I tend to avoid making sweeping generalizations about what makes someone a real witch or not, but straight up if you haven’t gone onto Pottermore.com and taken the brand new OFFICIAL test to discover your Patronus I just really question your commitment to the WITCH lifestyle. I mean, “watch Harry Potter movies (even without a child present)” is one of the benefits right on our union card.
In all seriousness, Pottermore.com the official source of all things Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling recently unveiled a new feature on the popular website that allows you to do a small word association test and be presented with a Patronus.
and that’s it.
That’s the whole experience.
You go in, get some vague instructions and are launched into this quick game and presented with a random creature (no, I do not necessarily mean animal) with no explanation of why you got that or what it means. Though this is par for the course as far as hyped up disappointment goes for Pottermore, it is much different from the tests that present you with your house (Hufflepuff, duh) and wand (cypress wood with a Phoenix feather core 14 ½” and Slightly Springy) which then offer an expert and silly explanation of the meaning. Not so for the Patronus.
Then came the added disappointment and confusion of getting the Ed Hardy of Patronus animals. When I saw other people were getting cool animals or even MYTHICAL CREATURES I was pretty bummed. I’ve never been one for birds, though of course I love old-fashioned tattoos and therefore have swallow-shaped earings and some other decorative things about my house. Honestly I didn’t realize I had quite so many around. CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER AM I RIGHT?
So I decided that if Pottermore wasn’t going to tell me why my greatest protection talisman was this crappy bird, I’d have to find out for myself. To the restricted section!
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about and think I’m a nerd, The Patronus Charm is a spell from the Harry Potter franchise that fights off a creature called a Dementor, which feeds of happiness and happy memories, bringing to light all of your worst ones. J.K. Rowling, the author, has said many times that the patronus fighting these dark creatures is an allegory for her battles with anxiety and depression. The spell materializes as a ball of light in the shape of an animal that attacks and wards off the dementors. Every witch or wizard’s Patronus takes the shape of a different animal – sometimes the animals match their personality (ok, usually) and sometimes they match the patronuses of others with whom they had a strong connection. This makes The Patronus a really perfect cross over between the world of pop-culture and the real world. I’ve seen more than one person online suggest witches of Non-Native American descent to approach the subject of a spirit animal or animal talisman as a patronus, rather than taking from native american culture without asking. As someone who absolutely is as big of a nerd as you think I am, I love this idea.
If you’re looking for info about magical animals and the magic OF animals, your first stop after a frustrating google search that is just the link to buy Animal Speak by Ted Andrews on Amazon 15,000 times is to buy Animal Speak by Ted Andrews from Amazon using THIS link so I make 60 cents off your purchase. Thanks friend. Animal Speak is maybe not a book you can read cover to cover, but when it comes for relatable and easy to understand magical information about animals, this is an amazing start. I’m assuming if you’re reading this that’s not a subject you’re already well-versed in. It’s an awesome reference book for situations like this.
Right away the swallow is associated with “protection and warmth for the home, and proper perspective” and I have that really annoyed feeling I’m sure many witches are familiar with. That soft chuckle from the universe that says “duh girl I did this on purpose” that reminds you of your mom for some reason. This summer I’ve gone through a big change at home that’s left me feeling a little out of sorts, but overall really good. I’m liking the changes I see in myself and my life because of this change. The rest of the section on swallows basically describes my life, because of course it does. It reinforces the very real situation I find myself in where everything irritates me and in turn I irritate everyone else. Being unemployed while living with depression and anxiety is a bit too much to deal with along with a big change at home and I’ve been lashing out and bugging and nagging people around me for months. In turn I’ve had people turn into pests in real life and online until it felt like an infestation. A swallow eats those insects and clears them from your home and space. According to Ted “the swallow will often show up when you are allowing yourself to rehash old issues and problems and not move on. It`s an indication you need some perspective.” Thanks, Ted.
The main problem I found with this explanation is that as amazingly specific to me as it is, it doesn’t seem like a permanent state of being. Your patronus doesn’t change, on the website or in the literary masterpiece that is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I can already hear that soft chuckle right behind me. Birds in general are symbols of thought and intuition, they often bring signs and omens from the universe or from gods and are associated with freedom, creativity, and self-love. As a symbol it can often remind people that being grounded is great but that it’s important to take flight sometimes and just cruise.
And all of those old-fashioned tattoos of swallows? According to the man himself Sailor Jerry via his website, “In addition to indicating that a sailor had sailed 5000 miles, swallows are also associated with the idea of return. This “return” symbolism is rooted in two ideas. The first was the swallow’s famous migration pattern, always returning home to San Juan Capistrano. Second, it was believed that if a sailor dies at sea, birds carry his soul home to heaven.” Swallows are the ULTIMATE TRAVELING COMPANION. I’m already composing travel related spells with swallow imagery in my head.
Now how do I use this?
Incorporating your patronus into your magical life or practice is as easy as researching the meaning and holding that feeling inside for when you need it. You can also try getting acquainted with the animal if it’s not a hippogriff or basilisk or komodo dragon and consider this type when looking for a familiar. Sure black cats and mysteriously stoic ravens are cool; but rats, jack russel terriers, and groundhogs are unique. Even finding a feather on the ground can help you incorporate that specific energy. You can do what I did and start wearing a physical representation of your patronus like earrings or a shirt, you cn make some art for your home, or find decorations that are pre-made. According to Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst birds represent freedom, lightness, joy, dreams, messages from the divine, the elements of air and thoughts and ideas. They contribute positive energy to multiple areas of your home if you practice fengshui, and make great totems for suitcases to help with swift travel and a safe return home. Of course getting a tattoo of your patronus is a fun idea that can make it look very magical and special to you.
You can also see your Patronus as an omen. Mine really was specific to my current situation, but it definitely has a broader message that I can use in my mundane life and my magical one. Animal Speak says more than once that swallows are a message to break from the mundane and take flight into something more fun and mystical, which is a pretty serious message for a witch to get out of a confusing internet quiz.
What’s your official Patronus? Have you done any research on its magical application or symbolism?
If your animal is mythical, Animal Speak won’t do you much good. I’d start with the Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Catlin Matthews.