Historical Wizards

Given what we know about the Wizarding World from Harry Potter, it stands to reason quite a few famous people even Muggles have heard of were, in actuality, wizards. This is a post I wrote for fun (I am not delusional enough to think we have real wizards and witches among us) on my soon-to-be-defunct Harry Potter blog. Enjoy! Tell me which folks you suspect are or were secretly witches and wizards in the comments.

Wizards have lived among us since the dawn of man, apparently. Being Muggles, however, and figuring in the precept that the Wizarding World is hidden from Muggles, we may not always have been aware of the supernatural status of said wizards.

In [amazon_link id=”059035342X” target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone[/amazon_link], we were introduced to Famous Wizards cards found in Chocolate Frogs candy through Ron Weasley: “Chocolate Frogs have cards inside them, you know, to collect—famous witches and wizards. I’ve got about five hundred, but I haven’t got Agrippa or Ptolemy” (102). Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Ptolemy are real historical figures. The books also mention Paracelsus. EA Games’ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone game has vampire cards that include Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Ţepeş (The Impaler). Strictly speaking, however, vampires are not wizards, but part-human dark creatures. It also bears mentioning that Vlad Ţepeş was not a vampire, just a rather bad person to have as your enemy, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula was not based on Ţepeş. Our alchemist friend Nicolas Flamel is mentioned on Dumbledore’s card, but it is not clear whether he appears on his own card.

Which historical figures were really wizards? Just for fun, I came up with some likely prospects. Witches and wizards are not presented in any sort of chronological order, because that would be stifling to my creative process (and take forever). Please be aware this is tongue-in-cheek, and I’m not saying I believe all of the “remarkable” feats attributed to these historical figures. I am staying away from biblical figures. I do not include other historical religious figures, such as Mohammed, because I don’t want to offend others, and finally, I do not include any mythological figures (however, as legendary figures are usually based on a grain of historical truth, some of them may be included). Dark Wizards are indicated by the Dark Mark icon:

darkmark

A Short List of Famous Historical Wizards Known to Muggles

Nostradamus: Noted French seer credited with predicting the rise of Dark Wizard Adolf Hitler (see entry below), the French Revolution, the assassination of Famous Wizard Abraham Lincoln (see below), and the invention of the atom bomb.

Nikola Tesla: Physicist, inventor, and electrical engineer. He disputed Marconi’s patent on the radio, claiming he actually invented it. Muggles have unfortunately misunderstood some of his so-called “oddities” and labeled him an eccentric.

darkmark Jimmy Page: Guitarist and leader of the 1970s rock group Led Zeppelin. He successfully bewitched the other members of the Yardbirds, his previous group, into signing over all rights to their group’s name to him. He is infamous for aligning himself with dark magic forces to secure popular and financial success for Led Zeppelin.

Isaac Newton: Alchemist, mathematician, astronomer, scientist, and philosopher credited with discovering the laws of gravity and developing differential calculus.

William Shakespeare: Arguably the greatest writer in the English language, he remains so mysterious that some folks still debate whether “Shakespeare the author” ever existed.

darkmarkAdolf Hitler: Leader of Nazi Germany and executor of one of the largest genocides in world history, he was also known in the Wizarding World as one of Grindelwald’s chief lieutenants in carrying out Muggle genocide and committed suicide following Grindelwald’s defeat by Albus Dumbledore in 1945.

darkmarkDavid Blaine: Famed illusionist known for entertaining Muggles with ordinary and rather basic spells. Blaine is often pursued by Ministry of Magic officials, who attempted to imprison him in a perspex box suspended 30 feet in the air near Tower Bridge in London until he could be taken to Azkaban. He revealed his imprisonment to Muggles as a “publicity stunt.” Ministry of Magic officials were unable to get him down for 44 days. He represents the greatest threat to the exposure of the Wizarding World.

Abraham Lincoln: Sixteenth president of the United States and emancipator of African-American slaves, Lincoln was assassinated by Muggle John Wilkes Booth and was unable to obtain magical medical care before he bled to death. His ghost currently haunts the White House.

darkmarkMata Hari: Enchantress executed as a spy during World War I. Part veela, she frequently bewitched men with her exotic dances. Members of her firing squad were blindfolded so as to prevent them from succumbing to her charms.

Edgar Cayce: Ordinary wizard revered by some Muggles for his average abilities in magical arts and sciences such as diagnosing and healing people at a distance (sight unseen), making diagnoses through “astral projection” (apparating, floo powder, or fireplace communication), and prophesying.

Khufu: Pharoah of Ancient Egypt, he is best known for his magical construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza.

darkmarkNiccolò Paganini: Virtuoso violinist and composer best known for bewitching audiences, he acquired his skill with the violin through aligning himself with dark magic forces.

Richard Feynman: Physicist and music lover, he received a Nobel Prize for his work with quantum electrodynamics.

darkmarkAleister Crowley: Professor of the Dark Arts at Durmstrang Institute. He delighted in regaling Muggles and Dark Wizard followers with his theories and Dark magic practices.

George Sand: Pen name of the French writer Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baroness Dudevant. She is regarded as one of the earliest transvestites. She bewitched her lover Frédéric Chopin, enabling him to produce magical compositions for piano.

James Randi: Also known as “the Amazing Randi.” He is a high-ranking Ministry of Magic official in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. He works primarily with Obliviator Headquarters and the Invisibility Task Force. He was awarded Order of Merlin, Third Class for his successful debunking of bungling wizard Uri Geller, who threatened to expose the Wizarding World in the 1970s.

The Count of St. Germain: Alchemist. While Nicolas Flamel is the only known maker of the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone, some believe that St. Germain was also successful in his alchemical experiments. There are occasional sightings, but much like the Muggle notion that Elvis is still alive, the belief that St. Germain escaped death has not been proven. While not, strictly speaking, a Dark Wizard, he nevertheless has acquired a somewhat shady reputation, largely due to Muggle legends that surround him.

“Koko”: Animagus form of the witch Proserpina Patterson. Patterson prefers to live as a gorilla; she enjoys amusing Muggles who marvel at her advanced “human-like” skills.

J.K. Rowling: Chronicler of the adventures of Wizarding World hero and legendary defeater of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Harry Potter. Rowling’s books were “found” by Muggles, who believe them to be fiction. Rowling admirably maintains the charade.

There are others. Tell me which ones you suspect. Maybe I’ll add them to the list. And thank you to my husband, Steve, for giving me the idea. It was a cool one.

Note: The Harry Potter Lexicon believes Rowling refers to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, but this has not been verified (to my knowledge) by Rowling herself. There are many historical figures named “Agrippa,” several of whom are also likely candidates. I think the primary evidence used to support this choice comes from the Harry Potter PC games. I do not hold with the HPL on Hengist of Woodcroft being the Saxon king Hengest. The dates are wrong, as are the identifying details (Hengist of Woodcroft was the founder of Hogsmeade, having been driven away from his home by Muggle persecutors).

BBAW

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Community

BBAWIt’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week again!

A major focus of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is the awards, but I have always kind of felt ambivalent about the awards. Frankly, there are so many great book blogs that may not be nominated for a variety of reasons, and even leaving that concern aside, I have had a rather long history of just not understanding blog awards. Still, congratulations to the nominees.

Today I want to highlight a couple of book bloggers I particularly enjoy reading, and I’ll try to explain why. Obviously, I love so many blogs, and it’s hard to write posts like these because just like on the Academy Awards, you invariably do something stupid like forget to thank your husband (who by the way, writes wonderful blog posts, but not about books—er, my husband, that is; maybe yours does, too, but I wouldn’t know that).

First, I truly enjoy Jenny’s Books. Jenny’s reviews are always well-written and quite funny. I enjoy her selections, too. Jenny is kind enough to comment here regularly. I admire so many book bloggers for being good commenters. I read all your posts, I really do! What I need to do more often is leave a word or two. Jenny has great conversations in her blog comments, too.

I also love reading Jenners’s posts at Life with Books. Her posts are funny, and I love hearing about the Little One, too. Oh, and Mr. Jenners, of course. We have similar tastes in reading, and she has influenced me to add several books to my TBR pile. Plus we sometimes wind up reading the same books around the same time, and it’s fun to talk with her about them.

Iliana has influenced me in so many ways. Her blog Bookgirl’s Nightstand is such a wonderful blog, and she has so much stamina. She is such a wonderful artist, too. Have you seen her handmade journals? They’re beautiful! I was lucky enough to win one. I want to be like Iliana when I grow up. I’m also jealous of her trips to Germany.

Stephanie at Reviews by Lola is so awesome in so many ways. She reads so many books. I cannot figure out how she reads so many books so fast, but I wish I could be like her. She has influenced me to pick up several books or at least add them to my TBR piles. I love her succinct, helpful reviews, too.

In addition to book review blogs, I also like blogs about literature and writers. One of my favorites these days is Better Living Through Beowulf. Robin Bates, the author of this blog, explores literature’s relationship to everyday life. He sees allusions and connections in everything from sports to politics to spiritual matters, and his ability to connect literature to life amazes me.

I have been a longtime fan of Jane Austen’s World. Vic covers everything from Austen sequels to life in Georgian England, and I have learned so much from her blog.

Finally a new blog that I have been enjoying is Madame Guillotine. Melanie has really influenced me more as a fiction writer than as a book blogger. I like her independent spirit, and because of her, I decided to just go ahead and put my book on the Kindle, which has definitely increased its audience over just Lulu alone (you can order it in the sidebar). Her struggles and triumphs as a writer are fun to read about. I feel sometimes like a silent cheerleader (that whole needing-to-leave-more-comments thing).

Books of 2008

It seems like a good time to do a recap of the books I’ve read this year.  Unfortunately, because I took some online professional development courses in the early part of the year and returned to grad school in August, I have not had much time to read.  I finished the following books this year (links take you to either my review or the Goodreads page).

So that’s 22 books this year, which is better than last year’s total of 14 by 8 books.

Of course, I’ve started others and set them aside, but the only one I have a shot at finishing before New Year’s Day arrives is Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.

Considering how busy I was, I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad, but I do need to make more time to read.  As I have said before, it feeds my soul.

Insanity

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Ever wonder why people don’t figure this out?

A certain person in my life has a great deal of trouble with this one, and as a bystander (who might be affected by it), I find it frustrating.

A time comes when my frustration will exceed my tolerance.

I’m pretty close to being there.

Shameless Promotion

If you have a website and are so inclined to promote my book, I have created some code for you. Just copy and paste.

It will look like this:

Purchase a Question of Honor by Dana Swier Huff
Purchase Dana Swier Huff’s A Question of Honor at Lulu.com

OCD in Teens

Joseph Alterman, a student at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, published a guest editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. I thought it was very informative, but I really hate that AJC makes you register to view archives — and by the time you, whoever you are, happen upon this article, it might be in the archive. So to that end, if you click on the link below, you can read the entire text of the article.
Continue reading “OCD in Teens”

A New England Nun

The other day I read a short story by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, a local color writer, entitled “A New England Nun.” It’s a charming little story. I don’t think most of the newer high school American Literature textbooks anthologize it anymore. At least, I don’t believe Prentice-Hall or Holt do (and those two are, in my opinion, the best textbook series for literature that I’ve seen). I can’t recall if I read it when I took American Realism and Naturalism in college — we read a lot of women regionalists then, including Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Noailles Murfree, Kate Chopin, et. al. If we read Freeman, we probably read “The Revolt of Mother.” Truthfully, we read so much that quarter that I barely remember some of it. Anyway, get to the point, Mrs. Huff. Okay, little Louisa Ellis is one of the most blatant examples of a literary character exhibiting signs of OCD that I’ve ever seen. I am not sure when it was written, but Freeman died in 1930. Freud described OCDers, but I am not sure when OCD was recognized by the medical establishment.

Google renders no hits matching this story to OCD, so here’s one for you, Google:

Louisa Ellis demonstrates the following compulsions that could be attributed to OCD:

  • Louisa wears three aprons: an outside gardening apron in green, a pink apron for sewing, and a cambric-patterned apron for company.
  • Louisa routinely rips out her sewing in order to do it again. The author says it is just pleasurable to her. I advance that it is pleasurable to her because she has OCD, and it makes her feel better to rip out the work and resew it so it will be “perfect.”
  • Louisa used specific dishes to prepare her food.
  • Most telling: a description of Louisa’s insistence on having items in a certain place

    Presently Dagget began fingering the books on the table. There was a square red autograph album, and a Young Lady’s Gift-Book which had belonged to Louisa’s mother. He took them up one after the other and opened them; then laid them down again, the album on the Gift-Book.

    Louisa kept eying them with mild uneasiness. Finally she rose and changed the position of the books, putting the album underneath. That was the way they had been arranged in the first place.

    Dagget gave an awkward little laugh. “Now what difference did it make which book was on top?” said he.

    Louisa looked at him with a deprecating smile. “I always keep them that way,” murmured she.

  • And yet another example, a cleaning compulsion

    Then she set the lamp on the floor, and began sharply examining the carpet. She even rubbed her fingers over it, and looked at them.

    “He’s tracked in a good deal of dust,” she murmured. “I thought he must have.”

    Louisa got a dust-pan and brush, and swept Joe Dagget’s track carefully.

  • Her brother’s dog Caesar bit a man once as a puppy and remained tied up for the rest of his life — Louisa was terrified he’d go on a rampage. Some OCDers imagine terrible things happening and perform compulsions to keep them from occurring. Louisa also feeds the dog only mild food like corn mush cakes, because she believes he will become wild if he eats meat.

It’s actually amazing. I think OCDers (and those that want to learn about OCD) might appreciate that story. Go check it out.

Weird

For lack of a better place, I am sticking this in my OCD category, but I’m not entirely sure it’s OCD-related.

As a kid, I used to lay awake nights wondering — ruminating over — why am I me instead of someone else? Why do I look like I do? Why has genetics conspired just so to create me instead of someone else? All of which leads to the big question: why am I here?

The odds against anyone of us actually getting to the point of being here are pretty astronomical. I would think about that and it would really freak me out.

I was driving down Mount Vernon Hwy. today after having been unsuccessful at finding the SAT testing site where I needed to fill out my I-9 so I can grade SAT essays all locked up. All of a sudden, I wondered why in the hell I was me, and why I looked like I do. I mean, when I am talking to someone, I am not really conscious of how I look. I don’t think about it much. But they associate my appearance with me. It is an integral part of who I am. It’s how they identify I am me instead of someone else. But not me. I don’t identify myself by my appearance. I identify others by theirs. And then I thought how unfair that it is we are judged by our appearances. I mean, I am stuck with gray hair, skinny arms and legs, and glasses. Sure, I could dye my hair, but then I’d have to keep doing it. I’m not sure if there is anything I can do about my arms and legs. I guess I could wear contacts. I have no problems with that. But ultimately, you still look how you look. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any major problems with my appearance. I really don’t. The grande caramel Frappuccinos are going to my waist, hips, and thighs, but that’s the price you pay for sucking down fat-laden beverages on a near daily basis (430 calories per drink, 140 calories from fat — oy vey). Of course, I’m convinced they’re laced with pure crack, or I wouldn’t have to have one all the time.

So. Back on task, Ms. Huff.

What I was saying before I digressed over the frozen coffee is that I was driving down the road and the childhood thought about my identity resurfaced. It was like I suddenly popped out of my body, looked at me, and realized I was in that body, and it didn’t seem connected to me at all. It occurred to me that my body wasn’t part of me. I also recall thinking I am always looking out of my eyes, and I don’t see things in any way except mine — not really. So it’s kind of hard to look in the mirror and connect that person with me. I can’t explain this very well, but it was jarring. I really did kind of freak out.

I shouldn’t freaking read The Catcher in the Rye anymore. Holden Caulfield is not someone with whom I’d like to identify.

I Guess I Can Talk About It Now

Well, now that I’m over the utter shock of having a job offered to me only to have it snatched away with no explanation aside from “We have re-evaluated our needs and the position is no longer available,” I guess I can write about it.

Thanks to friends, Dana, Andrena, and Mysie for their well-wishes.

I e-mailed the lady who was to be my department head. She had not heard the news yet, and she said she was in shock and felt badly for me. She added that she knew I must be heartsick. I am. That job would have been the culmination of things I’ve dreamed of in a teaching job since I was in college. To be handed that dream and have it yanked away hurts.

I don’t know why it happened. Of course, I’m obsessing over it. I want desperately for it to be something that I had no control over, something that wasn’t my fault. But I have OCD, so I’ve been blaming myself. It must be something about me — what, I haven’t a clue — but something that wasn’t good enough.

I stayed home from work today. Not because of this news. Steve’s cousin died, and he drove up to Nashville for the funeral. I was going to go, but we decided it wasn’t practical to haul the children up there when we have only a little money to get by on until payday. So he took the car. I can only think it was a relief I didn’t have to go to work. To face the people who all think I have this great job lined up after I leave this year. I can’t bear to tell them and hear the inevitable questions, the expressions of sympathy. I just want to crawl in bed with my children, Steve, and the various books laying around and stay there.

Panic made me send out about 10 rsums last night. I have had some response from about three of them. I have an interview scheduled with a small, private Jewish school. That makes me feel odd. I know more about Judaism that your average recovering Southern Baptist, but do I know enough for something like that? It might be a very good experience for me, should I get the job. But after the loss of the one I really wanted, I can’t get very excited yet. I guess that will take some time.

The county where I worked my first year teaching is looking for a teacher. It’s a rural county in Middle Georgia. The school, when I left it, was rife with gangs, disrespect, lack of discipline, and no access to materials. It was a mess. I know things have changed since then. Well, somewhat. They have a new principal. It’s too far away for me to really consider it. But I do consider it. I hated that job, but I tell myself I’m tougher now. I could do it now. And things are somewhat different there. Sending them my rsum will have to be a last resort. But I’m sure once they see themselves on it and remember me, I’d have that job back. I can’t let myself go there. I can’t let myself get that desperate with worry.

Worry. My comfortable old friend that I can wrap myself in to keep from living. My old enemy that has stolen all the happiness I could have had in my life and made me weak. It makes my brain numb through the sheer workout it gives those poor neurotransmitters. I have a picture of a person’s brain on OCD posted on my OCD page. (Still moving those files over to the PlanetHuff site). It looks like the frontal lobe is on fire. Is that why I get so many headaches, I wonder? My brain is burning with worry.

Ruminations

I wish I could let go of things and not let them bother me, but OCD has made that a difficult hurdle to overcome. I’d like, for once, to be able to believe the praise and sift through the criticism to arrive at the truth. But I tend to believe the criticism and disregard the praise, so I wind up with a clean, pure dislike of myself.

I am worried about not having a job. I have done what I need to do about it — applied to other school systems. But this waiting to see what happens is hard. I prayed about it the other night. God knows I need a job. He knows the needs of my family. He will not let us do without. I simply prayed that his will regarding my career be done. He knows the right place for me to be. He’ll help me find it. Retrospect is something, isn’t it? I know now that the place where I am currently teaching is totally wrong for me and always was. I don’t need to be in middle school. I was a great high school teacher. I don’t have something necessary to be a great middle school teacher. I don’t know what that something is, only that I don’t have it.

In other news, I finally have a home computer again. My computer crashed and wouldn’t load Windows. Dad rescued it. I was going to have to save all my files to floppies in DOS, then reformat the hard drive and re-install Windows. He was able to avoid that. We chatted on the phone today as he helped me get my computer up and running.

So my husband will be gone pretty much all day today. Eugene Onegin is wrapping up today, and he’s performing Mozart’s Requiem at church as well. I need to go fix some dinner for the kids (and myself). It feels so good to have access to a computer at home again.