Going off my last post (Watching “The Craft”), I’m going to delve into a fictional witchcraft that actually influenced me.
Yes, I am indeed talking about that well-loved series–Harry Potter.
I first read the British English version of the first book when I was 6, my school’s librarian somehow got a copy. The next year, when the American version came out, I read that one. I was hooked from day one. After all, a world with magic, witchcraft and whole sorts of people that practiced it…that was fascinating to me. I was enthralled and totally in love with the series from the first time I picked it up.
I knew that the magic as portrayed wasn’t real. But, there were certain things that made me love this book. From day one I was entranced by what it could mean. After all, such a complete world with so many details…it was fascinating. And, unlike other magic and witchcraft series or stories, this one was real to me. It was something I could relate to in a way.
I moved on, in studying magic and paganism to mythology, folklore and historical accounts. I read about accounts of “witchcraft” in the early modern period in Europe. I studied mythologies and folklore stories as I could. I enjoyed historical accounts of peoples related to these stories. I was still searching for the “magic” in the world, going through everything that I knew, but nothing ever fully hit as being right.
I always came back to Harry Potter though. It was fictional. I knew that waving wands and chanting incantations like they did in the books was not real. Even if I wished I could just create a potion or say a spell to fix my problems, I knew it wouldn’t happen.
After my parents divorced when I was 11–Harry Potter became a sort of solace for me, as literature and fiction. I could relate to characters in the series. Not to mention, I knew what it was like to have a difficult upbringing (not nearly as bad as Harry’s with the Dursley family, not at all, but mine was tough). When I went through my “fluffy bunny” pagan book-buying experience, I realized that some of it reminded me of broad strokes from Harry Potter. It was never something I could explain, I still can’t explain why they reminded me of that. But they always have. With the difference that those books that are pagan are “non-fiction”, while Harry Potter is definitely fiction.
I got more serious about my studying of paganism and witchcraft, as the series drew every closer to an end. I think I realized when the 6th book came out, that I really had kept researching magic because I was always curious about how it compared with what was in Harry’s world. It was always a tiny curiosity about how the magic from the wizarding world was comparable to magic in the real world. I was always curious about comparisons and learning new things, no matter what subject…so it was rather natural that I would do this in my studying magic and paganism.
I know that for me, Harry Potter was the reason I kept pursuing magic and therefore paganism. Without my librarian lending me that copy of the first book, way back then, I might not be who I am today…at least not as a polytheist and witch. Because no matter how many times I wandered off to study other things, no matter how academic my interests are (and I read mostly academic journals, papers and books on witchcraft–I rarely read popularly sold books anymore), without the “kid’s story” that was Harry Potter I would possibly never have gotten into magic and paganism.
My interest in paganism and magic was sparked by a lucky chance reading of that first book. That I then was hooked on it, and kept coming back to real-world magic and witchcraft because of the fictional practices described in J.K. Rowling’s world…well that’s a bit of luck that I don’t know how I was so lucky to acquire.
Looking back, I do kind of laugh, now that I realize that I was indeed influenced in my path by a beloved childhood series that I grew up with. And I really did grow up with it. From that first book when I was 6, until the last movie came out when I was 20. It definitely helped shape what drew my attention and what I wanted to research. So when I think back on it, and realize that but for my reading so much as a child, and not having too many friends, the librarian not giving me that book when she did…that I might not have found this series…I may not have ended up on this path that makes me so comfortable and happy to be me. I am grateful that I have my path.
Even if I do have to admit that my path to witchcraft and paganism started with a “children’s” fantasy novel.∗