The Homemaker’s Guide to Magic Spells

This morning I received a reminder from myself on my cell phone: “Muggles can do magic.” I had typed it at around 2 a.m. I remember, very vaguely, trying to type something on my phone while I was pretty much fast asleep. But now I’m not really sure what it means.

 I do this sometimes – the best ideas often present themselves when I’m in that twilight zone between being awake and asleep. And I always think, “This idea is so brilliant, so obvious, so breathtakingly clever, that there’s no way I would NOT be able to remember it in the morning.” And every single time, come morning, all I can remember is having had some clever idea, but not what it was. This is why I make cryptic little notes on my phone, so that I would at least have a clue.

So, what was I trying to remember about muggles and magic? Perhaps it has something to do with my disappearing blog. I created a blog, then decided to change its name, and in the process, I made it disappear. That felt a bit like trying to do a magic trick which works, but not quite as planned. This happens a lot with computers.

Thinking about it a bit more, I can come up with lots of things that I have inadvertently “magicked” away. The blog was just the latest in a lifetime of disappearing tricks. And I am sure I am not alone in this.

When working on MSWord, I often use the “insert picture” function.  And time after time, I manage to magic away at least one picture. One moment it’s there, then I decide to move it just one pixel to the right, and PING! It’s gone. Scroll up and down… nothing. It has totally disappeared from the document. Time and again. I feel I really should write to Bill Gates about this issue.

Then there is the wonderful trick of making time disappear. This usually happens when I am making supper, and just want to jot down a couple of ideas before they disappear, and before I know it, the food is burnt. Somehow, time itself got sucked into some weird time warp.

Children are pretty good with this kind of magic. They can make all sorts of things disappear quite effortlessly: money, food, harmony, space, time, socks, patience, dignity, youth, that piece of chocolate that you’ve been saving up, keys, flash disks, CDs and important documents. And they do with without as much as an Evanesco!”

By the same token, they have also mastered the art of making things appear all over the house: mess, muddy footprints, noise, grey hair, wrinkles, books, pencils, shoes and hair bands. And again, they don’t need to utter the spell, it just happens!

When I was little, I always wanted to be a witch. Not a fairy, a witch. A good witch, though. And how many times, in the last 20 years or so, have I wished that again! How many times have I said, hands in hair, “I can’t make your lost toy/homework/biscuit that the dog gobbled up re-appear! I CAN’T DO magic! I am only human!”

Now I can tell you, after browsing through the complete list of Harry Potter spells in Wikipedia (wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spells_in_Harry_Potter), that there are dozens of spells which would be totally useless in the home. For example, one wouldn’t ordinarily have much use for the spell Avis, which creates a flock of birds  from one’s wand – though it could be used offensively, if necessary. Personally, I wouldn’t use Densaugeo very often either, as I don’t really see the need to make anyone’s teeth grow at an alarming rate. As for Serpensortia – conjuring a serpent – that’s just plain silly.

However, I did come across many spells one could use in and around the home. I decided to compile a list of the most commonly used household spells, for your convenience:

As anyone with children knows, “mother” also means “nurse”. (Not to mention psychologist, doctor, physiotherapist, dermatologist and pharmacist.) In this context, I would think that the spell Anapneo, which clears the target’s airway, should be stuck on the refrigerator door in every home. Especially where there are babies learning to eat solid foods, crawling babies or toddlers.

The Bubble-Head Charm is an essential spell in the first aid kit of the responsible mother, to be used whenever her children go swimming. This spell places a large bubble of air around the head of the child. I would use this one at bathtime too, for children under two years of age. One can never be too paranoid when it comes to children and water!

Episkey can be applied daily in most homes, to deal with relatively minor injuries. I feel that this would be especially useful for mosquito bites, grazes and bruises. It could also be used for teenage spots and blemishes, but be sure to dilute it correctly.

When it comes to those inevitable emotional wounds, from boyfriend trouble to BFF jealousy, I would most certainly be quite liberal in my use of the Cheering Charm. When used properly, this spell will cause the recipient to become happy and contented. It is important to remember, though, that using it in high concentrations may cause the person to break into an uncontrollable laughing fit. Moderation is the key! (I suspect that my teenaged daughter and her best friend (ab)use this spell on each other as a joke.)

Imperio is a spell that any mother with toddlers needs to memorize. When used with temperance and love, this spell effectively causes the victim to obey the spoken/unspoken commands of the caster. It is critical to understand that being firm but gentle is the secret to good discipline, and excessive use of Imperio may lead to the spell becoming less and less effective over time.

Muffliato is another one of those underrated spells that are extremely helpful to mothers will smallish children, I would estimate from three years upward. This spell keeps “little ears” from hearing private conversations. It is especially valuable when planning birthday parties or when discussing adult matters with one’s friends over a glass of wine.

Good housekeeping can be dramatically enhanced with appropriate spells! Aguamenti, producing a jet of water from the caster’s wand, makes car washing a breeze. One could even use it for cleaning up very dirty children and pets, before they tramp into the house covered in mud. I would caution against using this spell on babies under 12 months, as tempting as it is.

In cases where the child/object is very heavily soiled, one might consider using diluted Scourgify instead, but my gut feeling here is that, if used directly on skin, especially in children, this spell may be too harsh. (I would imagine that a Freezing Charm may be appropriate here too, rendering the child immobile, to prevent him/her from escaping while being cleaned.)

I would certainly use extra strength Impervius (not to be confused with Imperio) on children, pets and home fabrics (including clothing, linen, carpets etc). This spell makes objects repel substances, including water, mud, cooldrink, tomato sauce etc. I would spray it liberally on school uniforms and children’s hands every morning, and spray weekly onto carpets, door handles and light switches. Excellent for furniture, sofas in particular.

In conjunction with Impervious, I can heartily recommend using the Obliteration Charm to remove those things you do not wish to see ever again, such as candy wrappers, dog hair, dust bunnies and greasy spills on the stove top and in the microwave. I would not use this spell on living creatures, however. To get rid of ticks, fleas, ants, lice and intestinal worms,  I suggest a single dose of Evanesco. This spell is environmentally friendly and 100% biodegradable, making it the perfect spell for those committed to living a more organic lifestyle.

Having a pleasant garden is important to all families, and there is an abundance of spells suitable for outside use. Scourgify has been clinically proven to be effective in pool maintenance (pH balanced) and for cleaning weather-exposed surfaces.

To keep your home tidy, the Permanent Sticking Charm has many different applications. It could be employed to keep objects (such as breakable/valuable ornaments) in place, so that little exploring hands cannot pull them down and cause injury or breakage. This spell should be used carefully, though, and the exact placement of objects should be well considered, as it is a permanent spell. Keep in mind, also, that you will have to dust around these objects, so make sure you place them far enough from your walls. (Warning: do not use this spell in the vicinity of children, in case the child happens to run into range at the moment of casting, which may render the child permanently stuck.)

If you feel unsure about utilizing the Permanent Sticking Charm, rather use Wingardium Leviosa, which  levitates objects temporarily. This one does consume more power in the long run, and should be considered only as a short term solution. It can also be used in an emergency, such as when a toddler grabs at a breakable or dangerous object, to keep it out of reach. One could theoretically use the Freezing Charm simultaneously, applied to the child to keep it from moving further into danger – although it must be said that casting two spells in a moment of crisis is not generally advised, as this can lead to unwanted side-effects. Mothers certainly need to have lightning reflexes and an ever vigilant mind!

Another handy spell in a situation such as this, is the Disillusionment Charm. This causes the target to become invisible. Obviously one doesn’t want all one’s objets d’art and appliances to be invisible all the time, but, again, in an emergency involving a baby or toddler, this spell could prove to be a life-saver!

If one’s reactions were too slow in a scenario as described above, it is not necessary to panic, because all-purpose Reparo can repair most broken or damaged objects. It is safe to use on ceramics, wood and most types of plastic. Whether Mum uses Reparo in the kitchen (broken glasses, plates, coffee mugs) or Dad uses it in the garage (fixing folding chairs, children’s toys or even the car), this one is a must for every household. On holiday, one could easily use this spell to mend broken fishing rods or luggage zips.

Protecting one’s home against intruders is of the utmost importance. In this regard, I would suggest using the Anti-Disapparition Jinx, which prevents an enemy from entering a defended area, or used to trap an enemy in an area. Combined with Colloportus (which magically locks a door, preventing it from being opened by Muggles), safety from burglars and other unwanted elements is guaranteed. In certain suburbs and on isolated smallholdings, it is also recommended that the all-cover spell Protego Horribilis is enabled, to provide some protection against Dark Magic. One can never be too safety-conscious!

Everyone knows a mother’s love is the life-blood of the family, and her nurturing care is the glue that keeps them together. Sadly, many mothers find themselves on the receiving end of several unkind spells, which are not necessarily painful or fatal, but a nuisance nonetheless, especially when one remembers how much time and energy she devotes to her family. The most common one is the Jelly-Brain Jinx, which presumably affects one’s mental processes, although its exact action is not yet fully understood. When coupled with the Babbling Curse, this spell has led to exasperation and frustration in many homes. It is most commonly seen in women in the first three years after giving birth. The good news is that these spells do not cause any permanent damage. The effect thankfully starts to wear off after a few years, allowing the victim to return to her normal, intelligent and competent self.

Erica Neser © 2011

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