By an "anonymous" spell, I mean one that a wizard casts to do something, but is not really named or permanent in any way. All the spells we see in the books have an associated word that must be spoken (or thought, in the case of nonverbals), and most have a particular wand movement.

Thinking about it, this is similar to what wizard children do subconsciously (except Voldemort, who learned to control it), but I'm thinking a full, powerful, controlled spell.

So, can wizards in the Harry Potter universe do such things? Is this what Dumbledore does? Is this how Voldemort and Dumbledore were dueling?


3 Answers 3



Harry's wand sent some weird unknown unnamed spell at Voldemort during "Seven Harrys" escape in DH. Harry didn't even know what that spell was, never mind enunciate it, aloud or in his mind. IIRC, it was implied that the control of the spell was not Harry's but the wand's.

Another example is the blood protection magic enacted by Lily when she sacrificed herself for Harry, which protected him from Voldemort. Fully anonymous.

I don't recall other canon information about having improvised lambda spells, but since this is what wizard children do (and disappearing a window of a python cage is a "full, powerful, controlled spell" in my book) it stands to reason that the pronouncing of a specific word or wand movement is NOT required for doing magic. A wand and verbalization helps you increase the quality (more control, more focus, more power) but doesn't exist as prerequisites for casting.

  • 8
    I almost said closure spells, but wasn't sure if the spells can close over an environment they are called in :) Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 4:11
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    Lambda spells were basically the idea I was trying to get across :)
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 4:29
  • "or apparating Dudley" - when was Dudley apparated?
    – user13267
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 2:55
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    Dudley wasn't inside the cage. Dudley and Piers were leaning against the python cage's glass window pane when it suddenly vanished. The snake then came out of the cage, Dudley never went in the cage
    – user13267
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 3:28
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    @user13267: IIRC Dudley was leaning against the glass when it vanished, and with the support gone he fell into the case. I'm not sure if the glass then reappeared. Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 10:19

Harry's wand sent some weird unknown unnamed spell at Voldemort during "Seven Harrys" escape in DH. Harry didn't even know what that spell was, never mind enunciate it, aloud or in his mind. IIRC, it was implied that the control of the spell was not Harry's but the wand's.

The golden fire that came out of Harry's was merely the result of "magical mecanics" just like twin wands creating the priori incantatem effect, it not a spell but rather a direct result of magical principles. For instance Harry did not suffer from the Crucio curse because HE was the master of the Elderwand.

Dumbledore give a plain and clear explanation: “I believe that your wand imbibed some of the power and qualities of Voldemort’s wand that night, which is to say that it contained a little of Voldemort himself. So your wand recognized him when he pursued you, recognized a man who was both kin and mortal enemy, and it regurgitated some of his own magic against him, magic much more powerful than anything Lucius’s wand had ever performed. Your wand now contained the power of your enormous courage and of Voldemort’s own deadly skill: What chance did that poor stick of Lucius Malfoy’s stand?


I think there is a difference between something being done subconsciously (without conscious thought or decision) and something happening by second-nature. I suspect that non-verbal spells, for wizards on the level of Voldemort and Dumbledore, are second-nature, in that such wizards are so deeply immersed in and at one with their magic. Where one stops and the other begins is hard to pinpoint.

I think Dumbledore's non-verbal spell during the duel with Voldemort in OOTP was indeed an example of this. So other examples I can think of that may possibly be this kind of magic are the Trace and Taboo (no incantation for either, but there are parameters involved that trigger magic to occur. In the case of the Taboo, it's the magical relaying of information; in the case of the Trace, it's a tracking/reporting system of sorts). There doesn't seem to be an incantation for sending a Patronus to deliver a message, as Expecto Patronum conjures a regular shield Patronus. As Death Eaters cannot conjure Patronuses, this messenger capability seems to be for the Order only. In DH, as DVK mentions, there is Harry's wand acting of its own accord against Voldemort in chapter four. And last but not lease there's, of course, the mother of them all: Lily's protective enchantments that she passes to Harry upon her choice to die instead of step aside and let Voldemort kill her son.

NOTE: Yes, the HP Wiki says that the spell Harry used in The Seven Potters against Voldemort was a disarming charm; however, the Wiki is incorrect. The spell is unnamed, but is described as He felt it drag his hand round like some great magnet, saw a spurt of golden fire through his half-closed eyelids, heard a crack and a scream of fury.

  • Can you provide a reference for the statement: Death Eaters cannot conjure patronuses?
    – TGnat
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 23:45
  • Of course! Here you go: Q: Was snape the only death eater who could produce a full Patronus? J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses. the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/… :) Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 0:28
  • Harry also discussed that spell with Dumbledore at King's cross. Wasn't disarming Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 1:24
  • @Slytherincess: Thank you... It's interesting that even Umbridge, while not a Death Eater, yet still a nasty piece of work, could still come up with enough happy thoughts for a respectable patronus while Death Eaters cannot. But it does explain the old joke... How do Death Eaters defend themselves against a dementor attack... By making friends...
    – TGnat
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 2:08
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    @DVK Right, I know. I was preemptively addressing the issue before someone quoted the Wiki at me :) Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 3:55

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