The House of Zodiac
(February 19 – March 20)
The symbol of the fish was derived from the ichthyocentaurs, half-brothers of the wise centaur Chiron. These sea-gods had the upper bodies of male humans and the lower bodies of horses and fish tails. They were peaceful water-dwellers who helped Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Since they could breathe under water, they were able to lift her onto a scallop shell before guiding her back to dry land. The astrological symbol shows the two fish captured by a piece of string, typically either by the mouth or the tails. They are usually portrayed swimming in opposite directions, which perfectly illustrates the duality of the Piscean nature.
Pisceans are typically wise and idealistic people who rely on intuition and empathy to make their choices. They are imaginative, creative, adaptable and compassionate with an unusual link to the spiritual side of the world. Unfortunately, their sympathetic natures leave them open to be manipulated by others. They can also be gullible and, since they are prone to escapism, they also tend to lack practical insights. Additionally, they find it incredibly difficult to say “no.”
This is definitely one of the stranger signs for Slytherins to be born under, but it is not unheard of. These are the big dreamers of Slytherin house. They have a romantic streak and enjoy a touch of mystery to liven up their world, which could seem quite dreary to them. To put their dazzling plans into action, they either need to develop a more pragmatic side or, alternatively, find a sensible partner to transform their ideas into something achievable. These Slytherins are loners or followers rather than leaders, but they are not to be pushed around. They will tolerate people to the best of their ability, but once those boundaries are crossed they will become annoyed and remember the affront. A Piscean will never forget a cut or a kindness.
Their interest in mystery and intrigue will often prompt the Slytherins from this sign to explore the enigmas surrounding death and the afterlife. Since Pisces is the last sign of the Zodiac, many Pisceans develop an interest in the end of life and what lies beyond. Slytherins from this sign will also make brilliant potioneers and seers. Naturally compassionate and attuned to the psychological aspects of life, Pisceans from this House will appear both unassuming and quiet. The wise Piscean in Slytherin House is likely to be aware of this and may capitalise on this tendency to become invisible.
Hufflepuff Pisceans live to please. They are so finely attuned to what others are feeling that they often share the pain of those around them, even when that anguish manifests itself physically. Because of this they are bound to have an interest in healing magics and other areas that will bring relief to the suffering of humankind. Since Pisces is a water sign, these Hufflepuffs will also have some skill at potion making. The temptation to brew love potions and anything that might induce euphoria will be immense. Pisceans want people to be happy, so producing something that will help others escape from the toils and tribulations of a cruel world will at the forefront of their minds. Out of all Hufflepuffs, this is the group that has the least work ethic. Regardless of this they will apply themselves tirelessly if they think their efforts can benefit humanity in one way or another. They are also likely to be incredible teachers as a result of their innate patience and their skill of making any subject seem interesting and worthwhile.
The Great Beyond
Ravenclaw Pisceans spend so much time reading books or dreaming that it’s sometimes a wonder that they come down to earth. They are unusually interested in mythology and legends – both of which appeal to their sense of fantasy and escapism. These wizards and witches are the natural seers of the world. Their specialities include dream interpretation, horary astrology, cartomancy, oracles and the summoning of visions. Because they possess both intellectual shrewdness and emotional awareness, they are capable of great comprehension. These students are often quiet and, while they might not excel in all of their classes, they are beyond brilliant in the areas of magic they are interested in. Like many Pisceans, they can find the world rather overwhelming. Because of this, they might be nervous and easy to intimidate. None of that really matters though. Their compassionate natures and boundless creativity is sure to win them a more assertive friend or two!
The late Remus John Lupin, former Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor and member of the Order of the Phoenix, was born on 10 March, making him a Piscean. As a werewolf, he possessed the duality that is synonymous with the Piscean nature. On the one hand, he could become a ferocious beast, capable of pounding down heavy doors and ripping anything that crossed him to shreds. On the other hand, he was a man known for his kindness and wisdom, two of the very best traits the Pisces sign has to offer. This Character Spotlight will focus on the contribution he made despite leading a very difficult double life.
Gryffindors born under Pisces aren’t typically the bravest creatures under the sun, yet they still exhibit a quiet courage. This was evident throughout Remus’s life. He was only four years old when he was bitten by a werewolf, which meant he had to live with the dread and humiliation of his lycanthropic condition for most of his life. Despite this he managed to make friends. Sirius Black and James Potter were instantly attracted to Remus’s quiet sense of humour and kindness. At the height of Lord Voldemort’s ascendancy Remus joined the Order of Phoenix, committing himself to the resistance of the dark power that had risen.
Gryffindor Pisceans are deeply compassionate and full of emotional strength, often becoming the unofficial counsellors in the common room. Remus was the underdog’s friend from a very young age. He was kind to the small and often obtuse Peter Pettigrew. Without his gentle persuasion the confident (and rebellious) Sirius and James would not have thought the small boy worthy of their attention. Remus remained the conscience of the group throughout and was the only one out of the four Marauders to become a Prefect.
Upon Remus's return to Hogwarts, this time as a Professor, he slipped straight back into his role as mentor and guide. Not only did he give some much needed advice to Harry Potter on how to repel dementors, but he was also responsible for Neville Longbottom’s very first moment of glory when he faced a Boggart. He helped his students to become familiar with knowledge through kindness and humour, making him a very popular teacher. He had a rare flair for his subject and a profound understanding of his pupils.
Gryffindors under this sign aren’t afraid to face painful truths if there are really no way of escaping them. Unfortunately it was Remus’s faulty conscience that served as one of his major character flaws. At school he did not approve of his friends’ relentless bullying of Sirius Snape, yet he did nothing to stop them. He loved them so much and was so grateful for their company that he did not stand up to them as much as he should have. Years later this cost him his position as Professor when Severus Snape, still resentful despite Remus’s subsequent respectful politeness, made sure that the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor's condition was widely known.
The escapism that is synonymous with the Pisces sign was evident even towards the end of Remus’s life. By this point he was newly-wed to Nymphadora Tonks and was desperately afraid that he would pass his lycanthropy on to an innocent child. In an attempt to run from his conscience, he fled, leaving the pregnant Tonks and seeking out his most notorious pupil. He was frantic to join Harry Potter on whatever death-defying adventure awaited. When Harry became angry and insulting, Remus fled to the Leaky Cauldron where he spent a few hours drowning his anger and misery. It took a few hours, but Remus begrudgingly accepted that his ex-pupil had made him wiser to a valuable truth.
Remus Lupin died at the hands of Antonin Dolohov during the Battle of Hogwarts. He was posthumously awarded the Order of Merlin (First Class), the very first werewolf ever to be given this honour.
(December 22 – January 19)
The Quinotaur, which serves as the image for Capricorn, is half goat and half mermaid (or merman, if you wish). Capricorns are typically pragmatic, mature and patient people with a strong work ethic and they have the willingness to overcome hard luck. They are ambitious, opportunistic and often cunning, which can make them seem cold and manipulative at times. The sign of Capricorn is associated with the element of earth and the planet Saturn. Though they are obviously destined to be leaders, how do the different houses juggle these traits?
In my first issue I mentioned that there are some truly strange combinations when one starts delving into the mysteries of the combination of the Hogwarts houses and the different signs. The Gryffindor Capricorn is definitely one of the more unique combinations found at Hogwarts. Gryffindors born under this sign are incredibly balanced. While they are as eager to embark on noble quests as the rest of the house of Godric; the difference lies in their preparation. They will make sure that they are equipped for every single step of a journey, from provisions to transport and everything that goes along with it. They will also arrange for back-up in case something doesn’t go according to plan.
Gryffindor Capricorns are confident creatures with incredible leadership potential. They are far more ambitious than people give them credit for. While the goat half of the Quinotaur represents the practical side of the Capricorn, the tail of the creature speaks of hidden depths and secret ambitions. It is very easy to hide vaulting ambition behind an unassuming surface.
Since the house of Ravenclaw is mostly associated with the element of air, Capricorns in this house are unusual. While they are as inquisitive as their counterparts with other signs, they often want to gain knowledge in order to get ahead in the game of life. Information is power, and these Ravenclaws know exactly how to calmly extract the relevant facts that will serve them well. There are times when they take longer to reach conclusions, but those conclusions tend to be very well-thought-out and detailed. They have incredible powers of perception and a certain shrewdness that allows them to use those subtle signals to their advantage. These witches and wizards don’t miss much. In fact, they are often the first to know when something unexpected is going to happen.
Organization is Key
The Capricorns of Hufflepuff are meticulous and hard working. They are diligent, effective and disciplined – many of the traits expected from this noble house. Though a large number of Hufflepuffs would be more than happy to manage the day-to-day administration of an institution such as the Ministry of Magic, there are also quite a few yellow-clad Capricorns who want more out of life. These Hufflepuffs typically make excellent leaders. They are willing to take the extra steps to get ahead and will definitely make themselves indispensable in their chosen fields. They take pleasure in helping other people and honestly don’t mind organizing the details if it means things will get done properly. If you’re looking for a Potions partner or someone to help you organize that secret sleepover, these are the Badgers you want by your side.
The late Severus Snape, former Head of Slytherin and Hogwarts Headmaster was born on 9 January, making him a Capricorn. This cunning Potions Master did not have the best start in life, but, with a few lucky breaks and indomitable will, he managed to secure a position of trust that would turn the Wizarding War on its head. Our Character Spotlight will honour him and his many achievements.
When discussing Slytherin Capricorns, the traits to emphasize are ambition, determination, discipline and pragmatism. Capricorns expect a lot out of life and they are usually willing to work for it. The young Severus Snape was dealt a rotten hand. He grew up in the poorer parts of Spinner’s End, a Muggle dwelling where he lived with his witch mother and Muggle father. Severus’s father was neglectful and possibly even violent. As a child, Severus wore ill-fitting clothes that were so mis-matched that it looked deliberate. The area in Cokeworth where he grew up was located near a dirty river and was also close to dilapidated houses, abandoned factories and broken street lamps. Lily Evans’s first encounter with Severus was a mixed affair; poor Severus had terrible social skills, however Lily became instant friends with this lonely boy who was so desperate to escape into the wide world and experience everything that lay beyond what he knew.
Slytherin Capricorns are not showy, nor are they boastful, but they are still obsessive overachievers. Even though Severus fell in with the wrong crowd and was bullied, he still managed to secure a spot in Professor Slughorn’s coveted Slug Club. He was able to improve on the instructions given in his NEWT potions textbook and even invented spells for his own personal use. Professor Snape served as Slytherin’s Head of House for many years while he also acted as the trusted Hogwarts Potions Master. He served as co-leader of the Duelling Club and had a passion for the Dark Arts. Other than Lord Voldemort, he was the only wizard known to be capable of unsupported flight. Finally, he was also skilled at both Occlumency and Legilimency, which are rare gifts indeed!
Capricorns in Slytherin are excellent at being discreet, secretive and diplomatic. They are well aware that being on good terms with people is extremely useful in getting access to sensitive information. This discretion was Severus Snape’s defining trait. At the height of his power, Voldemort was would have been able to see through any mask hiding disloyalty. His power of Legilimency alone would have proven too much for many skilled wizards, yet he did not discover Snape’s secret until it was too late. For years, Severus Snape had been able to operate under the watchful eye of Voldemort, getting crucial information to The Order of the Phoenix while keeping Harry Potter safe in the process. He contributed to the Wizarding War and the victory against the darkness in so many ways, but he did not do it for his own gain or glory. He did it for the only reason that counted, the only part of Lily Evans he had managed to hold onto: He did it for love.
(September 23 – October 22)
When thinking of Libra, the brass Scales of Justice immediately come to mind. Balance is a crucial concept for all Libras, as is logic, intelligence, grace, beauty and an abundance of charm. These are the friends that would happily divide the Halloween candy between everyone present, to ensure that everybody enjoys enough sugar before they all suffer together from a stomachache. The Libra sign is associated with the element of air and the planet Venus. Libras are definitely a rational crowd, but how does the Sorting Hat decide who goes where?
Every Possible Outcome
All Ravenclaws are intellectual and thoughtful, making Rowena's House a likely place for Libras to call home. Libras take their time making decisions, carefully weighing up the consequences before reaching a conclusion. Exploring every complication of every single action and reaction in a given situation takes time. When you require somebody to make an instant decision, having a Ravenclaw Libra at the helm can slow things down. On the other hand, if you find yourself stuck while trying to negotiate your way through a dilemma of life-threatening proportions, the Ravenclaw Libra is the one person you want by your side. These bright scrutineers won’t steer you in the wrong direction.
Although pleasant when approached, Ravenclaw Libras are typically quiet and shy in social situations. This will include classroom scenarios, where they will patiently wait to be called upon before saying their piece. While all academic subjects will intrigue and delight them, they will prefer to spend their time with theory rather than the messy practical world. Out of all the Libras, they are the most speculative, simply because they examine every possible outcome.
A Beautifully Decorated Sett
Libras sorted into Hufflepuff are often sweet and charming with a knack for keeping the peace. They want everybody to be happy, often taking on the role of mediator when conflict arises amongst their friends. Compromise is extremely important to Libra badgers, as is a feeling of general goodwill. Conflict distresses them, which is why they are rarely competitive creatures.
Unlike other Libras, Hufflepuffs born under this sign work hard at their studies and excel accordingly. They have a surprising affinity for Potions, a subject that requires an understanding of subtle blends and exact timing. Hufflepuff Libras display an almost intuitive awareness of the harmony of ingredients. This, coupled with their innate patience, enables them to brew even the more advanced potions such as the dreadfully complicated Draught of Peace with relative ease.
Hufflepuff Libras yearn to be surrounded by beauty, which is why they often feel cramped in the basement. Their houses are not only comfortable but are also carefully arranged, with the rooms elegantly decorated. Hufflepuff Libras can often be found outside during the warmer months, enjoying the kaleidoscope of colours that nature has to offer. Physically, they are rarely nimble and can be quite lazy, preferring to act as spectators rather than as competitors when it comes to sport.
The Magical Company of Diplomats
From the basement, we move to the Dungeons. Slytherins born under the sign of Libra tend to be some of the most poised, polished, polite and diplomatic people on the planet. They are often incredibly well-read, making an effort to expand on their general knowledge whenever they have the chance. They radiate discretion and charisma, making them very easy to talk to. Since they are usually popular, Slytherins born under this sign typically have an intricate social network, making it very easy for them to connect with a variety of people. Their innate sense of balance serves them well; they are able to seem perfectly polite while being sarcastic. They conceal their true feelings behind a carefully constructed mask in order to get information or to befriend a rival, making them perfect candidates for careers in espionage. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. It would seem unlikely that anybody can take advantage of a Slytherin, but Libras are social creatures that enjoy spending time in the company of others. Since Slytherins born under this sign aren’t stellar decision-makers, they can fall into the wrong crowd if they don’t take care.
Justice for All
Minerva McGonagall, Gryffindor Head of House and Transfiguration Professor celebrated her birthday on the 4th of October, making her a Libra. She is a powerful witch and Animagus who played a vital role in the final battle against Voldemort. All of these remarkable feats makes her a very worthy subject of our first ever Character Spotlight.
After a moment of uncertainty, the Sorting Hat placed the young Minerva McGonagall in Gryffindor. Unlike other Gryffindors, the Libras of this house are usually more cautious in their approach to everyday life. The stereotypical Gryffindor tends to act without thinking, however this would be balanced out by the Libra inclination to weigh all options before deciding on the best course of action. Professor McGonagall’s reluctance to come to blows with Dolores Umbridge during the latter’s reign of terror at Hogwarts illustrates this point perfectly. She knew something had to be done to dislodge the woman from her self-crafted throne, but she also realised that a direct confrontation was not the best option at the time. She even tried to dissuade the hot-headed Harry Potter from openly defying Professor Umbridge during his Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons.
Gryffindor Libras know which battles to pick, which is why they often reign victorious. They are also very concerned about what is fair and just for everyone and are typically the only Libras who aren’t afraid to speak their minds on these issues. They are passionate defenders of those in need of help; consider Professor McGonagall’s reaction to the eviction of Sybil Trelawney in Order of the Phoenix. Even though the two women didn’t see eye to eye about the subject of Divination, Minerva immediately rushed to her colleague’s defence, reassuring the near-hysterical woman that Hogwarts would remain her home. She also became quite emotional about the state of the petrified students in Chamber of Secrets, secretly shedding tears of relief when the mandrakes were finally ready to harvest and could be used to brew the Restorative Draught.
Lastly, out of all the Houses and signs, the Libras belonging to Gryffindor are the most likely to become Aurors. Their zeal for justice and their need to protect others often drives them in the direction of Law Enforcement. Minerva McGonagall had actually started out with a career in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement before applying for a teaching position at Hogwarts. During her years at Hogwarts, she remained true to her character and became a protective force in times of peril.
This concludes our look at the inner workings of the Libras of Hogwarts. While these character traits are almost always true, there are also exceptions. Our personal fancies and experiences have a significant influence on these delightful quirks that make us human.