J.K. Rowling Appears to Sport Alchemical Tattoo & Says Fifth ‘Cormoran Strike’ Novel Is Complete!

Dec 19, 2019

Posted by: Emma Pocock


J.K. Rowling has been back on the radar again this month, and made speeches at both the premiere of Finding The Way Home, a Lumos-inspired HBO documentary narrated by Eddie Redmayne, and an acceptance speech at the Ripple of Hope awards.

A new clip has emerged, in which J.K. Rowling shares that she has almost finished (by now finished, most likely) the next Cormoran Strike novel under pseudonym Robert Galbraith, whose first name was inspired by Robert F Kennedy, who in turn inspired the Ripple of Hope awards:

“I’m currently just a few pages away from completing J.K.’s thirteenth and Robert’s fifth novel, and if I hadn’t come to New York to accept this award I would’ve finished it this week!”

Earlier in the week, Rowling attended the Finding The Way Home premiere, at which she was spotted by the Hogwarts Professor, John Granger, sporting what appears to be an alchemical tattoo, or at least a semi-permanent tattoo clearly on show, specifically showing the words “Solve et Coagula“. It’s some great spotting, and has some interesting potential implications on future works by Rowling, or a fascinating insight into how she sees her own work—depending on how you want to read the relevance of this phrase.

“Solve et Coagula” is at the very heart of alchemy, a subject J.K. Rowling has said she is fascinated by, proven by her first book focusing on the Philosopher’s Stone, the source of the Elixir of Life, which itself relies on this principle, “Solve et Coagula”.

Meaning “dissolve and rebuild”, “dissolve and coagulate”, or, more simply “to take apart and join together”, it is the most foundational maxim of alchemy: breaking compounds into elements, then rebuilding, or breaking down the body and rebuilding the spirit. It’s a phrase also depicted on the arms of Baphomet, a misunderstood occultist symbol illustrated most famously in Eliphas Lévi’s 1854 Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, allegedly originally worshipped by the Knights Templar, and mentioned first in 1098 by a French crusader:


But what do Baphomet, alchemy and the phrase “Solve et Coagula” have to do with J. K. Rowling—could we be seeing potential hints at Fantastic Beasts? If this is a tattoo, why are these words so important to Rowling?

The connections of this motto to Baphomet, a controversial and respected symbol in various circles, may point to the phrase’s significance to Rowling, with the phrase’s connections to Baphomet summarised by UltraCulture well:

“[Baphomet] also serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of state-sponsored, religiously justified oppression.”

Of course, opposing a harmful status quo and refining society and self through constant questioning (or rebuilding) is at the very heart of the Harry Potter series, and also the Fantastic Beasts series. Tackling harmful regimes and rebuilding the wizarding society whilst remembering the dangers of past oppressors is a theme at the heart of Rowling’s work, and ties in neatly to real-world concerns mirrored in her works.

The principle of “Solve et Coagula”, or repeatedly refining, or completely destroying in order to create, is, as John Granger summarises “the action of all spiritual growth”, and is at the heart of alchemical intent to refine and perfect. Supposing, as Granger does, that this is what Rowling sees as her duty, or indeed, the duty of readers, to constantly refine and remake what we consume as readers, and her as creator? Granger theorises further:

“Perhaps Rowling wears this phrase on her right wrist both to remind herself of her work as an hermetic writer and that she herself is a spiritual experiment in progress who needs to ‘let go’ and ‘re-make’ herself consciously in each moment. It’s an excellent reminder to her serious readers!”

It’s an interesting possibility, and the possible connections to Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts are endless — but we’ll save those for another Leaky piece on Voldemort seeking to reconstitute himself, rather than simply lengthen his life, Credence / Aurelius Dumbledore and the idea of an Obscurus as power embodied as spirit that can dissolve/reconstitute, and how Flamel the Alchemist is now at the heart of our wizarding world!

Read The Hogwarts Professor’s fascinating piece delving more into the meaning of this phrase here.

In other news, there are new Strike posters out, and Lethal White has officially wrapped filming!

This means we can hopefully expect a new series of Strike / C.B. Strike on our screens in 2020, as well as the fifth Cormoran Strike novel. That’ll help mitigate the wait for Fantastic Beasts 3, we imagine, which begins filming in February 2020.

Let us know your thoughts on the “Solve et Coagula” mystery, and read more about the Ripple of Hope Awards here.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.