“You’re just as sane as I am…”
In popular culture,
the Ravenclaw identity tends
to get summed up with one word:
But Ravenclaws aren’t
the only smart characters
we meet in Harry Potter —
and they don’t even always
come across as clever in an obvious way.
“It’s very clear that
your bones are not broken.”
There’s no bones left.”
So if Ravenclaw is the house
of wisdom, wit and learning,
what is the story telling us
about what it really means to be smart?
“Together, we should cast
ourselves into the future!”
Ravenclaw teaches us
that being a true intellectual means
being a nonconformist —
it’s thinking in an alternative way,
and being willing to follow
your mind wherever it leads.
You could say that this house represents
what reading and watching
Harry Potter is all about:
expanding your mind
to consider things
other people would find outlandish,
so that you can discover
a whole new magical world.
“Invisible creatures that go in your ears
and make your brain go fuzzy.”
So now let’s explore what it takes
to think like a Ravenclaw.
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In the first book,
the Sorting Hat tells us:
“Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.”
When we think of
Ravenclaw in the abstract,
the image that comes to mind
is brainy, studious, exacting…
pretty much Hermione Granger.
“It’s leviOsa, not levioSA!”
But Hermione is not a Ravenclaw.
While she’s unmatched
in cleverness and studiousness,
she doesn’t have that Ravenclaw drive
to break down traditional thought categories.
from the first moment you
stepped foot in my class,
I sensed that you did not
possess the proper spirit
for the noble art of divination.”
Hermione will get perfect marks
in every Hogwarts class
from Arithmancy to Transfiguration,
but Luna will question why Hogwarts
doesn’t offer a class on nargles.
“It keeps away the nargles.”
“Does she believe in gargles?”
Rowling has even said that Luna is,
quote, “the anti-Hermione.”
“Hermione’s so logical
and inflexible in so many ways
and Luna is likely to believe
ten impossible things before breakfast.”
“Unfortunately, all of my shoes
have mysteriously disappeared…
I suspect nargles are behind it.”
So, in fact,
the common perception of Ravenclaws
is pretty much all wrong.
The Ravenclaws we actually
get to know in the story —
like Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang,
Gilderoy Lockhart, Moaning Myrtle
and Professors Trelawney and Quirrell —
don’t strike us as lacking intelligence,
but the first adjectives
we might use to describe them
would probably be more like…
odd or quirky —
maybe even a little moony.
“I was just sitting in the U-bend,
thinking about death.”
So what is J.K.
Rowling getting at
by telling us that wise old Ravenclaw
is the house of wit and learning,
only to draw us a portrait of
a wacky group of oddballs?
a deep thought, haven’t I?
I can see it growing
smaller in your eyes”
Rowling’s depiction of Ravenclaws suggests
that the smartest people are truly open-minded
the ones who go beyond the usual boundaries
of categories and assumptions we take for
Thus, the philosophy of Ravenclaw is
to think outside the box.
“My mom always said that
the things we lose
always have a way of
coming back to us in the end.
It’s just not always
in the way we expect.”
Luna’s style of learning
will go underappreciated
in most structured educational
or professional environments —
but a Ravenclaw’s first priority
is to get at the truth
underneath surface appearances,
“The truth lies buried
like a sentence deep within a book,
waiting to be read.”
So, it doesn’t really matter to them
if others don’t get it.
And the story suggests
that to be a truly sophisticated thinker,
you have to be okay with the fact that
others may perceive you as
a bit of a weirdo.
“Everyone, this is Loony Love–
Luna is linked to
the magical creatures, thestrals.
“They’re quite gentle, really,
but people avoid them
because they’re a bit…”
Like them, she’s a sweetheart,
but it takes a deeper person
to recognize how great she really is;
the complex Ravenclaw identity reveals
that very intelligent people
may often be underappreciated —
because it takes high intelligence
just to recognize intelligence.
“Well, if I were You-Know-Who,
I’d want you to feel cut off
from everyone else.”
Professor Trelawney is another
example of alternative thinking.
“First, you must broaden your minds.
First, you must look beyond!”
Many dismiss her subject, Divination,
as the magical equivalent of pseudoscience
“If you ask me, Divination’s
a woolly discipline.”
But when it comes down to it,
she makes crucial prophecies.
“Innocent blood shall be spilt…
and servant and master
shall be reunited once more!”
Or, look at wandmaker Garrick Ollivander —
he’s intimately connected to his craft
and sees deeply into his subject —
not worrying if this makes him
appear odd to the casual observer
“You talk about wands
as if they have feelings, can think.”
“The wand chooses
the wizard, Mr. Potter.”
Professor Filius Flitwick,
the Head of Ravenclaw house,
also captures the spirit of the house
in the subject he teaches:
Charms don’t change
the essence of an object,
they just make it do something new
or take on a new property.
Ravenclaws put a new spin on things,
offer a fresh approach,
and show dexterity in processing
a wide variety of elements.
“Don’t you remember what Cho said
about Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem?
There is not a person alive who’s seen it.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
We have to talk to
someone who’s dead.”
Most students at Hogwarts are out
to learn things for another end goal,
like good grades or a career.
But Ravenclaws possess
intellectual depth and curiosity
beyond this utilitarian approach
to knowledge —
they value wisdom for its own sake,
not as a means but as an end.
[Singing] “Wit beyond measure,
is man’s greatest treasure.”
Now let’s look outside the Harry Potter
for some deep-thinking Ravenclaws.
First up, Shuri, from Black Panther.
“Why didn’t you just reprogram
the synapses to work collectively?”
“Because…we didn’t think of it?”
She’s amazingly innovative —
and she’s driven by
a passion for her subject.
“How many times do I have to teach you?
Just because something works
doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved.”
Phoebe Buffay on Friends would be a Ravenclaw
everyone’s favorite oddball
with a heart of gold
is basically a grown-up version
of Luna Lovegood.
“Because at that time,
I believed that everything
that rhymed was true.”
Like other Ravenclaws,
Phoebe tends to get written off
as a head-in-the-clouds hippie,
but she’s actually
a few steps ahead of the crowd.
“I like to think of myself as
the puppet-master of the group.”
On Game of Thrones, Bran Stark
would be a Ravenclaw.
“Sometimes in my dreams there’s-”
“A three eyed raven.
The raven brings the sight.”
His physical capacity to move is limited,
but mentally, he goes places no one else can,
like the past and future.
“It means I can see everything,
everything that’s ever happened to everyone.
Everything that’s happening right now.”
The Maesters in Game of Thrones
would be textbook examples of Ravenclaws
because they value the preservation
of knowledge and truth above all else —
even if that means
staying out of a war
that could end all humanity.
“They set me to the task of preserving
that man’s window counting and annulments
and bowel movements for all eternity,
while the secret to
defeating the Night King
is probably sitting on
some dusty shelf somewhere,
[Walter White mumbling to himself]
[Realizing he’s being filmed]
“Turn that off!!”
A darker example of a Ravenclaw might be
Walter White on Breaking Bad.
“Chemistry is the study of matter.
But I prefer to see it as the study of change.”
Walt is obsessed with his own intelligence,
and intelligence is pretty much
the main thing he respects in others.
“And more than that,
I respect the strategy.”
As he strives to prove his genius
through his Heisenberg empire,
he allows everything else
in his life to be destroyed —
showing the dangers of not balancing
intellectual drive with other values.
“My wife is waiting for me to die.
This business is all I have left.”
Back to the Future’s “Doc”
would be a Ravenclaw.
“Please excuse the crudity of this model.
I didn’t have time to build it to scale or
He’s a classic mad scientist type —
a brilliant inventor who’s wonderfully weird.
“I slipped, hit my head on the sink,
and when I came to
I had a revelation!
And, of course,
there’s Rick and Morty’s resident genius
who takes some inspiration from Doc.
“Sometimes science is more art
than science, Morty!”
Yes, Rick is a bit of a mess,
but some of what makes Rick
seem like a terrible guy
stems from his seeing
a lot more about our universe
(and many other universes)
than regular earth-bound
citizens could begin to fathom.
“When you know nothing matters,
the universe is yours.
And I’ve never met a universe
that was into it.”
In real life,
the greatest geniuses of all time
have been known for their quirks.
Take Albert Einstein, Beethoven,
or Walt Disney.
These were mavericks who changed history
with their different way of thinking.
Creative musicians like David Bowie,
Lady Gaga, or Janelle Monáe
might be in Ravenclaw, too —
these artists go their own way,
following a vision only they can see,
and their personas can be
pretty outlandish as a result.
has sorted Stephen Colbert into Ravenclaw,
She wrote, ‘dear Stevie, definitely Ravenclaw,
but with Gryffindor undertones.’
Boom, there it is”.
Ravenclaw’s house colors
are blue and bronze.
Blue is associated with
clarity, serenity, and calm —
exactly the kind of
mind state you want to be in
for clear thinking and lucidity.
Expressions like “out of the blue,”
“a bolt from the blue,”
“once in a blue moon”
all describe a sudden or rare event.
In the same way,
Ravenclaws are unique and unusual.
Blue is a cold, reflective color —
and Ravenclaws in
their fascination with knowledge
can sometimes feel a little detached,
lacking in human warmth.
doesn’t have a moral alignment —
it can be used for good or bad —
and some morally suspect
or amoral Ravenclaws
prove this point.
“You’ve been taking credit for
what other wizards have done.
Is there anything you can do?”
“Yes, now you mention it.
I’m rather gifted with Memory Charms.
Otherwise, all those wizards
would have gone blabbing.”
The first two stories both feature
devious Ravenclaw professors.
“Who would suspect,
st-st-st-stuttering Professor Quirrell?”
Blue is also associated with prestige —
as with a blue ribbon,
or blue-blooded people of noble birth —
and the Ravenclaws who go astray
tend to be driven by
a desire for greatness and glory.
“Can you possibly imagine
a better way to serve detention,
than by helping me to answer my fanmail?”
Our most common, modern association with bronze
is the third place medal —
not as good as Gryffindor’s gold
or Slytherin’s silver —
but this speaks to the way
that Ravenclaws’ form of intelligence
isn’t always as obvious or appreciated
in a structured contest.
The Bronze Age was defined by
big technological strides forward
like the transition
from stone to bronze tools
and the invention of the wheel.
Likewise, Ravenclaws are innovators,
ahead of the curve.
Ravenclaw is linked to the element air.
air signs are known as being
curious, intelligent, and cerebral.
They’re also known
as excellent communicators.
Harry doesn’t want
to talk to us right now.
He’s just too polite to say so.”
In Hinduism and Buddhism,
air is associated with the heart chakra,
which is linked to transformation and change,
as well as love and relationships.
While Ravenclaws might not have
the most smooth social skills on the surface,
we see in some of them
an emotional intelligence.
After Cedric’s death,
Cho Chang insists on dealing
with her emotional fallout —
she won’t just forget Cedric
and brush her grief under the rug.
“It’s just learning this,
makes me wonder, whether he’d known it.”
Cho’s approach shows maturity for her age.
Ravenclaw’s house animal is the noble eagle.
Eagles fly in the air,
Ravenclaw’s house element.
They like flying on their own,
often at a high altitude.
This reflects Ravenclaw’s independent spirit
and commitment to going your own way.
Eagles are considered
the kings of the bird world.
In Greek mythology,
the eagle is connected to Zeus,
the king of the gods,
who used an eagle as
his personal messenger.
We can see in Ravenclaws
this majestic, self-possessed nature
and regal bearing —
they don’t feel they have to
because they have
an innate sense of worth.
And of course,
the eagle is the
national animal of the U.S.,
representing the country’s
central ideal of freedom.
In the same way,
you could say
that there’s nothing that
matters more to a Ravenclaw
than being free —
free to learn,
free to develop,
and free to be unabashedly themselves.
The house’s name itself
also alludes to another bird:
Ravens are incredibly intelligent animals,
who recognize individual human faces,
mimic human speech, and hold grudges.
Ravens are also extremely playful.
But they have connotations
with darkness and death.
Ravenclaws embody this same balance
of smarts, playfulness
and sometimes an unsettling
or amoral side.
“You first, Mr. Potter.
Say goodbye to your memories.”
The door to Ravenclaw Tower only opens
once you answer a riddle posed
by the bronze, eagle-shaped door knocker.
In the book “Harry Potter and the Deathly
Luna explains to Harry that,
if you don’t get the answer to the riddle
you have to wait to go in with someone who
so Ravenclaws are forced to learn,
even just to get into their own common room.
The Ravenclaw tower is high up,
and its airy common room
is filled with bookcases,
topped by a domed ceiling painted with stars.
Likewise, Ravenclaws are up in the clouds,
detached from practical
or low-minded earthly pursuits.
The space’s feeling of openness
reflects the house’s values,
like high-mindedness and free thought.
Ravenclaw’s name comes from Rowena Ravenclaw,
one of the four founders of Hogwarts.
She was known for her brilliance,
creativity, and beauty.
And she set the bar for Ravenclaw house’s
commitment to learning.
Her diadem reads
“wit beyond measure
is man’s greatest treasure”
and in “The Order of the Phoenix” book,
the Sorting Hat describes
her teaching philosophy this way:
‘We’ll teach those whose Intelligence
Many believe that it was Rowena Ravenclaw
who came up with the location and name for
What we know for sure
is that she came up with Hogwarts’
ever-shifting floor plan —
and this plan seems to embody
the Ravenclaw thinking process:
complex, creative, ever-shifting.
Rowena’s daughter Helena
became Ravenclaw’s ghost, the Grey Lady.
“If you have to ask, you’ll never know.
If you know, you need only ask.”
When Helena was still alive,
she stole her mother’s diadem
to make herself smarter —
this is a reminder of how Ravenclaw’s
thirst for knowledge or glory
can turn into a fatal flaw,
if it’s not tethered to a moral compass.
In the Harry Potter world,
Ravenclaws expand our understanding
of what it means to be intelligent —
it’s daring to venture
into strange territory
and to look deeply at the world,
forgetting what others take for granted.
We could all benefit from
learning to think like a Ravenclaw —
why not let a little magical thinking
transform our muggle world
into a far more mysterious place?
“I’ve never been part of the castle,
at least not while awake.”
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