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Posted: Nov. 17, 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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| Merry Meet! First, I Should Say That I Love The Harry Potter... ||Nov 25th. at 7:29:59 pm EST|
|Olivia (Pipersville, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
First, I should say that I love the Harry Potter books. I'm sixteen, and I think they really bridge the age gap and reconnect readers to faery-tale riproaring adventure in the style of Roald Dahl. The movie was okay.
But I think that by linking Harry Potter to the religion of Witchcraft we are actually doing our community as disservice. Harry's spellwork is literary magic---it's dazzling, fun, and completely secular. There's no thealogy to turn the magic into magick (pardon the semantic distinction.) When the magickal community as a whole acts as though Harry is a spokeperson for Witchcraft and magick, we inadvertently support the fundamentalists' claims that Harry Potter is a cover for a Wiccan recruiting agency, interested in stealing souls to a Nature/devil worshipping Pagan religion. Horrors!
I guess that the reason the Pagan community is so into Harry Potter is that, as a whole, we love all things magickal. We're bewitched by faery tales and swashbuckling tales of Hogwarts, because magic of any literary kind is fun. But we shouldn't mistake literary magic for literal magick, and we shouldn't count on Harry Potter to be a spokesperson for the religion of Witchcraft...because he truly doesn't have anything to do with Wicca (or any other kind of Paganism) at all. Not to say that's gonna make me stop loving those books!
Peace through anarchy.
| I Started Reading The Harry Potter Books Simply Because Some Christian (?) Groups... ||Nov 25th. at 5:43:41 pm EST|
|Catdra (smalltownin, Texas US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I started reading the Harry Potter books simply because some Christian (?) groups wanted them banned. They are cute books. The movie itself was great, good special effects. As for the movie getting people into paganism I dont think so. Yes, its about witchcraft but.... its not witchcraft! Deep down its about good versus evil and good wins. Which in the world right now is something we all need. Also the series got kids to READ. Now thats magical! The movie Lord of the Rings is coming out, it too contains wizards and magic. Is there going to be a fuss about that?
| I Am A Harry Potter Maniac! I've Read The Books. I've Seen... ||Nov 25th. at 4:44:36 pm EST|
|Vwondola (Waycross, Georgia US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I am a Harry Potter maniac! I've read the books. I've seen the movie. I love it! I don't think it will bring more people into paganism because it doesn't directly mention it. Half the people i know have read it and they haven't switched religions over a fictional work. If they were becoming witches over it though, I think they would change their minds when they realized it was not as easy as in the books. The spells in the movie are different from real spells. They are more words and wand-swishing than visualization and concentration. Still, they make for an interesting story. For the people who want to be all magical like Harry i have 3 words- Role Playing Game. And for all the over-obsessed psychotic Christians, lighten up! Do you wanna have a heart attack at the ripe old age of 23?! Reading a book is not going to cause eternal damnation. I's a fictional work!!! And it does not make people sacrifice babies to the devil(someone wrote to the Waycross Journal Herald saying it did). Why don't you open your eyes and realize that everyone who is different is not necessarily evil or going to bring about the apocalypse. And besides, it's making children READ!!! That's what you've been trying to get them to do for years, right? And don't tell me that's not true because I have a friend who would have failed the 8th grade if he hadn't gotten into Harry Potter.
Besides, i think some of you folks need to be introduced to the rest of the world. Meet some real witches. We don't sacrifice babies to the devil. We don't sacrifice anything to the devil. We don't BELIEVE in the devil. Newsflash- we're not Satanic and violent.
Well i think i've babbled enough...
| Harry Potter Was A Good Movie For My Sister And Brother Of... ||Nov 25th. at 3:45:21 pm EST|
|Emina (Ottawa , Ontario CA) ||Age: 18 |
Harry potter Was a good movie for my sister and brother of 12 and 13...But come on lets get serious. It will need more than a childs movie to get some one to believe im magic.
| Many People Ponder Why The Harry Potter Books Are Such A Monster... ||Nov 25th. at 3:13:35 pm EST|
|Nicole M. Berg (Lake Oswego, Oregon US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
Many people ponder WHY the Harry Potter books are such a monster hit? Book critics have noted JK Rowling's keen ability to remember how children actually think as well as what they actually think and worry about. Care has gone into describing the underlying mythos behind the main Hogwarts characters Hagrid (loyal guardian/imaginary friend), Dumbledore (wise grandfather figure), and Head Mistress Mc Gonaggal(sp?)(the ideal teacher).
But what many fail to realize is that Rowling also successfully expresses the unspoken, despairing ennui of children growing up in a dulling, hollow, mystery-sapped culture. Children of cookie cutter homes, suburban sprawl, and the concrete grimness of inner cities see scant real Beauty in their lives, the most troubling of which is seeing Nature as another planet, accessible only on cable.
Though fun is oft poked at clueless 'Muggles', eventually what Harry Potter rescues the reader from is seeing the 'mundane' world as mundane. It is very hard to experience either the natural world or magic (and for many Pagans, the two are inseparable) in city or tract housing ugliness. Rowling knows this, which is why she physically transports her readers to a separate place where both can be experienced. So there is Wands and Potions Classes and also the Dark Forest and Hagrid's pets(both real & mythic), to reaccquaint children with the wonder of nature.
On the subject of how some Christians view the Potter series, I have a personal antedote. I remember going into a Christian bookstore out of curiousity and encountered a whole bookshelf under the heading "Spiritual Warfare." (Now who do these people think they're fighting?) Well sure enough there were already 3 titles devoted to villifying JK Rowling and Harry Potter. To any Christians who may just happen to read this article, I say this: If this book series was a Jewish flavored magical tale or an African religion inspired story, I would expect you'd hesitate before demonizing them. Because that would be PREJUDICE now, wouldn't it? Please remember that no one religion is the ONLY right and true religion for EVERYONE.
It is this kind of narrow mindedness that Rowling addresses in her books which help chidren get along with those who are different from themselves. This is a GOOD thing, in my book.
| Although I Recently Came To Wicca, I Have Always Believed That There... ||Nov 25th. at 2:54:28 pm EST|
|M Walton (Nottingham, England UK) ||Age: 19 |
Although I recently came to Wicca, I have always believed that there is a line between what is real and what is not real. I have over the last few years discovered that magic is much more real than I had previously thought, as I trod the path that has led me to the Lord and Lady, but there is still a great difference between the kind of magic portrayed in fantasy literature like Harry Potter and the kind of magic I can practise in this world. Magic like that seen in fiction may very well be possible, but I neither think it likely to become commonplace nor good for the world if it did. Harry Potter and its ilk are fantastic escapist literature (I read a great deal of that kind of thing), but seeing them as anything more is inadvisable and spoils the fun as well. Harry Potter is not going to corrupt Christian children, unless those children are being raised in a stifling environment that suppresses their freedom of thought, which I would always say is far more evil than any magic I could work, especially once I take the law of return into account.
And if Harry Potter brings people to paganism - it probably shouldn't, because they may come for the wrong reasons. I would never object to people making the same journey I have done, but if they do not make the journey with all their heart and soul, it is meaningless and shallow. It may prompt people to want to find out more, which is good, but since the film and books contain very few elements of the pagan faiths in them, probably no more than they do Christian metaphors, I don't find it particularly likely.
| Yes; It Was Phenomenal!; Yes; It's A Miracle For Us And The... ||Nov 25th. at 2:00:31 pm EST|
|Tamara (Miami and Bartow, Florida US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
Yes; it was phenomenal!; yes; it's a miracle for us and the way we raise our kids; yes, especially the emphasis on following all precautions to safeguard oneself and others against selfish, possibly harmful magick; there's nothing wrong with (at least with less screenworthy, sparkly effect) "doing it like Harry, " and if Christians are worried about this film pulling devoutly indoctrinated Christian children into the occult, I think they'd better rethink their firmness in their faith and the level of faith they've managed to instill in their children, for if there were nothing wrong with the brand of Christianity they expose their children to and the children are steadfast in their beliefs, they have nothing to worry about...right? ;)
| I Saw Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone Last Week With My... ||Nov 25th. at 3:00:33 am EST|
|Kevin C. Kuharich (City of Brotherly Love, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone last week with my wife and son and two of our friends. I didn't know what to expect from the film... my son and wife read the book, and they say it is almost 100% like the movie. As far as the acting, directing, technical, etc...it is excellent. With many of the great (still alive) British actors in it (I was ready to see Patrick Stewart from Star Trek TNG walk on at any moment, or Derek Jacobi or one of the Rhys-Davies)
Maggie Smith and Robby Coltrane were especially good, as were the 3 newcommers playing Harry, Ron and Hermonie.
From a parents point-of-view, the movie completely enthralled my 8 year old son. We went late (about 10:00) and stayed up late (the move was about 3 hrs. long) and he didn't yawn or fuss once!!
As a Pagan... i must say its a very proper British view of magic. I swear, the Brits can make everything seem rigid and inflexible...even something as chaotic as magic. The only "dark" aspect of the movie were represented by Voldemor, Harry's nemesis; and Prof. Snape (played by the brilliant Alan Richman, whos attire reminded me of something Trent Reznor of Nine inch Nails would wear). They didn't appear phony or campy. They just seemed dark or weird.
In the end, let us all remember that IT IS A BLOODY MOVIE!! It only offends or entertains if we allow it to.
As my favourite living comedian George Carlin would say: "I leave symbols to the symbol-minded."
| After Listening To The Banter Going Back And Forth Between The Christian... ||Nov 25th. at 2:03:16 am EST|
|Michael (aka Thought Caster) (Savannah, Georgia US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
After listening to the banter going back and forth between the Christian Right and the Pagan Left, I took my wife and daughter to see Harry Potter this evening. After having the opportunity to experience this movie myself, I have to say that I walked away literally amazed.
I wasn't amazed at the special effects, although they were quite good (a limited review from one who doesn't want to spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it yet). I wasn't amazed at the length of the movie (almost three hours from front to back). What amazed me was what wasn't in the movie, and the fact that this movie can generate such a large amount of commentary from either side of the religious spectrum.
What wasn't in the movie was any mention of religious philosophy or dogma; no anti-Christian slurs; no mention of "the Left-Handed Path, " Satan, " "Black Magick" or "The Dark Arts." Everything I expected to see, which would have given credence to society-saving position offered by mainstream fundamentalists so pervasive in the media these days, simply wasn't there. It occurred to me that the same people decrying Harry Potter would be better served boycotting Bugs Bunny reruns in which that silly rabbit is being hunted by the green-faced, broom-flying, cleaver-wielding Witch Hag. Not only does this cartoon perpetuate violence against cute and furry woodland creatures (she tries to cleave Bugs and use his hair for a beauty potion), she drops at least five or six hairpins every time she zooms off on her broom, and hey É that's littering.
What also wasn't in this movie was anything to support the Pagan religious philosophy (in my case, Wiccan), something I also expected to see. Sure, there's an offering of spells, incantations and magick, but this can be applied to any society that has existed on this planet in the past 30, 000 years. However, there was no mention of The Goddess, or any representation of the pantheon of Gods currently serving our fine community. In fact, the only religious festivals depicted were those of Halloween and Christmas É and I dare say that Christmas got the better showing. Hoping that "Harry Potter" brings the world closer to Neo-Paganism is like hoping that "The Mummy Returns" offers insight into the Hermetic Magick provided in the ancient texts of the Egyptian Papyrus of Abaris. It's just not going to happen.
I have to say that we enjoyed the movie for what it was: an entertaining bit of fiction, well done on screen and consistent with the written works that have so captivated its audiences to date. To define this movie as either pro-Pagan or anti-Christian is a waste of time and intellectual assets.
If you want to see this movie, prepare to be amazed; amazed that the $40 you spend for your family, a popcorn and a coke can actually be considered well spent on quality entertainment.
| I Saw The Movie And Personally I Liked It. I Know It... ||Nov 25th. at 1:32:53 am EST|
|Elaine Gaffney (Warren, Michigan US) ||Age: 14 - Email |
I saw the movie and personally i liked it. I know it made me and my bf go "damn, i wish there were such a place". I suppose it's a Wiccan's dream to have a school full magick.
| I Just Saw Harry Potter Last Night, And It Was Excellent! As... ||Nov 24th. at 11:52:21 pm EST|
|Moon Pixie (Elyria, Ohio US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I just saw Harry Potter last night, and it was excellent! As a big fan of the entire series thus far, I was a bit apprehensive about seeing another film that didn't quite reach the standards set by the book; however, I had nothing to fear. The actors played their parts as if they stepped out of the book themselves, and the effects were amazing.
As for recruiting people to Paganism or magick study, it's hard to say. While kids and adults alike often fantasize about having mystickal powers and being witches and wizards, there are few that go beyond that point; the majority of those who do often lose interest when they realize that true magick is not the same as Rowling's wizards and that there is no central school with the tangibility of Hogwarts. For the people who begin a serious study of magick and find that it is their true path, however, I believe that theirs is a glorious realization and that they should be welcomed with open arms.
Magickal spells are not cast simply by the flick of a wand. It's a simple knowledge that everyone, magickal or not, possesses. The overall depiction of magick and witchcraft, though, is as accurate a reflection of our knowledge of them as could be asked for, wand folly notwithstanding. Also, the lessons about proper use of magick, etc., are realistic and perfectly placed in the story.
As for answering everybody... The only response I would have for someone who wants to do it like Harry is that by demonstrating compassion for your friends and others, and working for good in the world, you CAN do it like Harry. No, flying on broomsticks and wearing invisibility cloaks are still impossible for all purposes, but to 'do it like Harry' means to me that you do it for good and always for positive change...not to fly or play Quidditch.
To every Christian who would argue that Harry Potter is anti-Christian and evil I ask, did you translate the bible that you read? Humans are fallible, as well as prone to interpreting something to support their own ends. It is possible, then, for someone to have translated certain words of your original doctrine to state "witches" or "occult" instead of something entirely different. Also, having been a Christian, I have read bits and pieces of the bble. I do believe that it states (indirectly) to love everyone and professes open arms to all. It isn't up to any person on this earth to judge any other - no matter what religion you follow.
Basically, Harry Potter is the greatest movie to be produced in a long time, and is well deserving of the accolades it has received. I can't wait for the next one!
| Ohh... I Am Most Certainly Wild About Harry. Read All Of The... ||Nov 24th. at 7:00:23 pm EST|
|Rebecca (Ottawa, Ontario CA) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Ohh... I am most certainly wild about Harry. Read all of the books, um, lets just say a good few times, and saw the movie the day it came out. Only once so far but I do want to see it again. Yes, I must admit to being a bit of an addict. Personally I thought the movie was very well made. They left a few things out wich was slightly dissapointing, and you would have had to have read the books to fully understand it, but it was an absolute feast for the eyes, so all that can be forgiven. Will it bring more people into Paganism? Probably not. It really doesnt have anything to do with paganism, except for perhaps historical references, folklore and tradition, and underlying philosophical musings which might be attributed to Paganism or other beliefs, stuff that isnt really going to be picked up upon unless one already has some knowledge of the occult. Most of this stuff was left out of the movie anyway. Any kids who decided they wanted to be "witches or wizards" because of Harry Potter and happen to stumble upon info on real witchcraft would in most cases become bored with the lack of flying, bright explosions, etc and leave it alone. All those fundies thinking that "pottermania" is enticing children to the world of the occult are just funny. Do any of them honestly believe what we do is anything like the movie? No, actually Im sure there are many semi-intelligent ones out there who do know what Paganism is about, yet still believe that Harry Potter will lead children into it. IT IS FANTASY! And damn good fantasy at that, but they seem determined that it is, I dunno, I step towards evil or whatever. *shrugs* Perhaps developing a good imagination with the help of stories such as Harry may lead to a child developing (gasp!) independant ideas. Well we would'nt want that, now, would we....
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