Happy Hogwarts Halloween!

Hogwarts Pumpkin


Thoughts on the Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer

One of the first things I noticed watching the new Crimes of Grindelwald trailer was how heavily Hogwarts and Dumbledore feature into it. The very first shots show the familiar castle from  distance, before going inside and introducing the younger Dumbledore. But even aside from the little glimpses of the school and future headmaster, traces of their presence appear throughout the trailer. For instance:

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The Deluminator: this one was hard to get a screencap of, but the Deluminator was one-of-a-kind, invented by Dumbledore himself. It only occasionally appears in the Harry Potter books, up until Deathly Hallows, when it’s revealed that he left it to Ron in his will and that its powers go considerably beyond simply turning off the lights. Its first appearance, however, is in the very first chapter of Sorcerer’s Stone, when Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive to drop off baby Harry. The scene in the trailer is highly reminiscent of the Sorcerer’s Stone movie, complete with lantern-shaped streetlights.

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Thestrals: these skeletal flying horses are creepy, but they turn out to be gentle creatures. The Ministry of Magic gives them a XXXX rating, meaning that they are dangerous and should only be approached by an expert. However, Hogwarts has a herd of tamed thestrals that live in the Forbidden Forest and pull the school’s carriages. It’s highly likely that whoever is riding in that carriage got it – and the thestrals – from Hogwarts.

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This brief glance at Dumbledore and Newt caught my attention because it reminded me a little bit of this:


The similarities are obvious. Both pairs have a sort of mentor/student relationship: Dumbledore was Newt’s teacher at Hogwarts and “Graves” presented himself as a mentor and protector for Credence. Their voices are soft, whispering, and what they are talking about is private. Grindelwald is asking Credence to find the obscurial, and Dumbledore is asking Newt to fight Grindelwald for him. They even show similar body language: standing close together, heads tilted toward each other, as if sharing a secret. But there’s one huge difference: Newt and Dumbledore are looking each other in the eye. That changes the whole dynamic. Not that Dumbledore was ever 100% open with anyone about everything he knew, but the shot of him with Newt implies a level of trust and respect for each other that is not present with Grindelwald and Credence.

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Finally, there’s this. The sign of the Deathly Hallows. The obvious link here is with Grindelwald, but remember, Dumbledore was after the Hallows, too. However, aside from the wand, none of the Deathly Hallows should come into play at this point in the timeline. Only the Potters know about the cloak, while the ring is passed down from the Peverells to the Gaunts. Dumbledore does not find them until many years later, as an old man, and Grindelwald never achieves his goal of uniting the Hallows.

Hogwarts Halloween

Pumpkins grinning jagged grins
Glowing in the night
Ghostly figures swooping down
Bathed in eerie light
Tables loaded down with sweets
Leaping chocolate frogs
Fireplace bringing warmth and light
With its burning logs
Children with the strangest pets
Owls, cats, and toads
Waving wands and casting spells
In their long black robes
Broomsticks fly and cauldrons boil
Potions brew inside
Children eat enchanted sweets
While trolls sneak inside
Spooky creatures, ghosts, and ghouls
Laughs and shrieks of fear
Hogwarts students celebrate
This haunted time of year

Why Muggle Studies Should Be Compulsory at Hogwarts

  1. Because most wizards don’t have a clue how to interact with the muggle world. Even those, like the Weasleys, who are not prejudiced and do not see muggles as their inferiors, still do not understand the muggle world. Mr. Weasley, whose job involves working with “muggle artifacts”, does not know how to use a telephone and asks Harry about the function of a rubber duck. Other wizards show no understanding of muggle clothing, dressing themselves in unique costumes such as a kilt and a poncho, a flowery nightgown, or a frock coat over a swimsuit. If wizards are required by law to keep their existence secret from muggles, and yet sometimes need to interact with the muggle world, it only makes sense that they should learn enough about that world to be able to blend into it.
  2. Because the wizarding world is behind the times. That’s true on many different levels, but let’s talk about the most obvious, practical one. Can you imagine the shock of a muggle-born student arriving at Hogwarts and realizing they’re expected to write with a feather quill and inkwell? That might seem exciting at first, but paper and pen – or better yet, word processing software – would grow more and more appealing after late nights doing homework. Yes, I know that magic and muggle technology don’t mix, but Hogwarts has indoor plumbing, and the Weasleys have a radio. Those were both new inventions at one point, and have clearly been adapted to work with magic. I bet, if there was more awareness of the muggle world, someone would figure out magical equivalents to computers, internet, airplanes, and all kinds of other things that the wizarding world seems to be without. But with very few kids gaining any exposure to the muggle world, the wizarding world seems to have stagnated.
  3. Because there are other things wizards can learn from the muggle world, besides the joys of modern technology. Specifically, our history. They could learn that prejudice and discrimination are never acceptable. They could learn that putting the wrong person in power can lead to disaster. They could learn that those who seek to control people usually begin by limiting their knowledge, and so people like Umbridge must be opposed. Those are things that sadly are still problems in our world, and lessons that we can learn from the Harry Potter books; within the stories, they are lessons the wizarding world could learn from studying muggle history as well as their own.
  4. Because despite the International Statute of Secrecy, the muggle and magical worlds do overlap. Muggle-borns find out they are wizards at age 11 and become part of the wizarding world, also bringing their families into that world to some extent. Witches and wizards fall in love with and marry muggles. Children from wizarding families do not always have magical powers. Many witches and wizards do have to exist between the two worlds in one way or another.
  5. Most importantly, because ignorance breeds intolerance and understanding makes peace a more realistic goal. Would Voldemort have been able to get the support he did if he had not been able to draw on an existing hatred (and fear) of muggles and muggle-borns? Would that sentiment have been as strong as it was if all magical children were taught about the muggle world and taught to respect it? Perhaps the reverse is also true, and the magical world will not allow their children to be taught about telephones and electricity until they have gained more respect for those without magic. It’s hard to say, but I feel sure that the series’ villains’  intolerance of all things muggle goes hand in hand with their ignorance.

We’re Ready

Can’t believe we’ve come this far
Eight years
It should have been seven, but
Life happens
Sometimes you can’t help it
Exams are passed
Trunks are packed
The old school train is ready
To take us back
One last time

Our scarves around our necks
House colors proudly displayed
Red, green, blue, yellow
The traits we value
The choices we’ve made
The family we’ve found in this castle

This time last year, chaos
The ruins of a battle
That built up over the years
Like a shaken bottle of soda
Or a potion grown stronger with age
There was no ceremony
No exam
In the aftermath, it would have seemed silly
But life goes on
And here we are

Most years, they say graduation
Means finally joining the real world
But the real world came for us early
What is graduation?
A slip of paper
A formality
We’ve already fought for our lives
Who we are
What we stand for
It’s that night that defined us
Not the shell-shocked year that followed

Thestrals pull the carriages
We all can see them now
But they don’t scare me

We’ve endured
Through danger and chaos and wrong
We’ve made choices
No child should face
And chosen the right thing anyway
We’ve survived
Like a phoenix, we’ve risen to fight
Again and again
Whatever life brings
We’re ready

If I Went to Hogwarts

It’s nearly impossible to read Harry Potter without asking yourself how you’d fit into that world. What Harry Potter fan hasn’t thought about which house they’d be in? I know I have. I also know what kind of wand I would use (rowan and unicorn hair), and although I’ve more-or-less made peace with my cat patronus, I still insist it would be a normal cat, not an ugly hairless one. There’s a reason we all keep taking those quizzes even when they give us results we’re not crazy about. We want to catch a glimpse of who we would be if we’d really gone to Hogwarts.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, which I’m currently re-reading, the kids start taking new elective classes: Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Muggle Studies. Most students sign up for 2 or 3 of these, but of course, Hermione takes all of them. And, even more predictably, reading those chapters again has made me wonder which classes I’d choose to take if I went to Hogwarts.

I’d definitely take Ancient Runes. I’m very much a language person, and my real-life college major was a foreign language, so studying an archaic writing system sounds right up my alley. One of the things I love about the world of Harry Potter is the power that words and language hold there, so I’d definitely want to explore it in as much depth as possible.

I’d also take Muggle Studies, not to learn about the muggle world itself, but to learn about how wizards see it. Most don’t bother to learn much about muggles, and those that do often have weird misconceptions. I think that if I found myself in the middle of a situation like that, I’d want to do something about it, and I’d need to understand both sides of the equation first.

I’m not sure I’d want to take any of the other three. I feel about the same way about Divination that McGonagall and Hermione do: there are real prophecies in the world of Harry Potter, but Trelawney is a fraud 99% of the time, and the subject isn’t useful unless you’re actually a Seer. I don’t have much respect for fortune-telling in the real world, and I doubt I’d feel much differently about it at Hogwarts.

Arithmancy is basically wizard math, and I have no reason to believe I’d like it any better than muggle math. I did well in my Algebra classes, but I never felt the need to go on to calculus. Likewise, I doubt I’d choose to take an optional math class at Hogwarts. As for Care of Magical Creatures, I’d take the class if Newt Scamander was teaching it. Hagrid, as nice a person as he is, doesn’t always have the best judgment about what creatures are too dangerous for teenagers to handle. If I did end up in his class, I’d probably drop it after the first year. So it might just be Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies.

What about the other classes, the ones required from the start? I feel sure I’d be more of a Neville or a Hermione than a Harry when it comes to flying lessons. I’m not particularly athletic, and I’m not fond of heights, which isn’t really a great combination when it comes to flying around on a broom and playing quidditch. I’m also not so sure about potions, but Herbology and Transfiguration always sound fascinating, and Defense Against the Dark Arts would definitely be worth knowing. Charms seems like the most useful and versatile branch of magic, and I suspect that one might be my favorite out of the first-year classes.

I think what I’d miss the most from the muggle world would be English classes. I’ve always enjoyed studying literature, and whatever literature the magical world has is apparently not seen as important enough to devote a class to. Nor is writing, for that matter. The kids write essays for school, but they’re not taught writing skills the way that most muggle high schoolers are. That would be a big disappointment for me. Luckily, I’d be a Ravenclaw, so it wouldn’t be too hard to get together some kind of book club or study group to learn about it on our own.