I started re-reading Harry Potter #7 this week. As it is the only one in the series I haven't read twice, I thought I owed it to myself to pour over the 759 pages one more time to make the tale complete (although no true HP fan is ever completely finished with the world of wizards, wands, and whomping willows). Of course, HP is about much more than magic spells and flighty fiction. One of the greatest powers employed by fiction, especially the tale of Harry Potter, is the keen connection it makes to our human world and "Muggle" life. I won't go too in depth on this now -- surely if you've read one or all in the series you already know what I mean. Let's just say people aren't drawn to the series because they are simply interested in magic or are curious about the lightning bolt scar. Sure, these things may have attracting some of the readers (especially the younger ones) at first. But people cling to HP because they recognize some of themselves in the pages.

As I read #7 this time around, I am drawn to the idea of Horcruxes and how the principle behind them is present in our human world. Don't roll your eyes yet! Bear with me, I have not gone off the deep end, although you may be tempted to think otherwise. Horcruxes, for those of you who don't know, are created when a wizard splits his soul into many parts and plants each fragment inside an object. The purpose? It is harder to die when your soul is hiding and cast apart. Of course this way of thinking about horcruxes is rather dark... after all, it requires a fair amount of dark magic to split one's soul apart and only Lord Voldermort is evil enough to devise such a plan. But nonetheless, it serves as a springboard into a much happier way of thinking about objects and our souls.

As we interact with objects and make connections with places in our world is it possible to keep some of ourself from rubbing off? When we write in a journal or wear a locket, does some part of you enter in? Perhaps it's the reason why it's so hard to get rid of your favorite childhood stuffed animal or your great-grandfather's pocket-watch (and why many of us never do). These things are not simply objects anymore -- some part of the "caretaker" seems to still dwell there.

Once my sister Sarah and I played a game where we tried to come up with a list of our own 7 horcruxes -- what objects or places in the world contained a portion of our soul. Remember, this is partially serious and part just a game (I'm not into witchcraft or sorcery!)
To come up with your own list think about a place or object that at one point was important (or possibly the world) to you. Think of something that feels like more than just a token of a fond memory. Something that is very comfortable and when you interact with it it's like an old friend (because in fact it is -- part of yourself resides there). When you pick it up or settle your thoughts around that space and time, do you feel a tug somewhere deep inside that begs you to linger? If, at your very core, you resonate, then my friend, you have found your horcrux.

Here's my list:

1. My violin. No matter how long it has been, when I pick it up by the neck and swing my elbow around into position and the wood makes that almost silent creek that only I can hear, I feel... present.

2. The Black Hills of South Dakota. No place in particular. Perhaps the treehouse we spent our summers building and painting, or a path in the woods where the scent of pine mingles with the dusty golden ground.

3. My road bike. When soaring above the roads of rural NJ I feel like a four-legged animal running so smoothly my legs don't touch the ground.

4. My camera. I love the sound of the release. So much potential within the frame, so much accomplished with just the move of your finger.

5. Old Man's Tree at the Waldorf School of Princeton, my elementary school. If you went to Waldorf you understand.

6. Sailing. On any boat/ship will do, but a Tall Ship (particularly the Spirit of Massachusetts) is one of my "homes".

7. C13 Carver Place (childhood home). My memory is so clear I can walk through the entire house in my mind and recall infinite details -- part of me must still be there, and probably always will. You can never fully leave the places that were witness to your growing up. Luckily I had (and still have!) a good home : )

8. I have to add an extra one because I know of one other place where part of me will always be: St. Olaf College. I am still on the hunt to find this specific horcrux (in a dorm? Old Main hill? cross-country trails?) but wherever/whatever it is, I know the Hill is a 'home' to me.

A couple more things:
Remember how I said that when a wizard's soul is spread across the world in different objects that it is really hard to die? Well, so too with these human horcruxes... people tend to feel that if they have something to leave behind (a memoir, a family tree, children) that they will never completely leave the world.

So what are your horcruxes? Where in the world do you resonate -- where have you found your homes? I'd love to hear!

Evan's aunt Connie (I have an aunt Connie too, who also lives in California!) wrote an awesome response on her blog -- check it out here. There are some other great horcrux lists below in the comment section. Be sure to add your own list, even if you aren't an HP fan!


  1. hmmmm my horcruxes...I'll have to think....I think the black hills is also one of mine and somewhere at waldorf...also I think in a poem/song but I'm not sure exactly which one..I'll make a full list a send it to you!

  2. we will certainly discuss this in some detail later on, but some things that come to mind as i sit here at my drafting table are: my colored pencils (like the ones we had at Waldorf), some old pair of stinky running shoes, hehe, the "Isles in Trenton" t-shirt i got in 3rd grade (my favorite year of school) that was soooo huge on me but then i continued to wear as a workout/sleeping shirt thru high school, a pile of rocks on the top of the Continental Divide that i once took a little nap near (they protected me from the wind and i felt so comfortable there), ummmm, i'll think of a few others later.

  3. OK, I'll bite.
    I wrote an entry in my blog about horcruxes. It got really long for a comment!http://itsallclearfromhere.blogspot.com/


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