Lesson 3) Partial-Inverse Charms

Last week we discussed inverse charms, or charms with opposite effects that completely undo one another. This week we’ll be discussing partial-inverse charms, or charms that have opposite effects but, as their name suggests, only partially undo each other under some circumstances.

Don’t be alarmed that this lesson is formatted a little differently than previous lessons. New spells will be introduced over the course of the lesson to aid in our discussion of partial-inverse charms.

I will occasionally call inverse charms “complete” or “full” inverse charms in this lesson and others. These are not a formal terms; rather, they help emphasize that two charms are inverses rather than partial-inverses. Feel free to use those clarifying words as needed in your own writing.

Partial-Inverse Charms

Sometimes, charms that look like they should be complete inverse charms cannot undo each other in all circumstances. If one spell cannot undo all primary effects of the other in any instance, you’re left with partial-inverse charms.

Partial-inverse charms are often less useful than their more complete counterparts (negation and full inverse charms), and you may often find yourself wishing that some charms had better counter-charms.

Multiple Partial-Inverses

Remember that one charm can have multiple partial-inverse charms. This is in contrast with the last lesson, where you learned that a charm can only have one full inverse spell. Choosing between multiple possible partial-inverses that all accomplish similar, related purposes can be quite frustrating (or exciting, depending on your perspective). The Unlocking Charm that you learned in Year One, for example, has several possible partial-inverses since it is such a versatile spell. One of its partial-inverses, the Sticking Charm, you also learned in Year One. You’ll learn two others today: the Locking Charm and the Mechanical Locking Charm. All three have purposes opposite the Unlocking Charm, but none are able to undo it completely.

The benefit of having multiple partial-inverses for a given charm is that each may have some primary effects or secondary effects that are particularly useful in a certain circumstance, giving you more control in selecting which effects you’re trying to undo. Remember that there are times where you’ll only want to undo part of a spell, so finding the perfect partial-inverse charm can be very important!

Locking Charm

Incantation: Colloportus (cull-low-PORE-tus)
Wand Movement: Upward semicircle from left to right, ending with wand pointing at target.
Willpower: Moderate.
Concentration: Moderate; Imagine the target door sealing.
Category: Static.

The Locking Charm is used to magically seal doors against ordinary, non-magical intrusion. Increasing the willpower with which you cast the charm will increase the force of the sealing mechanism and may also increase the duration of the spell slightly. Unlike the Sticking Charm, which requires objects to be touching, this spell can be cast on an open door to both close and seal it.

There are are a few key differences between the Unlocking Charm and the Locking Charm that make them partial-inverses rather than full inverses. The former will unlock the door, but will not open it to where it was when the Locking Charm was cast (hence failing to reverse a primary effect of closing the door). The latter is not the only way to re-lock two objects separated with the Unlocking Charm, so it too could fail to restore the object to its original state.

Mechanical Locking Charm

Incantation: Declaustrum (dee-KLAU-strum)
Wand Movement: Clockwise circle that ends with wand pointing at lock.
Willpower: Minimal.
Concentration: Minimal; Visualize the target lock locking.
Category: Static.

The Mechanical Locking Charm is used to activate an existing mechanical lock, however complex that lock might be. In order to cast this charm, the target locking mechanism must be in working condition (or else repaired with the Mending Charm) and any door the lock is attached to must be closed. The spell will then mechanically seal the lock. While the lock need not have a key, it is sealed non-magically in such a way that a key could open it.

One-Way Inverse Charms

In some cases, two charms are classified as partial-inverses because only one of the two spells is able to undo the other in all circumstances. That is to say, there are certain circumstances where the second charm fails to undo the first, but there are no circumstances where the first fails to undo the second. The relationship between these two charms is classified as “one-way inverse” because the charms function as inverses only if cast in a particular order.

With full inverse charms, you could switch the spell order in every scenario (or cast the two charms simultaneously) and still revert the object to its original state, but the same does not hold true for one-way inverse charms. Since one-way inverse charms are not full inverse charms under the strict definition of inverse charms, they are instead a subcategory of partial-inverse charms.

Summoning Charm

Incantation: Accio [optional target name] (AK-key-oh)
Wand Movement: Half-circle starting upward from the right and ending on the left.
Willpower: Medium.
Concentration: Low to high; depends on the proximity of the object. Continue concentrating on the object. Visualize the object you wish to summon. The more specific, the better.
Category: Dynamic.

The Summoning Charm is one of the most interesting charms in a wizard’s arsenal. It allows you to summon an object to you from anywhere in the world, so long as you maintain a clear image of it in your mind. The distance from which you can summon an object depends on your concentration, with further objects requiring more concentration. In practice (i.e. due to human limitations) its range is limited to a few miles. This also means that as the object gets closer, you can slacken your concentration a little. The willpower you put into the spell determines how massive an object you can summon and has a small effect on the speed at which it will come to you.

The spell will even navigate the object around corners and turns as needed. Note that the spell only works on smaller creatures, including small people, though only when they’re visible. Be careful when trying to summon an object you are not in ownership of or are unsure of, as someone else summoning that same object from a different location at the same time might tear it in half.

The incantation for the Summoning Charm is noteworthy as well. Just like the incantation for the Locomotion Charm you learned during Year One, “Accio” can be said with or without the name of the target you wish to summon. Adding the name of the object can help add additional focus to the spell and increase your odds of success, reducing the concentration required. An example of this might be “Accio chewing gum!” for use on trouble-making students — don’t think you’ve escaped my notice just by munching quietly in the back of the room!

Banishing Charm

Incantation: Depulso (deh-PUHL-so)
Wand Movement: Sweep of wand.
Willpower: Medium.
Concentration: Low to high; depends on the proximity of the object. Concentrate on the target object.
Category: Static.

The Banishing Charm is used to push objects away from the caster, usually by sending them hurtling through the air. Some wizards and witches can vary the direction and destination of the object they are banishing by splitting their concentration to include where they’d like the object to land. The Banishing Charm also works on small creatures.

The charm cannot move objects around corners and is very hard to use when the object is out of eyesight. Thus, the Banishing Charm can be fully undone by the Summoning Charm. However, it can only partially undo this charm since in some cases you can summon objects from places the Banishing Charm cannot return them to, making the relationship between the two that of one-way inverse charms.

False Dichotomies

Sometimes it may look as if magic works in defined increments. That is to say, it may look like some charms take an object to one state or another without any possibility of being in-between. Students often make this argument in relation to the Mending Charm — after all, if you have an object that is only slightly broken and use another spell to break it further, wouldn’t the Mending Charm necessarily restore the object to a fully repaired state rather than its partially broken state? However, magic doesn’t usually work in dichotomies like the one described, where it can only be one thing or another.

In fact, the Mending Charm can restore an object to a partially-mended state. If you remember the Mending Charm from Year One of Charms class, you may recall that it requires visualizing the object in its fully repaired state. If you were instead to visualize the object in a partially repaired state… well, that’s the state it would be returned to, since the object, once broken, has no recollection of its “whole” state except that which you provide.

If you wish to practice this, take a piece of parchment and rip it in half. Use the Parchment-Shredding Charm (that you’re about to learn) on both halves to shred them up. Then, cast the Mending Charm on the shredded pieces of paper and visualize them as one full sheaf of parchment. Repeat the experiment, but this time visualize only one half at a time. If you’ve cast your charms properly, you will be left with two halves of a sheet. There is no inherent repaired state, meaning that even the Mending Charm allows you to restore an object partway. Any spell that destroys objects, therefore, can be classified in a one-way inverse relationship with the Mending Charm rather than ordinary partial inverses because the Mending Charm can always restore the object’s original state.

Design made from paper using Parchment-Shredding Charms, Severing 
Charms, and Mending Charms by artist Emma van Leest.

Parchment-Shredding Charm

Incantation: Lacero (LASS-er-oh)
Wand Movement: Jagged zigzag up and down.
Willpower: Minimal.
Concentration: Minimal; Visualize the target object after is has been shredded.
Category: Dynamic.

The Parchment-Shredding Charm can be used to cut parchment or paper up into small strips or slivers of paper (or whatever you visualize the paper looking like after it’s shredded, so long as you can achieve it through cutting). The spell is faster and more efficient than using the Severing Charm if you wish to shred the parchment completely, but it only works on thin objects up to a couple millimeters thick that can be easily cut. Attempting to use it on thicker or denser material will likely just earn you a few shallow cuts on the surface or edges.


You will have only a worksheet today!

Image Credit: Absentia Amended, Rhyme Without Reason, HP Lexicon

We will delve into Intermediate spellcasting this year. We will start with an exploration of Counter-Charms, then move on to Substantive Charms (i.e. charms dealing with thermal and electromagnetic energy and with the three states of matter). The course will be very heavy in spell memorization, covering approximately 30 new spells.
Course Prerequisites:
  • CHRM-301

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