Saturday, 23 February 2013

Gods of Small Things

When my nephew Tom, was six, he desperately wanted a place at Hogwarts. Shortly before Christmas, he sent a letter to the North Pole to consult Santa. 
"Am I a wizard?" Tom asked. "Can I do magic?" 
Santa obligingly responded, but not with the news that Tom wanted:
Dear Tom,
Thank you for your letter. I am writing to let you know that you can perform magic, but sadly not enough to get you into Hogwarts. Some magicians create potions that turn lead to gold and make people greedy for wealth. Other magicians cast spells that bring fire-belching dragons roaring from the sky to make people tremble with fear. You Tom, can perform one small piece of magic. You can make people smile and say “I’m so glad I know Tom.”
Please make sure you use your magic a lot in the coming year.
Yours sincerely,
Father Christmas.
A rainbow-coloured silk scarf.
The letter makes me think of the goddess Iris. Classical deities are generally associated with great deeds of power, mystery and might. Some ruled the heavens, some ruled the waves, some ruled worlds and underworlds. They fought with storms and lightning bolts, with magic and with fire. Iris was, I’m sure, a deity of many talents; but the only one that people generally remember is her ability to create rainbows.

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