by Sam Barre
We all know that a wand is the most important thing in the wizarding world. Harry himself has been noted countless times to feel very exposed without his wand, which is his only means of defense against magical attack. However, do any of us really understand the wand? It is a very mysterious thing, to be sure, but how does it work?
Magic is a very complicated thing on its own, but I’ll attempt to explain it through scientific methods. For example, the Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, which conflicts with vanishing and summoning spells, such as evanesco or when Dumbledore conjured the chintz chairs at Harry’s disciplinary hearing. There must be some place from which the matter comes and goes.
The rule of science I think can explain how wands function is Newton’s First Law of Motion: “Matter in motion tends to stay in motion. Matter at rest tends to stay at rest.” Not that a wand moves, but it influences the movement of other objects. An object cannot move unless acted upon by an outside force. Therefore, we can guess that a wand is a technical exception to the law, because nothing except the wizard’s mind can make the wand influence anything, and I can think of only one other technical exception that can be moved with only mind powers: us.
Think about it. When you move your arm, nothing bumps into it to make it move. Your brain tells your muscles to move it, and it does. Same when you turn your head, move your leg, pick your nose, whatever. It’s the same with a wand. You tell your wand what action you want it to perform, and it does so. Does this mean that a wand is an extension of its wizard, or is the wand a completely independent thing?
You might be saying, “But a wand can’t work without a wizard.” Can a wizard work without a wand? Which brings me to the point of this essay: wands are alive.
Maybe not in the sense of blinking eyes and moving limbs, but in the sense that trees and plants are alive. For example, Mr. Ollivander said (during the weighing of the wands for the Triwizard Tournament) that veela hair made a temperamental wand. Temperamental is normally a trait used to describe humans. Also, during the chapter “Priori Incantatem,” Rowling described Harry’s wand as pulsating.
This may seem like an unfounded or even ludicrous claim in the muggle world. However, in the wizarding world, it may seem very normal. For example, wands that share a core are referred to as brothers. I know this is not hardcore evidence, because some ships are referred to as sisters, but there is the fact that brother wands will not duel against each other. Now, I know that sometimes you may want to send your siblings to a faraway country and never hear from them again (I know I do), but you would never really want to harm or kill them, would you?
Switching gears, Mr. Weasley told Ginny not to trust anything that can think for itself, unless you can see where it keeps its brain. A wand may not be able to think for itself, but it has a brain, which is the wand’s core. A wand’s core is made from various magical substances. Dragon heartstings, unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers…sound familiar? Even though these items may not exhibit magical properties on their own, when paired with the wood of a wand tree they seem to be a prime conductor for magical energy.
This brings me to my next point. How do wands convey magic to outside objects? Well, you could almost visualize magic as a current. Wizards can be told apart from muggles because they have magic current all around them. The wand is a means of channeling the current, but in extreme cases (i.e. when the wizard is scared or angry) the magic current can be channeled, rather haphazardly, without a wand. With a wand, however, the magic current can be channeled directly and intentionally.
Think of it like pushing on something. When you push on something, like a box or a chair, it moves because it’s acted upon by an outside force–you. It’s the same with magic. The wand cooperates with the magic current, which then acts as the outside force.
Why do I think there’s a magic current? There are two instances that come to mind right away. When the trio was discussing bugging, Hermione scolded Harry and Ron yet again for not reading Hogwarts: A History, because there was too much magic in the air for electronic devices to work. The magic current would interfere with the electric waves and make it impossible for them to function. The other example is when Harry is taken to Dumbledore’s office after being caught running away from the D.A. meeting. When Kingsley puts a memory charm on Marietta, Rowling describes that Harry felt something brush past him, but he looked down and nothing was there. That’s because it was the magical current. He obviously wouldn’t have seen it, but he may have felt the shift in the current as it was directed from Kingsley to Marietta.
The magic current is like an obscure and forgotten language that the wand translates. We tell the wand what we want to happen in our language, the wand tells the current what we want to happen in its language and the current carries it out. Plain and simple.
So, the next time you, like Parvati, try to curl your eyelashes around your wand, consider its feelings and think of it as a friend, not just a narrow strip of wood.