Lesson 6) Air Charms
Huzzah! Congratulations on completing your midterm! I was highly impressed with the quality of work I saw and your eagerness to complete it. We are now moving into a new set of concepts relating to the natural world around us based on an understanding of the elements that started two thousand years ago, though with a modern twist. That said, your understanding of counter-charms and other material you’ve already studied will remain relevant throughout the second portion of this year.
As I’m sure you’ve learned over and over in other classes, everything around us is composed of tiny particles – atoms, molecules, and ions, though you don’t need to know the differences – that come together to form what we observe as matter. The way these particles come together defines the state of the matter: gas, liquid, solid, or plasma. Each state of matter has its own unique properties that we will discuss in due course, but in general, gas and plasma are packed together most loosely while particles in a solid are packed together tightly.
Even the light visible to many of us and the heat we experience are the result of elementary particles called photons. While photons do not have mass and are NOT matter, they are particles themselves and responsible for the transfer of electromagnetic energy (light) and thermal energy (heat) between mass particles.
The study of substantive charms deals with the manipulation of particle organization on a macro scale. That is to say, the magic we will be learning changes the way mass or energy behaves by changing its interaction on a particle level. You all, however, should focus more with the end result of the spells than the particulars of how they function. You can consider substantive charms to be charms that manipulate the structure of gases, liquids, solids, or plasma and energy. Note that we aren’t ever changing the actual atoms or molecules of our target into different ones, as that would be alchemy or transfiguration. We’re simply changing the way they’re organized.
substantive charms are sometimes called elemental charms because they deal with the four elements known in Classical times (that we talked about last lesson), namely air, earth, water, and fire. We’ve simply expanded each term to deal more broadly with states of matter and with energy.
Without further ado, we turn our focus to “air” (gas) charms.
Gases are the loosest state of matter. Gas molecules essentially float freely without much organization to them. They are constantly in motion, and will exert a force we call “pressure” when squeezed together. The more tightly they are forced together, the more pressure they exert.
Gases exist at higher temperatures. If you have a liquid you wish to turn into a gas, heating it past a certain temperature will cause it to boil, transforming it from a more tightly packed liquid into a freely floating gas. If you’ve ever boiled water (and you all have in Potions class), you’re familiar with its boiling process. Once you’ve heated it sufficiently, bubbles of gaseous water start to form at the bottom of your container and rise to the top, letting out steam. Water boils at 212°F (100°C). Other substances boil at different temperatures.
The spells you will learn (or relearn) today deal with the manipulation of gases. Gases present a particular difficulty because many are invisible, and you cannot focus on or “visualize” that which you cannot see. Instead, we focus on the feeling of the gas and any accompanying noise the spell makes. For students with visual impairments, this will be quite normal, so you’ll have an advantage in learning to cast many air charms!
Incantation: Marum Aeris (ma-RUE-m ay-ree-IS)
Wand Movement: Hold the wand straight out in front of you and flick it a little to the right
Willpower: Low to high.
Concentration: Moderate; Continue focusing on the feeling and sound of air moving forward past you. Imagine the feeling and sound of air moving forward past you.
The Air Charm (a very creative name) pushes air away from your body in the direction your wand was pointing before the flick, which should be forward. The strength of the resulting gust of wind and the distance it will go from the caster depends on the willpower you put into the spell, while its duration is the result of sustained concentration.
For those of you curious as to how this spell works, it is fairly straightforward. It pushes the air molecules in the direction your wand was pointing forcefully depending on the willpower you put into the spell, and continues to do so as long as more air fills the vacuum.
Incantation: Depressi Tonitruo (de-PRESS-ee ton-ih-TROO-oh)
Wand Movement: Bring together wand hand and other hand (or other part of your body) together, with wand pointed in target direction.
Willpower: Medium to high.
Concentration: Moderate; Imagine a very loud sound and attempt to focus on the target location of air.
The Thunderclap Charm brings air together forcefully in a location, creating the sound of a thunderclap, though a clap not nearly as loud as the one you might hear in a thunderstorm. Do NOT use this charm against living creatures, as the force of the air can cause damage, particularly to eardrums. Please practice in the Practice Hall or an empty classroom, as this charm will be irritating to others in the vicinity.
For those who are curious, the charm displaces the air at the target location and simultaneously pushes air in from all sides, creating a low pressure zone that is then rapidly filled with a sound like clapping.
Incantation: Spissatio Aeris (spi-SA-ti-oh air-IS)
Wand Movement: Move wand in a circle away from your body and downward then back around upward and toward your body.
Willpower: Moderate; Must overcome the natural desire of the water to remain in gaseous form.
Concentration: Strong; Continue focusing on the feeling and sound of air moving forward past you. Visualize water dripping at the target location.
The Condensation Charm changes the organization of the water vapor particles at the target location, causing them to condense and become liquid water so long as you maintain your concentration. It does not change the actual temperature of the particles themselves, so the moment you release your concentration the substance will likely revert to its previous gaseous state.
Just a worksheet today! Enjoy!
Image credit: Splash Classics, Peter Cox