Harry Potter and D&D

Like Two Peas in a Pod?

by Berit Kjos

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“The world of imagination and fantasy can help pass on to the child cultural and social messages [and] function as a way to experience vicariously things an individual could not do first-hand.”  

Aminadav, C.,  International Journal of Adolescent Medicine & Health (April-June 1995)

Wand making, broom decorating, tattoos, owls, costumes and pajama parties.... These book store gimmicks were just a few of the feasts and marketing tactics scheduled for July 8 in anticipation of  the mysterious Book 4.  Though its title, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was a close-guarded secret until June 28, a spellbound world had already sent book sales soaring into the heights like a magical broomstick.     

While Harry's fans prepared to celebrate this global event, Amazon.com claimed its own share in the feast: its record-setting sales of the world's most popular fantasy. Though cloaked in secrecy and marketed without a review, J.K Rowling's latest book topped the Amazon.com's "not-yet-published" bestsellers list.  

That was no surprise. Nor did we wonder why the list included the corresponding Harry Potter audio cassettes. But why did Amazon also list Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Player's Handbook as best-seller #6?  What common threads have raised Harry Potter and D&D, "the bestselling adventure game of all time,"[1] to the peaks of popularity?

Consider these points: 

1. Both immerse their fans in a plausible, well-developed fantasy world, replete with an evolving history, a carefully mapped geography, and wizards that model the thrill-packed and power-filled way of the mythical shaman. 

2. In this fantasy world, adults and children alike are led into imagined experiences that create memories, build new values, guide their thinking and mold their understanding of reality. (See D&D role-playing game)

3. This process is reinforced by innumerable other occult images and suggestions created by an entertainment industry eager to please a global market -- a worldwide base of potential customers that favor "inclusive" and "tolerant" pagan entertainment and turn their backs to Biblical values. 

4. In the toys and games industry, two trans-national giants have been swallowing up most smaller companies: Mattel and Hasbro. The latter bought Wizards of the Coast, which makes and distributes role-playing games and cards for Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and D&D fans around the world.  What's more, Warner Brothers -- producer of the Harry Potter movie scheduled for release next year -- granted Hasbro licensing rights to produce a variety of Harry Potter toys and games. Pagan fun has become big business!   

The World of Witches and Wizard. 

To compare the mystical realm of D&D with the Wizard-filled world of Hogwarts, I visited a local fantasy store. The young storekeeper seemed eager to help. "Which is your favorite game?" I asked him.

"Dungeons and Dragons," he answered. "Easily!"

"What's your character in the game?" 

"A priest." He seemed pleased that I would ask.

"Ah. Then you can choose almost any one of the world's religions. Which is your god?

He hesitated a moment, then answered, "A sun god."

"Like the one in the Aztec and Mayan religion?"

"No, those are too violent. It's more like a Celtic god."

"The Celts were pretty violent too."

"My god wants to make the world better for humanity and the environment."

That's certainly a politically correct form of paganism, I thought to myself as I scanned the shelves in the store.  I finally left with a packet of information titled Forgotten Realms, [Advanced Dungeons & Dragons] Campaign Setting. It would provide the information for the chart below. 

This chart contains a sampling of similar words and practices, but don't assume that J. K. Rowling borrowed her ideas from D&D. Its eclectic blend of pagan beliefs and practices has already seduced young and old around the world. We have become a global society on the fast track to a "common ground" that excludes such "separatist" beliefs as Biblical Christianity. The myth-making messages in these two books will surely speed the process.   


Harry Potter (Books 1&3) Dungeons and Dragons
God-like Voldemort: "I have form only when I can share another's body... but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds." (293) Needs human devotees to do his work.   "The greater powers are the most powerful deities that interact with and are dependent on the worship of mere mortals." (p 45) 
School for Wizards Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. (page 66) "The magic universities... house many wizards and sages with various specialties." (p 15-Forgotten Realms) 
Spells & Curses Hogwarts teaches Spells and Potions, Curses and Counter-curses, Divination, Transfiguration, etc. "All manner of spellcasters... relearn their spells daily form spell books..." (15-FR)
Shape-shifting Wizards "It's a shape-shifter... It takes the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most." (Book 3-133) 

"Transfiguration... turning something into something else." (125)

"Shapeshifter" is defined and mentioned at least twice in Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Player's Handbook

"Transmuters, the masters of the alteration school of magic...." (16-FR)

Evil Wizards "But when a wizard goes over to the Dark Side..." (Book 3- 207) "The Red Wizards of Thay... are evil and paranoid to the extreme...."(120-FR)
 Giants "I would trust Hagrid with my life." ....He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide... and so wild...." (14) Giants are "battlewise, lore-filled, and capable with both weapons and craft."  (13-FR)
Magic alphabet (Rune)

"Hermione's rune translation...." 

Wizards develop a signature rune.... used in all spells that require writing..." (15-FR)
Dragons "They say there's a dragon guarding the high security vaults."  (Book 64) "The Keepers of the Secret Hoard... [possess] "a ring of dragons. .... to protect themselves against assailants." ( 25)
 Unicorns "The cloaked figure reached the unicorn... and began to drink its blood." (256) "her appearance marks a rise in power and importance of the Unicorn." (24)

 "Crystal gazing... relaxing the conscious mind and external eyes so as to clear the Inner Eye and the Subconscious." (Book 3-297)

"Diviners... specialize in the divination school, particularly in spells of higher than 3rd level." (16-FR)



"He was conjuring stretchers and lifting the limp forms of Harry, Hermione and Black onto them. A fourth stretcher... was already floating at his side." (Book 3-412) 

"Conjurers are specialists in conjuration/summoning magics." (16-FR)
Social organization

"The Ministry of Magic keeps tabs  on witches and wizards who can become animals; there's a register showing what animal they become." (3-351)   

"The Heralds are recognized as being the official arbitrators of precedence and correct armature."


The Transforming Power of the Imagination

Immersion into this fantasy world builds imagined experiences that create memories and often establish new values more effectively than real-world experiences.  Hard to believe?  Just look at contemporary television ads. 

Captivating stories that prompt people to identify with another person's experiences have proven to be far more powerful tools for manipulating behavior than mere facts and data. That's why most ads tend to offer funny or feel-good glimpses of human behavior rather than boring facts about a product's worth.  Stirring the imagination instead of the mind, the producer can implant all kinds of false memories and unwanted desires into receptive minds. 

Today's onslaught of entertaining suggestions change the minds of adults as well as children. The two studies below show the power of the imagination to distort reality and create false memories in people of all ages:

“When adults vividly imagine the occurrence of events that took place in their childhood, they become increasingly confident that these incidents actually happened to them. This phenomenon has been called imagination inflation [IEE]. This study assessed the imagination-inflation effect in 94 college students (mean age 21 yrs).”[3] (Journal of Psychology. 1999)


"This study seeks not only to replicate what has been called the imagination inflation effect (IIE) in 2 samples (98 undergraduates [mean age 19 yrs] and 106 middle-aged [mean age 46.9 yrs] factory workers) but also to identify individual difference variables that could predict susceptibility to suggestibility. The 2 experiments tested the extent to which locus of control for reinforcement, dissociability, and a hostile/self-controlling introject (self-concept) could predict the IIE. Results indicate that: IIE is a robust and replicable phenomenon with young adults….”[4] ( Applied Cognitive Psychology. 1998)

Confirming the persuasive "role of imagination in effecting spiritual transformation," a third study concluded that:


“Spiritual transformation... is mediated through a person's religious imagination. This study was designed to explore, describe and illustrate the central role of the imagination in effecting and sustaining spiritual transformation…. The author espouses a holistic approach to spiritual direction so Jungian active imagination and various types of body work were employed as ancillary methods of accessing the imagination and eliciting spiritually transformative images.” [5] (Humanities & Social Sciences. 1998)

Ponder the words, "accessing the imagination and eliciting spiritually transformative images." They describe the effective power of the Harry Potter experience and the D&D role-playing games. Those "transformative images", in turn, can change beliefs and behavior. Meanwhile parents wonder why their children have turned their backs to the Bible, church and God.  

For most children tutored in paganism by popular authors and computer programmers, there will be no turning back. Aldous Huxley summarized it well in The Doors of Perception: "The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out."  

Aldous Huxley and his brother Julian, the first head of UNESCO, helped lay the foundation for the UN education system which is now established in America. They spread the message that that civilization could not long survive without social solidarity and spiritual consensus. But God warns us that such earth-based unity will bring an end to the peace and freedom we have long enjoyed:

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget... Otherwise... your heart will become proud.... You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.'...  If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods...you will surely be destroyed." (Deuteronomy 8:10-20)

Does that "good land" sound like America today? This warning was given to ancient Israel, but God tells us in Corinthians 10 that these principles hold true for us today. 

While God always can and sometimes does override the sobering odds, we would be foolish to ignore the restless cravings stirred by imagined experiences in forbidden realms. A little dabbling in the occult usually fuels urges to explore other practices. It doesn't matter  whether seekers pursue Eastern pantheism, Western witchcraft, or create their own personal blend. They all fit together. Packaged for our youth as D&D or as Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they desensitize their captive fans to the dangers of occult forces. They can become irresistible.  


Powerful partnerships in the global toy trade  

While Hasbro Inc. has gathered coveted brands such as Monopoly, Scrabble, and Furby under its wide and powerful wings, it is hardly a household name. Though it has won the licensing rights to Star Wars cards and role-playing games, its subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast, seems to have gained more fame by producing Pokemon, Magic the Gathering and D&D products. But Hasbro continues to grow. A Corporate Press Release dated February 11, 2000 announces a more recent success:

"Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products today announced that it has awarded Hasbro Inc. the licensing rights to a wide range of key entertainment categories for the global literary phenomenon Harry Potter. 

"Hasbro category leaders -- Wizards of the Coast, Tiger Electronics and OddzOn -- have been selected to create products that will capture magical moments central to the Harry Potter story line... [including] trading card games, role playing games, trading cards, candy and youth electronics.

"The millions of Harry Potter fans around the world are going to love seeing literary references to things like cards and candy come alive through our exciting range of offerings, said Alan G. Hassenfeld, Hasbro's chairman and CEO. 'We are thrilled....'" 

Those millions are multiplying fast -- for D&D as well as for Harry Potter.  D&D has captivated an older group around the world, but that may change with its televised cartoons and upcoming movie. Judging from the letters we receive from  both Harry Potter and D&D fans, those who love spells and wizards have little tolerance for children who, for the love of God, reject their favorite fantasies.    



Resisting the pressure to conform


Biblical Christianity doesn't fit today's quest for spiritual unity and mix-and-match religions.  Paganism does. That's why schools, communities, business... even churches are trading genuine Bible study for consensus groups and earth-centered celebrations. (See Earth Day Joins Easter


This blended spirituality welcomes a compromised distortion of Christianity. When "Christian" leaders remove the "offense of the cross" -- when they set aside Biblical truths that hinder their quest for the world's acceptance and favor -- their church is no longer a threat to the world.  (See Conforming the Church to the New Millennium)  


But God's Word can't be compromised, and the world can't accept its wisdom. That's why Paul wrote, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) 


In fact, those who follow their Lord don't fit into the world. That's not a criticism; it's reality. The world wants us to approve its cravings, but God tells us, "do not be conformed to this world." (Romans 12:2)  The world wants our participation in its forbidden delights, but God asks, 


"What part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.... Therefore come out from among them and be separate." (2 Corinthians 6:15-17)

This politically incorrect attitude has been equated with intolerance, separateness, mental dysfunction and hate by UNESCO and the World Health Organization. (See Clinton's War on Hate Bans Christian Values and  The UN Plan for Your Mental Health)  Long ago, a beloved Christian pastor and author, Oswald Chambers, explained why:

"....there is an essential difference between you and the world which rouses the contempt of the word and the disgust and hatred of the spirit that is in the world."  (Oswald Chambers)

His insight came from Jesus, who warned His disciples,

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.... If they persecuted Me they will persecute you...  because they do not know Him who sent Me." (John 15:19-21)

To follow Jesus through today's rising flood of spiritual suggestions deceptions, consider these guidelines: 


1. Immerse your mind in His Word so that God, not the world, will mold your thinking: "... be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)


2. Remember God's warnings: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)


3. Stand immovable on His promises: "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:10-13)


4. Maintain the a heavenly perspective: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)


When we see reality from God's high vantage point, everything looks different. Obstacles no longer block our vision. Thrills and treasures can't confuse our faith. Neither friends nor foes can deceive our minds. Problems seem smaller, we see light ahead.  We have hope when things look hopeless and a purpose in the midst of pain. 


Jesus showed us the way. When facing torture and death for His uncompromising commitment to an eternal purpose, He turned to His Father and prayed. We would do well to remember His words: "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." (John 12:27-28)


Every time we say "no" to the temptation to accept the world's counterfeit gods, idols, thoughts and ways, we honor Him and build perseverance. When we set our minds to know, love, and follow Him, He gives us power and perseverance to triumph over the world's counterfeit promises, tempting deceptions, and painful persecution.    

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...." 2 Corinthians 10:4-5


[1]Amazon.com's Editorial Review: "The Player's Handbook is the definitive rulebook for the Dungeons & Dragons(r) game--the bestselling adventure game of all time, redesigned for a new millennium.

"The Player's Handbook contains complete rules for the Third Edition D&D(r) game. It is an essential purchase for anyone who wants to play the newest version of the quintessential roleplaying game.

"Third Edition D&D is the clearest, most innovative manifestation of the game that launched an industry. Featuring a new, more versatile rules system playtested by over 600 players worldwide.

"New characters and more flexible character classes are easier than ever to create using the new CD-ROM character generator included free with every handbook. Dungeons & Dragons is the name in fantasy roleplaying."

For a relatively mild introduction to  D& D through  its promotion of a children's TV series, click on website, then on the dragon's head.

For Wizard of the Coast's D&D role-playing-games, click on http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Welcomex.asp and http://www.wizards.com/rpga/Welcome.asp. Remember, Wizards is owned by Hasbro, which owns the rights to make Harry Potter RPG games. They will turn out to be both global and super-popular -- just like D&D. 

[3] Paddock, John R.; Noel, Mark; Terranova, Sophia; Eber, Herbert W.; Manning, Charles; Loftus, Elizabeth F. "Imagination inflation and the perils of guided visualization," Journal of Psychology. 1999 Nov. 133 (6): p.581-595

[4] Paddock, John R.; Joseph, Abigayl L.; Chan, Fung Ming; Terranova, Sophia; Manning, Charles; Loftus, Elizabeth F. "When guided visualization procedures may backfire: Imagination inflation and predicting individual differences in suggestibility." Applied Cognitive Psychology. 1998 Dec. 12 (Spec Issue): p.S63-S75.

[5] Lancaster Theological Seminary, USA, UMI Order number: AAM9822985 Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences. 1998 Jul. 59 (1-A): p.0201  


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