In the new Wizards Unite game by Niantic, the mysterious Calamity is threatening the Statute of Secrecy. It’s stealing magical people, creatures, and items of significance from different periods of time and leaving them randomly scattered around the world with the protection of various magical beings. The cause of the Calamity is under investigation by the Ministry, with the help of players of the game, who are recruits to the Statute of Secrecy Task Force.
In the Back To Hogwarts event that ran from August 27 to September 3, Professor McGonagall alerted players that the Sorting Hat had been taken from Hogwarts, and in her concern, she moves on to some dark speculation: “For years after the Battle of Hogwarts, virtually all of our students could see the Thestrals. It was a constant reminder of the cost of that horrible fight. I just hope that the Calamity doesn’t eventually condemn another generation of students to the same fate.”
Naturally, this led me to some dark speculation of my own. Could the Calamity truly pose such a threat to the Wizarding World?
The Calamity is, as yet, a poorly understood phenomenon. The Ministry doesn’t know why it’s stealing these magical traces and leaving them where Muggles could find them. However, we know from the “Fantastic Beasts” movies and a bit of background in Deathly Hallows that Grindelwald wanted to expose the magical world to wizards in order to force Muggles into a kind of subservience. We also know from the “Fantastic Beasts” movies that, at least in North American Wizarding culture, there was significant anti-wizard sentiment during Grindelwald’s time, which allowed Grindelwald to prey on those who feared persecution.
In the Harry Potter books, breaches of the Statute of Secrecy are always treated as serious offenses, but the examples we see tend to be frivolous. From Dedalus Diggle‘s magical fireworks after Voldemort fails to kill baby Harry to Archie Aymslowe‘s refusal to change out of his flowery nightgown at the Quidditch World Cup, the Wizarding public seems to regard the Statute of Secrecy as an inconvenience. They’ve been lulled into a sense of security, and they’re tired of hiding–but the Ministry insists that history will repeat itself if they aren’t careful. So they carry on with their muggle-repelling charms and obliviation squads, and they rarely need a Thunderbird to create rain infused with the venom of swooping evil to erase the stressful memories of the townspeople.
The Calamity events seem to mirror our timeline–the Sorting Hat was stolen before the new first-years could be sorted on September 1, 2019. That’s close to a century after Frank the Thunderbird saved Jacob Kowalski from being obliviated–and right in the middle of Albus Severus’ and Scorpius Malfoy’s time at Hogwarts. This is a bit sticky, timeline-wise, but it would seem that Professor McGonagall was around to see the drama unfold with Grindelwald and the anti-Wizard sentiment from Muggles. She believes the Statute of Secrecy keeps everyone safe, and that if the Wizarding World is exposed, it can lead only to catastrophe.
It seems that the force behind the Calamity has a different outlook. Maybe this force believes, like Grindelwald, that Muggle subservience is for the “greater good,” in which case Professor McGonagall is quite right to be deeply concerned. But maybe it’s possible that it believes, instead, that Muggles and Wizards are ready to co-exist harmoniously, and that separating the worlds and silencing the truth weakens both communities.
Only time will tell! In the meantime, if you want to be my friend on Wizards Unite, my code is 0722 3581 2200.
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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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