The Sorting Hat

8 Jan 2020

(Warning: this blog contains spoilers for the Harry Potter Series. If you are not familiar with the story but intend at some point to read the books or watch the films, you may prefer to skip this one.)

"While you are here," says Professor McGonagall as Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts, "your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common room.

"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards."

We find out a little more about the houses when the sorting hat sings its song. We learn that Gryffindors possess courage and daring, Hufflepuffs are hardworking and loyal, Ravenclaws are academics and Slytherins ambitious and ruthless strategists.

The sorting hat has a problem with Harry. He has lots of courage, a good mind and is determined to prove himself; he could go anywhere.

"Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, 'Not Sytherin, not Slytherin.'"

And, as we all know, he was sorted into Gryffindor.

There are some surprises in the sorting. For instance, why is Hermione, "the brightest witch of her generation," not in Ravenclaw? Why was Neville, scared of everything, sorted into Gryffindor? Newt Scamander, incredibly intelligent and courageous, was – in his day - sorted into Hufflepuff. We think of everyone in Slytherin as being self-serving but Professor Snape, while demonstrating an unpleasant character, played the bravest and most sacrificial game of all as a triple agent, ultimately on the side of good.

We tend to think of ourselves as being in one "house" or camp; we espouse a set of principles. Our family, our friends and the world sort us (maybe) into another house. While, rarely, that might be as a result of our purposeful deceit – we wish to fool the world into believing well of us - the dissonance between what we believe about ourselves and what others believe about us can cause distress. What's more, we can come to believe the sorting hat of outside opinion rather than the true north of our own internal belief. For instance, growing up at home, I was labelled lazy, volatile, forgetful and unreliable. As I didn't recognise my bipolar disorder (those who suffer rarely do), I couldn't understand the "volatile". I didn't want to be lazy, but I did (and do) get bored. I wanted to be reliable yet was (and am) easily distracted.

But – just as Harry thought, "Not Slytherin," we can choose not to be in the house others think we should be. I choose to be hard-working, dependable, honest and loyal. I may slip up sometimes; get distracted or fall out of integrity but that is what I aim to be.

I'm not a Ravenclaw dreamer, whatever others may think. I'm proud to be a Hufflepuff.

Which house are you?

(If you want to know into which house the sorting hat would put you, go to and set up your Hogwarts account. It's free but the sorting hat's decision is final.)


A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Jan. 8, 2020, 1:31 a.m.

Hi Mary I have never seen or read Harry Potter so this blog means nothing to me. Hope it relates to others. Molly xx


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 7:08 a.m.

Hello Molly, I did think of you as I wrote this blog, as I know you have little interest in the books. My bigger point was that we can choose to believe in ourselves and what we stand for, even though we may be labelled by others something we feel we are not. So, even though my family tend to think of me as dizzy, a dreamer and "off with the fairies" (although, to be honest, they have changed their opinion now), I can choose to be something different. Although, it must be said, diary management is still something of an alligator with which I wrestle daily!


Jan. 8, 2020, 8:51 a.m.

I've not read the books either. Jul xx

Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:33 p.m.

I know these books are not for everyone. For instance, I have never yet succeeded in reading Lord of the Rings. It would be a boring old world if we all liked the same things.


Jan. 8, 2020, 11:32 p.m.

I thought this was a mood site rather than a book site. I don’t recall mentioning I didn’t like Harry Potter before, but maybe I did for you to remember it. I’m none the wiser really, after your explanation, as I don’t know what people think of me apart from saying good things which I struggle to take on board. I certainly wouldn’t try to be something I’m not. Your diary must be so full Mary, that you must need a secretary. Molly xx


Jan. 8, 2020, 8:30 a.m.

I once saw the first Harry Potter film , Mary, and liked it. So thank you for explaining about the Houses. I tend to think we don’t strictly fall into any House, but can change, depending on circumstances. For instance, at home, like you, I got labels. In fact very similar ones. But life has proven I’m far from just being that. Give me a challenge, and I’m up for it. I can be hardworking when circumstances demand it. I have surprised myself, and others . But I’ve also disappointed myself and hit a glass ceiling ( i.e.when depressed). The one House I wouldn’t be in would be Slytherin , though! Strategist, moi? No way! Ambitious ? Hardly. I’m all for a bit of peace n quiet! Thank you, Mary, for a different viewpoint. Interesting...


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:35 p.m.

Yes, we cannot just be "sorted" and then exhibit those qualities for ever more. But we probably fall into one "house" (using that term loosely) more than another. And - I know so well the feeling of hitting a wall - or ceiling - when depressed.

Tutti Frutti

Jan. 8, 2020, 8:33 a.m.

Hi Mary I appreciated all the Harry Potter references as I am a bit of a fan, although I didn't know that Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff. Pretty sure that I am also a Hufflepuff but won't be going on to the website to check as I don't want to know if the sorting hat disagrees. I agree that it can be distressing to have the world see us "wrong". (Why do you think that I won't submit myself to the sorting hat.) And as you say there are dangers that we can pick up on constant labelling and start to believe it. And it is much more helpful if we can work on rejecting those labels and hold fast to what we actually are/want to aim for. I think another big and related issue though, is when we just assume what other people are thinking about us and get it all wrong. For example I recently found out that an ex boss, who I had decided (by twisting the facts) didn't rate my work, actually sees me as a "safe pair of hands" and would be happy for me to come and work for her again. I have a definite issue with work and not feeling good enough so lancing this false view that I have held for some years is really quite important for me. Thanks for the blog which I enjoyed and which set me thinking. Love TF x


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:36 p.m.

Glad you enjoyed it.

The librarian

Jan. 8, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

Phew! I'm in Ravenclaw - wit, wisdom and learning. Unfortunately, I spend far too much time second-guessing what people think of me - I'm convinced it's not good - so I'm always trying to prove myself against something nebulous, which makes me very inconsistent and unreliable. I'd really like to have my own opinion and believe in that - realistic, not inflated or egotistical. How have you gone about it, Mary? And what has helped along the way? All the best


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:47 p.m.

How have I gone about it? Through making a lot of mistakes along the way! Usually, it is through reviewing my past actions and how I feel about them. Sometimes I'm happy with what I did, even if the results were not what one could have hoped for. For instance, some people here will know that we took into our home and hearts a young man I called, for Moodscope purposes, Tom. Sadly, things did not work out - and they did not work out in a pretty disastrous way. But I still think we did the right thing by him. Sometimes the opposite happens and I wince when I look back. It's not just the results, but my actions/attitude that is important. I might get a sale if I tell a lie to my client, but I know I won't feel good about that sale. I don't think there's an easy way to find out where your true north lies, other than deviating from it and finding you need to correct your path. Which we must do again and again. What helped along the way? Honest feedback from my friends and business associates and a lot of self analysis and review.

Salt Water Mum

Jan. 8, 2020, 9:26 a.m.

Love this Mary. I am a huge HP fan. I read them all myself. And then I read them to my kids - I loved doing all the accents! I am not doing the test because I truly believe I am a Gryffindor and I do not want to be disappointed! During the six months of mum's illness that led to her death, so many people in our extended family commented how my sister and I were a great team - she the 'practical' one and me the 'emotional' one. Interesting though, we both saw different facets to each other. Yes, in the main I would be more emotional and she more practical. But actually, over those six months, I had my practical moments and she had her emotional ones. We can surprise ourselves - and others- sometimes by unsticking our labels. It can be quite liberating.... take care moodscopers, x


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:48 p.m.

Lovely to find another HP fan. I am currently listening to them all again, read by Stephen Fry - who is really good at the voices. It was listening to the first one that inspired this blog.


Jan. 8, 2020, 1:22 p.m.

I've had a few people say to me that I'm a Gryffindor, as well as one or two sorting hat tests (possibly the official one; I know I took it at some point). I disagree, and think it's a combination of Gryffindor being best liked on the outside because it's the house of the protagonists of the books, and perhaps some unfamiliarity with the depths of the series leading to thinking it's the best house, when they're all essentially equal, just but identical. I consider myself a Ravenclaw. I do think I have some traits that could put me in Gryffindor, but ultimately I'd like to kick back, read a book, stick to home, or act in a support role and do the planning and research on something--I don't really like to get my hands dirty, figuratively speaking. Well, literally as well at times I guess, otherwise I might've become an auto mechanic, and I was never interested in playing in the mud as a kid! But I don't think that has as much to do with houses...


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 8, 2020, 4:56 p.m.

You are right Lucas, about the houses being equal. We possibly get a biased view of Slytherin: "There wasn't a wizard or witch gone bad that wasn't in Slytherin!" says Hagrid at one point, yet there can be noble ambitions as well as selfish ones, and schemes for good as well as evil. I think Hufflepuff is sometimes seen as "lesser", but to me the qualities of hard work, loyalty and trustworthiness are pure gold. They are what I value. And - I've just thought - they are the qualities my husband possesses in spades! :)


Jan. 8, 2020, 7:06 p.m.

I was listening to an interview with a woman who had chosen to have her DNA analysed because she wanted to know about her ancestry. Once her DNA had been sorted and the results arrived she saw that she was from Nigeria. In fact a specific part of Nigeria. She spent time researching her specific tribe and delved into her culture, and was proud of her heritage and the sense of belonging and identity it gave her. Her world made more sense to her, knowing where she came from. A few months later the letter arrived that there were errors in the results. Her DNA was not from a specific tribal region at all, she was (like most of us), a bit of this, a bit of that. Initially crestfallen, but now? "It doesn't matter." It never did. Ravenclaw; Leo; Enneagram Type 5; Myers-Briggs ENFJ; an alchemist in the tarot, and half-Irish from a long line of fortune tellers. So, would anyone know me any better? Or doesn't it matter? I don't think it ever did. Thanks for the blog Mary! :-)


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 9, 2020, 7:01 a.m.

Okay, I'll count this blog as one of my failures, then! Sometimes my parables are obscure, I get that - this is not about houses, enneagrams (I'm a 3), can't remember my Myers-Briggs, but it's the Marilyn Munroe one - which I hate - one's zodiac sign or anything else; it's about the labels people put on us and how we can choose to be something other than what people believe us to be. I guess that's what you're saying, but people DO think they know us better because of the labels but they don't! And people (usually our family) often give us negative labels.


Jan. 9, 2020, 9:52 a.m.

I *think* we're agreeing about the same point. I certainly agree with what you wrote about the tendency of others to label us (and once labelled it's hard to unstick -- and the way people behave towards us affects our own behaviour, e.g. the Rosenthal effect, aka the Pygmalion effect). And alongside what you were saying I was thinking that we can/ do fall into the same habit too and label ourselves. And once we've done that it's also hard to unstick. (Actually, I don't think it can be unstuck; the only way to change is to stick a new label over the top.) The reason I used the "personality type" labels, including the HP houses, is that these show really clearly the crazy nonsense of labelling. Even the lady who was so proud to be from a particular tribe thanks to the scientific magic of DNA labelling; it's nonsense. *** Definitely not a failed blog for me Mary; a really good one. And I guess my writing can be obscure too!


Jan. 8, 2020, 7:31 p.m.

Maddening link on Safari and Chrome on a Mac



Jan. 8, 2020, 7:36 p.m.

SLYTHERIN and glad of it.



Jan. 8, 2020, 10:09 p.m.

then Ravenclaw plus a required reinstall of Chrome... hmmm, if I had a spell...

Mary Wednesday

Jan. 9, 2020, 7:02 a.m.

Regardless of house, you are the lovely warm wise Lex we know and adore!

Still picking figs

Jan. 8, 2020, 8:55 p.m.

Thank you Mary, I enjoyed this post.


Mary Wednesday

Jan. 9, 2020, 7:03 a.m.

I'm glad you did! I enjoyed writing it, although I think I was way too obscure!


Jan. 9, 2020, 9:51 a.m.

Thanks for your interesting blog, Mary - some good analogies. I know a bit about H. Potter but found the books too hard going & the films quite complicated to take in. I have had to live with labels others have placed upon me all my life. At school i was considered to be & treated like a virtual alien because my mother was foreign so i was seen as different. I've also had to live with the labels my husband's family chose to believe that were given them by his mother. The person i have the most difficulty with is his brother because i was always on his side, despite his hatred of me. What i predicted came true... i told him that if he didn't fly the nest before his grandmothet dies, his mother would never let him go because at that time his mother's focus was looking after her mother (his grandmother) & she always needed to be needed. That was back in 1986 when he was 24. Her ace card was to make him buy the house they were living in so he wouldn't be abke to escape & have a life of his own. He told us via a solicitor's letter just before last xmas that she had died in November. He lived with her until she died & is still living there. I have no idea what she told him or the family in order for him & them to hate me so much & it's the not knowing that makes it worse in some ways, although i realise that knowing wouldn't necessarily make a difference or be particularly useful. I tried hard to prove myself to them over the years but nothing i did changed their view of me so i gave up & we cut loose. The last time they saw my daughter was when she was 8yrs old - she's now 33. Life-long beliefs are hard to break - they say there's nothing so strong as a made up mind - & to save what i had left of my sanity i had to retreat & concentrate on our own lives. The same thing has happened in my own family... my brother recently died (funeral this Friday) & my father diesn't want to know as he denounced his son out of the family years ago over some feud about work - he was working for my brother at the time. My father hadn't spoken to his parents for years before they died. He also has one survicing brother but they haven't spoken to each other for years either. All quite sad but it's a reality i have to deal with as best i can. What have i learned from all this? I never believe anything derogatory anyone tells me about someone unless i see it & experience it for myself - there are always two sides to a story & who am i to make up my mind about someone just by listening to another's view point? Thanks again for your blog - i must pay more attention the next time a H.Potter film comes on tv - i've heard it said the author based it around her own family experiences but i'm not sure how true that is.



Jan. 9, 2020, 10:15 a.m.

Nicco, I hadn't heard that phrase, "there's nothing so strong as a made up mind" but I've noted it! It's a good one.

Ach UK

Jan. 9, 2020, 4:56 p.m.

Rely chuckled at this blog Mary. Thank you. Depending on what day it is or month, or year . . I find myself a Ravenpuff or a Slither claw and sometimes a Huffledor. And I've certainly been Dobby in my time :--))). I dipped in and out of H.P. when it was first out, then treated myself to a complete set from a charity shop Christmas 2 years back and thoroughly enjoyed them very clever, and no punches pulled on good and evil and life . . .one can learn a lot about moral behavior in them. I enjoyed them being fantast fiction. They were long but richly populated in 3 and sometimes 4 dimensional characters Much more dog-eared now but remaining on my bookshelf. Thank you XX Ach.


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