Conjures a spirit guardian
- "This ancient and mysterious charm conjures a magical guardian, a projection of all your most positive feelings. The Patronus Charm is difficult, and many witches and wizards are unable to produce a full, corporeal Patronus, a guardian which generally takes the shape of the animal with whom they share the deepest affinity. You may suspect, but you will never truly know what form your Patronus will take until you succeed in conjuring it."
- —Miranda Goshawk[src]
The Patronus Charm (Expecto Patronum) is the most famous and one of the most powerful defensive charms known to wizardkind. It's an immensely complicated, very difficult spell that evokes a partially-tangible positive energy force known as a Patronus (pl. Patronuses) or spirit guardian. It is the primary protection against Dementors and Lethifolds, against which there is no other protection.
It is evident from old woodcuts and scrolls that the Patronus Charm has been used since ancient times. Therefore, it is unknown who created it, or when it was first invented. The charm also has a long association with those fighting for lofty or noble causes (those able to produce corporeal Patronuses were often elected to high office within the Wizengamot and Ministry of Magic).
Harry Potter took anti-dementor lessons in order to learn the advanced charm. During a Quidditch match against Ravenclaw in 1994 he cast his very first corporal Patronus and again in June when he along with Hermione Granger and Sirius Black were being attacked by over a hundred dementors, he cast a corporal Patronus powerful enough to drive them all away.
In 1995, Harry cast the charm against a boggart in the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. The following summer he came under attack by two dementors and managed to drive them away with the charm, leading to him being put on trial for underage magic in an attempt to discredit him.
Harry also taught the members of the D.A. the charm and some were even successful in casting it.
The charm was used frequently to ward off dementors such as when the Trio escaped from the Ministry of Magic after obtaining the Horcrux locket and during the Battle of Hogwarts. Severus Snape also conjured a Patronus to guide Harry to the hiding place of the Sword of Gryffindor.
The vast majority of witches and wizards are unable to produce any form of Patronus, and to create even an intangible one is generally considered a mark of superior magical ability.
To successfully cast the spell, one must muster the happiest memory they can think of (the happier the memory, the better the charm will work) and begin drawing circles with their wand so as to increase the power of their spell. They must then say the incantation, Expecto Patronum; the Patronus will come from the tip of the wand and can be directed towards a target by pointing one's wand at said target. It is possible to disguise the form one's Patronus takes, which was done both by Severus Snape to hide his love for Lily Evans, and by Remus Lupin, who felt it would give away his condition.
The Patronus Charm is widely regarded as advanced magic, far beyond N.E.W.T.-level, in 1994 Remus Lupin stated that the charm was, in fact "ridiculously advanced". It is very complex and many qualified wizards and witches have trouble with it. In fact, Harry Potter is one of the youngest known wizards able to cast a Patronus; he was taught how to do so in early 1994 at the age of thirteen by Remus Lupin. In a Dumbledore's Army lesson, Harry taught the members how to use the charm. Some were even successful in casting a corporeal form, though Harry said this might be because there was no Dementor to make them frightened. However, three members were later able to cast corporeal Patronuses in the presence of Dementors.
Amelia Bones and potential members of the D.A. were all very impressed when Harry Potter revealed that he could cast not only a Patronus Charm but a corporeal one to boot, which is notably more difficult than casting an incorporeal one. Given that the success of the charm is directly reliant on the caster retaining a particular mental state the Charm is more difficult to cast in emotionally trying circumstances. For instance, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger all had difficulty casting their Patronuses when under the negative influence of Salazar Slytherin's Locket, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, and after witnessing the death of Fred Weasley in battle. This feature of the Charm is particularly unfortunate since the Charm's primary use is to defend against Dementors, Dark creatures specifically equipped to mentally unhinge people (and hence is partly why it is regarded as such advanced, difficult magic).
Self-confidence may also play an important role in casting the spell. In 1994 Harry is able to cast the spell successfully, driving off a large number of Dementors (which according to Severus Snape is only achievable by a very powerful wizard) thus saving Sirius and a younger version of himself, seemingly without recalling a happy memory, when he realises that he has already done it. Although Harry could have had a 'happy memory' upon realising that he had saved all three of their lives.
It is a general belief held by the wizarding world that only those who are pure of heart are able to cast Patronuses; this, however, is a falsehood, as several characters with negative personality traits e.g. violent tempered, haughty etc are able to cast a fully-fledged Patronus. Although generally Dark witches and wizards will not try to produce a Patronus, not having any need for one, most Dark wizards will be devoured by maggots coming from their wand and consuming the caster.
For this reason, Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters were not able to cast a Patronus Charm (not that it was necessary, as they already had the dark creatures under their control via their affinity to darkness, and would have no use for Patronuses). However, some witches and wizards of questionable morals, such as Dolores Umbridge, are able to produce corporeal Patronuses, Umbridge doing so despite the fact that she was considered an evil person; her wearing of Salazar Slytherin's Locket, which was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, was what enhanced her strength due to her evil affinity. She was able to produce a corporeal Patronus due to the enhanced strength. Conversely, Draco Malfoy was unable to cast one despite his waning evil. Severus Snape is the only Death Eater capable of casting the charm, as his love for Lily Evans was his one redeeming point.
A successfully conjured Patronus can take two forms: non-corporeal or corporeal, and both types vary greatly in their appearances and strength.
An incorporeal Patronus is one which does not resemble any living creature and has few distinguishing features (if any). Incorporeal Patronuses resemble a burst of vapour or smoke without any clearly defined form shooting from the tip of the wand. While they may be partially effective at halting dementors (but not repelling them), incorporeal Patronuses are not "fully-fledged" Patronuses, and are regarded as a more primitive or weaker version of the true Charm.
A corporeal Patronus is one that is fully-formed, taking the shape of bright-white, translucent animal. The specific animal forms that corporeal Patronuses take vary from person to person and reflect each individual's personality.
Patronus forms, however, are subject to change if the caster goes through an emotional upheaval of some sort, including falling in eternal, unchanging love. For example, Nymphadora Tonks's Patronus changed from its previous form to that of a four-legged creature which others guessed was a werewolf because then it would reflect her love of Remus Lupin, himself a werewolf. Another example is Severus Snape, whose Patronus was that of a doe, the same as Lily Evans, though this may have been the case all along rather than a change from its original form, as Snape was in love with Lily for most of his life. Based on the fact that Patronuses are conjured by recalling happy memories, it stands to reason that a Patronus might change its form after one falls in love and the memories used to conjure the Patronus largely revolve around the person the caster is in love with. In addition, it seems that some couples have "complementary" Patronuses (male and female forms of the same animal), such as Lily and James Potter. It is, however, unknown if this is a coincidence or not. If a wizard is an Animagus and can summon a corporeal Patronus, the two may take the same form, as was the case for Minerva McGonagall and James Potter.
Most Patronuses take the form of an ordinary animal, but magical creatures, such as Albus Dumbledore's phoenix Patronus, are not uncommon. However, it is extremely rare for Patronuses to take the form of extinct animals. Hedley Fleetwood's woolly mammoth Patronus is a notable exception. Andros the Invincible was the only wizard capable of casting a Patronus the size of a giant.
The corporeal Patronus is also better at repelling Dementors than the non-corporeal form.
There are two known uses for the Patronus Charm. The first and main use of the Patronus is to drive off certain Dark creatures such as Dementors and Lethifolds, and is the only known charm that will work against them. As Dementors feed on happy memories to render humans to drown in sorrow and sadness, the Patronus acts as a shield of sorts, of which the Dementor would try to feed off of instead — the Patronus is comprised exclusively of positive feelings and cannot comprehend negative emotion, so the Dementor's influence cannot harm it.
The other use was devised by Albus Dumbledore, who invented a way of using the Patronus (corporeal and non) as a means of communication. They can deliver messages, speaking with the voice of the caster. This source of communication is believed to be exclusive to the members of the Order of the Phoenix. Using the Patronus for communication offers great advantages in security, as Patronuses identify the caster and are Dark-proof. A good example of this was when Minerva McGonagall used her feline Patronus to call for help to the other heads of houses in 1998 when she found out Harry Potter had returned to Hogwarts in search of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem. Multiple Patronuses can be cast for communication, as McGonagall was able to create three. Another is when Severus Snape used his Patronus to lead Harry Potter to a pool in the Forest of Dean in 1997, where he had laid Godric Gryffindor's Sword for Harry to retrieve.
Known Patronuses and practitioners
- "A Patronus is a kind of positive force, and for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it, rather than him. In order for it to work, you need to think of a memory. Not just any memory, a very happy memory, a very powerful memory… Allow it to fill you up... lose yourself in it... then speak the incantation " Expecto Patronum "
- —Remus Lupin[src]
|Andros the Invincible||Something allegedly the size of a giant (possibly an actual giant)||Stated on his Chocolate Frog Card as the only wizard to make a Patronus that size.|
|Illyius||Mouse||Initially, Illyius's fellow villagers mocked him as they had never seen such a small and weak-looking Patronus, which corresponded to Illyius's timidity and tongue-tiedness. However, when dark wizard Raczidian invaded the village with his army of Dementors, Illyius's mouse Patronus proved to be stronger than the others, making him a hero.|
|Flavius Belby||Something with horns||In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it's recorded that he cast off a Lethifold by performing the Patronus Charm. It says the Lethifold was thrown into the air on the horns of his Patronus.|
|Cho Chang||Swan||Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996.|
|Aberforth Dumbledore||Goat||Summoned outside the Hog's Head in an attempt to convince the Death Eaters who had seen Harry's Patronus that they really saw a goat.|
|Albus Dumbledore||Phoenix||The bird whose loyalty he earned, Fawkes, was a phoenix. Also he used it in 1995 as a message to Hagrid when Krum was stunned. It was described as "a ghostly bird that flew off in the direction of Hagrid's house".|
|Seamus Finnigan||Fox||He could not yet produce a fully formed (corporeal) Patronus in Dumbledore's Army, though in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, he managed a Patronus in the shape of a fox.|
|Hedley Fleetwood||Woolly mammoth||An unusual form due to the extreme rarity of extinct Patronuses.|
|Hermione Granger||Otter||Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996. It is apparently the only spell Hermione has trouble with, as said in 1997 while escaping from the Ministry of Magic.|
|Harry Potter & James Potter I||Stag||
|Luna Lovegood||Hare||Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996 and in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.|
|Ernie Macmillan||Boar||Seen in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.|
|Minerva McGonagall||Cat||Just before the Battle of Hogwarts, she sent her Patronus out to alert the other Heads of House that Hogwarts Castle would soon be under attack by Lord Voldemort and his followers.|
|Lily Potter I & Severus Snape||Doe||
|Symposia Rawle||Ladybird||An unusual form that was very powerful despite its tiny size.|
|Kingsley Shacklebolt||Lynx||Seen in 1997 when he warned the Order during Bill and Fleur's wedding of the downfall of the Ministry of Magic and Rufus Scrimgeour's death.|
|Nymphadora Tonks||Wolf (previously a jack rabbit)||The form of Tonks' Patronus changed in 1996. It became a wolf due to her love for Remus Lupin, though Harry Potter and Hermione Granger initially believed it was a black dog, triggered by the death of her second cousin Sirius Black (whose Animagus form was a black dog). Changes of Patronus are rare and usually caused by devastating life traumas. Occasionally when a witch and a wizard are married, their Patronuses will match each other (most likely because the witch/wizard's happy thought will be that of their spouse).|
|Remus Lupin||Wolf||Remus often deliberately disguised the form of his Patronus because he felt that it would give away too much about his condition.|
|Arthur Weasley||Weasel||First seen when he sent a message about Rufus Scrimgeour's arrival on Harry's seventeenth birthday. Later seen when Arthur sent a Patronus to 12 Grimmauld Place to inform Harry, Ron and Hermione that the Weasley family was safe.|
|Ginny Weasley||Horse||Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996.|
|Ron Weasley||Jack Russell Terrier||Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996 and in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.|
|Dolores Umbridge||Cat||While interrogating Muggle-borns at a trial, she had cast a Patronus to ward the Dementors from the prosecutors. Her favourite animal, as shown by the many plates with cats on them in her office. She was able to cast the Patronus due to her affinity with the locket Horcrux's evil influence.|
Patronus means "protector", "guardian", or simply "patron" in Latin, specifically reflecting the entire role that the Patronus Charm plays. In archaic Latin, it meant "father", which is very interesting, considering that Harry Potter's Patronus is the same as his father's Patronus and Animagus form, a stag. The Latin word exspecto or expecto means "I look out for" or "I wait for", thus the charm's incantation roughly translates into "I await a protector."
Behind the scenes
- Two Patronuses planned for the films but ultimately cut include a Thestral and a chimpanzee
- The Patronuses of James Potter and Minerva McGonagall match their respective Animagi form. These are the only characters whose Patronus and Animagus forms are known. It is uncertain whether all Patronuses will match the form of the Animagus, but so far, an instance of differing forms has not been revealed.
- In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a white peacock appears in the gardens of Malfoy Manor. Some fans believed this bird to be Lucius Malfoy's Patronus. However, J. K. Rowling stated that no Death Eater except Severus Snape could (or had a need to) conjure a Patronus, because Death Eaters fight alongside that which Patronuses fight against. This means that the peacock was in fact a living creature. It is stated in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that the creature was in fact an albino peacock.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the more moderate Expecto Patronum is a ball of light. In the console versions, it works as a guided-missile that can only be steered left or right, and accelerate. In the PC version, before cast, a white ring goes up Harry's arm and if it reaches top of the wand, Harry has to try the spell again, and it is used only to attack Dementors (it also produces lightning effects). At the climax of the game, a stag (Harry's Patronus) jumps out of the wand to drive away all the Dementors nearby attacking Harry and Sirius, and its during that battle in the console versions, Harry's Patronus changes into a stag with altered controls.
- In the said video game, the first video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4/5-7 the Patronus Charm appears to push the Dementors away with the first shot, and a second shot kills them.
- The lecture that Harry gives on Patronuses to Dumbledore's Army in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is extremely similar to the lecture Remus Lupin gave him in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Dolores Umbridge's Patronus seems to emanate a shield that keeps the Dementors separated from everyone in the courtroom. In addition, Kingsley Shacklebolt's Patronus is described in the novel as taking the form of a lynx, however in the film it is depicted as a shimmering comet of light from which springs silvery images of witches and wizards screaming in terror as Kingsley's voice details the death of Scrimgeour and the fall of the Ministry.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy, Walden Macnair, Barty Crouch Jr., and an unnamed Death Eater can all cast the spell, despite the fact that Rowling stated that no Death Eater besides Severus Snape could produce a Patronus.
- According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that Patronuses vary in strength according to which animal's form they take. Later canon from Wonderbook: Book of Spells, however, stresses that this is not the case and that the form of the animal has no correlation to the strength of the Patronus (see, for instance, Illyius and Symposia Rawle).
- The Patronus spellbook, owned by Remus Lupin, includes information and instruction on the Patronus Charm.
- In an interview, J. K. Rowling stated that the happy memory that would produce the strongest Patronus for her would be the births of any of her three children, though a close fourth would be when she learned that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was going to be published. She has also stated that she'd like for her Patronus to be an otter, like Hermione's, but she has a feeling it might actually be a large dog. However, in a message on Twitter in 2014, she claimed it would be a pine marten. Additionally, in a 2000 interview, she stated that the Patronus Charm was her favourite spell in the series so far.
- Luna Lovegood's hare Patronus is possibly a reference to the moon rabbit, a figure in East Asian mythology.
- Learning to cast a Patronus is one of the tasks given to the player in the final Chapter of the game Wonderbook: Book of Spells. For learning the incantation and gesture, the player is given the Trophy "Expecto Patronum!" On the next page, the player is given the chance to cast a true Patronus, the form of which is apparently chosen randomly. Amongst the possible Patronuses are a bat, a bull, a cat, a goat, a horse, a rabbit, a scorpion and a snake. For discovering their Patronus, the player is awarded the Trophy "True Patronus."
Patronuses in the films
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, his Patronus physically attacks the Dementors by charging at them, as depicted in the books. Also, Patronuses produced by the members of Dumbledore's Army make noises and are capable of interacting with physical objects, such as Ron's dog Patronus knocking over Neville Longbottom.
- There was a noted change in appearance of Patronuses in general in the Order of the Phoenix movie. In movies 5-8, Patronuses very wispy and airy, while in the third film they look more substantial, solid and brighter.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, during the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge's Patronus was very clearly seen several times in the same scene and often looked less like a cat and more like a reanimated, feline corpse, with the skeletal features visible. This is odd for a Patronus (they usually look quite 'alive' and well) and its twisted form may be a nod to both Umbridge's nature and the circumstances under which it was cast.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Patronus in its powerful wave-like form emits a deep reverberating sound. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 this effect was also used when Aberforth Dumbledore protected Hogwarts from Dementors.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Disc 2)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game) (IPhone version only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game) (Cutscenes only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter: Spells
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 JKR Official Site (Text only, accessed 8 February, 2012 via the Wayback Web Archive)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Pottermore - New From J. K. Rowling - Patronus Charm
- ↑ "The Rules" at AccioQuote!
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ J.K. Rowling and the Live Chat, Bloomsbury.com, July 30, 2007 (2.00-3.00pm BST) at Accio Quote!
- ↑ Pottermore describes "non-corporeal" Patronuses as "incorporeal"
- ↑ .@tigs25 Your Patronus only changes if it's eternal love, unchanging - part of you forever. by J.K. Rowling on Twitter
- ↑ "Harry Latino Interview" retrieved from Snitch Seeker
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Pottermore - New From J. K. Rowling - Remus Lupin
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- ↑ "Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet Interview with J. K. Rowling" retrieved from Accio Quote!
- ↑ Harry Potter Limited Edition
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 The Leaky Cauldron - J.K. Rowling July 30, 2007 Bloomsbury.com chat
- ↑ Harry Potter: A Blue Peter Special interview, transcript available here
- ↑ Twitter account of J.K. Rowling
- ↑ AOL Live Interview - October 19, 2000
- ↑ See this YouTube video's comments