Page 126. " the fourteen players rose towards the leaden sky "

Quidditch is a game invented by J.K. Rowling involving two teams, with 7 players each, all flying on broomsticks. Quidditch is played over an oval field, with three elevated goals at each end.

It is played with four different balls: the Quaffle, 2 Bludgers and the Golden Snitch. Each team is composed of three Chasers who pass the Quaffle amongst themselves and attempt to score goals; one Keeper who tries to prevent this from happening; two Beaters, armed with a wooden bat, whose main aim is to protect their teammates from the two roving Bludgers and at the same time send these two iron balls in the direction of their opponents; and the Seeker, a very important player, who ends the game as soon as he manages to catch the Golden Snitch.

The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game. Each goal is worth 10 points, and if the Seeker catches the Snitch he adds another 150 points to his team’s score.

Page 139. " a roaring trade in talismans, amulets and other protective devices "
The Crucifix
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Crucifix - Credit: Raul654

The difference between an amulet, from the Latin ‘amuletum’, and a talisman, from the Greek ‘telesma’, is that one is used to protect a person and the other to bring good luck. Talismans/amulets can be objects like gems, rings, pendants or coins, but they can also be plants or animals. Both talismans and amulets exist across different cultures and date back to the Middle Ages. In those days, people wore talismans on their body, hung them at home (especially over their bed) and also used them as medicine (either eaten or mixed with water during a bath).

Talismans and amulets occur in several religions. Christians believe that the Crucifix or Holy Water can be used as a defence against Satan. In Judaism various kinds of amulets are used, including the ‘tallis’, a shawl worn during prayer, and the ‘kimiyah’, a piece of parchment with parts of text extracted from the Torah. This is worn on the body. Some Muslims use this same kind of amulet, which they call Ta’wiz, and on it they write text from the Quran. Other amulets include The Eye of Horus for the ancient Egyptians, the Buddha for Thailand, the god Ekeko for Bolivia, the rune Eoh for Neopagan believers and the clover for ancient Celts.

The Amulet of Samarkand on Book Drum

Page 142. " Professor Dumbledore granted me permission to start this little Duelling Club "

A duel is a controlled fight between two persons with matching weapons. Until the twentieth century, duels were relatively common. A man would challenge another to a duel in order to defend his honour. Although most duels ended with the death of one of the participants, the main aim was not the killing but the demonstration that the duellist was willing to risk his own life for respect.

Duels took place only between people of the same class. If a gentleman was offended by someone in a lower class he would not ask for a duel, but instead would order his servants to beat the offender.  Although they became illegal in some countries in the early 17th century, duels continued to be fought in secret.

Whilst these young wizards are taught how to duel with their wands, the usual weapon varied from the sword in the 17th century, to pistols in the 18th century. Wealthy noblemen used to craft special weapons for these kind of battles. Famous duels include that of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin against Georges d’Anthes, the latter accused of having bedded the poet’s wife.  Pushkin, who died of injuries inflicted by d'Anthes, wrote the great poem Eugene Onegin, which includes a tragic duel.  Other fictional duels can be found in Dangerous Liaisons, War and Peace and The Man with the Golden Gun.