Throwback: Legalizing Witchcraft
I still remember one of the first MuggleNet articles I ever read. It was 2006; my 11-year-old self was just starting to learn English and look into the wider Harry Potter world online. The article was an exciting announcement about the legalization of witchcraft in Romania. Gabriela Ciucur, 31 years old at the time, was the first ever legal witch. As a middle-school child, I just thought this piece of news was amazing and fun. Almost ten years later, I see a bit more than that.
Ciucur had little to do with the glorious world of Harry Potter. Frankly speaking, I’m not too sure if Hermione would approve of the idea since the whole story reeks of Sybill Trelawney. Ciucur’s spell menu included tarot reading, reuniting an estranged couple, and an equivalent of a love potion. However, the decision does say a lot about the development of society. We may not all agree with readings of the future based on one’s palm, but the Luna-like broad-mindedness it took to legalize witchcraft is worthy of admiration. If anything, it is a way to make up for the silliness of burning people alive that was once considered normal. The heart-warming moment of Harry secretly writing his homework on witch burning didn’t tell the full story. According to lovely Bathilda Bagshot, the fires tickled in a warm and enjoyable way, but she forgets to mention all the wrongly captured Muggles. Furthermore, I take the decriminalizing of magic as a personal apology for more recent burnings, the ones of Harry Potter books, which I find especially Riddikulus. It’s difficult to miss the numerous religious references throughout the books, and dare I say, burning books in the developed world of the 21st century is almost as bad as being afraid of witches in the 16th century.
The legalizing of potion brewing, spells, and looking into the future is unfortunately not entirely beautiful and symbolic. In 2011, Romania updated its labor laws to include witchcraft. The move was mostly based on the government’s desire to lower tax evasion, making it more difficult for people to avoid income tax. It also means customers can sue if unhappy with the magical effects. There were protests by witches, and a witch named Bratara Buzea actually threatened to cast a spell on the government using black pepper and yeast. I hope she wasn’t taking advice from the Weasley twins for that spell since it oddly brings to mind “Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.”
Years after the event, I haven’t made up my mind. Is the official profession of witch an amazing step toward acceptance of beliefs? Is it an easy way for ambitious Muggles to con us into believing we’re a step closer to Hogwarts? Let me grab my wand while thinking about it.