Transcript – Episode 211



[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 211 of Alohomora! for January 21, 2017.

[Show music continues]

Michael: Welcome, listeners, to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet.com’s global something of the Harry Potter series.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: I just haven’t found the right word yet is all it is, listeners. But anyway, I’m Michael Harle.

Alison Siggard: [laughs] I’m Alison Siggard.

Kat Miller: And I am a very sick Kat Miller.

Michael: Aww.

Kat: No, it’s okay. Don’t worry. I’m at the very tail end of everything. And it’s a British cold, so it’s very sophisticated. It’s fine.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Yes. And our guest host today is, well, somebody who hasn’t been on [for] a very long time, but I know you all are going to be looking forward to it. So it is the Ghost Host! Hello, Ghost Host.

[prolonged silence]

Kat: Oh, yeah, no, we’re super, super excited to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us. I know the listeners are very excited to hear what you have to say, so…

Michael: Do you get it, listeners? We don’t have a guest.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah. In all reality, our guest canceled very close to recording. We were unable to find somebody, so it’s just the three of us, and I think we want to take this moment to encourage all of you to apply to be a guest on our show…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: … because I emailed probably a dozen people, and we didn’t hear back or they were unavailable, so keep submitting, guys, because there are opportunities. Just saying.

Michael: Yes, as a friendly reminder, all you have to do… We’ll say it at the top of the show here because we usually say it at the end, but please head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com, click on the “Be on the Show!” tab at the top of the screen, and actually, there is a drop-down menu there where you can see what our upcoming topics are so that you can even select which topic you would prefer to be on. You can also even submit a topic on a different tab on our site and also mention that you’d like to be on a show on that particular topic that you submit. So it’s very easy to be on the show, and we really want to make sure we’re getting guests who are invested in the topic they submit for or submit to us because we want to make sure that you are super enthusiastic about adding to the conversation.

Kat: Right, so [there are] lots and lots of ways to be involved and be on the show. I know the Ghost Host is going to rock it…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … and there’s nobody quite like the Ghost Host, but we really would like to have some actual listeners because I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have an iPod anymore, so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: … I’m not sure how he’s listening to the show, which is fine. You don’t have to be a listener, but we prefer it, so…

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Well, maybe our Ghost Host is using some magical means to listen to the show, which brings us to our topic this week, which is the most magical of magical items: wands! We’re talking all about wandlore today.

Kat: There is one other person we want to bring up who is a very big part of this episode, and it is our Patreon sponsor, Elizabeth Jack. Yay! Thank you, Elizabeth, so much.

Michael: [Michael claps] Thank you, Elizabeth!

Kat: Yes, for sponsoring this episode of Alohomora! with the Ghost Host. How lucky are you?

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I mean, it’s a very special episode. And anyone out there can become a sponsor for as little as $1 per month. And there’s a little heart emoji in the Doc here next to that, so I’m just making it with my hands. I’m sending it out there. I’m slightly delirious, guys, I’m sorry.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I’m a little crazy. But we will continue to release exclusive tidbits for sponsors and stuff. Maybe there’ll be an interview with the Ghost Host. That’d be really fun. So you should head over and become a sponsor of the show, and just like Elizabeth, you could be on an episode or sponsor an episode or get shout-outs. It’s patreon.com/alohomora or alohomora.mugglenet.com, and you can click on the little tab at the top that says “Patreon.” But truly, Elizabeth, thank you so much for sponsoring us. We could not do this show without all of our sponsors. We love you guys. [blows kisses] Actually, don’t catch those because they have germs on them, so don’t…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: So let them go by.

Kat: Yeah, let those go by you, but the thought is there, listeners. The thought is there.

Michael: [laughs] And it’s because of Patreon sponsors like Elizabeth Jack that we are able to discuss, as Alison mentioned, wandlore on this particular episode. And well, we actually have a lot of questions…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … about wands. Probably so many that I’m sure there will be another episode. I can already say with confidence at the top of the show before we’ve even discussed it…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: … that there will probably be another episode on wands. I think a good distinction to make here, too, before we get into our focus questions – something I realized as I was planning for the show – we are not talking about spells, and we are not talking about that piece of magic. We’re actually specifically talking more about wands and the study of wands and their relationships to wizards and whatnot. Because if we combine spells into this show, who knows how many hours it would go? So spells will be for another episode, but we’ll get to them. Don’t worry about that. But to start off, we always like to – for these new episodes – give a focus question, a few key points we want to hit. And I’m throwing it back to the Noah days of Alohomora! [laughs]

Kat: Oh! I tried really hard to see if he was available when the guest canceled, and he disappointingly was not. And he actually sent me, like, five crying emojis…

[Alison laughs]

Kat: … so everybody should know that Noah is very sad he missed this episode. You know Noah and penile things, so…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … we all miss him, and I’m sure he will appreciate your topic questions.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I was going to say, because I’m taking up the Noah mantle here with the question “Are wands alive?” It’s a hotly debated topic that we’ve discussed on multiple episodes. I also am curious if they are actually a primary source of magical power and a more specific question that I remembered us addressing at the end of Goblet of Fire: Do twin core wands of differing core types have unique effects when put into battle? Of course, we’ve seen what happens when you put two phoenix feather wands against each other, but what happens if you put, I don’t know, two unicorn hair wands together or dragon heartstring from the same dragon? Some curiosities that have been raised for me. How about you, Alison?

Alison: Yeah, I’m interested in how wands and wizards go together, so I’m wondering, “How accurate is the wand selection process and what does that tell us about characters?” Obviously, we know J.K. Rowling does tons of background research. Everything means something. She’s given us lots of this information on Pottermore, so I want to look at how characters’ personalities and their wands match up.

Kat: Which is funny because I’m really curious about how inheriting a wand works. And so if we know the wand chooses the wizard, what about people like Neville and Ron whose first wand isn’t one that chose them? And I’ve always been really intrigued by that idea, so I’m looking forward to discussing that today.

Michael: So as we jump into it, we’ve got a lot of information on wands here. Listeners, we’re not going to read everything to you verbatim…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … because, just alone, Ollivander has archived – I counted – 38 wand woods on Pottermore and written extensively about each one, and he’s also gone on to discuss wand lengths, the different cores, and flexibility. The reading is quite extensive, but you can head over to Pottermore and just type in “wands” [laughs] on their search engine, and you’ll get quite a lot of information. But I suppose, out of all the things that we pulled here, probably one of the most important things is that Ollivander did have a few general notes about wands and how they work, and probably the most important two are these, where Ollivander says, [as Ollivander] “Readers should bear in mind that each wand is the composite of its wood, its core and the experience and nature of its owner; that tendencies of each may counterbalance or outweigh the other; so this can only be a very general overview of an immensely complex subject. No single aspect of wand composition should be considered in isolation of all the others, and the type of wood, the core and the flexibility may either counterbalance or enhance the attributes of the wand’s length.” So just keep that in mind as we go along, that the big thing that Ollivander revealed on Pottermore is that all the pieces of the wand are important. All the elements of the wand. And it’s not really one thing or another that, I guess, defines a wand or the person holding it, in ownership of it. But yeah, that’s one of the major things. Of course, the other major thing is that Ollivander… And we’ll get more in-depth with each of these. Listeners by now probably know the details, but Ollivander strictly decided on using only three cores for his wands, and those are, of course, unicorn hair, dragon heartstring, and phoenix feather. The interesting thing about that is that not all of these creatures are necessarily accessible depending on what continent and country you live in, which is the explanation for why other wandmakers don’t necessarily use those animals for their wand cores. But we can get into that a little bit later. I think, probably, knowing all of this general knowledge, it might be fun to start with talking about our wands. So Alison, would you like to go first?

Alison: Sure. Mine is slightly complicated. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, explain this, because you had, like, two or three, right?

Alison: I have three that fit pretty well. So [on] my first Pottermore account, I actually got… Here’s the weird thing. So I’ve told my Pottermore story a couple [of] times. But [on] my first two accounts, my wands are almost identical except for the wood. But they both have phoenix feather, they’re both 10 and 3/4 inches, and they’re both slightly swishy. But [on] my first account, I got cedar, and the description says cedar is “strength of character and unusual loyalty,” and cedar wand carriers are formidable foes if someone they love is threatened. So interestingly enough, this is also my account where I was Sorted into Hufflepuff. And those things…

Michael: Oh! So you have a different wand for each House.

Alison: Yeah. Those things very much match up. And then [on] my second one, I actually got cypress, which is “associated with nobility”, and “[wands of cypress] find their soul mates among the brave, the bold and the self-sacrificing: those who are unafraid to confront the shadows in their own and others’ natures.”

Michael: And that’s your Gryffindor?

Alison: And that’s my Gryffindor.

Michael: Stop! That’s ridiculous.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Interesting.

Alison: It’s crazy, and it’s weird, but at the same time, both of those very much fit me.

Michael: Now, I don’t know if you remember, but did you answer the same on Ollivander’s wand quiz?

Alison: I know I answered some of them the same because there'[re] some of them that I choose every time. But I think it might’ve been the fear one or something that I chose differently. And so it’s very interesting because that’s the only thing that changed. [laughs] But I like both of them, actually. I think they both fit me quite well. [laughs] And this one I don’t take as seriously because, I mean, there’s no science to it.

Michael: Is this your Universal Studios wand?

Alison: Yeah.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: So I went to the park in Hollywood for my birthday and funny story: My sister went with me, and she made me wear one of those stupid “It’s my birthday!” buttons…

[Michael laughs]

Alison: … and I was like, “Jen, I hate you” for, like, half the day.

Kat: I love those buttons!

Michael: I bet you don’t regret it now.

Alison: No, I don’t.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Alison: Because I’m pretty sure that’s why they chose me. And so I got chosen to have a wand pick me, and it was one of the most marvelous experiences of my life.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: And they gave me beech and dragon heartstring, which she said was good for creative types and those [who] are loyal. And on Pottermore, it says, those with wisdom and “capable of a subtlety and artistry rarely seen in any other wood.” So that one’s interesting.

Michael: That’s fun.

Alison: But I like my other ones better. But they don’t sell those at the park, so that’s okay. [laughs]

Kat: Sadly.

Michael: Yeah, that’s the tough thing about the park, listeners, for those of you who haven’t gone. You will be hard-pressed to find your wand there. You’re more likely to get it online, actually, if you want a proper replica of your wand.

Alison: But it was fun anyway, [laughs] so I threw it in there. Kat, what’s yours?

Kat: What’s my wand? Oh boy. So my wand is made of laurel. It has a unicorn hair core.

Michael: I’ve never known anybody who has laurel. That’s really interesting.

Kat: Yeah. And [it] is supple, which is [purrs].

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: And [it] is actually 14 and 1/2 inches in length. It’s very long.

Michael: Wow.

Kat: It’s a very big wand. I tried to do some research off Pottermore about laurel, the wood itself. And the problem is, there'[re], like, 400 kinds of laurel…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … and they all do something totally different. So I couldn’t really find any other additional information on it, but I can read the Pottermore bit if y’all want to listen to my creaky voice for a minute. It says,

“It is said that a laurel wand cannot perform a dishonourable act, although in the quest for glory (a not uncommon goal for those best suited to these wands), […] laurel wands perform powerful and sometimes lethal magic. Laurel wands are sometimes called fickle, but this is unfair. The laurel wand seems unable to tolerate laziness in a possessor, and it is in such conditions that it is most easily and willingly won away. Otherwise, it will cleave happily to its first match forever, and indeed has the unusual and engaging attribute of issuing a spontaneous lightning strike if another witch or wizard attempts to steal it.”

So it’s funny because definitely… I mean, these are all meant to be very generalized, like a fortune from a tarot card reader or somebody like that, but the quest for glory, how it says, “a not uncommon goal for those best suited to these wands” suits me fairly well because despite the fact that I’m a heavy Slytherin – as I say – and…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … I don’t always want that glory for myself, but I like to help people along their paths of glory, so to say. And so I remember when I read that, I was like, “Oh yeah. That feels like me. I get that.” So I like my wand, and if anybody out there knows anything about laurel wood, one of the 400…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … different kinds, let me know. I’d love to hear about it, so… I guess the thing that stuck out to me most of the time was the length because that’s almost Hagrid’s wand length. So it’s very big. I mean, that’s over a foot, y’all! That’s a big wand. That’s huge!

[Michael laughs]

Alison: It does say [in] Ollivander’s notes that it’s not necessarily just your physical size but also [your] personality size. So that makes a lot of sense.

Michael: Yeah, that’s something I…

Kat: Does it? Do I have a giant personality? [laughs]

Alison: Yeah!

Michael: Yeah. I think Ollivander says that people who have larger, longer wands tend to be people who do have either more to their personality or very prominent aspects of their personality, whereas people with shorter wands…

Kat and Michael: … are lacking.

Michael: And I think that’s what… in addition to the humor of somebody like Umbridge who has a really short wand. She’s got one of the shortest wands in the whole series.

Kat: It’s 8 inches, right? I think I read…

Michael: Yeah, I think somewhere around there. And it’s not only short because she’s small, but it’s [also] short because she’s severely lacking in certain admirable qualities and personality traits. So yeah, 14 and 1/2 inches? [laughs] You’re carrying a wand around that is longer than a ruler.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: So that’s…

Kat: I know, which is crazy.

Michael: Be careful with that.

Kat: I know, it’s a big wand. I’ll be like Dan [Radcliffe]…

Alison: Where would you store it?

Kat: … and break 400 of them, probably.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Whatever.

Michael: Well, like Alison, I also have more than one wand. I have two, and I actually consider this…

Kat: You guys are such Pottermore cheaters. Ugh!

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Well, I don’t consider this a cheat because I can actually consider this like part of my life – Potter-life canon, I guess you could call it – because my first wand was silver lime and unicorn hair, 10 and 3/4 inches, and quite flexible. Probably the most notable thing about silver lime is it had a… It’s known for being associated with Legilimency and Seers and suggests people who have a sense of empathy, I suppose, and are good at reading others. And it’s interesting because I think at the time that I had a silver lime wand, that did reflect me really well because I was at a very major transition point in my life. I was changing course with friendships and making new friends, moving on from certain groups of friends, and then my wand… I had actually gotten a replica of my wand from Alivan’s, and my wand broke on one of our LeakyCon trips… [laughs]

Alison: Oh no! [laughs]

Kat: I remember that.

Michael: … where it snapped clean in half. So it was perfect when Pottermore revamped itself; I went ahead and got a second account. And pretty much everything on my second account is exactly the same as my first account except my wand. This time, I had the same core, unicorn hair, and it was also 10 and 3/4 inches, but interestingly, the wand wood changed to sycamore, and my flexibility changed from “quite flexible” to “slightly springy.” Which, to me, suggested that my wand actually got less flexible. And sycamore, interestingly – again, this was really perfect timing the way this wand came about – it’s a questing wand here for new experiences and losing brilliance if engaged in the mundane. Sycamore’s ideal owners are “curious, vital and adventurous, and when paired with such an owner, it demonstrates a capacity to learn and adapt that earns it a rightful place among the world’s most highly-prized [sic] wand woods.” And how fitting is that with me having moved to a new state?

Kat: You got that just before you moved, didn’t you?

Michael: Yes, I got that having moved to a new state, a new job, going forward in the next part of my life with my career… I just thought that was really… But I also acknowledge that the “slightly springy” is also totally correct in that I feel like I’m more set in my ways these days. [laughs] I am not as flexible as I used to be. So I actually think that this was a really cool thing that this happened this way with my wands.

Kat: That’s cool.

Michael: I did get a wand… I have been part of the wand-choosing ceremony at Universal because I actually went with one of our other hosts, Kristen, who… Secret – great secret, listeners – go near the park’s closing because nobody will be there and you’ll automatically get chosen.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Kristen and I both got chosen because sometimes if there'[re] two people, they’ll choose a pair. They clearly assumed that we were a couple.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Aww!

Michael: But they give you a little speech that’s just vague enough that if you’re not, it’s okay. But it was definitely… I don’t even remember what the wand was because I didn’t buy it, because I had already bought one of the interactive wands. Those are pretty penny. But yeah, it is at least a fun experience because you do get to wave the wand around and things happen. And the more you perform, the better the event is as a whole – pro tip. So yeah, it sounds like we’ve got some pretty… It’s funny, Alison. You and I have the same wand length.

Alison: Yeah!

Michael: But Kat, you and I have the same core. And none of us [has] the same flexibility.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: No. Should I just do one and see if mine has changed at all? Because I haven’t done one since Pottermore opened.

Michael: Oh, you want…

Alison: Do it!

Michael: That would be cool. Yeah, that’s what I did, because now you can just – listeners, if you haven’t tried it yet with new Pottermore – of course, because you don’t go through the story anymore – you can just pretty much get immediate access to the wand quiz. So…

Kat: Oh, I have to verify my email first. Hold on.

Alison: It’s okay.

Michael: It has to make sure you’re you.

Kat: I’m going to do it right on the show because I think that that would be fun.

Michael: Yeah. That would be cool. Well, that’s good because that’ll go along because I did pull… There’s a Pottermore wiki that people have been working on, and it does have all of Ollivander’s questions. So I thought it would be fun to examine those anyway.

Kat: Cool. All right. So let’s see… “Discover your wand.” I’m going to go discover my wand, guys. I’m not going to put any [stock] in this whatsoever, just to be clear, because I am firmly against having two Pottermore accounts. Firmly against.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: However, let’s see what happens. Okay. “Begin the experience.” Okay. I am of average height. No, I am tall. Select. And my eyes are dark brown/black. That’s correct. “On which day were you born?” The 15th, so that’s an odd number. “Do you most pride yourself [on] your kindness, originality, intelligence, imagination, resilience, determination, or optimism?”

Michael: So before you go on, Kat, this is all really interesting because – for listeners who haven’t experienced it yet or have forgotten – the way that this is explained on Pottermore is that Ollivander has developed – as has been termed online – his bespoken wand evaluation so that people who can’t go to the store can get a wand. And I think what’s perfect, though, and lines up with the first wand choosing we’ve seen – which is Harry in Sorcerer’s Stone – is you get those logistical questions like “How tall are you?”, “What’s your eye color?”, all those things. Wasn’t…? Ollivander measured all of them.

Alison and Kat: Yeah, there’s the measuring tape.

Kat: All sorts of measurements, yeah.

Michael: Yeah, there was that magical tape measure.

Alison: Even between his nostrils.

Michael: Yes! In between his nostrils. [laughs] So you get all the logistical stuff, [and] then it starts getting into these kinds of questions. So what do you value most?

Kat: I’m going to choose determination. So let’s see… “Traveling alone down a deserted road, you reach a crossroads. Do you continue left towards the sea, ahead towards the forest, or right towards the castle?” Definitely “left towards the sea” because I love water.

Michael: I was curious because I distinctly remember my choice with that one. [laughs]

Alison: That might be one where I split, actually.

Kat: What was it? Castle?

Michael: No, mine was also toward the sea. Because I actually figured if I was on a long journey and I saw the sea, knowing me, I would run to the sea and just enjoy it for a moment.

Kat: Me too.

Michael: Then I’d go back up the path and go to the castle.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But I’d go to the sea first. I know I would. [laughs]

Kat: Yeah, I would too.

Michael: What would you do, Alison?

Alison: [On] one of them, I chose “left towards the sea,” and [on] another one, I chose “ahead towards the forest” because I love trees and green. But I also like the beach, so I think that was one I went back and forth on.

Michael: I’m sure somebody out there has been building up what the answers give you because, of course, everybody did that with the Patronus quiz.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Because to me, between the sea and the woods, I think of the sea – for me personally – as more of a leisurely stroll. The woods is pushing ahead forward, and the castle is a respite, I guess. But I don’t know, because I’m sure everybody interprets that differently.

Kat: Probably. The question I have now is “Do you most fear fire, darkness, isolation, small spaces, or heights?” Oh, without a doubt, it’s heights. I hate heights, y’all. No questions. “Select.” Sone.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Okay, next.

Michael: Alison, do you remember what you picked?

Alison: I think I either put… It wasn’t heights, because I love flying. I don’t think it was darkness, and I don’t think it was fire, so I think it was either small spaces or isolation. But now I don’t know about isolation either because I am an introvert; I do enjoy being alone.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Alison: So I don’t remember.

Michael: I definitely picked isolation because I am an extrovert! I don’t like being alone.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Yeah, it must have been small spaces because I don’t like feeling stuck somewhere.

Michael: Yeah, I think my mom picked that one because she has claustrophobia.

Alison: Oh!

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, definitely small spaces for her.

Kat: So “In a chest of magical artifacts, which would you choose? The ornate mirror…” Whoops! I hit “Choose” instead of the down arrow. Uh-oh. It just gave me a crappy wand.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: But oddly enough… This is funny. Okay, so I hit the wrong button. That was really stupid; it’s my sick mind. Ill mind, rather. Not sick mind. Oddly enough, it is 14 and 1/2 inches long!

Michael: Oh, same length!

Kat: And it is reasonably supple, exactly as my other one. And it has a unicorn hair core.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: So the only thing that changed was the wood?

Kat: Which is a beech wood.

Michael: Oh, beech. Yeah.

Kat: Yeah, so that’s funny. Obviously, I haven’t changed very much. Although I did hit the wrong button, whoops! So that was a totally failed experiment and a waste of time. I’m sorry, listeners.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, and the thing about that, too, is on old Pottermore, you could actually get a review of your answers before you hit “Submit,” and you could go back and change them. You can’t do that on new Pottermore. But the last question was “In a chest of magical artifacts, which would you choose? The old black glove, the dusty bottle, the ornate mirror, the silver dagger, the golden key, the bound-up scroll, or the glittering jewel?” And I’m pretty sure this is the one I changed.

Kat: Oh. See, I would have picked the key!

Michael: Would have picked the key.

Kat: Ugh, not the mirror!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: This is the one that I think I changed, which probably caused my wand wood to change – and my flexibility – because I don’t remember what I picked the first time, but I’m pretty sure I’ve jumped between the golden key, the bound-up scroll, and possibly the mirror because I do like looking at myself some days.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: See, the thing that bothers me is that I chose that I’m tall, but that shouldn’t automatically give me a long wand.

Alison: I think I chose I was tall too. Well, you definitely should have because you’re taller than I am.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, yeah, I don’t…

Kat: I mean, by 2 inches you’re taller than me, Alison.

Alison: [laughs] I know! 5’9″.

Michael: Well, see, I guess that…

Kat: No, I’m 5’9″, but you’re taller than me. I’m 5’9″.

Alison: Well, that’s what they say…

Michael: [laughs] Well, see…

Kat: Well, they lied to you.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: But if you both chose it and you both got different wand sizes, I wonder… I don’t know how the other choices combine to make that decision.

Alison and Kat: I don’t either.

Kat: Crazy.

Michael: But yes, that is…

Kat: There you go. Failed experiment.

Alison: This is the quiz I think I like the most because I can’t figure it out. I feel like if you take the Sorting Hat quiz enough, you can start to figure out certain answers will lean more toward certain Houses. I think even to some extent the Patronus… You can figure out what…

Kat: There’s a formula to that that you can find online. Like if you want an Erumpent, answer this, this, this, this, and this. It’s really easy. Although I don’t recommend going for the salmon, because the salmon’s no fun.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I got a salmon; it’s no fun.

Michael: Like Alison was saying, this coupled with the Sorting quiz are the reasons why the Patronus quiz was so mammothly disappointing to people, I think. Because this one, I think, does more what people were expecting the Patronus one to do, which is… Like you said, Alison, I think the questions do seem thoughtful and in-depth, but you really can’t trick this one.

Kat: And the problem with the Patronus one – not to get off topic – is that there'[re], like, 100 animals, which is ridiculous…

Alison: And it goes so fast!

Kat: No, there'[re] just not enough animals, so it’s just not very realistic. The wands are limited and defined, and sure, there'[re] hundreds and probably thousands of possibilities, but there aren’t thousands of possibilities for Patronuses. So it just doesn’t feel as authentic to me, but I appreciate that about the wand one.

Michael: Yeah. I think, too, the wand quiz on Pottermore is a really good… As I was saying as we started the quiz, I think it’s a good translation of what’s in the book. It’s harder to translate the concept of the Patronus into a quiz. But yeah, I think the wand selection was probably… The Sorting got more hubbub around it just because it was the big thing people wanted to know, but the wand stuff is really cool on Pottermore, and I’m glad they kept it the way it was. Of course, the important thing to note – and as was mentioned before – is that these wands are only sourced now from Ollivander and his wand stock. I thought it might be worthwhile before we move on to maybe just quickly mention some other wandmakers that we know about outside of, of course, Ollivander. Probably one of the major ones in the books, of course, would be Gregorovitch, and we get a little more detail on Gregorovitch through Krum’s wand as well as through Ollivander in Book 4. But recently, probably one of the major extensions is that America has a completely different approach to wandmaking because they have four major wandmakers. And apologies in advance if I pronounce all their names wrong, because they have quite the set of names. First one is Shikoba Wolfe, I believe, who is of Native American descent, and Shikoba’s wands are known primarily for intricately carved designs containing the core of a Thunderbird tail feather. “Wolfe wands were generally held to be extremely powerful, though difficult to master,” and “They were particularly prized by Transfigurers.” The other…

Alison: That’s the one I think I’d want.

Michael: Are you in Thunderbird too, Alison?

Alison: No, I’m a Pukwudgie…

Kat: [whispers] She’s a Pukwudgie.

Alison: … but I want to be a Thunderbird.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah, you do. Caw!

Alison: Also, I love Frank, so… I just love Frank.

Kat: You know what I just noticed [that] I never noticed before? I’m in both of the bird Houses: Thunderbird and Ravenclaw.

Michael: Oh, cool!

Kat: Isn’t that funny?

Michael: Well, I suppose it’s interesting, too, depending on what your American wand would be, especially for you listeners who have phoenix feather core wands. Because this portion of the Pottermore piece about American wands did confirm that Thunderbirds are related to phoenixes.

Alison: So see? There you go! I have a phoenix core in my other wand, so I would be a Thunderbird! It’s all good.

Michael: Yeah, you need a Wolfe wand.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: There we go.

Michael: Wolfe would be your wandmaker of choice. Our next wandmaker is, I believe, Johannes Jonker. These “wands were highly sought after and instantly recognisable, as they were usually inlaid with mother-of-pearl,” so not a subtle wand. “After experimenting with many cores, Jonker’s preferred magical material was hair of the Wampus cat.” So another of our Ilvermorny Houses represented in these wands. Thiago Quintana’s wands encased “a single translucent spine from the back of the White River Monsters of Arkansas” and “produced spells of force and elegance.” We have no further Pottermore or Rowling information on the White River Monsters of Arkansas. I will throw that one to SpeakBeasty in there.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: They can open up the Newt Case and hopefully maybe examine the White River Monster for us because I’m…

Alison: Maybe it’ll be one of the new ones she’s including in the new edition of Fantastic Beasts that comes out.

Michael: That’s right, because there'[re] going to be six new ones, right?

Kat: Maybe.

Michael: That could be it. Well, and we’ve got another one here, too, from Violetta Beauvais, who is actually based out of New Orleans. And Violetta’s wands were made of swamp mayhaw wood – so she’s actually only using one type of wood, mainly – and “contained the hair of the rougarou, the dangerous dog-headed monster that prowled Louisiana swamps. It was often said of Beauvais wands that they took to Dark magic like vampires to blood, yet many an American wizarding hero of the 1920s went into battle armed only with a Beauvais wand, and President Picquery herself was known to possess one.” But if you’ve seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you’ll know that she never, ever uses it. So…

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: That’s true. She does at the end.

Michael: She has quite the amount of restraint, considering her wand is as powerful as it is. I thought that was interesting that Rowling did open it up to explain because we get a little taste of this in Goblet of Fire with Krum[‘s] and Fleur’s wands. Of course, Fleur’s [wand] is probably the most shocking core that we had heard up to that time in that hers is a Veela hair from her grandmother.

Alison: Which is so interesting to me. So does – I would assume – that mean you can commission wands? You can tell someone there must be some custom-made wand situations in some places.

Michael: Yeah. The funny thing is, the most wand information we get, including what we got from Pottermore, comes through Ollivander. And I think, as intentioned by Rowling’s style of writing him, Ollivander is super biased, and I think it’s even supposed to come off as comical. Because you’ll see even in the wand wood descriptions that he goes to great lengths to ensure that he insults every other wandmaker [whom] he’s ever come in[to] contact with because he’s all about sales, and I think especially because he seems to have a pretty… He doesn’t have a monopoly on the wand market in the UK, but he’s pretty close to it. We do know there are other wandmakers – it’s implied that there are other wandmakers and wandsellers in the UK – but Ollivander is the go-to guy. He definitely does not have control over all of wandmaking in Europe, as evidenced by people like Gregorovitch, but yeah, he does seem to suggest in his writings that getting a custom wand is not ideal. Especially because that cuts out the cornerstone of his philosophy, which we hear many-a-time in the series that the wand chooses the wizard. I feel like a custom wand wouldn’t be able to do that, obviously. That would be the wizard choosing the wand, right?

Alison: And that’s why I wonder if they go in and maybe they have some sort of test with different woods that they find the best-suited match for woods or… I don’t know.

Michael: Maybe you test some wands made of that wood that aren’t going to be your wand just to see how they would interact with you. But I could see, now, based on what Ollivander said, why that would be super faulty. Because if the function of the wands is dependent on multiple factors, then if you test an ash wand, and it works well for you, but you don’t get that particular wand and you have yours custom-made, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your custom wand’s going to be good because it’s ash.

Kat: Right, because it could be something about that branch and where that tree grew up and the water that it drank and the amount of sun that it got and… I mean, no, I’m not being flippant.

Michael: No, no. Yeah.

Kat: It could be all of those things because I am a hippie at heart. I am an earth child at heart…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: … so I mean, that could very well have a huge effect on the outcome of the wand overall.

Michael: I feel, Alison, like this leads really well, actually, into one of the questions you had actually put farther down in our document, actually near the end.

Alison: Oh! Yeah, so obviously, wands are magical, but how are they magical and how do they make them? How do they get cores inside little sticks of wood? Because no one ever mentions…

Kat: [whispers] Magic. [laughs]

Alison: Well, yeah, but no one ever mentions that there’s… So I grew up building stuff. I took woodshop all in high school. [laughs] I’ve worked with wood a lot over my life, and I’m like, “Okay, there’s not a really good way to get something like that in there unless you’re cutting some sort of seam or drilling something,” so how did they make the first one because then, obviously, I mean, I guess you could use a wand to make other wands, but then how did they make the first wand? And is there some sort of machine now, maybe? Are they all handmade?

Kat: I mean, I guess I always assumed that maybe the first wand wasn’t something inside of something else? That it was maybe a unicorn bone that had a hair on it or something that was a “deconstructed wand” and they just evolved over the years, if that makes sense?

Michael: So the only thing we know about wands as far as the birth of wands is that they were a European invention because… and worthwhile for noting for future discussion, but African wizards don’t tend to use wands, apparently. Some of them have taken it up, but African wizards actually just learned to harness their magic, but apparently, the wand came from Europe, and I guess we’re probably able to… It’s hard to date because, of course, it’s… I’m assuming it would be somewhere around medieval [times], because thanks to the wizard cards that have come out, we know that there were certain ancient Greeks [who] were considered wizards, but it’s not necessarily the case that the ancient Greeks were using wands; I think it’s implied that they weren’t. So I’m assuming it happened around the medieval era, but I’m not sure. And yeah, but I suppose if wizards did have enough [skill] at the time prior to the wand, if there were wizards out there who were skilled enough to use magic without a wand, one of those wizards might have figured out how to make a wand without a wand to make the wand, [laughs] if that makes sense.

Kat: It does. No, I mean, it’s the chicken or the egg. Something has to come first, so which is it really?

Alison: I mean, and then it gets interesting when you look at different wand woods because you’ve got woods with different grains, and how does he finish them and how does he keep them looking nice? Because things like cedar… Cedar, if it’s not finished, goes gray and gets really ugly, so is there…? I mean, I guess…

Kat: [whispers] Magic.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, in this case, that probably could be relevant.

Kat: I mean, yes, but I assume that the wood is imbibed with the magical qualities of the core, so cedar is never going to dull and get gross because you’ve got a literal unicorn hair inside of it, which is youth and vitality and all of those beautiful things, so I mean, I get what you’re saying, but I feel like we so often dismiss magic as being the reason why things happen on this show.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: That’s true! Okay, it’s magic!

Kat: Otherwise, we have no podcast. We get it.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: But I feel like, in this case, we have to be like, “It’s actual literal magic.”

[Michael laughs]

Kat: That’s why. That’s just why. It just is.

Michael: It has to be magic. Yeah, no, that actually raised another question for me because if wands are sitting around waiting all that time, do you think…? This ties into a little bit of what you guys talked about last week, Alison, on the episode about religion and fate, which, listeners, if you haven’t heard it yet, make sure to go to alohomora.mugglenet.com because it was an excellent episode. But I feel like this ties in with your guys’ discussion about predetermined paths and fate for individual characters because I thought when you said that, do you think wands have a sense or even maybe know who they’re going to belong to or that there’s a point where their future owner comes into the store and they just activate? Or do you think all the wands jump up in excitement, being like, “Ooh! A newbie!”?

Alison: Well, Ollivander actually mentions that in one of the wood descriptions. He talks about how… I think it’s vine or something that he says something about how they’re rumored to actually start shooting off sparks and stuff when their owner walks into the store and that he’s seen it twice, and now I don’t remember which wood it is, but I think that would make sense that…

Kat: I don’t know. My wand did something really cool. What did it say? Lightning strike. Boom!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Yeah. So I think, I mean, they may not know when they’re just sitting there, sleeping in their boxes, that “my owner is going to be Harry Potter.”

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: You said, “sleeping in their boxes,” and I heard “boxers” and I was like, “What?”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Little wand boxers.

Alison: Yes, in their little, cute, little wand underwear.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: But I feel like they might get a sense of when someone gets into proximity [to] it, they feel a connection of magical energy. I mean, the Elder Wand does that when Voldemort comes to get it, right? It says it rejoices in having a new master to serve. So I almost get this feeling that maybe they don’t know exactly who it is when they’re by themselves, but when they get into close enough proximity with a magical being who[m] they have an affinity for, they can somehow show that.

Michael: So it’s not so much knowing the exact owner, but maybe detecting the traits about that owner that they’re going to pair best with. Yeah, that’s interesting. Because that goes along, I guess, with one of my questions about whether wands are alive or not, if they’re sentient. And for me, I found, as I was going through points that are for and against that, that part of that question in Harry Potter was also, are wands the dominant source of magical power or are they more subservient to the wizard who is actually the main source of power? I feel like this answer would be a lot clearer if Harry [weren’t] factored into any of this.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: That seems to be the thing about everything in these books and magic and how it all works. “If we didn’t have Harry…”

Kat: Harry screws it all up!

[Alison laughs]

Michael: No, really! Yeah, because I think that was something we had to put forth in our Horcrux discussion, was like, “Okay, let’s talk about Horcruxes, and for just a minute here, let’s ignore Harry, [laughs] because he complicates everything!”

[Alison laughs]

Michael: So those were the two questions I was mulling over in my head as I was going through my for and against points. And of course, listeners, I didn’t have time to go through all seven books – and I wish I had been able to have a little more time to touch on Goblet, because I think there might have been some stuff in there – but mainly, I was looking at Sorcerer’s Stone, Beedle the Bard, Deathly Hallows, and a few of the new writings on Pottermore. And as far as the points for it being alive, and being the more powerful of the wizard-wand relationship… Of course, the classic Sorcerer’s Stone, [as Ollivander] “It’s really the wand that chooses the wizard,” which Ollivander makes a point of repeating in Deathly Hallows. There’s a point in [the] narration when Harry actually touches the right wand for the first time, where it says, “Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers,” which he does not feel with the other wands that are put in his hand. And I wasn’t really actually sure where to put that, as a for or an against, because often, I think, warmth is associated with life, in that way. If a person is warm, then they’re alive; if there’s a coldness, there’s something about them that’s lacking or we may be talking about a dead body. And yet that kind of warmth also is associated with a sense of electricity, which… I don’t really know which one we want to associate more with wands, because wands do have an electricity about them, like an electrical energy, so…

Alison: Well, I think Jo said somewhere that wands are more of a conduit for magic.

Michael: Ooh, that’s a very electrical word. [laughs]

Alison: [laughs] It is! So it’s almost like Harry takes a wand in his hand for the first time, and he starts to feel his ability to channel and control his own magic. So I feel like you could interpret that that way rather than that warmth coming from the wand itself. It comes from Harry – Harry and his innate magical ability recognizing the chance to be able to channel his magic.

Michael: Huh. That’s interesting. So that’s a debate between whether that warmth is coming from Harry or the wand or both, potentially. Depends on how you want to define the warmth. And then, of course, we get into some much more complicated stuff, which Ollivander is very kind enough to clarify is very complicated, because, as he says in Deathly Hallows, [as Ollivander] “Where a wand has been won, its allegiance will change,” which of course becomes a major plot point in Hallows. He also mentions, when talking about wandlore, [as Ollivander] “These connections are complex. An initial attraction, and then a mutual quest for experience, the wand learning from the wizard, the wizard from the wand.”

Alison: This sounds like a relationship.

Kat: I know!

Alison: Like a marriage!

[Michael laughs]

Alison: It sounds like a marriage!

Kat: I just really want Ollivander to come on the show and talk to us.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I just really want to talk to him about wands. Desperately!

Michael: It does feel like we’ve basically got him here because Rowling really… What she made sure to do with the Pottermore pieces on wands is that they all come through Ollivander, which is fun…

Kat: Yeah, I know, but…

Michael: … because we don’t get a lot of pieces from the characters themselves, unless you count the excellent Daily Prophet reports that don’t exist anymore.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: They exist in some places.

Alison: They’re still floating out there on the Internet.

Michael: Yes, if you go hunt them down.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Yeah, they’re still around.

Michael: But it is fun that she did this from Ollivander’s perspective because we got his voice for a little longer on these matters. He does get into quite the amount of detail.

Kat: He’s still alive, right? As far as we know?

Michael: Ostensibly.

Kat: Yeah, I thought so.

Alison: I feel like he’s going to live forever.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, he may just.

Alison: That’s fine.

Michael: [laughs] There’s another individual, though, who is quite an expert on wandlore – not, perhaps, as much as Ollivander, but has a thing or two to say about it – and that’s actually Albus Dumbledore, who notes in his extra notes for Beedle the Bard, [as Dumbledore] “Those who are knowledgeable about wandlore will agree that wands do indeed absorb the expertise of those who use them, though this is an unpredictable and imperfect business.” So as Dumbledore says, maybe this actually would go more as an against than a for because it’s not that wands have their own knowledge, it’s that they gain knowledge from others.

Kat: So then, okay, just thinking about that, so Neville and Ron both had inherited wands.

Michael: Borrowed wands, yeah.

Kat: So were those wands better at certain things because the people [whom] they got them from taught the wands how to do those things? Ron wasn’t… I love Ron.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: He wasn’t that great at a lot of things, okay?

[Michael laughs]

Kat: But did Neville’s aptitude for Herbology start maybe because his wand was already so familiar with Herbology? Maybe his father was really good at that. I’m really curious about how that works. Are they learning from their wands just as much as they’re learning from their classes if they have an inherited wand? It’s so confusing.

Alison: I would assume so, and I think that’s what Rowling was saying, especially when she was talking about Neville’s wand, and she was talking about [how] it wouldn’t work as well for Neville, and – I swear I read this somewhere. I can’t find it, though – that’s part of the reason why Neville struggled so much until his sixth year, was because his wand wasn’t his own, and so it wasn’t suited to the things Neville needed and the things that Neville could do.

Michael: So perhaps yeah, the wand perhaps is the opposite of what, Kat, you were saying, that the wand wasn’t predisposed to those things that Neville liked.

Alison: Yeah, and so maybe it was fighting against him, partially, and maybe that’s why he struggled so much.

Kat: Right, because do we know much about what his father was really good at?

Alison: I mean, he was an Auror.

Kat: Right, but doesn’t Augusta say something like she was really good at Charms and Potions or something, right? That’s what it is, and that’s why she wants Neville to take it?

Alison: No, she thinks Charms is a soft subject and wants him to take Transfiguration, but McGonagall says, “I can’t accept you with the OWL you got, so why don’t you take Charms?” and then she says, “I’ll drop a note to Augusta, reminding her just because she failed her Charms OWL doesn’t mean it’s a soft subject.”

Michael: Yeah. According to what I’m finding online, he does not necessarily have any particular disciplines that were associated with him, so yeah, we don’t really know.

Kat: So it’s hard to say, hard to say. So what about Ron and Charlie, then? Because he has Charlie’s wand, right? It is Charlie’s wand?

Alison: Yeah. Well, Charlie has the affinity for magical creatures and Quidditch. That’s all we know about him.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: And those are not really things that Ron is very good at. [laughs]

Kat: Right. I would like to assume that Charlie was pretty good at Potions. And probably Defense Against the Dark Arts is what I would assume.

Michael: I’m imagining Charlie had to be good at either Defense Against the Dark Arts and/or Charms to work with magical creatures, so those are probably it.

Kat: Sure, and probably Herbology to some point.

Alison: Yeah. Which are not really Ron’s thing. Poor Ron. I love him. [laughs]

Michael: I think automatically… Probably the one we associate Ron excelling at is Defense Against the Dark Arts because he has Harry to teach him, and he eventually goes into that profession, but Ron… It’s hard to say, too, with Ron because, as far as his educational years go, Ron just piggybacks off of Harry and Hermione, but as far as his personal, I guess, goals and aspirations… because Harry is like, [as Harry] “I want to be an Auror,” and Ron is like, [as Ron] “Yeah, okay, that sounds fun.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Despite having been raised in the wizarding world, Ron doesn’t really have…

Kat: … any opinions of his own.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Yeah. So okay, looking at what that first wand was – 12 inches, ash and unicorn, hand-me-down from Charlie – we can look at what that means, and then second wand – 14 inches, willow and unicorn tail…

Kat: 14 inches, really? That’s… huh.

Alison: Yeah, so his was bigger than Charlie’s, but Ron is also tall and lanky and outspoken.

Michael: Yeah, but that makes sense too.

Kat: But tall shouldn’t matter according to Ollivander.

Alison: No. It does, though. It does. It’s part of it, so…

Michael: I think there’s… Because he gets that new wand in – what? – Prisoner of Azkaban?

Alison: Yes.

Michael: I mean, he hasn’t fully grown into his own yet, but Ron is, I think, starting to change around that point. Ron is learning to grow up and evolve a little bit around that point.

Alison: Yeah. So here’s the other thing, too, about looking at ash. It says, “The ash wand cleaves to its one true master and ought not to be passed on or gifted from the original owner, because it will lose power and skill.”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: “This tendency is extreme if the core is of unicorn.” So poor Ron was set up to fail from the beginning.

Michael: [laughs] Wow.

Alison: And then there’s the superstition that ash is stubborn.

“Witches and wizards best suited to ash wands are not, in my experience, lightly swayed from their beliefs or purposes. However, the brash or over-confident witch or wizard, who often insists on trying wands of this prestigious wood, will be disappointed by its effects. The ideal owner may be stubborn, and will certainly be courageous, but never crass or arrogant.”

Michael: See, that perfectly describes the problem for Ron in his early years, I would say. [laughs]

Alison: Exactly. And so willow, which is the one he ends up with…

Michael: Ooh, this is going to be interesting.

Alison: If I can find it. All the way down at the bottom.

“Willow is an uncommon wand wood with healing power, and I have noted that the ideal owner for a willow wand often has some (usually unwarranted) insecurity, however well they may try and hide it. While many confident customers insist on trying a willow wand (attracted by their handsome appearance and well-founded reputation for enabling advanced, non-verbal magic) my willow wands have consistently selected those of greatest potential, rather than those who feel they have little to learn. It has always been a proverb in my family that he who has furthest to travel will go fastest with willow.”

Michael: Oh my God. [laughs] So perfect. See?

Alison: Yeah. That works quite well with Ron.

Michael: I wonder how much… And I’m totally giving her the benefit of the doubt here because I know how she… She’s been pretty transparent about this particular process, but I wonder how much of these attributes with the different wand woods she perhaps came up with after associating them with the character as opposed to before.

Alison: Oh, there [are] definitely going to be some.

Michael: Yeah. No, and I think the major… It is funny, though. You read some of these, and you’re like, “Yeah, yeah, we know. Obviously, this wand belonged to this major character, so it has to read this way.” But at the same time, I know she said before… Before this piece on Pottermore came out, she explained how some of the associations worked. Because people asked. Pretty early on, actually, people were asking her about the makeup of the other wands. So yeah, I guess that at least… See, it’s hard, too, because other than the Elder Wand, which, like Harry, throws a wrench into everything, we don’t have many… Do we have an example of an inherited wand that — not the Elder Wand — succeeded for somebody? Worked okay? And again, it’s hard to… Because you could also tie in some examples from Deathly Hallows, but that also gets complicated because there were unusual factors involved.

Kat: I don’t think so.

Alison: I can’t think of anything.

Kat: I don’t think so.

Michael: Yeah. No wands were people were using it as normal and had grown to be accustomed to it, I don’t think. Because we also don’t get the sense that there’s a tradition of perhaps handing down a wand in wizarding families either.

Alison: No, it seems more of the tradition is to bury someone with their wand, that that’s more of the…

Michael: I am thinking of one example, but unfortunately, she’s also an extreme example, and she comes up in some of my points here, but Mrs. Isolt Sayre, the founder of Ilvermorny, was using Slytherin’s wand, and she didn’t know it. [laughs] So that’s…

Kat: Wow. I guess I forgot about that.

Michael: Well, and then that brings up an interesting point about how much life force wands have because in that particular story, Gormlaith, her evil – was it aunt? – who took her in…

Alison: Yes.

Michael:“uttered a single sibilant word in Parseltongue, the language of snakes. The wand that had served Isolt so faithfully for many years quivered once on the bedstand beside her as she slept, and became inactive. In all the years that she had lived with it, Isolt had never known that she held in her hand the wand of Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts, and that it contained a fragment of a magical snake’s horn: in this case, a [b]asilisk. The wand had been taught by its creator to ‘sleep’ when so instructed, and this secret had been handed down through the centuries to each member of Slytherin’s family who possessed it.”

Kat: I forgot about that.

Alison: Which, first of all, why the heck would Slytherin teach his wand to do that? What’s the purpose?

Michael: Oh, of making your wand sleep?

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: I got the sense that if people were to somehow get a hold of your wand, because Slytherin – keep in mind – I guess lived in a time when people dueled to kill? Or dueled in extreme combat. And of course, I think we know through the elder wand that that entails taking the other person’s wand, so I think that… The elder wand was, of course, the king of examples, but it does imply that people would take other people’s wands once they’ve won allegiance to it. Because the elder wand isn’t the only wand that does that. So I imagine Slytherin probably thought it would be quite clever if somebody won his wand from him and he could deactivate it before he died. And it wouldn’t be of any good to anybody, but I guess that didn’t work out for him anyway! [laughs] So interestingly enough, on a related point with that, there were two wands that did not become inactive when Gormlaith spoke her Parseltongue because Isolt’s children were actually… Their wands, I believe, had cores of that Horned Serpent who was a friend of hers. And because, of course, Parseltongue is the language of snakes, in this case, “On the contrary, their magical cores vibrated to the sound of the ancient language and sensing danger to their masters, began to emit a low musical note, exactly as the Horned Serpent sounds danger.”

Alison: Okay, that’s cool.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: That is cool.

Michael: Yeah, so there’s a defensive aspect. So again, wands seem to have something of an awareness because they can respond to language, and they can act accordingly depending on their allegiance. Interestingly, in the piece about hazel wands on Pottermore, Ollivander mentions that wands can wilt or die and that hazel wands are most, apparently, prone to this because they become so attached to their owners that if their owners die, they’ll probably die with them. There is a chance, apparently, that they can be revived, but in the specific case of hazel, if their core is unicorn hair, they will die with the owner, I guess, probably because… I’m assuming that has something to do with how unicorn hair is the “gentlest” of the three cores and doesn’t really sway toward evil. I imagine that gives it that empathetic sense where it becomes very attached to its owner in that way. But there'[re] also points against a wand’s individual power and the sentience of a wand. [The] very first thing we see with Harry using a wand in Sorcerer’s Stone is, he raises it “above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework.” So the wand has lost its personality in this moment and is just a tool. Rowling – as you mentioned earlier, Alison – did say… She said this during the Radio City Music Hall chat in 2006 at the An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp event, said, “A wand, in my world, is merely a vehicle – a vessel for what lies inside the person.” So here we get the definite suggestion that the magic comes from the person, not the wand. In Deathly Hallows, Hermione says – and take this as you will – [as Hermione] “Wands are only as powerful as the wizards who use them. Some wizards just like to boast that theirs are bigger and better than other people’s.” So fun little line there. [laughs] So easy to play with that line.

Alison: This is when we’re glad Eric isn’t here.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, and Hermione says that line right after they read the story of the Deathly Hallows, and let’s see, where did this line come from? Oh, Ollivander actually says this to Harry: [as Ollivander] “If you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument,” which I thought was interesting because that suggests that a wand isn’t necessarily the thing you have to use.

Kat: Right, because Hagrid and his umbrella, although it is said that his wand is inside the umbrella, but…

Michael: But it’s broken!

Kat: It is broken.

Michael: It’s not properly a wand in that sense, yeah. And as we mentioned earlier, on Pottermore, in its summary about Uagadou, “The wand is a European invention, and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures.”

Alison: Which sounds so much more intuitive, and you’d have more of a connection to the actual magic that’s happening, which I think is cool.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, if you read… You don’t have to really read hard in between the lines, listeners, of the Uagadou piece to get the sense that Rowling is very much on the side of science that we all came from Africa and that our roots in Africa are very powerful roots. And she goes ahead and aligns that with her wizarding history. And she does mention that some African wizards have taken up the use of the wand, but there are plenty of African wizards today who still do not use their wands. So this definitely seems to suggest that the majority of the magical power is in the person, not the wand. We also have information on at least a few individuals who are Muggles who have picked up a wand and have suffered some serious consequences for doing so. But it’s often mentioned that that’s because the wand has residual effects left in it from somebody who’s already been using it. So I’m curious what would happen if a Muggle picked up a wand that’s never been used by anybody. What would that do?

Kat: Yeah, I wonder if it would depend on how much magical blood that person has at all. Even if they’re a Muggle, they can still have magic blood in them. So I wonder, somebody like Dudley, who obviously… I mean, there’s magic in his family somewhere. Or somebody like Petunia…

Michael: Yeah, what would happen if that…?

Kat: It’d be really cool to find out. Although I am sure, positive, headcanon all over this, that Petunia at some point tried to use Lily’s wand. Obviously.

Alison: Oh yeah, I don’t doubt that.

Michael: That’d be interesting.

Kat: Yeah, so that would be a really interesting question to ask Jo. I’ll have to remember that one for next time.

Michael: Yeah, when you said that, I was actually thinking, if you went to the other side of that with a Muggle, what if somebody like Uncle Vernon picked up a brand new wand? Because…

Kat: Oh my God, he would never touch it.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But I guess I’m thinking of somebody, if in the Muggle world, who didn’t have really anybody in their magical lineage [whom] they’re aware of or would be so far back. Because as Rowling said, the reason she gave for why Dudley doesn’t have magical children, which she originally had thought about doing, is because she decided that Uncle Vernon’s genetics completely stamped out any possibility [laughs] that Dudley would have magical children. So even now I wonder if Dudley’s children picked up a brand new wand, would it react badly or would it just not do anything, is what I’m… Or even would there be potential for the wand to somehow connect with that individual?

Alison: I feel like they just wouldn’t do anything.

Michael: Just be a stick? Oh, that’s sad. [laughs]

Kat: It’d be just a stick.

Michael: Aww.

Alison: And I feel like, though, that works with like the Statute of Secrecy and stuff. Maybe it has to be that way because I mean, if you’ve got Muggles going around picking up wands, I mean, maybe they’re trying to limit the chance of these wands rocketing off spells everywhere.

Kat: However, if you take [the] Fantastic Beasts movie to be equal to the Harry Potter book canon, that monkey taps the wand and something happens.

Alison: That’s true.

Michael: It goes boom.

Kat: Although, again, that’s a canon debate, which I feel like we should probably have an episode about real soon.

Michael: [laughs] That’s hard, too, because the monkey is abusing the wand.

Alison: So that might be more of a defense mechanism of the wand, where it… I mean, he also slams it against a rock.

Kat: Maybe. But a Muggle could do that.

Michael: See, I think the Muggle would have an inclination probably to wave the wand. Because I think that’s what… The stories we’ve gotten about Muggles who pick up wands is that they tend to wave [them]. The example of the member of the Barebone family who charmed – what’s her name? – Dorcus Twelvetrees, and she’s the reason that Rappaport’s Law exists. He showed the wand to the press, and the press wrote that the wand “had a kick like a mule” when you waved it. [laughs] And Isolt’s husband, James, got blasted backward and briefly knocked unconscious when he waved her wand. So as far as we know, when you wave a wand, if the person has been using that wand extensively already… It almost seems like the more the wand’s been used, the bigger the defense it’s going to have when a Muggle waves it.

Kat: That makes sense, because it’s just like an older person, right? An older person would have more ways to defend itself than a child.

Michael: So in a way, I felt like the wand is a symbiotic relationship and that the wand isn’t… And I liked that the Harry Potter wiki actually decided to go with the term “quasi-sentient” for wands. They’re not alive, but they have a quasi-sentience that I feel is enhanced by a symbiotic relationship. They learn and grow from being paired with somebody, but if they’re not with anybody, they just sit dormant. So that’s how I think of it, I felt was the best way. Saying they’re alive or not alive doesn’t really cover it, I guess. Sorry, Noah, your scale doesn’t really work here.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: We have to add points in between “alive” and “not alive” for this particular one, I felt. But I do think that Rowling has clarified over the years that the individual is the one with the magical power and that the wand has a minimum base of magic within it, but it’s not really the holder of the magic. It’s the channeler of the magic. And of course, that gets even more complicated in what we’ll go in another episode about spells and when you think about spells and how they’re cast and different countries, and do all the different countries speak the same language when they use spells and so on and so forth.

Kat: And intent and everything, yeah.

Michael: Yes, intent. Yeah, then it gets a lot messier with that. But I think that’s the closest we can get to the answer on that, so if you want to go with alive or not alive, listeners, it’s up to you to choose which side, [laughs] so I’m comfortably in the middle on that one, personally.

Kat: What a Hufflepuff answer. Just kidding.

Michael: I know, right?

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I think the other big question that we had asked on Goblet of Fire that gets a little deeper into wand cores and how they operate is just how… We know through the extreme example [laughs] of Harry and Voldemort, that brother wands — wands that have the same core farmed from the same animal, not just any phoenix, but the fact that they were both taken from Fawkes — cause an automatic, spontaneous appearance of the Priori Incantatem spell. They won’t do battle with each other. They’ll just force each other to regurgitate what they did previously. And we know, too, from Goblet of Fire that Priori Incantatem is a spell that can be initiated just casually, that you don’t have to have this specific thing happen to make Priori Incantatem happen. But I was wondering if that particular event was in effect because they were phoenix feather wands. I was curious if unicorn hairs would do that or dragon heartstrings because phoenixes are so associated with rebirth and recreation and Priori Incantatem relates to that. Does that make sense?

Kat: Yes, it does.

Michael: So I was wondering with unicorn hair, thinking about unicorns and dragons, what might their spells do if you had two wands from the same unicorn that went into battle or two wands from the same dragon? What would happen, if anything? And I went to Mr. Scamander’s notes and tried to pull out what about these particular animals is unique and magical, and unicorns… There isn’t really much that’s defined about them in the Harry Potter series. Mostly it’s that they’re difficult to capture and that they have restorative healing properties in their blood, but of course, those restorative healing properties carry a curse depending on how you use it. And then dragons have lots of powers. Of course, they have the typical ones of fire and flight. In Rowling’s world, almost all of them have eggshells made of extremely valuable material, and their hide is impenetrable. Their blood and other aspects of them have been used for magical purposes that just run the gamut. Probably one of the most interesting ones is that Ron mentions in, I believe, Book 5 or 6, that I think dragon claw can actually supposedly boost brain power, which would associate dragons with the mind in that way. So I was trying to think what about those things might manifest if those wands were put in a duel against each other. Or would it just be Priori Incantatem? I don’t know.

Alison: Well, I’m looking specifically at what Ollivander says about each core, and it says, “Unicorn hair generally produces the most consistent magic, and is least subject to fluctuations and blockages,” which makes me almost think that maybe you couldn’t do it with unicorn hair, that maybe they would just pass through each other. But dragon heartstring…

“As a rule, dragon heartstrings produce wands with the most power, and which are capable of the most flamboyant spells. Dragon wands tend to learn more quickly than other types.”

So I feel like maybe it would be a huge explosion, but maybe then they would start exchanging information almost more between the wands and maybe would be more of what happens when, in Deathly Hallows, Harry’s wand regurgitates the spell back at Voldemort.

Michael: Maybe the wands would make each other stronger, mutually. They wouldn’t fight. They’d just, like you said, share knowledge in that way, where the wands would actually imbibe more strength. That would be cool.

Kat: That would make a lot of sense, really, in terms of Harry and Voldemort.

Michael: I wonder… Unicorns have healing properties. Maybe rather than fight the wands would somehow cause each other to restore something somehow. [laughs] The wands would reboot and erase all of their previous knowledge.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: You just have a wand starting from the beginning.

Alison: Woops!

Michael: See, wouldn’t that be perfect, though? Because unicorn hair wands are the ones least likely to fight, so basically, your wands would be like, “No! No fighting. This is your consequence. You start from the beginning.” [laughs] That would actually have a more consequential result. Because the book defines that this is going to happen with every core – what happens with Harry and Voldemort – because it says “brother wands,” but there’s also a stress in the books that, because they both came from Fawkes and they came from a phoenix, that has something to do with activating Priori Incantatem.

Alison: Well, it’s at least the reason why Harry hears the phoenix song, so I wonder…

Kat: It could have to do with the strength of the connection too, because a phoenix is such a[n] intensely magical creature.

Alison: Yeah. And maybe because… I mean, it says in the description of phoenix feathers that phoenixes are very detached and independent, so maybe that’s part of why you try [to] put them next to each other, you try [to] get them to go against each other, but they’re not going to make any kind of connection, really. Unicorns live in herds more, [and] dragons live with mates and things, so maybe they would connect more instead of just bounc[ing] off each other.

Michael: Well, that was interesting – what you mentioned, too, Alison – about the phoenix song, because the part we don’t know about that is, we don’t know what Voldemort heard when that happened.

Alison: Didn’t he hear the song?

Michael: If he did, it wasn’t giving him the right reaction, but of course, that has something to do with…

Alison: Yeah, isn’t that what Dumbledore says?

Michael: Does he say that he heard it?

Alison: Well, no, but he says phoenix song brings courage to the hearts of the pure or something and puts fear in the hearts of the impure or something like that. I don’t remember.

Michael: Unicorns don’t sing, so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, there you go.

Alison: You just hear hooves pounding on the ground.

Michael: And I guess for a dragon you’d hear a roar…

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: … to take heart or something.

Alison: Or maybe it’s the wand that has a melodious roar.

Michael: Ooh. Yeah, because I wonder… There’s got to be something about unicorns and dragons that makes… If they also cause Priori Incantatem, I’m just wondering what it is about a unicorn and a dragon that helps or hinders the wand holder, I guess. But I guess, like you said, unicorns have restorative properties and healing properties, and dragons have impenetrable hides. I don’t know if… I just feel like dragons are definitely associated in a Gryffindor-esque way with bravery and fire in the heart, kind of a thing. So maybe dragons would be more of a feeling, perhaps, than a sound.

Alison: Yeah, maybe unicorns would make you feel more pure and devoted to your purpose or something and dragons would make you feel stronger. I don’t know.

Michael: I mean, if it ends up just being that flowers and rainbows shoot out of your wand when…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: That’s cool.

Michael: I don’t think anybody would be surprised, so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison and Michael: And butterflies.

Alison: Every thing’s happy.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: “She doesn’t even go here.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Someone yells that from the back.

Kat: Ron would be happy if it were butterflies.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But Alison, you actually listed a few characters whose wands we see, and that might be a good way to wrap things up with…

Alison: Yeah, I wanted to go through… Going with my question of “Do these match their personalities?” So I think it might be best to actually round out with Harry’s and the ones that he actually fails with because I think it’s interesting to look at some of the descriptions and maybe why he failed. But I guess the first one we can look at is Voldemort’s original wand, which is yew and phoenix feather, 13 and 1/2 inches, so a rather long wand. And the description for yew says,

“The wand of yew is reputed to endow its possessor with the power of life and death, which might, of course, be said of all wands; and yet yew retains a particularly dark and fearsome reputation in the spheres of duelling and all curses. […] Where wizards have been buried with wands of yew, the wand generally sprouts into a tree guarding the dead owner’s grave. What is certain, in my experience, is that the yew wand never chooses either a mediocre or a timid owner.”

Michael: Yeah. [laughs] That’s about right.

Alison: Yeah, but it made me wonder, do we have any other characters that have yew wands?

Michael: Off of the top of my head, I can’t think of any. Let’s see.

Kat: I feel like there is one, and I feel like it’s somebody like Ginny or somebody totally innocuous. I can’t remember who, though. But I remember being like, “Oh, that’s the same wand as Voldemort.” It’s probably not Ginny, but I feel it’s somebody.

Michael: Yeah, let’s see. According to the wiki, it’s Ginny.

Kat: Oh, I was right!

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Well, it’s not on Pottermore, though.

Michael: Oh, Rowling said it on Twitter.

Kat: Boom! There you go.

Alison: Oh, interesting.

Kat: I knew it was somebody else. I was positive it was Ginny. Look at… Wow, I feel like, “Good memory, Kat.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Yeah. That’s interesting, then, to think of… I mean, because you get… So many times in the series, you have Dumbledore talking about how Harry and Voldemort have this strange connection, and to see the flip side of Voldemort’s evil to be Ginny’s good, and she has a similar connection to Harry in a lot of ways.

Michael: [laughs] Do you think once Harry found that out – because he probably wasn’t paying close attention – some day in their adult years is like…

Alison: [laughs] Of course he wasn’t.

Michael: [as Harry] “Ginny, what’s your wand made of?” And she’s like, [as Ginny] “Yew.” And he’s like, [as Harry] “Oh my God!” [laughs] Freaks out and just runs from the room.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That was traumatic.

Alison and Kat: That would be funny.

Michael: Oh, okay. So yeah, it looks like that was revealed in the drawing that Rowling posted of wand designs for Cursed Child. So that’s where that information came from.

Alison: Does it say what her core is, then?

Michael: Not on this drawing.

Kat: Okay, so then that begs the other question that we have to decide.

Alison: It’s canon!

Kat: Is Cursed Child canon?

Alison: It’s fine! It’s canon! [laughs]

Kat: Which we haven’t had that…

Alison: It’s fine. It’s canon. We’re moving on. [laughs]

Kat: No, we’re not moving. We haven’t had that talk yet, so I guess that’s another show.

Michael: This feels like one of those cases for me personally where, when I don’t have anything to fill in for what it is, if it’s a minor detail like that, I’ll probably just go ahead and take it because to me that doesn’t really affect so much the story itself as, perhaps…

Kat: No, you’re right. It was probably yew before that, and it’s just coming out now so…

Alison: Yeah. That description does fit with Ginny, though, a lot. I mean, dueling and curses and never chooses a mediocre or timid owner. I mean, that’s very much Ginny in a lot of ways, so…

Michael: Yeah, that’s definitely… I think, like you said Alison, too, that’s really interesting to have that flipped association. So yeah, that seems reasonable. Listeners, if you haven’t yet read it, by the way, if you want more about yew…

Kat: Aha! More about you. Sorry.

Michael: “More about you.” [laughs] Make sure [to] pick up a copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. They’re making it into a movie. I think it actually just came out recently.

Kat: It did, yeah.

Michael: And the tree is yew. And there’s a reason for the tree being yew. Harry Potter fans will love it. Library recommendation. That’s my librarian moment. Moving on.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Speaking of other important characters’ wands, we’ve obviously got the Elder Wand…

Michael: Ugh, the Elder… I’m so over the Elder Wand. Let’s not. [laughs]

Alison: Which is elder and… I know. It’s elder, obviously.

Michael: Surprise.

Alison: Duh, it’s called the Elder Wand. And Thestral hair if I remember that correctly.

Michael: Yes, it is. It is a Thestral hair.

Alison: I didn’t actually look it up. Okay. [laughs]

Michael: I wonder how long it is and how flexible.

Alison: Yeah. Well, anyway, the elder wood description says it “scorns to remain with any owner who is not the superior of his or her company; it takes a remarkable wizard to keep the elder wand for any length of time. […] Only a highly unusual person will find their perfect match in elder, and on the rare occasion when such a pairing occurs, I take it as certain that the witch or wizard in question is marked out for a special destiny.”

So if we think about the owners of the Elder Wand [whom] we are familiar with, obviously, we’ve got Harry. That fits.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: I don’t know if we’d say he’s necessarily the superior of everything around but all right.

Kat: No, we wouldn’t necessarily at all say that.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Well, I guess we’re…

Alison: He is definitely…

Michael: It depends on if we’re talking about the superior in magical talent or the superior in certain personality aspects, because I think she leaves that definition…

Kat: Potayto, potahto.

[Kat and Michae laugh]

Michael: Yeah, well, I think she leaves that definition… Perhaps that’s why she leaves that definition of it unclear. Because, obviously, Harry is superior in other ways, perhaps, other than magical talent, because probably superior wizards would not have used [the Disarming Charm] as their finale spell.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Just saying. I may still be bitter about that choice.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Hey, it fits into “highly unusual person” and also “marked out for a special destiny.”

Michael: Oh, gee. [laughs]

Alison: Which, I mean, fits Voldemort, Dumbledore and Harry.

Kat: It couldn’t be more written exactly for Dumbledore, so…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Cliché. Blah, blah.

Alison: Well, yes, that’s true. But there is a little interesting tidbit. It says, those who have elder wands usually have an affinity with rowan wand owners. So could Grindelwald have had a rowan wand?

Michael: I like that thought.

Alison: Do we think that could be revealed in something?

Kat: I feel like we talked about this on the Dumbledore episode. Did we talk about this?

Alison: I don’t remember ever having talked about this.

Kat: I very specifically remember talking about that exact quote. But I don’t remember when.

Alison: I don’t remember that, but maybe we did.

Michael: Well, and that also raises the question about what Dumbledore’s first wand was, before he got the Elder Wand.

Kat: Right. Well, I’m sure we’ll find out in Fantastic Beasts, won’t we?

Michael: I suppose so. Yeah. Well, because we do have vague confirmation that the wand that Grindelwald is using is Graves’s wand, the one we see in the movie, so… Because that’s not the… I’m assuming they’re still going to go with the design of the Elder Wand since it’s become so iconic.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: They better! That’s a pretty big Easter egg that I feel like they would have to use for the casual wizarding world fan, so to say.

Michael: Well, and that lends itself to some complications because when Dumbledore’s wand as it is was designed by around Movie 3, it was designed thinking that it was his wand, not knowing it was the Elder Wand. Because the reason it has all those little holes is because it’s in reference to his name, which has a reference to bees and the idea that Rowling thought of him as wandering around and humming like a bee. So that’s why it looks like honeycombs. But then they were like, “Whoops, that’s the Elder Wand!” But then at the same time, I guess at the end, they were like, “Thank goodness we made this so cool-looking and iconic by accident!”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Because it ended up being really important, so…

Kat: It probably… I mean, I’m sure Jo was like, “Mm-mm-mm-mm.”

Alison: Told them it was important.

Kat: Well, if she knew, which we hope that she did and are, oh, about 90% sure that she knew, so…

Michael: So that’ll most certainly… Once we see that wand – if we ever see it on-screen in the next four movies – we’ll definitely talk about [it] then. Now I really want to talk about canon complications. That’ll really blow things up.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: That’ll be fun.

Kat: Yeah, no kidding. No kidding. Yeah, I feel like they have to use it, though. That’d be really stupid of them not to, hint hint. I know a lot of people working on the film. I will pass that on.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Well, he’s going to have to win it at the end. I mean, that’s a big deal, so… [laughs] It’s going to have to come up.

Michael: Yeah, it’s pretty important.

Alison: And before we get on to Harry, just because I’ve got to throw it out there, Hermione’s is dragon heartstring and vine, 10 and 3/4 inches. Same length as [mine] and yours, Michael.

Michael: Aww!

Alison: Woop, woop! And vine actually has a really interesting description, because it talks about… It’s a less common one, and “their owners are nearly always those witches or wizards who seek a greater purpose, who have a vision beyond the ordinary and who frequently astound those who think they know them best. Vine wands seem strongly attracted by personalities with hidden depths, and I have found them more sensitive than any other when it comes to instantly detecting a prospective match. Reliable sources claim that these wands can emit magical effects upon the mere entrance into their room of a suitable owner, and I have twice observed the phenomenon in my own shop.”

Michael: So it was vine!

Kat: There you go.

Alison: So yeah, it is that one. But now I want to know, is one of them Hermione?

Michael: Well, yeah, did she walk in and the wand was like, “Ooh! Me, me, me! Pick me!”

Kat: I feel like we would have heard about it if it were Hermione.

Michael: That’s cool, though.

Alison: Would we, though?

Kat: She would have been like, “And when I got my wand…”

Michael: [laughs] [as Hermione] “My wand just jumped right into my hand!”

Alison: Hermione never talks about her wand, though. I don’t think we ever find out in the books.

Michael: No, Hermione doesn’t really make much of a fuss over her wand.

Kat: No. Which is funny because she’s a bit of a braggart.

Michael: Yeah, I think… Because the wand thing is more of a vanity thing, I think, for wizards. And Hermione is not interested in vanity, she’s interested in showing off her knowledge.

Kat: Sure. But if her wand had jumped out at her or made sparks, we would have heard about it.

Michael: That’s interesting. Now I do want to know, because I’m curious if that’s a hidden story that was meant to be an implication or not.

Kat: Add it to the list of things we want to ask Jo.

Michael: Yeah. Hermione is a very powerful witch, we know, so…

Alison: Well, and to just round this off, then, I wanted to just look at the wands that Harry tries and maybe see why they don’t fit him.

Michael: This is so fun.

Alison: And why his ends up working.

Michael: This made me so nostalgic because in the Sorcerer’s Stone PlayStation 2 game, you actually do get to try all the wrong wands before you get the right one.

Kat: That’s fun.

Michael: It’s cute. And you know they’re wrong, too, because everybody knows the wand. But you can go around and pick them up off the little pillows, and you wave them, and bad things happen, and Ollivander freaks out. It’s great! It’s great.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: So the first one he tries is beechwood and dragon heartstring, 9 inches, nice and flexible. And the description for beechwood says, “if young, wise beyond his or her years” and “capable of a subtlety and artistry.”

Kat: Well, that’s wrong.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Wrong. [makes buzzer noise]

Kat: Not Harry Potter.

Alison: So the next one he tries is maple and phoenix feather, so we’re about halfway there, 7 inches, quite whippy.

Michael: Too short. Way too short. Oh my God, 7 inches. [laughs]

Kat: That’s shorter than Umbridge’s wand.

Alison: I actually have an interesting thing about these wand lengths. I noticed a little pattern, but we’ll get to that when we’re done. Maple: “by nature travellers and explorers; they are not stay-at-home wands, and prefer ambition in their witch or wizard. […] Fresh challenges and regular changes of scene cause this wand to literally shine. […] Possession of a maple wand has long been a mark of status, because of its reputation as the wand of high achievers.” Which, this sounds to me like this could have been the combination Harry would have gotten if he would have been put in Slytherin.

Michael: Ooh.

Kat: Possibly. And you know what’s funny? I was just thinking about the difference between the two. Because you have to think about that Ollivander is choosing these and thinking, “Hmm, maybe this combination.” And it’s really interesting to think about his “Okay, so he’s not subtle or anything, so maybe he’s really ambitious!” So it’s fun to make that leap between the two to see where Ollivander’s train of thought is going. But I do agree that that is a very Slytherin!Harry wand. I like it. I like that.

Alison: Yeah. Interesting, too, that it says that they’re “not stay-at-home wands,” where I think we see by the epilogue and we see in Cursed Child Harry very much likes to be a little bit more stay-at-home. He likes the quiet life.

Kat: #notcanon.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: #iscanon! I just love thinking of Harry cooking dinner for his family.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Okay, anyway, that’s a different conversation. And so the last failed attempt – that we get a description of, at least – is ebony and unicorn hair, 8 and 1/2 inches, springy.

Michael: So short!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: And ebony says, “highly suited to all manner of combative magic, and to Transfiguration. Ebony is happiest in the hand of those with the courage to be themselves. Frequently non-conformist, highly individual or comfortable with the status of outsider, […] ebony wand’s perfect match is one who will hold fast to his or her beliefs, no matter what the external pressure, and will not be swayed lightly from their purpose,” which sounds to me like Luna.

Kat: With the exception of the combative magic, I could see that, yeah.

Michael: I could see this for later in Harry’s life, even later in his school career. This is pretty much not how he’s feeling in Diagon Alley at that moment because he’s just had a huge blow to his self-confidence from Malfoy, so he’s definitely not in that space yet. Because he’s still anxious about not being knowledgeable enough or talented enough to be part of the wizarding world, and he carries that anxiety all the way to the Sorting Hat, even on the train, so…

Alison: I don’t know, though, because I feel like Harry doesn’t like being an outsider. He doesn’t like to be different all throughout the whole thing. He doesn’t like the fact that he’s been singled out.

Michael: That’s true. Well, see, that’s good, though. Even if these things, some of them, fit and don’t fit in some ways, I think perhaps maybe the point of Rowling using these particular wand woods is because at least one of their points doesn’t fit Harry in a drastic way, and that’s why she… Because we know that he tried more because he’s got a whole pile of wands next to him by the time he puts the holly one in his hand. But yeah, judging by what we’ve learned throughout this episode, these are all the wrong combinations, and it is almost like Ollivander started him from the exact opposite of where he would end up. But at the same time, these combinations seem purposeful and seem to be testing certain aspects about Harry that will eventually form the wand that he gets in the end. Of course, there’s the drastic bit that the phoenix feather is the deciding factor.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Well, I mean, and that’s what I’m saying about why Ollivander is choosing each one, because if you take an aspect from each one of these wands, you get that final wand. This ebony wand “[being] highly suited to all manner of combative magic.” Harry is really good at Defense Against the Dark Arts. That is a very valid trait for Harry for that wand. It’s just the rest of it that didn’t really fit him, which is cool.

Michael: Yeah, that’s neat.

Alison: [It’s] also interesting to note that all of these wands that fail that we get, they’re pretty similar lengths, which makes me think maybe Ollivander was going more toward “this is Harry’s physical measurements” as he was starting out.

Michael: Yeah, I’m wondering if that is it. Yeah, because he’s short.

Alison: Because we know Harry is short, yeah.

Michael: I forget that, because Harry has a growth spurt in Book 5.

Alison: Yeah. So then we find his perfect match: holly and phoenix feather, 11 inches, nice and supple. So we get a little bit longer, probably for his personality and his specialness and what he has to do and what kind of person he is. The holly description is the one that’s most like, “All right, this is so obviously…”

Michael: “… written for Harry.” [laughs]

Alison: “… written just because it’s Harry’s,” yeah. But it says,

“Traditionally considered protective, it works most happily for those who may need help overcoming a tendency to anger and impetuosity. At the same time, holly wands often choose owners who are engaged in some dangerous and often spiritual quest. Holly is one of those woods that varies most dramatically in performance, depending on the wand core and it is a notoriously difficult wood to team with phoenix feather, as the wood’s volatility conflicts strangely with the phoenix’s detachment. In the unusual event of such a pairing finding its ideal match, however, nothing and nobody should stand in their way.”

Michael: [as Ollivander] “I totally randomly said this, and I was not at all thinking specifically of Harry Potter when I wrote this.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: I think Ollivander could write a whole separate dissertation just about Harry[‘s] and Voldemort’s wands.

Alison: He probably has, by this point.

Michael: I feel like this was the birth of that. He probably did. [laughs]

Alison: He was like, “Ooh!” He started writing that right when Harry walked out of the shop. “Look at that. Fascinating!” [laughs]

Michael: I mean, because that brings up what we were asking before, too, of how much was it of Ollivander making the choice or how much of it was the wand making the choice and how much was Ollivander basically playing God in that moment, [laughs] because he was just like, [as Ollivander] “Oh, let’s see what we can do here!” Because, as we know, Harry finds Ollivander helpful but oddly discomforting, and there’s something about him that all the way from Sorceror’s Stone to Deathly Hallows he doesn’t like, and he pinpoints in Hallows that the thing that bothers him is that Ollivander doesn’t really seem to take sides. He seems to actually crave more the… He’s more interested in the results of what will happen depending on what kinds of wands you put in people’s hands and send them into the world with, regardless of what it’s gonna do. He’s just entranced by the possibilities. So that brings up that… I think that’s why we have all these questions about wands because Ollivander in particular is somebody who plays a major role in deciding how the series plays out, and to some degree, he plays that knowingly. Obviously here, all he can think about is Harry’s wand. [laughs] After all this time, he’s still talking about Harry’s wand, so… I think maybe that’s why these questions about wands that we’ve asked in this episode are raised, is because of characters like Ollivander. Nice and supple too. You don’t see that flexibility a lot with wands.

Alison: Yeah, it’s interesting. The words she uses for this is interesting. It’s almost like he’s moldable, he can be shaped to his purpose, which I think goes to our idea of Dumbledore raising him as a pig for slaughter in some ways.

Michael: And we know, too, that Ollivander wrote immediately to Dumbledore and told him the wand that Harry got, so Dumbledore probably had some idea of who Harry was based on his wand from before he even showed up at school, so there you go.

Kat: Huh, good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

Michael: Huh. This is revealing some pretty messed up stuff about everybody.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Wands are messy.

Alison: I do like the description of “who may need help overcoming a tendency to anger and impetuosity.”

Michael: Yeah, gee golly, who could that be?

Alison: Order of the Phoenix, anyone? There you go.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yeah, I love how he’s just casually like, “By the way, if you put it with a phoenix feather, then it’s really difficult. Just something I thought I’d mention.” [laughs] Well, there you go. I think that’s quite a coverage of wands, wouldn’t you say?

Kat: About one aspect of wands, yeah.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: It’s wonderful. I think we did a great job.

Michael: And there’s somebody very important we need to thank for all of this discussion.

Kat: Oh yeah, that… I mean, if you guys could hear everything that this person said…

[Alison laughs]

Kat: … then you were in for a really fantastic episode. I don’t know. Maybe the editor will put it at the end of the episode.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: There’s a frequency you have to tune into to hear the Ghost Host’s thoughts. But they were there, and we have to thank the Ghost Host for being there.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: But really, guys, it should have been one of you. So you should go to the “Be on the Show!” page – like we said before – and submit an audition and come on a future episode. We have lots of really fun stuff coming up, including a Cursed Child canon discussion, which I am all sorts of ready for. All sorts of ready for.

Alison: [whispers] It’s canon.

Michael: But speaking of next topics – and we already know a bunch of you want to talk about this one because we do have requests and auditions for this one – Ilvermorny! It did come up a lot in this episode.

Alison: Yay!

Michael: We didn’t even get to the fact that Isolt and James actually made their own wands and the wands for their students, so there’s a whole bit in there in how wand culture even works in America. But that will be the next topic – Ilvermorny. It kicks off a lot of stuff that grew into Fantastic Beasts, so we definitely look forward to talking about that particular topic.

Kat: Yeah, Part 2, right? It’s going to be awesome.

Michael: Yeah, it is Part 2.

Alison: Yes. Yeah. And if you want to come join us for Ilvermorny or for any of our other topics, [chants and claps] go on the “Be [on] the Show!” page, go on the “Be [on] the Show!” page, go on the “Be [on] the Show!” page, go on the “Be [on] the Show!” page, go, go, go!

Michael: G-O, go! [laughs]

Alison: Because we have a list of our…

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: [chants] Be on the show! [laughs] We’re going to come up with a cheer.

Kat: Hidey-ho! I don’t know.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That was good.

Kat: I just wanted to be included, okay?

Michael: [laughs] Rhyming!

Alison: [laughs] No, it worked really well. So you can see on our “Be [on] the Show!” page our upcoming topics and send us an audition, tell us what you want to talk about, come talk to us. These are great when you come talk to us. You can also suggest your own topic if it’s not listed, something that you really want to talk about that you’re curious in hearing what we think about it and in joining us in talking about it. And you can suggest them there. You don’t need anything fancy, just a basic set of headphones with a microphone and a recording program, and that’s it. And it is not fancy, and you can do it.

Michael: And we promise you, we don’t bite. Don’t be scared. [laughs] We’ve been told we’re fun to talk to, and if you like talking to us in your car or on your commute to work, then imagine what it’s like [whispers] when we actually answer you back.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: It’s even better. And we want to hear from you. Really, listeners, the thing we want to stress, too, with this is that when you do submit an audition, it really does help if you tell us which topic you want to be on because we are more likely to pick you if you associate yourself with a topic because then we know you’re going to be super enthusiastic to chitchat about it. Because we really want people who talk, talk, talk because what is a podcast without talking? Well, it’s a Ghost Host, so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: In the meantime, if you guys just want to reach out to us with crazy theories, the Ghost Host doesn’t have a Twitter, unfortunately, but we do. It’s @AlohomoraMN, our Facebook is facebook.com/openthedumbledore. You know it, you love it, you visit it all the time, our website, alohomora.mugglenet.com. And don’t forget, you can always send us an audioBoom, guys, so you can actually use that for your auditions as well. You can record an audioBoom and then email us and be like, “Hey, guys, I sent you an audioBoom. That was my audition. Here it is again.” Okay?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: And you can also just send us a question, a comment, a concern, a lyric. I mean, Valentine’s Day is coming up. Feel free to send us a poem. We like poems, we like little songs and all that. Just keep whatever you send us under 60 seconds and you could hear it on the show, especially if it’s a song because if you send us a song, that’s going to be on the show. It just is. That’s a promise.

Michael: Yeah, I don’t want to be the only one singing on this show.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Right? I mean, you don’t want to hear any of the rest of us sing. Well, Alison probably has a good voice, and I bet Rosie has a good voice.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I do not, so that won’t happen.

Michael: And we want to, once again, sing the praises of Elizabeth Jack for sponsoring this particular episode on Patreon!

Kat: Yay!

Michael: Thank you again, Elizabeth.

Alison: Yay!

Michael: We want to remind you, listeners, one more time that you can check out our Patreon through our main site, alohomora.mugglenet.com. You can sponsor us on Patreon for as low as $1 a month. It’s just that simple, and we have such cool perks that are coming up. I love that I’ve been chronicling this through every episode. I found an electronics store that’s gotten great reviews that I’m going to take my computer to for that graphics card replacement. I’m going to [laughs] make these video gaming episodes happen.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It’s finally happening.

Kat: Yay!

Michael: My parents gave me the money for a new graphics card, and I finally found a five-star place right around the corner from where I live here in Austin. So I’m super psyched to finally… I won’t play the video games until we do that perk for our Patreon sponsors, and I also have that new perk where I will read to you a chapter of Harry Potter.

Kat: Which, nobody but me has signed up for that…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … and I feel like… I mean, that’s pretty amazing. I love private readings with Michael Harle, but guys, you’ve been begging him to read the books, so donate.

Michael: The only people who have been ever privy to extensive versions of that are my roommate and my brother. So it’s a super special treat – unless you can’t stand my voice.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: So make sure [to] visit us on patreon.com/alohomora for that and all kinds of other cool perks that we’ve got. But for now, we’re going to wave our wands and Disapparate. I’m Michael Harle.

Kat: I’m Kat Miller.

Alison: And I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 211 of Alohomora!

Michael: [as Ollivander] “3,648 square inches, oak, quite rigid, imbibed with curiosity.”

Alison: [hums dramatic music] [laughs]

[Show music begins]

Kat: It opened the Dumbledore! It’s my wand!

[Show music continues]

Michael: Because we get a little taste of this in Goblet of Fire with Krum and Fleur’s wands, because of course Fleur’s is probably the most shocking core that we had heard up to that time in that hers is a Veela hair from her grandmother.

Alison: Which is so interesting to me. I would assume that means you can commission wands. You can tell someone… There must be some custom-made wand situations in some places.

Kat: Well, yeah, because Fleur has… Doesn’t she have a Veela hair from a family member in her wand?

Alison: Yeah, it’s from her grandmother, so…

Kat: Were you just talking about that and I missed that because I blanked out?

Michael: Yeah, I literally just said that. That was funny.

Kat: I’m sorry.

Michael: No, it’s fine.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: It’s okay.

Kat: I’m sorry.

Michael: No, that’s funny. [laughs]