Grace Cavanaugh, Staff Writer~
This past weekend (September 28-30) marked the 3rd annual Queen City Mischief and Magic celebration, or known to my family as Staunton’s Potter Party. For the many who are unaware, every year Staunton, VA, closes down a few streets and fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series flock to the city to participate in many magical events. The celebration is family and small business friendly, as many of the local stores decorate with Harry Potter themes and offer plenty of Potter merchandise. There are shows and people dressed as the founders of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, and even Voldemort.
Going to a celebration like this, where everyone is dressed in something reminiscent of the amazing world of Harry Potter, is like stepping through a portal. It is wonderful to see so many people gathered in one place, strangers who strike up conversations because they are in the same house or are wearing the same shirt, debating the best books or movies, and showing off their wand-waving skills. It truly brings a community together.
It is interesting, considering that banned book month is upon us, and how many people rejected Harry Potter for various reasons. Most cited religious purposes, because the Bible says no to witchcraft and such.
This is not anything new, either. One of the most infamous points in the United States’ history are the Salem witch trials, where innocent women (and one man) were hung (and that one man pressed – a bunch of rocks were put on him until he died) by a religious society under the accusation of bewitching some girls. Before that, religious England and Scotland were burning witches. In many old fairy tales, the witch is the bad guy.
Why does all this stigma and hate surround those that use “magic”? It may fall under the category of fearing the unknown, or what one fails to understand. It could also be their particular interpretations of the Bible, or other religious texts. The key word here is interpretations. The thing about any piece of writing is that, unless the author makes it explicitly clear, people will interpret writing in any way they choose. Take the argument from the Bible against homosexuality. Just as easily as people can persecute the LGBTQ+ with Bible verses, the LGBTQ+ can defend themselves with other Bible verses.
I like to think a world with magic is better than one without. Life would be very boring if the imagination did not drum up the thought of magic, or the idea behind someone having the power to bend nature to their will. Since the days of Salem, hundreds of thousands of books with magic, or magical characters, have been published and distributed worldwide. Pagan holidays that once solely belonged to those who practiced magic are celebrated by the average family. Of course there are outliers, and those that will still hiss at even the mention of Harry Potter because of his ties to magic, but it has become widely accepted. A world of magic is frankly a better world than one without.