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How to invoke evil spirits

Books have a long history of being banned, even burned because of the views that people have about them.

In 2001 the Christ Community Church in Alamagordo, NM burned copies of Harry Potter, along with other books and magazines, because the books were claimed to be “a masterpiece of satanic deception.” Among the books that were burned… J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, including The Lord of the Rings.

What is it about these books that causes people to get upset about them?

According to an article in the Tennessean, Rev. Dan Reehil, pastor at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, pulled the Harry Potter series from the new school library because: “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Seriously?

The words used in the Harry Potter books are real words, I will grant them that. They were chosen by the author to convey certain meanings. This is evident not only in looking at the books, but in the transcript from the Southern District court, in the case of Warner Bros. Entertainment, inc. and J.K. Rowling vs RDR Books.

On page 115 of the transcript, lines 7-12 explain that many of the words that Rowling used were derived from existing languages. She states in the court transcript: “It is not as though I threw Scrabble letters up in the air and took what was formed there. There is usually an underlying meaning.”

In the same transcript, on page 105, lines 17-22, Rowling gives the source for a spell used by the characters to open locked doors:

Alohomora is a Sidiki word from West Africa, and it is a term used in geomancy. It is a figure — the figure alohomora means in Sidiki “favorable to thieves.” Which is obviously a very appropriate meaning for a spell that enables you to unlock a locked door by magic.

In studying fiction writing I have seen it said again and again that research is as important for fiction as it is for non-fiction. Even fantasy stories should be researched and based on as much factual information as possible, especially when those stories inter-connect with the real world.

Yet here is an author who created a magic system for her fantasy stories, carefully studied and based the words she chose for it on real words that would make sense to be used for each of the spells the characters cast, and is now being attacked not because of the fantasy world she created, but because she followed the same advice that so many hopeful writers are given and anchored her story with real research.

Can you pick up a copy of Harry Potter and invoke evil spirits? I do not think so. I have studied magic for use in my novels, and I have read a lot of fantasy. Magic is not spoken words, it is intent and desire and many other things that words, and objects, are used to focus. According to the article the books were in the old library and were planned to be in the new one until a parent spoke up and asked they be removed. Then the pastor went to exorcists and asked them about the books and, lo and behold, was told that the words used in the books were real words.

That is what the problem is. The words were researched and selected to lend the book a sense of tangibility with the real world it was anchored to. To provide a subconscious sense that the story, fantastical as it was, was possible in the realms of our imaginations. It is not that the books are a means to invoke evil spirits. I have not yet heard of a single case of anyone, child or adult, needing to have an exorcism performed because they read a book. If you have, please, let me know about it. Until then, I am going to continue to research the history of witchcfraft and study various belief systems. I will continue to place as much reality into my fantasy as I can, so that my books will provide a sense of reality. So that even as they are taking the reader into fantastical worlds that are nothing like our own, they will feel, subconsciously, like they could be real within the realms of our imaginations.

I hope you will too.

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