Harry Potter: And the Satanic Controversy

Harry Potter is a widely accepted allegory, right up there with fantasy books such as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Harry Potter, however, is also known to encourage children who read the books to worship Satan and get tattoos and pierce their nipples and whatever else Satan-worshippers apparently do.

It is strange to believe that a book written for children might spark controversy, but then again, any really good book aimed at the young ignites new fires: The Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, and nearly any
by Judy Bloom,
for example.

Harry Potter smells of Satanism, say some conservative Christians. Others claim it is a harmless children’s story at heart, with Christian morals in fact. See what’s so satanic about Harry Potter here: http://www.exposingsatanism.org/harrypotter.htm

Now, I could argue in defense of a book beloved by myself and many others, but maybe we can take a different route. Instead of analyzing what is Christian and moral and awesome about Harry Potter (namely, Harry dying to save everyone else), let’s explore the occult.

Harry Potter practices magic, a form of power usually associated with the Devil. In Divination, students strive to learn how to foresee the future, though Harry mostly just slacks off or passes out in the middle of class. With ghosts and crystal balls and objects that you can store your soul in, what isn’t a bit occult in Harry Potter?

What about Inferi, which are reanimated bodies- inspired into motion by dark magic? Or the idea of a chamber where a huge Basalisk with killer eyes lives?

My point is, if someone says that Harry Potter has traces of the occult, they’re actually right. I’m sure reading these books won’t turn kids toward witchcraft, but I must say that I did really want to become a wizard while reading them. In the fifth grade, I printed up a fake acceptance letter on parchment paper and showed it to all of my friends. No, I wouldn’t be joining them at pathetic middle school, but instead be learning how to “put a stopper in death” in Potions class. Snape sure seems nicer than some of my past teachers.

If you’d like to see what all the Demon-related fuss is about, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premieres July 15th.

I for one have been dragged down into the desires of wanting to become a wizard, and I shall don my Hogwarts robe tonight to wait outside a crowded cinema for the final adventure to begin. I hope you’ll join me.

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Harry Potter: And the Really Cool Names

Only one day remains until Harry Potter is released to the world! And so, what more is there to discuss about Harry Potter?

Well, no doubt, the Harry Potter series has some of the coolest names in fiction. From Severus Snape to Filius Flitwick. From Dolores Umbridge to Dedalus Diggle. From Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington to Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Rowling spent some time constructing names befitting to her characters, hence the many Latin-based names. For example, the name Malfoy translates as “mal foi” which means “bad faith.” See? That makes sense, kind of.

Sometimes, the names are a bit more straightforward. Madam Pompfrey’s first name is Poppy, which is incidentally a medicinal plant (and used to make opium). Gildroy Lockhart carries connotations of being “gilded” with fame and being able to steal hearts. Or rather, at least lock them.

See also: Professor Sprout, connotative of plants.

Rita Skeeter’s surname is a familiar word in the South as a nickname for mosquitoes, apparently, though having lived in the South for 17 years, I’ve never heard anyone refer to a “skeeter.”

“Voldemort” reportedly means “flight of death,” which is extremely befitting to a man who seeks immortality because he is deathly (Hallows) afraid of dying.

Cornelius Fudge: Well, his first name is super dorky and his second is delicious, so what’s to say about this fine Prime Minister? Cornelius, well, has the name corn in it, which is a good staple crop. I mean, corn made the Indians loads of money, right? No, not really, but white man capitalized on it after stealing the Native’s secrets, so… maybe that’s part of ole Corn’s personality and legacy. His last name seems sweet and rich at first, but you must consider that to “fudge” something- it’s a polite way of saying you’ve f-d up. And well, Fudge, he f-d up pretty badly, didn’t he?

Nagini: As in Naga, as in Sanskrit for “snake.” Well, I’m going out on a limb here, but maybe Rowling chose the name because Nagini is, well, a snake.

Fleur Delacour: Her first name means flower. She is an extremely foxy half-Veela, so what’s not like a flower? Even if she smells like a rose, though, Veela’s can get quite prickly at times.

Fawkes: This is a fun name, since it takes the surname of Guy Fawkes. You know, that guy who attempted to burn down the Parliament Building? Real creation means destruction, just as the Phoenix must engulf itself in flames to be again born out of the ashes. So, maybe that was Guy’s thought, too. Naturally, in good ole English tradition, he was hung for treason.

So, these are just a few of the killer names in the Harry Potter series. Don’t forget Vicent Crabbe (because he’s crabby, get it?) or Nearly Headless Nick (because he was nearly decapitated with a blunt ax, get it?).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 opens July 15th. Keep reading this week for more about Harry Potter.

Harry Potter: And Rowling’s Writerly Success

If J.K. Rowling had not juggled the idea of a boy wizard on a train from Manchester to London, I would have been very bored for several hours of my childhood in which I instead spent delving into the magical world of Harry Potter. So, who is this Rowling who had such an impact on my life? And not to stretch imaginations, probably millions of other kids’ as well? Well, that’s what we’d like to know.

If this rags-to-riches story fails to convince you that life indeed is full of bright moments amongs its dark crests, know at least that J.K. Rowling is a BAMF with a capital B. And a captial M. And a capital F.

Born in Chipping Sodbury, which sounds like a polite way to refer to one’s rather dismal English village, Rowling began writing when she was 6. She wrote a story called “Rabbit,” which she didn’t finish. If you don’t think a six year old writing a book is a big deal, you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter if the plot involves the title character Rabbit constructing a rocket ship to go attack Deceptacons on the moon. Even in those horrible storytelling throes, Rowling was making progress as a child.

J.K. Rowling says her favorite subject in high school was English, which I know, is a SHOCKER! I’m under the firm belief that anyone who can write loves English, loathes Math, and uses History as a personal nap time. After high school, she went to Exeter University where she earned a degree in French. Because if you love English, who not learn French?!

She also spent a year studying in Paris, a good place to go if you’ve just gotten a degree in French. Also, she moved back to London and worked at Amnesty International which had a large impact on her writing, because she experienced the events of lives of others’. She talks about these experiences in her commencement speech at Harvard. Check that out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkREt4ZB-ck

Slightly after that, this writer got some time behind enemy lines, as a secretary of a publishing house. Publishers are not writer’s enemies. Of course not, but sometimes it feels like it when you receive back those very formal rejection slips. Sending those rejection slips was one of those whose job it was to draft and send those. So, before getting rejected, she understood the mass competition of traditional publication.

It was around this time- 1990- that she created the idea of Harry Potter: a simple premise of a boy who discovers he’s been a wizard his entire life. Also, in 1990, her mother died. She promptly moved to Portugal to teach English. There she married a Portuguese journalist to whom she was married for only eleven months.

Jessica was the result of that marriage, whom she brought back to England in 1993. She lived in Edinburgh in a fairly dingy flat, overrun by mice, receiving a Welfare check of about one hundred dollars a week.  During this time of extreme poverty, she worked on the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This is cliche writer’s life, unfortunately- this is J.K. Rowling crouched over a pad of paper, making an espresso last for two hours. This is she letting her baby Jessica sleep in her carriage while she writes.

When she finally finished, she received rejections from three publishers before signing on with Bloombury’s Children Books for 10,000 pounds. Which is not a lot of money, but Rowling would make a lot more money off of her baby. It became a bestseller fast, children picking it up and not putting it down. They made her use the name “J.K. Rowling” in an effort to hide from boy readers that Rowling indeed was not a male. But soon it didn’t matter.

Scholastic books bought the rights to the book for over 100,000 dollars. This was an unprecedented advance- she was going to make bank. It took three books for Harry Potter to become an international phenomena. The forth book sold over a million copies intially in the UK and over three million initially in the US.

The rest is nearly history as Harry Potter overflowed the pages. And J.K. Rowling became a superstar. A qualified BAMF.

Right now, she has ventured out on the self-publishing limb with the e-books of the Harry Potter series via Pottermore. Early Regristation opens July 31st. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- pt. 2 opens July 15.

Harry Potter: And the Billion Dollar Franchise

If you don’t know what this week is, be very very ashamed of yourself. Thursday night leads up to midnight, July 15: the opening of

Holy crap! Look how much money we made!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows worldwide. And to commemorate such an awesome occasion I am going to blog about Harry Potter every day. About the books, characters, universe, and my personal experiences with it.

There’s no doubt, Harry Potter is a phenomenon.

And Rowling has made quite a few galleons off of her fantasy series about a boy wizard who goes to wizarding school.

Of course, the biggest money maker is the eight-part movie series based on the novels, and the novels have sold millions of copies. She’s written supplements and a children story book based on the series. People can buy replica wands and robes and time turners. Harry Potter action figures. Sorting Hats. Personalized Hogwarts Acceptance Letters. Replica Invisibility Cloaks. Sheet music. Sweater Vests. Replica Marauder Maps. Scarves. Hogwarts earrings. Board games. Internet puppet shows. HP-themed mouspads!

Not to mention a really awesome theme park in Orlando!

J.K. Rowling is the 1062nd richest person in the world, which is quite feat indeed. Recently, she announced the release of Pottermore, “an interactive reading experience.” Whatever that means, I am stoked. As I said, what really sparked the money-maker was the advent of the film series, but the books have obviously sold well on their own. Because of the money that’s been made, it’s pretty obvious that the Harry Potter franchise has been the largest franchise based on a book ever.

It’s every writers dream to make billions of dollars off of their books, but J.K. Rowling worked hard. Harry Potter began on a train ride from Manchester to London. Rowling says,

“I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who did not know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.”

The first book was published in 1997, seven years after first coming up with the idea. That blows me away. Seven years. She says she spent 7 years forming the plots for the novels, so she was already sure what she wanted to do when she began. That is commitment right there, and it shows in her writing. There will be another post on how much of a BAMF J.K. Rowling is.

What I’m saying is, this series had humble beginnings, and now it is this awesomely immense franchise. Many things come to mind when one says Harry Potter, and no one can say it hasn’t helped kids read more books. These are books that people wait all night in line just to purchase. I will be among the hordes of muggles in wizard garb lined up in the late afternoon on Thursday, primed to see the epic ending of my childhood.

The thing is, even non-fans have heard of Harry Potter. Harry Potter has sparked parades and parties and protests and theme bands and courtroom dramas!

So, even a muggle knows… magic is definitely going on here.