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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,365,565  

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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. Reverse Sort 

I Thought The Movie Was Wonderful!! We Were So Excited About It... Nov 20th. at 1:21:42 pm EST

Mistical (New Baltimore, Michigan US) Age: 30 - Email

I thought the movie was wonderful!! We were so excited about it we bought aour tickets early. It was a family evening out. Christians are too insecure. You can spend your whole life teaching your children BUT...they will eventually make there own decision regarding their faith and hence their whole way of life. Teach your children resposibility and they will chosse good choices!

First Let Me Start By Saying I'm Not A Pagan. Or A... Nov 20th. at 2:07:13 pm EST

Jennifer (Orange County, California US) Age: 29

First let me start by saying I'm not a Pagan. Or a Christian. I read Wren's news updates because they focus on the issues I'm most interested in, Church vs. State, first ammendment rights, etc.

That said, what I am is a voracious reader and English Literature major at a California State University campus. I took a children's literature course and we read the first Harry Potter book. It completely enchanted me, and during the upcoming Christmas break I plan to read the next few.

I think part of what draws me to Potter is the fact that the radical Christian right gets so upset about it. I have several co-workers who are fanatical (and I don't use that word lightly) Christians. Yesterday, I asked someone at work if she'd taken her kids to see the movie. From way across the room came the voice of the Master of All Religious Wackos saying she had some problems with children seeing the movie. Turns out her reservations were based on something she'd heard on talk radio about how in the C.S. Lewis and Tolkein there were consequences for "evil" actions and there were not in Harry Potter. She told me because I don't have children "yet" (like it's a foregone conclusion that I'll breed)I could not possibly understand wanting to limit children's access to things. Hello! Limiting access? What better way to encourage interest?

So I asked if she'd read the book or seen the movie. No. And I know she hasn't read Lord of the Rings because that came up a few days ago in conversation. (Admittedly I haven't read that one either). One of my major pet peeves is a person who wants to argue or take a stand but can not form their own argument. This woman continually wants to discuss things based on the opinions of people she hears on talk radio. Talk about taking things out of context!

Anyway, she told me not to get so "worked up" over it. Yes, I tend to get worked up when people start talking about banning books from libraries. It upsets me when parents don't want their children to be educated in science. Most of all, it upsets me when people flat-out refuse to use the brains they were born with. If the faith of the Christian right is so strong, why do they see everything as a threat to it? Perhaps it's because deep down they have their own doubts.

Enough ranting. If anyone has read this far, I salute you!

Am I Wild About Harry? --pretty Much, Yes. Have I Seen The... Nov 20th. at 2:16:41 pm EST

Luis Felipe Morales (Los Angeles, California US) Age: 24 - Email

Am I wild about Harry? --Pretty much, yes.

Have I seen the movie? -- Just last night.

What did I think of it? -- I thought that it was sort of a visual companion for the book, no more. Chris Columbus is a shit director and even his daughter couldn't help him here. No real effort was made to keep the plot as linear as it is in the books, this was more or less a queueing-up of scenes from the book, to be turned into visual images. I did think the acting was pretty good, but I was disappointed with the choppy editing. In short, it was a lot of fun to see, but if you're new to Harry Potter it can't have been very good.

Will HP bring people to Paganism? -- Huh, it might interest more people in studying magick, but I really doubt it will bring many people to live a Pagan religious / spiritual path, that's a bit of a more complex choice, now isn't it?

Does HP accurately represent magick / paganism? -- Good heavens, no. Some of the symbolism in the movie and much more in the books is very mythical and magickal and quite powerful. But the magick as spelled out in the book and visualized on screen are not at all Neopagan, or real-magick or whatever. I would not say there is any kind of systematic mapping of HP concepts --> Pagan concepts going on here. The sharing is partly coincidental, that's all

What's a good response to those who want to `do it like Harry'? -- You can't. It's a book. Get over yourself.

Response to Christians? -- Well, these books and (to a larger extent perhaps) this movie do a good job of making magick look attractive and fun, if not perfectly safe, but then it has that tinge of danger. If people believe that magick, trolls, spells, three-headed dogs, flying brooms, etc., are anti-Christian, well, there's lots of Scripture and reams upon reams of commentary to back that up. If some parents don't think their kids should be exposed to the occult, quite naturally they won't have taken their kids to see this, and I can't argue that the magickal / occult activities in HP pretty much go against that set of values.

Of course, I think that fetishizing something through repression is not really a bright parenting idea, but that's not my problem or my coin to pay at the moment, since I have no children of my own.

First Of All, I Love Harry Potter. I Admit It. I'm A... Nov 20th. at 2:17:45 pm EST

Jade Woulf (Columbia, South Carolina US) Age: 20 - Email

First of all, I love Harry Potter. I admit it. I'm a 20 year old college student and I own all four books in hard back and hope to someday get the British version as well as one in at least one other language just for the heck of it. The books are well written and encourage children (and adults) of all ages to read. Children who don't normally read because of a learning disability or because they just don't like to read are reading the Potter books and that to me is the best thing that could ever happen. Educators have tried to use this as an opportunity to get children to read and sadly their attempts are now failing because a few people think that Potter is "satanic" and/or "evil."

I saw the movie this past friday and I loved it. I usually can't stand movies based on books because they tend not to remain faithful to the book. This movie was an exception (plus they put in Alan Rickman, my favorite British actor, as Professor Snape and they had to get John Cleese from Monty Python to play nearly headless Nick, how could I not love it?).

Of course, the fact that children are reading is a good thing. The fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione show what real friendship means is a great thing, and that children can learn from this example is truly wonderful. Now, this raises a question: why am I so upset lately over the Potter-mania sweeping the world?

I am upset that some Pagans think that this book will bring more people to Pagan related spiritual paths. To say that this book shows "the basic premises of Wichcraft, magic(k), and spellwork as we know it" is pure BS.

Ok, the children use wands, cauldrons, and brooms. So what? Let's be honest here when was the last time you waved your wand and made a feather float or unlocked a door? Used your cauldron to brew a potion to turn someone into a frog (ok so I was mad at my ex, but it never worked ;))? And honestly, have any of us flown on brooms to play Quidditch? I've said it before and I'll say it again a pentacle, broom, cauldron, and/or wand do not a Witch make. Just as simply owning a bible doesn't make you a Chrisitian. For both Pagans and Christians we must walk the walk and talk the talk before anyone takes us seriously.

The Potter books are *fantasy* novels for a reason. No matter how much we would love for it to be true the magical world of Hogwarts does not exist. I'm not trying to sound "Witchier than thou" when I say this, but I really would hate to see people finding the Pagan path because they think we fly on brooms or can make ourselves turn into cats.

Also, as far as being anti-Christian, I must again state the word Fantasy. I haven't met a child yet who read the Potter books and started calling the quarters or casting a cirlce. We are doing ourselves a dis-service to lead Christians out there to believe that Harry Potter is a represenative of Pagans everywhere.

As many people have pointed out, Harry even celebrated Christian holidays. So, what's so "evil" about that? The people who are the most outspoken against Potter are most likely the ones who have not read it yet.

Harry Potter Is Just Good Fiction! It Has No More Resemblance To... Nov 20th. at 3:57:10 pm EST

Ravan Asteris (Cupertino, California US) Age: 40 - Email

Harry Potter is just good fiction! It has no more resemblance to pagan practice than any other fantasy book (and less than some), just like science fiction often only bears passing resemblance to real science.

*sigh* I haven't seen the movie yet, I can't afford it. I finally got chance to see Star Wars, Episode I. Surprisingly, that has *more* relation to my religious philosophy than Potter does.

The only way that Harry Potter, in movies or books, will bring more people into paganism is by getting people to use their imaginations and think about more than just what they have been spoon fed by teachers and preachers. People who read for pleasure, who read imaginative fiction, are far more likely to question the world around them, and the pronoucements of "authorities". Like for Galileo, this can have risk in any rigid spiritual or social environment.

Still, I think that getting kids to read and imagine different worlds is a good thing, regardless of what religion they chose. Children are our future, and values like friendship, loyalty, and courage are good to have them learn, in any faith.

As far as the basics of spellwork are concerned, Harry Potter is no more, and often less, accurate than many fantasy books. Then again, Christian prayer and wishing on a star are just as relevant. The one thing that is accurate is that learning to do magic is a long process, taking years of intense study. Herbs, scrying, and other things can't be mastered by skimming Cliffs Notes, no matter how easy Harry and his friends make it seem. But then again, the bigger lesson is that anything worth doing has to be worked at, whether magic, medicine, or physics.

When I was younger, I read the Narnia series. It didn't turn me into a rabid Christian, although it's supposedly (deliberately) Christian literature. It was, however, a good set of stories, set in a make-believe land, with some good moral lessons. The presence of strong values, evolving maturity, and striving to do what is right are the hallmarks of enduring fantasy literature and myth.

Reading Harry Potter books will not turn children into pagans any more than reading the Deryni books (Kurtz) will turn people into Catholics, or reading Narnia will turn people into Baptists. Sorry folks, you're barking up the wrong tree.

To those who say that Harry Potter is a "real pagan" or teaches people how to do real magic, I say "Get a Life".

I Personally Own All Four Of The Harry Potter Books, And Have... Nov 20th. at 4:40:38 pm EST

Michelle (Sterling, Virginia US) Age: 21

I personally own all four of the Harry Potter books, and have read them countless times. I am pratically peeing my pants in anticipation of seeing the movie. But I don't think the Potter books can be clasified as Pagan...yeah, they deal with magic, but how many of us have performed a leg-locking spell on anyone we know just for laughs? I certainly haven't. And I would never try to work magic to cause someone to fall off thier broomstick during a Quidditch match. The thing is, the Potter books really don't have any reference to the Rede or Three-fold law, which I see as a pretty big part of at least Wiccan belief, if not Pagan. If the books were Pagan, they would never be performing such spells as I mentioned above because they are could be seen as doing harm to another. Even feeding Dudley candy to make his tongue swell up to an incredable size...although only a practical joke and not meant to cause any hurt, it still would scare the crap out of me and cause me huge ammounts of embarassment...which is, in a way, harming. But to get off the negative track I've put myself on, I think the Potter books are just plain old good fiction. No, scratch that...amazing, spectacular fantasy. A fabulous read for all ages. And as to the Christian...censorship is not the answer. I think they Christians who are taking the book and reading it with thier children and talking to them about how the book conflicts with thier beliefs...more power to you! Do not keep the material from your children...use it to further illustrate your own personl beliefs. So go ahead, tell your children that that what the magic found in the book is wrong and Satanistic...fine! That's your viewpoint and you're allowed to have it. Just please don't go telling them that it's's not! And if you wonder why it's not, please return to the top of my post and start reading again!

Blessed be and happy reading...

I Absolutely Loved The Movie, Especially The Casting Choices...alan Rickman Was... Nov 20th. at 5:36:18 pm EST

Carrie Iwan (minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 22

I absolutely loved the movie, especially the casting choices...Alan Rickman was fabulous. I really don't think Harry Potter has anything to do with Paganism. While the idea of fantasy magic may have come from the ideas of witchcraft, it's more based on folklore, as far as I can see. They don't mention anything about gods or goddesses, elements, or any of that, which are key elements in Paganism. I look at it as simply fantasy different than, say, the short "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from Fantasia. This is why I cannot understand the reaction of the right wing. Harry Potter is no different than anything that has come before him, at least in the sense of how magic is portrayed. And I don't think it will "entice" children into the "occult" because it really doesn't have anything to do with what we (Pagans) know as magick. You have to be looking past the movie to find that. I guess if they're going to be stupid about it, it's their problem. Some people just have to find something to be pissed off about to stay busy.

I Saw Harry Potter 11-19-01, It Was Entertaining And Cute... Nov 20th. at 8:29:09 pm EST

Lori (Clay Twp., Michigan US) Age: 40

I saw Harry Potter 11-19-01, it was entertaining and cute and I liked it, but the romatic view of the CRAFT was over done. And, yes I do think it will get young people to look to the occult for anwers to that particular type of magic(k). No, I don't think that the movie is anti-anything.


I Loved The Film As I Loved The Books... Wonderful Stories For... Nov 20th. at 9:31:28 pm EST

WindSong (Lancaster, Pennsylvania US) Age: 50

I loved the film as I loved the books... wonderful stories for young folks which can be appreciated by adults. These are lovely fantasy stories that teach young people, as all good youth literature does, that friendship and love are most important; self-worth is worth having; we all have our own unique talents; ultimately, lying and cheating have their own negative rewards; life is tough, but livable. O Lady and Lord, why can't we just leave it at that?! It's a sad trend for adults to usurp the young person's world... fundamental Christians can't just let Halloween be about fun and fantasy for kids, and fundamental Pagans can't just let Harry Potter be about teaching tales for kids. It's no wonder the kids just look at each other and shake their heads...

First Of All, No Matter What Your Beliefs Or Opinions About The... Nov 20th. at 9:48:40 pm EST

T. Kidd (Boise, Idaho US) Age: 26 - Email

First of all, no matter what your beliefs or opinions about the Harry Potter books or movie--one needs to realize that this is just fantasy fiction.

As a practicing pagan, I do think it is quite good we finally have a 'positive' movie about magick, witchcraft, and wizardry, even if it is quite overdone by Hollywood. It wasn't made by the author or the movie studio to emulate real life witchcraft, but to entertain--which, in my opinion I think it does well.

While entertaining it also throws some good old fashioned and sensible values and morals into the film any individual could do good to use or take to heart no matter what their religion or beliefs.

While I found some of the films more scarier and graphic moments might scare someone younger than eight or so, it was very entertaining with top-notch special effects, and a solid storyline in my humble opinion.

In closing, if a family is looking for a good entertaining film to go see, I would definately recommend it, and of course, I would encourage literacy to read the books as well.

Well, I'm Not A Wiccan Or Pagan (but I'm Marrying One, So... Nov 20th. at 11:33:09 pm EST

Nicky C. (Torrance, California US) Age: 29 - Email

Well, I'm not a Wiccan or Pagan (but I'm marrying one, so you could say I have an interest :-D ) - but I just couldn't resist putting my two cents in.

I own (and adore) the books. So far as I'm concerned, they go right up on my bookshelf alongside Tolkien, and Narnia, and Wizard of Oz, and The Neverending Story, and Roald Dahl's stuff, and The Princess Bride (think I'm a fantasy fan?). The Harry Potter stuff is a fun, very well-told children's story - enough fun that at almost thirty, I love it. And the fact that it ACTUALLY HAS KIDS EXCITED ABOUT READING (!) is most admirable. (I was regarded by my peers as something of a mutant for liking to read when I was a kid.)

I really enjoyed the movie. I thought that it was a pretty good book-to-movie translation. There was a fair amount of stuff cut out that I can't help wishing hadn't been, but it was already a 2 3/4 hour movie as it was - I can see why they had to do a bit of pruning. (though I can't help but wonder how they plan on handling book 4, easily twice as long, at least) I thought the casting was absolutely brilliant - particularly Alan Rickman as Snape and the lady who played Professor McGonnigal (her name escapes me at the moment). I'm really looking forward to the next one. (and in the meantime, there's Lord of the Rings coming out soon - drool, drool)

As far as "luring children into the occult" goes...
Somehow, I just don't think folks need worry too much on that score. For one thing, as has been pointed out on many previous postings, Wicca isn't about "luring" people anywhere - it's "come or go as you like" pretty much. For another thing, a kid would learn about as much about actual Witchcraft from the Harry Potter stuff as one would learn about the nature and habits of actual bears from watching "Winnie the Pooh" or the "Care Bears"! Silly, silly, silly... The very first time I heard of any such fuss, I laughed because I thought it was a joke, but truth is stranger that fiction, it seems.

Near as I can tell, it's just the latest thing for some folks to be riled about because they have nothing better to do.

As far as Pagans or Wiccans being upset about "magic not being done right" goes... See above "Winnie the Pooh" reference. It's FANTASY, folks - ripping good fantasy, but just make-believe all the same. Hey, at least it's portraying magical folk as people - capable of good or evil just as much as non-magical people. (the choice lying with the individual, and both paths with consequences of their own)

Anyway, that's just my opinion...

Ok, For One I Am Not Wild About Harry Potter. I Think... Nov 21st. at 12:26:26 am EST

Alexis Barnett (Colorado springs, co) Age: 13 - Email

Ok, for one i am not wild about Harry Potter. I think he giving the wrong idea of witch-craft, Wiccans, Pagan and more. the move he has presented, i have not seen but i have read the book. and the things that go on in it are really things that we would never evern think of... like the teacher becoming a cat when harry and his friends are late to class, my friend is a child of crist. And she said the move { she saw it} makes me look folish, i have noting againts the book ar movei but i think that it has some disscrimanation in it

Marry meat, merry part and may
marry meat again

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