Lesson 4) Invisible Walls and Noisy Alarms

Hello and welcome back to Charms! As I am sure you are all aware of by now, I am Professor Virneburg!  I have been getting some very interesting questions in my email and owl post, so please keep them coming!

So far this unit we have discussed spells that can be used in the home for cleaning, spells to hide your home from Muggles, and spells to keep your home safe from other witches and wizards. We will continue our unit on home protection today by wrapping up our discussion on protection against other magical practitioners. Next lesson we will discuss how to protect your home and yourself should an intruder be present and have a guest lecture from our dear Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Professor Penrose! Next lesson is also the midterm, so start mentally preparing and reviewing your past lessons. Finally, we will wrap up our home protection unit in Lesson Six with a summary of what we have learned and a rather fun essay.

A Muggle alarm system control panel

Now think back to Lesson Two and the essay you wrote. You researched the ways that Muggles protect their homes. One way that many of you brought up was an alarm for the home. In the Muggle world, these alarms may go off when a door opens or a window is broken. They can also detect movement. Once these Muggle alarms go off, typically the alarm company has a call center that contacts the Muggles. They are then asked if they need help. They can either respond that they need help, in which case the authorities will be called, or they can respond that they do not need help. In this case, a safe word is usually stated so that the call center knows the Muggles are not being coerced into saying they are fine when really they are not.

We have something similar in the magical world, though without all the phone calls and safe words. Our alarms also will not summon the authorities. Our magical alarm system is in the form of, you guessed it, a charm! Specifically, the Caterwauling Charm. This charm creates a loud noise, similar to a high-pitched scream, when anyone without permission enters the target area. Due to the excessively loud sound, this spell is best used to cover large areas, like the grounds around a home. The Intruder Charm is best used when the only coverage wanted is the home itself, but we will cover that next week!

One of the most well-known uses of the Caterwauling Charm was around Hogsmeade during the Second Wizarding War. It alerted the Death Eaters that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley had apparated into Hogsmeade. It is rumored to have been used on the grounds of many pureblood family mansions as well, to warn them if any undesirable visitors were present.

Now, the Caterwauling Charm was invented in 1915 by Minny Miribelle. Minny had a rather rambunctious daughter that she suspected would run off at night with one of the local boys. She tried all manner of spells to keep her daughter in the house, but somehow she always snuck out and got back in before Minny noticed. Unable to punish her daughter without catching her, Minny decided she need a way to detect when she was sneaking out. Minny’s sister told her about a donkey she had that would make noise whenever someone entered their property. Living in the city, Minny couldn’t get a donkey, of course, but she had an idea! A charm to indicate when her daughter was leaving the home! And thus, the Caterwauling Charm was born and Minny’s daughter was no longer able to sneak out.

The spell does still see use in this fashion, so please be aware that when you leave the house, your parents just might set it to make sure you meet curfew. Don’t say I didn’t warn you my dears!

Incantation: Tumultum Adux (too-MULL-tum ay-DOOKS)
Wand Movement:  Broad, sweeping arc across the area to be protected.
Willpower: Moderate to strong; Depends on size of area to be charmed.
Concentration: Strong; Determines the volume of sound to be made and who it should alarm for.

The incantation for this spell derives from Latin and roughly means “to bring an uproar.” The incantation makes sense based on what the spell does, does it not? I am sure you are familiar with the wand movement, willpower, and concentration since this is not the first protective enchantment we have covered this year. If you are not seeing the pattern yet, I urge you to look back at the previous spells we have learned, just to double check and see if you can sort it out.

While an alarm is nice to have, sometimes it is also nice to have a way to keep people out completely. There is, naturally, a spell for that too! It is not a perfect or foolproof charm, but it is good in a pinch. I have actually used this spell in order to delay my parents so I could tidy up my home! More on that later of course. The Barrier Charm creates a magical barrier around an area that will not allow anyone in. You can see why this would be helpful, but also a bit of a hindrance. The spell will not allow any person to come through the barrier, no matter their relation to the person who cast the spell. It is not impenetrable, but it will delay someone from entering your home should they choose to take the barrier down themselves.

The spell is the precursor of the Blocked Barrier Charm, which you have all encountered when boarding the Hogwarts Express. The Blocked Barrier Charm guards a single portal or doorway and allows certain individuals to enter, like the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10! Can you see how these spells are related to one another, and how one could have given way to the other? The Blocked Barrier Charm is a rather tricky bit of magic so we won’t be reviewing it today, however I encourage all of you to do your own research about any spell that interests you. Just don’t try to perform any magic you have not learned in your courses without first speaking to me, for your safety.

Back to the Barrier Charm! As stated, the Barrier Charm creates a barrier around the target area that no one can enter. You can exit the barrier, but once you leave the protected space you will not be able to re-enter.

Incantation: Saeptum (sayp-TOOM)
Wand Movement: Wand above your head pointed up, move in a wide circle.
Willpower: Moderate; Determines how impenetrable your barrier will be before it is broken down
Concentration: Strong; Determines area of coverage both in size and location.
Category: Static

The incantation, as you have likely guessed, comes from Latin. It translates to “barrier,” which makes sense since this spell creates a barrier. Now, how much you concentrate does determine how strong your barrier is, but this will never create an impenetrable barrier no matter how strong your concentration is. This is one of the flaws of this spell that we spoke about earlier. This barrier can be broken down with the Unlocking Charm! It can also be broken down if hexes or other dark spells are cast at it, and cannot withstand any curses. Curses will pass directly through the barrier, so do not count on the barrier for protection from magic. This spell is really only good for delays, as I previously noted. Because the intruder will need to pause to break down the barrier, you are given enough time to apparate away or prepare a Stunning Spell or other defensive spell, which we will discuss next lesson. The other flaw of this spell is that no one can enter, regardless of if the caster wants them to enter their home or not, which is simply inconvenient.

Not every spell is a perfect solution, unfortunately, but thankfully every spell helps us out in some way! Now this week we do have a worksheet to do but no required essay. I want to give you ample time to study for your midterms, but I also want to give the ambitious of you a little optional assignment, so there will be an extra credit essay! These will not be common this year, so please take advantage of it if you want the extra points.

Have a fantastic week of courses! I look forward to seeing you all next lesson.

Image credit: AlarmFac, Film and Travel,

Charms Year Five will discuss more practical areas of spellcasting that can be used on your home. We will discuss ways of keeping your home safe as well as touch upon methods of keeping yourself safe from intruders. We will end the year discussing methods of keeping yourself hidden in the Muggle world and touch upon some more advanced spellcasting. This year of Charms aims to prepare you for your OWLs at the end of the year.
Course Prerequisites:
  • CHRM-401

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