Sitting with Uncertainty

As sheepishly mentioned before, I have been apparating between the muggle and magical world over the past few weeks. Therefore, when I saw a book on Philosophical essays in the Harry Potter World, I picked it up to read almost instinctively. The book was not a mind-blowing one, but the chapter on Prophecies and Destinies had me thinking.

Much of the Harry Potter series hinges on the prophecy made by Professor Sybil Trelawny. As Professor Dumbledore reminds us in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the prophecy only came true because Lord Voldemort decided to set store by it. If he hadn’t killed Harry’s parents and marked Harry in the process, it would’ve been another prophecy sitting in the room of prophecies and nothing more.

There is also the moment in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Harry finally accepts what he must do in order to defeat the most evil wizard of the times. Not a resigned acceptance of his destiny, but a blazing recognition of his role. That truly is the turning point.

When destiny comes to a man from within, from his innermost being, it makes him strong, it makes him into a god.

– E E Cummings

harrypotter

That week-end, we were sitting and deciding on what movie would be a good one to watch. A humongous decision in our household. But that Friday night, it was easy. Kung Fu Panda -2. The Kung Fu Panda series is an all time favorite in the nourish-n-cherish household, and is one of the best written movies. We watched the movie hinge on the prophecy made by a goat, that the peacock decided to act on.

kungfupanda

My mind wandered to the essay regarding Prophecies and futures in the Harry Potter philosophies book. Many epics or stories spin off from prophecies in almost all mythologies. Lord Krishna’s story for instance – the evil king Kamsa was supposed to be killed by his sister Devaki’s eighth child. In the story, the eighth child is switched out in the middle of the night to a Sri Lakshmi incarnate born in the little village across the Yamuna river. Kamsa kills the child anyway not wanting to take any chances, and goes on in his path of brutal domination. But Devaki’s child was growing up to be a formidable opponent in the village across the river and ultimately killed Kamsa.

KRISHNA_KILLS_KANSA

By Martadas Pirbudial -Pic Courtesy Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22395572

As Professor McGonagall says to Harry: Divination, is a woolly discipline.

But it is an intriguing one – primarily because we are a forward looking species.

Forward looking: This is an admirable trait in many ways and has contributed to our growth. We moved from being hunter-gatherers to a settled agrarian way of living due to this very trait, didn’t we? But like everything else, this too has a negative aspect: does destiny clash with free will or do they help shape each other lucidly?

On the trip to Delphi in Greece, our tour guide was telling us many myths and stories along the way. The story of Oedipus for instance. Apparently it was foretold that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. So, the king Thebes and his wife set the child to sail on a river as soon as he was born, and Oedipus was raised by a loving shepherd family. Years later, when Oedipus traveled to Delphi to learn about his future, he was told the same thing: he would kill his father and marry his mother. Not wanting to hurt the kindly parents who had raised him with love and care, Oedipus ran away from his home. If he could do anything to avoid marrying his mother and killing his father, he would do it.

But like Oogway says in the Kung Fu Panda movie,

One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it. – Oogway, Kung Fu Panda movie

Oedipus landed up killing the King of Thebes in the forests and married the Queen who was trying to hold the kingdom together after learning of her husband’s death. The kingdom itself was under the spell of a sphinx and Oedipus saved the kingdom from its terrible clutches. He then married the Queen. Of course, he had not realized that they were his birth parents at the time.

In so many instances in folklore, there is the underlying current of choosing what to act on makes us who we are. But as Dumbledore says so beautifully,

The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.” – Albus Dumbledore

Yet, astrology continues to be a fascinating area for many.  From the days of Delphi, to today’s astrological predictions, humankind has been trying more than ever to get a handle on what they need to be prepared for.

Sitting with uncertainty is one of the hardest things. How do you turn the worries of a nebulous future into an adventure worth exploring? 

🐺Moony 🌷, 🐀Wormtail ❄️, 🐕‍🦺Padfoot 🍁 & 🦌Prongs 🍀 

I have been reality shifting into the magical and mugglical realms in January. It all started one rainy day as I sat quietly with the daughter. The soft glow of her lampshade gave everything a mellow look, faint music was humming somewhere in the background, and the rains were pattering outside. Her room was looking neat and lived in: her bookshelves gleamed from use, her paintbrushes scattered ever so artistically on her desk, a half done painting drying by the wall.   I sat with her, my head on her shoulders as I leaned over at her bookshelf. She was in a quiet mood, but chatting with me politely (I made the most use of this rare window – before she found something else, anything else more interesting than her mother).

“Really! The book titles you have my dear. Summer I Turned Pretty!”

She chuckled.

“And what is this here? All The Young Dudes?” I said laughing and rolling my eyes in mock exasperation. 

“Ooh! Actually ma! You’ll like that series. You should read them all.” , she said pointing to the neatly stacked books. There were 3 of them. 

“I am a bit past all this summer romance stuff, my dear – Summer I Turned Pretty must be a really nice book no doubt.”

“No – no! This is more to your liking actually. I’ve told you about this before. It is a fan fiction.”

I made a clucking noise which she rose above with a raised eyebrow as reaction. 

“This is the story of the Marauders – told from Remus Lupin’s point of view. Starts from the time Remus is 5 and goes till Sirius’s death actually.”

I sat up intrigued. 

That did sound fascinating and I remembered the queer angle of the story she had mentioned that had me thoroughly intrigued. I had never thought of the story from that aspect before, but once I did, it made more and more sense. Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my absolute favorites. I cannot believe the tragic story of the best friends who were brave, loyal, funny, and kind ripped apart by one of them who betrayed them resulting in Harry Potter becoming an orphan and their world torn apart. Such a senseless thing to happen to good upstanding sensible people.

Marauders Map

1024px-The_Marauder's_Map_(opened)

By Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK – The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30618966

The daughter looked at me smiling – she knew she had me in her little palms now. She had caught that gleam of interest, and she caught on. “Only one condition though…” I moaned. 

“No – no conditions. I’ll read it … just…”

“Nope! You read it but not like you usually read books. No reading 10 of them at a time. Just read this and keep going for a 100 pages. Start tonight after a shower, tuck yourself into bed and keep going. That’s it. It is a slow book, but well worth it.”

So I did. 

I usually find Januarys depressing. The fun and camaraderie of the holiday season is over. The streets look bleak: the winter trees are all bare in their abscission (shedding all winter leaves is called abscission I was delighted to learn from TheMarginalian.Org), the holiday lights are taken down, and corporates are back to work in full swing setting goals and metrics and performance targets with an energy that is entirely divorced from the languid winter scene around us. So, if I had to get through this time, why not start with a trip to Hogwarts I thought to myself. 

🐺, 🐀 , 🐕‍🦺   🦌 I solemnly swear I am up to no good! 🐺, 🐀 , 🐕‍🦺   🦌

I chuckled and started reading.

I have been astounded. I love J K Rowling’s writing of the magical world, and started reading with some trepidation (JK Rowling is the Queen of Magic). But as I keep reading, I was enthralled. I was immersed and the week-end was spent in the most marvelous company of the smart, humorous, talented marauders in the magical world. The characterization of @MsKingBean89 was even better than J K Rowling’s, and I seem to agree with the Slate’s review of All the Young Dudes – The Harry Potter series seems like a spin off from this magnificent work of art. It enhances the world so beautifully. 

It is not available for purchase as it is fan fiction. But it is available to read online at:   All The Young Dudes – by @MsKingBean89 

If you are a Harry Potter fan, I strongly recommend this fan fiction. Some parts don’t entirely mesh with my mind’s version of Remus Lupin, but I found myself loving @MsKingBean89’s version all the more for it. It is beautifully written, characterization done slowly but surely. A charm of a book.  It is also 500,000 words long spread over 188 chapters, so it is quite a trip into Hogsmeade.

There was a research paper that suggested that ardent readers of the Harry Potter series were more open -minded and inclusive. This narrative ties into that seamlessly. I felt a warmth that comes from reading well rounded characters. Afterwards, I found another great treasure: the audiobook recording by Fleur Uploads of the entire series. 

@MsKingBean89, FleurUploads, and of course J K Rowling – thank you once again for this marvelous world. 

May the magic in us never fade.

🐺, 🐀 , 🐕‍🦺   🦌 Mischief Managed! 🐺, 🐀 , 🐕‍🦺   🦌

P.S: I really wish I knew who @MsKingBean89 was just so I could read their subsequent books.

Qi to the Yin & Yang

Fact and Fiction were swirling and creating waves and patterns inside the old eggshell. Harry Potter – A History of Magic was entertaining in ways I did not quite expect. Regular readers and friends know how much I love the Harry Potter series. The sheer brilliance and richness of the world, and the marvelous ways in which J K Rowling examines our world has been written about in far greater depth and width and by far greater minds than my own. (Leaky Cauldron site for instance)

I know I enjoyed reading  this in The Prisoner of Azkaban

“Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless — discuss” – Holiday homework set to Harry Potter and his classmates in the Prisoner of Azkaban.

“Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty-seven times in various disguises.”
—Bathilda Bagshot, A History of Magic

Harry Potter – A History of Magic book was amazing – Firstly, it contained little tidbits of deleted sections, some planning sketches etc. Secondly, it was organized by subject area: Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, & Transfiguration. In each section were glimpses into humankind’s long fascination with magic. It is astounding to see the vast repertoire of knowledge that the author herself had to be able to synthesize all this and to create another world based on anthropological details, myths from various cultures and her own dose of fantastic imagination.

history_magic

The mind was reveling in the fact and admiring the fiction therein. Our cosmic dance of fact and fiction as a species is almost necessary to examine and understand the world around us. We are story tellers, and we are curious to understand and infer. The Qi to the Yin and Yang of understanding the world around us.

The Astronomy section of the book contained a drawing of the Rudolphine Tables, which helped the reader locate the planets amidst the stars. Containing the locations of 1000+ stars, this was probably the most comprehensive study at the time.

Beside the picture of the Rudophine Tables was a note by Alexander Lock, the Curator
“In 1617, Kepler’s mother was suspected of witchcraft, a crime punishable by death. The accused spent over a year in prison but was eventually released when her son intervened. Kepler was an official astronomer to the Holy Roman Emperor – this family intrigue must have been very difficult for him.”

489px-Johannes-kepler-tabulae-rudolphinae-google-arts-culture

I could not help linking this with some of the things I read in Carl Sagan’s Science as a Candle in the Dark, especially a chapter titled the Demon Haunted World, in which he talks about the grotesque practice of witch hunts and how it became an increasingly profit driven model as well.

Pope Innocent VIII (if ever there was a name that was totally out of sorts with the meaning, this must be it). Pope Innocent was singularly responsible for starting and popularizing the witch hunts in the 15th and 16th centuries leading to millions of people losing their lives and millions more living in a state of constant fear.

There are demon-haunted worlds, regions of utter darkness. – The Isa Upanishad (India ca 600 BC).

With a single proclamation in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII “initiated the systematic accusation, torture and execution of countless “witches” all over Europe.

While we know of the barbaric practices, little did I realize how pervasive the evil was – The Demon Haunted World -By  Carl Sagan:
It quickly became an expense account scam. All costs of investigation, trial, and execution were borne by the accused or her relatives down to per diems for the private detectives hired to spy on her, wine for her guards, banquets for her judges the travel expenses of a messenger set to fetch a more experienced torturer from another city, and faggots, tar and hangman’s rope. Then there was a bonus to the members of the tribunal for each witch burned. The convicted witch ‘s remaining property, if any, was divided between Church and State.

While I am enormously glad to see that we have evolved past this especially cruel phase of mankind’s history it does make me feel terrible about the state of things in the world today. Conspiracy theories, choosing which version of the truth to believe in etc have been problems for a long time, but now it seems these problems have occupied center stage because the leader of the free world seems to spend enormous amounts of time ingesting and spewing conspiracy theories himself.

Maybe it is time for all of us to equip ourselves with Carl Sagan’s famous Baloney Detection Kits.

But there is hope, we have moved past the atrocities of witch-burning to the point that we are now not only able to have witches and wizards in our stories, but also have a clear distinction between fact and fiction.

The yin and yang are sturdily holding their own, and I hope our qi (understanding) will remain unclouded and clear.

 

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