Lesson 3) Boom Goes the Dynamite

Welcome back, students. I am sure that you will all be thrilled to hear that, today, we will move past the heavy theoretical work and begin again with spellwork. You will need your wands from here on out. Today, we will be covering two spells, analyzing how they work individually, and, of course, looking at how they can work in combination with previously learned spells. Due to the nature of these spells, and how similar they are, it is unlikely that you will ever use them in combination with each other. With that, let us dive into our first spell, the Blasting Curse.

The Blasting Curse

The Blasting Curse is an extremely popular curse with an explosive effect. I mean this quite literally, as the effect of the Blasting Curse, when cast correctly, causes the target to explode. The Blasting Curse, generally, is the more aggressive of the two variants that we will learn today and is used to cause the most amount of damage - it has been known to take out large chunks of wall. This spell has been used quite frequently throughout history, having several notable uses that need to be covered before we can begin discussing the actual casting of the spell.

The origins of this curse are unknown. There have been many variants of this spell, including the spell that we will be covering later this lesson, so the origin of this specific curse is difficult to trace. We do know, for a fact, that the curse has existed since at least 1430 C.E., since the curse was used as an Ultimo that won Alberta Toothill the All-England Wizarding Duelling Championship. Alberta was known to be an aggressive duelist and used no defensive spells in her duel - the only defensive tactic she used was dodging her opponent’s spells. When the duel ended and Alberta was declared the victor, it took a team of healers several days to stabilize Samson Wiblin, whose entire arm got blown off.

A more recent use, and one that is more well known, was the use of the Blasting Curse by Peter Pettigrew to frame Sirius Black for murder. After the Potters were attacked by Tom Riddle on Halloween night in 1981 - leaving James and Lily dead, and Harry with a cursed scar - Sirius was devastated. He acted upon his emotions, leaving Harry in the care of Rubeus Hagrid and Albus Dumbledore while he himself went to seek revenge on the rat who had betrayed the Potters. After a long search, he finally cornered Pettigrew in an alleyway.

What Sirius had not planned for was Pettigrew to have planned ahead. Rather than being a snivelling coward, Pettigrew began making loud accusations that Sirius had betrayed the Potters. Sirius was confused and Pettigrew used that moment of confusion to his advantage, casting the Blasting Curse to destroy the alley and then used the Severing Charm to cut off his own finger - a feat that only a powerful wizard could have accomplished. What remained was a finger to prove that Pettigrew was dead and Sirius Black, laughing like a maniac. Sirius was taken to Azkaban and incarcerated immediately without a trial.

That example, in particular, demonstrates the destructive power of the Blasting Curse. Due to the amount of destruction that this spell can cause, the amount of concentration that will be required is high. You must be in complete control of the destruction that you want to cause, otherwise the destruction will take control itself and destroy a much larger space than intended. Some people will intentionally take advantage of the uncontrollable side of the Blasting Curse to bring down entire walls and blast the shards in all directions - it is believed that this curse is the curse that blew up the Hogwarts wall when Fred Weasley died in the Battle of Hogwarts. Therefore, I must caution all of you not to use the Blasting Curse until you are fully sure that you can control it. That is where the Expulso Curse comes in, as it is easier to control and will give you practice controlling the destruction.

The Expulso Curse

The Expulso Curse is intended to be cast on a much smaller scale than that of the Blasting Curse. Rather than trying to destroy an entire building, the Expulso Curse would be used to destroy a medium sized object. Some of the most notable uses of this spell include Antonin Dolohov using it in the café Harry, Ron, and Hermione rested at after fleeing the Weasleys. Dolohov used the spell in order to destroy a table that Harry was hiding behind, the force of which pushed Harry backwards into the wall.

This second part, the spell’s force knocking Harry backwards into the wall, is another aspect of the spell that makes it unique from the Blasting Curse. Had Dolohov used the Blasting Curse, not only would the table that Harry was hiding behind have been destroyed, but Harry would have been destroyed as well. Under normal circumstances, this spell would not have been chosen; however, Dolohov had strict instructions to bring Harry to Tom Riddle alive.

When thinking about the components of spellcasting, it is still important to remember that concentration is critical to the success of the cast. Though the target that you are aiming at will be smaller and therefore easier to concentrate on, you still cannot let your thoughts roam or you may unintentionally destroy another target.

In order to clarify the difference between situations where you would use the Blasting Curse and situations where you would use the Expulso Curse, I want you to think of a building. Inside of this building, there are rooms. Now, you want to bring down one of the walls that make up this building. If you wanted to bring down one of the exterior walls, one that makes up the external structure of the building, you would want to use the Blasting Curse (the spell is often used in the demolition of buildings and other structures); if you wanted to bring down one of the interior walls, one that helps make one of the rooms inside of the building, you would want to use the Expulso Curse.

This is My Boomstick!

Knowing what the spells do is important, but as we proceed forward, it will be just as important for you to know how the spells work. From here on out, where possible, we will be taking time to analyze the how, which sometimes will include basic scientific explanations.

Explosions, which are, effectively, what we are looking at when we talk about the Blasting Curse and the Expulso Curse, are a sudden change in the potential energy of the particles within a structure to work (in this case, work is defined as the effect of a force moving an object). In the case of an explosion, the work is done by a shockwave that travels through the affected object and forces the particles away from each other, causing rapid movement - the movement causes the pressure within the object to build and, when the pressure becomes too extensive for the object to hold, the explosion occurs. The energy used to create the pressure within the objects can come in three different forms: nuclear, chemical, and physical.

Though nuclear and chemical explosions are extremely interesting, and I highly recommend looking into them if this subject piques your interest, the type of explosion we see occurring when both the Blasting Curse and the Expulso Curse are cast is a physical explosion. This type of explosion does not require any type of molecular reaction to occur the way nuclear and chemical explosions do, but can occur in any kind of object as long as it has a solid structure.

A physical explosion does not occur as frequently, if at all, in liquids and will never occur in gases. However, liquids and gases can be the cause of a physical explosion. All that is required is some kind of energy that creates pressure. In your Potions class, you may have heard about this in terms of storing liquids properly, lest they react poorly to the stimulus. In that case, you would have a combination of a chemical explosion and a physical explosion - the chemical explosion occurs due to the thermic energy released and the physical explosion occurs to the increased pressure within the storage unit, which presses outward until the container can no longer withstand the pressure.

In the case of the Blasting Curse and the Expulso Curse, the blast from the spell creates a shockwave that goes through the target. The shockwave creates molecular movement, without any type of reaction, that increases the pressure within the target object - whether it be stone, wood, or another material. As the pressure increases within the material, the strain eventually builds up to a boiling point, which ends in the explosion of the target. This is part of the reason why there are different levels of explosive spells - the different spells will create shockwaves with different strengths and therefore different capabilities of increasing pressure.

Spell Blocks

As with all previous terms, you can find your spell blocks here. Unlike previous terms, you will notice that not as much information is provided. I will only provide the absolute basic information. More detailed information, such as what you should concentrate on, will not be provided and will need to be filled out on your own. These spells will come up on essays, and your O.W.L.s, so it is critical that you take this seriously.

Spell: The Blasting Curse
Concentration: High
Willpower: Moderate to High
Incantation: Confringo (con-FRIN-go)
Wand Movement: Point wand at target

Spell: The Expulso Curse
Concentration: Moderate
Willpower: Moderate to High
Incantation: Expulso (ex-SPUHL-so)
Wand Movement: Point wand at target

And that brings us to the end of the lesson. Next class, we will continue with our destructive path and look at another variation of explosion that is even more focused than these two; we will also look a little more closely at Offensive/Defensive Combinations and how they can function. Until next time.

τάξη απέρριψε

Defense Against the Dark Arts Year Five takes your education to a new level as we prepare for you O.W.L. examinations. We begin to cover offensive spell theory, covering concepts such as the structure of Combination Spellcasting, the technique and practice behind casting without the wand movement, spells that are most commonly cast offensively, and creatures that require offensive tactics in order to defend yourself against. We also will be covering more practical information that delves into the background of what we are learning. By the end of this term, you will be ready to sit your O.W.L. examinations. Enroll