Once the students picked up their wands, robes, and scrolls, it was time to head over to the Dining Hall for hte Sorting Ceremoney! Mr. Light pinned a two-way baby monitor in to the peak of the Sorting Hat and went in to the bathroom on the other side of the house. Through the monitor, he could hear what was going on, and when the kids sat down and put on the hat, he used the monitor to shout (from the hat) which house they had been sorted in to. The kids' responses were so adorable!
Thankfully, everyone seemed quite happy with where they ended up. After they got sorted, the kids all went to sit at their house tables. Waiting for them at their spot was a length of fabric in their house colours that they could wear to identify what school they'd been sorted in to; the kids wore them as ties, scarves, belts, headbands, ponytail wraps, tons of different things! You'll be able to see these in some of the pictures of the kids' playing in later posts.
Now that they were all sitting with their houses, it was time for History of Magic! We told the students to open their blue scrolls and explained that since so many of them were Muggle-borns, we would spend this first lesson going over an example of how Muggle history and Magical history interact with each other.
You can click on this image to read the scroll yourself, but for those who might have problems making out the tiny letters, here's the story as written on the scroll. I've put the story in italics, so if you want to skip it feel free to just scroll on past it until the italics stop.
History of Magic
The Legend of Narcissus as an example of Muggle misunderstanding.
Muggles look up to the ancient Greeks as the founders of philosophy, democracy, education, and many other worthwhile Muggle pursuits. What they do not realize, however, is the influence that the magical community had on many of their ancient Greek legends, which are of course not legends at all but feeble Muggle attempts to understand their occasional interactions with the ancient magical community. To illustrate this, we will examine the Muggle legend surrounding Narcissus.
In the Muggle legend, Narcissus was such an extraordinarily beautiful child that his parents became concerned about his ability to live a normal life. Out of concern, they visited the Seer Teiresias and inquired about what might happen to their son in his future. Teiresias told them that their son would live a long and happy life only if he “never came to know himself.” When Narcissus was sixteen he was walking in the woods and a woman named Echo saw him, falling madly in love with him and following after him as he walked. Narcissus, feeling someone shadowing his movements, asked “Who’s there?” Echo, enamored with his words, responded by saying“Who’s there?”just as he had. This repetition went on for some time until Echo decided to show herself. She tried to hug Narcissus who, confused and annoyed, stepped away from Echo, telling her to leave him alone. Echo was left heartbroken and spent the rest of her life wandering until nothing but an echo remained of her.
Nemesis, the god of revenge, heard Echo’s cries and decided to punish Narcissus for being so cold to her. He placed a lake in the forest where Narcissus was walking and caused Narcissus to see his own reflection in the water. He was so surprised by the beauty he saw there that he became completely enamored with himself. However, every time he reached in to the water to try to introduce himself, the reflection would disappear. And so, Narcissus slowly wasted away on the shores of the lake, staring at his own reflection, caring about nothing but his own beauty. The flowers that blossomed at the lake’s edge where he stood were named in his memory; the Narcissus flower.
Of course, the Muggles share this legend as a fairy story with its imagined gods and mystical beings, having no idea of the true magical circumstances behind the tale. In reality, there are only two magical beings who play a role in this story. The first is the Seer, Teiresias. Greek history is full of Seers who enjoy using their gifts to toy with the local Muggle populations (Teiresias, the Oracle, etc). These Seers would deliberately give the Muggles a small amount of information: not enough information to actually do anything about the future or prepare for it, but enough that they could later hold up their predictions and boast about their accuracy, privately mocking the Muggles.
The second magical being in this story is far more difficult to spot. In reality, the demise of Narcissus was not caused by an irate god of revenge or even his own beauty, but by an early Herbologist by the name of Apollo Deeproot. Rather than being a minor detail in the story, the Narcissus flower was, in fact, the cause of his trouble. Apollo Deeproot had spent many years developing a particularly efficacious strain of the Narcissus flower, commonly used in potions to increase self-esteem and one’s sense of worth. Narcissus happened to stumble upon Deeproot’s research field in his wanderings, and was overwhelmed by the potency of the flower, having such a boost to his self-confidence that he was literally unable to look away from what he now believed to be the most beautiful face in the world. The tale of Narcissus lead to the modern practice of greenhouse-based Herbology as it points out the potential for a breech in the Statute of Secrecy should an unsuspecting Muggle become exposed to some of the more potent strains of magical herbs, fungi, and flowers.
After History of Magic, it was time for...
Care of Magical Creatures!
There was a unicorn in the Forbidden Forest that seems to have lost its horn, and our job was to help reattach it. (AKA Pin the Horn on the Unicorn.) Student won tickets based on how close they got the horn to its correct positioning.
Next up was...
Having already learned about the magical properties of the Narcissus flower (AKA daffodils) in History of Magic, we transplanted some for our Herbology lesson. We began by discussing the uses for Narcissus, such as increasing self-confidence before major events such as job interviews or first dates, and the dangers of its overuse. We then began by mixing regular garden-variety dirt with magical expanding gardening fertilizer (aka peat pellets). For those of you who are unfamiliar with peat pellets, when soaked in water they do this:
We then separated the daffodils bulbs by pulling them out of their original containers, prying them apart, and having each student plant their own Narcissus flowers in their magically enchanced dirt. They were always warned to keep pets away from the narcissus bulb, which is toxic to dogs and cats. (Cats already have an over-inflated sense of their own importance and so the boost provide by the Narcisses can cause reckelss behaviour. Dogs, on the other hand, are so naturally self-effacing, humble, and obedient that a huge boost to their ego confuses them and they are no longer sure how to behave.) The kids all got to take home their new plants.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any pictures of what we did after Herbology, which was defeating the troll that brought in to the grounds of Hogwarts! By which I mean, we hung up a troll pinata in the yard and let the kids beat the stuffing out of it with it's own club. ;) They got tickets for successfully hitting it, and once it broke open they got plenty of candy and yet more tickets! They had a blast, and it gave our helpers time to clean up the tables for our next class, which I'll start a new post for.
Up Next: Part Three! Making ectoplasm in Potions class, Charms, Duelling Club, Quidditch, and a cheat boss battle!