Welcome back to Charms! By now I hope that you have a good idea of what goes into a magical object. Remember the following formula:
Material(s) + Charms and Spells (Forms) = Bewitched Object (Implementation)
Note that Natural Magical Objects such as wands don’t require spells to be applied to them. The wood is from a naturally magical tree and the core is from a magical living being (typically a creature but magical plant cores are also rarely found in antique wands).
In the last lesson we examined Forms in a bit more detail, including one example (the Motion Form that is commonly applied to flying objects). This week we will explore two different types of Forms that determine how magical objects receive the energy they need to function and what is responsible for initiating them.
We have been discussing the Forms used to give different objects their magical properties. This week we will explore the Forms necessary for providing the magical energy the object needs to function and for releasing the magic that has been stored within the object.
The Power Forms are a category of Forms that deal with collecting and storing magical energy. When you cast a spell, your own magic is released and shaped by the spell you are casting to the desired effect. If you cast the Levitation Charm by performing a ‘Swish and Flick’ motion with your wand while saying Wingardium Leviosa and concentrating on an item, you are shaping your magical power to cause the item to levitate. A magical item, however, does not possess the innate, self-replenishing magical energy that a witch or wizard does. Instead, we use spells to mimic this to some degree.
One way magical objects can be powered is by the person using them. The form applied to accomplish this is called the Personal Power Form. When the witch or wizard is near the object, and preferably when they are in direct physical contact, magical energy is exchanged between the user and the object. This energy is used to activate the spells that have been placed upon the object when the user desires. The Deluminator, for example, is a device that can store the light in an area along with having a few other curious properties. However, to activate the device, a witch or wizard must have it in their possession and perform the proper action. If a Muggle or Squib were to come across an object that was powered with the Personal Power Form they would find themselves quite unable to use it. Objects that have this Power Form can usually only be controlled by a single person at once (typically the person that triggered it, see Initiation Forms below).
An object can also be powered by the magic in the surrounding environment. These objects use the Collection Power Form and absorb the latent magical energy in the air to power their effects. This kind of form is typically seen when dealing with objects that have longer-term effects that are always active. An invisibility cloak, for example, can be draped over a chair or other object to obscure it from view regardless of whether or not a witch or wizard is using it. The cars used by the Ministry of Magic employ spells to increase the interior size without increasing exterior size to accommodate an unusually large number of passengers, but if the driver steps out of the car, then the Space doesn’t collapse or crush the occupants. Nearby magical beasts, beings, and flora all help keep these items “charged up” so that their magic remains in effect. Some items use this Power Form to store as much magical energy as possible and then release it all at once, though these are typically cursed items whose potency increases with age.
Other items may only need the power to release their magic once. Pranks, whether used by magic folk on other magic folk or Muggles, usually use the Charged Power Form to store the energy needed to activate their effect at a predetermined time. The power used in these objects is instilled in it at the time of its creation. Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder and Filibuster’s Fireworks are examples of objects that use the Charged Power Form. Examples of objects used against Muggles (in an act known as Muggle Baiting) including biting teakettles, regurgitating toilets, and cursed door-knockers (that knock loudly at random intervals). This Form is relatively easy to apply compared to the other forms, though most are willing to pay a bit of a premium for objects that last longer than a few uses.
In addition to any magical energy requirements, magical objects can have their magic activated in different ways. While some items have continuous effects, most only need to be active while being used. Please note that the term “used” in this sense can mean purposeful action with the item, like writing with a quill or riding a broomstick, as well as unintended use (such as with a regurgitating toilet).
The first Initiation Form we will discuss is the Trigger Initiation Form. This Form causes the magical properties of an object to take effect when the object is touched or pressed in a certain way. Flying broomsticks and carpets use this Form, and it can also usually be found on Muggle Baiting and other prank items. The Headless Hat, a Weasley joke product, causes a person’s head to vanish the moment the hat is put on. In most cases, however, a degree of control is desired, and the Activation Initiation Form is used instead.
The Activation Initiation Form requires speaking a word or phrase, pointing the item in a particular direction, or applying an effort of will to activate the object. The effects are not automatically triggered but require a specific sequence of events and intent. The famed Marauder’s Map, a bewitched bit of parchment, requires that the user touch the map with their wand and say “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” before it will display information about humans at Hogwarts. Another item, the Deluminator, requires the user to direct their attention toward the light they wish to capture, point the Deluminator, and press the button.
Let's compare Triggered and Activated magical objects. A Triggered object lays dormant until some simple condition (it’s touched, a button on it is pressed by anything, it’s opened, etc.) is met, at which point its magic takes effect. An Activated object requires that the user intends to use it and performs whatever action(s) may be required. This could be stating certain words might be necessary or application of concentration or willpower.
The third Initiation Form is known as the Continuous Initiation Form because its magic functions regardless of whether or not some action is performed. Leaving a cat within a wizard tent doesn’t cause the cat to be crushed once the occupants leave. Bewitched figurines, which are lifelike imitations of famous figures or creatures that can move and perform other actions (depending upon the charms used in their construction), don’t stop moving just because someone’s not touching them. Magical artwork is another great example of the Continuous Initiation Form. Magical art requires a complex series of spells with continuous effects to not only give the semblance of reality or life to whatever is within but also to link the painting to the depicted figure and other paintings.
Today we have explored what gives a magic item its power (since magic items, unlike witches and wizards, do not get their power from within). Magical objects have a Power Form applied to them that supplies the required magical energy for the spells laid upon it. The Personal Power Form allows a magic item to receive power from the witch or wizard that is handling it. The Collection Power Form allows a magic item to absorb and store magical energy from its surroundings and nearby living (magical) things. The Charged Power Form allows a magical object to keep a small reserve of energy with which to activate the spells laid upon it at a certain time under certain conditions.
The other concept we explored were the Initiation Forms that determine under what conditions a magical object’s effects occur. We looked at the Triggered Initiation Form in which touch, pressing a button or some other simple physical action causes the item’s effects to occur. There is also the Activation Initiation Form in which an intentional action by a witch or wizard is necessary to operate the item. Finally, we looked at the Continuous Initiation Form in which a magical object is always active.
Our last topic for today is a brief discussion about the difference between Shallow Object Charming and Deep Object Charming. What we have discussed (the Forms applied to magical objects whose effects are long-lasting or which can be activated weeks or months after spells have been laid upon them) is known as Deep Object Charming. The spells are absorbed into the material and the magic does not weaken or dissipate for quite some time.
Shallow Object Charming, on the other hand, is so named because the charms are only loosely applied to the surface. Casting the Softening Charm on a book will cause it to be squishy and easily bendable, but the magic only lasts for a short period of time before it dissipates. With nothing to sustain the magic, the spell feeds off of whatever was supplied when it was cast until it disappears.
To reiterate (and hopefully cement this into your mind), there are three Power Forms. They are Personal, Collection, and Charged. There are also three Initiation Forms. They are Triggered, Activated, and Continuous. The following is a chart that shows an item for each combination of Power and Initiation Form.
Your assignments this week will include a quiz covering information from the last two weeks and a worksheet for this week. You will also have a mandatory journal due, but it will hopefully help you to understand the content covered this week.
Image credit: Tumblr, Harry Potter Wiki