Lesson 1) Introduction to Charms

Welcome to Charms! I am Professor Cassandra Virneburg and I am thrilled to be guiding you along your journey to becoming Charms Masters.

If you need to reach me, I can be reached through the electronic owl post here on HiH. A list of my assistants can be found here, should you have a question!

First Year Charms Syllabus

Lesson Topics Spells
One Introduction, History, and Ancient Foci Lumos, Nox
Two Accessing Your Power Flight Charms
Three Wand Properties and Movements Alohomora, Reparo
Four The Spoken Word - Incantations Incendio, Locomotor
Five The Importance of Concentration Lumos Solem, Lumos Numerosa
Six Applying Your Will Wingardium Leviosa, Astrictus
Seven Static and Dynamic Spells Diffindo, Spongify
Eight Putting It All Together Focillo, Infrigido
Nine Yearly Review and Final Exam (None)


I do request that myself and my Assistants as well as your fellow students are treated with respect. I absolutely will not tolerate any rude or negative behavior towards anyone. Anyone found treating anyone else with disrespect will be dealt with accordingly. You have been warned.

Charms Journal

You will be responsible for keeping a journal of your progress in Charms class. This journal is meant to be a record of your thoughts and observations during class and while you practice the charms we have presented. Each lesson (Lessons One and Nine are optional) you need to write at LEAST two to five paragraphs of information for your journal, with each paragraph amounting to at LEAST five sentences. This means that each lesson should have at LEAST ten sentences about it. Please follow these directions closely as assignments that do not will not receive credit.

Lesson Three will be your first journal turn-in, where you will hand in your entries for Lesson Two and Lesson Three (and Lesson One if you choose to do one for it). This week, as part of your assignment, you will need to tell us what you'll be doing for your journal. More information is noted in the assignment.

While this journal is optional work (and hence marked "Extra Credit"), we strongly recommend that you complete it to solidify your understanding of Charms work.


Your assignments will be marked for both content and language. If you have any concerns about this because you are either not a native speaker of English (NES) or have a learning disability (LD), please put the label NES or LD on top of your essay. My PAs and I will then know not to deduct points for language mistakes while still keeping the queue anonymous. Translation charms are easily available, for example here. As those tend to mess with our grading process, only assignments submitted in English will be graded.

Required Reading

There will be no required reading for this course! You are welcome to read any supplementary texts that you like, but none will be required to pass this class. Please keep in mind that these lessons should be referenced for assignments over any supplemental material.


Think of Charms as an introduction to spellcasting in general. Even the most accomplished of witches and wizards had to start somewhere. This year we will cover the basics of spellcasting including the importance of pronouncing a spell correctly and practicing wand movements as well as casting basic charms.

We will touch on the basics of wandlore, such as why we need a wand for proper spellcasting, what wands are typically made of, and why it is important to properly care for them. We will also discuss the various components that may be required to successfully cast certain spells.

Today we will be discussing the origin of modern-day spellcasting practices as well as the laws you need to be aware of when using magic. I'll be leaving all the juicy historical bits for your History of Magic classes, but it is important for you to understand how modern magic came about and what laws you need to follow at all times, lest you find yourself being interrogated by the Ministry of Magic.

Brief History and Essential Laws

An Ancient Egyptian Magician

In ancient times, magic was practiced much more openly and freely than it is today. In ancient Greece and Egypt, witches and wizards were held in high regard. They used magic to protect many ancient tombs, and even today curse-breakers working for Gringotts attempt to retrieve the treasures from within, though not necessarily without loss of limb.

The first instances of dedicated wand making lies with the Ollivander family, who have been making wands since 382 B.C.E. While wands of various design had been crafted before this, the Ollivander family is one of the first, and certainly the longest, to have practiced the craft. Before there was a standard practice and process for wand-crafting, there was always a fear that a wand might fail at a critical moment, or worse, explode.

Beginning around 1000 C.E., the Wizarding World began separating from Muggles, and for approximately 400 years (from 1000 C.E. to around 1400 C.E.) was ruled by the Council of Warlocks. In the 1400s, various magical governments were established based on ethnic and cultural values as well as location. We see this even today with a separate Ministry of Magic in most countries.

Witches and Wizards were persecuted throughout the 1600s with such instances as the witch burnings, though these proved ineffective thanks to Flame-Freezing Charms. What is a Flame-Freezing Charm you may ask? Well these handy little charms could be cast on the flames burning a witch to make them do nothing more than tickle the witch in question. She would then writhe in agony, pretending to burn, and voila! She was safe. These problems culminated in the introduction of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1689. This international law completed the separation of the two worlds. The law was created to protect the magical and non-magical communities from each other, for when the witch trials began to wane, witches and wizards were seeking revenge on the Muggles who tried to oppress them. Magic was being used willy nilly to hurt, trick, and confuse Muggles and something had to be done. Each government became responsible for hiding all evidence of magical activity within their borders, including the magical flora and fauna (plants and animals) of the Wizarding World. It's important to note that, while the law was signed in 1689, it took a further three years before it was officially established by all governments internationally. However, many governments did recognize it in the interim.

Over the centuries, magic has become the stuff of legend for Muggles. Documented now only in fairy tale and stories, many of the Muggles’ contemporary literature is full of encounters with witches and wizards, dragons, pixies, and many other kinds of magic that they dismiss as wild dreams or hallucination. You must remember though that the majority of Muggle stories are rooted in fact. Most are eyewitness accounts of Muggles seeing magic done that have been changed over time. Of course, whenever an incident is too big to ignore or there is too much evidence it is true magic and not trickery, the Ministry will send in the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to sort things out, usually through memory modification.

There is another important law that all of you should remember. Anyone under the age of 17 falls within the guidelines of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery established in 1875. Basically, no student is allowed to practice magic outside of school. Now, there are a few exceptions, such as the case when your life, or the life of a fellow Witch, Wizard or Muggle, is at stake. An example of this would be Harry Potter casting a Patronus in front of his cousin in order to save them from Dementors!

However, I caution you to practice prudence. Attempts to circumvent the law and lie will only result in a greater punishment handed down by the Ministry of Magic. Remember, you are all under the effects of the Trace until you turn 17, and any magic you perform while not at Hogwarts or Hogsmeade, or in an exception zone, will be immediately detected.

Now the Ministry is able to distinguish between Muggle and magical homes where the Trace is concerned. In a Magical home, adults will be casting magic, so casting underage magic will not be detected as easily. The Ministry also relies on the parents of these children to discipline them. However in a Muggle home, no one except the underage party would be using magic. But wait! Why was Harry Potter charged when Dobby cast the Hover Charm? This is because the Ministry can determine where the magic is coming from, but not necessarily who cast it. Therefore, all magic used in this home is considered to be cast by the underage witch or wizard and must be illegal.

The Discovery of Wands

As you can imagine, magic was not always formally taught or controlled. The sort of uncontrolled bursts of magic that young magical folk are prone to were the norm several millennia ago before wizards and witches were able to focus and control their powers. Those with only a weak affinity for magic were able to lead relatively normal lives, but others caused great destruction. Some of their actions were noticeable enough to become Muggle mythology.

Ancient wands made of lead and wood
Attached scale denotes centimeters

Primitive tools like crystals, crude wands made of little more than a hippogriff wing feather wrapped around a stick, and metal rods all allowed some to exert a level of control over their magic. Instead of randomly causing something to vanish when they were angry, they could instead make it happen by using their focusing item. Eventually, the most effective of foci, the modern wand, was created.

A wooden shaft containing a core from a powerful magical creature, the wand allows us to focus and channel our power to achieve the desired result. These wands are much more advanced and focus than their predecessors. Now, witches and wizards can spend less time worrying that their wand will explode and more time experimenting with different spells and gestures.

You will be learning the culmination of centuries of knowledge and experimentation in this class: the ability to turn your will, your desire, into reality, and to shape your magic and send it into the world. Over the next few weeks, I’d like you to think about our history and what led us to where we are today and how it relates to what we are learning here in class.

The Wand-Lighting and Wand-Extinguishing Charms

We will end today with a small talk about a simple but very useful charm: the Wand-Lighting Charm. As the name implies, this simple spell will allow you to illuminate the tip of your wand. It is one of the easiest spells to master, useful whenever you need light, and makes for some good spellcasting practice.

Now, the first known use of the Wand-Lighting Charm was in the 18th century, despite how easy it is to use. Magical historians credit Levina Monkstanley, a Ministry of Magic employee, for its invention. It was first demonstrated in 1772 when Ms. Monkstanley had dropped her quill on the ground and used the spell to find it.

Its uses far exceed simply lighting the tip of your wand. It can provide an easy and endless source of amusement for young witches and wizards who usually enjoy watching the color change. In the Ministry of Magic,  it makes for a safe and easy method for casting a vote. It can even be used to repel incorporeal threats such as the Gytrash (a vicious spectral hound) and other malevolent spirits.

Now! Onto the casting!

The Wand-Lighting Charm
Incantation: Lumos (pronounced ‘LOO-mos’)
Wand Movement: Single counter-clockwise loop
Willpower: Low; determines the color of the light
Concentration: Low; lighting up the top of your wand

You should keep the wand movement in mind and don't put too much willpower, or mental push, into the spell or the tip of your wand will turn scarlet. Too little and it will be a pearly white. You should aim for a nice light yellow, which indicates sufficient effort. Of course, circumstances may call for a weaker or stronger light.

Since the magic for the Wand-Lighting Charm never leaves the tip of your wand, the flow of magical energy does not need to be consciously maintained. However, please keep in mind that if you let go of your wand while this charm is in effect, the light will go out. Very advanced magical practitioners may still be able to see their wand, but this is not an easy task.

No text describing the Wand-Lighting Charm would be complete without its equally-simple counter, the Wand-Extinguishing Charm. This spell has a singular purpose, and that is to counter the Wand-Lighting Charm. It is a personal charm, which means it will only work for your own wand, or the wand you happen to be holding should it be lit.

The Wand-Extinguishing Charm
Incantation: Nox (pronounced ‘NOCK-ss’)
Wand Movement: Flick of the wand
Willpower: None
Concentration: None

The Wand-Extinguishing Charm can be quickly cast and its effect is immediate. There is no harm of backlash, making it as safe as the charm it counters.

Now, on to your assignments for the day! You have a small introduction extra credit assignment as well as a quiz to complete today. Thank you all for your wonderful effort and I look forward to seeing you next class!

Image credit: HP Wiki, Live Science, Experience Ancient Egypt

Year One of Charms presents an overview of the basics of spellcasting. Beginning with essential wizarding laws and touching briefly upon wandlore, we then discuss the components that are present within spells. Along the way you’ll learn of and practice the basic spells that all beginning witches and wizards should know. We’ll explore how such basic spells as the Severing Charm, the Levitation Charm and the Sunlight Charm demonstrate these fundamental aspects of spellcasting. Enroll