Updating the OWLs Reading for Modern Witchcraft Practices

So I recently came across The 2020 Magical Readathon. If you’re not familiar, check it out. It’s a reading challenge based on the Harry Potter exams taken in 5th Year called the Ordinary Wizarding Level exams (OWLs).

An overview from the person behind it all!

It’s such a great concept: you look through the list of magical careers and then read in the fields needed for that career. I absolutely love the idea and the enthusiasm for all things Hogwarts! It’s a fantastic way to encourage more reading throughout the month-long event.

However, when I looked at the reading requirements, I was a little, well, let down. Not that the challenge wasn’t challenging, but that there were no requirements for magical or witchcraft-related readings. I fully understand that plenty of fans are not that into witchcraft or paganism, but it still motivated me to create some alternative reading prompts. As a practicing witch, I wanted to enhance the Hogwarts experience by reading witchcraft-related topics. So I created my own requirements for my fellow pagans/witches who want to participate in the challenge or just challenge themselves.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, first select your profession. Just like Harry in the books, you need to figure out what career works best for you. Typically, this is based on your personal interests — what classes you find most interesting: you can find their beautifully designed Wizarding Careers Guidebook here. Being your own Wizarding World career guidance counselor is really quite fun! Each career has specific class requirements, so that dictates which areas of study you’ll pursue.

Once that’s done, you find your classes and the reading requirements. Since it’s a Readathon, your goal is to read a book in each category before the end of the month. Personally, I’m pretty distracted right now by the pandemic, so this is going to dictate my personal reading list for the rest of this year.

Thanks to the fine folks behind The 3rd Annual Magical Readathon for all their hard work and coordination! I hope this list helps in some way spread the word about the great work they do and this incredibly fun event.

Hogwarts Courses and Reading Material

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

Ancient Runes

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Futhark and runic magic
  • Sigil magic

Arithmancy

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Crystal grids
  • Numerology

Astronomy

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Star charts
  • Constellations
  • Lunar magic
  • Planetary magic and influences

Care of Magical Creatures

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Cryptozoology
  • Faerie magic
  • Animal spirits
  • Familiars
  • Pacts (fae, demon, angel, etc.)
  • Spirit summoning

Charms

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Spell casting
  • Wand creation
  • Candle magic
  • Hexes and curses

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Protection magic
  • Reversal magic
  • Uncrossing
  • Smudging
  • Empathy and empaths
  • Aura reading

Divination

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Tarot
  • Pendulum
  • Dowsing
  • Casting bones/stones
  • Astrology
  • Spiritualism
  • Spirit boards and/or automatic writing
  • Clairvoyance
  • Palmistry
  • Dream interpretation

Flying Class

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Mind altering herbs and spell work
  • Sensory manipulation
  • Trance work
  • Astral projection

Herbology

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Green witch magic
  • Cottage witchcraft
  • Kitchen witchcraft
  • Herbalism

History of Magic

Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Ancient magic traditions and customs of your choice including but not limited to:
    • Greek religion and ritual practices
    • Ancient Egyptian religion and ritual practices
    • Ancient native religion and ritual practices in your local area
    • John Dee and Elizabethan magical history
    • Druidic customs and practices past and present
    • Arthurian Legends
    • Taoism and ancestor magic

Muggle Studies

Choose a book on any exploration of the history of witchcraft and paganism, specifically persecution by muggles. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • The Salem witch trials
    • An infamous case study of muggles’ intolerance and cruelty toward witches.
  • Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism
    • As polytheism gave way to Christianity, pagan practices and the acceptability of magic dwindled.
  • Impact of the Malleus Maleficarum
    • An infamous book with a title that translates to “The Witches’ Hammer,” this was the text witch hunters referred to when the drowned, pressed, hanged, or burned accused witches.
  • Legal rights of pagans and witches in your area

Potions

Potions is essentially ritual magic: adding specific materials, often in a set order, with extended focus for bigger results. It does however include smaller potions such as materials added for a smaller but noticeable effect. Choose a book on any of the following topics:

Can be a small or large effect depending on input and intent.

  • Ritual magic
    • Sustained long-term magic for a stronger effect.
  • Hoodoo/Voodoo
    • A rich practice with a reputation borne of racism and misunderstanding, Voodoo/Voodoun and it’s offshoot Hoodoo were brought by captured and enslaved Africans to Haiti and the Americas. As a way of preserving their beliefs, these people combined their traditions with catholic imagery. Over time, this evolved into a complex umbrella of practices.
  • Ceremonial magic
    • Formalized practices within specific magical traditions. These are often passed down within covens.
  • Basic potion creation and use
    • Potions are crafted for many purposes, from room sprays to oils.
  • Necromancy
    • Speaking with the dead, often through sustained ritual practices and communication.
  • Jar magic/spells
    • Magic is about intent. In this case, focusing ones intent on a jar with a sigil and using specific ingredients/methods can create a long term spell that lasts years.

Transfiguration

Transfiguration boils down to changing one thing into another. Choose a book on any of the following topics:

  • Alchemy
    • The ancient art of transmutation, most famously turning leaf into gold. Epitomized by Nicholas Flamel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  • Glamours
    • Changing ones appearance or making oneself unseen.
  • Channeling
    • An art in the branch of necromancy, allowing a spirit to speak through you.
  • Shamanism
    • A religious and practical art related to shape shifting and animal magic.

If there are any additional crafts or practices that you know of and would like to have added to a specific category, comment below and I’ll update my list! I’m sure there are a bunch of them that I’m not aware of.


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