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You Too May Be a Witch?


What began with Hagrid's exciting announcement: "You're a wizard, Harry" awakened a calling to muggles of every age that maybe... just maybe, my life can be magical too!   Now, after thirteen years, seven books and eight movies, it finally comes to a close -- or does it?

SPOILER ALERT!

REVIEW CONTAINS MOVIE PLOT LINES

Harry Potter is a cultural landmark of such magnitude one can hardly begin to comment. The series earns praise for its portrayals of interesting and powerful crones. The downside for serious witches has always been that it relegates “magic” to children’s fantasy stories.

Wiccan critics have pointed out the mechanical, incantational nature of Harry’s magic. He does not call upon spirits or gods; the spells coalesce out of nothing when the words are spoken, the wand waved. (apparently Latin is the mother tongue of Magic and Christianity!)  Though we see ghosts, and we see that Harry’s deceased parents continue to exist in some spiritual way, there is no larger religious context. Instead it’s genetic, or inborn. By definition, wizards have magic and muggles don’t. Neither can recruit, but only attempt to repress.

As a movie, this installment gratifies and entertains immensely. Great writing, acting, design, and effects all contribute to a satisfying whole. In a scene that struck me particularly Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix Lestrange, and this disguised Hermione is played, not by Emma Watson, but by Helena Bonham Carter. This casting anomaly makes sense, but throughout the scene I was happily confused by HBC’s performance as a convincing Hermione awkwardly imitating Lestrange’s manner.

The dramatic issues make urgent demands, leaving no time for juvenile or gross-out humor. Click Here to View Full SizeWhen Voldemort threatens Hogwarts, we see the power of the faculty come forth to defend it. McGonagall challenges Snape to a duel of wands, and drives him out of the Great Hall through the window. She then summons an army of statues reminiscent of the Terracotta Warriors of Shaanxi, and the stone figures descend from the castle walls to stand against Voldemort’s troops. The teachers create a spectacular energy shield around the school that is gradually cracked by shots resembling a barrage of flaming arrows from the wands of the enemy.

Neville Longbottom fulfills the heroic potential first revealed in Order of the Phoenix by challenging Voldemort directly after Harry’s apparent death. After an exchange of blows Neville pulls Godric’s sword from the sorting hat and decapitates the last Horcrux, Nagini, ending Voldemort’s immortality.

As in most action-adventure stories, the conflict climaxes with a duel between the two individual representatives of good and evil. But during his time as a Horcrux, Harry carries part of Voldemort’s soul, enabling him to read his enemy’s thoughts and understand his motives in a uniquely intimate way.

While Harry Potter seems to have the last word on wizardry and witchcraft in the mainstream media, one can argue that the franchise portrays a cacophony of  spellcraft-meets-herblore-meets-Christianity (or at least Christmas, which appears to be an important holiday).   The message this brings to the masses is that magic is all around you and that anybody may be a witch ...maybe even you!

Awakening this general call to the population's inner-witch is a lot like a police tip line; many calls come in but very few are serious.  While it's great that the taste of Hollywood magic brings new members to our fold, it also brings undeserved disappointment when the reality of true magic fails to jibe with fantasy.  The challenge before the Pagan community is to use this opportunity to spread the word that magic isn't like what we see in the movies -- it's much, MUCH better!

Despite the finality of the movie's tag-line, apparently  It Doesn't All End Here; There will be an endless supply of HP available at: PotterMore.com beginning in October of this year.

—Review by @Luna_Silverleaf




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