Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

United States

What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? What would we learn? How might they change us? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a new podcast reading Harry Potter, the best-selling series of all time, as if it was a sacred text. Just as Christians read the Bible, Jews the Torah and Muslims read the Quran, we will embark on a 199-episode journey (one chapter an episode, to be released weekly) to glean what wisdom and meaning J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels have for us today. We will read Harry Potter, not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives.

Episodes

Foresight: The Dementor (Book 3, Chapter 5)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of foresight in chapter five of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss the magical properties of chocolate, Harry and Ginny's romantic potential, and whether we should try and preserve the innocence of children. Throughout the episode they consider the question: is it worth knowing the future, if you can't change it? 

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Bombas. Next week we're reading chapter six, Talons and Tea Leaves, through the theme of forgiveness. Our donor of the week is Ashleigh Gilbertson and our voicemail this week is thanks to Catherine Gilbert. 

Hospitality: The Leaky Cauldron (Book 3, Chapter 4)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of hospitality in chapter four of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They consider the ways in which Hermione is diplomatic, do the Jewish practice of PaRDeS for the first time on their own, and grudgingly admit that maybe Percy has the right idea for once. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What's the relationship between capitalism and altruism?

This episode is sponsored by Spotify Showstopper and Blue Apron. Next week we're reading chapter five, The Dementor, through the theme of foresight. Our donor of the week is Marilyn Pukkila and our voicemail this week is thanks to Abigail Smith. If you want to take the audience survey, you can go to panoply.fm/survey.

Special Edition: Extended Conversation with Jackson Bird from the Harry Potter Alliance  

We could only include a few minutes of Casper's conversation with Jackson Bird into the main episode this week, but it was so lovely that we thought it was important to share it all. So here's an extended cut! Hear Jackson talk more about the Harry Potter Alliance and his experience with publicly coming out as trans. 

Secrets: The Knight Bus (Book 3, Chapter 3)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of secrets in chapter three of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss the sketchiness of Cornelius Fudge, throw some shade at Stanley Shunpike and contemplate the role of socio-economic status in the wizarding world.

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Spotify Showstopper. Next week we're reading chapter four, The Leaky Cauldron, through the theme of hospitality. Our story this week was told by our wonderful friend Jack Bird of the Harry Potter Alliance and this week's voicemail is thanks to Lyla Quinn. If you want to take the audience survey, you can go to panoply.fm/survey.

Family: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake (Book 2, Chapter 3)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of family in chapter two of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss why Vanessa loves her dog so much, the age old question of nature vs. nurture, and the muggle magic of alcohol. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What are we willing to suffer for our family?

This episode is sponsored by Spotify Showstopper and Audible and this week's voicemail is thanks to Liza Mann. Next week we’ll be reading chapter three, The Knight Bus, through the theme of secrets. If you want to take the audience survey, you can go to panoply.fm/survey.

Mercy: Owl Post (Book 3, Chapter 1)  

Vanessa and Casper dive into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with the theme of mercy. They discuss Ron's difficulty with telephones, Errol the owl, and return to the spiritual practice of Florilegia. Throughout the episode they consider the question: how much does intention matter when offering mercy? 

This week we're sponsored by Squarespace and Blue Apron. This week's voicemail is thanks to Jenn Radtke. Be sure to check out our website harrypottersacredtext.com to buy tickets for our live tour this summer! 

Season Three Announcement + Trailer  

Thanks to your immense generosity, we've reached our crowdfunding goal with time to spare! That means that, starting next week, we'll be launching into season three with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Here's the trailer audio, but be sure to also watch the beautiful animation (which we were able to create thanks to your donations). 

You all are the best listeners/community/conversation partners in the whole podcast universe. See you next season!  

Special Edition: The Live Show  

For those who couldn't make it to our live show back in January, here' s a little taste of all the fun we had! The audio quality is not ideal, but you still can get a sense for what it was like to be in the room. If all goes well, we'll be coming to a city near you soon.

Our sponsors this week are Blue Apron and Spotify Showstopper. See you in Season three!

Wrap-Up: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  

In the final episode of season two, Vanessa and Casper pull out a few key insights from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They evaluate the evolution of Harry's character, compare Lockhart to a Shakespearean protagonist, and talk about the importance of paying attention to ghosts. Throughout the episode they come back to ideas about liberation, marginalization, and belonging. 

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Casper. Be sure to check out our season three crowdfunder at harrypottersacredtext.com.

Special Edition: Owl Post and Rabbi Scott Perlo  

In our penultimate episode of season two, we hear from listeners Christina Richardson, Margaret, Meaghan Crowley, and Abigail Morris. Vanessa and Casper also have the opportunity to learn a new spiritual practice, PaRDeS, from the charming and wise Rabbi Scott Perlo.

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace. Next week, we'll be doing a full book review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the meantime, be sure to check out our season three crowdfunder at harrypottersacredtext.com.

Love: Dobby's Reward (Book 2, Chapter 18)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of love in the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Together they discuss the connection between love, memory, suffering, and why parents take their babies to the zoo. They are joined by special guest, Professor Stephanie Paulsell, to discuss and introduce a new spiritual practice — Florilegia. 

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Katie Bowers. Be sure to check out our season three crowdfunder at harrypottersacredtext.com.

Heartbreak: The Heir of Slytherin (Book 2, Chapter 17)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of heartbreak in chapter seventeen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss practical jokes, juvenile delinquency, and the symbolism of Fawkes' tears. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What's the difference between heartbreak and soul-break?

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Helen Valencia. Next week we’ll be reading chapter eighteen, Dobby's Reward, through the theme of love. 

Grace: The Chamber of Secrets (Book 2, Chapter 16)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of grace in chapter sixteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the power of gratitude, the difference between the desolation of Moaning Myrtle and Ginny Weasley, and Vanessa's admiration of Johnny Cash. Throughout the episode they consider the question: why does the idea of grace make some of us uncomfortable?

This episode is sponsored by audible.com and this week's voicemail is thanks to Rebecca Dehovitz. Next week we'll be reading chapter seventeen, The Heir of Slytherin, through the theme of heartbreak.

Sanctuary: Aragog (Book 2, Chapter 15)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of sanctuary in chapter fifteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the power of silence, how Hagrid is a priest-like figure, and why spiders are so afraid of the Basilisk. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Are the most ordinary among us best suited to face life's greatest horrors?

This episode is sponsored by Aaptiv and Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Heather McDonald. Next week we’ll be reading chapter sixteen, The Chamber of Secrets, through the theme of grace. 

Loyalty: Cornelius Fudge (Book 2, Chapter 14)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of loyalty in chapter fourteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Hagrid and Dumbledore's mutual admiration, how to navigate multiple responsibilities, and why Cornelius Fudge is a poor politician. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When does loyalty become cultish and when is it the highest form of respect? 

This episode is sponsored by Aaptiv and Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Jane. Next week we’ll be reading chapter fifteen, Aragog, through the theme of sanctuary. 

Cowardice: The Very Secret Diary (Book 2, Chapter 13)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of cowardice in chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss hate crimes, the psychology of murderers, and secret admirers. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What is the primary emotion associated with cowardice? Is it fear, shame, confusion, or something else?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Casper and this week's voicemail is thanks to Teague Peterson. Next week we’ll be reading chapter fourteen, Cornelius Fudge, through the theme of loyalty. 

Belonging: The Polyjuice Potion (Book 2, Chapter 12)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of belonging in chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss magical portraits, the metaphor of the phoenix, and Vanessa’s distrust of optometry. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is a shared history necessary for feeling belonging? 
This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Aaptiv and this week's voicemail is thanks to Evin Shinn. Next week we’ll be reading chapter thirteen, The Very Secret Diary, through the theme of cowardice. 

Excellence: The Dueling Club (Book 2, Chapter 11)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of excellence in chapter eleven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Harry's proficiency with Parseltongue, Ernie McMillan's authority within the Hufflepuffs, and Vanessa's esteem of Lebron James. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do we make sure that we pursue excellence in way that's in line with our values?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Aaptiv. Our story this week was told by the incredible Mark Oppenheimer of the Unorthodox podcast and this week's voicemail is thanks to Laurie Stevens.

Complaining: The Rogue Bludger (Book 2, Chapter 10)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of complaining in chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Madam Hooch's negligence during the quidditch match, Lockhart's toxic masculinity, and Colin Creevey's surprising thoughtfulness. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When do we have the right to complain?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Wordpress this week's voicemail is thanks to Meghan Cooper.

Innocence: The Writing on the Wall (Book 2, Chapter 9)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of innocence in chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss whether Mrs. Norris had it coming, how "expert" language can alienate us from our own experience, and Professor Binns' ghost privilege. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Why do we sometimes feel guilty, even when we're not?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and this week's voicemail is thanks to Ian Bawa.

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