Witch Please is excellent. It is fun, clever, thought provoking, funny, and broadly entertaining. Their tagline, “A fortnightly podcast about the Harry Potter world by two lady scholars,” while literally true, does not do it justice.
It is a fancast, at its heart, but you do not have to be a fan of Harry Potter to enjoy the podcast. You don’t even need to have read the books, though it does help.The show is a lengthy investigation and critique of the Harry Potter fiction in all of its forms, done by two devoted fans. However, those fans happen to be extremely intelligent, eloquent, and well-educated professionals in literary criticism, so the depth of their discourse goes well beyond what might be expected.
The podcast covers aspects of narrative structure, race, gender and body politics, pedagogical practices, and feminism with a depth expected of academic discourse, but at a level that is digestible to a general audience. All of it is done with self-awareness, humor, and genuine affection for the material. It’s the sort of show that is so fun to listen to that you fail to notice that serious topics are being dissected and that you may actually be learning something.
The conversations revolve around the Wizarding World of J. K. Rowling, but they are instructive and inspiring and have helped me engage in other fiction in new ways, and look at it through different lenses. I’d recommend this over many courses in a liberal arts degree. You’ll get more out of it and pay much less for it, read more enjoyable books, and you get two profs for the price of one.
The hosts, Hannah and Marcelle (and occasionally Neil), have a great rapport and are a delight to listen to. Even when they are prompting the audience to burn down the patriarchy, they are doing it with a smile and a glass of wine.
Excellent show. Would recommend to a friend.
To celebrate Witch Please, I decided to make wands for the hosts. They admitted in one of their shows that they somehow did not have wands, and I thought that should be corrected.
Wand selection, as described in Harry Potter, is a challenging process. Wands pick the Witch, not the other way around. It certainly isn’t possible to have a wand assigned by a stranger on the other side of the continent. That said, I have done my best to design wands that suit their owners.
I selected wood from a tree that grew near the place where the two went to University. It seemed appropriate as they explained on the podcast that is where much of their politics, feminist rage, and Harry Potter Fandom germinated and grew.
I didn’t have a tree in Guelph available, but I found a maple in Kitchener that had been felled by a storm and cut into convenient chunks (thanks Josh and Nadia).
The core of a proper wand requires part of a magical creature. I selected a beast that embodies the righteous Canadian fury expressed by Marcelle and Hannah, a Canada goose. A feather was donated by a goose that chased me angrily through a park.
Geese are not to be taken lightly.
I used a single feather, splitting it down the middle so as to make the two wands sisters. Also, I didn’t want to risk another goose encounter to get a second one.
As this was for a radical feminist podcast, I wanted to do my small part in dismantling the patriarchy. Also, a strange man mailing metaphorical penises might be a little off-message. So I found two women to help make the wands.
Rachelle Saunders of Science for the People fame and Becky of Supergirl renown were more than willing to help me out. Neither had ever used a lathe before, so I got to share some super-secret man knowledge with women-folk. They rather liked it and took to it quite naturally. I have now made myself unnecessary in their future wand making endeavors.
It was a fun afternoon.
The end-products came out quite nicely. We decided to just finish them with Lemon Oil rather than staining and varnishing, to preserve their natural maple look and feel.