I hope you all enjoyed your Combination Journal exercise from last week. I find that work like that, that places you in a scenario, forces you to think through the situation in a way that a theoretical question can’t. I also hope at least some of you picked up the gauntlet I threw down and researched explosives further for the extra credit assignment. While this kind of extra research will not ever be required, as it will not appear on your examinations, I highly encourage each of you to put forth this extra effort. I think you will find that you have a greater appreciation for the work you do, and also a greater ability to control your spellwork, when you have a deeper understanding of what it is you are actually accomplishing.
Today, we will be narrowing the focus of that explosive energy even further and learning about a localized explosion and how it can be modified; during this discussion I will also explain modifiers a little further and help differentiate a spell modifier from a combination modifier. Then we will end class with a discussion of a different type of spell and the effects it can have on the body if applied for long enough. If you all are ready, we shall begin.
Out with a Bang
Last class, we covered two different explosive spells. The first of them, The Blasting Curse, was the more powerful of the two and is mostly used for major demolition projects or, in the case of Peter Pettigrew, framing your former best friend for murder. The second, the Expulso Curse, is a little more localized and is most often used in duels, since it can effectively be used to help divert attention away and bring down larger chunks of bricks and, when cast with the proper amount of willpower, can bring down the whole of a small wall. In both cases, the result is the same: an internal chemical reaction that causes an explosion.
Today, we will be localizing that effect even more and learning a third spell that can be used to cause an explosion. This spell, generally referred to as the Detonation Hex but is also is known in more nefarious circles as the “Thieves Sidekick,” is meant for smaller targets than the Expulso Curse. When cast normally, you will be aiming for a target such as a lock or a small box that you want opened. The majority of your casting of the Detonation Hex will not be on large walls or even statues.
This is not to say that larger targets cannot be affected by the explosion caused. In 1994, when Harry Potter and Hermione Granger broke Sirius Black out of the North Tower, you may notice that her spell was powerful enough to blast the entire door off its hinges, though the door remained intact. This cast is an example of an emotionally charged spellcast. When you are angry, scared, or experiencing another emotion that increases your adrenaline, you will find that it is much more difficult to control your spellwork. Spells that you normally could only cast with minimal effect will suddenly be more powerful than you have ever cast before. Though it is more difficult to practice, you should learn to keep control of your spellcasting while emotionally charged; it will only be to your benefit when you leave this school to pursue whatever field it is you choose to study.
The second anomalous cast occurred in 1996, when Dolores Umbridge used a modifier to increase the power of the Detonation Hex and broke into the Room of Requirement to apprehend the group known as Dumbledore’s Army. In this incident, she used the spell to completely shatter a doorway, which alone is an impressive feat, but becomes even more impressive considering the magical energy that is contained within the door. This anomalous cast increased the strength of the spell through the use of the Maxima modifier. Maxima, as the name suggests, brings out the maximum strength that a spell possesses. However, this increased strength comes with a cost - which we will cover briefly here, as well as the cost associated with other modifiers in preparation for your O.W.L. exams and information that will be covered if you continue to study DADA at the N.E.W.T. level.
Spell modifiers serve a very specific function. In each case, they enhance the ability of the spell being cast. In some cases, the modifier is specific to a certain spell; for example, the Horribilis modifier can only be applied to the Shielding Charm (a spell we will cover in Year Six, should you continue your studies to the N.E.W.T. level), but other modifiers, such as the Maxima modifier, can be applied to most spells within reason. However, I must caution you that you should not begin applying the Maxima modifier, or any of the other modifiers (descriptions of which you will find on the handout I have placed on your desks), without proper experience and with considerations to some of the limitations.
Even if a spell is not restricted to use with a single spell, such as Maxima and Totalum, it is of critical importance that you not apply these modifiers to spells freely with combative spells. As noted, most of them require an increase in willpower or require you to more strictly control your concentration in order to successfully cast them. However, there is the added danger that, should you not know your limits, you will exhaust yourself faster by applying your willpower to cast spells enhanced to this level. If this would happen, you place yourself at the mercy of whomever you are in combat with and also will need treated for magical exhaustion, a malady we discussed back in our first course together.
As we progress, I will ensure to note any spells that modifiers can be applied to and will expect that you will use your logic and reasoning to apply them as needed. Remember, I am only here to equip you with the tools you will need in order to succeed in the field; it is up to you to learn your limits and apply this knowledge for the greatest effect.
With modifiers covered, we will move into the next spell we must cover, which transitions us away from explosives and into a world of sensory deprivation, which creates new challenges and can offer new strengths if you can hone the required skills.
Hey, Who Turned Out the Lights?
Offensive spells, which have been our focus thus far this term and will continue to be for the rest of the term, do not necessarily require the result of physical harm. Going on the offensive can also involve hindering the abilities of your opponent in some way, shape, or form. One of the best ways to hinder your opponent is to take away their ability to see. If they are unable to see you, it makes it a lot more difficult for them to be able to hit you.
There are several ways that you can limit the vision of your opponent. One way is the cause their eyes pain, which is a spell that we will cover next lesson. A second way is to attempt to blindfold them. The most effective spell to accomplish this is the Blindfolding Spell. Now, this spell is not in the same class of spells as those we have covered previously. The Blindfolding Spell is a transfigurative spell that falls under the class of conjuration, which I have been told you will be learning about next year in your Transfiguration class. Because this is not a skill you have learned, I expect you to have some difficulty with casting this spell initially. Do not be discouraged - you can always come talk to either Professor Mitchell or myself for practice and pointers for a more successful cast.
The reason that the Blindfolding Spell is a conjuration is because the goal of the spell is create a blindfold that covers your opponent’s eyes seemingly from nothing (more on conjuration theory in Transfiguration). This requires a higher amount of concentration than you are used to and will also require a greater amount of willpower because you are trying to force an object into being. The amount of willpower that is required for success depends on the strength of the blindfold you wish to conjure - for example, conjuring a denim blindfold would require more willpower than conjuring a silk blindfold.
This loss of sight, or loss of any of the senses, can initially be disorienting, which is what makes it so effective. But what happens when a person becomes accustomed to not having a specific sense, such as sight? This sensory deprivation actually has an interesting effect that it is worth briefly discussing here.
Most people consider sensory deprivation from the perspective of a person who has consciously been aware of their use of the sense that has been lost and, therefore, is consciously aware of how the loss is negatively impacting their life. However, there is a second category of people who do not fit this. Some people, either at a young age or at birth, do not have full conscious recollection of what it was like to utilize the sense. We will briefly cover both of these categories here, though we will only be scratching the surface of the information out there. For more detailed information, you will have to do more in-depth research on your own; I would also suggest talking to people you may know who are familiar with the field of psychology.
The first group is those who have been consciously aware of their ability to use all of their senses. For this category of people, extended periods of sensory deprivation can be detrimental to their mental health. Extended periods of visual loss, through the use of a blindfold for example, have caused extreme hallucinations - seeing “monsters” or other terrifying images; extended periods of external auditory deprivation, such as when being locked in a sealed room, have resulted in auditory hallucinations that have been described as banshee screeching or a consistent ringing noise. These hallucinations have led many people to be admitted to psychiatric wards and, when permanent, led to more extreme ends.
Then there is the second category of people who have never known what a certain sense has been like. For these people, it is a way of life; they do not know what they are missing and therefore cannot suffer the same types of hallucinations that the first category suffered. In fact, the body of the permanently impaired compensates for their loss. For those who lose their sight, their other senses make up for it; most notably, their hearing becomes stronger and they can hear sounds on a frequency that most people can’t (so be careful what you whisper around a blind person - they will hear you). Some people can even train themselves to use their increased hearing to fully compensate for their lack of sight through echo location, as demonstrated in the following news article from CNN:
On the other side, those who lose their hearing often find that they have “elf-sight,” which means that their vision has strengthened and they can see things at longer distances than normal. Many people who have lost either their sight or hearing are also much more sensitive to touch.
Spell: The Detonation Hex
Incantation: Bombarda (bom-BAR-dah)
Wand Movement: Draw a circle around the target object, then jab your wand at it
Concentration: Moderate, on the intended target. Loss of concentration can result in the wrong target being blown up.
Willpower: Moderate to High
Spell: The Blindfolding Spell
Incantation: Obscuro (ob-SKOO-roh)
Wand Movement: A horizontal slashing motion across the target’s eyes
The inclusion of those spell blocks, as is our standard, means we are just about at the end of our lesson. I hope that you have found this first half of our term interesting and insightful. As we move forward for the rest of this term, we will be covering more information that transcends our magical world and is applicable beyond - at this level, as you prepare for your O.W.L.s, I think you are more than capable of handling some more complex ,real world applicable information. Next class we will be covering more spells that affect the senses. Next class you will also be taking your midterm. For your benefit, I will also be including an optional O.W.L. practice examination that I will talk more about next class.