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The Sorting Hat

The twins and I set up Pottermore accounts eons ago but never really explored them beyond the first few screens or so.  We hadn’t even gotten to Diagon Alley.  So Sunday afternoon, we sat down together and went through the various screens, calling out our progress to one another.  We collected items, we got our money out of Gringotts, we purchased a wand at Ollivanders, and finally stepped up to the Sorting Hat.

I answered the questions, being completely honest.  I like black more than white.  I like dusk over dawn.  I like dark, twisty things.  As I submitted the last question it sorted me…

…into Slytherin.

I cannot explain how I felt seeing that green snake on the screen.  I know it’s just a game, but it literally felt as if someone had just sent me an email telling me that I’m a horrible person.  Because isn’t that our knee-jerk reaction to the word Slytherin, even knowing that there have been very good wizards in Slytherin?  That cleverness is used for good just as often as it’s used for bad in the book?  Some of my favourite characters were in Slytherin.

But it wasn’t where I thought I would end up.  Despite choosing the darker answers over the lighter, happier ones.

Anyway, the sorting on Pottermore is permanent.  Your only choice is to delete your account or keep where you’re sorted.  So I deleted my account.

I set up a new account — one that coincidentally offered me a better log-in name as well — and started from scratch.  I got the same pet but a different wand, and finally returned to Hogwarts to be sorted again.  By this time, the twins were happily in their houses — houses that fit them perfectly — and all I wanted was to have the way I see myself confirmed by a computer algorithm.  They paused what they were doing to listen to me read the questions aloud and discuss my answers with me.

Most of the time, they agreed that my gut answer was a true answer that they thought described me perfectly.  We differed in two places.  The first one, I took their advice and put the items in the order they recommended because I didn’t feel strongly one way or another.  But the second time, despite their objections, I took the power of invisibility, feeling it was the most honest answer even though the Wolvog warned me that  invisibility is used to be tricky.  Not the way I would use invisibility which would be protective, in the manner of Frodo Baggins, but regardless, I saw his point.

And then I cringed (how awful is that?  To cringe as you are waiting to be judged for giving honest answers?) and waited to be sorted again*, and when the screen went blue, announcing I was sorted into Ravenclaw, I felt like crying.

I was so incredibly happy.  I went into the kitchen, my heart feeling light, thinking about how I now needed to redo all of our Hogwarts blankets.  Thinking about decorating in our house colours, and how we’ll all be emotionally tied to our respective houses for the rest of our lives.  We’ll feel a kinship with other people that we discover are in our houses.  And we’ll pay special attention when characters from our houses are mentioned in the books.

Because we’re all sorts of way-too-invested-in-books like that.

Though a tiny part of me felt as if my Ravenclaw membership wasn’t true; that the first sorting was the real one (by whose rules though?).  At Hogwarts itself, there are no re-dos, even if you’re having a terrible moment at the time of your sorting and the hat listens to those thoughts and places you in the wrong house.  And then I thought, what the fuck does a hat (or for that matter, a computer algorithm) know about me?  I mean, seriously.

But then a quiet voice asked, what does anyone know about me?  I mean, why dismiss a computer algorithm and not dismiss the way friends I’ve met online or friends I’ve met in the face-to-face world or even close loved ones see me?  Why do I accept it when they describe me with kind words, and for that matter, why do I take so deeply to heart when I’m described by others with unkind words?  Do any of the words matter and are they even real if they’ve come from outside my own heart — the positive words or the negative words?  “What do they know?” is often used to dismiss another person’s negative thoughts about us (though, conversely, we usually don’t try to reason away positive words).

Do any of us really know another person?  I mean, yes, I think I do, hence why I was able to say that the twins’ were sorted into houses that fit their personalities perfectly.  But at the same time… no.  So yes and no.  But perhaps if I took that thought a step further, I’d ask if I really even know everything about myself and therefore, why should I listen to my own description of myself?

Heady stuff considering it’s POTTERMORE.

Pottermore.

As in a game.

Except that I spent the rest of the night thinking about my house, and how much more I suddenly love the colour blue.

For the record, Josh was napping at the time and therefore didn’t weigh in when I asked the twins for counsel about what I should do when sorted into Slytherin. (One of the kids, who shall not be named, was weeping for me, absolutely sick with the idea that their mother would be in that house.)  When he woke up and we told him, he didn’t say anything.  But at bedtime, when the Wolvog asked him what he’d do if he were sorted into Slytherin, he said he would keep the house.  That one of the bravest wizards in the world belonged to that house, and if that was where he was placed, so be it.

Josh is obviously a more emotionally-secure person than I am.

Creme de la Creme list will be posted tomorrow morning.  Goodbye 2012.  An early welcome to 2013.

* I received completely different questions the second time around, none of which asked me to choose between dark and light options.  So some of it is also the questions you receive.

26 comments

1 nonsequiturchica { 12.31.12 at 8:49 am }

I don’t know anything about Harry Potter (books or the movies), but I just wanted to add that I am really excited about the Creme de la Creme list this year!! Can’t wait to read everyone’s entries!

2 Angie { 12.31.12 at 9:32 am }

If I remember correctly, the sorting hat wanted to put Harry Potter in the Slytherin House as well. Take heart, for you are in good company of narrowly escaping!

3 Elana Kahn { 12.31.12 at 9:33 am }

I was sorted into Ravenclaw, too. :-) My husband was sorted into Gryffindor, which was beyond shocking…I always thought he was a Hufflepuff! Just shows you some courage can lie beneath. Maybe he’s like Neville… ;-)

4 Jen { 12.31.12 at 10:37 am }

“The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.” So good for you, getting where you want to be. There are enough things in life we can’t change so why not fix the things we can? I know I take Pottermore way too seriously but it is such a fun way of bonding with my daughter that it’s important to me for it to be just right!

Thanks for all your work on the Creme, I am really looking forward to diving into the entries.

5 Queenie { 12.31.12 at 10:47 am }

I love that you take books so seriously.

6 Elizabeth { 12.31.12 at 11:31 am }

I was also sorted in Slytherin last summer. I decided I was okay with it; I think perhaps I do have a darker, ambitious side. Otherwise, how in the name of all that’s holy could I have survived this much IVF, with more on the way? And how could I be planning this many creative (but legal) ways of paying for it all?

7 Jonelle { 12.31.12 at 1:16 pm }

Some of my best friends are Slytherins. Josh sounds like my husband. Before Pottermore I had always thought of myself as a Gryffindor, so much so that I have shirts, bags, a hoodie. When I got on Pottermore the Sorting Hat put me in Ravenclaw. RAVENCLAW, really? But the more I got to thinking about it, it made perfect sense that I got sorted there. Now I have started my Ravenclaw colletion – scarf, hoodie, shirt, bag.

8 Battynurse { 12.31.12 at 1:42 pm }

One thing to consider is the computer and algorithm doesn’t take into account your own wishes which in the books it did!

9 JustHeather { 12.31.12 at 1:52 pm }

I vaguely remember you mentioning Pottermore some time back and now that you’ve mentioned it again, I decided to sign up. I’m sort of lost. I mean, I haven’t read the books (yet) and I’ve only seen some of the movies, so I do understand what’s going on, at least in this begining area, but what am I supposed to be doing? I really just want to be sorted, NOW! :=)

I’m very excited for the list to come out tomorrow.

10 Lollipop Goldstein { 12.31.12 at 1:55 pm }

For anyone who wants the directions:

Ha — so I had to have the Wolvog explain it to me. Once you get to the cupboard under the stairs, there are things to “collect” on most screens. You sometimes need to zoom in to find them, but click around the pictures. The first one is an alarm clock on the floor of the cupboard under the stairs.

Then, when you get to Diagon Alley, zoom in and grab the shopping list off the floor. You then need to go into each store and buy the things on the list. After that you go to Ollivanders and get you wand, and you can finally go to Hogwarts. When you get in Hogwarts, you’ll go to the sorting ceremony.

11 Kimberly { 12.31.12 at 1:56 pm }

I wanted Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff but I was sorted into Slytherin. I wasn’t happy with it because hubby was sorted into Gryffindor and proudly gloated about it to me. Plus the jokes that came from our friends who all got the sorting they wanted. I contemplated deleting my account and starting over again because hubby and I are as emotionally invested into these stories as your family. But I chose to keep mine. I realized as I talked with hubby about it that I did in fact have many of the characteristics of a Slytherin and when I talked to my friend about it (who happened to be my former boss and a big Potter fan as well) she said that she always assumed I would be a Slytherin because of my work ethic and how I go about doing my job and getting stuff done in my life. So once I really thought about it, I realized it might be a more perfect fit than I originally thought. So I’ve come to embrace my green roots but it doesn’t change the fact that I hoped to be a Ravenclaw.

12 N { 12.31.12 at 2:42 pm }

I find this interesting. I think I was definitely invested in what house I was placed in, but then again, I ended up in the house that I wanted to be placed in, so I can’t say if I would’ve been upset otherwise or not.

I agree with Battynurse above, though – the sorting hat took far more into consideration than the computer algorithm did.

But nobody can know our true selves. Often not even us. (This is something that’s been going around my head lately…)

13 a { 12.31.12 at 8:24 pm }

Well, thanks for sucking me into another venue for internet time wasting! I got sorted into Ravenclaw…I think it suits me.

14 Mali { 12.31.12 at 8:37 pm }

You do make me laugh. Especially this sentence: “all I wanted was to have the way I see myself confirmed by a computer algorithm.”

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Believe in yourself.

And yes, I was always thinking “but the Sorting Hat takes your wishes into account.”

And that sentence makes this my first ever on-line discussion about Harry Potter. I’m not sure what I think about that!

15 Lori Lavender Luz { 12.31.12 at 9:17 pm }

So the HP references are lost on me (sorry!) but isn’t this like the wizard version of Myers-Briggs and other such personality tests?

I tend to test different each time I take MBTI (which I haven’t in a while. Usually I, sometimes E. Always N. Usually F but sometimes T. Usually J with the occasional P.

Can you be both? Love what you said: “Do any of the words matter and are they even real if they’ve come from outside my own heart — the positive words or the negative words?”

Eager for Creme.

16 Tigger { 12.31.12 at 9:37 pm }

I would like you to know that it is your fault that I have joined Pottermore. You should make a post where all those of us in this community who play can post our usernames and houses, in case some of us actually end up together. :D

17 persnickety { 12.31.12 at 10:47 pm }

Hmm, I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I think there may be a choice option is you really are balancing between houses in the Sorting Hat. i think there may have been an extra question? I ended up in RavenClaw, but I have the feeling that I manipulated my answer somewhat to end up there and not somewhere else. It has been a while though.

It is worth noting that we do read the stories from the point of view of the Gryfinddor protaganists, and that we are largely presented with other’s views of the whole of Slytherin history. We are predisposed to think of slytherin as bad. The 4 houses are based on the four elements- and as a “water” person (and as a snake in Asian horoscopes) I do find the demonisation of “water” characteristics a little disconcerting.

But it is all perspective and personality- I did a brief personality test with co-workers- and it was interesting to see that the people who I clashed with the most, and with whom I got the most frustrated had completely opposing communication preferences.- I apparently prefer to express my opinion early – and am happy to apologise when wrong, they preferred to wait until 100% sure of their answer, even if it meant being late.

18 Tiara { 12.31.12 at 11:02 pm }

I haven’t read Harry Potter yet (I’ve been saving them to read with my daughter) but this post intrigues me & has really made me think. Thanks for that.

19 panamahat { 12.31.12 at 11:21 pm }

I can’t get started on that site. Clicking on the link sent by email, to say “your experience starts HERE’, sends me back to the first age, where it wants me to either sign up again, or sign in, which it won’t take me to. Frustrating! What am I missing??

20 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 01.01.13 at 1:15 am }

I always pegged you as a Hufflepuff. Which is very much a compliment.

21 JustHeather { 01.01.13 at 9:36 am }

Thanks for the hints! I’m now a Slytherin. I love my wand too.

22 Justine { 01.01.13 at 2:39 pm }

I was going to say what Angie said about Harry Potter. And for all of us, it’s about choices, isn’t it? I remember when Harry demanded, internally, that the hat sort him NOT into Slytherin. Maybe we have powers, and then we decide how to use them … we decide how we want our innermost selves to be manifest to the world.

Though for the record, I’d be upset to be sorted into Slytherin, too. And I might very well be.

23 Kathy { 01.02.13 at 9:34 am }

What an interesting post and comment section! I had no idea the Pottermore site had all of this. So far I had only used it to buy the books for my Kindle. My son will be so excited to check this out too and to see which houses we end up in. I totally get your reaction to the first house you were placed in. I do believe in second chances and think it is powerful that you have yourself one. I am much better at forgiving others at times, than myself. Not that your actions in this instance warranted needing forgiveness. Rather, the analogy fits for me. Thank you for sharing. Somehow I forgot about the Creme yesterday, which I have been excited about for week! This morning it dawned on me and I rushed here to read/have a first skim. I was getting ready to comment and thank you, when I saw the title of this post and got sucked in. Happy New Year! Thank you for being such a special and important part of my 2012!

24 Kathy { 01.02.13 at 9:35 am }

I meant gave yourself, not have yourself.

25 Luna { 01.04.13 at 7:46 am }

I approached the sorting kinda hoping I was a Griffindor. I was placed in Hufflepuff and moaned to my husband about it. But he said, “of course you are a hufflepuff, I always thought you would be”. Now I have embraced it and I love my dogwood unicorn hair wand. I want to know what my patronus is now!! Funnily enough it is my name I am least happy with. It is Starluna (ironic as my blogging moniker is similar and I chose that) but I don’t think it sounds very Hufflepuffy. Hey ho, I am going to embrace it.

26 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 01.10.13 at 10:40 am }

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your dissection of Pottermore. There is much in it.

I am suspicious of the cultural bias towards internal validation. It’s all kinds of skewed. But I think we all do have a preconception of how we’d fit in to these other storylines, and changing that can give some serious whiplash.

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