Well, I am certainly glad to see that you all have come back in one piece from your midterm. I hope that you found it appropriately challenging and that you are all pleased with the results you have achieved. Please do not forget what we have covered in the beginning of this year; just because you have seen them on a test does not mean they will disappear. You will see some of the material return on your final and, of course, you are expected to be capable of using these spells when you get to later years. Now, let us get started with the new material. For the next two lessons, we will be taking a step into the bizarre and looking at some interesting creatures that I hope will get you intrigued with the creepier side of the world, though from a learning perspective rather than a “wanting to be part of that” perspective.
The first entity that we will cover today is the gargoyle (please note that gargoyles are not creatures, as they are not actually alive, but only resemble life). Many of you, especially those who have lived in the Muggle world, may be familiar with these creatures if you have ever seen a Gothic style building and looked up. Many Gothic buildings include gargoyles at the top. There are many reasons for this inclusion, not least because Muggles frequently borrow ideas from the magical world. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For the purpose of today’s class, I will talk briefly about the Muggle connotations and then cover how these creatures work in our world.
In the Muggle world, gargoyles are nothing more than fancy statues. However, they are fancy statues with a purpose. They originated in the era of Gothic architecture and became extremely popular because of their appearance and their practicality. They were very similar to another statue style named a “grotesque”. These two types of statues can look very similar as seen below, a gargoyle on the left and a grotesque on the right:
Now, as you can see, these two statues look similar. How can we tell the difference, then? In modern times, there is very little difference, in all honesty. Muggles have come to accept that any statue crafted in the grotesque style is a gargoyle; however, this is slightly inaccurate. By design, gargoyles were initially crafted as a method of protecting buildings. When it rained, water would leak down into the foundation of the building, ruining the foundation and causing the building to collapse. Gargoyles were designed specifically to be built on structures, usually at different heights and at different locations, to help channel the water and push it away from the building, causing the water to land on ground a safe distance away from the foundation and protecting the building. Grotesques, on the other hand, are purely decorative and serve no other purpose than to add to the decor.
The myths about gargoyles protecting buildings from evil spirits originates from their purpose of protecting the foundation from water damage. It was believed that, due to the way the statues looked, the evil spirits would be scared away, protecting the building from the malice they brought. This is why you will often see these types of statues on older churches. Though they have become more decorative in nature due to the creation of gutters (for any questions about these, ask Professor Soleil), gargoyles still have the protective sense to them and generally bring an appeal due to their look and the appearance they bring to the style of a building.
Now how does this translate to the magical world? Well, in our world, gargoyles serve a very similar purpose to the myths. While they will not keep evil spirits away from a place, they do serve as guardians. Many people will set one gargoyle on either side of their important doorways, which creates a barrier than only approved people can pass through. This is usually recognized through special enchantments or, more commonly, a password.
It is not uncommon for people to use a single gargoyle, though. Since gargoyles in our world can be charmed to resemble life, it is possible to place one in front of a door that you do not want people to go through. Since you are the one who charmed it, the gargoyle will immediately move away from the door for you, but will only move out of the way for others if they know the password. You all may be familiar with a statue like this if you have ever gone by the Headmistress’s office.
That brings us to the end of our discussion of gargoyles, quasi-sentient statues that have historically, and likely always will, serve as a guardian against evil...or at minimum unwelcome guests. This is only a small sampling of the views and uses of gargoyles. If you have an interest in learning more about them, I would highly recommend talking to Professor Castillo, our resident expert in all things Muggle.
Our next discussion also delves a little into the Muggle world. Hags are sentient creatures that look a lot like humans and supposedly only have four toes. They have extremely pale skin and very basic magical abilities. They are capable of brewing potions and such, but cannot do much more. Many people believe that Muggles get their typical idea of witches from hags. It is important to note that these creatures do not have a classification because the Ministry categorizes them as beings; this fact is one of the reasons that centaurs and merpeople choose to be categorized as beasts, even though they could qualify for being status - they do not want to be under the same category as creatures such as hags.
Another thing to note about hags is that they have a very...peculiar diet. Hags are famous for eating children and raw liver. They will eat other types of meat if they are desperately in need of nourishment, but they will not survive nor be as happy if they go too long without one of these two staple components of their diet.
There are several famous hags that you should be aware of. The first of these is Annis Black. She lived in a cave, as many hags will, and is most well known for a letter she wrote to the Daily Prophet where she complained about the newspaper portraying hags as flesh eating monsters. Another famous hag is Cordelia Misericordia, who lived from 1298-1401 and whom was the representative for hags on the Wizard’s Council (the original form of government before the Ministry of Magic was formed).
And unfortunately we are out of time. I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson. We definitely looked at things from a different perspective and, if you were intrigued by the way Muggles see something that we too experience in our world, I highly recommend taking Muggle Studies with Professor Soleil in your Third Year to continue seeing the other side of our world.
As always, there is a quiz for you to complete as well as an extra credit creative assignment. I look forward to what you all create!