Literary geeks and fantasy fans across the nation are lining up to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which opens in theaters at midnight tonight. Anyone who's read J.K. Rowling's book series already knows how the final battle pans out, but there are some locals who might have a higher stake in this epic battle of good vs. evil: real-life witches and wizards.
No, we're not talking about the nutty Potter cosplayers who cut their hair like Severus Snape and buy replica wands, or the Dungeons & Dragons player who's convinced that the powers of his Level 80 mage translate into real life.
Pagans, druids, witches -- whatever you call them, many local magic-workers are sad to see a series that made their lifestyle more acceptable to the general public come to an end.
"I have seen a definite change in attitudes towards magic and being a witch," says Jade, a 38-year-old witch and suburban mom who was once criticized for allowing her kids to dress up as witches and wizards. "The Harry Potter world has done wonders to bring witchcraft out of the realm of devil worshiping (which it never was) and into mainstream society. Unfortunately, everyone now wants to be a witch or wizard."
Depending on whom you ask, that might be possible.
More witches weigh in, after the jump.
According to practicing witch Heather Frazier, owner of Tempe metaphysical shop A Magickal Moon, all of us are born with the ability to alter the world, whether by casting spells or participating in a Christian prayer circle.
Other practicing witches argue that some natural talent is required -- much like in the world of Harry Potter, where witches and wizards are either born into magical families or muggle-born with some innate ability that allows them to cast spells and fly on brooms.
As far as we can tell, no one's flying on brooms or drinking vile-tasting potions that turn them into Mad-Eye Moody in the real world.
But witches are at least open to the possibility. "I've never seen a levitating book, but that doesn't mean it can't happen," says Frazier. "In all reality, magic is very scientific. It's a matter of using energy, and there are people who can focus and use their energy so much that they can cause things to happen."
So if there are no Patronus charms and "expelliarmus" commands to disarm your enemy, what aspects of Harry Potter's magical world are true?
Mark, a Druid living in Glendale, says he was able to make a miraculous full recovery from an accident in Iraq that completely severed his Achilles tendon, just by using the power of pagan prayer. And Jade describes the use of an actual invisibility spell.
"The magic on screen has been taken to a fantastic extreme, but there is some basis in the real world," she explains. "For instance, the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and Sirius' home are always there, but not visible to anyone without the knowledge of their existence. Invisibility spells work much the same way. It is not that the person or object is rendered invisible; it is more of a distraction, a way of making you look past or away from the object."
Though it might seem obvious that the nature-loving, "do unto others" pagans that have become more widely accepted in the Potter generation would be on Harry's side in the climactic final fight, not every witch agrees.
Jade is a fan of the sharp-tongued yet somewhat misunderstood Professor Snape, while Mark believes the black-and-white Harry vs. Voldemort dynamic isn't very realistic. "I root for Harry," he says, "but I wish that there [was] someone in the series who knew all of what both of these characters knew and did not do too much 'good' or 'evil'."
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