Muggles Love Wands, Too

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Kristen McQuinn

Staff Writer

Kristen McQuinn is a medievalist who dreams of reading more, writing more, and traveling more while being the best single mama by choice she possibly can be. By day, she can be found working with English teachers at the University of Phoenix, where she also teaches the occasional class on mythology, Shakespeare, or Brit lit. Sometimes she updates even her own blog. Follow her on Twitter:@KristenMcQuinn or  Twitter: @KristenMcQuinn

Dear Mystical Moments,

Let’s have a chat, friends. I was happily scrolling through my newsfeed this morning and came across this article about you. While I am quite happy to read about something other than the unimaginable horror show of the US election season and Trump’s latest brain damaged utterances, I am very disappointed to see this take its place. If I can say so, you’re taking yourselves way too seriously. Sell the wands to the Muggles, already!

Look, I’m not saying that your wands aren’t awesome. You have a product you’re proud of. You SHOULD be proud of what you sell! I’m also not really saying that you can’t believe only some people are worthy to have them. I’m just pointing out why you are super wrong in not sharing it with the Muggles. You could probably make a metric fuckton more money if you would change your opinion on that, but whatever. Someone else will probably open shop across the street and sell wands to anyone who wants them. Next time I go to England, I’ll be sure to visit that shop. But honestly, how did you decide to deny selling your wands to Potterheads? Is it JUST the Potterheads that are refused service? Or do you similarly refuse to sell your Very Special Wands to fans of, say, Alice Hoffman, or Marion Zimmer Bradley, or Sarah Addison Allen, or Neil Gaiman, or Paula Brackston, or any other authors who write witch-themed novels who might decide they want a wand because of something they read in a book? There are many, many to choose from.

Or is it just YA you are opposed to? Do you turn your nose up at Cate Tiernan’s fans as well? How about Kami Garcia, Diane Duane, Sarah J. Maas, or Diana Wynn Jones? Because, honestly. If you discriminate against one, you should at least be consistent and discriminate against them all. One rabid fan is much like another and equally deserving of your disdain, amirite? Also, it smacks of genre snobbery. A friend of mine is dealing with that right now with her MFA mentor, of all people, who is convinced that nothing other than Proper Literary Fiction(™) can possibly be good writing; certainly not fantasy, which everyone knows is garbage! Genre snobbery isn’t cool.

Also, um, so what if Harry Potter is for children? (Side note: just because it is YA doesn’t mean it is childish. It deals with some hard core concepts like bravery, tolerance, acceptance, death, and discovering oneself as a unique person. It’s not just kids waving wands around. Maybe you missed those parts.) Even if it was just a silly kid’s book, if it prompted a child to be interested in your religion, would you not welcome that and use it as an opportunity to teach them about it? If you are concerned about real witches not being able “to reveal themselves without people thinking they are mental,” then a good way to combat that is by educating people. How do you expect to do that when you are turning away people who might be somewhat ignorant about the details of your faith but might at least have some earnest interest in learning about it? You’re effectively preaching to the choir by only serving people who already think the same way as you do.

I’ll share a secret with you. When I was 11, I read The Mists of Avalon for the first time. It blew my mind in so many ways. I’d always loved Arthurian legends, but beyond that, it was the first time I’d considered that there could be a goddess-based religion. By that time in my life, I knew I wasn’t Christian like my dad’s family, and I hadn’t learned yet that my mom was atheist (which is what I ultimately ended up), but I didn’t really know what else there was. That book opened my eyes to at least one new-to-me possibility. As a result, I spent several years afterward learning about and practicing Wicca. I even had my own wand! That never would have happened if I hadn’t first read and loved The Mists of Avalon. My experience was many years before Harry Potter was a scribble on Rowling’s cocktail napkin, but if I had been younger, I might easily have had the same experience with that series instead. How do you know there aren’t several other young people with similar experiences and questions who might wander into your shop, looking for a wand and some answers to some questions, only to get turned away because you have a preconceived idea about them? You assume they are just children wanting a wand to play with, just like some others might assume real witches are “mental,” as you put it.

How about, instead of disdaining someone who wanders into your store because you decide they aren’t the right sort of person, you strike up a conversation with them instead of reading their aura and deciding they are minions of the Dark Lord who are only up to no good and see what’s going on? Maybe you’ll learn they have some questions you can help them with. Maybe they came to those questions by way of Harry Potter, but that doesn’t invalidate the question, or the questioner. And yes, maybe some will only want a wand because they want to display it on their bookcase next to their beloved set of Harry Potter books. If you know anything about Potterheads, you should be flattered they’d want to buy your wands to display next to their books. I, for one, am ridiculously picky about items that get displayed on my already too-crowded bookcases and so have to be very selective. Besides, what harm does it do to provide some joy to someone? Remember the Threefold Law. If you give joy to a Potterhead, you’re going to get a major karmic kickback. Fangirls and fanboys tend to get really excited about things. Just sayin’.

Books have real power to change the way people think about real issues in the world. How a reader comes to understand – whether it is through fantasy or graphic novels or literary fiction – is irrelevant. It is the journey that matters. Don’t dismiss someone because they took a different path than you did. At the end of the day, you may end up in the same place.