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Essays

Magic and Magical Theory
Thoughts About Wands

by Amy Z.
  • Witches and wizards can identify their own wands very easily, so easily that it seems to be done by a sense other than sight: Harry knew his immediately when Amos Diggory held it up in GF9.

  • They can also easily match up another witch/wizard and her/his wand, or at least Lupin did in the Shrieking Shack (he threw Harry, Ron, and Hermione their wands, the right one to each) (PA17). Again, is this done by some kind of magical sense that connects a person to her/his wand? Could anyone have done this with a moment's reflection, or is it because Lupin knew them? Or is it simply that he had seen their wands in their hands many times, and the differences in size and color are obvious to wizards and witches, though they might be too subtle to your average Muggle? (I think of a fascinating study I saw on TV, of Australian Aboriginal children whose ability to pick out which small rock or twig was missing from an assortment they had just seen for 60 seconds was astounding to someone from my culture.)

  • Every wand is unique and uniquely matched to the witch/wizard (therefore, Ron would've had a hard time owl-ordering one in CS, even if he'd been willing to tell his parents he needed one), and although you can use someone else's wand, it won't work as well (Ollivander, PS5). How could Ron use a hand-me-down wand, then? Is this going to figure into a plot at some point? Someone uses someone else's wand and the results aren't powerful enough to do what she/he needs to do?

  • They are apparently quite easy to break; Ron's snapped in the car accident and Hagrid's was broken when he was expelled. The latter, being a deliberate attempt to deprive a wizard of his power (unlike the intent-less violence that snapped Ron's), might take powerful magic. If not, it's pretty scary, since in a duel one could easily render one's opponent helpless by breaking his/her wand. Scary, also, because we know that Harry's wand is one of the few weapons in the world that's effective against Voldemort, certainly the only thing known that can block his Avada Kedavra. That's a mighty fragile thing to have standing between the well-being of the world and Voldemort. Maybe Fawkes could be persuaded to donate a magical army's worth of feathers--hence the name, "The Order of the Phoenix"?

copyright 2001 by Amy Z
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