Lesson 7) Categories of Spells

Good afternoon class! The end of First Year is near, so please take good notes to ensure your final goes as smoothly as possible. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Today we will be exploring the two categories spells fall into.

Spell Categorization

You may be wondering what spell categorization means and why we do it. The category that a spell falls into is based on the concentration and the end product and desired effect of the spell. All spells are organized into two groups: static or dynamic. But why do we categorize spells this way?

The idea of categorizing spells came about at a Spellwork Convention in 2016. Many witches and wizards from all around the world attended this convention, including professors from Hogwarts! Yours truly was there with former Professor Filius Flitwick to sit in and learn about the new reforms in fact! It was at this convention that the two categories were hammered out and the beginning of spell categorization began. After this lesson, you will start to see spells with classifications added to the spell block listing the components occasionally. I urge you to consider why a spell is categorized the way it is before casting, as it can make the process much easier for you.

Static Spells

Think of the easiest spell you have cast yet this year. A spell that was so simple, all you had to do was say the words and it worked. Many of you are likely thinking of Lumos, or the Wand-Lighting Charm. This is the perfect example of a static spell. Static spells are defined by Educational Decree Number 13 as “spells wherein one no longer has influence over the condition of the target once the casting has finished.” What this means is that static spells are spells that, once cast, have an immediate effect that you cannot change until the spell is complete. These spells require no prolonged concentration. Examples of these spells would be the Wand-Lighting Charm, Rocket Charm, and the Fire-Making Charm.

Dynamic Spells

Now I want you to think of a more difficult spell you cast this year. One that required you to continue to think about what you wanted while you were doing it. Some of you may be thinking of the Levitation Charm, which requires that you continue to think about the object that you are levitating and what it looks like when it is in the air. Dynamic spells are defined by Educational Decree Number 13 as “spells wherein the caster may maintain some connection to and/or influence over a target, even long after the casting has been completed.’ This means that dynamic spells are spells ones where you must maintain a flow of concentration with the spell in order to keep the spell going. A loss of concentration before the spell is complete will result in--you guessed it-- an incomplete spell! Some examples of dynamic spells are the Mending Charm, the Severing Charm, and the Fire-Making Charm.

Wait a second, Professor Virneburg! You just said the Fire-Making Charm is a static spell. What gives?

Good question! There are some spells that can fall into both categories depending on the effect that you want. The Fire-Making Charm is a fantastic example of this. As you learned a few lessons ago, the Fire-Making Charm is able to ignite some target that you concentrate on. This would be a static use of this spell, simply igniting a target. However, we also learned that a jet of flames can be conjured. This would be a dynamic use of this spell, because you are making a continuous effect. There are other spells that work similarly, like the Severing Charm we will be learning about next!

The Severing Charm

Incantation: Diffindo (deef-IN-doe)
Wand Movement: V-Shaped down and up, ending with a swish in the direction to cut.
Willpower: Low
Concentration: Moderate; The place to cut and depth of the slice
Category: Dynamic

The Severing Charm, invented at some point in the 1400s by a seamstress named Delfina Crimp, allows the caster to precisely cut the target they are focused upon. The caster should finish saying the spell while performing a swish in the direction of the cut. At this point, the spell is cast, and the target is cut along the desired path.

Of course there are many possible mishaps that can occur. The simplest is, of course, that nothing happens. The thing you are attempting to cut may also be only partially severed. In this case, you may have to cast the spell again to finish the job. Your cut could also be a bit ragged as the magic tears through the material rather than severing it.

In other cases, you may accidentally cut something you had not intended. If your goal was to precisely cut a single flower stem, you might find that you have instead sliced all of its neighbors, if you aren't careful. If you are attempting to cut a piece of cloth, you might find that you've also cut into the material behind or underneath it. For these reasons it's best to practice this spell in an open area where a mistake means that you've cut neighboring blades of grass and not chopped up your clothing or walls.

With practice it gets easier to determine precisely where to cut, how deep, and how to prevent unintended items from being cut. It's worth noting that this spell isn't nearly as effective against animals and other such complex life forms. Despite appearances, living things are made of layers and layers of very small moving things called cells, and the magic of this charm does not interact well with them.

You can chop down trees or cut plants because their cells are very slow-moving and relatively simple. You may be able to give someone a scratch or papercut, or perhaps even something a little deeper, but doing serious harm with this spell requires years of practice and by that time it is easily overcome with a Shield Charm.

The Softening Charm

Incantation: Spongify (SPUHN-jee-fye)
Wand Movement: S-Shape
Willpower: Moderate
Concentration: Moderate;The target object
Category: Static

The Softening Charm temporarily modifies the properties of the target object, making it a bit squishy and slightly bouncy like some plush toys, but not soft the way a stuffed animal is. The object grows slightly lighter in weight, but it's closer to the consistency of a rubber ball than anything else. If cast upon a book you could sink your finger into the cover a bit or throw it on the ground and watch it bounce back up a little, but the cover still feels like a book cover if you run your hand lightly across it.

This spell is much less devastating than the Severing Charm can be if improperly cast. An improper Softening Charm will usually (instead of only occasionally) result in nothing happening. If you don't give the spell enough charge when casting, you may find that the charm wears off almost instantly or that the item you are attempting to soften is only very slightly softened and doesn't bounce when dropped; it will also lose its softness far more quickly.

The charm is also useless against living matter. Attempting to cast it upon a living thing causes nothing to happen to their living cells, though hair, nails and fur might be a little softer for a short time. Other materials, depending upon their hardness and density, may remain unaffected as well.

Metal and stone typically don't "absorb" the magic well enough for a noticeable effect, though an accomplished witch or wizard may be able to temporarily soften these materials if strong enough willpower is applied (depending upon the material, some cannot be softened at all by this charm). Such things are beyond most students of any grade at Hogwarts, however.

That’s all for today students! You will have a worksheet to complete today as well as your Lesson Six and Seven journal entries to turn in. There is also another extra credit assignment where you can pick a few spells and categorize them! If you have any questions, as always, feel free to contact me. See you all next week!

Image credit: HP Wiki

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