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Killing with Curses: Obscure 17th Century Muggletonian Sect

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. One of the debates among fans of the ‘Potterverse’ – the fictional universe that is the setting for the Harry Potter-related novels and movies – is where did the author J.K. Rowling draw her inspiration for the term ‘Muggle’? Rowling herself explained about 15 years ago that it derives from “mug”, a British-English term for someone who is easily fooled. She added the final ‘gle’ to make it sound less demeaning and more ‘cuddly’. There is a rumor doing the rounds that the term ‘muggle’ is actually derived from an obscure 17th century English nonconformist religious sect called the Muggletonians, who believed they could kill through curses.

The Execution of Charles I of England by John Weesop  1641-1652 (Public Domain)

Wizardly shopping street hidden from muggles at Warner Brothers studios. (Richard Croft CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Muggletonians derived their name from co-founder Lodowicke Muggleton, a name with some similarity to Ludovic ‘Ludo’ Bagman, a character in Harry Potter. And, the Muggletonians also believed they could destroy their enemies with curses – just like the Dark Wizards in Harry Potter!

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