An Open Letter to Jo Rowling re: Patronus Selection

This gorgeous work of art was created by Daniel Govar. If you’d prefer me to find another image, I’m happy to, I simply do not have a deviantart account with which to contact you directly. My apologies if I’ve jumped the gun by posting before seeking permission, I have no malicious intent.

Spoilers galore below, though why you’d read this without knowing the source material, I have no idea. 

To begin, I would like to confess that I really do not actually know how many times I’ve taken the Patronus quiz. I’ve had an email address (…or two) banned, though, so definitely too many by Pottermore’s standards. I know this is against the rules and that this probably feels quite disrespectful to Jo herself and those wonderful individuals who’ve helped her craft Pottermore so meticulously, but I mean no harm. The results I received simply didn’t fit me well enough. They felt like someone I could have become somewhere along the line, but not who I really am, if that makes sense.

Dumbledore has given slack to those who broke his rules when those individuals (including Harry freakin’ Potter) could prove they meant to help rather than harm. I’d like to prove as such to the best of my current ability, and I think my true sorting set proves this.

nerve note george's not holey ear

When I say that I’ve taken the quiz numerous times, I am not boasting or suggesting you do the same. I’ve got tunnel vision when I put my mind to something. My Hornbeam wandwood can attest to that, I think. My answers for the wand sorting are truthful and haven’t changed, which I think explains why that result is consistent. Depending on the questions I’m given, I end up either in Slytherin or Hufflepuff for my Hogwarts house. Back when Pottermore was in beta, I was a Slytherpuff hatstall, but that account is long gone now. I can’t even remember what the username was. Not being able to choose something memorable definitely doesn’t help, but dwelling on the past for too long is pointless, so let’s move on.

The Patronus result is much less consistent due to the quiz being so intricate and varied, but most often my basic traits are still identical. Intelligent, loyal, resourceful, observant, often with an inexplicable foresight. I feel like I need to go a bit further into detail for you to really see how my true patronus fits.

I am a keen observer, often too intelligent for my own good, cunning, quick to take control in a crisis – though I dislike leading unless I’m legitimately needed. I need to be able to hide from the world to recharge my batteries, and leaders often don’t have that luxury. I believe all rules were made to be broken in creative ways, all people contain their own unique universe between their ears, there’s always time for terrible puns, and good food and a comfortable (if modest) home life are essential to my happiness. I am intensely protective of people I am close with and those unable or unwilling to defend themselves, gentle until provoked, stubborn – often to a fault, a bit too keen on sensual pleasures (I blame my Taurus Moon and Libra Venus), a hell of a force when angry (Scorpio Sun, Mars and Pluto kind of sucks sometimes, but my moon doesn’t help either), short-tempered when unwell, strong-willed, creative. I’m tenacious in my work, a gifted problem-solver, and a damn capable finder. I am resilient beyond my capability to put into words, a lifelong watcher before I feel comfortable participating, and I have a great capacity for empathizing and communicating with children and animals. I’ve actually been torn between studying to teach Elementary-aged children with special needs, and studying to work tending to animals in a zoo or wildlife refuge for years. I’ve been too ill to go to school, but I can feel that changing finally. Perhaps there’s a niche for me working with kids and therapy animals someday? Who knows. That’s far off in the future, at least for now, so let’s get back on topic.

At my best, I am a quick-witted and empathetic healer. At my worst, I am a wrathful, miserable self-destructive tyrant who is best left (for the sake of everyone) to their own devices. Reconciling the two isn’t easy, but I’m getting better at controlling those dark impulses.

In the patronus quiz, I’ve gotten a Buzzard, a Hawk, a Kingfisher, a Leopard/Leopardess (both at different times), an Eagle Owl (my very first patronus result), a Bloodhound, a Borzoi, a Wolfhound, a Little Owl, more breeds of cat than I can recall, a wolf, a handful of the weasel family, even a Fire-breathing Salamander (from which Nicholas Flamel used to transmogrify the Philosopher’s Stone, if I’m not mistaken) and an Occamy. They were flattering and each immensely beautiful in their own regard, but none of them seemed to fit quite right. Either they weren’t the right creature, or the Ilvermorny/Hogwarts sorting was wonky. Nevertheless, I persisted, as nasty women are apt to do.

Without a doubt in my one-track mind, I am a Slytherin. Dumbledore himself said that Slytherin and Gryffindor share “an affinity for breaking the rules,” and I think this aspect of Slytherin suits me perfectly. I’m challenging my childhood hero (Jo) outright, so I’m either really damn stupid or I’ve got the kind of nerve that landed Ginny (who I believe could easily have been sorted into Slytherin, much like Harry) in Gryffindor. I could be in Gryffindor, but I think I’m a bit too sneaky and prickly to be a lion. I don’t enjoy roaring. By the SortingHatChats method, I’ve self-sorted myself as a Slytherin Primary/Gryffindor Secondary, but there’s still a Hufflepuff influence I couldn’t quite reconcile with that sorting. I don’t think my ‘Puff attributes are a model, but perhaps by Gryff secondary is actually a burned Puff secondary… for more information,see their Tumblr

Though I’ve received both answers I’d wanted (fox and cat, proof below), they weren’t satisfying. Sure, they’re my favorite animals on the planet, but that menial victory left a sour taste in my mouth.


For the Fox, I was sorted into Hufflepuff, which certainly could fit. I’ve got the heart for Hufflepuff, I believe, but I don’t see myself being satisfied in Hufflepuff. I don’t see how Hufflepuff would challenge me, or enrich my mind, or push me hard enough to become who I need to become. I do think my Hufflepuff side correlates exceptionally well with being sorted into Pukwudgie, which as I’m an American, I think is a bit more important than my Hogwarts house. I’d absolutely love to have a fox patronus, but the Huflepuff sorting repelled me from this result. I have nothing against the house, if I wasn’t a Slytherin I do believe I could be a Hufflepuff. But the Pukwudgie sorting here threw me for a loop, surely my ambition and cunning couldn’t be attributed only to my patronus?

So, the search continued.

ragdoll cat

I’ve gotten a Ragdoll Cat, among many other breeds of feline, a Leopardess the second time I took the quiz, an Eagle Owl the very first time I took the quiz. The last two aren’t indigent to the States in the slightest, so I discarded them, despite liking both results. A Leopard would certainly fit, but they went extinct in North America in the last Ice Age. Eagle Owls are indigent to Europe, and while I’ve got plenty of european in my lineage, I’m at the least a third-generation American. Any European creature is a stretch at best, and any connection I have to Africa is significantly further back. So, neither fit. The Ragdoll Cat I’ve held onto, though, because they were a breed developed in Northern California, where I was born and raised. I still live in Northern Cali, 25 years on. But pick me up and I’m more likely to scratch the shit out of you than go limp. I don’t like being touched, I’m very sensitive to touch, especially when I don’t know you. This is why I thought the Leopard fit so well, but it still isn’t accurate enough for me.

Cats in general seem like a good fit for me, I have to admit. But as it is a result I’d wanted, I do not feel comfortable claiming it as mine. Your patronus chooses you, not the other way around. I needed to find a creature I had loose personal ties to at best, but could understand emotionally and intellectually.

Horned Serpent would fit for my Ilvermorny house, I believe. I mean, intellectualizing a series of fantasy books either indicates that I’ve got a sharp mind or way too much time on my hands. As I’m currently on proverbial house-arrest while recovering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I’d say both are equally valid. But Horned Serpent still didn’t quite feel right to me. I’ve gotten numerous results with a Horned Serpent sorting (most notably a Siberian Cat), but none of them sat quite right with me. Either the patronus seemed like a reach too far, or the Hogwarts/Ilvermorny sorting wasn’t quite right. Again, I whole-heartedly believe that Slytherin is the best fit for me. 

This leads me to my Pukwudgie-ness. I’ve been undiagnosed with the aforementioned all of my life. Now is not the time to tell that story, though. It’ll come, in time, I assure you. Long (long, long, looooooooooooooooong) story short, my body and mind have suffered greatly. Many forms of gluten intolerance and sensitivity wreak havoc on your entire body, but still go undiagnosed due to the ignorance of the greater medical community and the patient’s inability to verbalize exactly what they’re experiencing. This happens when your body is unable to derive adequate nutrition from the food you consume. On this topic, I must digress for now. I’m happy to provide more information, but again it will have to wait for another day.

I’ve had no choice but to become my own healer, which I firmly believe is my greatest asset of all. I recently (FINALLY!) figured out what is “wrong” with me with little aide from legitimate medical professionals despite continually seeking help for the last twenty-five years. I am my own healer. Nothing can change this, in my mind. Not after all I’ve endured.

Due to my mental capabilities, and the fact that Horned Serpent is a frequent result of mine, I’d like to think I’d be given the choice between the two. I know you can have multiple houses at Ilvermorny, and I would surely nurture my Horned Serpent aspects in actually studying magic if I could, but you can have only one on Pottermore. So, this leads me to my two most accurate results.

magpie horned serpent

it me im sam

I’m comfortable claiming to be some kind of corvid. I’d like to think my intelligence is apparent, but that seems arrogant, so I hesitate to toot my own horn. The reputation and symbolism of the magpie is very flattering, and I won’t lie and say it couldn’t be possible, but with the addition of the Horned Serpent sorting it feels undeserved. I cannot abandon my heart for the sake of intellect. More accurately, I refuse to.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Raven/Pukwudgie fits the best. This list of attributes convinced me, I can say with absolute honesty that all but one trait I can see in myself.

Ravens stay away from urban environments, whereas I’ve lived in the city all of my life. There is a breed of magpie indigent to Northern California with a brilliant blue stripe flanking either side, though. My eyes are blue, so I suppose it could be more accurate than the Raven is aesthetically. I have light hair, skin, and eyes, so the darkness in the Raven’s coloring doesn’t fit exactly. Magpies are very social birds, often nesting near other magpies, with rich social lives within their range of habitat. I’m not much of a social person, though. I can socialize, it just drains me to be around people for too long. I’m very deeply introverted, and being so sick for most of my life has made me a bit of a hermit. Ravens, on the other hand, are solitary creatures, just like me.

I’ve been planning on getting Odin’s messenger ravens Huginn and Muninn tattooed on my right shoulder for years. I’ve got a fox on my other shoulder, so it’d look like the fox was chasing one raven while the other raven followed the fox. One raven leading Loki (the cunning trickster and harbinger of chaos) to his undoing, while the other ensures Loki’s stays on course until they reach the All-father.  I can identify with both the harbinger of chaos and the All-father. I feel like there’s a reason this tattoo has been buzzing around my mind for so long, and now I think I may know why. 

Duality pleases me greatly, which is why I also have a phoenix and a dark mark on one of my arms. Good and evil, the evils in perpetuating goodness and the occasional bursts of good within souls so deeply dark… Dumbledore was a great man who did terrible things to defeat an evil identical to that of his adolescent love. Repeatedly leaving a child in the care of blood relatives who abuse and neglect him was wrong, but for the sake of defeating Wizard Hitler 2.0, Albus had no other choice. Snape’s guilt for his role in Lily’s murder is utterly sefish, and his love was twisted by his obsession, but taking to protecting her child who he despises is selfless. Yes, he was abusive and negligent with intent. Dumbledore wasn’t a good man through and through, but he’s no less a hero because of it. Snape wasn’t a good man, but he’s still a hero. Without him, the war wouldn’t have ended in victory. It all fits together, in a peculiar way.

Now, these last few paragraphs are specifically an appeal to Jo and Jo alone. I know I probably come off as a know-it-all (I was called Hermione often in elementary school, so I’ll wear her S.P.E.W. badge and mary jane’s proudly), but let’s be real, you’re a bit of a know-it-all too. We both write, and we both know keeping an idea in your head when its chattering at you is impossible. That’s why we write. We can’t not. Stephen King probably said it best in his book In Writing, but I have to echo the same sentiment. Moreso, you know the significance of Leo/Scorpio lessons. The Sirius/Harry relationship is significant, as is the Molly/Hary relationship, and I can see why plain as day. You gave Harry those two Scorpios because they’re the best surrogate parents Harry could have, precisely because they approached loving Harry in opposing ways. An often overbearing mother hen with the best intentions who fought to nurture and protect him, and a father figure who fought right beside him in solidarity ’til death stole the last glimmer of light in Sirius’s eyes. I hope this little Scorpio has given your Leonine soul something to think about, at the least. I do not mean to wound your pride, or dishonor your body of work in the slightest.

I know I’ve broken your rules. If you feel it necessary, I’m completely willing to provide my email addresses to the Pottermore staff to be permanently deleted. Hell, I know what I need to know, so if you wanted to IP ban me, I’d be okay with it. I’d be sad, but I know where I’d fit in the wizarding world now, so I can move on. I’d prefer to not be banned, but I understand that rules are rules and that I’ve deliberately gone out of my way to break them. I’m putting myself at your mercy.

I do not mean to step on your toes, and I wholeheartedly apologise if you or feel I have in any way. You’ve influenced me massively, over the years, in ways I can’t really put into words right now. Which is strange, because I’m obviously a verbose person. I’m bursting with words, really. I honestly don’t know the last time I was able to sit down and string nearly three thousand words together in one sitting. And I have to thank you for the inspiration and guidance over the years regardless of what you choose to do. You may not realize it, but you taught me how to write in the span of seven books, and I cannot express how profound that experience was for me, as a sickly little girl with little more than imaginary worlds to entertain myself with. Well, and the internet, which is kind of the same thing if you think about it.

I hope you can see my love for the wizarding world in this rambling mess. I’ll love the world you’ve brought to life just as much whether I’m allowed on Pottermore or not. I just wanted to show you why I abused your sorting system, as clear as I could. Yes, I had a problem with online quizzes. Specifically, yours. But I’ve solved it, and that satisfaction is all I was looking for.

Here’s to having enough nerve, I suppose.


further reading

Sortinghatchats Tumblr (an excellent resource for understanding the basic traits of each house! I highly recommend them, and the original writings by one of their moderators, the brilliant E. Jade Lomax)

Patronus traits and symbolism are primarily derived from the following sources, along with too many nights spent wading through Google results since the Patronus quiz went live last year. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, I am insane.

In the interest of showing respect to the Native American community, I ask that you mentally substitute the word “totem” and the phrase “spirit animal” with “patronus” in the sources I’ve provided at the bottom of this post. I’m not concerned with the symbolism of seeing these creatures in daily life, being confronted with these creatures has very little, if anything, to do with the result of your patronus. Your patronus is likely a species native to your land of origin, however human interference seems to throw off that calibration a bit, at least in my mind. This information is taken from Pottermore’s Ilvermorny write-up, I don’t recall exactly where, but if you’re interested enough you’ll find it for yourself.