I spent a good portion of the afternoon reading in Book 2 of the Harry Potter Series. Although I have seen the movies many times, I had never read the books. I am enjoying the world of wizards and Hogwarts and Harry and his friends. Being only a third of the way through The Chamber of Secrets, it is too early to write a review. However, I felt strongly drawn toward the HP universe for my inspiration today.
I decided to have some fun. What started out as creative play led me down an interesting path of inward contemplation.
At Hogwarts, the magical school that Harry attends, the students are divided into four houses. They are:
Gryffindor – positive traits: brave, athletic, daring, chivalrous, popular; negative traits: arrogant, reckless, self-righteous, vengeful; mascot is the lion; element is fire symbolizing wild emotions and lack of restraint
Slytherin – positive traits: cunning, ambitious, resourceful, pure lineage; negative traits: power hungry, strong sense of self preservation, the ends justifies the means; mascot is the serpent; element is water symbolizing going with the flow, calmness and adaptability
Hufflepuff – positive traits: humble, friendly, hardworking, benevolent; negative traits: lack of drive, undistinguished, slow to make decisions; mascot is the badger; element is earth symbolizing stability and nurturing
Ravenclaw – positive traits: good looking, intelligent, creative, self sufficient; negative traits: arrogant, cliquish; mascot is the eagle; element is air symbolizing freedom and dreaming
The sorting hat, an old and scruffy pointy cap, is placed upon each first year student’s head. After careful consideration, the sentient hat declares which house the child belongs in.
I thought it would be fun to locate a sorting hat quiz and see which house I would be chosen for. There are many such quizzes online. I discovered the site Pottermore, created by the author herself, JK Rowling. If anyone could accurately sort, surely it would be her!
I registered on the site and took the short quiz. It was fun and as I answered the last question, I was interested in seeing which house I was sorted into. Like Harry Potter, I wanted to be in Gryffindor. Isn’t that where all the heroes were?
JK’s sorting hat declared “Slytherin” for me. Oh no, no, no…I thought…that can’t be right! The dark wizards came from Slytherin…bullies like Draco Malfoy were in that house. I wondered what answer, to which question, landed me in Slytherin! Harry Potter almost ended up in Slytherin. Like him I was whispering “not Slytherin” as the calculations were made. He managed to convince the hat to put him in Gryffindor.
I considered retaking the quiz!
But my desire not to create resistance won out. And I know, this is an imaginary world, with pretend characters and fictitious rules. However…what was here for me? What was in the House of Slytherin? I decided to go with it. Go with the flow…water…yep, see above…Slytherin.
My first realization was that the head of Slytherin at Hogwarts, during the Harry Potter stories, was Severus Snape. Dark, brooding, closed off, Professor Snape is played by actor Alan Rickman. Initially seen as a villain in the stories, Snape later proves to be a hero, a protector.
Ah. I have a strong connection to Rickman. He inspired my theme for this year, with his words about making life a little more tender and art a little more robust.
Looking at the Severus Snape profile on Pottermore, I saw with a shock that we have another connection. We share the same birthday, January 9, and almost the exact same birthdate. I am slightly older that Snape.
Snape’s patronus, a guardian animal seen in the films as white energy, is the doe. I took the next quiz to discover mine.
I wanted to be a cool animal. Curious, I looked up the symbolism for the swallow:
The swallow represents love, care and affection toward family and friends, showing the loyalty of the person always returning to them. The swallow also symbolizes freedom and hope.
I like that. A couple of years ago, my symbol was an empty bird cage, with the bird perched in freedom outside it. The swallow beautifully represents those characteristics in my life.
In a thoughtful mood, thinking this imaginary sorting hat was doing rather well with me, I thought about my initial response to being placed in Slytherin House. Yes, the Dark One, Voldermort, Harry’s nemesis, came from Slytherin. But so did Snape, who turned out to have a good heart, and other powerful but good wizards.
Was my reaction more of a response to the darker side of me? By darker I don’t mean evil. I mean mysterious, unknown, murky. I am well acquainted with the darker depths within me. Afterall, I spent a good portion of my life trying to keep it hidden away, afraid of the powerful gifts I had, the intuitive nature that I had a hard time understanding. It was only when I faced my fears and embraced fully who I was, all of myself, the light and the dark, that I could begin to live out of a whole heart.
Like Severus Snape, I kept my emotions tightly under control, and my heart guarded. And like him, there was so much more to me than what first appearances suggested. I had to discover that first, about myself, before I could offer who I was to others.
I am still exploring the House of Slytherin. But I think the sorting hat got it right, and rather than wish to be otherwise, I am proud to stand alongside Snape. He is a hero to me, brought to life by an actor I dearly love and respect. Water is my element. I flow. I am calm. I can be resourceful, cunning, ambitious…and also hungry for power and self-preserving, although I have learned already the dangers of letting the end justify the means. And I’ve always liked snakes, non poisonous ones anyway.
Most definitely there is mystery within me and dark depths that I am no longer afraid of but continue to delve into, bringing the light of love and peace with me. In those depths there lies strength and more gifts to uncover.
A fun time of playing in the Harry Potter universe brought revelation and a time of exploration that is ongoing. I am Slytherin. I am okay with that!
Let the Sorting Hat declare your house at www.pottermore.com and share your results!