Episode 191: Beedle the Bard, Stories 1 & 2 – Afternoon Crossword Puzzle

This week, Alohomora! fearlessly delves into the Tales of Beedle the Bard! From pots that hop, to magical fountains, hosts Michael and Rosie (joined by Alohomora! transcriber Meg, and guest Quentin) use their seasoned tools of analysis – and even ask, “Is it alive?”

On Episode 191 we discuss…

→ Remembering Beedle’s release
→ JK Rowling reveals herself
→ Dumbledore revisits Beedle, but why?
→ The Wizard and the Hopping Pot. Is it alive?
→ Medieval Muggles and Magic
→ The Fountain of Fair Fortune
→ A Tale of Tales
→ Morals, Mirrors and Memories

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

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  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    This is such a good episode! It’s amazing how many details you can find in less than half of the book, and I’m excited for the discussion here.

    I’ve read the book several times, I believe I’ve even bought it several times because at least one copy got lost. Maybe it wandered off on it’s own.
    Will you look at the different covers from each country? Because if you do, listeners could send you “how-do-you-pronounce-this-title”-hoots beforehand.

    • roxyblack

      I love this idea! I’ll send a tweet out asking for submissions.

  • Does anyone know a possible meaning of the symbol on the back?

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      I see a combination of several symbols, so if someone wants to see a symbol they identify with in there, they can.

  • FlobberwormFangirl

    I really enjoyed this episode! I’ve actually never read Tales of Beedle the Bard (shame on me) and I went out and bought it today just to read it along with you guys. Now my Hogwarts Library collection is complete, yay! So far I’ve only read the two first stories, but I enjoyed the Fountain of Fair Fortune very much. Especially the “the fountain’s water carried no enchantment at all.”-ending, all the female characters and the lovely illustrations.

    Seeing the deathly hallows symbol on the fountain made me think about if there could be some kind of connection between the three witches and the three brothers, or between the three challenges and the hallows. But I couldn’t really find anything apart from Amata and the second brother having lost love in common. So yeah, I’m probably just over thinking this.

    Anyway, great episode, Alohomora is definitely still good!

  • Silverdoe25

    Loved today’s episode! Alohomora lives on! I haven’t read Beedle in such a long time that I’m enjoying rereading with you. I spent some time thinking about the timing of Dumbledore’s commentary in the book (18 months prior to his death). That puts his writings about midway though Order. As Dumbledore likes to mull things over in his mind before coming to a decision, I was thinking that He might have begun thinking about some of this just after the “gleam of triumph” at the end of Goblet. Also about midway through Order, Dumbledore is coming to conclusions with his “in essence divided” remarks.

    I own the collector’s edition of Beedle the Bard. It is a replica of the 6 books that Jo gave to friends, along with the one copy that Amazon bought at auction. The text of the book is in Jo’s handwriting. It has a clasp and a creepy raised skull on the cover. The actual book goes inside a velvet drawstring bag that then fits inside a larger faux book. There are also prints of some of the book’s illustrations.

    • XenophiliusLoveGod

      I find the timing interesting as well. Dumbledore would be doing these writings right around the time of Arthur Weasley’s attack in Order of the Phoenix. At this point, Dumbledore is definitely aware of the horcruxes, but I can’t recall when he began suspecting Voldemort of pursuing the hallows.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      the collector’s editions sounds beautiful!

      What if… Dumbledore took part in a (maybe not neccessarily global) rereading of Beedle’s tales and that’s why he took notes? I’m really curious what else he might have written or made, his personal letters must be a treasure.

      • I can imagine Dumbledore with Slughorn and McGonagall. All trying to figure out how to use headsets… teehee.

    • Kat

      I have this too! I love it so, so much. It’s a treasure piece of my tiny Potter collection.

  • Dobby’s Sister

    I have listened to half the episode so far and I am loving all of the historical writing references! I did come up with a few parallels on my own, but did not realize how many narratives that are paralleled in just these two Beedle stories. I do agree with Rosie, that someone does need to do an adaptation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, because the only one that is watched in my house is the Barbie version my daughter loves :/ That would be an amazing movie along the lines of (the book version) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with more “in your face” parts intertwined with the formal behavior of high society at that time. Can’t wait to listen to the rest of this episode!

  • Efthymia

    Yay, some love for the 12 Dancing Princesses!
    Next time, let’s show love for the story of the girl whose brothers were turned into wild geese (that was my favourite fairy tale when I was little -other than Greek mythology).

    I was living in Valencia, Spain when The Tales Of Beedle The Bard came out. I went to the store to buy it about 20 minutes after opening time; I when straight to the “books in english” section, I browsed it, the book was nowhere to be found. I freaked out, thinking “Oh [expletive]! I should have been here at opening time, now they’re sold out!”, and I went to ask an employee. Turns out, I couldn’t find them because they hadn’t gotten them out of their boxes yet. The employees seemed to be thinking that I was a big weirdo. =D

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I had never heard of the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses. Is it more popular in the UK than in the US, or did I just miss it for some reason? I read it on the internet and it is interesting that it has an invisibility cloak in it, and even a golden cup at the end. Also the part where the Prince who is rowing the youngest Princess complains that he is rowing but it goes slower than before kind of reminds me of them trying to go up the hill in Fountain of Fair Fortune. I’m sure Rowling knows this tale.

    Here’s a thought about why they haven’t turned the 12 Dancing Princesses into a Disney movie. I read an article where the Head of Animation for Frozen said it is harder to animate female characters than male because females have to be attractive at all times. So when they are angry or crying or whatever, you have to do it in a way that keeps them looking good. He found it difficult to just have two female main characters, so 12 would be much worse. It does say, though, that this is pretty much a Disney thing and other animators may not have this restriction. So… don’t get your hopes up for a Disney version of this story.

    My daughter has been trying to get me to read the Hogwarts Library books so this is a great chance to do that. I loved the episode and I wish I had more to say about the book, but having only read it once at this point, I haven’t generated any ideas or theories. Maybe I’ll get a chance to re-read it tonight with an eye to some of the points the hosts made on the show.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      I’m in the US and never heard the 12 Dancing Princesses tale as a child. I know I read/heard it once as an adult, but I have no recollection of where or why. So perhaps it is more well known in the UK.

      • roxyblack

        Check out our Patreon for a free 12 Dancing Princesses treat for you all 😉

  • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

    First, thank you for giving me a reason to read with my face again. I’ve been going through the Harry Potter series via audiobook, and it was nice to take a physical book off of my bookcase and go through it slowly again – savoring every word. And how delectable these stories are! I hadn’t read them in years (apart from the two I saw shows of at Universal Orlando – which are amazing by the way).

    Second, this was a top notch episode. I have nothing to add because you covered every aspect so thoroughly. If this is the quality we can expect moving forward, we fans have a LOT to look forward to 🙂

  • Jones, Captain of the Romione

    When I first heard about the Tales of beedle the bard about 7 or 8 years ago I was soooo excited, another JK rowling book! When I received the book I was disappointed. I finished it in hours; I had expected something more lengthy. I never picked it up again, until now.
    I am so glad you all decided to discuss this book because it made me read it so I could keep up with the discussion. This time around I realized for myself how charming the stories were, and the humor in Dumbledore’s notes. And then the hosts have shown me the connections with the 7 HP novels and to other literature I had never even thought to look into.
    So thank you for continuing this journey with these school books, I am looking forward to all of the insights you’ll give me.

  • SnapesManyButtons

    It occurs to me that there will be kids who grow up listening to the Tales of Beedle the Bard and when they get old enough to read Deathly Hallows, they will relate to Ron when he is surprised that Harry and Hermione haven’t heard of Beedle and these stories. And I think that’s really cool!

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Oo what a nice thought! I really love the idea of introducing my future children to Rowling’s work via Beedle’s stories first; I wonder how much sooner a child who already knows about the Hallows will make the connections to Harry’s invisibility cloak?

      • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

        that’s a good question! Ron didn’t make the connection that Harry’s cloak is special before they visited Xeno, and neither did Hermione, although she first read the story during their hunt for clues on Dumbledore’s plans. But there may be children who can figure it out, especially when they are used to pick up on foreshadowing from prior reading experiences.

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I think it is interesting to think about what would be different about fairy tales for Wizards vs. those for Muggles. I like the concept that magical children are taught that magic isn’t the solution for all problems. Before they can do magic themselves, they must see their parents use of magic as limitless. If you think that any injury can be easily healed, why be careful? If things can be conjured from thin air, why wouldn’t you expect your parents to provide everything your heart desires? Even Muggle kids go through a stage where they think their parents can fix anything and do anything, how much more must this be a thing in the magical world? Magical kids would need to be taught that there are things even magic can’t do, and that the things it can do must be used wisely. Muggle fairy tales are more about kids feeling small and powerless and learning that they can defeat the bad guy, marry the prince or solve the quest. I love that Rowling points out there is a difference and goes on t

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I’m not surprised that the Wizarding World focuses on Blood Status above other differences in people such as gender or sexual orientations. It is, unfortunately, human nature for some people to want to feel superior to others and they often do this by finding a trait that they deem superior. My daughter goes to a school where some kid’s families are rather wealthy and they walk around that place as if their parent’s money makes them intrinsically superior to everyone else. In my school everyone was pretty much in the same financial class, so it was the cheerleaders and jocks who walked around acting superior. It will always be something. In the Wizarding World it is Magic that separates them from the majority of people so it seems unsurprising that this would be the aspect they would use to hold themselves higher. And if Magic is the measure, then the more Magic you have in your family, the better. There are so few Wizards compared to non-magical people, it wouldn’t make sense to divide over features like looks or behaviors, especially ones that exist among non-magical people as well. So those who are inclined to need to feel superior wouldn’t care about anything but that which separates them from the “unworthy” and makes them superior.

  • ILoveLunaLoveGood

    Great discussions on Fairy Tales! Really stepping up in this transition period post books. 🙂
    Interesting discussion on the Fountain of youth whether its a good thing or a bad thing. The Celts have a legend about a whole country/island Tír na nÓg, Land of Youth, where people (fairies) can live forever. When Oisín falls in love with Niamh Chinn Óir he leaves to be with her. However, he misses his home and family so much so he returns but all of his former family and friends have died out… He falls and touches the Earth and ages all 300 years… Showing that eternal youth has its downsides :s

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      There are so many immortality stories. I love them! There’s Highlander (movies and tv series), Forever (tv series), The Age of Adaline (movie), Dark Shadows (tv series, then movie), The Man From Earth (movie), Interview With the Vampire (movie), Wolverine (X-Men movies), Bicentennial Man (movie), Dorian Gray (movie), Locked in Time (book by Lois Duncan)…I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but it’s a trope I’ve always found fascinating 🙂

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    fun fact: there’s a translation mistake in the german version of DH (first edition), when Ron first mentions the titles of Beedle’s stories, Babitty Rabitty’s cackling _stump_ is translated as “Stummelschwänzchen”, which refers to the short tail of the rabbit. The translator could not infer from the context that the tale is about a tree stump. I’ll check if they corrected it in later editions.

    and if you liked Voldemort’s leotards on the german cover of DH, you’ll be thrilled to see the cover of Beedle’s book.

  • DoraNympha

    The first Beedle episode! I love all the connections to other literary works that you’ve brought up on the show. Also, The Fountain of Fair Fortune always kind of reminds me of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I know the painting is more like a continuously activated horcrux but the theme of prolongued youth in this tale just makes me associate it with Dorian Gray.

    Also, I’m so mad at the drama club being banned just because of ONE incident; I wonder if it was on purpose that it’s absent from Hogwarts when Harry’s there just because plays would have provided actual opportunities for social gatherings that are not mealtimes. The only fun event the kids seemed to have at Hogwarts was the Yule Ball, but plays would have been more of something fun to do, but I wonder if that would have meant that there would have to be some sort of confrontation between characters like there was at the ball so JKR decided not to write in a drama club at all because of this.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      Dumbledore says the school only tried this one time to stage a play, and I can understand that Dippet didn’t want to try again after the first time went wrong. Maybe there was someone like Lucius on the school board at that time, who was against the sentiment of the play anyway and when the fire broke out used that as an excuse to demand that it was too dangerous and Dippet was more inclined to listen to that person than Dumbledore is in his time as headmaster.

      Myrtle’s death was also during Dippet’s time as headmaster, if the ashwinder-incident happened later, I guess he has just had enough of people endangering students. (outside of class or detention, of course)

    • ISeeThestrals


  • ISeeThestrals

    I first read ‘Beedle the Bard’ when I had some down time in the library during my college years. Read all the stories once, then I was done. I didn’t investigate further or read again, but I do find it’s a nice addition to make Harry’s world all the more real and fleshed out.

  • ISeeThestrals

    Very convenient that Amata’s lover was actually a bad person.