In the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling created a fantastic wizarding world many around the world (myself included) enjoy. We even read (and/or watched) sample tastes of the wizarding world in France and Norway/Sweden (with students from as far away as Bulgaria) in the fourth book/movie.
I imagine many, besides myself, contemplate what this same wizarding world looks like in other countries and cultures. While the magic system, as written by Rowling remains largely the same (I think some cultures, for example, likely won’t be using Latin-based spells or even wands as a “channeling” focus for magic, but much of what can be done with these tools should remain the same), I think many cultural differences in form and practice would surface from one culture to another.
And arises the point of today’s post…a question for you, but first: I remember daydreaming away how this or that culture might practice magic in the Harry Potter world. I even started a fanfic in which I intended spotlighting some of the Japanese ways within the Harry Potter world, featuring a Japanese-British student. I even spotlighted on a Japanese term to call the muggles (a firecracker dud…it’s in my notes somewhere). Then I felt presumptive and lost in research on Japan.
My fanfic since moved somewhere closer to home and ancestry (for myself) and now features an Irish-American girl (Emily) whose family moves back to Ireland just before receiving her Hogwarts letter. However, I still possess this silly desire for fleshing out more of Rowling’s world in fanfic style.
In this case, I plan on fleshing out a bit more of the Irish sidhe (fae) in the Harry Potter world. Emily’s life is a lot more heavily tied to the sidhe world than she realizes. I know the fae world has been done and redone ad infinitum, but I hope I’m bringing a fresher turn. Plus, the fae world simply enchants me, personally can’t get enough.
Emily will make close friends with a girl from the very large continent of Africa. More research, I know. I intend on looking closely at the plethora of different cultures within Africa before lighting on one that easily writes itself into Rowling’s world (and my fanfic within it) and I can maybe spotlight it at some point. This friend will be from an African wizarding family, so one of the African wizarding worlds will play a role the way Hermione and Ron’s upbringings played a role. As you can see, “this friend” is nameless so far, and probably will remain so until I decide exactly where from Africa she’s from. I have her personality down and how she fits in the friendship. She’ll be the ambitious one that keeps the trio going and makes Emily’s life a lot more active.
Emily’s other friend is 100% for my son, a boy named Michael who grew up on the heroic tales of Harry Potter and wants nothing more than hearing “Gryffindor!” from the sorting hat, just like said hero and his friends…but ends up in Hufflepuff. I know the sorting hat takes your decision into account, so Michael will be a hat stall.
In that is a cute memory as well. When I told my son about my plans for his character within the story, including the above statement nearly verbatim, I watched his face fall, much like I imagined the Michael in my fanfic when the sorting hat places him in Hufflepuff. He asked why, trying very hard to hide his disappointment. I explained about what I read from Rowling on the differences between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and how each displays bravery.
Cliff notes: Gryffindors often display bravery for the sake of bravery and are a bit prone to showing off. Hufflepuff bravery stems from loyalty. She also mentioned something about how many Gryffindors were in the final battle for Hogwarts because it was brave and backing out, cowardice. However, probably all Hufflepuffs were in the battle because it was their school, and in many cases, their friends as well, being threatened, and they were standing up against something wrong out of loyalty.
I said, “Now, I could be wrong, but I think a great deal of your bravery comes from loyalty first; standing up for others, especially your friends and family, or standing up for things you believe are right. The Michael in my story will eventually learn the same thing and be glad the sorting hat ignored his hero-worship.”
I saw pride beaming on his face at this point and felt tickled that I accurately predicted each stage of his character’s emotion regarding house placement. I told him, if it really mattered that much to him though, I’d put him in Gryffindor anyway.
He told me, “I like that a lot. Don’t change a thing.”
If you’re curious, another difference from my fanfic to the original, obviously now, is it happens after Harry Potter’s schooldays. Where the original story follows 3 Gryffindors, mine will follow three friends from different houses, none of which are Gryffindor. Since Slytherin house still exists (otherwise Harry wouldn’t feel the need to calm his son’s worries about being placed in it), in my fanfic, I want to address the good and strengths in Slytherin as well. I don’t know, I feel it’s passed due for a positive face and reminder that an entire group of children don’t really deserve the “evil comes from here” classification.
Anyway, to the question! I’m curious, how do you envision the wizarding world of Harry Potter from your various homes and cultures? How do you envision it for the cultures of your ancestors, or simply a culture you love studying or married into?
I’m thinking crystals and new age, with a bit of wicca is the easy answer for the United States. However, I’m gonna turn it a bit on its head and amuse myself by thinking the US wizarding world stylizes themselves as secret super heroes. Not parading around saving people while in costume, but the whole super hero and villain thing regarding helping or taking advantage of normal humans while keeping an international wizarding statute of secrecy. They also probably go home from the wizarding school every day over here, rather than a wizarding boarding school.
An international wizarding satute of secrecy is pretty important, I think, otherwise one country/area/culture exposing magic results in some worldwide exposure, toppling Rowling’s cannon. I’ve no wish to topple the cannon.
I’m curious about all kinds of ideas and a conversation on what all my readers think Rowling’s wizarding world would be (how is it the same, how is it different) in other places? Comment away! If you write your own blog post on the idea, please, by all means, link us there in comments.
Let’s talk about what the Harry Potter world might be like around the world.