Muggles and Mocha is here with chapter fifteen of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!
First of all—what a dark chapter. Literally! The setting was threatening, and everything that happens in this part of the book is just… strange and scary. I had so many thoughts reading through this chapter. First, we have the Forbidden Forest, which is used for DETENTION. Questionable discipline strategies on Dumbledore’s part… Then we learn about how terrible of a caretaker (ironic title) Filch is, unicorns and their blood’s properties, centaurs, how terrifying Quirrell can be, and Harry’s discovery that Voldemort may be involved in the plot to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone.
All in all… this chapter is huge! I dive into each of these topics in the video for this week. Grab your coffee, and let’s get nerdy.
In our article today, we’re going to focus on one of these dark elements, one that I found super interesting this time around: the centaurs and Harry’s fate.
When I was first reading this chapter, I had no idea this was where I would take this article. Honestly, I stumbled onto this topic by accident, but once I considered it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As I read, I got caught up in the conversation between Ronan, Bane, and Firenze at the end of the chapter, as well as Ronan and Bane’s initial conversation with Hagrid. The topics they discuss and the wording used is intriguing, and I just had to dig deeper.
Honestly, this might be the first time I’ve truly paid attention to what exactly is said during this encounter and what it could mean for Harry. Let’s break it down!
First, let’s talk about centaurs a little bit. Centaurs differ from wizards in a couple of ways, and one of the main differences we see in the Harry Potter books is the way they approach viewing the future. In later books, centaurs ridicule wizard Divination, specifically the type Professor Trelawney teaches. They view the art of reading the future as sacred and integral to their way of life, while they believe wizards view it more along the lines of fortune-telling using cheap, meaningless tricks.
So what do the centaurs use when it comes to divining the future? Throughout the books, we see them rely on nature, the universe, to tell them what is coming. This primarily comes through observing the stars and planets, as we see in this first book. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we even see Firenze transform his classroom into a forest clearing so the students can learn the “true” way to determine the future.
In Sorcerer’s Stone, we get our first glimpse of this when we witness Ronan and Bane stare up at the sky in response to Hagrid asking them if they’ve noticed anything strange in the forest. Their first instinct is to look to the stars. As we learn, centaurs are extremely in tune with their greater surroundings and tend to focus on that above all else… sometimes to a fault.
In chapter fifteen, after the centaurs look to the sky, they repeat the phrase, “Mars is bright tonight.” This is their unified response whenever Hagrid asks them anything about strange goings-on in the forest.
When I was a kid, I used to read this scene over and over because I thought it was so funny! However, this sentence is more than just a silly, confusing statement—it’s a sign of what’s to come.
Mars’s brightness is something that’s also talked about in Order of the Phoenix when Firenze comes to Hogwarts to teach Divination. Mars is supposed to be “the bringer of battle,” and this is truly what the centaurs are referring to when they talk about Mars. They are foreseeing the battle that will plague the wizarding world in the coming years. Voldemort is at work, and much of what will happen as a result of his actions will lead to the final battle that occurs at Hogwarts.
This information makes the meaning of “Mars is bright tonight” extremely interesting here. But what they say later in this chapter is what had me thinking hard…
Let’s fast forward to when Harry is saved by Firenze from the creature drinking the unicorn’s blood. When the other two centaurs, Bane and Ronan, discover them together, they’re furious. The first reason is obvious—Harry is riding Firenze like a horse, which is disgraceful in the centaurs’ eyes.
But what I want to focus on here is the second reason—they’re upset because they wonder what Firenze has told Harry. They also mention they’re afraid he’s set himself against the heavens because of what they’ve read in the stars. From what I can see, they’re implying that Firenze may be interfering with what the stars have foretold about Harry.
So, the question is what have the centaurs read in the stars and how does it apply here?
First, at this point, we’ll have realized the centaurs know more than simply, “Mars is bright tonight.” They know or suspect Harry is involved in whatever terrible battle is to come. Based on what Firenze tells Harry, he realizes Voldemort is alive(ish), and I believe he probably knows Voldemort will also be involved with the war and Harry.
With all of this being said, I want to present an interesting question: What did the centaurs think was going to happen in the forest that night?
This is controversial, but I’m wondering if the centaurs thought Voldemort and Harry might fight to the death that night… because I think they know how this battle will end.
Let me explain. When Bane and Ronan come across Harry and Firenze, Firenze doesn’t have to explain to them that Voldemort was there or why Harry was in danger by being in the forest. They seem to already know. When they saw Harry in the forest earlier that night, I’m wondering if they actually already knew Voldemort, or a part of him, was in the forest because they don’t seem surprised to find Harry in danger. But they didn’t tell Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid. Why? Because they didn’t want to “interfere with the heavens.”
Thus, when they see Firenze with Harry, they believe he has interfered with what was going to happen, either by saving Harry or by telling him what the stars have said about his involvement in the coming war.
There’s another component of this situation that must be discussed. We know where Harry and Voldemort’s faceoff occurs, when Harry “dies”—the Forbidden Forest. Is Firenze trying to get Harry out of the forest because of the present threat that exists (Quirrell/Voldemort), or is he thinking about the bigger picture? Does he know something terrible will happen to Harry in this forest as a result of the war? Maybe… Maybe not…
So, my theory is the centaurs know much more about this mess than they’ve let on, including how Harry and Voldemort are fated to meet and fight. Even in this first book.
Of course, this is all just assumptions and daydreaming. We know that although they would hate to admit it, the centaurs’ version of reading the future is so broad that it can also be imprecise. So this could be something they didn’t fully know, and it obviously wasn’t something they truly understood. But do I think they may have considered the fact that Voldemort might try to kill Harry that night, that this battle fated in the stars might occur in this book? I do!
That’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed this article, and we’re definitely going to talk more about fate and the future in Harry Potter later on, especially when the fifth book comes along. It’s a difficult subject, but I’m excited to dive into it further with you!
Thanks for checking out Muggles and Mocha today, and don’t forget to watch our YouTube video for this week. As usual, my social media information is located below if you’d like to give me a follow.
I’ll see you next week in chapter sixteen as we go THROUGH THE TRAPDOOR. It’s the beginning of the end, guys. I’m pumped!
See you then, Muggles!
Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.