The Harry Potter Compendium

"This ancient and mysterious charm conjures a magical guardian, a projection of all your most positive feelings. The Patronus Charm is difficult, and many witches and wizards are unable to produce a full, corporeal Patronus, a guardian which generally takes the shape of the animal with whom they share the deepest affinity. You may suspect, but you will never truly know what form your Patronus will take until you succeed in conjuring it."
Miranda Goshawk[src]

The Patronus Charm is a charm that evokes a partially-tangible, positive energy force known as a Patronus (pl. Patronuses[2]). Patronuses are also called spirit guardians[3][1] though this may only refer to corporeal Patronuses. It is primarily designed for defence against otherwise unbeatable Dark creatures like Dementors and Lethifolds, though there are other uses such as messaging.

The Charm[]


"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember. Allow it to fill you up… Just remember, your Patronus can only protect you as long as you stay focused… Think of the happiest thing you can."
Harry Potter teaching the Patronus Charm to Dumbledore's Army[src]

It is apparent from old woodcuts and scrolls that the Patronus Charm has been used since ancient times.[4]

To successfully cast the spell one must muster a happy memory (the happier the memory, the more powerful and tangible the Patronus will be) and incant "Expecto Patronum". It is unknown if there are any other elements required in casting, such as physical gestures (aside from drawing and pointing the wand forward prior to or during incantation).

The happy memory one requires when casting does not necessarily have to be a specific moment in your past. Arguably more important than content, is how the memory or thought makes you feel now. Harry Potter, for instance, is often seen to produce his more powerful Patronuses when he his merely thinking of the people he loves. Harry also often thinks of his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger and produces successful Patronuses. One time Harry also used the thought of Dolores Umbridge being sacked to produce a Patronus for his Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. Harry uses his love and happiness, evoked from thinking of his friends and family, to produce a Patronus, rather than having to remember emotions felt in the past.



Harry casting his Patronus during the trio's escape from the Ministry

The Patronus Charm is widely regarded as advanced magic (so much so that its not even taught in Charms on the Hogwarts curriculum). It is a very complex charm and many qualified wizards and witches have trouble with it. In fact, Harry Potter is one of the youngest known wizards able to cast a Patronus; he was taught how to do so in early 1994 at the age of thirteen by Remus Lupin[5]. In a Dumbledore's Army lesson, Harry taught the members how to use the charm. Some were even successful in casting a corporeal form, though Harry said this might be because there was no Dementor to make them frightened[6]. However, some members were later shown to be able to cast corporeal Patronuses in the presence of Dementors[7].

Amelia Bones and potential members of the D.A. were all very impressed when Harry Potter revealed that he could cast not only a Patronus Charm but a corporeal one to boot, which is notably more difficult than casting an incorporeal one. Given that the success of the charm is directly reliant on the caster retaining a particular mental state the Charm is more difficult to cast in emotionally trying circumstances. For instance, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger all had difficulty casting their Patronuses when under the negative influence of Salazar Slytherin's Locket, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, and after witnessing the death of Fred Weasley in battle[7]. This feature of the Charm is particularly unfortunate since the Charm's primary use is to defend against Dementors, Dark creatures specifically equipped to mentally unhinge people (and hence is partly why it is regarded as such advanced, difficult magic).

Self-confidence may also play an important role in casting the spell. In 1994 Harry is able to cast the spell successfully, driving off a large number of Dementors (which according to Severus Snape is only achievable by a very powerful wizard) thus saving Sirius and a younger version of himself, seemingly without recalling a happy memory, when he realises that he has already done it. Although Harry could have had a "happy memory" upon realizing that he had saved all three of their lives.



Raczidian's demise while trying to cast a Patronus.

Only wizards who are "pure of heart" are able to cast Patronuses. If the Patronus Charm is attempted to be cast by a Dark or otherwise not pure-hearted wizard, who would otherwise be magically capable of casting one, rather than the intended effect of a spirit guardian bursting forth, a horde of maggots will be conjured from the caster's wand, which will attempt to consume the caster. The first recorded instance of this happening is with the Dark Wizard Raczidian.[8]

For this reason, Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters were not able to cast a Patronus Charm (not that it was necessary, as they already had the dark creatures under their control via their affinity to darkness, and would have no use for Patronuses).[9] However, Dolores Umbridge is able to produce a corporeal Patronus, despite the fact that she was considered an evil person; her wearing of Salazar Slytherin's Locket, which was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, was what enhanced her strength due to her evil affinity. She was able to produce a corporeal Patronus due to the enhanced strength. Conversely, Draco Malfoy was unable to cast one despite his waning evil. Severus Snape is the only Death Eater capable of casting the charm, as his love for Lily Evans was his one redeeming point.

The Patronus[]

A successfully conjured Patronus can take two forms: non-corporeal or corporeal, and both types vary greatly in their appearances and strength.



Harry, casting a non-corporeal, shield Patronus.

A non-corporeal Patronus is one which does not resemble any living creature and has few distinguishing features (if any). Non-corporeal Patronuses resemble a burst of vapour or smoke without any clearly defined form shooting from the tip of the wand. While they may be partially effective at halting dementors (but not repelling them), non-corporeal Patronuses are not "fully-fledged" Patronuses, and are regarded as a more primitive or weaker version of the true Charm.

While even the most advanced wizards, like the prodigious Severus Snape, appear to have to use the spoken incantation Expecto Patronum to conjure a corporeal Patronus, Remus Lupin casts a non-corporeal Patronus on the Hogwarts Express as a Nonverbal spell. This suggests that only non-corporeal Patronuses can be conjured without the spoken incantation.


A corporeal Patronus is one that is fully-formed, taking the shape of bright-white, translucent animal. The specific animal forms that corporeal Patronuses take vary from person to person and reflect each individual's personality.

File:Order of Phoenix - Patronus.gif

Harry casting a Patronus Charm when he was attacked in Little Whinging.

Patronus forms, however, are subject to change if the caster goes through an emotional upheaval of some sort, including falling in love. For example, Nymphadora Tonks's Patronus changed from its previous form to that of a four-legged creature which others guessed was a werewolf because then it would reflect her love of Remus Lupin, himself a werewolf[6].Another example is Severus Snape, whose Patronus was that of a doe, the same as Lily Evans, though this may have been the case all along rather than a change from its original form, as Snape was in love with Lily for most of his life. Based on the fact that Patronuses are conjured by recalling happy memories, it stands to reason that a Patronus might change its form after one falls in love and the memories used to conjure the Patronus largely revolve around the person the caster is in love with. In addition, it seems that some couples have "complementary" Patronuses (male and female forms of the same animal), such as Lily and James Potter. It is, however, unknown if this is a coincidence or not. If a wizard is an Animagus and can summon a corporeal Patronus, the two may take the same form, as was the case for Minerva McGonagall and James Potter[7].

Most Patronuses take the form of an ordinary animal, but magical creatures, such as Albus Dumbledore's phoenix Patronus, are not uncommon. However, it is extremely rare for Patronuses to take the form of extinct animals.[4] Hedley Fleetwood's woolly mammoth Patronus is a notable exception.[4] Andros the Invincible was the only wizard capable of casting a Patronus of a giant.

The corporeal Patronus is also better at repelling Dementors than the incorporeal form.


There are two known uses for the Patronus Charm. The first and main use of the Patronus is to drive off certain Dark creatures such as Dementors and Lethifolds, and is the only known charm that will work against them. As Dementors feed on happy memories to render humans to drown in sorrow and sadness, the Patronus acts as a shield of sorts, of which the Dementor would try to feed off of instead - the Patronus is comprised exclusively of positive feelings and cannot comprehend negative emotion, so the Dementor's influence cannot harm it.

File:HarryPotterDeath feature.jpg

Harry casting a Patronus during the Hunt for Horcruxes

The other use was devised by Albus Dumbledore, who invented a way of using the Patronus (corporeal and non) as a means of communication. They can deliver messages, speaking with the voice of the caster. This source of communication is believed to be exclusive to the members of the Order of the Phoenix. Using the Patronus for communication offers great advantages in security, as Patronuses identify the caster and are Dark-proof.[6] A good example of this was when Minerva McGonagall used her feline Patronus to call for help to the other heads of houses in 1998 when she found out Harry Potter had returned to Hogwarts in search of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem. Multiple Patronuses can be cast for communication, as McGonagall was able to create three. Another is when Severus Snape used his Patronus to lead Harry Potter to a pool in the Forest of Dean in 1997, where he had laid Godric Gryffindor's Sword for Harry to retrieve.


Patronus means "protector", "guardian", or simply "patron" in Latin, specifically reflecting the entire role that the Patronus Charm plays. In archaic Latin, it meant "father", which is very interesting, considering that Harry Potter's Patronus is the same as his father's Patronus and Animagus form, a stag. The Latin word exspecto or expecto means "I look out for" or "I wait for", thus the charm's incantation roughly translates into "I await a guardian."

Known Practitioners[]

"A Patronus is a kind of positive force, and for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it, rather than him. In order for it to work, you need to think of a memory. Not just any memory, a very happy memory, a very powerful memory… Allow it to fill you up... lose yourself in it... then speak the incantation "Expecto Patronum"."
Remus Lupin teaching Harry Potter the Patronus Charm[src]

Known Patronuses[]

Witch/wizard Patronal form Notes
Andros the Invincible Something allegedly the size of a giant (possibly an actual giant) Stated on his Chocolate Frog Card as the only wizard to make a Patronus that size.
Illyius Mouse Initially, Illyius's fellow villagers mocked him as they had never seen such a small and weak-looking Patronus, which corresponded to Illyius's timidity and tongue-tiedness. However, when dark wizard Raczidian invaded the village with his army of Dementors, Illyius's mouse Patronus proved to be stronger than the others, making him a hero.
Flavius Belby Something with horns In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it's recorded that he cast off a Lethifold by performing the Patronus Charm. It says the Lethifold was thrown into the air on the horns of his Patronus.
Cho Chang Swan Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996.
Michael Corner Squirrel Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996.
Aberforth Dumbledore Goat Summoned outside the Hog's Head in an attempt to convince the Death Eaters who had seen Harry's Patronus that they really saw a goat.
Albus Dumbledore Phoenix The bird whose loyalty he earned, Fawkes, was a phoenix. Also he used it in 1995 as a message to Hagrid when Krum was stunned. It was described as "a ghostly bird that flew off in the direction of Hagrid's house".
Seamus Finnigan Fox He could not yet produce a fully formed (corporeal) Patronus in Dumbledore's Army, though in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, he managed a Patronus in the shape of a fox.
Hedley Fleetwood Woolly mammoth


An unusual form due to the extreme rarity of extinct Patronuses.
Hermione Granger Otter Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996. It is apparently the only spell Hermione has trouble with, as said in 1997 while escaping from the Ministry of Magic.
Harry Potter Stag Harry's Patronus is in the shape of his father's Animagus form and Patronus. He learned how to conjure a Patronus at an exceptionally young age.
James Potter Stag James' Animagus form was also that of a stag.
Luna Lovegood Hare


Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996 and in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.
Ernie Macmillan Boar Seen in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.
Minerva McGonagall Cat Just before the Battle of Hogwarts, she sent her Patronus out to alert the other Heads of House that Hogwarts Castle would soon be under attack by Lord Voldemort and his followers.
Lily Potter Doe Mentioned in conjunction with Snape's Patronus. It was also the female form of her husband's Patronus.
Symposia Rawle Ladybird


An unusual form that was very powerful despite its tiny size.
Kingsley Shacklebolt Lynx Seen in 1997 when he warned the Order during Bill and Fleur's wedding of the downfall of the Ministry of Magic and Rufus Scrimgeour's death.
Severus Snape Doe Acted as Harry's guide through the woods to where Godric Gryffindor's Sword was hidden. Snape's Patronus mirrored Lily's due to his unspoken love for her that began when they were small children.
Nymphadora Tonks Werewolf (previous Patronus unknown) The form of Tonks' Patronus changed in 1996. It became a werewolf due to her love for Remus Lupin, though Harry Potter and Hermione Granger initially believed it was a black dog, triggered by the death of her second cousin Sirius Black (whose Animagus form was a black dog). Changes of Patronus are rare and usually caused by devastating life traumas. Occasionally when a witch and a wizard are married, their Patronuses will match each other (most likely because the witch/wizard's happy thought will be that of their spouse).
Arthur Weasley Weasel First seen when he sent a message about Rufus Scrimgeour's arrival on Harry's seventeenth birthday. Later seen when Arthur sent a Patronus to 12 Grimmauld Place to inform Harry, Ron and Hermione that the Weasley family was safe.
Ginny Weasley Horse


Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996.
Ron Weasley Jack Russell Terrier[12] Seen in the last Dumbledore's Army meeting in 1996 and in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.
Dolores Umbridge Cat While interrogating Muggle-borns at a trial, she had cast a Patronus to ward the Dementors from the prosecutors. Her favourite animal, as shown by the many plates with cats on them in her office. She was able to cast the Patronus due to her affinity with the locket Horcrux's evil influence.

Behind the scenes[]


The spell as seen in the third video game.

  • Two Patronuses planned for the films but ultimately cut include a Thestral and a chimpanzee[13]
  • The Patronuses of James Potter and Minerva McGonagall match their respective Animagi form. These are the only characters whose Patronus and Animagus forms are known. It is uncertain whether all Patronuses will match the form of the Animagus, but so far, an instance of differing forms has not been revealed.
  • In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a white peacock appears in the gardens of Malfoy Manor. Some fans believed this bird to be Lucius Malfoy's Patronus. However, J. K. Rowling stated that no Death Eater except Severus Snape could (or had a need to) conjure a Patronus, because Death Eaters fight alongside that which Patronuses fight against.[14] This means that the peacock was in fact a living creature. It is stated in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that the creature was i, in fact,n albino peacock.
  • In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the more moderate Expecto Patronum is a ball of light (before cast, a white ring goes up Harry's arm and if it reaches top of the wand, Harry has to try the spell again) and is used only to attack Dementors. At the climax of the game, a stag (Harry's Patronus) jumps out of the wand to drive away all the Dementors nearby attacking Harry and Sirius.
  • In the said video game, the first video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4/5-7 the Patronus Charm appears to push the Dementors away with the first shot and a second shot kills them.
  • The lecture that Harry gives on Patronuses to Dumbledore's Army in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is extremely similar to the lecture Remus Lupin gave him in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Dolores Umbridge's Patronus seems to emanate a shield that keeps the Dementors separated from everyone in the courtroom. In addition, Kingsley Shacklebolt's Patronus is described in the novel as taking the form of a lynx, however in the film it is depicted as a shimmering comet of light from which springs silvery images of witches and wizards screaming in terror as Kingsley's voice details the death of Scrimgeour and the fall of the Ministry.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy, Walden Macnair, Barty Crouch Jr., and an unnamed Death Eater can all cast the spell, despite the fact that Rowling stated that no Death Eater besides Severus Snape could produce a Patronus.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that Patronuses vary in strength according to which animal's form they take. Later canon from Wonderbook: Book of Spells, however, stresses that this is not the case and that the form of the animal has no correlation to the strength of the Patronus (see, for instance, Illyius and Symposia Rawle).
  • The Patronus spellbook, owned by Remus Lupin, includes information and instruction on the Patronus Charm.
  • In an interview, J. K. Rowling stated that the happy memory that would produce the strongest Patronus for her would be the births of any of her three children, though a close fourth would be when she learned that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was going to be published.[15] She has also stated that she'd like for her Patronus to be an otter, like Hermione's, but she has a feeling it might actually be a large dog.[14] Additionally, in a 2000 interview, she stated that the Patronus Charm was her favourite spell in the series so far.[16]
  • Although Lupin provides most of the information within the books about the Patronus Charm, his Patronus is never identified.
  • Luna Lovegood's hare Patronus is possibly a reference to the moon rabbit, a figure in East Asian mythology.
  • Learning to cast a Patronus is one of the tasks given to the player in the final Chapter of the game Wonderbook: Book of Spells. For learning the incantation and gesture, the player is given the Trophy "Expecto Patronum!" On the next page, the player is given the chance to cast a true Patronus, the form of which is apparently chosen randomly. Amongst the possible Patronuses are a bat, a bull, a cat, a goat, a horse, a rabbit and a scorpion.[17] For discovering their Patronus, the player is awarded the Trophy "True Patronus."

Patronuses in the films[]

File:Expecto Patronum 2

Patronus being cast.

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, his Patronus physically attacks the Dementors by charging at them, as depicted in the books. Also, Patronuses produced by the members of Dumbledore's Army make noises and are capable of interacting with physical objects, such as Ron's dog Patronus knocking over Neville Longbottom.
  • There was a noted change in appearance of Patronuses in general in the Order of the Phoenix movie. In movies 5-8, Patronuses very wispy and airy, while in the third film they look more substantial, solid and brighter.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, during the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge's Patronus was very clearly seen several times in the same scene and often looked less like a cat and more like a reanimated, feline corpse, with the skeletal features visible. This is odd for a Patronus (they usually look quite 'alive' and well) and its twisted form may be a nod to both Umbridge's nature and the circumstances under which it was cast.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Patronus in its powerful wave-like form emits a deep reverberating sound. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 this effect was also used when Aberforth Dumbledore protected Hogwarts from Dementors.


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Notes and references[]

Defense Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.)
Professors: Galatea Merrythought · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape ·
Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher)
Textbooks: The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection · Break with a Banshee · Gadding with Ghouls · Holidays with Hags · Travels with Trolls ·
Voyages with Vampires · Wanderings with Werewolves · Year with the Yeti · The Essential Defense Against the Dark Arts · Defensive Magical Theory · Dark Arts Defense: Basics for Beginners · Confronting the Faceless
D.A.D.A. at Hogwarts: Classroom 3C · Temporary Classroom · Tower · Professor's Office · Storeroom · Staircase · Lesson Cup · Race Cup · Dumbledore's Army
Spells covered under the subject: Curse of the Bogies · Knockback Jinx · Verdimillious (uno, duo & tria) · Wand-Lighting Charm · Glacius · Patronus Charm · Killing Curse · Cruciatus Curse · Imperius Curse ·
Impediment Jinx · Reductor Curse · Stunning Spell · Shield Charm · Nonverbal spells · Hex-deflection · Hex-Breaker · Hex Zapper
Creatures covered under the subject: Vampire bats · Iguanas · Cornish Pixies · Werewolves · Vampires · Hinkypunks · Boggarts · Red Caps · Kappas · Grindylows · Inferius