Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 158

The wand may choose the wizard, but how do the wizards choose the wand?

During Krum’s encounter with Harry, Krum idly mentions the Eastern European belief that Gregorovitch is a superior wand maker to Ollivander, if not one of the best wand makers in the world. On Pottermore, Ollivander provides a thorough catalog of the wand woods and cores he is willing to use, and even mentions a few that he thinks are too volatile (i.e. Thestral and Veela hairs) to use in wand making, which Gregorovitch is happy to use. What wand woods and cores do you think other wand makers, like Gregorovitch, use that Ollivander does not? What about these woods and cores might make them ideal, or even dangerous?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or by sending us an Audioboom!

  • Bill White

    This is contingent upon how wand lore is canonized. If the lore is passed down Leader->Apprentice, then it was word of mouth. If the lore is canonized(booked), Then someone decided to write it down after trial and error, then it depends on how it was written down or if errors were just skipped. Also, what about the animals that don’t get selected aka Ogre nose hairs, Troll Nose or head hairs etc. Another thing to consider is when and how do you get the wood for a wand; Meaning do we make ourselves one with nature or do we cut off limbs to wand trees while they are still living and the sap is the blood of the tree. Do you want until nature cuts down the tree (lightning strike) so that you keep a balance with nature. Does it matter when you take the limb from tree like sapling or full grown tree? Does that affect the “temperament” of the wand? Love the show hope I get read.

    • HungarianHornTales

      I really love this idea and have often wondered myself how and when the trees are cut/harvested for wandmaking. I really think if we are thinking of magic the way it is often described on Alohomora! as energy that wizards are able to manipulate, then I think this aspect is important to consider. Cutting down a tree when it’s a sapling vs. when it is in full bloom vs. when has already fallen and begun to rot would have to be important. There may be a specific time to cut it down when it is in peak condition for wandmaking and maybe even a time when it becomes dangerous to use that wood because of the condition of the tree.

      • SnapesManyButtons

        I think there definitely have to be rules or guidelines about harvesting the wand wood. We know that a tree with Bowtruckles has wand quality wood, so that’s one guideline. There’s not much about this on Pottermore, but I found this in the descriptions of wand woods:

        “The oak tree is called King of the Forest from the winter solstice up until the summer solstice, and its wood should only be collected during that time (holly becomes King as the days begin to shorten again, and so holly should only be gathered as the year wanes.”

        So there definitely is a best time to collect some woods and thus must be other considerations for other woods also. Great point!

        • Felix Scamander

          But only for SOME woods. Then again, maybe all woods have a peak time that Ollivander forgot to mention/only mentioned for that particular tree?

      • Felix Scamander

        Yes, there’s got to be a peak time, because Fantastic Beasts and Pottermore implys that the tree is still standing when the wood is cut… What would happen if a wand was made from rotting or diseased wood? Would the wand have a ‘computer virus’ kind of nature, and misbehave?

    • Felix Scamander

      Weell, we know about how wand wood is found, thanks to Pottermore. If Bowtuckles make their homes in a tree, the wood is good enough for wands :]

  • Love this type of question! Behind the magic!!
    The first type of wood that came to mind that I haven’t heard of from Ollivander-esque info was Olive wood which I immediately thought might be relevant for folks who are particularly adept at cooking or just in the general sense of making something good out of a combination of various components / resources. Then I also thought about the “olive branch” connotations and perhaps olive wood could also be made into wand for people particularly suited to peaceful negotiations or seeing all sides of an argument or those with humility?

    I was also thinking about woods that one could find in my own backyard (San Antonio, Texas). What about Mesquite wood (that some people associate with BBQ) but is actually a really invasive species that crowds out other trees and undergrowth because of its close to the surface root system. Perhaps Mesquite wand would be suitable for folks who are pushy (in both good and bad ways) or have a dominant way about them.

    I got thinking about what Native American wizards would have used for wand wood too. Perhaps those of the American southwest region would have found that Bristlecone pine wood was particularly good for wands. It is a species that can live for thousands of years (there are some trees that are dated to be almost 5000 years old – their locations are protected so someone doesn’t go cut them down). Puebloans may have revered them for their longevity, their (drought) tolerance, and their rather unique appearance. Bristlecone pine wood could be considered suitable for folks who share those sort of characteristics.

    In my profession I’m also very interested in Mesoamerican cultures in tropical regions, particularly the Maya, and I got think about what Maya wizards could have used for wand wood. There is a wood called Chichem in modern parlance that is poisonous (literally the poison wood tree). Perhaps such woods would have been avoided or along the lines of possibly dangerous/volatile materials, perhaps it could have been used to make wands that would be suitable for those of great skill or resilience (to be able to overcome the affects of “poisons” encountered throughout life).

    The Ramon tree also came to mind because Ollivander notes several types of fruit tree woods. The Ramon tree produces yummy nuts that monkeys love to eat. Perhaps these sort of associations may have lead to the use of Ramon wood for folks particularly adept at foraging or in a more general sense at finding things and assessing possibilities and making decisions for the future.

    This also got me thinking if we do expand our look at wizards beyond Britain and Europe, about the animal fibers or materials that may have been employed. Monkey fur for example may imbue a wand with a great spirit of survival, flexibility, longevity, mobility, or expressiveness (you’ll get this if you’ve ever spent much time considering the facial expressions of many monkey species).

    What about dog hairs? Would that contribute to a wand that is very loyal? Perhaps hairs of a domesticated dog particularly. Do wand materials have to come from wild species? I imagine it wouldn’t be tempermental but rather pliant. You might make a wand that is wizard’s best friend!

    • I also wanted to note that in looking to other cultures, it is important to consider that they held beliefs about the supernatural or “magical” significance of animals that we today consider normal. So when Ollivander talks about using magical creatures in wand making, we have to reflect on what others would have considered magical. For example, Egyptian wand makers may have used cat hair (or maybe sphinx hair if you want to go that direction) or the feathers of a flamingo.

      • WitchWolfsbane10

        You’re on a roll. This is fascinating.

      • Felix Scamander

        Sphinxs wouldn’t want their fur used! They’re intelligent creatures, for crying out loud! Would centaurs or mermaids like that kind of treatment?! Nope. End. Void. Null. Kaput.

    • Felix Scamander

      On the Poison Wood:
      I like to think that there are wand cores/woods out there that are banned for being too volatile or vindictive, and are thought to be simply too dangerous or ‘angry’ for public use. (Malaclaw Pincer) This’d probably be one.

  • Going off of @Bill White below, this made me think whether the wood has to be derived from the wild. Would wandmakers have plantations of trees that they tend and keep to a standard that they can manage better than going out and seeing what you can find in the wild? Is the Ollivander family of wandmakers so prominent because their longevity in the business means that they have developed a highly successful “crop” of trees that they harvest as needed? Are wandmakers also arborists? Here I’m getting into some Hufflepuff Herbology!! Where’s Neville when you need him? Would there be something about the tree husbandry such as particular enchantments on the soil or the atmosphere around the plantation (in effect making a greenhouse) that would favor particular types of growth or perhaps a diversity of growth? You need diverse types of woods to market to aa diverse population. A growth regime may also imply a sense of sustainability. When you cut a tree or branch to create a certain number of wands, you plant a new one?

    I see why folks favor the idea of collecting wild species for wand making but this thought popped into my head and I wanted to share.

    • Felix Scamander

      Wait, wait, wait! On Pottermore, Acacia and several other woods are mentioned as being wandwoods, but Acacia trees are only found in Austrailia… while Bowtruckles are ‘native’ to Western England, Southern Germany and Scandinavia! This must mean that what you’re saying is true – maybe wandmakers keep trees AND bowtruckes in a controlled enviroment, making it so that they make their homes in trees they plant there. But that raises the question; do bowtruckles choose special wandwood quality trees, or, by making their homes in a tree, do they make them special? Maybe their feces fertilise the tree and changes it’s growth someway? This theory, if valid, makes it possible for American/Eastern European/Asian sorcerers to use wands.

  • I also wanted to ask whether you guys think its possible that instead of purchasing a previously made wand, there could have traditions of individual wand making, to create something exceedingly personal. Could you go to Ollivander and ask him to make you a wand made of ash wood because that wood carries particular significance to you and to include the hair of your grandfather (who was a particularly powerful wizard and close to you during childhood), for example. Could there have been an ordering service?

    Maybe not for Ollivander or Gregorivich but for other areas of the world? I was thinking about what wizards of the American Northwest and Canadian Artic might use for wands. It got me thinking that I those cultures, there may have been more importance placed on the clan-based associations of materials. So in the vein of totems made from particular wood species and depicting specific animals relevant to particular family groups, wands could be created based on clan membership rather than individual personally. Just a thought.

    • SnapesManyButtons

      Pottermore addressed that exact issue, it turns out personalized wands were often made until Ollivander decided he had a better way. Here’s the passage:

      “Prior to Mr Ollivander’s proprietorship of the family business, wizards used a wide variety of wand cores. A customer would often present the wandmaker with a magical substance to which they were attached, or had inherited, or by which their family swore (hinted at by the core of Fleur Delacour’s wand). Mr Ollivander, however, was a purist who insisted that the best wands would never be produced merely by encasing the whiskers of a favourite Kneazle (or the stalk of a Dittany plant that once saved a wizard’s father from poisoning, or the mane of a kelpie a witch had once met on holiday in Scotland) in the customer’s favourite wood. The best wands, he believed, had cores of immensely powerful magical substances, which were expertly enclosed in specially selected and complementary wandwoods, the result to be matched to an owner with whom the wand itself felt the most affinity.”

      So it must be possible to get personalized wands from other wandmakers who aren’t as much of a purist as Ollivander. Certainly it could be done in other parts of the world. Great question.

    • Felix Scamander

      Ottermore said that was exactly what happened, there was a mention of his father ‘wrestling with the hair of a kelpie one had met on holiday in Scotland’ for a wand core.

    • Felix Scamander

      On the clan membership aspect, maybe Ollivander’s family (before wand making became more advanced) used olive wands. It is cannily stated that “Ollivander” means ‘he who owns the olive wand’. Of course, this could also just be the fact that the first ‘British’ Ollivander was called something else, and had an olive wand he was famous for or some such.

  • Felix Scamander

    As I am from Ireland, I think the tail feathers of Irish Pheonix (Commonly known as the Augurey) would be an adaquate wand core.

  • WitchWolfsbane10

    I’d fancy a wandmaker who would seek the hair of a centaur as it is probably exceptionally difficult to obtain, thereby making a wand with a centaur core extremely rare. He would, at the very least, create a name for himself as a wandmaker to use unusual, one-of-a-kind ingredients. Owners of such rare wand cores would possibly succeed in Astrology or, perhaps, Divination.

    That being said, if the wand really does choose the wizard, I feel like a witch or wizard who would eventually be chosen by a wand with a centaur hair core would be a once in a generation kind of person as we know how most centaurs view wizards, and I can’t see too many centaurs willing to donate a hair. But if that wand eventually chose a wizard, I imagine it would be one not easily won by another in loyalty.

  • DoraNympha

    Wow already so many brilliant comments! I think we should also consider the things Ollivander himself has worked with but has abandoned for some reason, just because I can think of two canon wands that are not listed on the wood list: James’s wand was mahogany, and Umbridge’s is birch but there’s no info about these in the list so either Ollivander stopped using these woods or the list is just a fraction of all the woods he uses. Shame, ’cause I would have loved to read a description of what these woods mean in Rowling’s world but if you search for mythology and all, all sorts of things come up and not many are fitting to the characters at all. It’s as impossible to match as Patronuses to characters whose we don’t know…

    As for cores, wow so an inexhaustive list of all the things that have come to mind since we’ve seen Harry chosen by his wand, some worth considering, others.. well, only for very special customers: cockatrice feather, sphinx hair, griffin feather, basilisk optic nerve, pegasus feather, manticore hair, chimaera heartstring, hippogriff feather, salamander heartstring, mandrake vocal chords, troll nosehair (already mentioned above I see ha!), acromantula hair, banshee vocal chords, faerie hair, kneazle whiskers… I mean, who knows what fits a person, maybe Hagrid could do well with a giant heartstring wand or someone might find its true match in a deskpig-nosehair one. Would a werewolf hair/tooth wand work? If the person is magical… hm. Fluffy’s hair? Niffler whiskers? (Maybe goblins would be chosen by the last one.)

    Overall, Ollivander is probably right in working with three of the absolute most powerful-sounding cores that are actually reliable but I love how he still approves of customised needs like Fleur’s Veela hair wand. And, we know some cores are more prone to dark magic than others so there’s a wide variety of that and which cores would be most suited to charmwork or duelling… Also, I bet wandmakers from the other side of the planet work with more local woods too, even though Ollivander does use trees from outside Europe too.

  • Griff

    I wonder if there are “vegan” wand options? All cores we have heard of come from magical creatures..and knowing how offended a centaur would be to have his hair used in a wand..makes me wonder!

    • DoraNympha

      Well, a unicorn or a phoenix doesn’t have to die to give a core but I have issues with the way Ollivander says he had to have a unicorn held down by a group of people once for a hair. Hagrid can collect it off leaves, so is a struggle necessary? To quote Ollivander, ‘apparently not’.

      And I always got the impression dragons aren’t killed but die naturally and only then are used for all the dragon products (Gringotts is operated by goblins but who knows if humans abuse dragons too?). I’m more concerned about all the potions and both the non-communicative and the talking conscious animals cooked into them and the compulsory animal products like the gloves for Herbology than a wand you ideally get once in your life – though I’d feel uncomfortable with a dragon heartstring wand all the same. And I definitely don’t think plant cores would be less powerful, I’m sure there are all sorts of magical plants that can give cores to a powerful wand, but I can see why one would disagree.

      All the same, I feel like there’d be more power or a more lively magic coming out of a wand that’s made of parts that come from life rather than death, but I guess it depends. Thestral was a good core, afterall, and I bet some Dark wizards would relish in a wand that’s a product of gruesome events.

      And hey, maybe that’s why there are so few wandmakers: they often meet their end when they try to get a centaur’s tailhair!

      • Griff

        I definitely think your point about life and death is important. It makes me wonder if a wand core must come from a sentient being (whether plant or animal). Although if a plant is sentient, its treatment really should be considered as we would animals in our world… ha, not to bring back #MandrakeLiberationFront.

        I like to think magical plant cores would make peaceful wands, useful for creative and practical magic. They may struggle in battle, but would have excellent healing potential. Their owners would be more whimsical than powerful.

        • DoraNympha

          I agree, plant core wands would probably be more nurturing than battle-ready. Even if it’s made of some poisonous plant. Maybe it’s more powerful to have a plant and an animal element combine their energies to make a wand, a wood and an animal core, but maybe Herbologists would find a plant core wand fitting enough. Healing potential: absolutely! I’d prefer an all-plant wand over an all-animal wand, if that’s a thing, for sure, though I do like the balance of the half-and-half wands, as long as it’s not something that had to die or suffer in order to give some part of itself to my wand. I mean I was so glad when Pottermore gave me a phoenix core because I got the impression that unicorn hair is usually taken from the animal whereas there’s no way you can just pluck a phoenix’s feather out without its consent so the phoenix cores are given, not taken, which I prefer. Even if dragons are not slaughtered, I wouldn’t want an animal to die for my stupid wand, just like I wouldn’t expect a whole tree to be cut down for it. But, like I said, maybe someone else would prefer some narwhal horn wand with a viper’s heart as core, idk, the wand chooses the wizard! 😀

          And one more thought about life and death in wands: I wonder if Ollivander does something to the cores to preserve them. Maybe it’s inevitable that some wands die away after decades or centuries but I bet wandmakers have to do some embalming magic to all cores in order to preserve them and keep them, if not alive, then half-alive. What if you could get that viper heart still beating with some (I imagine rather dark) magic so you could feel it beating while in the wand? Creepy!

          • Griff

            So creepy! And on point. I could definitely see Ollivander keeping them “close to life”.

            I agree that dragon heartstring is the most questionable of the wand cores (and am a happy phoenix feather owner as well!). It makes me think how interesting it is that Hermione, the most socially conscious of the trio, would be the one with the dragon heartstring core.

      • Felix Scamander

        I would imagine that many dragons are put down for mauling a goblin or gutting a customer. Maybe the heartstrings, scales and blood are sold in licensed retailers as supplies for people like Madam Malkin, Twilfit, Tatting, apothecary owners, and wandmakers like Ollivander.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          I don’t think dragons are put down. Charlie wouldn’t have that. Dragons are not a pest that has to be controlled, they are individual powerful magical creatures who need to be kept separate from humans and other stupid beings who tickle and disturb them.

          • Felix Scamander

            I agree, but dogs aren’t a pest to be controlled either. Stupid humans still poke and disturb muzzled dogs, and get bitten. Then the dog is put down, despite being provoked. The whole system of putting down in the muggle world is draconian as I imagine it would be in the wizarding world. I didn’t say I approve of that, and agree that Charlie and indeed Hagrid would hate the thought of it, but, well… 🙁

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            true, the system is bad. People are working on alternatives, though, one of my neighbours lives with a dog he rescued, and in some places vets take care of dogs who live on the streets and are brought to them by strangers for free.

          • Felix Scamander

            *inserts gyf of Snape clapping

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      There must be, if wandmakers do experiment with different magical substances as wand cores, they certainly try plant parts or even wooden cores. “Whomping Willow-leaf conserved in amber”-wand core!
      A wand has different properties according to the wood and the core, maybe plant cores are better suited for food and nature magic than for example dragon cores.

      How is wand power measured? Do wandmakers use new combinations on a series of charms and spells and document how they perform?

      Some wand woods are described as fitting to magical persons of a certain personality. Is it customary to tell these traits to a eleven-year-old buying their first wand? Or do wand-sellers (do only wand-makers sell wands?) tell customers of other persons who have the same wood or core-wood-combination and what they have experienced? “Madam Hooch once bought her cedar wand here and you see, it’s perfect for casting spells during Quidditch because it reacts faster than other wands!” (random example from me)

      • DoraNympha

        Yeah, how IS wand power measured when Ollivander is just another wizard who has his best match in his own wand? He must be really good and powerful at magic or had to have specifically practiced doing magic with wands less suited to him just so he’s able to do his job. He doesn’t only have to find good woods and cores and match them in all sorts of combinations, he has to try the wands out in a way that he knows the they will be properly usable. Umm can my house get a hundred-thousand points for how absolutely amazing Ravenclaw alumnus Garrick Ollivander is?

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          so super powerful genious wizards and witches just need a peaceful obsession they can pursue, someone should have told Tom Riddle about magical paintings, he would have been brilliant to the point of scary.

          Wand power is measured in sparks per inch.

          • DoraNympha

            That’s actually quite an idea given how Voldemort is basically a Hitler-figure, who incidentally got rejected from art school if I’m not mistaken.

            Paintbrushes over Horcruxes, kids.

        • Felix Scamander

          Well, I can give you an uproot

    • Felix Scamander

      Once again, I will advertise my campaign for carrot wands.

    • Felix Scamander

      Yes I imagine that Sphinx’s would probably also be quite offended as well if someone asked “excuse me, but please may I take a hair from your feline hindquarters, encase it in wood and sell it? Thank – oof!” That last bit was Ollivander being mauled by a Sphinx. Poor guy, he was only like seventy.. oh well, occupational hazard of being in a mini fanfic.

    • Felix Scamander

      Carrot is a good wand wood.

      • DoraNympha

        Good for whistling charms and the easiest way to turn your hair ginger. (The incantation is Weasleyfy.) Bananas are great for slippery floor prank jinxes and cucumbers are awesome beauty wands!

        (the semester is clearly getting to me I apologize)

  • NuttierThanSquirrelPoo

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could harness the “power” of Gnome saliva….perhaps it would help bring out the talent in a young witch or wizard. In the books it does not get into the benefits of gnome saliva, or even if it actuallly has magical qualities. Coming from Xenophilius, you never know.
    “Gnome saliva is enormously beneficial! Luna, my love, if you should feel any burgeoning talent today — perhaps an urge to sing opera or to declaim in Mermish — do not repress it! You have been gifted by the Gernumblies!”

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      soak your wand in it for a few months.

    • The Vegemite Sand Witch

      To harness the power of gnome saliva smear a thin layer of saliva in the bottom of a cauldron and set over a cluster of freashly laid Ashwinder eggs. The magical heat radiating from the eggs will dry the saliva leaving a flaky substance in the bottom of the cauldron which can then be used as a wand core. Wands with dried gnome saliva core are most compatible with creative slytherines, and those who like to invent new spells.

    • Felix Scamander

      ‘Crystalized gnome saliva’… yes…

    • Felix Scamander

      Can’t use them for de-gnoming though.

  • SpinnersEnd

    What do witches and wizards who do not live in an area where there are many sources of wood do? For example, what if there is a nomadic tribe of magical folk who live in the desert regions of Africa, of the American Southwest? What do they do for wands?

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      bones from the animals they keep or hunt?

      • SpinnersEnd

        That gives me the shivers. uuugh… But maybe. I know it’s movie cannon, but we see a few wands that do resemble bone.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          and if someone has a wand made of buffalo-bone I guess they don’t really care for vegan cores.

          • Felix Scamander

            Carrot wands! I actually made one, I ate it.

        • Felix Scamander

          Maybe bone wands are old-timey aesthetic, no-one seemed to care that young ‘golden boy’ Thomas Riddle, Esq. had a bone wand, or thought it was a bad sign. I know this is movie cannon, and we don’t know when the list of proper wand woods came out, so maybe it wasn’t a thing back then, or people with good old bone wands were thought to be more ‘mature’ by their teacher. The same thing happens today when young people mirror the views of their elders just to suck up and make themselves look better. Maybe his bone wand helped him become a prefect?

    • DoraNympha

      Bones are a good guess but maybe, alternatively, stones, carved rocks, gemstones? Roots or other underground things? Shells? Maybe they put more emphasis on wandless magic? Maybe they’re good at Apparating or even Apparating without wands to get to a place of resources? You can do magic with chrystal balls, I imagine you could do magic with other gem-like natural objects, kind of like the Resurection Stone, though I think there’s a difference between objects that are inherently magical and/or can channel a sorcerer’s magic and objects within which we place magic in order for it to be contained only (like most magical devices like a Deluminator or an Invisibility Cloak). Maybe if one encases a magical core into an icicle it works? Or other bones like the horns of animals? Ivory? What if you can do boss magic with a unicorn horn, it’s just it’s not an entirely economical or humane and it’s more needed in potionry rather than to be wasted on one wizard? (+ it must be super expensive. Also, don’t de-horn unicorns. 🙁 ) A stag’s antlers might do, too and stags naturally shed those and live in northern territoties so that could be something to go for in the Tundra. Either that or most people will have their wands made out of the same few trees they do find. Or maybe it’s a rite of passage entailing a little pilgrimage of sorts where the child is taken to travel to a wandmaker? It was already a bit of that for Harry and he only had to go to London for it but I like the idea of making a journey to the wandmaker and your wand and your parents or elders preparing you for the next phase of your life where you’ll be a wandowner and enter the active wizarding society.

      • SpinnersEnd

        I really like the idea of people in these areas doing more wandless magic. We know that a wand simply serves as a tool through which to focus that energy, so it’s entirely possible that there’s a group of people who learn to hone their magic without the aid of a wand.

        That being said, are wands a sign of your socioeconomic standing? Do only witches and wizards with a bit of money get wands? What happens if you’re too poor to afford one? I’ve always been under the impression that wands aren’t exactly a a dime a dozen. Mrs Weasley makes a big deal about having to buy Ron a new wand in CoS.

        • DoraNympha

          Well I try to think about that as too important a plot point not to have in the story because, I mean, if you spend on one thing, ONE thing, for a magical person, it won’t be robes or cauldrons or potion ingredients, it would be A WAND. If you buy one new thing that’s just someone’s own thing to own and use is THE WAND. We were supposed to really understand that Ron is poor and it was a big plot thing that kicked Lockhart out of our lives irrevocably that the wand was broken and backfired but, looking back, it was a bit illogical. I would have expected McGonagall to write to Ron’s parents when he didn’t. :/ She gets a broom for Harry but she can’t wangle a wand for Ron?

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            because she still wants to make up for letting Dumbledore put Harry on the steps in front of his aunt’s house instead of taking the baby boy himself and rapping at the door.
            Ron CAN ask his parents for a new wand, Harry can’t ask a parent for a broom, so she steps in. She’d encourage Ron to keep mishaps like the broken wand from his parents if she gave him a new one.

        • Felix Scamander

          9 galleons, I think

      • Felix Scamander

        In Skullduggery Pleasant (a fantasy series by Irish author Derek Landy), there’s a mention of witches, sorcerers who have separated themselves from the rest of magical society, closing not to dedicate themselves to learning one brand of magic, but to learning a large variety of magic. This lead to their magic being uncontrollable, and often ended up with broken fingers or minds. Maybe there are people in the Potterverse who chose not to attend school, not to use wands or ‘learn’ magic properly, but are simply thought by their parents or a tutor to ‘open up’ their magical ability, and just let it flow, basicly giving instinctive magic full reign.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          or ending up dead like Pandora Lovegood.

    • Felix Scamander

      I think JK said that magic could technically be channeled through anything but wands ere the ‘most apt’ for one reason or another. This could also explain why there are so many Egyptian wizards with staffs and boomerangs…

      • SpinnersEnd

        I need a magic boomerang.

        • Felix Scamander

          No seriously, in Egyptian wizard duels they used the staffs for defence and the boomerangs-things for attack.

  • Hufflepug

    *comes to this page to write my response*
    *jaw falls on the floor when I see how amazing everyone’s responses are*

  • Felix Scamander

    Carrot would be a very… useful wand wood.

  • LuckyEaglet

    When I first got “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” I made note next to the Augurey wondering what qualities feathers from this interesting bird would give to wands. In the section about the bird it says that their feathers are “useless for quills because they repel ink.” But how about in wand making? I wondered if this bird that only flies in heavy rain would make wandwork in wet climates a breeze. I also rather enjoy the belief that the cry from an Augurey was once thought to foretell death it was then discovered that the cry foretells rain instead. Not sure what this would mean for wand qualities though. Thoughts?

    The other wand core that I think would be interesting is a feather from a Snidget. These original Golden Snitches are extremely fast and can change direction “with uncanny speed.” Perhaps a wand with a core of Snigger feather would choose a wizard that will do well in duels. Another thought would be using the oils from the Snidget feathers to create a wand enhancer that could make the user of the wand faster or more “with it.” Might be a selling point for wizards and witches who are elderly and not quite as fast as they once were. Or for someone wanting to start a fight!

    • Felix Scamander

      3 days ago, I did mention the possibility of Augurey feathers being used. I imagine that they would create rather temperamental wands that, like unicorn, could grow become melancholy if mishandled, and need to be replaced. I do not think anyone would be allowed to use snidget feathers, as that praticular practice has been outlawed by the International Confederation of Wizards and anyway, Quidditch through the Ages mentions that since the bird is so small, you can easily kill it while in the act of catching it, and while you can also use magic, I am nearly certain that snidgets are so small that Stupefy of Petrificus Totalus would probably kill them anyway.

  • There is a lot of fantastic discussion going on. I’ve seen different parts of the world mentioned, Egypt, American Southwest, etc. But has anyone ever thought of island nations? Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Philippines, etc?

    Thinking about this further really makes me wonder about wand woods and cores. A lot of these places live off the land, including living off the water. Could Polynesian witches and wizards use magic to dive deep into the ocean to get the fleshy growth (the esca or illicium) from the Anglerfishes head as a core? Perhaps since the fish itself uses it as a lure to get its prey could a wizard that got that core be one that is a smooth talker, a manipulator, someone suited well for the dark arts or politics.

    I know that in Hawaiian culture that Koa Wood is legendary. This is because Koa means ‘warrior’ in Hawaiian. The warriors created weapons and canoes from the wood. The wood become synonymous with the warriors as well. If we think back to the warriors of King Kamehameha the Great, they used weapons (lei-o-mano) that were made from Koa wood and had shark’s teeth and marlins bills that were highly effective with slashing and ripping flesh, and were mostly used for hand to hand combat. Perhaps a Koa wand with say a shark’s teeth core is powerful for dueling and being highly efficient and quick to respond to the master of a Koa wand.

    As far as wand cores go there is so much in the ocean that could be considered for a core. The beak of an octopus, the skin of the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (aka Hawaiian triggerfish), feathers from Albatrosses, the tails of Iguanas or Geckos, or Skinks, claws of crabs, the list could go on and on. Maybe even coating the wand in whale blubber to promote health of the wand or even to simply polish it.

    Wand woods could vary too. There is the Balete tree in the Phillippines that in some areas of the country people believe that the kapre (essentially a tree demon, maybe the equivalent of a Bowtruckle) or tikbalang (like a human horse of sorts) live in them. People also believe that rituals are known to be performed inside the chambers formed by the tree. Maybe those rituals were one done by a wandmaker. Others also believe that you shouldn’t bring in balete as decorative plants into your home because they allegedly invite ghosts. A Balete wand could be one geared towards studying the afterlife and a sensitivity to the “other side”.

    Then the last wand wood I want to bring up is the Banyan tree. There is so much tied to that particular wood. The Banyan is the National Tree of India and there is an old customer to offer worship to the tree. In Hinduism, the leaf of this tree is said to be the resting place for the god Krishna. In the Phillippines, it’s said to be the home of spirits and demon like creatures. It’s taught that children at a young age are never to point at a fully mature Banyan for fear of offending the spirits that dwell within them. Maybe an owner of a Banyan wand is someone who is spiritual (I’m thinking like a Shaman) and connects to the world in a way that none other can. That the world is a part of them and they a part of it, by the connection the wand and master of the wand have with each other as well. Perhaps they are selfless, calm and patient and help those in need.

    I’ve seen talk in previous comments as well about plant life being in the core. I think that would make an interesting core for a wand. And in that does the wand in some ways revitalize itself with photosynthesis? Though the thing I’m thinking of is that we mentioned ‘regular’ creatures (cats, Augreys, Ogre/Troll hairs, etc) but what of insect cores?

    I love this discussion and very curious about different cultures and beliefs around the world that could influence the wand wood and core .

    • Felix Scamander

      Intresting. This is going to be one of those comments that they read out, cutting most of it out because it was too long 🙂
      Also, insect cores. I imagine that few would want insect cores. A ‘phoenix wand’ sounds much more noble than a ‘Bluebottle wand’ (Also the Bluebottle Family Broom Corp. would probably sue). To add to that, insects are very hard to kill without destroying them entirely.
      #LongLiveTheHumuhumunukunukuapua’a

      • Granted yes insects are easily destroyed but people can preserve insects (they are dead though). So couldn’t a wand maker preserve the insect? There’s also preserving it in resin. But perhaps the wand maker could preserve it in a organic material? Like amber for instance. Could the insect be preserved in an organic material and then into a core?

        I gave more thought about insect cores. If someone were to have a cockroach core it may be used to adapt to any situation and to preserve through all tasks that they go through. Or if a witch/wizard were to have a deer fly core, perhaps they would be someone who grounds them self in nature to study how the world interacts with each other or perhaps a magizoologist would be an owner of a deer fly core.

        Also I love the hashtag and need it on a shirt.

        #LongLiveTheHumuhumunukunukuapuaa

        • Felix Scamander

          I officially challenge All the hosts to try and say #LongLiveTheHumuhumunukunukuapua’a three times, fast

          • I second that challenge to the hosts!

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Thirded

  • Yo Rufus On Fire

    I was looking up types of woods and in Wikipedia it mentions softwoods and hardwoods. Do you think this is how JK Rowling figured out if a wood is more “flexible”? I could be wrong, but I’m just curious.

    As for the cores, I don’t think that they necessarily have to be feathers. We see that Fleur has a Veela hair. I think hair from the mane of a Chimaera would be dangerous because it would be extremely hard to get a hair from them. They are highly classified as dangerous.

    A lot of creatures in the Fantastic Beasts book are pretty dangerous, but one that caught my eye is a Re’em. A Re’em is a giant oxen with golden hides and is extremely rare. a Re’em blood gives he drinker immense strength. I think this beast falls in line with a Unicorn because a Unicorn a pure white and a Re’em is gold. I think it would be great to see if a hair from the tail of this ox could be very beneficial as a wand core. Maybe it could help boost a wizard’s confidence to help casting their spells. Maybe a slight connection to Felix Felicius? Their bold gold and help give the wizard strength…. hmm…. very interesting…

    • Felix Scamander

      I wish Hagrid had Re’em heartstring core 🙂

  • DoraNympha

    Fantastic Beets and Where to Find Them

    • Sounds like a book Dwight Schrute would write.

      • DoraNympha

        Oh dear god yes. XD

  • Gryffindork

    Why must wands always be wood? I think it would make sense to have wands made of certain metals, especially considering the importance alchemy plays in the series. Wands that utilize a dragon heart string core may particularly benefit from the use of metal as dragons have been categorized by metals in fiction such as Dungeons and Dragons.
    Interesting metal choices could include:
    Lead- connected to death, transformations and divination
    Copper- represents love, charisma and creativity
    Platinum- revered for its endurance
    Gold- believed to aid in healing, protection, growth and knowledge
    I also like the idea that metal wands are best suited for muggle borns or wizards working around muggles as some metals are great for conducting electricity, this could enable magic and electricity to work in tandem,

    • Felix Scamander

      Maybe they are used like that. Remember, we only get to know about British wands, principly Ollivanders.
      The only non-British sorcerers (my term for wizards and witches collectively) we come into contact with are from the Beuxbatons and Durmstrang students. All we know about these is that the Eastern Europeans seem to favour Gregorovitch, but we don’t know anything beyond that. Maybe in some Southern European/North African countries would have the metallic wands Gryffindork mentioned, since they were the ones that always dabbled the most in alchemy? Or maybe American sorcerers prize other magical devices. Did The Europeans bring wooden wands over to America in the 1500s, replacing the tools of the Shaman-type magic the Native Americans believed in? Or do they still use them? Maybe we’ll learn a bit more about some other magical cultures in Fantastic Beasts.

    • Griff

      I would love a steel wand! Strong and resilient.

  • Melissa Mwai

    It would seem that Olivander is generally opposed to creatures and woods that have a history to be unstable or affiliated with the Dark Arts. So trees like Elder (because of the Deathly Hallows legend) or Redwood which symbolizes forever might not be used by him, but other wand makers may be willing to push the limits. The use of various creatures for the wand cores are where things get interesting. I liken this to genetic testing. For example, Hippogrifs need to be tamed/mastered before they can be approached – does that same characteristic apply to a wand core? Kneaded are good at detecting danger, does that make a wand inherently defensive or would it go berserk in a battle and attack everyone in the vicinity. What about wizard bred creatures like a Basilisk or (potentially) Sphinx? Would someone try to use cores for creatures that aren’t considered beasts like Merpeople, House Elves, or Centaurs. And I guess, if you would take it a step further, if it were even possible, Inferi, Boggarts, or Dementors? The further I thought about this, the more I wondered that it is a good think JKR didn’t make Voldemort or young Dumblemore into wand makers!

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      if you can make a wand that makes the witch or wizard able to do magic like house elves, that would be smashing! Free apparition everywhere!

  • Dumbledoresgirlthruandthru

    I think that other wand makers might use hippogriff feathers and mermaid hair but they would be very temperamental. If you insulted a hippogriff wand it would probably start wacking you up side the head and mermaid wand would start sketching when it was wielded incorrectly.

    • Felix Scamander

      An’ don’ pull his feathers ou’ he won’t like tha’! – Hagrid, speaking about Buckbeak the Hippogriff.

      Mermaids would not consent to having their hair pulled out and used in wands. Though I can certainly imagine Umbridge going down to the bottom of the lake with a shears and demanding the “piscine half-breeds” to hand over their hair for “Ministry of Magic wand research development” and them chasing her out with spears. Then think of centaurs, and the way a Sphynx like the one in the maze might react to this kind of treatment!

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I love all the ideas presented so far. I’m glad you all have such a wealth of knowledge to draw from in this discussion, super interesting stuff.
    This all has me wondering though, and this sort of goes along with what I believe Hufflepuffskein brought up about requesting specific custom wands. Say someone broke their wand and wanted to replace it with an exact replica. Do you think it would make a difference if the wandmaker used (given it even being possible to do so) for example, Birch from the same specific tree as the original and unicorn hair from the same unicorn, versus using birch and hair from a different tree and unicorn?
    Ollivander does say that no two wands are alike, so does that apply even when the source materials are the same? If so this would suggest that not only is the wand imbued with special properties depending on the types of materials used but also that each individual strand of hair, piece of wood, etc. has its own unique attributes as well. This would mean even an exact replica would still be somewhat different from the original.
    Furthermore, in the case of replication would the new wand still choose the wizard? And would the new wand still feel “right” to the owner? Would it depend on how exact of a replica it is?

    Fascinating stuff, interested to see if all your brilliant brains have thoughts about this or perhaps have found the answers mentioned somewhere.

    • Griff

      Very cool question! It highlights how irreplaceable a wand is- so much more than the sum of its core and wandwood, its flexibility.

      A wand grows and changes with a wizard, learning and teaching. A brand new wand cannot have the experiences or knowledge of the old one. While it is definitely advantageous to have the wand that has known you since age 11 for all of one’s life, I think if lost, it cannot be replaced with the same core/wood. It would be like starting from zero.

      Instead, a new wand, that clicks with who the adult wizard has become, would be most beneficial. The loss of the first wand will always be felt, but the second wand can mark a new phase in life (likely shaped by whatever event caused the wand loss in the first place).

    • SnapesManyButtons

      Although you can get close, there really is no such thing as an exact replica of anything. Even things made by machines to be the same will have minute differences at the structural level. A strand of Unicorn tail is not a perfect cylinder all along its length, it varies minutely in thickness. Thus no two strands can be exactly the same. Even if you take wood from the same tree, the striations and imperfections in the wood could never be exactly the same as the original piece. So wands made from the same tree with cores from the same source would not be exact replicas of each other. Even if Ollivander had similar wands like that in his stock, he would still be correct to say that no two wands were the same. Perhaps they’d select similar people, but only one would pick a particular person. Add to that what Griff said about wands learning with their wielders and I’d say you couldn’t just replace your broken wand with a replica.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        I really like this “real world” tie in about structural differences being present even in machine made objects. There really are always differences even if only at a microscopic level. Basic science for the win.

    • Felix Scamander

      Well, as it is canonicly stated that wands grow and learn along with their masters, and that is why wizards areas careful with their wands. If a fifth year breaks their wand, the wand they get as a “clone” will never be the same, having not had as much experience as the other wand.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Ooo, yes good points guys. I totally forgot to account for the fact that a wand grows with experience just like its owner. So it’s totally fair to assume that a wand chosen when one is 11 wouldn’t necessarily be at all like a wand the same person might get if they were to pick at say 17 instead. And shared experience definitely couldn’t be replicated, glad that was pointed out.

  • DoraNympha

    I’ve never really deciphered what flexibility means or the level of its importance. Is it a very minor feature of a wand or should we pay as serious attention to it as to wood and cores? What does it mean if someone’s unyielding or surprisingly swishy? Does it mean anything at all? (The PM info isn’t really enough for me to answer these questions but I’d love to hear what others think, especially such clever ones as the Alohomora commenters!)

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      I believe the flexibility enhances the wand’s temperament. Surprisingly swishy wands vary more in the outcome of their magic, unyielding ones are more consistent. Referring to the character of the owner they represent the ability to accept new ideas, or stick to one’s principles, I’d say.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      I would think flexibility would play a part in the actual movements required for different spells. Something “unyielding

      • Felix Scamander

        Take the wands you get in the WB studio tour, then compare it to my homemade wand. (Pine, 14 inches, Augurey Feather) The studio tour (veery sturdy) wand does feel more forceful, while my homemade wand feels much more graceful, being made out of real wood, and having a slight spring to it.

        • Felix Scamander

          Waddiwassi, I think you and me just made canon.

    • Felix Scamander

      Well, it could depend on their ‘style’ of magic. Some favour swishy wands to sturdy wands. Also style of magic is definitely a thing. Dumbledore said so in Half Blood Prince (upon entering The Cave) ‘I thought Tom Riddle. I know his style’.

      Of course, Pottermore does state that it depends on/shown the wands willingness to move on to another owner. If I remember correctly, Bellatrix had an ‘unyielding’ wand (Ooh, wait a second! How could one describe Bellatrix in word?) which is apparently why Hermione finds using the wand more difficult than her own. (Along with how it was “like having a bit of her in it”)

  • Jaye Dozier

    In thinking about magical or fantastical creatures to be used in wand cores—mermaids, leprechauns, vampires and nymphs came to mind. I think it would be fascinating to explore what the scales of a mermaid would do to a wand, especially depending on the region where the mermaid resided (because we heard somewhere in canon that not all of them were like those in the Black Lake). I can imagine someone with a mermaid core being especially unique, powerful, and in tune with various forms of magic. (Also, speaking of the Black Lake, what about ink from the giant squid?!) I also think leprechaun hair would be a fascinating wand core – perhaps for someone prone to trickery, or someone excessively protective of that which they love. (Or maybe someone full of joviality and pranking – I can EASILY see Fred and George having a wand with Leprechaun hair). And I fully admit that having vampire hair as your wand core could either be creepy or terrifying, but I can see it having interesting effects on the wand – perhaps it would prolong life somewhat or be prone to choose witches or wizards with great potential for strength. As for nymph hair, especially if it was combined with the kind of tree wood from which the creature resided, I can imagine it choosing a wizard with potential for incredible power, harmony and connection to nature (like a herbologist or zoologist).

    Side note: how much of a creature is needed to make the core? Just a single hair or heart string seems to do the trick, but what happens if you add more than one hair or string? What would happen if you combined two opposing elements (like a hair AND a feather)? Would the wand explode from too many opposing magical elements, or could a combination exist for a wizard powerful enough – like Dumbledore, Voldemort, or even one of the founders of the Houses? I imagine such a wand would only choose someone with immense power innate within them. Food for thought!

    • Felix Scamander

      The intelligent creatures of the Potterverse would not want their hair/scales used! *coughs; “Centaurs”
      .And nymphs don’t exist in the Potterverse anyway.

      • Jaye Dozier

        Very true. But then again, I had no idea sphinxes existed in the Potterverse until the final task, so who even knows..haha I almost assume most magical creatures (from all cultures) are real in the Potterverse in some capacity, even if they are different from what we think.

        • Felix Scamander

          Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. It isn’t just a film.

      • thequeerweasleycousin

        No, they usually wouldn’t want their hair or whatever being used. And Veelas probably wouldn’t either, still Fleur has a veela wandcore, because her Granny was a Veela. So there might be cases where a person has a strong connection to a merperson or a centaur and they willingly give their hair. Like, once there was this very strange centaur who fell in love with a wizard. When his herd found out, they violently chased him and his friend out of the forest and while he was attempting to defend them, the wizard’s wand got hit by a centaur hoof and broke in two. They finally managed to escape alive, and as a symbol for their love,the centaur gave away one of his tail hairs as wandcore for the new wand. Ollivander refused to make the requested wand, so it took some time to find a wandmaker who was willing to include it, but finally they found someone open to such an experiment (and it was the same who made Fleur’s wand, a french witch who has a fulltime job in care for magical creatures and makes wands in her free time, and only if there is a good story or a real challange connected to it).

        • Since Firenze was banished and is living at Hogwarts couldn’t a wand maker ask him for some of his hair? Though I think he’d see it as a sign of disrespect (unless Harry asked him?), and be deeply offended.

          • Felix Scamander

            Even if Harry asked him, he’d probably say no, unless it was for some greater good ‘I need it to defeat Voldemort!’ reason.

        • Felix Scamander

          Fanfics. Goood.
          Anyway, I consent. You are correct, Fleur did in fact have her grandmother’s hair but then again that was a family attachment, I can imagine it becoming a family tradition… maybe Dominique has one of Madame Delacour’s hairs?
          However, I stand by my point that even any centaur wouldn’t give a hair. Centaurs have a fire ingrained pride, and even Firenze, immensely understanding, Firenze became offended when Lavander asked “did Hagrid breed you, like the Threstles?” It would go against the centaurs nature to do such a thing.

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            Apolline Delacour is half-Veela, so does she still have the same magical abilities as her mother? We don’t learn anything about Gabrielle’s wand, maybe her and Fleur’s grandmother donated a whole strand of hair instead of just one. To keep up the connection for her daughters children, when through the generations there will be less Veela genes, they still have Veela magic through the wand cores.

          • Felix Scamander

            Yeah, the idea I had was that maybe it was a grandmother-grandaughter thing. I agree with you that maybe it was a thing they’re doing to keep their Veela-isims prominent in the family. It’d be a peculiar tradition, but I like it.

    • Very interesting. I would agree with Felix Scamander that those intelligent creatures probably would not want their hairs/scales/etc used. But since these are intelligent creatures could a wand maker strike a deal with them so they could use their hairs/scales/etc? (My assumption would most likely be that they wouldn’t.)

      I think combining materials into a core could potentially be dangerous. It could be the Muggle equivalent of combining chemicals. Some go together, some don’t. But it would be interesting to have a combined core. Maybe combining a Phoenix feather and a unicorn hair for a core would be well suited for Healers?

      Very interesting though. It’d have to be a balance if a wand maker were to combine materials for a combination core.

  • Felix Scamander

    I was reading through Fantastic Beasts last night and came across an interesting entry of Bowtruckles. It said that they were found “In western Englan, Southern Germany and parts of Scandinavia” Bowtruckle trees are supposed to be the only trees good enough for wandwood, so what do Chinese sorcerers do?! Do they still use Bowtruckle wood? A wand in Britain costs (9 galleons) £27.12. Obviously wood, like everything else, is shippable, but what in the name of Merlin’s sock would that cost in China?! This only adds to the likeliness of foreign wizards using other materials/objects for wands.

  • Felix Scamander

    The Seven Cores
    of an Unorthodox Wandmaker
    by Keir Urnham, Esteemed Society of British Wandmakers.

    Crystalized Gnome Saliva – Prone to cause uncontrollable desire to sing opera
    Occamy Feather – Favours the Flamboyant (owned by a G. Lockhart)
    Demiguise Fur – Produces subtle magic, best paired to those who excel non-verbally
    Augurey Feather – Produces powerful wands that are prone to melancholy when mishandled
    Crystalized Salamander Blood – Healing and Transfiguration
    Grindylow Horn – Good For Offensive Magic (only a licensed user can handle)
    Crystalized Streeler Trail – Produces random, colourful spells, but can prove apt in duelling.

    Ministry of Magic BANNED wand substances (Keir Urnham, Esteemed Society of British Wandmakers)
    Erumpent Heartstring – Extremely Volatile (Banned, Ministry of Magic 2006)
    Malaclaw Pincer – Extremely Vindictive. Outlawed in duelling competitions (Ministry of Magic, 2008)

    • Felix Scamander

      I looked through fantastic beasts and made this list up of possible wand cores. Notice how I didn’t use centaur hair?! They wouldn’t like it. End, null, void and kaput.