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"How does it work?" said Harry nervously.
"Well, when it works correctly, it conjures up a Patronus," said Lupin, "which is a kind of Anti-Dementor – a guardian which acts as a shield between you and the Dementor." ~extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
One of the most powerful bits of magic in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is no doubt the Patronus Charm, the only known defense against Dementors. This defensive charm is produced by the conjuring of the caster's most happiest memories—a practical exercise, as the Dementors are the embodiment of depression. The spell for this charm is "Expecto Patronum" and the wand movement varies but typically is a circular wave either above the head or in front of the body. When properly casted, the Patronus is expelled from the wand in silvery wisps almost like mist and protects the caster. For the really advanced wizard, the corporeal Patronus takes form of an animal.
Professor Lupin taught Harry to cast the Patronus Charm to protect himself from the Dementors, but their lessons turned into so much more. Lupin knew that the young witches and wizards of Hogwarts needed to know how to protect themselves from the real dangers of the world. Harry Potter in particular, being the Boy Who Lived. Lupin also taught us that the memory you choose to summon for the charm needs to be powerful, not just a thrilling moment like flying on a broom, as Harry had first attempted. The memory must be strong enough to make the spell-caster feel the same happiness they felt when the memory actually happened. So in place of the flying experience, Harry thought about the day he discovered he was a wizard and thinking about his parents. His corporeal Patronus takes form of a Stag, which is the same as his father.
So exactly how does one know what form their corporeal Patronus will take? The answer, there is no true way to know.
In 2016 J.K. Rowling released a feature on Pottermore that many fans had been anticipating, the "Discover Your Patronus" quiz. However this is controversial, because one's true happiest memory cannot be measured by any test. Happiness comes from within, and the Patronus takes form of the animal of which the caster holds the most empathy and emotional closeness with. Though many were pleased with their results on Pottermore, others found that their resulting animal made no sense to their happiest memory. The bottom line is this—no quiz can accurately cultivate a Patronus due to a quiz's inability to measure and feel one's emotions. You are better off imagining the animal you best identify with, and considering your happiest memory associated with the animal you feel better suits you. For instance—if you have a very calm temper, your Patronus may take form of a peaceful animal like a stingray. In that same sense, if you have a more aggressive demeanor, your Patronus very well could be an alligator. It's the sense that the animal best resembles your personality.
As a conclusion, I would like to remind readers of one thing—it is not in the Patronus where the true power lies, but rather in the person who has casted it. It's the power that happiness holds in one's memories that allows for the Patronus to combat the Dementors. The true power is within you, it's the ability to recall and feel a emotion a happy memory gave you. It does not matter if your Patronus takes form of a mere field mouse or of a mighty stag, it's the happiness from within that gives it strength.