When I was around 5 years old, my aunt Carol gifted me a book that would forever change my life. I vividly remember her handing me the book, telling me that I was bound to find it interesting. I recall gingerly taking it out of her hands and flipping it over so that I could see the title. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," I sounded it out. The illustration on the cover immediately pulled me in. It featured a train with the words 'HOGWARTS EXPRESS' written across its front and a bespectacled black-haired boy with a scar the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead. For the remaining part of the day, I hardly went outdoors. I even failed to join my brother and the other children in their tree climbing adventure, an adventure I normally wouldn't pass up. It was a good thing that I had already finished all my chores, including letting the chickens out of the coop, because after receiving that book, I planted myself on the sofa and did not budge until I had read it all, cover to cover. It was that book that opened the door for me to enter the land of magic and I never looked back. I have, since 2001, been a potterhead.
I have, since then, followed Harry Potter's adventures with much diligence and enthusiasm. I read the books as they came out and as soon as I learnt about the movies, I begged my mother to buy them for me, which she did. I remember camping in front of the TV with my brother all night, watching all the action of this magical world I had discovered. Most people did not understand why a little girl from the village kept on yapping about a 'magical world' and I'm quite certain that there are those who thought me to be crazy. In their defense, fiction was, and still remains to be, an area of literature that is mostly unexplored in Kenya.
I have since been keeping up to date with J. K. Rowling's activities and making it a point to read every book she publishes. Words cannot describe how sad I was when Potter's journey came to an end, with him finally killing Voldemort and all, but that was not to be the end of the adventure. There's the newly released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a movie adaptation of Rowling's book under the same title. There's also the play titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My favourite 2016 J. K. Rowling moment would have to be when she responded to the people who were criticizing the casting of black actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed child, aptly labelling said people racist, which they were. Additionally, Rowling's clapbacks on Twitter are epic!
It was therefore with great excitement that I dived, head first, into the website Pottermore. Pottermore is the digital heart of the Wizarding World and is packed with exclusive writing, news, features and surprises from J. K. Rowling herself. In addition to all the in-depth writing about the characters, magical creatures, locations and things found in the Wizarding World, there's also a shop for your purchases, in case you want to do a bit of shopping there, and a personal profile where you can discover your Patronus, receive the details of your wand and be sorted into your Hogwarts and Ilvermony houses. For those who aren't familiar with the Wizarding World, Hogwarts is the school in Britain while Ilvermony is in North America. There are other schools of witchcraft and wizardry around the world, such as Beauxbatons in the Pyrenees, Castelobruxo in Brazil, Durmstrang in Scandinavia, Mahoutokoro in Japan and Uagadou thought to be in Uganda (only address ever given is 'Mountains of the Moon'; Rowling writes 'visitors speak of a stunning edifice carved out of the mountainside and shrouded in mist, so that it sometimes appears simply to float in mid-air'. Fun fact: magic originated in Africa. Rowling states that "Much (some would say all) magic originated in Africa...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.".
N.B. Most schools of witchcraft and wizardry are very secretive about their location and have no exact location that can be pinpointed on a map but rather a general area where they are suspected to be located. Only the goers know whereabout the schools are. There are charms to protect the schools from intruders. E.g The Hogwarts castle appears to be ruins to muggles (non-magic people). Charms such as a disillusionment charm may be used together with protective spells.
Needless to say, I have been spending a lot of time reading all that I can in Pottermore. I have discovered that my Patronus is a pheasant. A Patronus is described as a ‘a kind of Anti-Dementor – a guardian which acts as a shield between you and the Dementor' and ‘a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive – but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the Dementors can’t hurt it.’ I have also received my wand and been sorted into my Hogwarts house, Ravenclaw, and my Ilvermony house, the Horned Serpent.
Ravenclaws are described as intelligent, wise, sharp, witty and individual. They prize wit, learning and wisdom and the ethos of Ravenclaw - wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure - is etched into founder Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem. Famous Ravenclaws include Filius Flitwick, Head of House and Charms Professor; Professor Sybill Trelawney, Head of Divination Department at Hogwarts; Garrick Ollivander, the most sought after wandmaker in Britain; Quirinus Quirrell, ex-Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts; Gilderoy Lockhart, ex-Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Quirrell's replacement (things really don't work out for professors at this post; long story short, there's a new one each year); Luna Lovegood, eccentric student and was an integral part in taking down Voldemort and Cho Chang, student and part of Ravenclaw's Quidditch team as Seeker. I think I'd have had a good time in Ravenclaw. I've always considered myself as Dumbledore, Hermione and Luna rolled into one. And although Luna is the only Ravenclaw among the three (Dumbledore and Hermione are Gryffindors), all three of them have exceptional intellectual prowess, a quality that I too possess.
Members of the Horned Serpent house are described as scholars. The house is said to favour people with great minds. Much about Ilvermony is not yet revealed and is set to be revealed on Pottermore.
Garrick Ollivander famously said that the wand chooses the wizard. My wand is made of chestnut wood with unicorn hair core. It is 11 inches in length and has unyielding flexibility. There's a lot to be learnt about wands and all the information one could ever possibly need about wandlore is available on Pottermore as well.
I leave you with this heartwarming welcome letter I received from Prefect Robert Hilliard (written by J.K.Rowling).
"Congratulations! I’m Prefect Robert Hilliard, and I’m delighted to welcome you to RAVENCLAW HOUSE. Our emblem is the eagle, which soars where others cannot climb; our house colours are blue and bronze, and our common room is found at the top of Ravenclaw Tower, behind a door with an enchanted knocker. The arched windows set into the walls of our circular common room look down at the school grounds: the lake, the Forbidden Forest, the Quidditch pitch and the Herbology gardens. No other house in the school has such stunning views.
Without wishing to boast, this is the house where the cleverest witches and wizards live. Our founder, Rowena Ravenclaw, prized learning above all else – and so do we. Unlike the other houses, who all have concealed entrances to their common rooms, we don’t need one. The door to our common room lies at the top of a tall, winding staircase. It has no handle, but an enchanted bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle. When you rap on the door, this knocker will ask you a question, and if you can answer it correctly, you are allowed in. This simple barrier has kept out everyone but Ravenclaws for nearly a thousand years.
Some first-years are scared by having to answer the eagle’s questions, but don’t worry. Ravenclaws learn quickly, and you’ll soon enjoy the challenges the door sets. It’s not unusual to find twenty people standing outside the common room door, all trying to work out the answer to the day’s question together. This is a great way to meet fellow Ravenclaws from other years, and to learn from them – although it is a bit annoying if you’ve forgotten your Quidditch robes and need to get in and out in a hurry. In fact, I’d advise you to triple-check your bag for everything you need before leaving Ravenclaw Tower.
Another cool thing about Ravenclaw is that our people are the most individual – some might even call them eccentrics. But geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and unlike some other houses we could mention, we think you’ve got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren’t put off by people who march to a different tune; on the contrary, we value them!
Speaking of eccentrics, you’ll like our Head of house, Professor Filius Flitwick. People often underestimate him, because he’s really tiny (we think he’s part elf, but we’ve never been rude enough to ask) and he’s got a squeaky voice, but he’s the best and most knowledgeable Charms master alive in the world today. His office door is always open to any Ravenclaw with a problem, and if you’re in a real state he’ll get out these delicious little cupcakes he keeps in a tin in his desk drawer and make them do a little dance for you. In fact, it’s worth pretending you’re in a real state just to see them jive.
Ravenclaw house has an illustrious history. Most of the greatest wizarding inventors and innovators were in our house, including Perpetua Fancourt, the inventor of the lunascope, Laverne de Montmorency, a great pioneer of love potions, and Ignatia Wildsmith, the inventor of Floo powder. Famous Ravenclaw Ministers for Magic include Millicent Bagnold, who was in power on the night that Harry Potter survived the Dark Lord’s curse, and defended the wizarding celebrations all over Britain with the words, ‘I assert our inalienable right to party'. There was also Minister Lorcan McLaird, who was a quite brilliant wizard, but preferred to communicate by puffing smoke out of the end of his wand. Well, I did say we produce eccentrics. In fact, we are also the house that gave the wizarding world Uric the Oddball, who used a jellyfish for a hat. He’s the punch line of a lot of wizarding jokes.
As for our relationship with the other three houses: well, you’ve probably heard about the Slytherins. They’re not all bad, but you’d do well to be on your guard until you know them well. They’ve got a long house tradition of doing whatever it takes to win – so watch out, especially in Quidditch matches and exams.
The Gryffindors are OK. If I had a criticism, I’d say Gryffindors tend to be show-offs. They’re also much less tolerant than we are of people who are different; in fact, they’ve been known to make jokes about Ravenclaws who have developed an interest in levitation, or the possible magical uses of troll bogies, or ovomancy, which (as you probably know) is a method of divination using eggs. Gryffindors haven’t got our intellectual curiosity, whereas we’ve got no problem if you want to spend your days and nights cracking eggs in a corner of the common room and writing down your predictions according to the way the yolks fall. In fact, you’ll probably find a few people to help you.
As for the Hufflepuffs, well, nobody could say they’re not nice people. In fact, they’re some of the nicest people in the school. Let’s just say you needn’t worry too much about them when it comes to competition at exam time.
I think that’s nearly everything. Oh yes, our house ghost is the Grey Lady. The rest of the school thinks she never speaks, but she’ll talk to Ravenclaws. She’s particularly useful if you’re lost, or you’ve mislaid something.
I’m sure you’ll have a good night. Our dormitories are in turrets off the main tower; our four-poster beds are covered in sky blue silk eiderdowns and the sound of the wind whistling around the windows is very relaxing.
And once again: well done on becoming a member of the cleverest, quirkiest and most interesting house at Hogwarts."