The Patronus charm is one of the most influential and suitable spells that Harry Potter learns to conjure. We first see the Patronus charm in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Professor Lupin wards the dementors off the Hogwarts Express. And because of Harry’s susceptibility to the conditions of being near a Dementor, he is taught how to conjure one himself. This spell acts as his aid numerous times throughout the seven-series novel and subsequent film chain.
While we all know that the Patronus is an effective charm, the specifics of the spell aren't well known, especially for those who have only seen the films. So, here are ten enlightening facts about Patronuses that Harry Potter leaves out.'
10 It Acts As a Messenger
A Patronus is a spell that manufactures a temporary creature to help aid its conjurer. This spell especially comes in handy in the presence of Dementors, the grim hooded creatures that guard Azkaban. However, many people don’t realize that a Patronus can also act as a messenger.
This is shown within the novels a couple of times. Kingsley Shacklebolt uses his Patronus to send a warning to the Order of the Phoenix at Bill and Fleur's wedding. Arthur and Remus Lupin both use theirs to send messages as well. One of the more prominent times a Patronus was used as a messenger is when Snape sends his to show Harry where to find the Sword of Gryffindor in the Forest of Dean.
9 Most Wizards Can’t Produce A Patronus
Despite the scene where Harry instructs an entire class of teenaged wizards on how to conjure a Patronus, the actual fact is that most wizards can’t produce a full Patronus. The defensive spell’s popularity includes its notoriety for being one of the most difficult spells for a witch or wizard to master. Self-confidence and those who are able to skillfully concentrate are traits that aid in one being able to produce this spell. Those who are able to produce a corporeal (full) Patronus are defined as some of the most successful and powerful wizards.
8 The Incorporeal Patronus
An incorporeal Patronus is the more common form of the spell. A corporeal Patronus takes the form of an opaque silvery-white animal and guardian. An incorporeal Patronus will only come out of the caster’s wand as a silver mist. Harry’s initial attempts at this spell come out as an incorporeal Patronus, as do the efforts of his classmates when he is teaching them how to produce the spell.
An incorporeal Patronus can also be used as a messenger or performed deliberately. Remus Lupin is one wizard who deliberately casts a Patronus in its incorporeal form due to his fear of what mascot it may portray. This inferior form of the spell only gives partial protection from Dementors.
7 Dark Wizards Can Produce Patronuses
There has been much debate over whether or not dark wizards have the ability to produce this charm. Not only are they typically allies with dementors to whom this spell is generally cast on, but their lives of corruption surely make it more difficult for them to concentrate on happy memories.
However, there are wizards of questionable morality who have been known to produce this spell. For example, Dolores Umbridge is able to produce a cat Patronus. This may be due to her firm belief that any immoral actions she takes are just in her own eyes.
6 Patronuses Reflect Inner Traits
A Charms professor by the name of Catullus Spangle once wrote that “the Patronus is the awakened secret self that lies dormant until needed, but which must now be brought to light…”
For anyone who has taken Pottermore’s Patronus quiz, they might have been surprised by the form their Patronus takes. There are over 140 different Patronuses available to internet-savvy witches and wizards, with a series of questions to dictate which creature is best suited as their guide. This passage from Spangle can possibly be the answer to how these creatures are categorized. While many expect their Patronus to reflect an animal they admire, a Patronus can take the opposite form, one of which may not be well known or respected by the user. This could be because the unsuspected creature takes the subconscious form of the user, rather than simply their favorite animal.
5 Multiple Patronuses
While only those highly-skilled witches or wizards can produce a corporeal Patronus, there are those of even greater dexterity that can generate more than one Patronus at a time. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Professor McGonagall is seen sending off three separate Patronuses to head warnings to the other heads of the Hogwarts houses. McGonagall’s Patronus takes the form of a cat, which is also the form of her Animagus. It is unclear whether McGonagall’s high level of expertise enables her to choose the shape of her Patronus or if it just so happens to reflect her Animagi form. However, James Potter’s Animagi and Patronus are also the same, which leads people to believe that some skilled wizards can choose their Patronus.
4 Patronuses Can Change
If a witch or wizard undergoes a traumatic event or loss, it is not unheard of for their Patronus to change. It is also extremely common for a Patronus to change if someone’s general character has changed or if they have fallen in love. This type of change is noted when Lilly Potter’s Patronus changes into a doe to reflect her husband’s own creature. We also see this happen when Nymphadora Tonks falls in love with Remus Lupin. Her Patronus changes from a jackrabbit to a wolf.
3 They Are Unpredictable
There is no way of knowing what a wizard’s Patronus will be until they are able to cast a full, corporeal charm. While some can estimate what theirs may be based on loved ones or even a common animal from their country, typically the Patronus is unprecedented and therefore unpredictable. Generally, this charm takes the form of a creature that is most needed by the wizard.
2 Magical Creature Patronuses Are Uncommon
The most common forms of Patronus are cats, dogs, and horses. And while they aren’t unheard of, Patronuses in the form of magical creatures are extremely rare. Animals that would fall under this umbrella include dragons, thestrals, and phoenixes (Dumbledore's phoenix Patronus being one of the rare exceptions).
Extinct animals are also uncommon, though not unheard of. A wizard by the name of Hedley Fleetwood had a woolly mammoth Patronus. There is also Andros the Invincible, who to date is the only known wizard who's Patronus was the size of a Giant.
1 Expecto Patronum Meaning
The incantation that releases a Patronus is “Expecto Patronum.” It is widely known that the author, JK Rowling, frequently applied Latin words into her wizarding world, though the actual meaning of the phrase has not been confirmed. However, when converted from Latin origins, the phrase roughly translates to mean “I await a guardian.” This makes perfect sense given the purpose of a Patronus is to act a protector to the witch or wizard who casts it. Additionally, the word “patron” in Patronus is defined as “a person chosen, named, or honored as a special guardian, protector, or supporter” which seems well adapted to the world of Harry Potter.