OwlTail

Cover image of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

It’s the English class you didn't know you missed and the meaningful conversations you didn't know you craved. Join Vanessa Zoltan and Matt Potts as they bring thought, reflection and laughter to Harry Potter; not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives. Relive the magic chapter by chapter as they explore themes such as commitment, revenge and forgiveness. This podcast creates time in your week to think about life’s big questions. Because reading fiction doesn’t just help us escape the world, it helps us live in it.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

Popular episodes

All episodes

The best episodes ranked using user listens.

Podcast cover

Suspicion: The Dark Lord Ascending (Book 7, Chapter 1)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Suspicion in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This week we discuss Snape’s bravery, the team culture amongst death eaters, and how Voldemort builds the groundwork for Narcissa’s betrayal. Throughout the episode we consider the question: How are suspicion and humiliation tied together?Thanks to Miriam for this week's voicemail! Next week we’re reading chapter two, In Memoriam, through the theme of Boldness.--It’s two sickles to join S.P.E.W., and only a dollar to join our Patreon for extra bloopers every week! Please consider helping us fill our Gringotts vault so we can continue to make this show.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

39mins

23 Apr 2020

Rank #1

Podcast cover

Belonging: The Polyjuice Potion (Book 2, Chapter 12)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of belonging in chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss magical portraits, the metaphor of the phoenix, and Vanessa’s distrust of optometry. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is a shared history necessary for feeling belonging? This week's voicemail is thanks to Evin Shinn. Next week we’ll be reading chapter thirteen, The Very Secret Diary, through the theme of cowardice. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

31mins

10 Jan 2017

Rank #2

Similar Podcasts

Podcast cover

Earnestness: The Lightning-Struck Tower (Book 6, Chapter 27)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Earnestness in the much-dreaded chapter twenty-seven of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This week we celebrate Dumbledore's humanity, sympathize with Draco's impossible situation, and discuss why Vanessa doesn't like death bed confessions. Throughout the episode we consider the question: When is earnestness actually naiveté?Thanks to Diana for this week's voicemail! Next week we’re reading chapter twenty-eight, Flight of the Prince, through the theme of Perfection with our friend Dr. Matt Potts.It’s two sickles to join S.P.E.W., and only a dollar to join our Patreon for extra bloopers every week! Please consider helping us fill our Gringotts vault so we can continue to make this show.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

34mins

27 Feb 2020

Rank #3

Podcast cover

Perfection: Flight of the Prince (Book 6, Chapter 28)

Vanessa and friend of the podcast Matt Potts explore the theme of Perfection in chapter twenty-eight of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This week we discuss how Harry gently shepherds Hagrid into grief, why Hagrid still has to use an umbrella as a wand, and how Snape manages to take care of Harry despite his own deep brokenness. Throughout the episode we consider the question: How do we use imperfect tools to do good work?Thanks to Steve for this week's voicemail! Casper is back next week and we’re reading chapter twenty-nine, The Phoenix Lament, through the theme of Power.It’s two sickles to join S.P.E.W., and only a dollar to join our Patreon for extra bloopers every week! Please consider helping us fill our Gringotts vault so we can continue to make this show.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

34mins

5 Mar 2020

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

Podcast cover

Revenge: Career Advice (Book 5, Chapter 29)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Revenge in chapter twenty-nine of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This week we discuss the tension between Umbridge and Mcgonagall, the brilliance of Fred and George, and Harry’s dream to be an Auror. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do we dissipate our need for revenge?Thanks to Kat Zdan for this week's voicemail! Next week we’ll be reading chapter thirty, Grawp, through the theme of familiarity.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

41mins

11 Apr 2019

Rank #5

Podcast cover

Frustration: Grim Defeat (Book 3, Chapter 9)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of frustration in chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss latin etymology, quote Macbeth, and critique Snape's class design. They also talk about fun things like Sir Cadogan (who is rapidly becoming our favorite portrait). Throughout the episode they consider the question: When does frustration indicate injustice?Next week we're reading chapter ten, The Marauder's Map, through the theme of escape. Our donor of the week is Crookshanks and our voicemail this week is thanks to Camryn Kessler.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

34mins

23 May 2017

Rank #6

Podcast cover

Unity: The Four Champions (Book 4, Chapter 17)

Note: We discuss sexual assault and suicidal ideation in this episode. If these topics are something you want to avoid, we understand. Here's a funny picture of a walrus to hold you over until next week. Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of, "unity" in chapter seventeen of, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." This week we ask: Why is Snape in the back room? Why is Ron so mad? Why can’t Hagrid wave hello? Our philosophical question this week is: When is the dissolution of difference worthwhile for the sake of unity? Next week we're reading chapter eighteen, The Weighing of the Wands, through the theme of glory.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

34mins

9 Feb 2018

Rank #7

Podcast cover

Loyalty: The Second Task (Book 4, Chapter 26) – Live from Minneapolis

For the first time on the podcast, we're bringing you your weekly episode from one of our live shows! Live from Minneapolis, Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of "loyalty" in chapter twenty-six of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." This week we discuss the root of Harry's heroism, the fish in the Great Lake, and why Hermione trusts Severus Snape. We return to the question: How do you have loyalty and maintain integrity?Next week we're reading chapter twenty-seven, Padfoot Returns, through the theme of corruption! Thanks this week to everyone who came out to the Minneapolis show, our special guest storyteller, Travis Salisbury, and the whole team at The Basilica of St. Mary. Also a special thanks to Jeff Emtman for composing our live show music.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 9mins

19 Apr 2018

Rank #8

Podcast cover

Humor: The Boggart in the Wardrobe (Book 3, Chapter 7)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of humor in chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.They discuss the power of Satire, the absurdity of neck ties, and why Parvati is afraid of mummies. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is humor always rooted in truth? This week's story was told by the brilliant journalist Chloe Angyal. Next week we're reading chapter eight, The Flight of the Fat Lady, through the theme of desperation. Our donor of the week is Andrew Stairs and our voicemail this week is thanks to Duke Lambert. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

37mins

9 May 2017

Rank #9

Podcast cover

Masculinity: Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (Book 4, Chapter 5)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Masculinity in chapter five of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This week, Vanessa and Casper discuss Ron's love of quidditch, Bill's gender performance, and Mr. Weasley's Oedipal conflict. Our question this week is: How does one actually get outside the boundaries of gender? Next week we're reading chapter six, The Portkey, through the theme of Acceptance. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Weronika Bartczak.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

37mins

2 Nov 2017

Rank #10

Podcast cover

Desperation: Flight of the Fat Lady (Book 3, Chapter 8)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of desperation in chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss the credibility of divination, the intensity of Oliver Wood's quidditch passion, and whether Harry's need to go to Hogsmeade is silly or understandable. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do you prevent desperation from going hand and hand with isolation?Next week we're reading chapter nine, Grim Defeat, through the theme of frustration. Our donor of the week is Mikhela Ungerleider and our voicemail this week is thanks to Sara Cochennet.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

37mins

16 May 2017

Rank #11

Podcast cover

Belief: Dudley Demented (Book 5, Chapter 1)

Vanessa and Casper dive into Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with the theme of belief. They discuss the breakdown of trust between Harry and the Dursleys, between Harry and his friends, and Harry and himself. Throughout the episode they consider the question: what makes us believe things, beyond just 'the facts'? This week, we're trying out a new spiritual practice: Marginalia. This week's voicemail is thanks to Emily Anderson.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

35mins

23 Aug 2018

Rank #12

Podcast cover

Confusion: Mudbloods and Murmurs (Book 2, Chapter 7)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of confusion in chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Hagrid's magical umbrella, the usefulness of mantras, and what the 'mudblood' incident can help us understand about systemic racism. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When faced with pernicious confusion, what's our best course of action? This week's voicemail is thanks to Andrew McIntyre. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

32mins

6 Dec 2016

Rank #13

Podcast cover

Special Edition: Owl Post and Rabbi Scott Perlo (Again!)

Vanessa is still recovering from her surgery, so Casper is taking over our owl post episode this week. We hear from listeners Lóre Stevens, Kate McManus, Talya Sarna and Eva Resnick-Day. Lóre and Kate respond to Casper's question about the importance of libraries, Talya shares some Jewish thoughts on around pregnancy, and Kate recounts how she got her 15 minutes of national fame. Casper also has the opportunity to chat with our old friend, the brilliant Rabbi Scott Perlo, about the 'canon' of sacred texts and how ideas of canon play out in the Jewish tradition.Next week, we'll be reading Chapter 31, The Third Task, through the theme of kindness.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

35mins

24 May 2018

Rank #14

Podcast cover

Wrap-Up: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In the final episode of season two, Vanessa and Casper pull out a few key insights from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They evaluate the evolution of Harry's character, compare Lockhart to a Shakespearean protagonist, and talk about the importance of paying attention to ghosts. Throughout the episode they come back to ideas about liberation, marginalization, and belonging. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

36mins

7 Mar 2017

Rank #15

Podcast cover

Peace: Hagrid's Tale (Book 5, Chapter 20)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Peace in chapter twenty of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They discuss wizard/giant relations, analyze Umbridge’s intimidation strategy, and compare The Second Wizarding War to World War I. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do you respond to violence with restorative peace?Thanks to Felix Moore for this week's voicemail! Next week we’ll be doing an Owl Post with Professor Stephanie Paulsell.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

33mins

31 Jan 2019

Rank #16

Podcast cover

Health: Fallen Warrior (Book 7, Chapter 5)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Health in chapter five of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This week we take some time to discuss the incredible grace of three characters: George Weasley, Ted Tonks, and Molly Weasley. Throughout the episode we consider the question: how can we disrupt the binary of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ bodies?Thanks to Cory for this week's voicemail! Next week we’re reading chapter six, The Ghoul in Pyjamas, through the theme of Hesitation.--It’s two sickles to join S.P.E.W., and only a dollar to join our Patreon for extra bloopers every week! Please consider helping us fill our Gringotts vault so we can continue to make this show.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

39mins

21 May 2020

Rank #17

Podcast cover

Erosion: A Very Frosty Christmas (Book 6, Chapter 16)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Erosion in chapter sixteen of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This week we are joined by writer and mentor Terry Tempest Williams, who shares an opening story about the landscape of Utah. Casper and Vanessa discuss Molly’s tireless work for her family, the way Harry stands up to Scrimgeour, and how Vanessa came to love musicals. Throughout the episode we consider the question: how do we stay open to change without degrading sense of self?Thanks to Paulinie Marie Dias for this week's voicemail! Next week we’re reading chapter seventeen, A Sluggish Memory, live from Washington D.C., through the theme of Attention.Don’t forget to check out Terry’s new book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

54mins

21 Nov 2019

Rank #18

Podcast cover

Resilience: Silver and Opals (Book 6, Chapter 12)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of resilience in chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This week Casper and Vanessa discuss Harry’s obsession with Draco, why Filch is still at Hogwarts, and Katie’s amazing friend Leanne. Throughout the episode we consider the question: How do we know when to keep going and when to quit?Thanks to Annie for this week's voicemail! Next week we’re reading chapter thirteen, The Secret Riddle, through the theme of Superstition, and we’ll be joined by special guest Mike Shubert from the Potterless Podcast!See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

41mins

24 Oct 2019

Rank #19

Podcast cover

Control: Christmas on the Closed Ward (Book 5, Chapter 23)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of Control in chapter twenty-three of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They discuss Molly’s anxiety over Arthur, Neville’s relationship with his grandmother, and poor sad Professor Lockhart. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do we recognize when we’re telling distorted stories about ourselves?Thanks to Kelsi Moore for this week's voicemail! Next week we’ll be reading chapter twenty-four, Occlumency, through the theme of curiosity.See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

48mins

28 Feb 2019

Rank #20