"Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen." ~ Goethe
Somewhere within her fertile imagination, in her darkened inner alleyways crowded with personal Wizards and Muggles, finding comfort in the black and white of words on a page, and inventing a safe haven for herself (and her millions of readers) in a storybook universe, the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, created a mystical and magical life of spells, incantations, illusions and make-believe.
As a child she lived next to a graveyard, was drawn to the mystery of the nearby woods, and fantasized while cleaning her neighborhood church -- all somewhat similar to the otherworldly confections she dreamed up and later inhabited with Harry Potter, the bespectacled, pop-cultural literary hero who once lived in a cubbyhole under the stairs in his evil Aunt and Uncle's house.
Today, July 31, is celebrated as Harry Potter's birthday. We remember that once an owl delivered a mysterious letter on another of the character's birthdays, Harry learns that he's not just a regular person, doomed to the abuses of his adoptive family. In an instant his life is changed, and we follow him while he discovers what it takes to become the wizard he was born to be.
Entering the unearthly wizards' academy of Hogwarts, he studies Astronomy, Herbology, Potions, The Care of Magical Creatures, The History of Magic, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and other other-wordly pursuits. It's where he learns to see into the future, finds his ability to change one object into another, masters flying a broomstick and crams his head with Charms.
Charms are positive magical spells that mesmerize and bedazzle people or things into making them behave differently or do something completely new. In Harry's world there are charms that unlock doors, some that offer cheer, ones that dry water, others that make people grow in size, make things levitate, make buildings appear and then disappear, travel through time, prevent or allow eavesdropping, move objects, erase memory, cause uncontrollable laughter and my favorite... Scourgify: The Scouring Charm ...the charm that cleans things.
Although Scourgify-ing is a minor, but useful, charm, its powers are used to clean unfortunate and otherwise nasty stuff from everyday surfaces. In the world of Harry Potter it's used to clean feces (that's a grown-up word for poop), it's used to remove rancid odors, and it's even used to wash bad attitudes from mouths.
For many, Potter's world only began when Rowling's written page was brought to life on the big screen, when folks from all walks of life sat in darkened theaters across the globe...soaking-in the words and images. But when reality breaks the shadowy mysticism of moviemaking, it's then that we discover that we're soaking in soda, popcorn and other super-sized movie snacks too.
But to Scourgify these kinds of stains in your Muggle home it'll unfortunately take more than a wave of a wand or some hocus-pocus. Since I've never seen a dark carbonated beverage permanently stain anything (they usually come out in the wash), it's the scourge of oil from the buttery flavor-topped popcorn that will be your only challenge.
Like any real wizard, you'll need a pinch of this and dash of that. Any oil or grease-based stain will need four basic ingredients to make them disappear: borax, baking soda, salt and white vinegar. Sprinkle a bit of each of the dry ingredients over the stain and then give it a splash of vinegar. You'll have an instant "bubble-bubble, toil and (no) trouble!" Just scrub the area a bit, let it sit a "spell" and then launder as usual. Presto-change-o, the grease stain has disappeared...as if by magic!
When the reality of life hits the proverbial fan and the true mystery and wizardry of life disappears, it's the subliminal "magic" around us that makes it right again. Not the theatrics found within the pages of Harry Potter, but the simple stuff that occurs every day in small ways all around us. Magic isn't something you need to go to Hogwarts to master. Magic is about having faith in yourself, your abilities to change, and your willingness to make anything...a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g... a reality.
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