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Harry Potter: The Patronus Charm Explained (& How To Change Your Animal)

Harry Potter

The Patronus Charm was one of the most memorable spells in the Harry Potter series. The spell is one of the most powerful defense charms, particularly against Dementors, and as a bonus it reveals each wizard's spirit animal. Here's a breakdown of the Patronus Charm and how Harry Potter fans can identify their personal version of the spell.

The Patronus Charm was said to be used by the wizarding world since ancient times. The spell was known to be very complicated to cast, and it required a lot of training. If done correctly, the charm would evoke a Patronus, also known as a spirit guardian. Patronuses appear in two forms, either corporeal or non-corporeal. Corporeal Patronuses appeared as an identifiable shape such as an animal. The physical form of the Patronus was presented as a silver translucent creature. To cast the Patronus Charm, wizards and witches had to use the incantation: "Expecto Patromun."

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Related: Harry Potter: The History (& Future) Of The Triwizard Tournament

Only pure-hearted wizards were able to use the Patronus Charm, which is why Lord Voldemort was unable to perform the spell. Harry Potter was said to be the youngest wizard to ever conjure a Patronus. He was personally taught by Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry's Patronus was a stag, the same as his father. Thanks to his understanding of the Patronus Charm, Harry was able to teach Dumbledore's Army how to conjure their own. Here are some other characters who successfully conjured Patronuses - and what forms they took:

  • Albus Dumbledore - Phoenix
  • Hermione Granger - Otter
  • Ron Weasley - Jack Russell Terrier
  • Ginny Weasley - Horse
  • Severus Snape - Doe
  • Remus Lupin - Wolf
  • Luna Lovegood - Hare
  • Minerva McGonagall - Cat

Luna Lovegood Casting A Patronus in the Harry Potter Movies

Harry also exhibited his skill in casting the Patronus Charm in non-corporeal form when he used the spell to push back a horde of Dementors. The charm acted as a shield against evil while acting as a positive force to drive away Dark creatures. Dumbledore notably found a way to use the Patronus Charm as a means to communicate with the rest of the wizarding world, by sending out the Patronus as a messenger. This form of communication was heavily used by the Order of the Phoenix since those aligned with the Dark Arts couldn't use the spell.

The corporeal form that a Patronus manifests as tends to vary from person to person. The animal or magical creature is said to link to a person's secret self, so the specific Patronus represents something deep inside the personality inside the conjurer. The animal could be recognizable or a complete surprise. Harry Potter fans have the opportunity to find their Patronuses through the Pottermore website; the spiritual guardian will be revealed after recalling your happiest memories and answering a series of questions.

There were instances in Harry Potter when Patronuses of characters changed over time. The manifestation of the Patronus Charm had the ability to transform if the conjurer went through an emotional shock, whether positive or negative. Nymphadora Tonks, for example, originally had a Patronus that resembled a rabbit, but it changed to a wolf after she fell in love with Lupin, a werewolf. Falling in love was known to be the biggest factor in Patronus changes but devasting events were also responsible in some cases.

Next: Why Harry Potter Is Set In The 1990s

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