Newsletter Articles - Old Dotty Reflects

The words and wisdom of Suffolk's oldest witch


The children down the road have acquired a new computer game based on the Harry Potter franchise and talk in the playground seems to be about nothing else. It amuses me no end to see quite a few of the youngsters (and some older teens who apparently do not consider themselves too cool for school, so long as the school in question is Hogwarts) run about sporting their scarves, robes, toy wands and other paraphernalia from the films. I used to think of myself as the only witch in the village, but no longer! We are knee-deep in aspiring witches and wizards.


Not everyone is happy about this (when are they ever?). The vicar’s wife is worried about children turning to the occult, and the purple-haired girl who works in the corner shop is in a towering rage that people are not boycotting the franchise the way she is in protest about J K Rawlings alleged views on transgender people… and now Jewish people and overweight ones too. Every month that passes Rawlings is accused of hating yet another demographic to the point where it is all starting to sound a bit suspect. Me thinks the cancellers doth accuse too much. Normally the vicar’s wife and Flux (or it Flange? I forget exactly what she calls herself, as that changes along with her gender and hair dye) loathe each other, but they are united in their wish that Rawlings had never put pen to paper. They make strange bedfellows.


Personally, I love a bit of Hogwarts and feel a great kinship with Maggie Smith in her pointy hat. Whilst I have no interest in computer games, the books are fantastic escapism. I struggle to grasp the worries of the vicar’s wife. Whilst the books use all the trappings of magic and scraps of mythology (like the centaurs), there is no esoteric lore of any substance in the books. There is a long tradition of children’s literature which draws on magical themes and some of it has even been written by experienced practitioners. P L Travers, author of the Mary Poppins series, was a disciple of the occultist Gurdjieff. Frank Baum, author of the Oz series, was a Theosophist. To the best of my knowledge, Rawlings has no such allegiances and maybe that is why the magical elements of her novels are quite superficial and lacking in any deeper grasp of the mysteries. Perhaps it is unlikely that the vicar’s wife would understand any of that!


That said, the very act of worldbuilding engaged in by authors is itself deeply magical. Most especially so where the world clearly engages the imaginations of quite so many readers (and film viewers). Once a world is placed before a wider audience the author loses control of it in a manner that might parallel the mythological accounts of demiurges that create the world and then have to contends with humans and other awkward beings messing it up. Numerous people daydream about being at Hogwarts or compose their own short stories involving Rawlings’ characters. Some of Flux’s outlook now regard it as a somehow radical act to rewrite the Hogwarts universe in line with their own political ideologies. The same people will also wail about colonising and the way one culture will impose itself on and oppress another. Is what they are doing a literary colonisation?

One can but speculate! Similar rewriting goes on for the mythologies of the ancient world, being aligned with 21st century politics. Though that process was going on even thousands of years ago, such as with the story of Osiris and Set – nothing changes!