On this Friday the 13th, prepare to meet an animal you can see only if you’ve seen death. First discovered in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, these skeletal black horses will give you nightmares. But don’t worry. If you have raw, bloody meat, you can always distract them with a tasty treat!
What is it
Thestrals are black reptilian skeleton-horses with dragon heads and black leather bat-like wings. Oh, and fangs. They generally pull the coaches filled with Hogwarts students to the school from Hogsmeade Station, but they occasionally are demonstrated in Care of Magical Creatures class or help transport an escort of wizardly heroes to the Ministry of Magic. Of course, if you are such a witch or wizard hero and haven’t seen someone “snuff it,” as Ron Weasley puts it, then it’s going to be more terrifying looking down at nothing under you than looking down to see a death-horse.
Origin and Modern Use
Since the Harry Potter series is pretty modern, I think the Origin could be considered the Modern Use of these creepy creatures. Harry first sees them in his fifth year at Hogwarts, pulling the carriages with him
and his fellow students to the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Before, he thought the carriages pulled themselves (I mean, this is the wizard world after all!), but alas, he hadn’t seen someone die before, and the experience is giving him a whole new eyesight that includes these black – ahem – beauties. And these ones are trained, which makes them perfect for transportation. They’re clever, and can get you anywhere you want to go! Oh course, their slippery skin makes it a bit tricky, even if you can see them.
Have you seen death? If not, I hope you never do. And try this. Imagine what it would be like to ride a thestral when you can’t see it. Would you be reassured by feeling the skeletal weight underneath you, or would you rather see something under you than air and a long way to fall?
If you prefer to see the thestral, where would your first encounter be? Would you be on a heroic adventure?