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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 68 - 11/25/2001
Are You Wild About Harry?
Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it? Do you think that the movie will bring more people into Paganism or to the study of real magic(k)? Do you think that this is a good thing or not? Do you think that the witchcraft and magic and spells as depicted in the movie accurately (though exaggerated) reflect the basic premises of Witchcraft and magick and spellwork as we know it? What do think a good response would be to both those who want to 'do it like Harry' and to those who believe that Pottermania is anti-Christian or enticing children into the 'world of the occult'?
| Reponses: There are 80 responses posted to this question.
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| No, I Haven't Seen The Movie, But I'll Rent It When It... ||Nov 19th. at 9:09:48 am UTC|
|Ciarrai (Somewhere In Middlesex County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
No, I haven't seen the movie, but I'll rent it when it comes out on video (or DVD if I can afford one during these "holiday" sales!) All I ever heard from the parents of many of the elite children of the executives that I work with (as a mere "secretary" or whatever the right term is nowadays) is that they are extremely well written books and that they capture the minds of their kids, which I think is just great.
Enough of the anti-Christian-ism. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I was given the Naria series by C.S. Lewis by a born-again evangelical relative as a child, and I loved those books, and I still have them. To me they were fantasy novels just like I presume the Potter books are. But I would like to read the books, and as Peg Aloi has done, perhaps I will get the British print version myself. She has a good point there.
Yesterday I had to laugh -- there's an issue with Harry Potter and the other children drinking too much Coca Cola, eh? I thought to myself, well, if this will get the Christians to back off of the Pagans, then maybe they can complain about this!
Christians try to convert everyone. Paganism comes to you if you want it. No one is trying to entice anyone. Just entertain.
| I've Seen The Movie, And Thought It Was Fantastic. It Was Obviously... ||Nov 19th. at 10:54:53 am UTC|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I've seen the movie, and thought it was fantastic. It was obviously a labor of love which captures the scope and imagination of the book in spades. Is it a reflection of paganism? No, not really. It lack the spiritual and religious element and portrays magic in that typically Hollywoodized form we are so used to seeing. Want to fix your glasses? Wave your wand!
I rather doubt that this book series or film will recruit more and more people into paganism and/or the study of magic as we know it. The film is pure fantasy and children who are of an age to truly get swept away in the fantasy are unlikely to seek the kind of discipline and thoughtful pursuit that our breed of magic entails.
That being said, I think we're likely to have this conversation all over again in December when the Lord of the Rings is released. What I see in that piece of literature and the snippets of film thus far are much closer to our hearts and minds than Harry. Not surprising considering the author based much of his work on Celtic and Scandinavian myth and legend. As a raving lunatic of a fan, I anticipate December 19th with so much excitement I can barely contain myself! See you all at the theatre!
| I've Read The Books (all Of Them Except For Goblet Of Fire... ||Nov 19th. at 11:04:09 am UTC|
|Aelfen Pandora (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I've read the books (all of them except for Goblet of Fire) and saw the movie yesterday, and I LOVE them! It may or may not bring one into magick, it all depends on how open-minded and interested one may be. Magick is exaggerated in the series, though, but it does show how wonderful it can be. If you think Harry is bad or something, don't see it. If you think that being a Potter fan will diminish you, then let the fans bring themselves down. Just don't be a Durseley and shut those who like the series in a cupboard under the stairs. "Pottermania" (? am I guessing that this is Beatlemania book-wise?) is non-religious, and if you fear that children will join the "occult", you should liven up the "non-occult" for them.
| I Loved The Movie And Hope That This Will Allow Children To... ||Nov 19th. at 11:13:37 am UTC|
|Jason (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I loved the movie and hope that this will allow children to dream larger and push off the cold rationality that is forced on them by our society at such a young age.
Will it draw people to the craft, it will probibly make some people very curious and therefore more open...
As for those that fear we are enticing the children into the occult... I find that sad. Our religion is one where there is balance and equality between male and female. Where our God and Goddess love all their children even the narrow minded muggles that attack and burn their children.
The christ of these fanatics loved the outcast, the downtrodden and those not accepted by the mainstream religion of the Jewish people. Christ loved all the people if these people listened to their own savior they might learn what our gods and goddesses have said all along.
Love one another, life is a gift, the world is but an expression of the devine. Learn love and grow. Do what ye will and harm ye none.
| I Will Stand Up And Say It, I Love Harry Potter! But... ||Nov 19th. at 12:34:54 pm UTC|
|Sorror Annyarthra (Lakewood, Colorado US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I will stand up and say it, I love Harry Potter! But not so much for the magic and what it might do for paganism but for the wonderful stories themselves. As with all great fantasy, like Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, the best part of these stories is the characters themselves and what they learn about each other and themselves when faced with huge, seemingly unsurmountable tasks. Yes, the magic is great, the movie was wonderful, but when my daughter asked for a broom like Harry's I had to explain that magic doesn't work like that. Magic is about creating and transforming things yes, but those things are generally internal, because the macrocosm reflects the microcosm. I think that what is important in these stories is the courage, love and dedication to what's right shown by the characters, not the magic tricks. And to those christians that say these books will draw children to the occult I say, Jesus preformed feats of magic, as did many others in the Bible, the only difference is that you call them miracles.
| I Think That The Harry Potter Books May Introduce More People To... ||Nov 19th. at 12:52:23 pm UTC|
|Lira (Lunenburg, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 31 |
I think that the Harry Potter books may introduce more people to Paganism out of the desire to achieve the instant, and glamourous results seen in the pages. Or, more ironically, they might investigate magick and Witchcraft because of all the xtian furor that these books and movie created. I am fine with either motivation. If Christianity offered a more fulfilling experience, the religion as a whole would not be losing so many of its members to alternative paths.
I think the most profound effect that the books had on me was to awaken a fledgling desire to found a Pagan school. Hogwarts, of course, is pure fantasy - but who hasn't wished for a similar place where one could go to learn, away from less tolerant minds? One sees Hebrew schools, Parochial schools...why not a Wiccan school? Has anyone else talked about a venture of this sort? Obviously, one would not be going there to learn how to fly on a broomstick. But one could imagine a curriculum where courses in Ritual Structure and Goddesses 101 were offered next to their more mundane cousins Pre-Calc and 19th Century British Literature.
With a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry making the front page of the public mind, I just wanted to throw this out to the Pagan community at large and see what people think of such an idea.
Yours in the Goddess,
| This Could Be A Long One... Thirty Years Old, No Kids, A... ||Nov 19th. at 1:14:55 pm UTC|
|Dawn Marie Nikithser (Hightstown, New Jersey US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
This could be a long one...
Thirty years old, no kids, a grown-up professional with a home and a car and student loans and all those other things, and I am just wild about Harry. I bought the first book on a whim, bought the others within a week of that, and I have been chewing my fingernails to the quick for months now, desperate for book five. My tickets for the film were purchased weeks ago and I was literally the first person in the theatre for our 11pm showing Friday night. It did not disappoint - wonderfully done, tight to the book, well-acted and beautifully told. I will see it again.
Now, onto the other questions. Will Harry and Hogwarts bring people (and children) into Paganism? It could, but, by that logic, Memoirs of a Geisha could bring people into prostitution, or at least to an interest in it. I doubt that most of the child readers of Harry Potter will dash to their nearest "New Age" section, frantically buying up copies of Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft. In fact, an 11-year old girl who, after reading Harry, began asking me questions about being a Witch quickly lost interest when I assured her I could not make feathers float, make locks open, turn into a cat or fly. The fantasy of "witch" is very different from the reality Witch, and even if they should begin to question, most kids will pick up on that pretty fast. For older kids, teenagers and adults who discover Harry and begin peeking at the Pagan books in the local Barnes and Noble, it could open the door. But just a crack. How far they follow through that door and down the hallway is up to them.
There are things in Harry's world that are "accurate" representations of what we believe. Magic, especially that done for "evil", has a cost. Respect for all things is communicated, if not terribly overtly. Animals are seen as valuable magical beings and partners. Study is encouraged; magic does not come easy and the principles must be learned. And, from the first book, an important lesson that I have taken to including in my teaching: one should call all things by their real name, for fear of a name increases fear of the thing named. So, yes, there are some good parallels, though obviously not purposeful ones. I sincerely doubt that J. K. Rowling has a secret agenda to lure children to occult study or even to interest them in Modern Paganism, no matter what the 700 club thinks.
And speaking of the 700 club, do the books, and others like them, entice children into the occult/new age/Paganism/etc?(I am lumping for a reason, and mean no disrespect) Well, that is the question, isn't it? Frankly, for me, they did. Not the Harry Potters, but books like them.
When I was a child, I was a prodigious and voracious reader, easily handling adult books by the third grade. My father had a healthy appetite for things fantastic and phantasmic, and he passed that onto me - I could recite Poe's "The Raven" by second grade, and adored Saturday afternoon showings of old Hammer horror flicks. And I loved folklore, and folk magic, especially the kind my Italian-Catholic grandmother taught me. So perhaps the foundation was laid by blood, but the rest of the structure was built with the help of books.
It was probably Tolkien and Lewis that started me along the path - their fictional worlds of magic sent me looking for "real life" counterparts which, thanks to my mother's penchant for thrift stores and frequent library visits, I found. You'd be surprised where you can spot the information, if you are a curious child with a love for research. National Geographic, anthropology mags, old issues of Fate and the Fortean Times - the stuff is out there, and it started me on the Path I hold to today. Admittedly, my experience is not the norm - most kids, especially today, have "better" things to do than comb through piles of old magazines and dusty books. But there are a few out there who will do it, and fantasy books can start them along. But I believe that fearing this will happen on a large scale is both ridiculous and wishful, and it ain't gonna happen. And the only true magic that J. K. Rowling is guilty of is bringing children away from the joystick, the television and the internet, and back to the heft of a hardcover, the smell of a newly-cracked binding, and the joy of the pictures that words can create in the head. And I think any God would thank her for that.
My two knuts - blessings to all and sorry for going on so long.
| Yes. I'm Wild About Harry. I Started Reading The Books When I... ||Nov 19th. at 1:40:27 pm UTC|
|Heather H (Port Orchard, Washington US) ||Age: 30 |
Yes. I'm wild about Harry. I started reading the books when I saw the first, tiny article in Time magazine about the Potter craze that hit England. But contrary to popular opinion (both christian and pagan) I think that these books are extreamly secular. There is no religion in the books, only Good and Evil (not god and the devil). And Good and Evil comes only from the person involved. Harry is good, because he chooses to be. Voldemort is evil because he chooses to be. I think that this what really bugs the ultra-fundementalist christians, eventhough they don't realize it. I have always viewed the witchcraft/wizardry in the books as a talent that the characters have. Hogwarts is no different than Julliard. Harry is no different than an 11 year old piano virtuoso. I think that most of us have been in the position that Harry is at the begining of the 1st book. Stuck in a situation we can't control, not knowing what we want out of or to do with our life. We would all like to have someone deliver a letter that tells us what we are, whether it be "You're really an artist...writer...accountant." And there's other peple just like you.
The pagan religion has nothing to do with Rowlings world. I wouldn't put it past her to have copies of some of our herbal encyclopedias and older spell books, but she does not use the pagan religion in the books.
Having said that, I do think that the books may cause some kids (and adults) to go to the library to look up witchcraft. Then they may find our religion. I would also like to think that there's some kid out there whose parents are Wiccans and when their friends find out, they don't give the kid a hard time. In fact, their friends might find it cool.
I did get to see the movie on Friday. I must say that I really liked it. They did a very good job of putting the audience in Hogwarts. My favorite parts were: (contrary to Peg) the quidditch match, I think it was meant to make us think of the speeder-bike chase in Return of the Jedi. It certainly gave me a better idea of what a match would look like and how fast it would be. I also thought the wizard's chess scene was much better on screen than on paper. The actor's were pretty much spot on (though I would have rather had John Heard (Ollivander) as Dumbledore. I remember him as the Storyteller in the Henson series). The kids were wonderful, especially Ron. I loved the whole atmosphere and Britishness of the movie. I plan on seeing it again, just so I can concentrate on the background, especially the moving paintings. Having said that, I must admit that I still wish that they had chosen to do the books as good, old fashioned, British, 4 to 6 part mini-series. I think that, at least, books 3 and 4 should be done that way. I can't imagine how they can do book 4 as a feature film. And I will say here that Rowen Atkison (in his Blackadder the 2nd incarnation) has my vote for Sirius Black.
In closing, I think that the movie will make kids go back to read the books. It made me go back to see what they had left out.
| I Have To Admit, I Was Looking Forward To The Movie As... ||Nov 19th. at 3:35:01 pm UTC|
|Manda (Memphis, Tennessee US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I have to admit, I was looking forward to the movie as much as the preteens in the neighborhood. I went and saw it on opening night, and all around, it was exactly what I expected: a wonderful CHILDREN'S story about wizards and magic.
I doubt that this movie will encourage children to do anything more than pick up a book on Witchcraft. Once they realize that we don't zip around on brooms and that magick is work, they will put them back down and go on about their lives. Well, unless they truly have the urge to learn about Paganism, in which case they would have found their way with or without Mr. Potter.
The magic in the movie was entertaining, and could be, with a bit of mental yoga, based in the real. However, equating the wizardry in the movie to real magick would take about as much of a stretch as the theory a friend of mine that The Matrix is actually about the story of Christ.
Overall, I think the best response to anyone who is worried about Harry leading their children into "the occult" (*gasp*) is a pitying silence. If they want to make sure their children aren't "led astray", perchance they should sit down with the children and read the books with them. Then talk to them about the stories, making sure they know they are just fiction.
It saddens me to no end that children can no longer have anything without it being ruined by us adults. Sesame Street, the Teletubbies, Pokemon, Harry Potter... the list of things that are innocent until our adult minds twist them into something they are not, and never were intended to be, grows every year. When will we learn?
| I Was Lucky Enough To See The Preview On Remembrance Day. I... ||Nov 19th. at 4:10:28 pm UTC|
|Riannon Silvermoon (New Westminster, British Columbia CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I was lucky enough to see the preview on Remembrance Day.
I thought the movie was pure entertainment - as are the books. I loved it.
I think the movie will bring more attention to Paganism and the study of Magick, but I don't think it will bring too many converts. I believe the open-minded people will go out and buy a few 'Wicca 101' books to learn more about witchcraft in the real world, and those who feel touched, may cross over and find a new path.
the people who are closed-minded will (and already are) look at the movie scream "EVIL!" and move to ban everything Harry Potter and Witchcraft related from their town.
I don't really think that the movie depicts even an exaggerated premise of real witchcraft and spellwork. It is pure fantasy magick.
Well... they do learn some herb lore, and use wands... but I feel that's a very minor representation of some of the tools of witchcraft.
For those who want to do it like Harry? if they think all witchcraft is, is waving a wand and shouting 'Lumos!' to create light - they should know that the only way that's going to work is if they're standing too close to the light switch and accidentally hit it with their wand. ^_^
If they're seriously interested, I would recommend they check some books on modern witchcraft / Wicca / Paganism out of the library, or even purchase a book or two from the New Age section in their local bookstore and check it out, before making a commitment.
I would also reccomend the same thing for those who believe it is anti-Christian or will 'entice children into the world of the occult'
I know that since my younger sister has read the books, the only magic she's become interested in is stage magic - disappearing tricks and optical illusions - hardly occult!
| I Have Not Yet Seen The Movie, But Am Dieing To. I... ||Nov 19th. at 5:58:56 pm UTC|
|Raven Whitewolf (Hanford, California US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I have not yet seen the movie, but am dieing to. I have heard great things about it, and of cource, any movie that does not portray witchs as evil, satan-worshiping old hags, always gets a few brownie points in my book. I have read all 4 of the books at least 3 times over (each), and loved them each and every time.
I believe that it will be very hard for this movie to live up to everyone expectations, because the books are done in such detail and everyone's vision is different. I am hopeful that it will live up to most people's expectations at least in part.
| Sorry, This Isn't Going To Be About "harry", Haven't Seen It Yet... ||Nov 19th. at 6:44:00 pm UTC|
|mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Sorry, this isn't going to be about "Harry", haven't seen it yet, plan to thanksgiving. Wish me luck. Even though this is technically a few wks. coming (in other words, late), it does have to do with how "Witchcraft" is portrayed by the entertainment industry, so I hope this post stays posted.
I didn't give much thought to the "recommendations" Perspective, though I did run across a video yesterday that deserves mentioning. From time to time I play Wiccan watchdog in my local video rental chains, interested in any movie with Wicca or Witchcraft as it's subject matter or in the title, and how it's being portrayed to the general public. I ran across this little semi-precious gem in the "Horror" section at my local Hollywood Video. Never mind the fact that it's a comedy (more on this later).
It's called "Equinox Knocks", and going by the hokey cover on the video box, I expected this to be more trash from your typical anti-Wiccan bitter little man with misogynist tendecies who's socially retarded and just plain slow. I was very pleasantly surprised.
The filmaker admits before the movie actually begins that she knows nothing about Witchcraft among other things. What's important is that first, she was honest; second, a lead character who's a witch is portrayed in a VERY positive light; and last but not least, I got a kick out of it. It was a hoot! And anyone familiar with highschool will relate. Of course there are some silly elements (pardon the pun) ala "Charmed", and I'll admit there's this whole sub-plot that's way Cheech and Chongish, and o.k. - the witch is suspiciously like Willow of "Buffy" fame. That doesn't matter though. It's fun! Check it out and enjoy.
By the way, I told the manager that anyone renting it expecting a horror movie would be disappointed because it's a comedy. I wouldn't count on any video rental store having any movie in the right section. Go to the check-out where the computers are and ask if they have "Equinox Knocks" and have some laughs.
Love, winks, and plenty of popcorn
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