I am among the many Harry Potter fans who have taken the patronus quiz since the Pottermore website published it on September 22nd, 2016. Going into it I knew that, depending on my answer, my patronus could be anything from a hare to a black bear. So imagine my excitement- and surprise- when I got a black and white cat, the same exact kind of cat as my cat- Twinkle toes. But what exactly is a patronus? And why did I get a patronus that matches my adorable Twinkle Toes?
Well, the actual spell “Expecto Patronum” means “I expect a protector” in latin. The word Patronus, refers to the misty figure which is conjured, and means protector.
In the wizarding world of Harry Potter, a patronus is magical light which can be conjured to protect a witch or wizard from dementors, the dark guards of the wizarding prison Azkaban. More advanced witches and wizards can create a corporal patronus, where this magical light takes the shape of an animal which represents something about its creator.
In the Harry Potter Series, the patronus and dementors are used as a juxtaposition between good and evil. A patronus is warm light made up of your happiest memories and strongest feelings, and the animal often takes the shape of something near and dear to your heart. Dementors on the other hand are faceless cloaked figures who force everyone in their presence to remember the worst experiences of their life and will literally destroy your soul if you give them the chance. The only way to defeat a dementor is to defend yourself against their darkness using a patronus made up of light and joy.
Every witch and wizard’s patronus is unique to them. In the books Harry’s patronus is a stag, the same as his father’s, who died protecting him. The similarities were so striking that Harry first thought that it was his father’s, but obviously not all characters have a paternal connection to their patronus. Some wizards have a patronus with a romantic connection, like Tonks, whose patronus takes takes the form of a werewolf, representing her husband Remus Lupin. Not every witch or wizard has a very deep connection to their Patronus. For example, Dolores Umbridge demonstrates an affection for kittens throughout the books, so it’s no surprise to find that her patronus is a cat. But surely it’s not only villains who have cat patronuses, or else I would be in trouble! Don’t worry, Professor McGonagall also has a cat patronus, the same type as that of cat she can shift into.
Now that we know some of the different meanings a patronus can have, what does my black and white cat say about me? Am I more like Umbridge or McGonagall? Well, I would certainly like to think I’m more calm and thoughtful like McGonagall. Not pretending to be sickly sweet until I get close enough to sink in my claws, like Umbridge. But, I think my patronus is more closely related to my connection to my cat. After all, what animal would I have more happy memories attached to than Twinkle Toes? I can’t think of a better protector!
So how do you find out the form of your patronus? Once you make an account you can start the Pottermore quiz, and you begin a journey through the woods. You are instructed to answer questions on instinct- to feel, not think. As you choose different paths to go down, depending on your answers, your patronus begins to take shape until finally your patronus becomes a creature.
Abby Bainbridge is studying Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations, as a member IU’s class of 2021 and is a writing and content intern in the marketing department at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology. She’s a proud Hufflepuff and spends a little too much time listening to podcasts. As a major Harry Potter nerd, she is super excited for WonderLab’s Night at the Museum: Fantastic Beasts event this Saturday!