New college of mystical studies — from astrology to potions — is for adults only
EDMONTON — Canadian children are about to see one of their greatest fantasies come true: the opening of a real-life Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But in a cruel twist of fate, they’ll have to wait until high-school graduation to attend.
Advertised as an “adult version of Hogwarts,” the Northern Star College of Mystical Studies is now taking applications for its inaugural certification program. Just like Harry Potter’s fictional alma mater, the unique Edmonton-based school will teach herbology, potions, astrology and divination, among other magical subjects.
“As we go through the school system and move onto our different careers, some of the magic (of childhood)
gets lost,” says Robert Rogers, an instructor of plant spirit medicine at Northern Star, on 124th Street at 107th Avenue.
“These kinds of classes are of interest to people who want to rediscover that magic for themselves, for their family, or as a path for a career.”
The new school is the result of a merging of two Alberta institutions, the Center College for Wholistic Studies and Prairie Deva College. Although its diploma program is already underway, applications to the two-year certificate program in integrated therapies will be accepted until February (www.centercollege-wholistic.ca).
Rogers, a clinical herbologist, is Northern Star’s equivalent of Hogwarts’ Prof. Sprout — though he’s more likely to teach plant medicine than how to grow gills using gillyweed. Fellow instructor Laurie Szott-Rogers might be compared to Prof. Slughorn, since her specialties include aromatherapy, flower essences and potions.
Catherine Potter (“no relation to Harry,” she quips), a professional astrologer and hypnotherapist, is the college’s answer to Prof. Sinistra. And Skye MacLachlan, a dream therapist, tarot practictioner and feng shui specialist, is a more grounded version of Prof. Trelawney.
“Harry Potter starts to get everybody curious about the mystic inside of them,” says Potter, a fan of J.K. Rowling’s bestselling series. “I think it stirs a yearning in people to know more than just the five senses.”
The books aren’t the direct inspiration for Northern Star, but the instructors say they help illustrate the connections between the magical and real worlds for mainstream audiences.
“The topics of astrology, herbology and feng shui are all connected to the natural magic of nature and the cosmos,” says Szott-Rogers. “These ancient forces help tune us into our own personal and cosmic rhythms.”
Although Northern Star is thought to be the first Canadian college linked to Hogwarts, thousands of Canadian adults have been studying the fictional school’s magic for years. The most dedicated “students” will likely be in attendance at Lumos 2006: A Harry Potter Symposium this July.
“I had heard about adults that liked this type of stuff and thought it was a little weird,” says Debbie McLain, Lumos minister of magic and a stay-at-home mom. “Then I bought the (Potter) books and I couldn’t stop reading them.”
The Las Vegas event, which combines a fan convention with an academic conference, is expected to attract 1,200 people, including dozens of professors and educators from international universities.
But just like Edmonton’s version of Hogwarts U, it’s only open to grown-ups.
“We want to keep it age-appropriate,” McLain says. “Kids wouldn’t care how the social class structure in India is similar to that of the magical world, or the idea of bucolic bullionism — economics in the wizarding world.”
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