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There appears to be no consensus on this site regarding wandless magic in HP universe. While answers to many questions (for example, "Are there any spells that a wizard/witch can cast without a wand in the Harry Potter universe?") convincingly argue for wandless magic (of wizards and witches, I mean), I also have responses from well reputed users that wandless magic is not supported by canon.

There are some magical acts which undeniably do not require a wand, like the Animagus transformation. The case of Apparation is again disputed here, but the scene in Half-Blood Prince where it is taught doesn't show the use of wands at all.

But the subject of this question is the possibility of duelling wandlessly. Specifically, can the Disarming Spell be cast wandlessely to expel a wand?

Some wizards are known to use objects other than wands to channel their magic, for instance Moody uses a staff in addition to his wand, according to Wikia. And Ollivander tells Harry in Deathly Hallows the following: “Oh yes, if you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument." (But again one reputed user has commented on this site that she takes it to mean only wands.)

The Harry Potter Wikia seems to give the impression that almost any magic can be performed wandlessely, given sufficient skill and practice. But there is at least one thing that leads to a slight inconsistency when it comes to Expelliarmus.

For, wands switch allegiance when their owners are disarmed even when they are just won, physically or magically)!

Won't the wand support its new master against the inherent magic channeled by its old master, given that it has also 'known' his magic, creating a situation analogous to Lucius's wand breaking in Voldemort's hands against Harry's, as explained by Dumbledore in 'King's Cross'?

Another confusion is, if A disarms B of B's wand and then B disarms A back wandlessely of A's wand, whom does B's wand now owe allegiance to?

The theory expounded in the books suggests the answer A, but now B can pick up his old wand and strike his enemy. Will it now still support A? This confusion remains even if A disarms back using other wands or staff etc., something that could have really happened with Moody using his staff.

Is there a way to settle this question, or resolve these confusions, as the case may be?

(I am not sure this a legitimate question at all for this site.)

  • There are some magical acts which undeniably do not require a wand, like the Animagus transformation. I'm not sure about that. I think Pettigrew used Harry's wand to transform into a rat after they came back to the forest from the Shrieking Shack. the reason he couldn't transform earlier was because they didn't allow him to go near a wand (but I might be wrong, the movie scene might be confusing me) – user13267 Jun 7 '14 at 11:50
  • @user13267 I do not know about the movies, but in the book, Pettigrew seized Lupin's dropped wand to get rid of Ron and Crookshanks, who could seize him even as a rat. In any case, Sirius could not have had a wand when he escaped from Azkaban. – N Unnikrishnan Jun 8 '14 at 8:40
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    “Does animagus transformation require the use of a wand?” was just asked as (the main part of) a new question yesterday (July 31, 2015 at 07:04) at Animagi (Sirus specifically) and wands? – Peregrine Rook Aug 1 '15 at 20:56
  • @user13267 A bit late to the party, but did Sirius have a wand when he animagused in front of all those dementors in Azkaban? – marcellothearcane Sep 2 '17 at 16:51
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    Reads the Question and then starts thinking : what if you wandlessly cast an expelliarmus spell on yourself... – NL628 May 1 '18 at 3:25
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JKR specifically addressed this point in a live chat several years ago:

"You can do unfocused and uncontrolled magic without a wand (for instance when Harry blows up Aunt Marge) but to do really good spells, yes, you need a wand."

Since Expelliarmus is a generally considered a "really good spell", I'd hazard that you'd need a wand to do it, at least in a controllable fashion

In canon, we see multiple instances of the 'Disarming Charm' being cast. At no time is it cast in a "wandless" fashion

  • Not to contradict (or even question) the word of JKR, but I'm having trouble understanding this.  Expelliarmus is easy enough that second-year students can pick it up after hearing / seeing it once, but animagus is hard:  «“… my three friends  …  became Animagi.”  /  …  “It took them the best part of three years to work out how to do it.”»  – Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs)  And yet Sirius could transform while in Azkaban (without a wand). – Peregrine Rook Aug 1 '15 at 20:57
  • @PeregrineRook - The implication is that they learned how to do it (hard) whereas Sirius had a natural ability to do it (easy) – Valorum Aug 1 '15 at 21:23

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