Wandless magic is the phrase used to describe the phenomenon of magic being performed without a wand.
History and Notes
- Some non-Western Wizarding cultures do not use wands, such as the students at the African school Uagadou, where they only use hand gestures to perform magic. They have perfected the art of transforming into animals as Animagi with no wands necessary (Pm).
References from the canon
- Young witches and wizards do not receive wands until they receive their Hogwarts letters, so underage magic is wandless. Examples include Lily Evan's ability to "fly" out of a swing and make a flower move (DH33), young Severus Snape hitting Petunia Evans with a stick to make her go away (DH33), Harry's ability to regrow his hair in defiance of Petunia and to jump to the roof of the school to escape Dudley's gang (PS2), as well as the Weasley Twins turning Ron's teddy bear into a spider when they were five (CS9). Neville Longbottom;s family realized he was not a Squib when he "bounced" down the driveway after being thrown out the window by his Uncle Algie (PS7)
- Sometimes underage wandless magic can be more serious. When Harry visited St. Mungo's Hospital, he saw a young witch who had sprouted wings being sent to the Fourth Floor Spell Damage Ward (OP22). Young Tom Riddle knew he had powers at the Orphanage and even without a wand was able to exert a Dark influence over children and animals (HBP13).
- Several times after he entered Hogwarts Harry performed magic without a wand: when he "blew up" Aunt Marge (PA2), when his wand performed the "Lumos" lighting spell even though it was not in his hand during the attack of a Dementor on Dudley (OP1).
- Goblins, House-elves, fairies, gnomes and Merpeople are not allowed wands by the Wizengamot yet perform magic quite well without them. Griphook derogatorily called wizards "Wand Carriers" and told Harry at Shell Cottage: "The right to carry a wand ...has long been contested between wizards and goblins” (DH24).
- The Animagus Transfiguration can be done without a wand, as proven by the often-wandless students at the African School Uagadou (Pm). Peter Pettigrew turned into a rat after Harry disarmed him outside the Shrieking Shack (PA20), as well as Sirius Black who transformed into a black dog and swam from Azkaban (PA10). Others can turn into Animagi while carrying a wand, for instance Rita Skeeter and Minerva McGonagall, and it is unclear what happens to the wand and how it "travels" along during the Transfiguration. However it must be similar to what happens to their clothing and glasses when they are in animal form - those things enter "nonbeing" (DH30).
- Wands are necessary for potion making, which is why Muggles cannot do it (Pm).