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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,728,293  

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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 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 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...

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".

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.

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 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!

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!

Sure, I Like Harry Potter And Have Read The Four Existing Books... Nov 20th. at 1:20:47 pm EST

Linda (Milwaukee, Wisconsin US) Age: 53 - Email

Sure, I like Harry Potter and have read the four existing books. But it has little to do with my religion. The books are great escape fantasy for me and my grandkids. My daughter is to busy to read them but she wants to see the movie. The magic of Harry Potter's world is too easy, by which I mean too fantastic and glamorous. My magic would seem small and boring and hard work by comparison.

The holidays at Hogwarts lean toward the Christian. They have a Christmas holiday, not a Winter Solstice or Yule holiday. They have Halloween, not Samhain. I don't know if the author is Pagan but I doubt it. That doesn't matter though, as she has spun a great series of stories which have their own morality and adolescent problems that people from many religious traditions can relate to.

As to whether Harry Potter generates interest in Paganism, of course it does! Many people will explore Paganism because of Harry Potter. Some may even choose a Pagan path, but only after they realize that they won't become Harry Potter.

Hmm, I Have Read 3 Of The 4 Novels And I Ate... Nov 20th. at 12:05:52 pm EST

ƒowyn (Western, Massachusetts US) Age: 29 - Email

Hmm, I have read 3 of the 4 novels and I ate them up. They were fabulous and I have to say that Rowlings is truly a magician in her own right. She has gotten the over-indulged, video game fed, imagination starved youth of the world to start reading. Someone mentioned in an earlier post that these books, and the subsequent movies, have brought families together for the first time in a generation! If that is not magic, I don't know what is.

Personally, I hated the movie. It was shot badly and edited even worse. The things that they left out of the movie, while supposedly small, were significant in their own right. I understand that they needed to cut some of it out for time's sake, but it is the subtle use of detail that makes the books come alive. I have to say though, if they can take the Diagon Alley set and transplant it into reality, I would be a regular shopper!!!

With regards to the idea that Harry Potter represents Wicca, I answer thus ... Harry Potter is to this generation what The Wizard of OZ was to their parents and grandparents, nothing more. The fantasy, magic and wonderment that we absorb ourselves in is the same fairy land that took Hans Christian Anderson's audiences away. It excites the imagination and stimulates the senses. Having said that, one can see where the correlation between Wicca and make-believe exist. Yet there is where it ends.

The only plus to the Community is the representation of magic and witches as something neither evil nor destructive. Maybe this will help to alleviate some of the stereotypes. But then, I was "outted" as a Wiccan by a girl who saw Scooby Doo & the Witch's Ghost ... go figure :)

Okay, I Am Just Wild About Harry!! I Own All Four Books... Nov 20th. at 11:44:37 am EST

Jennifer (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 28 - Email

Okay, I am just wild about Harry!! I own all four books, bought them for my step-sister (I am 28) and I cannot wait to be first in line for the fifth, sixth, and seventh. I will be seeing the movie tomorrow night as a little pre-Thanksgiving feast. Can't wait!
I am very annoyed that this charming CHILDREN'S book has received so much debate. What is with people these days? Are there no real problems that need to be solved? No, I do not think that HP will convert kids to witchcraft (though, lets be honest. What the Christian fundamentalists most likely mean when they say that is Satanists.) If CHARMED, THE CRAFT, and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (Willow is so powerful she can attack demi-gods!) hasn't made every (pre)teen want to cast a spell, then this book couldn't add too much temptation.
Do I think HP is an honest representation of modern witchcraft? No. It's not supposed to be. In the books, there are no mention of Gods and Goddesses (except for the ones Rowling included in the Chocolate Frog cards, love thoes!) Witchcraft is a religion and a choice. In HP, witchcraft is a physical trait, like being left-handed.
I must add that it isn't just the conservative christians who are leary of HP. I have heard a (very) few witches/pagans go off about the inaccurate portrayals. Too you I say "Lighten up!"

Merry Meet Fellow Wiccan's And Pagan's! I'm A 16 Yr Old Female... Nov 20th. at 10:52:51 am EST

Shea (Gladstone, Queensland AU) Age: 16 - Email

Merry Meet Fellow Wiccan's and Pagan's!
I'm a 16 yr old female in Australia and I practise WitchCraft. I am thrilled that the Harry Potter Movie has become a success, but I checked out the link in the review you guys had posted, and I was astounded that Christian's could compare this wonderful movie and book series to EVIL?!?!?! I was completely shocked when I read their comments! The movie and books does nothing of the sort to convey children towards evil, but as far as some people are concerned, evil is enlightenment and knowledge into fellow religeons, and lives and beliefs! If I could I would tell everyone out there who believes in this delightful series, to keep on with their OWN thoughts and beliefs, and to ignore the people that try to change those, that try to conform you to their lives.
I have read the books, and as the movie has not been released yet down here in Aus... I can't wait to see it. My younger brother (13) loves the books, which is a very good thing because he doesn't like reading as much as he could, as he's had trouble with reading. The only things my Mum and I could get him to read where books on Pokemon, and do the Christian's believe this as evil? I don't know, but both movies/programs/book series' have portrayed the same thing... FRIENDSHIP and LOVE and KINDNESS to everything and EVERYONE, which is maybe something these people who believe in God as much as they do don't realise, it's also (as far as I know) what God wants us to be like... the very embodiement of those three things.
Blessed Be everyone,
and I'm sincerely sorry if I have offended anyone out there by something I have said.

I Have Read All Of The Harry Potter Books And Thoroughly Enjoyed... Nov 20th. at 9:56:47 am EST

Eeluna (Hurricane, West Virginia US) Age: 41 - Email

I have read all of the Harry Potter books and thoroughly enjoyed them. I also enjoyed the movie. However, I don't see any connection with the religion of Paganism/Witchcraft. Yes, they use wands, but wands are a common tool in fantasy, fairy tales and magician's acts. They also have brooms, and again, brooms are a cliche when it comes to witchcraft. Rowling used well known tools of magic to set the mood with her readers. These aren't secrets of the craft. Everybody already knows about wands and broomsticks. The magic performed is of the common Hollywood variety. It's been around as long as movies and is just as real as the other special effects. We have all been raised on movie magic. It's wonderful in the theater, but most of us don't believe it's real.

The only way the Harry Potter stories are truly magical is in the reader's imagination. I have read books all of my life. They are my favorite type of entertainment. Sometimes they will make you think about things in a different way--perhaps even expand your mind, but they will not change your philosophy of life unless you were already leaning that way.

Very few, if any, people will be drawn to Paganism because of these books/movies. I consider the Star Wars series to have more in common with the religion of Paganism than Harry Potter. The Force that the Jedi's use closely matches what I think of as the magickal power of the Universe. The Jedi actually have a religion/philosophy that can be compared to Paganism, but did it draw a lot of people into our religion?

I think that a person who is drawn to Paganism will be more affected by the true magick and wonder in Nature than by a children's movie that, while delightful, is pure fantasy.

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