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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: 21,464,521  

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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 Must Confess I Have Not Seen The Movie. I Am Waiting... Nov 21st. at 12:51:26 am EST

Lilac (Calgary, Alberta CA) Age: 13 - Email

I must confess I have not seen the movie. I am waiting for all the star crazed Harry Potter fans are shuffling out of the theatres so that I can get resonable seats. (a.k.a: I'll be waiting for a long time) but here's my basic opinion: I have no problem with it. Misrepresenting Witchcraft? Well, I'm sure that having a 13 year old do spells, wait for a couple of weeks for results that could be coincidence in the readers eye and preforming rituals skyclad would have made a best seller. I don't think that it would nessisarily bring more people into the craft though. It is not an endorsement in any way really for an actual witch, so I can't see how the readers would tie Wicca and HP together unless they search for 'spells' on a search engine. Christians convinced the movie is turning their children to Satanism? Well, that's their choice to precieve it as so. I don't think the books/movie is doing any harm to the Wiccan community as a whole.

As Cheesy As Hollywood's Idea Of Magic And Witchcraft Are, It's Something... Nov 21st. at 1:04:01 am EST

Kim (San Antonio, Texas US) Age: 37 - Email

As cheesy as Hollywood's idea of magic and witchcraft are, it's something I tolerate because it is bringing it to the public's attention. In the long run it will promote acceptance and maybe even understanding. We are living in a time of major religious changes. We will never change the minds of the narrow-minded, and we shouldn't waste any energy trying to. Keep focused and keep the candles lit.
As for the movie, I preferred the books, but it was nice to see the characters come to life, the kids enjoyed it. Movies are supposed to be entertaining, right? Of course people will flock to Paganism to see what it's all about, and that's a good thing because then they'll see what it really is. Nothing to be afraid of. The spiritual seekers that find what they're looking for will stay, the rest will go back to whatever it was they were doing.

Having Just Seen The Film Two Days Ago, I Walked Away From... Nov 21st. at 5:06:24 am EST

Elfster (Lewisville, Texas US) Age: 36 - Email

Having just seen the film two days ago, I walked away from it with several impressions. First off, and most importantly, the movie is a film adaption of a book for kids, not a treatise on what Paganism is about - not even a vieled attempt at one. As a children's film, the movie is excellent and well done, though it is slightly flat in comparison to the book - as any film adaption of a book *should* be.

Second, the hype surrounding the film - is it or is it not a depiction of the "evil" side of life, is it the best film for children since is just exactly that - hype. Funamentalist Christians will have a knee jerk reaction to this type of film - just as their faith and pastors say that they should. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with a reaction like that from the Fundamentalist Christians whatsoever - as long as they don't EXPECT the rest of the world to have the same reaction as they do.

Third, a recruiting poster for Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft? Hardly. The move is more of a recruiting poster for the imagination. After all, the movie is only bringing to visual life the characters that these children (and adults) have read about it. If anything, the movie only solidifies for these children just how much more fun reading can be than their GameBoys and Nintendo 64s.

Just my four cents worth (inflation you know)....

I Am A 19 Yr Old Uk Media Student And I Dragged... Nov 21st. at 7:50:47 am EST

Orlando (Watford, England UK) Age: 19 - Email

I am a 19 yr old UK Media student and I dragged my 39 yr old boyfriend (both Witches) 2 C 'Harry Potter' and I really enjoyed it and in ways even my boyfriend had to give in to the magical and innocent charm of the film.

Of course it was nothing like 're-life' Witch-ism, I do not fly on a broom and neither does my boyfriend, although we would not mind - it would save cost in transport everyday. But even the exagerated cleches of Witchcraft were beautifully and sweetly portrayed. It was of course a shame that the males had to be depicted as Wizzards, but this enhances the exageration and innocence of the film.

I do not think that it is in anyway encouraging children to become anti-christian, it is a beautiful and harmless childrens movie and it's innocence should not be spoiled. Perhaps this is what I loved most about it - it's sense of innocence. It's also a fairy-tale and being a Witchy thing - both me and my partner - we loved the whole dream-land of 'Harry Potter'. I only wish that such a dream-land really did exist.

One other thing that hit close to home was Harry Potter's character himself - the boy whos parents were killed when he was only a baby and left in the care of his whicked uncle and aunt... this made me think of myself a lot and also of my boyfriend who have both come from a hard childhood - mainly because my boyfriend was left to fend for himself when he was 16, and I was left to fend for myself from the age of 18 (due to reasons I will not go into as they're personal). But it really did remind me of this and it's something that probably happens to quite a few young and helpless people.
Goddess forbide and watch over us all,
Blessed be.
- Wolfcry -

As An Avid Denier Of Reality And A Fanatical Fantasy Novel Fan... Nov 21st. at 3:30:23 pm EST

RainCat (Mesa, Arizona US) Age: 17 - Email

As an avid denier of reality and a fanatical fantasy novel fan (say that ten times fast!) I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter books and the movie to boot. ^.^ I was one of those insane people who bought tickets in advance and sat in a huge, long line opening night. I'm also one of those crazies who plans to dress up for the 2nd movie, but I digress. For a book-to-screen movie, I thought it was simply superb!

As for it bringing people to the Craft...well, let's just say I doubt it. It might cause some people to take a peek and then walk away when they realize that it's not waving wands and going to a huge castle with moving staircases to learn "spells". I seriously doubt it'll bring people to the (serious) study of real magick.

Do I think that witchcraft and spells were depicted in the movie accurately? Of course not! It's FANTASY for Pete's sake!!

To those who want to "do it like Harry"...well they'll figure out that it's simply not possible sooner or later. To those who believe Pottermania is anti-Christian and luring the poor, innocent children to the "dark side" - HA! If that's what helps them sleep at night, the more power to 'em. Just don't force this belief on everybody else.

I Love Harry Potter!!! Speaking As Gifted Orphan Raised By An Abusive... Nov 21st. at 3:40:37 pm EST

Lily Moondrop (Los Angeles, California US) Age: 28 - Email

I love Harry Potter!!! Speaking as gifted orphan raised by an abusive aunt and grandmother, I have to say I wish this amazing series of books had been around when I was growing up. They read like a how-to-cope manual for childhood. Reading Harry, even now that I'm 28 and free of my family and the playground politics, has been so empowering and indeed healing. Growing up gifted is very much like growing up deformed. There is this bizarre mix of admiration, envy, fear, and shame and I've never known anyone to address it before. If anything, Harry is helping kids to accept the differences in each other and to embrace diversity without the usual demands to sacrifice the Self in order to fit in. There is great pressure on gifted/talented kids to dumb down and just blend in. He shows the importance of staying true, of curiosity, of questioning the status quo, and of standing up to the opressive elements in society. And he gives abused kids hope that things can get better, and if you just hold on you can make it out. Death and grieving is openly and honestly addressed...something rare in our culture. I'm sure it's safe to say that Harry has prevented a few suicides.

As far as any Pagan elements go...these books are not specifically about religion, but they do deal with ethics, philosophy, mythology, and mystery. These are elements found within all religions along with magick, miracles, prayers, fantasies, revelations, delusions, and speculations about the unknown and unexplainable. Harry Potter deals with magick as an art and a science but does not deal with it as a faith. To align it with modern Pagan or Wiccan religious practices and beliefs seems quite a stretch. Or maybe I missed that chapter where Harry was chillin' with the Goddess under the waxing moon. Witchcraft is used as a vehicle, but the themes are universal. That's why the series has such phenomanoal appeal all over the world. Harry could just as easily be attending Hogwars School for Evangelical Faith Healing (okay maybe not), or Hogwarts School for Hackers and Science Geeks. The vehicle doesn't matter as long as it's something fantastic and out of the ordinary because, let's face it, school is boring. In a effort to "protect the children, " the learning process has been nuetered. Modern schools aren't challenging or engaging, or inspiring. They are stagnant holding pens to train a new crop of unquestioning consumers. The real danger in the Potter books isn't occult seduction it's the fact that a whole generation of kids might wake up and break out of the tidy little roles that our society has imposed upon them. They might start making demands for a better world, and they might hold the previous generations accountable for the neglect and devastating opportunism, and they may begin to form their own values and opinions that conflict with Mommy and Daddy's. I think the real fear behind the religious right is that they know the culture at large is changing and that their traditions and values are beginning to fade out and be replaced. Thankfully, no one can stop the wheel from turning. Long live imagination and Harry Potter!!!

Am I On The Same Planet As Everybody Else? I Don't Feel... Nov 21st. at 3:44:08 pm EST

Branwen (NYC, New York US) Age: 23 - Email

Am I on the same planet as everybody else?

I don't feel there is any link at all between witchcraft and the Potter stories/movie. I think pagans and non-pagans alike are mistaken when they take a child's story (fun for adults too, I guess) and make it into a platform for the "issue-of-the-day" (read:witchcraft). And here is why:

(1) J.K. Rowling would know what her true motives were when writing the books. The last interview I saw with her pretty much said it was about the money. No diabolocal witchcraft motive here...

(2) It is easy to make parallels between everyday life and experiences with the novels we read. We do it all the time. I think it helps you deal with things and attempt to understand them, but it doesn't make said novel about whatever issue you've assigned to it. (Example: Redwall by Brian Jacques and the WTC tragedy. I read it on the subway going to work the week after it happened. Very theraputic. The good guys win.)

(3) Why ruin the magic (I don't mean witches or spells, but the unexplainable something that good stories have) and imagination of a story like Harry Potter by weighing it down with mundane reality? Whatever happened to the suspension of disbelief? Has special effects and reality-tv forever erased the line between fantasy and reality? That cheapens both the story and reality.

(4) I feel (OPINION HERE NOT FACT! and by that virtue it's okay for me to be wrong) that Pagans who associate fairy-tale magic with Pagan spirituality aren't divining with a full tarot.

I don't know, I just don't see it. And letting any group pin on associations just makes trouble. Both sides look stupid. It's a good story but not a basis for any kind of Paganism. Just because a kid wants to do spells and fly on a broom doesn't make them interested in Paganism, it just makes them a kid.

And who lives their lives following a book anyway? Oh, wait...

Let's all enjoy the stories for what they are, and pick our Paganism battles a little more carefully next time.

I Just Wanted To Tell Everyone How Wonderful I Think This Movie... Nov 21st. at 5:16:19 pm EST

Danielle (orange, California US) Age: 19 - Email

I just wanted to tell everyone how wonderful I think this movie is! I have already seen it twice, and I have been telling all of my freinds to go see it.

I must explain my background, I was raised hardcore Roman Catholic, and never felt, personally, that it was my place in life. When I was a child, I would always imagine the flowers talking to me, and I would make my own little potions out of OAK LEAVES and juniper berries, and try to feed it to my little brothers. lol, who of course, declined, but we had fun pretending. I even have a little book of spells that I created when I was 5 years old, when I was just learning how to write. I don't know how I came up with it, but I have always felt there was something more then what I was being taught. When I turned 12 is when I got interested in Wicca and embraced it as my own, personal path that i was truly meant to follow. I am 19 now, and my path of knowledge is growing neverending, and I love it!

Having said this, I now would like say that this movie, it's everything i have ever dreamed of! I had a grin just GLUED to my face the whole time I watched it. Potions, invisable cloaks, flying on brooms, dragons, unicorns, CENTAURS (as a sagittarius, that was incredabely cool to me!) just the pure fantasy-magick of it all! It took me back, far back into a place I haven't been to for a while. A place inside me that's been pretty much vacant since, I hit the reality part of the word. But having watched this movie, I feel that that part of me; the child part, the fantasies so long forgotten, came rushing back. And I wanted to express my EXTREME gratitude to J.K. Rowling for allowing these feelings to reenter my adult life. I hope to hold on to all of this pure magick...because that's what it is; pure and innocent magick that we are all born with, magick which we lose throughout our lives for one reason or another. This movie brought out the child in me. And I wanted everyone to know how much I needed that at this point in my life. And how much I am sure we ALL need that little childlike edge in our lives!

Love and Light,

Blessings, I Have Been Listening To The Hoopla Going Back And Forth... Nov 21st. at 5:20:38 pm EST

Dekana (Newington, Connecticut US) Age: 24


I have been listening to the hoopla going back and forth both from the Christian groups, and the Wiccan groups. My personal opinion is that way to much energy is being spent on the issue of whether or not these books have any connection or basis on real Witchcraft and the Occult. It is a fun fictional book for people of all ages. I myself went to see the movie last Friday. I must say that after all that has gone on in our world that it was a relaxing and fun time spent with one of my friends that brought back a joy and innocence of fun that I have long lost.
Of course I do not think that it was written to lure in children to Witchcraft however I also do not beleive that it has any real basis in the reality of the religion of Witchcraft. Does it put witches in a better light? Yes, considering the way Hollywood usually portrays witches it is certainly nice to see a movie that reflects witches in more positive terms. To say that because it uses some tools that wiccan's consider traditional to our craft such as brooms and wands, does not mean that it contains any elements even close our our religion. Brooms, wands and such are also a part of the legends and mythology of witchcraft to the world at large. J.K. Rowlings books were written, I believe, purely as a world of fantasy and enjoyment.
It is my opinion and belief that there is to much going on in the world and to many places where our energies need to be spend then on arguing continuely about the Harry Potter books.

I refuse to play into the hands of fearsome Christians. I will continue to practice my religion with love, and responsiblity. If I choose to enjoy the Harry Potter books and movie then it is for the fun and fantastical world that the author has created. Not so that I can judge the movie and compare it to my beliefs and religion. These are of course only my opinions and I respect the views and opinions of others.
In Light and Love of the Goddess )O(

I Took My Daughter To See This Movie And Felt It Was... Nov 21st. at 8:13:36 pm EST

Charles Cherry (Wichita FAlls, Texas US) Age: 38

I took my daughter to see this movie and felt it was an awesome work of youth fiction. The special effects were truely magic. hee hee.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad that adults in the great country of the USA were so bigoted in their thoughts and full of false stereotypes.

Wouldn't the world would be a better place if people would learn the facts before they decided to make up their own "facts"?

Unfortunately, I Have Not Seen The Movie Yet! [actually I'm Grounded Right... Nov 21st. at 9:15:17 pm EST

Danae (North Vancouver, British Columbia CA) Age: 15 - Email

Unfortunately, I have not seen the movie yet! [actually I'm grounded right now... :(] I think that the movie WILL bring more people into the study of magick, but not necessarily 'real' magick, in our sense. I don't think this is a good thing because they only want to 'perform' the magick seen in the movie, not religious magick.

The Witchcraft, magick, and spells were depicted based solely on imagination. They somewhat reflect them the way I know it, but only because much Witchcraft is 'categorized'. That is, we are supposed to fly on broomsticks [i personally DO use one, but not for flying!], and we Do cast spells [but DEFINITELY not the way J.K. Rowling has depicted them as doing so].

Those people who want to 'do it like Harry', must realize that HARRY IS FAKE. HE IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER IN A FANTASY WORLD. Most of the things him and his friends do are impossible. They [the Potter fans who want to 'do it like Harry'] must realize that this 'generalization' of Witchcraft is false, and they should read up on what it's really like. If they decide that it STILL seems interesting, then they can follow that path if they choose so.

As for the people who believe that all this Pottermania is anti-Christian, and is enticing children into the 'world of the occult', they should realize that this was done unintentionally, and I think that maybe they should try reading one of the books. Then maybe [if they aren't COMPLETELY biased] they will realize that this shows how fake everything can be back in reality, yet how 'real' it can seem while you're reading it.

I Haven't Yet Seen The Movie, Though I Plan To Go Sometime... Nov 21st. at 9:23:08 pm EST

Bryony Ravenwillow (Kansas City, Missouri US) Age: 33

I haven't yet seen the movie, though I plan to go sometime this weekend with my fiance and his son. I have read the books though, and I love them for the good fantasy fiction that they are. Fantasy fiction, that is.
The problem for the Christian fundamentalists is this---Harry Potter is creative and imaginative. It dreams big, and readers have responded in a big way to Rowlings world. In any fundamentalist worldview, creativity isn't smiled upon, and using imagination is bad. Imagination means (gasp) THINKING FOR ONESELF!!!! When one is taught that they are sheep who needs a shepherd to tell them where to go and what to do and how to think, then imagination is a trait that isn't exactly admired. And what is good fantasy than the fruits of incredible imagination? I've yet to meet a non-pagan who wasn't at least a little embarassed of the fact that they love good fantasy, as if it were something bad or something to be ashamed of (Yes, I like stories with elves and magic sue me!)
The funny thing is that many of these people haven't even read the books and judged them for themselves. Their priests and ministers have told them the books were bad, and if THEY said they were bad, well then, it must be true. Sheep mentality. (Of course, there is all the movie hype fueling ticket sales, but that's another story for another day....)
Case in point. I got the first book for my nephew for his eighth birthday. His mom (my sister) had been complaining that he didn't read, and I thought he might get into the book once the movie came out, thus fueling his desire to read. The idea of getting the book in the hopes that someday he might decide to be a witch never even entered my mind. I simply wanted him to read something good. I did the same thing with my sister (his mom) when she was little, by reading her Terry Brooks' "The Sword of Shannara" one winter when she was sick with the flu. Until that time she never read, once she recovered she read the rest of the Shannara books and the rest of my personal library on her own, and now she loves to read. I just wanted to spread the word, so to speak.
Well, my mother, who is a Christian fundamentalist, found out what I'd given my nephew for his birthday, and she actually told me not to buy him any more Harry Potter books, because she had "heard" that they were a primer for witchcraft! Being a closet witch for obvious reasons, it was all I could do not to laugh. If I'd really wanted to give him a primer for witchcraft, I would have bought him Scott Cunningham!!! It's also brought out my subversive streak. I'm now seriously considering buying him Book 2 for Christmas (hee hee...)
Anyway, until creativity and imagination are seen for the truly wondrous gifts that they are by all faiths, then controversies such as the one surrounding Harry Potter will continue to exist. (Then again, maybe I should get my mom a Potter book for Christmas, so she can actually decide for herself....naahhh)

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