The Levitation Charm has the incantation Wingardium Leviosa and is used by witches and wizards to either fly or levitate objects. The caster mutters the incantation and points their wand at the object they desire to levitate. It is one of the first spells taught to the students of Hogwarts. In the Harry Potter series, this charm is taught in the first year to Harry and his classmates by Professor Filius Flitwick. This charm is especially famous in the books because Hermione Granger corrects the pronunciation of Ronald Weasley’s incantation in an iconic scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Other similar charms include the Hover Charm and the Floating Charm.
- Incantation: Wingardium Leviosa
- Creator: Jarleth Hobart
- Year of Creation: 1544
- Type: Charm
- Hand Movement: The shape of 2, tilted 90 degrees anticlockwise.
- Effect: Levitation
The spell was first invented by Jarleth Hobart, a British Warlock, who was trying really hard to come up with ways to fly through magic. At that time, there were no known ways of direct human flight in the wizarding world. After planning for a public exhibition to portray his newfound skills of flight, Hobart’s announcement made quite a crowd gather around him, including the chief warlock at that time. As he fired the spell on himself through his wand, he levitated mid-air but stayed there without any effect of movement. He eventually realized that he could not fly but only remain levitated. Removing his clothes to reduce weight didn’t help either, as his clothes remained levitated mid-air, but he plummeted down to the ground.
Once he realized that this spell worked to levitate objects and not to make people fly, he displayed this to the crowd again but when he tried to levitate the Chief Warlock’s hat, he instead levitated his wig, thereby ending up being threatened by the Warlock for a duel.
Appearances in the Harry Potter Universe
The first appearance of Wingardium Leviosa charms in the Harry Potter Universe occurs in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the first Charms class that the first years take. Professor Flitwick teaches this spell to the class. He teaches the magical charm in parts and asks the students to first ‘swish’ and then ‘flick.’ Seamus Finnigan mutters something and ends up setting his feather on fire. Ron Weasley seems to have a hard time pronouncing the spell. Eventually, Hermione intervenes and tries to teach Ron the actual pronunciation of the spell, claiming that it is wing-gar-dium levi-o-sa and that the ‘gar’ should be nice and long.
When asked to do it herself by Ron, she manages to make the feather levitate very high to the elation of Professor Flitwick, despite causing some annoyance in Ron. She earns ten points for Gryffindor through this feat. Later, in the same book, Ron uses the Levitation Charm to levitate the club off of a mountain troll’s hand and back into its head, thereby making it lose consciousness. This occurs in the girls’ lavatory, where Hermione is trapped, and Harry and Ron go there in an attempt to save her. The trio manages to stop the troll from hurting themselves and anyone else.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Bill Weasley and Charlie Weasley both used this spell to levitate tables and fight off each other’s tables. They did this before their trip to the Quidditch World Cup and when Harry was present in the Burrow for the holidays. Rita Skeeter uses the spell non-verbally to move some candles away from the broom cupboard during the Triwizard Champions’ interview.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Lee Jordan uses the Levitation Charm to levitate and place Nifflers in Dolores Umbridge’s office to annoy her. He, being the friend of George and Fred Weasley, goes to great lengths to cause annoyance to Umbridge after she deliberately tries to take over Hogwarts and place strict rules to curb the students’ activities. Sadly, Umbridge suspects Rubeus Hagrid as being the perpetrator of this. Harry Potter uses the Levitation Charm in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries to levitate the brain that is trying to attack him in the brain room. Harry sees through Snape’s memories that his father, James Potter, uses a similar spell on Snape in his childhood with the incantation Levicorpus. It is different from the Levitation Charm as it makes a living being levitate upside down.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Severus Snape uses Wingardium Leviosa non-verbally to levitate the cursed necklace sent to Albus Dumbledore. It is also possible that Snape uses the Hover Charm and not the Levitation Charm.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the spell during the Battle of the Seven Potters to usher the sidecar previously attached to Hagrid’s motorbike amidst fighting the Death Eaters mid-air. Minerva McGonagall uses the spell to fly a torch off its post and spin around, levitating and forming a lasso-like effect. She does this when she is dueling Severus Snape at the Great Hall at Hogwarts. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron uses the Levitation Charm to levitate a twig and use it to touch a knot lying at the roots of the Whomping Willow so that they could go to the Shrieking Shack after they learned about the knot in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Wingardium Leviosa and Magnetic Levitation
One of the most interesting Muggle technologies is Magnetic Levitation. It is very similar to Wingardium Leviosa in that, like it, Magnetic Levitation can be used to make an object levitate mid-air with the help of a force field. As long as a force field is applied to the levitating object, it stays mid-air undisturbed. This technology has several applications and is used extensively to power some of the fastest trains in the world. Called Magnetic Trains or Maglev trains (after Magnetic Levitation), these trains can travel at record speeds of up to 400 mph.
What does Wingardium Leviosa mean?
Wingardium Leviosa is the incantation for the Levitation Charm. It is derived from Latin terms and is closely related to the act of Levitation. In English, the verb “Wing” implies “to take flight” and the Latin term “Arduus” means “high”. In Latin “Levis” is a term used to describe something that is lightweight and, therefore, put together; the incantation loosely translates to make something take flight high as easily as it were a light object.
Can you use Wingardium Leviosa on a person?
No, Wingardium Leviosa can only be used on non-living objects. However, there are other charms like Levicorpus that can be effectively used to levitate a person. Furthermore, Wingardium Leviosa can be used to levitate objects around people, including their clothes which, if they are wearing, will technically levitate the person as well. However, the effect of levitation is felt only on the clothing and will therefore probably be very uncomfortable for the person being lifted.
How do you say Wingardium Leviosa in Harry Potter?
As Hermione rightly points out, the pronunciation of the incantation Wingardium Leviosa matters a lot in its delivery. Unlike Ron’s pronunciation of the term, Hermione stresses the need for the “gar” sound in Wingardium to be nice and long and must be said as follows – Wing-gar-dium Levi-O-sa. The correct pronunciation of the incantation enables Hermione to levitate the practice feather way up in the classroom.