Tuesday, 5 April 2011

L for Luna (ABC Wednesday)

Luna Lovegood is a character not introduced until the fifth book in the series, although presumably she has been attending Hogwarts since Harry’s second year – being in the same year as Ginny Weasley; but belonging to the House of Ravenclaw rather than to Gryffindor.

Harry (in the company of Neville and Ginny) is first introduced to Luna (sometimes nicknamed ‘Loony’ by her fellow students) on the train to Hogwarts:

The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer corks, or that she was reading a magazine upside-down. (OP10)

(It turns out after a while, though, that there was a reason why she was holding the magazine upside-down.) The magazine is The Quibbler, a publication not reputed in the Wizarding World to be the most reliable source of information. However, the editor is Luna’s father; and although he does not know it when they first meet, this will prove useful for Harry later on. Daring to be different – a quality shared by both father and daughter Lovegood – is not necessarily a bad thing. 

The name Luna is Latin for Moon. This fits perfectly with Luna Lovegood’s late appearance in the story. When she comes into it, “darkness” has already begun to take over, after Lord Voldemort again took bodily form at the end of the fourth book. Luna’s first appearance might seem a bit bleak, but before the end, she does get to shine.

Luna in Roman mythology is a moon goddess. (In Greek mythology her name is Selene.) She is often depicted riding either riding on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent is often represented as a crown set upon her head. 

Luna also appears in a sort of trinity with two other moon goddesses: Diana, connected with the woods, wild animals and hunting, and Hecate, connected with the underworld, and with doorways and crossroads. It is said that Luna represents the full moon, Diana the crescent moon, and Hecate the darkness when we don’t see the moon at all.

Interestingly, I also found a note in one of my mythology books that Hecate is sometimes depicted with three different heads: the lion, the horse and the dog.

In The Order of the Phoenix, where we meet Luna, we are also introduced to Thestrals, a kind of invisible, winged, skeleton-resembling, horse-like creatures (used to pull the carriages that transport the students between Hogwarts and the train station). Thestrals can only be seen by those who have seen death. Harry never sees the thestrals until his fifth year – before that the carriages used to seem to him to be moving by magic. Now he can see them, because at the end of his previous school year, he saw a fellow student (Cedric) get killed by Voldemort. Ron and Hermione cannot see the thestrals, so at first don’t understand what Harry is talking about. Luna, however, sees them (her mother died when she was nine), and assures Harry that “You’re just as sane as I am.”

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The lion is the symbol of the House of Gryffindor (representing fire/light). In OP19, Luna turns up to a Quidditch game showing support for Gryffindor (against Slytherin) wearing a hat shaped like a lion’s head.

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As for the dog, that’s the animagus shape that Sirius (Harry’s godfather) takes – a big black dog, also associated (in one of the earlier books) with the omen of death, the Grim. In OP, Luna is one of the friends who accompany Harry on a mission to (presumably) rescue Sirius from the “underworld”: Towards the end of the book, she, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville all fly on thestrals to London, where they enter the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic headquarters, located underground. One of the most important scenes takes place in a sort of underground amphitheatre; which further connects to old Greek/Roman mythology and drama. There is also an arch (doorway) with a mysterious veil; and Harry and Luna are the only ones who can hear voices “from the other side” (although at the same time you can walk around the arch and see both sides of it).

One person in this scene falls through the veil – and is thereby taken “off stage”, so to say. See a previous post of mine: Dog Days and Sirius Black.

Luna Lovegood’s interest in mystical magical creatures might be another clue to associate her with Diana, the moon godess also associated with woods and wildlife. It is however sort of left open by the author whether some of the creatures whose existence Luna takes for granted are supposed to really exist. - My favourite, of course, is the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, which Luna and her father think they may find in Sweden. We learn a little bit more (or not) about this creature in the last book.

In the last book Luna also becomes (indirectly) associated with a crescent-shaped crown – a diadem, or tiara. (Compare the attributes of Luna the moon goddess.)

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6 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

someday I need to read those books!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Jane and Chris said...

I love the Harry Potter books...haven't yet figured out why they are 'childrens' books.
I like Luna's character(and can do a passable imitation of her.
Jane x

Leslie: said...

Fascinating! I only read the first 3 books, but my sister has the entire collection. I must read OP...sounds good.

Leslie
abcw team

Ms. Burrito said...

I LIKE your L, so pretty..

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chubskulit said...

Beautiful and LOVELY choice for L.

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LisaF said...

There is so much symbolism in the HP series. And while some may think Luna is a bit looney, she may be crazy like a fox! She definitely has an "old soul" and is far wiser than her years.

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