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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – a book of firsts

From passwords to pals, we look at how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was full of debuts...

First Gryffindor password

The fireplace in the Gryffindor Common Room
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

An iconic moment, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone boasted the very first utterance of a Gryffindor password. It was ‘Caput Draconis’ which is Latin for ‘dragon’s head’ and that definitely fits as a straightforward password for the common room.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Caput Draconis is a key geomantic figure. Each figure embodies a particular state of the world, and Caput Draconis specifically means good fortune with starting or beginning new things.

It was Harry’s first day at Hogwarts and his first Gryffindor password meant ‘good luck with starting something new’. An interesting little connection that certainly flew over our heads.

First magical object

Albus Dumbledore using the Deluminator in Privet Drive
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The first magical object we encountered was Dumbledore’s Deluminator – referred to then as a Put-Outer – which he used to ensure he and Professor McGonagall were shrouded in darkness when they went to drop off Harry at the Dursleys’.

The Deluminator made a reappearance when Dumbledore bequeathed it to Ron in his will and Ron questioned why he in particular had received it. Naturally, we don’t know Dumbledore’s true intention, but Harry seemed to hit the nail on the head:

‘I dunno,’ said Ron. ‘Sometimes I’ve thought, when I’ve been a bit hacked off, he was having a laugh or – or he just wanted to make it more difficult. But I don’t think so, not any more. He knew what he was doing when he gave me the Deluminator, didn’t he? He – well,’ Ron’s ears turned bright red and he became engrossed in a tuft of grass at his feet, which he prodded with his toe, ‘he must’ve known I’d run out on you.’ ‘No,’ Harry corrected him. ‘He must’ve known you’d always want to come back.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

A lovely bit of symbolism.

First class

The potion class storeroom from the Chamber of Secrets
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Harry’s first-ever class that we saw in the books was, naturally, Potions with Snape. It probably wasn’t the best way to kick off life at a new school, but it gave us some interesting info on Harry’s future at Hogwarts as well as a look into his past.

The first thing Snape said to Harry was, ‘What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?’ This has a very revealing hidden meaning. Asphodel is a form of lily closely associated with grief, and wormwood is commonly suggestive of bitterness and remorse. The overall connotation, of course, being that Snape bitterly regrets Lily’s death.

It’s yet another little nugget of information that is immensely fascinating to discover when we look back over Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

First school friend

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The first person we befriend at a new school, the first person you seem to click with, is almost certainly in it for the long run. When they met on the Hogwarts Express, Ron and Harry were blissfully unaware of how much time they would end up spending together over the remainder of their lives, and it’s sweet to think of their perfectly innocent first day together.

Harry first met Ron through his family at King’s Cross and this was important, as the Weasleys would really go on to become the family that Harry really depended on. He and Ron quickly bonded over Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs, not realising they were at the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime. Awwww, they were so young...

First magical food

The Hogwarts Express at platform nine and three-quarters.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

When he met Ron for the first time, the first fellow wizard his age, Harry also got another new experience – he got to try his first wizarding world food. He got a taste of a Pumpkin Pasty as well as an awful lot of sweets.

His first Chocolate Frog turned out to be very useful as his card was of Dumbledore and Harry had never seen what his headmaster looked like. He also got to try a curry-flavoured bean, but we’d reckon that’s an experience he’d probably want to forget.

In terms of your first magical food you can’t do much better than getting something off the trolley, dears.

First magical person Harry meets

While Ron was the first magical person his own age that he met and got on with, Hagrid was the first magical person Harry met (not counting when he was a baby) and one of the most important people in his life. Hagrid brought him to the Dursleys all those years ago and was the person to retrieve him when it was time to go to Hogwarts.

Hagrid served as Harry’s transition between both the world of the Muggles and the wizarding world, as well as life and death. Hagrid carried him to the Dursleys when he was an infant but he also carried Harry back from the Forbidden Forest when he was believed to be dead, symbolically bringing Harry back into the world.