When Harry Potter first arrived at Ollivander's to purchase his wand he had attempted several with no success.

Harry tried – but he had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr Ollivander.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

And this quote indicating that he had tried so many:

The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

But, when he finally got the wand he was destined for:

Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

It just worked for him, or gave him a sign.

(I apologize, I don't have the actual page numbers for the references)

So my question is this. Why would the wand selection process be so complicated, yet when he disarmed Malfoy the wand worked normally:

Harry looked down at the hawthorn wand that had once belonged to Draco Malfoy. He had been surprised, but pleased, to discover that it worked for him at least as well as Hermione's had done.

Which also points out that he borrowed Hermione's wand versus disarming her, and yet it worked for him.

There are other parts in the series which explain how wands are constantly either stolen, disarmed, or acquired in numerous ways, but they all just seem to work.

According to Ollivander (can't find the quote), the allegiance of a wand can change, which might explain the disarmament of Malfoy. Yet, it doesn't explain the borrowing or purchasing of the wands.

Was it due to Harry's inexperience, or perhaps the wands at the shop realized he was an inexperienced wizard, or is there more do it? Perhaps Ollivander owns the wand and when he sells it, the allegiance changes?

  • Wands that are not your own never work as good as your own. And wands in HP seem to be semi-sentient, so the "warm feeling" was probably a message by the wand that he found the right one. Dec 29, 2017 at 22:23
  • 6
    Don't forget that Harry was a novice when he went to try wands, it's possible more experienced wizards can do at least simple spells using the store's wands. Dec 29, 2017 at 22:31
  • 9
    My theory is that the wands in Ollivander's shop have no owner, and therefore the regular rules of wand allegiance do not apply. The wands then choose their first owner through the process we see in his shop.
    – Kai
    Dec 29, 2017 at 22:48
  • 2
    Since the Ministry places severe restrictions on wand use, I'd guess new wands must stay in demo mode until they're registered with their owners.
    – Gaultheria
    Dec 29, 2017 at 23:14
  • 8
    How exactly did Ollivander’s wands not work for him? He didn’t know any magic at all at the time, and all he did was hold the wands in his hand and wave them around a little, so of course they didn’t do anything (except in the movies where they did all kinds of random nonsense). If he’d actually known what to do with them and tried to do it, they probably would have worked, if not ideally. When his wand chooses him, he immediately feels the bond, and both he and the wand react instinctively, channelling some of Harry’s magic through the wand. Dec 29, 2017 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


When a witch or wizard first buys their first wand, they have no real experience with their magic. They do not know how to use their magical ability, nor do they know how to use the wand as a focus for it.

When they find a well-matched wand, it accepts their magic easier than a wand that is a poor match. It feels like a part of them because it almost is - it matches very nicely with their magic, which is how their magic can flow into it. They can't cast any spells yet (except for people like Hermione, who have already learned some magical theory by reading ahead) but they can produce sparks.

Once their education is under way, they have learned how to project their magic into a wand. This is why Charms starts with such simple spells as lumos - the students learn how to push magic into their focus by doing so. Once they have learned this, using a wand that isn't well matched is significantly easier, even though it doesn't accept their magic as easily (the feeling referenced in the books as the wand resisting them).

It's entirely likely that a wizard or witch who had lost or broken their wand could go into Ollivander's, grab a wand off of the shelf at random, and cast with it just fine. But, as we see in Book 7, a well-matched wand will always be easier to cast with and will always produce stronger results.

  • 6
    At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, if you want to forego the whole "choosing a wand" nonsense, you can just go to 'Wands by Gregorovitch' store and get one off-the-peg to your specifications; scifi.stackexchange.com/a/171977/20774
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2017 at 0:20
  • 3
    Also note that a wand can be made specifically for a witch or wizard, as Ollivander did for Luna in Hallows, apparently with good results. Dec 30, 2017 at 0:36

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