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The Mysterious Septology Symbol

by David Haber

 
One month ago, on March 28, fans finally got to see the artwork for the covers of the final book, Harry Potter and the ly Hallows, and intense debate about the meaning of the imagery on the covers immediately ensued.

There is one small, obscure bit of the new images of the cover art we haven't yet discussed. However, this little bit of the cover image has now become less obscure, as it is now featured without explanation in a large, animated form on the Harry Potter home page at British publisher Bloomsbury.

We first saw a very small version of this symbol featured on the top of the spine of the UK Children's edition of the upcoming book 7. In the past, this small image on the spine of the books has sometimes been occupied with an important object or character from the book. On Prisoner of Azkaban there is an image of Sirius as a dog. On Half-Blood Prince, there is a picture of Gaunt's ring, one of Voldemort's horcruxes that Dumbledore destroyed.


UK Book Spines

But, what does this new image signify?

 
My first thought when I saw the symbol was an image that is on the back of the United States one dollar bill. On the reverse of the bill, opposite the Great Seal of the United States, is a combination of imagery designed by the original founders of the country.

There is an unfinished pyramid to symbolize that America is always evolving, but it's the image on top of that which our symbol reminded me of. It's an "all-seeing" eye inside a triangle, the symbol for divinity. Looks a lot like our Septology Symbol, doesn't it? Especially the "glowing" version on the Bloomsbury site.

Is the "all-seeing" eye a reference to a "seer", like Trelawney, who predicted this whole thing, and may have one more important prophecy left in her to divulge? Or does this refer to Harry, who is "seeing" through the eyes of Voldemort? Remember in Order of the Phoenix when Tonks asks Harry if he has any "seer" blood in him?

In addition, there is a slogan in Latin below these images on the dollar bill, "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM", which means, "a new order has begun." We know how JK loves to use Latin in the books. In the context of the ultimate battle to come between Harry Potter and Voldemort, "a new order has begun" is an ominous phrase, isn't it? At the end of Book 7, there be a new order of Peace? Or perhaps a new order of Evil?

Ancient Anglo-Saxon Runes
 
If the Septology Symbol is not meant to signify a seer, my next thought was, what if it's a rune? Hermione has been stu Ancient Runes since the third book. Ancient Runes class has actually been mentioned many times, but interestingly, Hermione only mentions specific runes once, in Order of the Phoenix:

"I mistranslated 'ehwaz,'" said Hermione furiously. "It means 'partnership,' not 'defense,' I mixed it up with 'eihwaz.'" (OotP pg. 715/631)

Hermione, as if to highlight this is an important clue, again worries about getting this one question wrong when talking about it at the beginning of the next book.

Interesting clue, isn't this, partnership and defense? As we move into the events of the seventh book, can the Wizarding World coexist in peace and partnership, or must it defend itself against evil?

Also in Order of the Phoenix, there is one more interesting runes clue, which is highlighted more in the American version than the British version. In big bold capitol letters on pg. 190 it says:

SECRETS OF THE ANCIENT RUNES REVEALED

Will the secrets of the runes, and this one in particular, be finally revealed in Book 7?

However, while there are many different kinds of runes, being as Hogwarts is in Britain, it would be logical to assume they'd be stu the ancient Anglo-Saxon runes, and as you can see from the chart on the left, they don't look like our Septology Symbol.

One more quick thing about runes: Every time Dumbledore's pensieve is described, JK tells us there are runes and symbols around the outside.

And speaking of Dumbledore, this doesn't really count, as it's in the movie, not the books, but some eagle-eyed fans at Pottermaniac.net noticed this in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie:

Click here to see larger image

This is in Dumbledore's office, in the scene with Harry and Dumbledore after Barty Crouch's body is discovered. Looks a lot like our Septology Symbol, doesn't it?

So, if our mystery symbol is not a rune, what is it? Many fans, including Beyond Hogwarts reader Darren Turner, have helped us identify a similar symbol:

This is the ancient symbol for Alchemy. Which brings us back again to Dumbledore. As you probably know, Alchemy features prominently in the first book, as the Philosopher's stone was created by Dumbledore and the famous Alchemist Nicholas Flammel.

This is a description of the symbol from Symbols.Com:

"An ideogram from the seventeenth century representing the art of alchemy. This symbol shows the influence of Pythagorean geometry mysticism. It can also be perceived as a symbol for the four elements combined with water as the small inner circle, earth as the square, fire as the triangle, and air as the outer circle."

We can't tell if this is relevant to our Septology Symbol, no symbol anyone can find on the Internet has a line running through it as ours does.

Does the line through the symbol stand for a dichotomy, two forces fighting for control? Control of the new order? Or could the dichotomy symbolize the Chosen One, and that originally there were two possible boys who could have been chosen?

In the Alchemy symbol, the triangle symbolizes fire. In the Harry Potter books, Dumbledore is symbolized by fire over and over again. Could the Septology Symbol be Dumbledore, with a line running through him, possibly mean there are two Dumbledores? [See The Mystery of Aberforth.] Or could a line through him in the symbol signify that he's truly ?

Whatever the Septology Symbol stands for, the prominent placement of this symbol on the UK Harry Potter site means we can be sure that it is important to the story in Book 7.


UPDATE: (May 5, 2007)

Last week, the latest trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix contained a very brief glimpse of this image:

It is a triangle-shaped building that appears to be in the middle of the ocean. This is probably the movie's depiction of Azkaban Prison.

Is it possible that this triangle-shaped Azkaban has something to do with the triangle in the Septology Symbol?


IMPORTANT UPDATE: (July 6, 2007) MYSTERY SOLVED!

Beyond Hogwarts user Ed from Sandy, Utah, has just posted what I believe is the solution to this small mystery!

The symbol is made up of the Greek letter Delta (a triangle), and the Greek letter Phi (a circle with a vertical line drawn through it). The Delta stands for Dumbledore and the Phi stands for Phoenix! As it appears to be carved in marble, it is most likely the insignia on Dumbledore's tomb.

The solution is even clearer when you see the animation on the Bloomsbury site. You see that first the Delta (for Dumbledore) is drawn, and then the Phi (for Phoenix/Fawkes) is drawn within it!

There's no doubt in my mind, this is the symbol of Dumbledore! And in book 7, I bet it's Hermione who figures it out!


   Reader Comments (238)


Published April 29, 2007

This article is Copyright © 2007, David Haber, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission


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