(1939-11-27) Discussion Essay for Professor Black
Details for Discussion Essay for Professor Black
Summary: Anthony takes the risk of ridicule from Professor Black by putting some thoughts on paper
Date: 1939-11-27
Related: On the Nature of the Soul

Some Thoughts about the Soul, Glamers, and The Unforgiveable Curses
Anthony Rowle, 7th Year Ravenclaw
Professor Black

This essay is not in answer to any homework, and I shall understand it you wish to disregard it, as it is not, strictly speaking, the domain of Ancient Runes (at least, not in toto. Nonetheless, I find that setting my thoughts down onto paper, and subjecting them to critique is the best way to improve my understanding, so I thank you for any assistance you may give.

Most spells target either physicality or more ephemeral targets. Where physical interventions are involved, things are relatively straightforward- a fire either is, or is not, water is present, or gone, and an object is at rest, or set into motion. These are spells which affect the world in very concrete ways, and the theory behind them is relatively clear to me, at least at a basic level.

There are other spells, however, whose target is ephemeral, and these range from the very simplest to the most complex. The Tickling charm gives the _sensation_ of being tickled, but no touch is involved. The Cheering charm produces happiness… but what is happiness, and why does it only work if the caster himself is happy? At the most evil of levels, the Imperius curse controls the mind, not the body, whilst the Cruciatus Curse, as I have cause to know, causes the sensation of pain, with no physical injury. What, then, is the area impacted by these spells, if they do not act physically?

Clearly these spells target some portion of the 'self' which is not physical in nature, and there are different models (of which I am closely familiar with at least two) which have been theorised about over the centuries. There are probably more, however I suspect some of the books relating to this area are in the Restricted Area of the Hogwarts Library, and I have not yet sought permission to read from them.

In summary, I am aware of:

1) the Judeo-Christian/Greek Philosophy based 'Standard Model' of the 'self' being comprised (within the body, naturally) of mind, spirit, and soul, with some little confusion in some writers between the latter two. The mind contains the thought… if you will the identity which makes the 'me'… me. The Spirit is that essence which imbues the nebulous concept of life to an individual, and which carries the desires of the Mind to the Body (at least in some statements of the Standard Model), whilst the soul is that unique and perfect self which on death will, if the Religions of the Book are to be believed will be judged. More importantly, it is the presence of absence which distinguishes the Human (and presumably the other Higher Non-Human Sentient Creatures) from animals, and perhaps explains the ability to cast magic.

2) the Egyptian Model: As you know sir, I have read at some length on Demotic and Heiratic scripts, especially in relation to what remnants of ancient magics and especially runes may be recovered from Egyptian writings which survive, but I am hardly the first to quote the Egyptian Model. For reference, my understanding of it is as follows-

  • a)The Ib: The 'Heart', seat of thought and emotion. Analogous to the standard model's 'Mind'. Interesting, though, that in the mythology it is the 'Ib' which is weighed against a Feather to see whether one will be devoured after death, and therefore whether any form of immortality after death is possible.
  • b)The Sheut: The Shadow. Which follows each of us around. Linked to death.
  • c)The Ren: The name. Obviously the birth name. It would make sense, if one believes in name magic, that this is an integral part of the 'being' of the individual.
  • d)The Ba: If you like, the spirit. It's the part which makes us 'us'- a person. Some scholars (Malfoy, 1910) have suggested that it's more like the mind of the standard model, but I would argue that just as when someone loses their mind they remain human, so an Ib might depart without rendering the person either unhuman or unalive.
  • e)The Ka: Difficult. 'Living essence' I suppose. The thing which the lack of, makes you dead. Perhaps the Soul of the Standard model although that's not quite right, as many of the roles of the Soul are performed by the Ib.

Most scholars also quote the Egyptian understanding that when the Ka leaves, you die. The Ba also leaves the body, and in some instances these two portions of the ephemeral self combine within a 'spiritual thought body' called the Akh, to reanimate it, so the soul has a new home. It is in this context that the ghost would be presumed to occur. Now, if we accept this model, and further consider magic to be tethered to a part of the 'Inner Self' aside from the Ba or Ka- my own candidate would be the Ren or perhaps the Ib- we can very easily understand that whilst a ghost may recall how to perform magic, he is incapable of actually doing it himself.

Why does this matter? Well, the Standard Model in my mind sometimes struggles to explain some of the nastier elements of magic. If the Killing Curse drives out the Soul, why does it work on animals? If it instead works on the spirit, why have there been reports (albeit rather unclear) of ghosts occuring after the killing curse. Perhaps it only expels the spirit, which would certainly cause death, and allow for a spirit (if one interprets a ghost as being a spirit without a body. It also fails to explain the Vampire, who most certainly has a Mind… and most definitely has the ability to perform some forms of magical ability (and therefore by the standard model, a soul… of some variety), and as it has impetus, the ability move must also contain a spirit.

My view then, is that the Standard Model is flawed. However, it is not my intent to be iconoclastic without offering something by way of replacement. The problem however, is that the other developed model I'm aware of, the Egyptian Model also has flaws.

Certainly it explains the standard Glamers- they act upon the Ib, and it may be assumed that Cruciatus also applies its pain directly to the 'Heart' , that Imperius controls the Ba (although this is less obvious), and that the Killing Curse evicts the Ka. It cannot destroy it, of course, because the Akh can be reanimated even in those killed by this foul dark magic. The vampire remains a puzzle, but it is perhaps clear that the Ka has fled, for a vampire is not 'alive', but equally its role has been taken over by something else- perhaps the Sheut or Ren. It would be interesting to study a vampire under the brighest tolerable light to see if any shadow remains, and if so, whether it is comparable to one who was not.

Now, the other advantage, I think, in regard to the Egyptian model, compared to the Standard Model is relatively minor, but present. I theorise that when people 'click' together on a personal level- let us call it love, the 'click' is no mere metaphore, it is because of a synergy between the natures of the individual where the natures of each portion of their inner self combines with the others to balance and perfect the others.

In summary, sir, with the information available to me, I have questions about the accuracy about either of our 'Inner Self' models, but particularly about the Standard one, and I should like the benefit of your wisdom on the matter, and perhaps recommendation of any book which I have either missed, or which is not available to me without your recommendation which will make the matter more clear to me.

Professor Black's comments: Well reasoned. However, before I approve access to restricted books, your research suffers a significant gap that must be closed before you can make the leap to ephemeral causes. Mood, pain, and even death can all be induced physically without leaving physical evidence. Recommended reading: "Humourism and the Four Elements" by Althea Xanthopoulos.

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