In the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels, students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are offered an elective course on Care of Magical Creatures. The students study flobberworms, fire crabs, as well as the unicorn, a magical white creature with a single horn and golden hooves, which inhabits the Forbidden Forest.
For Harry’s eleventh birthday he’s gifted a snowy owl with majestic yellow eyes for transporting his wizard mail. Dragons, rats, werewolves, spiders, snakes, cats, and magical plants such as the violent Whomping Willow play leading roles in an enchanted world, the type of world we all wish we could inhabit all of the time, not just in books and on screens.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung describes it as a “soul-sickness whose full extent and full import our age has not as yet begun to comprehend”. Indeed, we read fantasy books and watch Hollywood animations of talking rabbits and warlord cats in a quest to temporarily fill some sort of mythical void in our life. There’s something missing – that feeling of childhood enchantment, or magic; that ‘other’.
Interestingly, a key feature of fantasy that differentiates it from other genres is the non-human element. Remove the mythical creatures and magical plants from the Harry Potter scripts and you’re left with a story about a boy who goes to school. Want to live a more enchanting life? Then befriend nature. It’s calling you.