Guest Post: True Stories of Wizardry in England in the Days before the International Statute of Secrecy

Tony McAleavy is the author of The Last Witch Craze: John Aubrey, the Royal Society and the Witches, which was published in the UK in June 2022. As someone who gave a talk in 2010 and published an expanded essay on ‘Why Rowling Chose 1692,’ in which I explored the idea that the Wizarding World is the surviving remnant of the Spiritual Seeker sects, which is to say ‘Christian Magi,’ I am fascinated by this subject and begged McAleavy to share in a Guest Post here the outline of his research into the subject of real world “conjuring” in the UK’s tumultuous Seventeenth Century.

He agreed — and I think you’ll find as I did that his essay below largely explodes the prevalent misconceptions about a hard line in history separating scientists from magi from Christians. It’s a whole lot more complicated and fascinating than our conventional History-Time-Line Pigeon Holes allow. Thanks to Tony McAleavy for this wonderful Guest Post, which I trust you will enjoy as much as I did.

True Stories of Wizardry in England in the Days before the International Statute of Secrecy

Tony McAleavy

I have been researching real life wizardry and witchcraft in Britain and America in the late seventeenth century for my new book, The Last Witch Craze. JK Rowling proposed that 1689-1692 was a turning point in the relationship between the magical community and Muggles. She imagined how, after the catastrophe of the Salem trials when 20 people accused of satanic magic were executed in New England, the decision was confirmed to introduce the International Statute of Secrecy and make the practice of wizardry and witchcraft invisible to the non-magical world. Of course, Rowling was writing fiction but my new book suggests that her historical insight was fundamentally correct. The early 1690s was indeed the end of an era. Before that several wizards operated discreetly but not secretly. Afterwards they kept quiet about their practice.

I focus on three prominent men who I believe were active wizards in London 1660-1690. One of these magicians was John Aubrey. He openly promoted his belief in premonitions, potions and charms in a book he wrote towards the end of his life called Miscellanies. He grew up surrounded by magical practices in rural Wiltshire. As a boy, Aubrey saw female servants at the family home examine the ashes in the hearth at the end of the evening in order to foretell the future. [Read more…]

P Wayne Stauffer – Starting Harry Potter

P Wayne Stauffer, English Instructor at Southeast Houston Community College has written a Guest Post – his review of the new Wizarding World initiative to engage first time young readers in the stories. Today is the birthday of both Harry Potter and his creator, so what better time to refresh our memories on the series publishing history, and what this new initiative can bring for the young.

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Guest Post: Mums and Their Sons — Mother/Son Relationships in Harry Potter

In my ongoing series of posts about The Christmas PigI have been arguing that the latest work by Rowling, when used as a lens through which to read her other novels and stories, reveals that Mother’s Love is her repeated symbol for the unconditional and sacrificial love that is the Logos “fabric of realityand hence of Christ. See ‘The Blue Bunny‘ and ‘Rowling, Ring Writing, and Maternal Love‘ for how Jack’s love for his toy pigs, transference for his mum’s love for him, mirrors Lily’s love for Harry and Leda’s for Cormoran, the love that makes each of these heroes the allegorical Heart or Spirit in Rowling’s various psychomachia. Excited as I am about this idea, I was even more enthusiastic than I always am when Wayne Stauffer at Southeast Houston Community College wrote to me, this time about research he has been doing on just this subject. I asked him if he would share the first fruits of these efforts at HogwartsProfessor and he has sent the following, to include the invaluable appendices. Enjoy!

Mums and Their Sons: Mother/Son Relationships in Harry Potter by P. Wayne Stauffer

I began this analysis initially interested in Narcissa Malfoy’s intervention at the end of Deathly Hallows (DH) when Harry does not die at Voldemort’s killing curse. When she finds out Draco is alive, she lies about Harry being dead. Given the Malfoy pureblood mania in the series and six previous novels’ worth of Potter disdain, I wondered why she would do that. I also became curious about any parallels between Narcissa and Lily Potter in their motherly love for their sons…and their attempts to protect them. I then realized there are several additional sets of mothers and sons in the series. The following is an exploration of mother/son relationships across the Harry Potter series.

Rowling’s relationship with her mother and her devastation when her mum passed away not long after Rowling began drafting the Harry saga are already widely known, so I won’t comment more, other than to say that it seems intuitively obvious that mother’s love could not help but be a subtext somewhere in the background in the storylines of each novel.

The first four mother & son pairs that come to mind are Lily & Harry, Molly & Ron, Narcissa & Draco, and Petunia & Dudley, but there are several others as the series progresses— Giant Mum & Hagrid, Alice & Neville, Mum & Sirius, Merope & Tom Jr., and Eileen & Severus. Ron is the single exception in that all the others are only children—no siblings.

[A couple of side notes: Other only children in the series include Hermione, Luna, and Ginny (I know, Ginny is not an only child, but she is an only daughter). We don’t get much information about their relationships with their mums from which to draw solid conclusions, and mother-daughter relationships are different from mother-son relationships. Molly Weasley as a model magical parent and as the mother of several boys could be the subjects of subsequent analyses.

Also, Harry and Hermione have points of connection from growing up magical in the muggle world and as only children. Ginny becomes the sister Hermione never had; Ron becomes the brother Harry never had. Yes, Harry did grow up with Dudley, but theirs is hardly a brotherly relationship. Dudley was treated as though he were an only child while Harry was merely tolerated out of Petunia’s fear of Dumbledore. The Dursley’s did not encourage Dudley to consider Harry as his equal. Harry also may be drawn to Hermione because, like his mum, she has Muggle parents.]

This analysis focuses on four main combinations of a mother’s love for her son and its effects on him: Lily & Harry, Alice & Neville, Narcissa & Draco, and Merope & Tom Jr.

Join us after the jump for all that! [Read more…]

Fred Blundun: Deathly Hallows Finish Revealed in Goblet’s Quidditch Cup Final

Happy New Year, Gregorians! I’m taking a break from Christmas Pig today and thought this Guest Post was in order for several reasons. First, it not only points to several HogwartsProfessor touchstones — the ‘Hanged Man’ tarot card, ring composition, and the theory put forward by Emily Strand and Caitlyn Harper that Quidditch matches reveal the meaning and ending of the novel they are in — but combines them. What better way to start the New Year than with a little three-dimensional chess?

Second, that combination highlights the fun of reading J. K. Rowling a challenge specific to her stories. There are embedded puzzles, plot clues, and alchemical, astrological, and tarot notes sounded through-out, especially in the cryptonyms — but when are what might be a connection actually be an over-reach? It helps to remember that I was ridiculed in 2002 for suggesting Rowling was writing in the English tradition of hermetic literature, an idea that was really only accepted when the 1998 interview surfaced in 2007. What seems an overreach or fantasy, may be substantive.

Third and perhaps most important, I want to introduce Fred Blundun to HogwartsProfessor readers. You’ll be reading more of his finds in the coming year!

That being said, here is Mr Blundun’s theory that the World Quidditch Cup Final in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a snap-shot pointer to the finish of Deathly Hallows, a connection he made while reflecting on a post here about the Hanged Man tarot card

I think I have found another reference to hanging in the Harry Potter books: the Irish Seeker is named Lynch, a word meaning “(of a group of people) kill (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging”.

I think there’s a general parallel in this match: Lynch and the green-robed Irish team correspond to Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Krum and the red-robed Bulgarian team correspond to Harry and his allies. Lynch’s name brings to mind the Death Eaters’ unjust murders. Krum’s first name, Viktor, is for Harry’s eventual victory.

The point of all this: Harry intuitively understands Krum’s decision to catch the Snitch and end the game despite Bulgaria being one goal short (“He wanted to end it on his own terms, that’s all…”). This foreshadows Harry’s own decision to open the Snitch and end his life despite still being one Horcrux short of making Voldemort mortal.

Some more possibly intentional parallels, some of which may be a huge stretch:

  • Immediately after catching the Snitch, Krum is seen rising into the air, “his red robes shining with blood from his nose” – a reference to the blood magic that becomes the key to Harry’s victory at the end of Deathly Hallows?
  • Following Ireland’s victory in the match, the Irish players are seen “dancing gleefully in a shower of gold descending from their mascots”… but this leprechaun gold will evaporate in a few hours, much like the Death Eaters’ apparent victory in The Flaw in the Plan.
  • Meanwhile, after his collision with the ground and subsequent trampling, Lynch can’t stand on his own and is clearly very out of it  – mirroring how Voldemort collapses at the start of The Flaw in the Plan, and is then unable to harm others with magic due to Harry’s sacrifice?

Again, this made my day because it connects the tarot card image with ‘Lynch,’ the ring idea of the center reflecting the story latch, hence Goblet foreshadowing Hallows, and the Strand-Harper idea of Quidditch as signifier. That’s a treat…

Your New Year’s challenge is to review Lethal White with the question, ‘What signifier does Galbraith give us in each of the Strike mysteries that appears in the fourth book that may point us to the ending of Strike7?’ Enjoy!

Beatrice Groves – The Silver Doe at Christmas

To follow on from two Christmas posts in Bathilda’s Notebook, Mugglenet: Christmas in the Forest of Dean: The Silver Doe Part 1 and Part 2, Beatrice Groves, Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written a Hogwarts Professor Guest Post: Tracing the imagery and symbolism of the Silver Doe via one of J. K. Rowling’s favourite authors. If you haven’t yet read the Bathilda’s Notebook posts, please do. Then, on Christmas Eve (in the western tradition), enjoy this wonderful and timely article…

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