As one of the most successful writers in history, J.K. Rowling is one of the most famous. Does the creator of Harry Potter have tattoos?
J.K. Rowling has at least one tattoo. The tattoo, which is located on her inner wrist and seemingly in her own handwriting, is a reference to alchemy. The text reads “Solve et Coagula”, Latin for “dissolve and coagulate”, alluding to the transformative nature of alchemy. The tattoo was first noticed by the public during a December 2019 appearance.
For more on Rowling’s tattoo and why it might have special meaning to her, read on.
In December 2019, J.K. Rowling attended the premiere of the HBO documentary “Finding the Way Home”, which tells the stories of several orphans who have been helped by Rowling’s Lumos Foundation.
Lumos was founded in 2005 and seeks to move children out of traditional orphanages and into foster care or small group homes.
In addition to the premiere of the documentary, observant onlookers spotted something unfamiliar about Rowling. On her right inner wrist, a previously unseen tattoo had appeared. The tattoo is quite nondescript, in the form of two lines of cursive text in black ink.
In March 2020, a teacher on Twitter asked Rowling if she would share any “little-known” facts about herself and Rowling posted that she had gotten the tattoo in 2019. She also revealed that she plays exclusively as Yoshi on Mario Kart.
The tattoo appears to have been written in Rowling’s own handwriting and is in Latin, reading “Solve et Coagula”. The phrase translates to “dissolve and coagulate” and refers to alchemy, the art of transforming a substance into something else.
In addition to its alchemical origins, the phrase can also be seen as metaphorical, referring to letting past events dissolve and forming into something stronger for the future.
Rowling was keen to stress that her tattoo was unrelated to Harry Potter, stating that it “would be ridiculous”. When some fans reassured her that there would be nothing wrong with the Harry Potter creator celebrating her work with a tattoo, Rowling replied that it would be “very, very weird” and like getting her own face tattooed on her body.
Alchemy in Potter
Despite Rowling’s statement that her tattoo has nothing to do with Harry Potter, alchemy is a key feature of the first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, retitled to “Sorceror’s Stone” in the United States.
The Philosopher’s Stone that both titles refer to is a legendary substance, believed to be capable of transforming basic metals into gold. The stone is also known as the elixir of life and would supposedly grant its owner immortality.
Although many readers first became familiar with the stone after reading the first of the Potter books, the legend is actually more than 2000 years old, with the earliest mentions existing in Greek literature from circa 300AD.
Budding alchemists have been trying to change metals into gold and create the philosopher’s stone ever since, although seemingly without success.
Rowling shared an article on the Wizarding World website where she discussed alchemy. She mentioned the interpretation that the original intention of alchemy might have been a spiritual journey; the base state is ignorance and the ultimate goal is enlightenment, becoming gold.
This metaphor certainly seems like something that Rowling might have chosen to get tattooed on her wrist.
Despite its close ties to chemistry, alchemy is also distinctly mystical. The Philosopher’s Stone in the Potter world is formed by real-life French historical figure Nicolas Flamel, who was rumored after his death to have discovered the stone.
After Voldemort unsuccessfully attempts to steal the Stone, it is destroyed to prevent its misuse. Several years later, Harry’s friend Hermione Granger chose not to study alchemy at Hogwarts, perhaps feeling that the Philosopher’s Stone was best left in the past.