Musings on the Harry Potter Universe

October 21 2013

I tend to over think the real­ity of fic­tion, which inevitably leads to my dis­ap­point­ment when some­thing doesn’t add up. Sus­pend­ing my dis­be­lief isn’t one of my strong points.

Around the time iOS 7 was announced, I was read­ing the Harry Potter series for the first time at the request of my sister, who’s a die hard fan. I’d seen the movies, but read­ing the story changed my per­cep­tion of this so-called children’s book.

Some back­ground

In the Harry Potter uni­verse, wiz­ards, witches, and other mag­i­cal crea­tures exist, and their world remains largely hidden to mug­gles”, which are us non-magic folk. Hog­warts School of Witch­craft and Wiz­ardry seems to be one of the more pop­u­lar schools teach­ing magic, and witches and wiz­ards from about 12 to 18 years old attend. As in most other schools, stu­dents are sent a school sup­plies list before­hand.

For first-year stu­dents, the supply list con­sists of books, uni­forms, gen­eral equip­ment, and of course, a wand.


One of the eas­i­est charms to learn is Lumos, and when it’s invoked, the wand tip lights up and cre­ates a sort of lantern or flash­light. The lumos charm is used exten­sively by many char­ac­ters (of every expe­ri­ence level).

Sound like some­thing else?

Later in the series you’ll learn about a very dif­fi­cult charm called the Patronus charm, and it’s acti­vated by think­ing a happy thought, making a cir­cu­lar wand move­ment, and saying Expecto Patronum.” Which Harry seems to enjoy yelling.

Making the con­nec­tion

Read­ing and Harry Potter books and hear­ing the announce­ment of iOS 7’s new fea­tures, I was obvi­ously reminded of the App Store and auto­mat­i­cally updated apps. 

By default, there are cer­tain appli­ca­tions on your iPhone. Among others, there’s a cal­en­dar, email, photos, and a web browser. And you know, the actual phone app.

In the App Store, there are some other incred­i­bly useful apps, some of which may replace the default apps.

The Wan­der­net

In the Wiz­ard­ing World, cer­tain wiz­ards and witches are cred­ited with invent­ing spells and charms. This idea of new spells” inter­ested me. This means charms weren’t willed into exis­tence by an ancient unknown power then passed down gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, but rather, some had been recently devel­oped and mod­i­fied.

So how is a witch or wizard able to use a newly invented charm?

Does the inven­tor upload the charm to the Spell Store in the Wan­der­net, which is then avail­able for down­load by others?

For exam­ple, the Patronus charm has been extended” by Dum­b­le­dore who invented a way to send short mes­sages with patronuses. Was this mod­i­fi­ca­tion an update to the Patronus charm? Patronus charm, ver­sion 2

I set­tled on the idea of auto­mat­i­cally updat­ing spells through the Wan­der­net. Once a spell had been recited, the spell would con­tinue to update to the latest ver­sion, when­ever one was avail­able.

The Wand Doesn’t Have the Power…”

While dis­cussing this with my wife, she brought up a very good point, which made a lot more sense.

It sounds like your theory leans on the wand or spell having the
power, but one person could cast a spell from some­one else’s wand
which never casted that spell. It doesn’t seem like the wand has
the power, but rather, the wizard has the power.

Well, crap. I really liked this idea of the Wizard App Store, but you pose a great point, Rachel.

It’s more like lan­guage.

When people say words they don’t under­stand, the word has no power and com­mu­ni­cates little. They simply don’t under­stand what they’re saying.

the F word

Every person who’s capa­ble of speech has equal access to string­ing cer­tain sounds together, cre­at­ing words. Usu­ally when kids say bad words”, they don’t know what they mean, they are simply repeat­ing it since they’ve heard it. And also because it makes the adults laugh.

Back to Hog­warts

In world of Harry, Ron, and Her­moine, another lan­guage they learn the mag­i­cal lan­guage made of spell, curses, charms, and jinxes.

In fact, at one point, Harry tries to use one of the so-called Unfor­giv­able Curses” on Bel­la­trix. As she’s run­ning away, he points his wand and yells Crucio!” To Harry’s dismay, this doesn’t have the indented effect on Bel­la­trix. Her response:

You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain… to enjoy it… right­eous anger won’t hurt me for long…!” — Bel­la­trix to Harry, Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)

In this exam­ple, Harry didn’t know the full mean­ing of saying those words, and by per­form­ing the curse with­out fully under­stand­ing it, its full weight was not passed onto Bel­la­trix.

Say what you mean, mean what you say

Real­ity of Fic­tion

Some­times over think­ing the real­ity of fic­tion leads nowhere, but in this case, the dis­cus­sion between myself and Rachel resulted in a way, how­ever odd, to explain lan­guage.

Also, maybe some­one from Apple will go ahead and invent wands or what­ever.