A wand is a quasi-sentient magical instrument through which a witch or wizard channels her or his magical powers to centralise the effects for more complex results. Most spells are done with the aid of wands, but spells can be cast without the use of wands. Wandless magic is, however, very difficult and requires much concentration and incredible skill; advanced wizards and some magical creatures such as house elves are known to perform such magic.
Wands are manufactured and sold by wandmakers, the most famous of these in Great Britain being Ollivander and Gregorovitch. Each wand consists of a specific type of wood that surrounds a core of magical substance. Although the wand cores may come from the same creature, or the wood may come from the same tree, no two existing wands are exactly alike. The study of the history and the magical properties of wands is called wandlore.
Magic and wands
Magic with a wand is usually performed with an incantation, but more experienced wizards can cast nonverbal spells, which conceal the spell until cast and may thereby prevent an opponent from adequately protecting him- or herself in time. Wands are referred to as "quasi-sentient" because their being imbued with a great deal of magic makes them as animate as an inanimate object can be.
Wands and wandlore
- "The wand chooses the wizard... it's not always clear why."
- —Ollivander talking to Harry Potter[src]
Wandlore is a specific class of magic that refers to the history and magical properties of wands. Mr Ollivander claims that it is a "complex and mysterious branch of magic." The idea that a wand chooses the wizard and can switch allegiance is a part of wandlore.
Most wands are long, thin rods of wood with a magical substance embedded into their core. Among the woods used are Holly, Sycamore, Ebony, Hawthorn, Fir, Hazel, Pear, Oak, Cherry, Vine, Rowan, Cedar, Ivy, Rosewood, Blackthorn, Willow, Elm, Ash, Mahogany, Yew, Birch, Aspen, Lime, and Elder.
The cores that have been documented are phoenix feather, dragon heartstring, Veela hair, unicorn hair, Thestral tail hair, Kneazle whiskers, Troll whisker, Kelpie hair, Thunderbird tail feather, Wampus cat hair, White River Monster spine, Rougarou hair, and elements of bone and shell. The wandmaker Garrick Ollivander mentioned that he did not use Veela hair because it made for "temperamental" wands. There may be other magical substances suitable for wand cores that have yet to be named.
General wand properties
In almost all documented cases, the wand chooses the wizard who matches its character because the wizard may have difficulty or be unable to perform magic if his or her wand's characters conflict, or the magic may be sub-par to magic performed with a matching wand. Although Ollivander says that wizardkind can channel their powers through almost anything, optimum results can only be achieved with those they have a natural affinity for. When trying out different wands, a wand that is not suited to its wielder will usually not do anything at all. However, a warm feeling is an indication of having chosen the right wand, and the wand sometimes emits a few sparks or does some similar, small sign of magic.
Wands are quasi-sentient: although they cannot think or communicate like a human, they can perform certain actions through their own will. This ability may be how they choose their wizard or witch and also explains Harry's wand's autonomously acting against Voldemort.
Wand Lengths and Flexibility
Many wandmakers simply match the wand length to the size of the witch or wizard who will use it, but this is a crude measure, and fails to take into account many other, important considerations. Longer wands might suit taller wizards, but they tend to be drawn to bigger personalities, and those of a more spacious and dramatic style of magic. Neater wands favour more elegant and refined spell-casting. However, no single aspect of wand composition should be considered in isolation of all the others, and the type of wood, the core and the flexibility may either counterbalance or enhance the attributes of the wand’s length.
Most wands will be in the range of between nine and fourteen inches. While extremely short wands (eight inches and under) and very long wands (over fifteen inches) exist, these are exceptionally rare. In the latter case, a physical peculiarity demanded the excessive wand length. However, abnormally short wands usually select those in whose character something is lacking, rather than because they are physically undersized (many small witches and wizards are chosen by longer wands).
Wand flexibility or rigidity denotes the degree of adaptability and willingness to change possessed by the wand-and-owner pair — although, again, this factor ought not to be considered separately from the wand wood, core and length, nor of the owner’s life experience and style of magic, all of which will combine to make the wand in question unique.
- "Harry looked down at the hawthorn wand that had once belonged to Draco Malfoy. He had been surprised, but pleased, to discover that it worked for him at least as well as Hermione's had done."
- —Harry Potter won the allegiance of Draco Malfoy's wand[src]
Wands can take new masters. When a wand's master is disarmed, stunned, or killed, the wand may accept the old master's attacker as its new master, swaying its allegiance over to the wizard who won it from its preceding owner. This phenomena is mostly observed in the Elder Wand, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, only respects power. The Elder Wand will transfer its allegiance even if its defeated master is not in possession of it at the time. No other wand is known to share this trait. Most wands are attached to their masters and will not easily discontinue their allegiance with the previous master, if at all. Indeed the original bond seems unlikely to be severed; if it were, then a defeated witch or wizard would be better served to acquire a new wand rather than continue using it because it would no longer perform at its peak for them — yet they don't. Furthermore, wands forcibly taken in circumstances of purely competitive or friendly nature or stolen without attacking the previous master will not change allegiance.
A wand keeps a record of all the spells used, which can be checked upon via the Priori Incantatem spell. This is a prime reason why criminals who wish to act discreetly would not use their own wands to perform illegal spells, fearing the record would betray them; instead, they could borrow someone else's wand to act with impunity, letting the other owner take the fall. The record seems to be rather intricate, as Peter Pettigrew took Voldemort's wand in fear it might reveal his treason, suggesting the wand has such records (such as branding the Dark Mark onto Pettigrew himself).
Damage and underwater use
Spells and physical damage can break wands, greatly reducing their magical abilities. Even when repaired, the wand's magic will not improve and the wand may break again while performing magic; wands held together by something like Spellotape can backfire. The Elder Wand is able to completely repair broken wands, although this ability may be lost if the current master dies undefeated because most of the wand's power would disappear with him.
In addition wands seem to possess the capability to, at least partially, function underwater as was demonstrated when Harry Potter attempted to use a Revulsion Jinx to free himself from the grip of several Grindylows. However Harry noted that instead of "sending sparks at the Grindylows" it "pelted them with what seemed to be a jet of boiling water". This implies that spells function differently in an underwater environment.
Acquiring a wand
- "The right to carry a wand has long been contested between wizards and goblins."
- —Griphook a goblin over the right to carry a wand[src]
Most witches and wizards buy their first wand when they are eleven — just before starting their magical education. Most English wizards and witches buy their wands at Ollivanders Wand Shop in Diagon Alley, where they may try out multiple wands until they find the one that suits them, or rather, the wand finds the wizard that suits it. Some witches and wizards, especially those from poorer backgrounds, are left to use wands that did not choose them but chose a member of their family: Ron Weasley, for example, uses his brother Charlie's old wand when he begins his first year at Hogwarts.
Rights of usage
Such non-human beings as goblins and house-elves are prohibited from owning or using wands. For goblins in particular, this prohibition has been a point of contention with the wizarding community and caused some outbreaks of violence. No known formal prohibition exists against Muggles possessing a wand; they would be unable to use them anyway since muggles don't possess magic, but a Muggle's possession of a wand could be considered a breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.
Any underage wizards or witches who are expelled from school are forbidden from practicing magic any further, and their wands have been confiscated and destroyed. Rubeus Hagrid's wand suffered such a fate, though it was somewhat repaired and kept inside his umbrella, and he is allowed to use that much. Newton Scamander was expelled a few decades earlier, but the fate of his wand at the time is unknown. Gellert Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang, but he managed to maintain his wand (or procure another one) suggesting the wand confiscation only applies to Hogwarts students. Of course, any criminals arrested and imprisoned lose their wands as well: Barty Crouch Jr claimed that he was not allowed a wand since Azkaban; though their wands seem not destroyed but simply stored away because Bellatrix Lestrange managed to retrieve her old wand after escaping prison.
During the last year of the Second Wizarding War, the British Ministry of Magic was overthrown by the Death Eaters, and new laws were put into effect. Muggle-born witches and wizards were regarded as having "stolen" their magic from "real" witches and wizards, and their wands (which were also considered stolen) were confiscated. Those who were not imprisoned were usually left destitute.
The wand was originally a European invention, and although many makers of wands exist, but Ollivander is the best known and most experienced in Britain. The wandmaking establishment has been making wands since 382 BC and is in Diagon Alley, London. Mr Ollivander went missing in the summer of 1996 until discovered by Harry, Ron and Hermione and rescued by the house-elf Dobby in 1998: he had been kidnapped by Death Eaters on Voldemort's orders. Ollivander thereafter tells Harry about the Elder Wand and how a wand passes ownership.
More British wandmakers exist, for example, Jimmy Kiddell, but their wands were stated to be not as good as Ollivander's.
Another notable wand maker was Mykew Gregorovitch, who had made the wand of Viktor Krum and once wielded the Elder Wand. In 1997 he was tracked down and questioned by Voldemort in Voldemort's quest to find the Elder Wand. Once Voldemort finished questioning Gregorovitch, he murdered him.
According to legend, Death created the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in existence, from the branch of an elder tree. Albus Dumbledore, however, believed that Antioch Peverell was more the likely creator.
|Albus Dumbledore||Elder||15"||Thestral tail hair||Unknown||The Elder Wand, one of the Deathly Hallows. Also known as the Deathstick and the Wand of Destiny.|
|Bellatrix Lestrange||Walnut||12¾"||Dragon heartstring||Unyielding||This wand is described as "unyielding;" passed into the possession of Hermione Granger after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998.|
|Sir Cadogan||Blackthorn (according to legend)||9" (according to legend)||Troll whisker (according to legend)||Combustible (according to legend)||This wand was broken during Sir Cadogan's encounter with the Wyvern of Wye. However, Cadogan still tried to combat the beast even with a broken wand, which led to his victory when the wand pierced the Wyvern's tongue and ignited its stomach fumes.|
|Cedric Diggory||Ash||12¼"||Unicorn hair||Unknown||This wand was "pleasantly springy"; hair from particularly fine male unicorn (seventeen hands high), which nearly gored Mr Ollivander with its horn after he plucked its tail hair.|
|Celestina Warbeck||Larch||10½"||Phoenix feather||Flexible||Celestina Warbeck's wand is mentioned in the lyrics of the title track of her best-selling album, You Stole My Cauldron but You Can't Have my Heart.|
|Dolores Umbridge||Birch||8"||Dragon heartstring||Unknown||This wand is described as "unusually short;" broken by a centaur's hoof in June 1996 in the Forbidden Forest.|
|Draco Malfoy||Hawthorn||10"||Unicorn hair||Reasonably springy||This wand passed into the possession of Harry Potter after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998 until Harry came into possession of the Elder Wand and mended his first wand.|
|Fleur Delacour||Rosewood||9½"||Veela hair||inflexible||In this wand the core is a hair from Fleur's grandmother, who was a Veela.|
|Garrick Ollivander||Hornbeam||12¾"||Dragon heartstring||Slightly bendy|
|Gilderoy Lockhart||Cherry||9"||Dragon Heartstring||Slightly bendy|
|Harry Potter's wand (wand #1)||Holly||11"||Phoenix feather||Nice and supple||"Brother" to Voldemort's wand - the core tail feathers are both from Fawkes; broken in December 1997 while fleeing from Godric's Hollow; repaired with the Elder Wand in May 1998.|
|Harry Potter (wand #2)||Blackthorn||10"||Unknown||Unknown||This wand was taken from a Snatcher by Ron Weasley in 1997, and used by Harry until 1998, when he took Draco Malfoy's wand.|
|Hermione Granger||Vine||10¾"||Dragon heartstring||Unknown||This wand was confiscated when the trio was captured by Snatchers in 1998.|
|Horace Slughorn||Cedar||10¼"||Dragon heartstring||Fairly flexible|
|James Potter||Mahogany||11"||Unknown||Pliable||This wand was "excellent for transfiguration."|
|Lily Evans||Willow||10¼"||Unknown||Swishy||This wand was "nice for Charm work."|
|Lucius Malfoy||Elm||18"||Dragon heartstring||Unyielding||This wand was kept in a snake-headed walking stick that Lucius carried; "borrowed" by Lord Voldemort and destroyed by Harry Potter's wand during the Battle of the Seven Potters in 1997.|
|Mary Cattermole||Cherry||8¾"||Unicorn hair||Unknown||This wand was confiscated by the Muggle-Born Registration Commission in 1997.|
|Merlin||Believed to have been English oak||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Minerva McGonagall||Fir||9½"||Dragon heartstring||Stiff||This wand was most likely purchased from Ollivanders in 1947 when she was eleven almost twelve.|
|Neville Longbottom||Cherry||13"||Unicorn hair||Unknown||This wand may have been one of the last wands Mr Ollivander sold before he disappeared in 1996.|
|Peter Pettigrew||Chestnut||9¼"||Dragon heartstring||Brittle||This wand was owned by Pettigrew only since Ollivander had been kidnapped of 1996; passed into the possession of Ron Weasley after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998.|
|Remus Lupin||Cypress||10¼"||Unicorn hair||Pliable|
|Ron Weasley (wand #1)||Ash||12"||Unicorn hair||Unknown||Ron's brother Charlie's old wand; severely damaged in September 1992 after a run-in with the Whomping Willow.|
|Ron Weasley (wand #2)||Willow||14"||Unicorn hair||Unknown||Purchased with his father's winnings from a Daily Prophet draw. Taken from him by Snatchers and replaced with Peter Pettigrew's wand.|
|Ron Weasley (wand #3)||Chestnut||9¼"||Dragon heartstring||Brittle||This was Peter Pettigrew's wand. During the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Ron took this wand from Pettigrew and used from then on, as his own wand was taken by Snatchers.|
|Rubeus Hagrid||Oak||16"||Unknown||Rather bendy||This wand was snapped in half when Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts during his third year - the pieces are certainly hidden in Hagrid's pink umbrella.|
|Silvanus Kettleburn||Chestnut||11½"||Phoenix feather||Whippy|
|Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort)||Yew||13½"||Phoenix feather||Unknown||This wand is "brother" to Harry Potter's wand - the core tail feathers are both from Fawkes.|
|Viktor Krum||Hornbeam||10¼"||Dragon heartstring||Quite rigid||This wand is thicker than usual, and made by Gregorovitch.|
Behind the scenes
- Wands used in the Harry Potter films are shown to have clear handles for wizards to hold onto them such as the bone handle of Voldemort's yew wand. The books however do not describe such handles. In fact all the pictures by Mary GrandPré in the American editions depict all wands as thin rods. However this is only supported by Harry's feeling that his wand is a "strip of wood" compared to a dragon, and Harry's wand being described as pencil like, when he steps on it in Bathilda's house.  This is contradicted in the same chapter in Deathly Hallows, during Voldemort's flashback of the night he murdered Lily and James. ..."he fingered the handle of his wand." Thus it could simply be how Harry felt about his wand at the moment, comparing it with a pencil in terms of proportion and efficiency.
- Also, in the films, the wands are shown a couple of inches longer than they are shown in the books. The films seem to include more gestures when using a wand, not just waving it and pointing it. The different styles were shown properly in the film version of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
- It is theorised that the wand's length is proportional to the wizard's height: the longer the wand, the taller the wizard, and the shorter the wand, the shorter the wizard. Although this pattern is generally supported (eg, Dolores Umbridge's short wand, Rubeus Hagrid's long wand) this may not always be the case. For example, Draco Malfoy, despite being tall, had a relatively short wand. However, J.K. Rowling stated that wands are generally shorter when witches or wizards are lacking in personality, rather than size.
- J. K. Rowling used a Celtic calendar to assign certain types of woods to Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter based on their birthdates.
- In the first and second films, wands look quite plain. The appearance of wands drastically change in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in which the wands are given distinctive shapes and carvings, reflecting the owner's personality.
- Devon Murray, who plays Seamus Finnigan in the Harry Potter films, has the record for breaking the most prop wands. He broke eighty of them.  Dan Radcliffe himself broke and damaged almost as many due to his habit of drumming with them.
- J.K. Rowling has said that Muggles cannot use a magic wand, yet residual power stored in a wand may discharge at odd moments, having potentially disastrous effects for a non-wizard. One example of this happening was when, in 1790, Muggle Bartholomew Barebone stole Dorcus Twelvetrees' wand and showed it to many reporters. The wand was said to have behaved like a mule.
- Wands are often buried or burned when the owner dies.
- The right to carry a wand at all times was established by the International Confederation of Wizards in 1692, when Muggle persecution was at its height and the wizards were planning their retreat into hiding.
- Although Harry's wand is known to be made of holly (an almost white wood), his prop wand is significantly darker, suggesting a different wood. However, other wands appear to be varnished or coloured, so this isn't necessarily a break in continuity. Wood is a matte material so most if not all wands in the movies have some kind of colour treatment.
- It is interesting to note that Viktor Krum's wand and Hermione Granger's first wand have the same length and the same core.
- In the LEGO Harry Potter releases, wands were created using a repurpose of the lightsaber piece used for LEGO Star Wars. The wands are thick, long and almost bigger than a character.
- There was at least one known business that specialised in tuning wands to improve their performance. Repair services were also available.
- Wands have been used a total of 763 times in the books, according to Pottermore.
- Wands were invented in Europe, and they are less commonly used in Africa. Students of Uagadou learn to perform many of their spells wandlessly.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 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)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- 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 (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- 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)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: Spells
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Motorbike Escape
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells (Also simulates use of wand via PlayStation Move controller)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 24 December 2007 PotterCast Interviews with J.K. Rowling
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Pottermore
- ↑ Pottercast 131
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ Rumours! section of J.K. Rowling's Official site
- ↑ Inside the Magic: "Singing Sorceress: Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando" on Youtube
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Seventeen
- ↑ Extra Stuff at J.K. Rowling's Official Site
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:Behind the Magic
- ↑ The Tales of Beedle the Bard, pg 83
- ↑ The Tales of Beedle the Bard, pg 104
- ↑ Quidditch Through the Ages , pg 28
- ↑ Pottermore - The Great Wand-o-Graphic