The Hallows of Britain in Welsh Myth
The Tuatha de Danaan were said to have brought four treasures to Ireland from the Otherworld.
|The Earliest Hallows||Powers||Later Hallows||Tarot Symbols||Rowling’s Objects|
|Shining spear of Lugh||Provides victory in any fight||The Pole of Combat||Spear or Wand||Elder Wand|
|Sword of Nuadu||Always destroys its target||The Sword of Light||Sword||Godric’s Sword|
|Cauldron of Dagda||Provides endless food||The Cauldron of Cure||Cup||Hermione’s Beaded Bag|
|Stone of Fal||Confers kingship||The Stone of Destiny||Pentacle||Resurrection Stone|
Analysis: While the master weapon descends through Rowling intact, these others have been massively changed. What is the reason? Though Harry is on a type of grail quest, he is not a king. Thus he doesn’t need to feed subjects. Still, as Hermione’s bag provides endless information, clothing, healing potions, and supplies, it must be deemed equivalent. Harry needs a sword of unavoidable destruction, but to murder Voldemort’s Horcruxes, not people. His test is to descend into death, not to sit on a throne, and so that is the power the stone grants him. Obviously, one item is missing from this collection: the third hallow of Harry’s cloak. Perhaps it is not surprising that the humblest of these, the one he’s had and used all along, comes from a more modern list.
The Hallows of Britain aka Thirteen Treasures of Britain in Arthurian Legend.
The treasures could only be used by the King or his representative in battle. Most of the thirteen simply provide food (something our trio would’ve welcomed). Here are a few:
|The Arthurian Hallows||‘The Mantle of Arthur’||‘The Whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd’||‘The Chariot of Morgan the Wealthy’||‘Dyrnwyn, Sword of Rhydderch||‘The Coat of Padarn Red-Coat’||‘Chessboard of Gwenddolau’|
|Ability||Makes the wearer invisible||Ensures death follows wounding.||Travels at great speed to any location.||Bursts into flame.||Identifies those of noble birth.||Plays by itself.|
|Rowling||Invisibility cloak||Godric’s Sword||Apparition||Fiendfyre||Sorting Hat||Wizard Chess|
Analysis: These items represent many others we’ve seen in the books: between the Hallows, the Horcruxes, the spare wands, the new spells, and other items (Sorting Hat, Sword of Godric Gryffindor, beaded bag, basilisk fangs) Harry has at least thirteen treasures aiding him on his sacred quest to destroy Voldemort. Only one who is truly worthy, a symbolic king or those who he’s appointed to aid him (As he confides his task to Ron, Hermione, and Neville) can wield these items. Dumbledore withholds knowledge of the Hallows because Harry has to prove himself worthy. Likewise, the sword can only appear to Neville and Harry as a test. Dumbledore must realize that being appointed is not enough: only those imbued with kingship can succeed.
In Chrétien de Troyes’ Arthur, the grail quest climaxes with the symbols of a broken sword, silver serving dish, the Grail, and bleeding Lance.
Meanwhile, many see the sword and lance as the Blade (or male principle) and dish and grail as the female principle (chalice).
© Valerie Estelle Frankel July 2007