If you’re not a Potterhead and if you find the idea of buying movie-related merchandise absurd, you will find what I’m going to narrate here simply silly. If you are a Potterhead, I’m sure you will love it…

When I started teaching the Harry Potter elective and about two thirds of my class declared they owned each a personal wand, I realized I should have to get my own sooner or later. My students explained they had purchased (for 40 euros!) the ‘official’ wand ‘belonging’ to their favourite character. In my case, as they all know by now, this is Sirius Black. However, as I told them, I found it impossible to choose his wand as I don’t understand myself my strong emotional attachment to this very tragic figure (I’m working on it). I decided to buy instead Luna Lovegood’s, a character I like very much, or, perhaps even commission a tailor-made one from a sculptor that sells his wares on the internet. I never checked what each wand looked like, just how much they cost and who sells them (the Noble Collection, “the world’s premiere designer and manufacturer of high end movie prop replicas and collectibles”). And I insisted to everyone who asked me that I would never buy Sirius’ wand, that was totally out of the question.

On Saturday afternoon my husband and I went for a totally improvised walk in Barcelona’s ‘friki’ triangle (Passeig de Sant Joan/Bailén/Ali Bey). We first visited the new Gigamesh shop on Bailén street. Next we wandered into Norma Comics and the first thing we saw was this display, with fifty Harry Potter wands. About half had the name of character ‘owners’ on them, not the rest. I checked Luna’s but didn’t like it much, and I spent about 15 minutes going through the whole collection, not seeing ‘the one.’

My husband eventually pointed one to me, “that’s the one for you”, and I feel in love with it at once. I didn’t care whose it was –that was my wand. What a beauty. After procrastinating for as long as I could, for I sensed what was coming, we asked a shop assistant whose wand that was. He said either Snape’s or Hermione’s. Good, I said, either is fine for me. He asked a second shop assistant, though, and in the minutes that went by I knew it: “It’s Sirius Black’s wand,” he said. I promise I got what I can only describe as an electric shock. My husband blanched. The kind assistant smiled a smile which said “we get this here in this shop every day.” I purchased the wand, the assistant congratulated me when I explained it was not a present but for myself. Here it is now, in a place of honour among my books, below the Harry Potter set.

I felt weird for hours, enjoying very much this magical moment (and I must thank my husband for sharing it with me to the full). This really is, he said, a case of the wand choosing the witch –we laughed much. When we managed to rationalize a little this odd ocurrence, he theorised that perhaps I had seen the wand before and my subconcious recalled it (I don’t think so). Or that, I like this better, the wand designer had perfectly captured the nature of the character and I related to that again subconsciously, which was why I chose the wand (or the wand chose me…). I really don’t know what happened in that shop. Can an object represent a character this well?

You may call it a simple coincidence and dismiss the anecdote as a very silly accident that only shows how childish an adult (me) can be. Fair enough. After all, here I am, investing much emotional energy in possessing an outrageously overpriced piece of high-quality plastic, which is, in addition, mass manufactured. Yet if you go down that road, the world is a dreary place and I prefer going up the other road: the one suggesting that last Saturday afternoon I enjoyed the most magical moment in my forty years of reading. I’m sure all my Potterhead students understand me. Also, if you own a light-sabre you will understand me.

I don’t want to miss the little irrational moments –for this are the ones which, happening very often back in childhood or in our teenage years, finally led us to become adult literature teachers. That they were elicited by Don Quijote or Hamlet, and not by Sirius Black, is to me just a slight difference, though it may be immense to others. It’s all about the magic of reading (and seeing films, of course).

The wand I share with Sirius does have magical powers indeed: whenever I look at it in the future I’ll recall the happy time when I taught ‘Cultural Studies: The Harry Potter Series’… and the wand chose the witch.

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  1. Dear Sara, I apologize if my English is not so good (as you know, I am not a student).

    As I am not so «potterhead» as used to be some few years ago, I do not feel so excited with your news (pity it had not any wand, then!) But, I can easily get back in the time in order to imagine, and… it is so logical!

    I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in mind. Sirius’ wand was set within you, because Sirius himself was. It is a matter of magnetism… reinforced by your attraction to certain sort of characters 😉 And you are attracted by them because your mind is ready for them. Yes, you are doing well working on it 😀 . I found myself «in love» with Harry himself because he grew as a misunderstood one. Of couse, I am working on it, too!

  2. I think every single Potterhead (or Star Wars fan, or any fan that decides to buy merch) understands what you went through and how ‘magical’ that moment was. I remember when I bought mine in Hamley’s in London. The last 3 times I had been there I had always looked at Snape’s wand, always wanting to buy it but never doing it because it was too expensive. Finally, the fourth time I went to Hamley’s and went straight to the Harry Potter section, my friend told me: go on, buy it, you’re going to buy it anyways sooner or later. I decided to do so and when I went to the shop assistant and told him I’d like to buy Snape’s want he took the box, opened it, gave it to me and said «feel the magic». I can’t tell how amazing that moment was, I remember the shop assistant smiling widely at me while I couldn’t believe what he had said. I sometimes think how I could spend money on a piece of plastic that will only be there at home gathering dust, or why, if I wanted a wand, I didn’t buy Dumbledore’s wand which is more impressive, or Harry’s or anyone else’s. But every time I think about the moment and the emotional atttachement I have to Snape, I know I wouldn’t change it for anything. I don’t know if we can even rationalise this, I don’t think I’m capable of justifying me spending money on such a thing. I just know that I don’t regret it and I was extremely delighted when I felt the wand in my hand.


  3. Thanks, Melissa, for sharing this. No, I don’t think we can rationalize this and I wonder whether I want to. What irks me is that this kind of fetishism is ok only for certain things. Think of visiting the houses of famous writers, like Charles Dickens, which I have done, and how that’s acceptable in comparison to what I’m narrating…

  4. I heard of you and your elective a couple of months ago from my flatmate, who is a former student of yours. I always loved the idea that you were going to teach about Harry Potter, which is my passion and what led me to become a translator. But I had already finished college, which made it impossible for me to enrol in your class.
    Reading you write about your wand like that, I felt a stab of actual pain due to the fact that I can’t be there, in your class, with you and the other Potterheads. I got my first wand for Christmas long ago – it was Voldemort’s, and I just liked it because it was cool. But I got the second when I went to London almost five years ago. It was Dumbledore’s, and I felt exactly what you felt the other day. True magic. Now I’ve remembered that moment and I have actual tears in my eyes. Yes, I’m that silly.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

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