Say Goodbye to Your Childhood: A Fandom Unbinding Spell

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone cover, 1998, Thomas Taylor art for Bloomsbury and J K Rowling

I’m a Slytherin.

I cut my communicative teeth on Harry Potter. In year ten I read Goblet of Fire so much the cover just…went away somehow. My ears perk up when somebody says “Draco Trilogy;” I have to manually smooth them down. Harry Potter fandom was my community, and Hogwarts was my home away from home.

I say “was.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows dropped seven years ago, and that’s as long as Harry spent in school (longer, actually, but you get me). I read it in two gulps and then I told the entire story to my sweetie, every divergent detail, because Harry Potter went deep for me and left a big, big stain.

The books are over now. I don’t like the films.

I’m not on Pottermore, and I don’t want anything more from the mouth of AuthorGod (though I’m all for Rowling being chill like “well he fancied his mate” and “yeah obviously there were Jewish kids, like… look.”) I didn’t live much for the epilogue: can’t stand the name Albus Severus, don’t care about who had which kids, not bothered about how much of Malfoy’s scalp shows through his hair. I wanted Harry Potter’s seven years of formative rebellion, and I got them. I treasured them. They informed me, and, good gracious, how other fans’ commentaries informed me too. I’ve learnt more about the deep organisational problems of my country from social criticism of Harry Potter than I have probably anywhere else.

But I don’t need anything from Harry past graduation. It was a school story. School is done. His, mine, and ours. The agreed term is over.

It’s hard, though, isn’t it? It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to ignore whatever new thing is happening in “canon.” It can feel like an obligation to care, or notice! We understand people wailing “my childhood!” because of whatever happened in whichever generation of this or that franchise. Nobody really wants to hear your bitter sniping, though, and it’s not good for you to connect with those raggedy, vestigial plug-in points.

So I’m sharing with you a recipe for letting go. A fandom severance spell. A ritual for conscious uncoupling (mock it, pop hater, but at least respect the truth of the phrase).

You will need:

  • one set of beeswax candles, dipped
  • matches
  • a stream or other passage (an alley? a country lane?), to channel away your emotional offal
  • yourself
  • presence of mind

Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015 Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015

Take your candles and matches out into the middle of your stream. First face one way, (away from the flow of either water or wind) as you think of what you value about the story.

Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015

Then face the other (so you face the same way as the water flows or the wind blows), as you fix in your mind the fact that the franchise has moved on.

Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015

Light your match, and set the flame to the wick that connects the candles. One candle is you, and the other is the property. This is a corporate entity, and it doesn’t represent what’s precious to you.

Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015

As the flame burns through the connective wick, let your thoughts dwell as they please. You’re letting go, so don’t control yourself.

Dip both wicks in the water to extinguish them, or blow them sharply if you’re using air flow instead of water. Let the water wash away regret, bitterness, and your reflexive need to engage without integrity.

Claire Napier, fandom unbinding, 2015

You’re free. The fandom survives, the publishing continues, the wheel still turns. But it’s not your world any more.

What remains is the strength the story gave you in the first place.



Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money

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