Monday, April 30, 2018

Z is for Vanessa Zoltan

Welcome to the last day of the A-Z challenge! This year I am reviewing podcasts, and I've been looking forward to reviewing this podcast all month long! Day 26 is the letter Z, and the podcast I will be reviewing is Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, hosted by Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile.

Where to begin? First of all Vanessa and Casper are such engaging, fun people. Each season they discuss one book of Harry Potter. Right now they are on Book 4: The Goblet of Fire. Each week they discuss one chapter. Here is where it gets complicated to explain...they treat each chapter as if it was a sacred text. The word sacred here can be a big turn-off for some people until they actually listen to the podcast. It isn't trying to create some kind of Hogwarts-based religion. On their website they explain that by sacred they mean:
1. That you trust that the text is "worthy of our attention and contemplation"
2. That through concentrated attention we can glean wisdom from its pages
3.  That you are reading it with a community
4. That there are universal themes in the text 
They use different spiritual reading practices that religions have created. In the time I have been listening they have mostly used Jewish mysticism practices. Personally I think just learning about the different types of reading practices is fascinating. They have a list of them here, and I think there is a Catholic practice or two as well, but I'm not an expert.

Yes, I know it sounds weird. It's not. I swear.

Category: Religion and Spirituality. Oh iTunes, you're killing me! There's got to be a better category to explain this podcast!

What's My Time Commitment Here? Once a week for about half an hour.

My Review:

The first episode I listened to was about the theme of delight in the chapter where Sirius's comes to visit Harry in the fire at Hogwarts. They talk about how Sirius was not in Harry's life for long, but how he became important to Harry because of delight. He looked for ways to bring people joy, especially Harry--giving Pigwidgeon to Ron, sending the permission slip for Hogsmeade, showing pictures of Harry's parents, giving the many little things. By the end of the episode I was sobbing.  That was my most visceral reaction to this podcast, but I am touched every week. It really is a beautiful show.  If you are a Harry Potter fan, please give it a try. I think you will love it.

You can listen to it here or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I have enjoyed completing this A-Z challenge with you! Thank you to the people who have visited throughout the month, and thank you to the people whose blogs I have visited. You have amazed me with your talent and with the goodness you are bringing to the world.


  1. I really like Harry Potter, but I'm not sure I'm enough of a fan to really get into listening to a chapter a week - still, it sounds like a very interesting approach - it never ceases to amaze me how people come up with new and different ideas. Thanks for teaching me so much about podcasts and for sharing the AtoZ love - I've just got my wrap up post next Monday and I'm putting together a free e-book of my AtoZ to challenge myself further!

    Leanne |
    Z for Zero in on your target

  2. Well I'm a Harry Potter fan and I think it would be great to listen once a week. A bit like in the days before TV when people huddled around the radio for the next instalment in the drama series. Congratulations on your theme and finishing the AtoZ Challenge - it isn't easy is it? What will you do in May!
    Sue from SizzlingTowards60&Beyond

  3. What a fascinating premise for a podcast, and I'll certainly be giving this one a listen.

    Congratulations on a successful challenge, and thanks for all the new podcasts you've introduced me to.

  4. Thank you for all the recommendations and reviews through the month Melanie, well done on making it all the way through.

  5. Not a HP fan. Mysticism isn’t my thing. But that aside, you sure covered a lot of the podcast world! Congratulations on completing the alphabet!

  6. I LOVE Harry Potter and think I would enjoy this podcast. I'm going to check it out. Weekends In Maine

  7. Congrats on completing your A to Z Challenge! Despite being a podcast obsessive myself, you've listed a lot of podcasts I never heard of before.

  8. Checked out the podcast - it was interesting, and had some good tips. Thanks for introducing it to me!