Yet another Harry Potter thread--this one's for the Wiccans

I dunno if this really goes here, but I figured it’s about a book, sort of.

So this evening I was driving around and couldn’t find anything on the radio, and wound up on the local Christian station where (you guessed it) a fellow was talking about the dangers of Harry Potter. He was not all that rabid about it, actually. But anyway, he then made the following weird statement: that Rowling has studied witchcraft and the occult (I’m sure she looked into it), and that she has said that many Wiccans, witches, and “occultists” have actually told her that they assumed that she was Wiccan, because she got so many things right and accurate.

Now, of the Wiccans of my acquaintance, very few of them recite spells in fake Latin, go to boarding schools in the north of England, or wear pointy hats. But perhaps I don’t know the right sort of Wiccans. So, oh Doper Wiccans, is it even possible that anyone really thought Rowling was a true Wiccan from her books? Did she get something ‘right?’ And does anyone know where this guy might have gotten the idea that Rowling has actually made a statement to that effect? He seemed to feel that he was quoting her.

No way.

I don’t think she’s gotten ANYTHING right so far. The magic is almost purely fantastical. The only thing even remotely the same is that divination is used in both Wicca and the books–and a crystal ball and/or horoscopes and/or tea leaves could potentially be used. However, they’re used by a LOT of other people too, and they’re NOT Wiccan.

I mean, really, if this stuff was real, d’ya really think I’d be paying a cool hundred dollars every time my glasses beak?

Her witchcraft is based on ancient mythology, fairy and folk tales, and similar old traditions that way way way pre-date wiccanism.

Actually, if you want a writer who gets a lot of things right about witchcraft, read Terry Pratchett.

As for Rowling … really, the magic in the Harry Potter books has very little to do with modern spellworking. The few similarities can be explained by a working knowledge of mythology, languages, and fairy tales. Besides which, the magic-working in the HP books seems to be bound mainly by a basic division between good and evil, rather than the “an it harm none” Rede of Wicca.

Plus, I recall reading that Rowling herself has stated plainly that the magic in the books is pure fantasy, entirely made up, and not real at all. (it was an article about some event held in a stadium in the UK, IIRC)

Wicca is so decentralized and young that it doesn’t even have any canon, so it’s hard to say if somebody has “got it right” or not. You can pretty much do as you please and nobody really has any authority to say you’re doing it wrong.


Agree with largely everything said above.

Add to it that Rowlings is a hugely disorderly writer, creating legions of contradictions in her writing. She’s writing for effect, not consistency. Her first goal is to make an impact. She places logic, and indeed writing quality, distant seconds. There’s no intention to advocate any moral stance. She seems to be largely amoral, if you examine her attitudes towards, rules, laws, and social conventions.

So what? Morality is not what she’s going for. They Mythology of Rowling would lead one to think that this wasn’t any sort of planned attack on any sort of belief or moral system, more that it was a lucky shot by a moderatly talented amateur writer.

More power to her, I say. Anything that gets kids to read is a + in my book.

And yeah, her magick is Hollywood.

Well, creating a successful effect, that catches millions of people, including reluctant readers, is not an achievement without merit.

However, I wasn’t claiming Rowling was intentionally attacking morality. More likely, she’s quite fuzzy on morality herself, and is just calling it as she sees it. Her characters, her heros, at will: steal, lie, blackmail, and cheat. It’s amazing that some excuse this as being “a children’s story”.

Add to this, however, that she had a profoundly poor grasp of the English language. Yes, she can tell a story. However she prefers campfire charades for being lucid, thoughtful, or terse. Compare her to one of the real literary greats – or even someone who’s just pretty good – one could name a hundred authors – and she looks like hamfisted hack who happened to hit the big time.

Have you ever met any kids? That sort of behavior is perfectly normal for kids. I hate it as much as any parent, and I’m trying to teach my kids differently, but I know that in the future, my daughter will bribe my son, my son will cheat at school and they will both lie to me.

As for her writing, it’s not that bad. The difference that I see is that she writes in the vulgate, using slang and writing much as people speak. I have the same problem, but I don’t have the stick-to-it that she does.

Attacking her morality, based on the fictional things she has written does strike me as either sour grapes, or just plain foolheadedness, however.

Tristan, I agree with you completely. I mean, assuming the nature of someone’s morality based on their fictional writing, …come on!! For all we know, she is the most wholesome, loving, truthful and trustworthy person the earth will ever know. Her writing is FICTION - that does not mean her style of writing is a direct reflection of her morality.

Let’s be honest, there is an awful lot of assumptions in this thread. If that’s the way it’s going to be, well then,…

I’m going to assume that JK Rowling is actually one the smartest women to ever pick up a pen or pencil. So smart, in fact, that what she writes is for the purpose to sell millions of books to make millions of dollars- not for her own interest. I’ll bet she just writes like a ‘hamfisted hack who happened to hit the big time’ (Like P Warmer says) just to sell books.

And as for all the talk about bad morals, anti-christian undertones, etc. Well,… you know what they say about bad publicity, right? It’s the same as brilliant marketing!

Most of the folks in the coven I’m with love Harry Potter, but I suspect we all would be fans to some degree even if we weren’t Wiccan. I think we do have a special place in our hearts for books, movies etc. that portray magic and magical things as a source of wonder, or humor, or a sort of LOTR nobility, instead of something evil, or dark, or not to be trusted.

When did wiccans become witches? Those two terms describe completely different things don’t they? I mean, wasn’t wiccanism only created in the 1930’s or so?

it shows up in King Alfred’s laws against witchcraft, then the term was picked up by Gerald Gardner in the 1940s-50s as he organized modern Wicca from allegedly the traditions of generations-old covens, Masonic-Rosicrucian-Kabbalistic lore, Celtic myth, folk magick & perhaps some help from Crowley

Rowling’s Harry Potter is neither an accurate rendition of anything Wiccan nor insulting to Wicca. If it were close in many areas but with distortions, I suppose it could offend some oversensitive Wiccan types, but the world of Hogwarts and its wizard-world has no more to do with Wicca than Jack Kirby’s The New Gods comic books had to do with Christianity (sharing only the use of the word “God”).

Uptight fundamentalist folks who worry that the Harry Potter series “promotes witchcraft” are probably just always looking for something to point at and shriek “bad, evil, wicked”.

One could make the point that ALL witchcraft, including “modern spellworking” is pure fantasy, entirely made up, and not real at all.

I understand the argument that the magic in the HP books is not based on any modern practices, but it’s amusing to think of modern “witches” reading Harry Potter and thinking, “It’s cute, but it’s not real witchcraft.” As though there is such a thing.

I just wanted to throw a dash of reality into this cauldron.

Is that like Christians talking about real Christianity as though there is such a thing, Tangent ?

I’ve never seen any objective proof that Christian prayer works, but that hardly means the religion doesn’t exist.

Kalashnikov, why do you assume that Tangent is a Christian? Maybe he or she is an atheist like me?

I’m pretty darn casual about calling myself “Wiccan”. If I run into some hardnose who starts saying I’ve improperly mixed Dianic modalities with Alexandrian and Gardnerian rituals, I say “Fine, I’ll call myself something else.” (That doesn’t happen often. It’s a pretty anti-orthodoctrinal lot for the most part. As for me, I identify with Wicca for that very reason, and consider it the centerpiece of my theology).

Having said that, and therefore distanced myself from any pretentions that I speak for Wiccans in general or anything of the sort, I must say I don’t think “casting spells” (in the style of Harry Potter, Samantha Stevens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or Gillian Holroyd) has even as much to do with Wicca as intercessional prayers (asking God to intercede and do something) have to do with Christianity. And I daresay there are plenty of entirely serious Christians (on this very board, in fact) whose beliefs about the relationship of God to people do not emphasize a God who sits up in Heaven waiting by the Heavenly Hot Line waiting to respond to intercessional prayers before being willing or interested in doing what is right (let alone wrong and merely earnestly prayed for).

I agree wholeheartedly that the statement that “Rowling has studied witchcraft and the occult”, but I don’t know about the second half of it. I think that perhaps the statement that you heard was a misinterpretation. Rowling studied classics in University, and she is very knowledgeable about historical ideas about magic and witchcraft. I attended a lecture on medieval and early modern alchemy last year, and the lecturer happened to mention in a question and answer session afterwards that many of the names (such as Dumbledore) that Rowling uses in her stories are the names of historical alchemists or self-proclaimed magicians. In addition, the title of the work “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” refers to an alchemical idea which was floating around Europe for centuries; many scholars believed that there was such a “philosopher’s stone” which, among other fantastic attributes, had life-giving properties. (BTW…I think that in the States the title was modified to Sorcer’s Stone, thus changing the implications…) At any rate, Rowling clearly did her research into the intellectual history of magical belief in Europe. Perhaps certain groups have misinterpreted such research and jumped to conclusions about her connectioins to modern Wiccans.

Why, yes! It is exactly the same. Thanks for bringing up the parallel.

Maybe my last post wasn’t clear. I certainly believe that Wicca exists as a religion followed by many people. Just as I’m sure there are other types of religions associated with witchcraft and that they have their own devotees. I just don’t believe in magic.

There are all sorts of Christian denominations and other major traditional religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.) that have large numbers of followers, and so they certainly exist. But like you, Kalashnikov, I’ve also “never seen any obective proof” that their magic (prayer) works.

As jab1 guessed, I am an atheist. I don’t presume to have all the answers, but I just haven’t seen anything very convincing AT ALL from any religion that would have me believe in mysticism, miracles, or the ability to work magic.

Honestly, I don’t know much about Wicca so I am not trying to slam them. I am a teacher and many students in my school claim to be Wiccans. I don’t know how closely they follow whatever tenets the religion has, but it gives them a good excuse to wear cool goth clothes and to upset the Christian students. It also gives them a peer group to identify with, which is maybe a good thing. They are not bad kids–one of my best students right now is one. I teach kids from so many different religious backgrounds that, as an atheist, I probably have a more objective view of the whole thing than if I were religious myself.

To steer this back toward the OP, the Wiccan kids at my school were excited about the new Harry Potter movie and many of them even dressed up in Hogwarts uniforms the day it opened. I don’t know whether they see any direct link between their religion and the magic in Harry Potter, but it IS something they have grabbed onto and identify with themselves.

I don’t believe in magic, but I like books and movies that deal with magic and fantasy. It’s fun, it’s escapism, it’s enticing–it’s just not real.

(or maybe I’m just a muggle under the influence of a forgetting spell) :smiley: