Meet-up Recap: Astronomy Tower Night

To start off the evening, Louise hosted us at her house just outside of Charlottesville for a feast worthy of Wizarding royalty. The menu included Shepherd’s pies, “Leek”y Cauldron soup (with optional BACON), an array of sweet treats (including Treacle Tart, Cauldron Cakes, and Acid Pops), and a truly wizz-bang Butterbeer tasting. The Butterbeer tasting included four options – Honeyduke’s Bottled, Aberforth’s “No Underage Wizards Allowed” Brew, Winky’s Quick-Mix, and Rosmerta’s Homemade (check out the recipes on our Facebook) – which guests could rate. While filling up on sugar and delicious carbs, we were almost thwarted by a sudden, strong thunderstorm that struck. A quick call to the observatory confirmed that they would still show us around, so we packed into three Ford Anglias for the quick trip to the UVA campus.

Once at the McCormick Observatory, we explored the museum and handled a meteorite. Then, Chris took us into the dome itself to look at the telescope and tell us about its history.  The telescope is 32.5 feet long and dominates the room; however, it’s well-balanced and several of us tried our hands at manually moving it around the space. Chris also showed us the original, 19th-century telescope chair which revolves around the telescope on a track and can be raised and lowered with a set of rope pulleys (several of us tried out both features). If, for example, a wizard wanted to look at a celestial object close to the horizon, you would have to be quite high in the chair in order to line your eye up to the lens.

After the hands-on portion, we adjourned to a lecture led by Larry. He taught us quite a few things about the moon, the planets, and our place in the greater universe.

Thank you to Louise, Chris, and Larry for such a great night!

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Meet-Up Recap: Quidditch in the Park

On Saturday, June 7th, Virginia is for Wizards was joined by representatives from the University of Virginia Quidditch team at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton for a fun morning of learning the hoops of the game. The weather was clear and we definitely attracted the attention of the passers-by.

We started with some drills to practice our skills as Chasers, Beaters, and Keepers. Once we felt confident, we added brooms to the mix and practiced some plays. Two small girls joined us for a while and were excellent additions to the teams.

At the end of the session, UVA’s official Snitch let us practice our Seeking skills (it wasn’t a fair fight, though, we had 6 Seekers against just one Snitch).

Cass excelled as a Chaser; Dylan dominated as a Beater; Christina made a fair Beater, too; and Noah got to try his legs at being the Snitch.

We will be hosting more Quidditch in the Park practices in the coming months, so stay tuned.

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Upcoming Meet-Up: Time Turner Day at the Virginia Renaissance Faire

012When: May 10th, 2014, 10am-5pm
Where: Lake Anna Winery, Spotsylvania, VA
What: Witches and Wizards of Virginia and surrounding environs are hereby invited to test out a new time-turning device capable of transporting them back, for a few hours’ duration, to Elizabethan England.

Time Turners will be available at the Lake Anna Winery in Central Virginia on May 10th, 2014.

Dressing in accordance with historical trends is highly encouraged, though attendees should be aware that open display of a wand may alarm religious authorities and lead to unpleasant scenes. Though the International Statute of Secrecy had not yet taken effect during the reign of Elizabeth I, magic performed in front of early modern Muggles by modern-dwelling witches and wizards will be considered as retroactively in violation.

Attendees are reminded not to interfere with historical events, lest they risk unraveling the very fabric of reality.

Other Stuff: 

  • Learn more about the faire on their website or on Facebook.
  • Use this link for a discount on tickets from LivingSocial.
  • Lake Anna is roughly an hour and a half from both Staunton and DC, about an hour from Richmond, and about half an hour from Fredericksburg, so we’re hoping to see witches and wizards from all across the state!
  • And another local group, Geeks of the Shenandoah Valley, is also planning a trip that day, so perhaps we will get some nerdy cross-pollination!
  • Tomorrow’s weather looks to be in the low 80s, so dress to keep cool. There’s a chance of thunderstorms, though not till fairly late in the afternoon, so hopefully we won’t need to cast too many Impervious Charms!
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VA-Wiz on Always – The Potter Fandom Podcast

Want to hear your Heads of House talk? Listen to the 5th episode of Always – The Potter Fandom Podcast. Tune in at about the two-hour mark to listen to us chat about Virginia is for Wizards, as well as our history in the fandom and our hopes for the future of the club!

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Divination Day

On February 22nd, several of us gathered in a cozy apartment in downtown Staunton for a little tea and little gazing into the sands of time.


A selection of teas for our tasseomanc-ing perusal

We got to enjoy some lovely conversation while sipping our tea and enjoying shortbread cookies

We got to enjoy some lovely conversation while sipping our tea and enjoying shortbread cookies

None of us being expert tasseomancers ourselves, we relied on the mystical world wide web to help us make sense of the dregs. For some very simple shapes, I can recommend this visual guide. For a little more detail, try this site or this site.

Cass felt sure she had a lobster, signifying

Cass felt sure she had a lobster, signifying “a pleasant event, or a good present”


Dylan had a star. Or a monster. We’re not quite sure. As he kept swishing, he was disappointed to learn that neither “giant robot” nor “Trogdor” were in any of our online dictionaries.


Contemplating…. opening the inner eye…. channeling our inner Trelawneys…


Those of us heading to Florida in October were happy to know that Christina’s cup told her she was in for pleasant journeys in the next 8 months.

Noah found that his tea choice was a little too clumpy for easy reading. Dylan helped him swish some out for better divining!

Noah found that his tea choice was a little too clumpy for easy reading. Dylan helped him swish some out for better divining!

We decided to have a second round of tea, just for drinking, and then Cass did some Tarot readings. For this, we did not have to rely on the internet’s wisdom, as Cass has been reading for years. We even got to help her break in a brand-new deck!

The Steampunk Tarot deck was a favorite of the afternoon

The Steampunk Tarot deck was a favorite of the afternoon

Though the Shadowscapes deck has undeniable artistic loveliness

Though the Shadowscapes deck has undeniable artistic loveliness

We ran through a few "decision-making" spreads

We ran through a few “decision-making” spreads

I don’t know if any of us pierced any great mysteries of the beyond, but we had a lovely time!

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Crafternoon: Tasseomancy Cups

0111141549For our first meet-up of 2014, we had a crafternoon decorating cups, mugs, and saucers for tea-leaf reading. We convened at the Burrow with cheaply-bought or thrift-store-rescued crockery and a whole lot of Sharpies. Before we got started, Christina read to us from that font of all Muggle knowledge, Wikipedia, about Tasseography/Tasseomancy. There’s a lot of history behind it, starting from methods of reading wax spatters or other molten substances. (We don’t recommend lava-reading). The practice transformed into tea- and coffee-reading once those substances were introduced to Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

0111141548We also learned about some of the different methods of designing cups and reading the tea. Some cups and saucers have meaningful symbols, such as the zodiac, already designed on them. (I decided to go on this theme, as you can see, at left). Others use playing cards, which seems a bit like merging Tarot-reading with tasseomancy, or else common symbols with their own altheiometer-like meanings. Other methods, however, use a plain cup and interpret meaning based on the shape the dregs form, not just where they land.

So, armed with those variant possibilities, we set to work. Dylan put the Grim in his and decorated the exterior with a favourite fandom design. Amanda also went with a tea-leaf esque design and a quote from the books, while JohnMichael went with a Snitch theme. Christina put a bunny in hers, Noah turned pre-existing figures on his cup into wizards, and Caroline chose a bold red design (below). You can see more pictures of everyone’s work, and a few of the works-in-progress, on our Facebook album.

0111141624For anyone who wants to try this, we discovered that using a pencil or a ballpoint pen to trace out your design works really well — you can smudge it out with a bit of spit or alcohol if you make a mistake. Working with the Sharpies takes a steady hand! But even those mistakes can be remedied with a little alcohol. The designs need to sit for 24 hours before getting baked on in an oven.

The Greys are firing everything in their oven today, so perhaps sometime soon, we’ll have a meeting where we actually do readings!

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Meet-Up Recap: Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF

1005377_10100802277816274_172659128_nWhat a wonderful night! Witches and wizards who are long-time residents of Virginia know full well how temperamental the weather this time of year can be (and may have memories of having to wear turtlenecks and leotards under their costumes, or of trying to juggle an umbrella with their candy bags) — but despite the threat of rain and howling winds, the evening was perfectly lovely!

Two members of the Hufflepuff Quidditch Team, one Slytherin prefect, and a Dementor headed out to Fishersville. Unfortunately, Noah’s Dementor costume was so convincing that he pretty quickly had to tone it down, as he was terrifying the small ones. We spent about an hour and a half wandering around, and I’m pleased and proud to announce that we earned $107.56 for UNICEF while trick-or-treating!1031132149

We didn’t see any other witches or wizards while we were out, but a great many superheroes, fairies, and princesses. We also had the chance to reflect on how trick-or-treating is different as an adult — namely, that instead of tearing across yards with nothing but candy on our minds, we responsibly sought out walkways, swept gravel back into embankments, righted lawn ornaments that children had toppled, and commented on landscaping and architectural features.

So, this meet-up was super-fun and we raised money for a good cause. We’ll definitely be doing this again next year, so be thinking about your Halloween 2014 costumes and be ready to hit the well-lit suburban streets with us. ;)

More pics below the cut:

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