According to Wikipedia, "The Patronus Charm conjures an incarnation of the caster's innermost positive feelings, such as joy, hope, or the desire to survive, known as a Patronus. A Patronus can be viewed as the exact opposite of a Dementor. Even though it embodies all the positive emotions that a Dementor feeds on, a Patronus is conjured as a protector, and is a weapon rather than a predator of souls: Patronuses shield their conjurors from Dementors, and even drive them away. A Patronus 'cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so Dementors can't hurt it.' The conjured Patronus protects the witch or wizard that summoned it, obeys his or her commands, and fades away shortly after it is no longer required.When conjured, a Patronus appears silvery, ethereal, and semi-transparent. Improperly formed Patronuses range from momentary formless bursts of silvery mist, to poorly-defined forms which are easily defeated or quickly dissipate on their own. A full-fledged (or corporeal) Patronus takes on a solid (if somewhat ethereal) fixed animal form that is of great significance to the witch or wizard casting the charm, as it reflects their personality/character."
When Harry Potter first successfully used the Patronus charm to save his godfather, Sirius Black from the awful soul-sucking Dementors, he conjured a stag (his father's animagus). Hermione's Patronus was the otter, and Ron Weasley's Patronus was a Jack Russell Terrier. Albus Dumbledor's Patronus was the Phoenix. According to Wikipedia, the Patronus Charm is simple in theory, but hard to perform properly. The spell requires the use of a wand and the incantation "Expecto Patronum." Presumably specific physical gestures with the wand are also required but they are not mentioned specifically.
The folks at Quizilla devised a little ten-question test for you to take to find out which animal best suits you if you were to summon up a Patronus. You have at least ten choices, which include Hermione's otter, the eagle, raven, tiger, wolf, badger as well as mythical animals such as the unicorn, hydra, wyvern and phoenix. Good to know in these times, don't you think? Go ahead. You know you want to. Do it and see what your Patronus is, then let me know. Mine, as you can see, is the Phoenix. I love that animal. Allthetests.com also runs a quiz to find out what your Patronus would be. I ran it and--guess what?--it came up with the same answer! The Phoenix.
Its etymology is interesting: the Latin word patronus means "protector" or "guardian"or (in archaic Latin) "father" (see patronus). The plural of patronus is patroni, but the plural of the term as coined in the books is Patronuses. The incantation for the charm is Expecto Patronum. The Latin word exspecto, or expecto, means "I watch for", "I await", "I expect", or (more rarely) "I require". A rough translation of the incantation is therefore "I await a protector."
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.