Patronus VS Spirit Animal (by Cara De Sausmarez)

Hi, my name is Cara, Hufflepuff, and a friend of Tegan who you all enjoy the amazing work from. She has given me the honour of being a guest blogger. At first I was very nervous about finding an interesting topic to talk about, having never blogged before. Finally, I came up with the idea of Patronuses vs Spirit Animals. I wondered what the differences were, so I began to do some research. I hope that you enjoy this blog, and if you do please subscribe to my youtube channel Cara LifeTravelFun for fun videos on various topics. You can also find me on twitter @CaraLTF

Enjoy the blog!


We all know of the beautiful corporeal Patronus forms and the way that the silver animals spring to a witch or wizard’s aid when they are endangered by a Dementor. But, for those who have been living under a rock for the last two decades I will give a summary. Within the world of Harry Potter there are magical creatures called Dementors. Now, Dementors are described to wear black cloaks, their faces unknown to those who are very lucky. Here is a description from the boy who lived himself:

“was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood. Harry’s eyes darted downward, and what he saw made his stomach contract. There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, greyish, slimy-looking, and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water…

It was visible only for a split second. As though the creature beneath the cloak sensed Harry’s gaze, the hand was suddenly withdrawn into the folds of the black material.

And then the thing beneath the hood, whatever it was, drew a long, slow, rattling breath, as though it were trying to suck something more than air from its surroundings.”

(J.K. Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban: The Dementor)

This is Harry’s first encounter with these vile creatures and it is a very chilling description! One would not wish to encounter these cloaked monsters. However, more dreadful than their appearance is what they actually do to you. J.K. Rowling has said on many occasions that these creatures are a symbol of depression, leaving their victims with only their most awful memories, sucking out the happiness which the creatures then feed upon. This is where a Patronus comes in.

A Patronus is a spell that a witch or wizard can cast to ward off a Dementor and prevent an attack. A corporeal Patronus is a solid form of a creature that wards of these fiends. Though this is a very difficult spell even for a full-grown wizard to perform; it requires you to focus on a very happy memory in order to conjure your animal protector. As previously mentioned, the main function of a Patronus is to fight off a Dementor however they can be used to communicate with other people by relaying messages, an ability demonstrated by Kingsley during The Wedding chapter of The Deathly Hallows.

Although today, we are not focusing on what a Patronus does –  that can be found in an article on Pottermore: Expecto Patronum that can explain much better than I.

Today we are asking what is behind the shape of the animal that leaps to the witch or wizard’s defence. Harry’s, of course, is a stag in memory of his father. Snape’s is a doe to symbolise his love for Lily whose Patronus was also a doe. Tonk’s Patronus changed into a wolf after she fell in love with Remus. So, this information tells us that a Patronus can be symbolic representations of those that we love. This can also be seen in the case of Ron and Hermione. Ron’s Patronus, a dog, will chase Hermione’s Patronus, an otter, much like their relationship is full of teasing and running for almost the entire series.

We know that these two characters have feelings for each other by the time we reach the book Prisoner of Azkaban, but we are sure 100% of their attraction during their fourth year at Hogwarts. This hidden love for each other, their bickering, and the jealousy that they feel when one of them shows interest in another person would symbolically be shown through their Patronus forms.

However, Ginny’s Patronus, a horse, does not appear to represent anyone and Luna’s, a hare, is the same. So, perhaps, they are representations of themselves and how they portray their own personalities. A horse is a strong creature who is friendly, but can be dangerous if mistreated, much like Ginny. Luna’s hare could represent her not fitting in completely as well as her curious, open nature. Pottermore shows the opinion of a wizard called Spangle, who believes that a Patronus is a “secret self that lies dormant until needed”. He says that this is why many wizards do not find themselves with their favourite animals as their guardians against evil. On the other hand, he goes on to say, “It is my firm belief that such a Patronus is an indicator of obsession or eccentricity. Here is a wizard who may not be able to hide their essential self in common life, who may, indeed, parade tendencies that other might prefer to conceal”. This could be the case for Snape’s Patronus as he could not tell his best friend that he was in love with her, in truth the only other who knows is Dumbledore (though it is likely that James Potter knew, making their rivalry stronger).

As shown by several characters, a Patronus can change whether the cause is grief, love or a new view of oneself. This suggests that a Patronus is a symbolic animal if how you view yourself or a representation of someone that you love, miss or feel safe with. For example, if my Patronus took the form of one of my best friends than it would be a panda. However, my Patronus happens to be an orca, a gentle, intelligent creature that is curious in nature. Orca’s are loyal and have their own cultures and languages. I believe that my Patronus is a representation of how I see myself.

Now, a spirit animal, according to an expert I spoke to, is a friend or close spirit that you knew before your soul made it’s earthly journey. They guide and aid you when you are faced with the problems of the world, almost like they are holding your hand and keeping you safe from harm. Unlike a Patronus which is a representation of yourself or someone whom you are close to a spirit animal is a creature that you identify with. We can influence each other’s power and enhance our energies, due to this connection.

There are four types of spirit guide: Messenger. Journey. Life. Shadow.

Again, according to my source, you have one permanent spirit animal who acts as your life guide. The clue is in the name, this creature will be with you for your entire life, you will be close with this guide and your soul will know the creature very well.

A messenger guide will come to warn or guide you when you are faced with a specific situation, one you are in the clear it will leave you again.

A journey guide will come to you when your life is at a cross road and you need guidance. They will remain with you until you have completed the path that you have taken.

Finally, there is the shadow guide. This guide can often be frightening at first but they have lessons to teach you about the parts of yourself which need to change and they will continue to be with you until the problem is resolved.

A spirit animal cannot be forced, you cannot make your sprit animal your favourite creature. Not many people get their desired companion.

Amusingly, my spirit animal and Patronus are now the same animal due to a six year old playing with my laptop and deleting my account. This was around two weeks ago, after I met my spirit animal. Most sections of Pottermore stayed the same. I am still a Hufflepuff, Pukwudgie and my wand I still apple wood, phoenix feather, 10 3/4 inches. The change in my Patronus supports my idea that a Patronus is a representation of oneself in the subconscious. By this point I knew that my spirit animal was an orca, therefore my Patronus could be a representation of me or it could be symbolic of my spiritual protector. Previously to the orca my Patronus was a Siberian cat, again a curious, intelligent animal which represented myself. Information I found online told me that an orca spirit animal suggests high intelligence and learning abilities, creativity, close connections to others and a strong sense of empathy.

From the research I have gathered I would argue that a Patronus is a part of you, a subconscious representation of oneself, whereas a spirit animal (especially your life guide) is another soul whom your soul knew before you took you earthly journey. It is a friendship and connection between two live spirits. This is the main separation between a Patronus and a spirit animal, one is subconscious, not truly alive. The other, is as real as you or I, a friend, a soulmate.


 For more Harry Potter discussions you can find Cara, Tegan and Cara’s friend Michael in Cara’s video blog Pottercast: What The Films Did Better Than The Books 


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