf dies as transiting Jupiter in Pisces opposes Harry’s natal MC and then natal Jupiter. It is one of the saddest deaths of the series and had audiences reaching for their hankies. Transiting Jupiter was exactly square to Harry’s natal Mars when the Battle of Hogwart’s took place. Several main characters died violent deaths before peace was restored.
If we can agree that Rowling did in fact use astrology to map out her plots, then it isn’t too hard to imagine she used astrology to help form the personalities of her characters. And if that’s easy enough to swallow then perhaps we can accept she used astrology to ensure she could create them to be as lucky as the heavens would allow. To send Harry soft protection and reassurance during the hard times, she gave Harry her Moon on his Saturn. To ensure she understood Harry’s heart, she shared her own date of birth with him. And for a dose of good fortune in the writing business, to within just a few degrees, they have a Venus-Jupiter conjunction in Gemini.
Amongst other features, she placed her Saturn on Ron’s Moon, perhaps representing that rock solid family of his. Assuming we have the right time of birth, Rowling put her Moon on Hermione’s Sun. Rowling always said she identified with Hermione the most.
We will probably never know exactly when Rowling came up with her world of wizardry but in 1990, when she was a single mother stuck on a train to London, she had a series of three transiting Jupiter conjunctions to her natal Sun—which is also conjunct Harry’s of course. In 1995, she finished writing the book but was rejected by twelve publishers. The next year, Bloomsbury took her on and gave her a £1,000 advance. She had this blockbuster book but it still gave no indication, judging by the lack of increase in Rowling’s bank account, of the phenomenal success it would have. But on the 26 June 1997 when Jupiter was in the middle of a series of three conjunctions to her natal ascendant, the first book came out and all 1,000 copies were quickly sold or distributed. Potter mania had begun and J. K. Rowling and her creation were well on their way to becoming household names.
As for the films, the rights were bought by Warner brothers for a reported one million Great British pounds in 1999. That year began with transiting Jupiter conjunct natal Chiron in Pisces in Rowling’s second house. Financial healing or what? By 2004, she became the first person to become an American billionaire through writing. But the real story with this transit is that Rowling gives away so much money to charitable causes that she keeps herself off the billionaire’s list.
There are simply too many coincidences to deny J. K. Rowling used astrology in her Harry Potter books. It may be a shame she won’t admit to it but maybe she just thinks she shouldn’t have to.
Books box set: Bloomsbury Children’s Books; 01 edition (9 Oct. 2014), via amazon.co.uk
Chart: provided by the author
Harry Potter lettering: Self made. [Public domain]
Harry Potter: CC0 Creative Commons via pixabay.com
Hogwarts model: Karen Roe [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Rowling 1999: John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]