Why Pigs Are the Secret Protectors of the Wizarding World
Pigs are my favorite animals, and it appears that J.K. Rowling may have an affinity for them as well. There are many references to pigs in Harry Potter, from Hogwarts to Ron’s pet owl nicknamed Pig. In the Muggle world, pigs are often given a bad reputation as being unclean or even sinful and taboo in some religions. Apparently, in the wizarding world, pigs have a stigma as well, although for a different reason. In her writings about pure-bloods on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling said that one of the supposed indicators of pure blood is a “dislike or fear of pigs and those who tend them (the pig is often considered a particularly non-magical animal and is notoriously difficult to charm).”
The fact that pigs are considered non-magical makes it particularly ironic that Hogwarts, a school for studying magic, and Hogsmeade, the only all-wizarding town in Britain, would be named after pigs. This may be a humbling reminder for wizards that, even in the seat of their power, there are some places (and creatures) that magic cannot reach. Hogwarts is guarded by statues of winged boars, but we never do actually see pigs fly – unless you count Ron’s owl Pigwidgeon. There are some things that are still impossible, even with magic.
If pure-bloods fear pigs, then the presence of pigs may actually act as protection against Dark Magic. In all of the places where Harry is safest, he is being guarded by pigs. Hogwarts has the winged boars, the Burrow is built on top of a pig pen, the Gryffindor common room has the password “Pig Snout,” and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry gains salvation from the Death Eaters in the Hog’s Head. Even the Dursleys provide Harry with a form of protection, and Dudley Dursley is constantly described as pig-like (which may be why Hagrid found him so difficult to transfigure!). Pigs stubbornly resist the pure-bloods’ claim that “magic is might” and are therefore useful allies for those wizards who try to protect the rights of Muggles and Muggle-borns.
For National Pig Day, join me in celebrating this marvelous yet misunderstood animal that is tough enough to stand up against any Death Eater! ?