12. The Ripley Scroll

The Ripley Scroll is one of the most impressive items in the exhibit. The scroll is an alchemical manuscript that describes how to create a Philosopher’s Stone. It is full of mystical symbolism and alchemical icons that are not completely understood. Some icons are purposefully obscure to protect the secrets of the stone. The twenty-foot long scroll starts with an illustration of an alchemist holding a flask that contains a toad. Toads were believed to have regenerative powers and this quality is what was being harnessed for the stone. The final scene, pictured above, shows the black, red, and white stones coming together to form the Philosopher’s Stone. J.K. Rowling drew on alchemical symbolism for the names of Harry Potter characters. Albus, as in Albus Dumbledore, means “white” and “Rubeus,” as in Rubeus Hagrid, means “red.” Both of these colors figure prominently in alchemical processes.