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.