Harry Dresden and The Fool’s Journey

Addison Smith
7 min readDec 15, 2020

Yes, I usually write about LGBTQ+ issues, but I’ve been concentrating that writing on a project that I’m not ready to share on Medium quite yet. (That’s why I haven’t been posting much for a while.) Therefore, I’m going to share a bit of fan theory with you all.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is a book series that follows the life of Harry Dresden, a Chicago P.I. who just happens also to be a wizard. Books 16 and 17 of the series — Peace Talks and Battle Ground — were released earlier this year, but they are one story that split into two books due to its length giving us 16 novels and a slew of short stories, graphic novels, roleplaying games, and a TV series.

Prepping to read Peace Talks, I reread the entire series, including some of the short stories that occur between the novels, and this time through (yes, I’ve done that for the last several books), I noticed a similarity between the Dresden novels and another mystic interest of mine, the Tarot.

To be clear, I’m not a believer in any sort of divination, but I do find the systems used for it to be fascinating. Years ago, I read a book about the Tarot, in which I learned about the Major Arcana and the story it tells. The Major Arcana are the 21 cards that don’t belong to any of the suits. Instead of the “Four of Cups” or the “King of Swords,” the cards of the Major Arcana are named for a character or concept like “The Fool,” “Judgement,” or “Death.” When considered in order, the cards tell a story of a hero who starts in ignorance and develops into a fully realized person. This is called “The Fool’s Journey.”

Slowly, the connection between The Fool’s Journey and the progress of Harry Dresden in the novels became clear to me. There are 21 cards in the Major Arcana. Butcher has stated that he plans 20 or 21 books in the series, with an apocalyptic trilogy to finish the tale. The Fool meets new characters or learns new lessons on each card, just as Harry does in each novel. The Fools Journey starts with the personal and becomes more cosmic as it goes. The Dresden Files begin with smaller supernatural threats that grow to threaten the structure of reality itself.

Drawing these parallels led me to consider this connection more in-depth. After some research and reading more of Butcher’s stories, I believe I can make the case that Jim Butcher is telling The Fool’s Journey through his creation, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Call it Harry’s Journey.

Addison Smith

I’m an LGBTQ+ DEI educator, activist, and writer living in the Midwest with my cat. Call me Addi. They/She. Booking and more info at https://addisonsagenda.com