magic in harry potter…..

Using magic

For a person’s ability to perform magic to be useful, a good deal of training is required. When ‘wild,’ typically with young and untrained children, it will still manifest itself subconsciously in moments of strong apprehension, fear, or anger. [2] For example, Harry Potter once made his hair grow back after a bad haircut, and, in anger, made his Aunt Marge inflate enormously. Whilst this reaction is almost always uncontrollable, Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort, was able to “make things move without touching them, … Make animals do what he wanted without training them, … make bad things happen to people who annoy him, … [or make] them hurt if I want to” (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pg. 271) when he was a young child, apparently intentionally.

Almost all magic is done with the use of a supporting tool or focus, typically a wand. On the subject of magic without the use of a wand, Rowling says:[3]

You can do unfocused and uncontrolled magic without a wand (for instance when Harry blows up Aunt Marge) but to do really good spells, yes, you need a wand.

A wizard or witch is only at their best when using their own wand. Throughout the series, it is evident that when using another’s wand, one’s spells are not as strong as they normally would be. (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, pg. 66)

Within the books, technical details of magic are obscure. Of Harry’s lessons only those involving magical creatures, potions or divination are given in any detail.

Severus Snape once told Harry Potter that “Time and space matter in magic…” during Harry’s first Occlumency class in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Albus Dumbledore told Harry after finding the magically concealed boat to reach the locket Horcrux that “Magic always leaves traces…sometimes distinctive traces…”

[edit] The limits of magic

Before publishing the first Harry Potter novel, Rowling spent five years establishing the limitations of magic; determining what it could and could not do. “The most important thing to decide when you’re creating a fantasy world,” she said in 2000, “is what the characters CAN’T do.” For instance, while it is possible to conjure things out of thin air, it is far more tricky to create something that fits an exact specification rather than a general one; moreover, any objects so conjured tend not to last.[4]

It is also impossible to resurrect the dead. Corpses can be transformed into obedient Inferi on a living wizard’s command, though they are little more than zombies with no soul or will of their own. It is also possible via the rare Priori Incantatem effect to converse with ghost-like “shadows” of magically murdered people. The Resurrection Stone also allows one to talk to the dead, but those brought back by the Stone are not corporeal, nor do they wish to be disturbed from their peaceful rest.

Likewise, it is impossible to make oneself immortal unless one makes use of a mystical object of great power to sustain life (such as the Philosopher’s Stone created by Nicolas Flamel or a Horcrux, the latter having been used by Lord Voldemort). If one were to possess the three Deathly Hallows, it is fabled that they would possess the tools to become the “master of death”. However, being a true “master of death” is to be willing to accept that death is inevitable.

A loop-hole (or more) exists to prevent the immediate murder of a wizard. Blood seems to be one of them; Harry Potter’s blood was used in Voldemort’s resurrection; however, since Lily Potter’s magical protection was in Harry’s blood and his blood flowed through Voldemort’s new body, Harry could not be killed while Voldemort was alive. He was, however, sent to limbo, where he was given the option of returning to life or moving on.

[edit] Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration

The Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration are five magical objects that are an exception to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration—objects that cannot be created by magic. Out of the five exceptions, only four are mentioned in the series: food, love, life, and information. The fifth and final exception of Gamp is probably money, as Rowling once remarked in an interview money is something wizards cannot simply materialise out of thin air,[3] for the economic system of the Wizarding World would then be gravely flawed and disrupted. However, the Philosopher’s Stone does pose the ability to make any metal into gold, which is the same metal as the currency of the Wizarding World.

Love, the second of the five exceptions, is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by Professor Slughorn.[4] Food, the first of the five exceptions, is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by Hermione and is later mentioned again by Ron[5]; the food in the kitchens at Hogwarts is not Conjured; rather, it is transported upwards through the floor from the basement.

While it is known that some cooks seemingly create sauces from their wand, it is possible that the sauces are temporary; this has the added benefit of creating something tasty without having additional fats. Another possible explanation is that the sauce is being transferred from a different location and pouring from the wand. Also, through the use of the Aguamenti spell, a wizard/witch can produce drinkable water, and Dolores Umbridge, in the twenty-eighth chapter (Snape’s Worst Memory) of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is able to conjure cups and glasses of tea, coffee and pumpkin juice, as part of her attempt to force the location of Professor Dumbledore and Sirius from Harry, though perhaps she merely transported them from elsewhere. Also in Chamber of Secrets, Professor McGonagall makes a plate of sandwiches, two silver goblets, and a jug of pumpkin juice appear out of thin air for Ron and Harry to eat, this however was most likely transported from the feast that was going on above them in the great hall.

[edit] Magic and emotion

A witch or wizard’s emotional state can affect their inherent abilities. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Nymphadora Tonks temporarily lost her power as a Metamorphmagus after suffering severe emotional turmoil when Remus Lupin would not return her affections. In effect, the form of her Patronus changed to reflect her love for him. As related to Harry by Dumbledore, Merope Gaunt only demonstrated any magical ability when removed from her father’s oppression, but then seemed to lose it again when her husband abandoned her. Many other examples of emotion-influenced magic appear throughout the series, with Ariana (Dumbledore’s sister), and Harry’s attack upon Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, being prime examples.

[edit] Magic and death

Like love, death is studied in detail in a room (called the Death Chamber) of the Department of Mysteries containing an enigmatic veil (this suggests some sort of portal between the worlds of the dead and the living, but the exact significance of the veil is unclear). Sirius Black fell through this veil to his death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Magical techniques have been used to prolong life. The Philosopher’s Stone can be used to prepare a potion that postpones death indefinitely. Lord Voldemort has availed himself of other methods, being one of the few wizards ever to use Horcruxes in his long sought attempt to “conquer death”, and is believed to be the only one to use multiple Horcruxes. Also, the drinking of Unicorn blood will keep a person alive even if death is imminent, but at the terrible price of being cursed forever.

Being magical can contribute to one’s longevity, as there are several characters in the series who are quite long-lived.

It is revealed by Nearly Headless Nick in Book 5 that wizards have the option of becoming ghosts when they die. The alternative is “passing on”. All Hogwarts headmasters appear in a portrait when they die, allowing consultation by future generations.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore says that there is no spell that can reawaken the dead, however several instances of dead people becoming half-alive are known. In the Goblet of Fire, because of a connection between Harry and Voldemort’s wands, images of Voldemort’s recent victims (Cedric Diggory, Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, and both of Harry’s parents) appear and help Harry escape. According to Harry they seemed too solid to be ghosts.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a magical item known as the Resurrection Stone is said to have the power to raise the dead. According to the legend of the Deathly Hallows, however, the people aren’t fully brought back and don’t feel as if they belong in the human world.

[edit] Magic and love

Arguably the most powerful form of magic is also the most mysterious and elusive: love. Lord Voldemort, having never experienced love himself, underestimates its influence—to his detriment. It is also significant that Voldemort’s parents did not love each other, Merope, his mother, sneaked him some love potion as he rode by one day without his attractive companion, Cecilia. He became infatuated with Merope and they eloped. Within three months of the marriage, Merope became pregnant. Merope decided to stop giving Tom the love potion; she either believed that he had fallen in love with her on his own or he would at least stay for their unborn child. She was wrong, and Tom quickly left his pregnant wife and went home to his parents, claiming to have been “hoodwinked” and tricked into marrying Merope. It was through love that Lily Potter was able to save her son Harry from death by sacrificing her life so that he might live. Harry used very much the same mechanism to negate the power of Voldemort’s spells against the students and teachers of Hogwarts. The exact nature of how “love-magic” works is unknown; it is studied in-depth at the Department of Mysteries.

[edit] Spellcasting

See the list of spells for those witnessed in books.

Spells are the every-purpose tools of a wizard or witch; short bursts of magic used to accomplish single specialised tasks such as opening locks or creating fire. Typically casting requires an incantation, most often in a modified form of Latin (see Dog Latin), and gesturing with a wand. However, these seem to be aids to the will only; wands are in most cases required, but there are indications that sufficiently advanced witches and wizards can perform spells without them. Spells can also be cast non-verbally, but with a wand. This technique is taught in the sixth year of study at Hogwarts and requires the caster to concentrate on the incantation. Some spells (e.g. Levicorpus) are apparently designed to be used non-verbally. While most magic shown in the books requires the caster to use their voice, some do not (and this may depend on the witch or wizard). Albus Dumbledore has been known to do good-sized feats of magic without speaking, such as conjuring enough squashy purple sleeping bags to accommodate the entire student population[HP3].

It is evidently also possible to use your wand without holding it. Harry himself performs Lumos to light his wand when it is lying on the ground somewhere near him[HP5]. This should not be confused with wandless magic, as the wand was still the source of light. It is unknown where the light would originate if one were to use Lumos without a wand present. Additionally, Animagi and Metamorphmagi do not need wands to undergo their transformations.

Spells are divided into rough categories, such as “charms“, “curses“, “hexes“, or “jinxes“. Although offensive and potentially dangerous curses exist in number, three are considered to be usable only for great evil, which earns them the special classification of “Unforgivable Curses“. The use of these spells on another human being earns a “one-way ticket to Azkaban” and a life sentence unless you have Ministry authorization to use these curses, such as Aurors, or teachers that demonstrate for instructional purposes.

[edit] The Wizarding World

Main article: Wizarding world

The wizarding society exists as a shadow society to the Muggle world and works as hard as it can to keep its existence a secret, save for all but a few Muggles, such as those who are related to witches and wizards, or important Muggles such as the Prime Minister. To most magical people the Muggle world is unknown, and their attempts to disguise themselves as Muggles often have mostly humorous results. Muggle Studies at Hogwarts is considered a soft option. Most things of magical nature are hidden or otherwise obscured from Muggles; others (such as Dementors) simply cannot be seen by them, but Muggles do feel the effects of them. There is also an office in the Ministry of Magic, for the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts, that deals with people charming objects typically found in a Muggle society, such as the Ford Anglia which Mr. Weasley charmed, or Caractacus Burke‘s opal necklace that killed eleven people.

The Muggle Prime Minister is always first alerted to the existence of magic and the wizarding world on the evening after his election, when the Minister of Magic uses the Floo network to appear in his (or her) office. Thereafter, he (or she) is only visited by what the Prime Minister in book 6 called the Other Minister in the occurrence of an event that could have a great impact on Muggles, such as the occasion when Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, or when a new Minister of Magic takes office. On all occasions the Prime Minister is given advance notice of the visit by a portrait of a wizard, who tells him about the impending arrival. The portrait can never be removed from the wall, at least not by non-magical means.

The terms “wizard” and “witch” are used in magical society more or less the same way the terms “man” and “woman” are used in the Muggle world, and do not have the connotations (pejorative or otherwise) normally indicated by their use in English.

[edit] Floo Network

The Floo Network is a system of connected fireplaces by which the wizards and witches travel as an alternative to apparition, portkeys and broomsticks. The Network is maintained by the Floo Network Authority, an office that is part of the Department of Magical Transportation within the Ministry of Magic.[6] ‘One off’ connections to the Floo network can connect a Muggle home for a short period of time. Arthur Weasley does this to collect Harry from the Dursleys and it is also used to send the students back to Hogwarts in the 6th book because it is getting more and more dangerous to travel with Lord Voldemort on the loose.

[edit] Magical abilities

The following is a list of special abilities that a wizard or witch in the Harry Potter universe may have.

[edit] Animagi transformation

An Animagus is a witch or wizard who can turn into a particular animal at will. This ability is not innate: it must be acquired by magical means. All Animagi must register at a central authority; it is illegal to obtain this ability without registering, although out of the five Animagi described as such in the books (Minerva McGonagall, Rita Skeeter, James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew), four either never registered before their death or are currently living and unregistered (McGonagall is the only mentioned registered Animagus).

Each Animagus has a specific animal form, and cannot transform into any other animal. The animal cannot be chosen: it is uniquely suited to that individual’s personality, like the Patronus charm, and in some cases the Animagus will change into the same animal used in the person’s Patronus charm (as shown by McGonagall’s spectacled cat Patronus in DH). Similarly, when an Animagus transforms it is always into the exact same animal (i.e. same markings, same colours, etc.). When an Animagus registers, they must record all the defining physical traits of their animal form so that the Ministry can identify them.

Explicit emphasis is made in the books on the differences between Animagi and werewolves. Animagi have full control over their transformations and retain their minds, whereas werewolves’ transformations are involuntary and include severe changes in personality. In addition, an Animagus elects to turn into an animal but a werewolf has no choice. After the person has transformed into a werewolf he no longer remembers who he is; he would kill his best friend if he got anywhere near him. A werewolf only responds to the call of his own kind. The only way that a werewolf can retain his sanity, intelligence and memory while transformed is through the use of the Wolfsbane Potion.

[edit] Metamorphmagi

A Metamorphmagus (a portmanteau of metamorph and magus) is a witch or wizard born with the innate ability to change some or all of their appearance at will. The talent cannot be acquired, a witch or wizard who has it must be born with it.

Nymphadora Tonks and her son are currently the only known Metamorphmagi; it is a very rare ability. She has been known to change her hair colour and style in accordance with her mood. Indeed, she even appears as an old lady on occasion. For entertainment, she also has been known to change the shape of her nose at the dinner table. Her son, Teddy Lupin, also inherited this trait, as his hair is mentioned repeatedly changing colour.

The extend of a these appearance-altering abilities and the limits thereof are not entirely clear. According to J.K. Rowling, a metamorphmagus can alter his or her appearance completely, for instance, from black to white, young to old, handsome to plain and so on.[7] However, it is unlikely metamorpmagi can change their appearance into anything other than human, as this is never mentioned in the books, nor do we see Tonks change her appearance in anything that is not human, completely nor partially (although this is seen briefly in the first film she appears in, but this can not be considered canonical). Though she does change her nose into “a beak-like protuberance” and “a nose like pig-snout”, [8] both are still human – the first resembling Snape and the second reminding Harry of a female Dudley.

[edit] Parselmouths

Parseltongue is the language of snakes. It is in the common mind associated with Dark Magic (although Albus Dumbledore has stated that it is not a necessarily evil quality), and those possessing the ability to speak it (“Parselmouths“) are very rare. It appears to be a skill acquired through both learning and genetic inheritance (or by use of Dark or dangerous Magic). Harry Potter is a Parselmouth: it is revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that this is due to part of Voldemort’s soul residing within Harry.[9]

Other known Parselmouths include: Herpo the Foul; Salazar Slytherin and his descendants, including the Gaunts (Marvolo, Morfin, Merope); and Lord Voldemort. Albus Dumbledore can understand Parseltongue. [5] In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince he repeats Morfin Gaunt‘s words “the big house over the way”, which were spoken in Parseltongue.

Ginny Weasley is not a Parselmouth, despite the fact that at points in Chamber of Secrets she appeared to speak in Parseltongue: she was at the time being possessed by the spirit of Tom Marvolo Riddle, who was himself a Parselmouth. Tom Marvolo Riddle would become Lord Voldemort.

Ron Weasley uses Parseltongue in the final book to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, but only through persistently trying to mimic the sounds Harry made. This, along with Dumbledore’s comprehension of Parseltongue, indicates that the language may not necessarily be a strictly magical trait, but can be a learned art.

J. K. Rowling borrowed the term from “an old word for someone who has a problem with the mouth, like a hare lip.” [6]

An earlier analogue of Parseltongue can be found in the character Hown Serpent-tamer, in Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse novels.

[edit] Flying

Voldemort can do this without the aid of a broom or carpet, as can Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Hagrid reveals to Harry that he “flew” in order to reach the island that Uncle Vernon had taken his family to in order to escape the letters coming from Hogwarts, in the fourth chapter of the first book; the means of flying is not revealed, nor is any physical evidence of a flying apparatus indicated. Severus Snape flies out of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; he left the school through an upper-story window, and Minerva McGonagall said that he was unhurt as ‘he had learned some tricks’ from Voldemort. Levicorpus can be cast onto people to make them levitate, but they have no control, and can only rise upwards. It is stated that flying unsupported defies the laws of magic, as only objects are known to float with a flying charm. Objects are also known to be enchanted so they fly. Sirius Black had a flying motorbike that he loaned to Hagrid to bring Harry to the Dursleys and Arthur illegally enchanted a Ford Anglia to fly. These machines work like usual except that they are in the air, this could explain how Hagrid flew to get Harry out on the island.

[edit] Seers

A Seer is a witch or wizard with the clairvoyant ability to predict future events. The predictions given through this ability can sometimes be self-fulfilling prophecies, and Albus Dumbledore states in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that not all of them come true, depending on the choices made by those mentioned. This would seem to indicate that a Seer predicts possible or likely events, at least in some cases.

Each prophecy made by a Seer is recorded in a glass sphere and stored in the Hall of Prophecy of the Department of Mysteries within the Ministry of Magic and can only be retrieved by one of the people mentioned in it.

According to Minerva McGonagall, true Seers are extremely rare. Sybill Trelawney is the only Seer shown in the books, although it is mentioned that Sybill’s great-great-grandmother, Cassandra Trelawney, was a renowned Seer in her day.

[edit] Legilimency and Occlumency

Legilimency is the magical skill of extracting feelings and memories from another person’s mind — a form of magical “mind-reading” (although Severus Snape, an able practitioner of the art, dismisses the colloquial term as a drastic oversimplification). It also allows one to convey visions or memories to another person, whether real or imaginary. A witch or wizard possessing this skill is called a Legilimens, and can, for example, detect lies and deceit in another person, witness memories in another person’s past, or “plant” false visions in another’s mind.

The counter-skill to Legilimency is Occlumency, by which one can compartmentalise one’s emotions, or prevent a Legilimens from discovering thoughts or memories which contradict one’s spoken words or actions.

Lord Voldemort, Severus Snape, and Albus Dumbledore are all known to be quite skilled in Legilimency. Throughout the books, Snape is repeatedly said to be highly skilled in Occlumency. Lord Voldemort is said to be the master of Legilimency by Severus Snape (which could be a lie), as he immediately knows during conversations if someone lies to him except for Severus Snape. It is possible that Snape was more accomplished as an Occlumens than Voldemort was as a Legilimens.

The skills are first mentioned in Order of the Phoenix, (though Harry gets the impression before that Snape can read minds) wherein Snape is instructed by Dumbledore to give Harry lessons in Occlumency. Whether as a result of negligence in Snape’s instruction, or poor aptitude on Harry’s part, Harry never made any progress in the skill, and as a result he was lured by Voldemort through a carefully calculated vision he falsely believed to be real. Only once has Harry managed to overcome Snape with the use of Occlumency, in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, chapter “Seen and Unforeseen.” During the lesson, Harry notices that the Dementors become fainter and Snape becomes clearer.

Much later, in Deathly Hallows, Harry seems to have finally mastered Occlumency, blocking out Voldemort’s mind without even being conscious of it. He could willingly dispel the block later in the book to gain knowledge of Voldemort’s happenings parallel to their own action in that time frame. This may indicate that Harry is able to employ Legilimency against Voldemort, obtaining from him vital pieces of knowledge and the inner feelings of his adversary.

Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, Barty Crouch Jr and Horace Slughorn may also have some skill in Occlumency, since Bellatrix was said to have taught Draco to shield his thoughts from Snape[HP6], Narcissa’s treachery is not detected when Voldemort asks her to check Harry’s pulse after he has seemingly killed him, [HP7] while Dumbledore could not use his Legilimency skills to extract a memory from Slughorn[HP6].

The key to good Occlumency, as described by J. K. Rowling, is to be capable of hiding or suppressing one’s emotions. This is why Snape and Dumbledore are accomplished Occlumens, because they are able to hide what they are truly feeling, and Malfoy is able to suppress his good side. Harry had trouble mastering Occlumency because he embraces his emotions.

[edit] Apparition and Disapparition

Apparition is a form of teleportation, through which a witch or wizard can disappear (“Disapparate“) from one location and reappear (“Apparate“) in another. It is sometimes accompanied by a distinctive cracking or popping sound, though this is associated with ineptitude rather than success; the most skilled magicians can Apparate “so suddenly and silently” that they seem to have “popped out of the ground” (Dumbledore). The act is also accompanied by a very unpleasant squeezing sensation, as though being sent through a tight rubber tube, according to Harry.[HP6]

Apparition is licensed by the Ministry of Magic, and a witch or wizard must be 17 years old or older and have a license to use Apparition. This is similar to the way real-world governments require individuals to have a license to drive a motor vehicle. Students at Hogwarts may attend Ministry lessons in Apparition during their sixth year, and may take their examination once they turn seventeen.

The training is difficult, and students run the risk of splinching — being physically split between the origin and destination — which, during lessons, requires the assistance of the Ministry’s Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to undo. Splinching is quite common during lessons, and can be uncomfortable (and at times rather gruesome) depending on the body parts splinched, but is ultimately harmless if properly reversed. Ron Weasley left behind half-an-eyebrow during his first Apparition exam, causing him to fail, and splinched himself twice in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

For reasons of security, the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are protected by ancient Anti-Apparition and Anti-Disapparition spells, which prevents humans from using Apparition in the school grounds. This does not extend to magical creatures such as house-elves and phoenixes, who can still use their own form of Apparition. It is also possible to prevent individuals from using Apparition, as Dumbledore did with the Death Eaters in Order of the Phoenix, who held them until Ministry officials could take them into custody.

It is considered rude to Apparate directly into a private area, such as a residence. For this reason, and for reasons of security, many private residences also have Anti-Apparition spells protecting them from uninvited intrusions. The accepted way to travel to a residence is to Apparate near the destination, and proceed to the final destination on foot. Apparition is considered unreliable over long distances, and even experienced users of the technique sometimes prefer other means of transport, such as broomsticks.

A wizard or witch can use Side-Along Apparition to take others with them during Apparition. This is used by Dumbledore on Harry several times, and notably, Harry uses Side-Along Apparition to take the weakened Dumbledore back from the seaside cave containing Voldemort’s Locket Horcrux. Also, Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, used Side-Along-Apparition to take Dumbledore with him when avoiding arrest from the Ministry. This suggests that phoenixes, like elves, can teleport anywhere, even in places with Anti-Apparition spells (this is also written in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”).

In the “Order of the Phoenix” film, Death Eaters and Order members Apparated and Disapparated in clouds of smoke. Death Eaters would appear and disappear in black smoke, Order members in white. In the movie, both sides also seemed to be able to “half-apparate” in which their bodies were made out of smoke, giving them the ability to fly. This is not canon to the books. Interestingly, both times Fred and George apparated and disapparated, they did it with a pop as in the books.

It is never clearly stated in the books whether human Apparition requires a wand. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron Weasley attempts unsuccessfully to Disapparate from captivity at Malfoy’s Manor while he does not have a wand, and some theorize that this is evidence a wizard needs a wand to Apparate. However, it is more likely that the cellar in which he was held, or the Manor itself, was bound by an Anti-Apparition spell.

In the books, the words “Apparate” and “Disapparate”, like many other neologisms used by Rowling, are capitalised, whereas established English words such as “jinx” and “hex” are not. The words themselves are most likely derived from the French apparaître and disparaître meaning to appear and disappear.

[edit] Other teleportation

Some other forms of instantaneous movement occur in the book, such as a house elf’s ability to teleport or Fawkes’s ability to disappear in a burst of flame. (In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it is stated that all phoenixes have this ability.) In the novels, Harry refers to this as “Apparition” but this may be because of Harry’s naivety and not actual fact. This theory is further reinforced as neither Fawkes nor house elves are restricted by anti-Apparition magic. Fawkes also vanishes silently and in a burst of flame, whereas a wizard Apparating is accompanied by a very loud “bang” (or a quiet “pop”) with no visible effect.

[edit] Veela charm

An ability attributed to Veela and those of Veela heritage, such as Fleur Delacour. It is used to charm males, much like the Sirens in The Odyssey.

Harry seems more immune to this than Ron and most others, though the first time he was exposed to it his reaction was similar to Ron’s. Men who are exposed to it over a period of time become more resistant to it, although the Veela charm takes full effect if the Veela surprises the man, as noted by Ron in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

It is possible that Victoire Weasley has inherited this ability from Fleur.

As no men of Veela decent have been portrayed in the books, it is unknown whether they would also have this ability, or if Veela can even have male descendants.

As shown in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Veela hair can be used as cores to create wands. According to famed wandmaker Mr. Ollivander, these wands are a little unstable.

[edit] Magical resistance

This refers to a certain degree of immunity against hexes and spells found in powerful creatures such as trolls, dragons, and giants. Hagrid, for example, is resistant to certain spells, like the Stunning Spell, due to his giant blood. Yet such a resistance is not insurmountable; if six Stunning Spells are fired at a dragon (or any other creature with magical resistance) at once, the dragon may still be rendered unconscious.

[edit] Spell-like effects

[edit] Unbreakable Vow

The Unbreakable Vow is a voluntary agreement made between two wizards or witches. It must be performed with a witness (“Bonder”) on hand, holding their wand on the agreeing persons’ linked hands to bind them with a tongue of flame. The Vow is not literally “unbreakable” as the person taking it is still able to go back on his/her word, but doing so will cause instant death. The Unbreakable Vow was first introduced in Half-Blood Prince, in which Severus Snape made a promise to Narcissa Malfoy to carry out her son’s, Draco Malfoy, task should he fail. Another example in Half-Blood Prince occurs when Ron tells about how Fred and George tried to make him undertake an Unbreakable Vow, but they did not succeed.

[edit] Priori Incantatem

Priori Incantatem, or the Reverse Spell Effect, is used to detect the spells cast by a wand. The spells cast by the wand will emerge in smoky or ghost-like replicas in reverse order, with the latest spell emerging first. This spell is first encountered in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. When the house elf Winky is found holding Harry’s wand, this spell is used to reveal that it was indeed this wand which cast the Dark Mark. In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, it is revealed that the teenage Voldemort murdered his father and grandparents using his uncle Morfin’s wand, knowing that, when examined, the wand would incriminate Morfin as the murderer. In Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter feared that a Prior Incantato spell would be used on Hermione Granger‘s wand after the Death Eaters had got hold of it. This would reveal that she had accidentally broken his holly-and-phoenix-feather wand (with her wand) when a curse misfired and they both narrowly escaped Lord Voldemort earlier. As a result, the protection of the shared cores was lost and, worse still, this would now be made known to Voldemort. During the final duel between Harry and Voldemort, the latter mentions that he knows that the holly and phoenix wand is destroyed, implying that the Priori Incantato had indeed been performed on Hermione’s wand, as they had feared.

The effect of Priori Incantatem can also be caused by forcing two wands that share the source of their cores to do battle. The tips of the two wands will connect, forming a thick golden “thread” of energy, and the two wands’ masters fight a battle of wills. The loser’s wand will regurgitate shadows of spells that it has cast in reverse order. This phenomenon occurred during the duel between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort at the end of Goblet of Fire. Their simultaneous spells (Harry and Voldemort cast “Expelliarmus” and “Avada Kedavra” respectively) triggered the threads, and as Voldemort lost the battle of wills, his wand regurgitated, in reverse order, shades of the spells he had cast with it- screams of pain from torturing various victims, a shadowy form of the silver hand he had just created for Wormtail, and echoes of the people his wand had murdered: Cedric Diggory; Frank Bryce; Bertha Jorkins; and James and Lily Potter. Albus Dumbledore later revealed to Harry that his and Lord Voldemort’s wands both shared a tail feather given by Dumbledore’s pet Phoenix, Fawkes. Harry was previously informed by Mr. Ollivander that the holly wand that “chose” Harry was the “brother” of the yew wand that gave him the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, although the significance of this was not discussed at that time.

[edit] Life debts

Life debts are generated when one witch or wizard saves another’s life.[10] In the third book of the series, Dumbledore refers to this as “This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable.” In this book, Harry stops Sirius Black from killing Peter Pettigrew, thus putting Pettigrew in debt to Harry. This debt is repaid in the 7th and final book, where Pettigrew hesitates in killing Harry, thus allowing Harry to escape while forfeiting his own life through invocation of Voldemort’s wrath. Another example is when Harry’s father, James, was at Hogwarts. Sirius Black had tricked the young Severus Snape into entering the Shrieking Shack, where Lupin was held during his transformations into a werewolf. James saved Snape and this debt is repaid many times during the series, e.g.: in the first book where Snape counter-curses Quirrell’s attempt to knock Harry off his broom. This, however, may have had less to do with James’ actions and more to do with Snape’s love for Harry’s mother, Lily.

JK Rowling however has stated that life debts are nothing to do with magic.

[edit] Dark Arts

The Dark Arts are those magical spells and practices that are usually used for malicious purposes. The Arts themselves stem from the worst impulses in human nature (for example, a sadist would be proficient in the Cruciatus Curse, which involves torturing a victim). Practitioners are referred to as Dark wizards or witches. The most prominent of these is Lord Voldemort, whose followers, known as Death Eaters, practice the Dark Arts while doing his bidding.

According to Hogwarts professor Severus Snape, the Dark Arts “are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal…unfixed, mutating, indestructible.” (Half-Blood Prince, p.169). They also appear to be the most common form of magic used by criminals, while dangerous spells used by others in the books are frequently labelled Dark. In magical duelling, for example, there are any number of spells that may be used to attack, immobilise, or disarm an opponent without causing pain or lasting harm; however, spells such as the Cruciatus Curse or Sectumsempra, judged to be Dark by reliable authorities, actually wound or seriously distress a victim in some way.

The motivation of the caster affects a spell’s result. This is most notable in the case of Cruciatus: when cast by Harry, angered by the death of his godfather and desiring to punish the murderer, it causes a short moment of pain; as the murderess comments, wavering anger does not allow the spell to work for long. When cast by figures such as Lord Voldemort, who desire to inflict serious pain and damage, it causes intense agony that can last as long as the Dark wizard desires. Use of Dark Magic can corrupt the soul and body; such magic has been used by Lord Voldemort in his quest to prolong his life and obtain great power. Dark magic also caused Voldemort to look deformed and inhuman, a side effect of splitting his soul into Horcruxes.

In the Wizarding world, use of the Dark Arts is strongly stigmatised and even illegal; however, these spells are prevalent enough that even before the rise of Lord Voldemort, many schools, (including Hogwarts), taught Defense Against the Dark Arts as a standard subject. Techniques include anti-curses and simple spells to disable or disarm attackers or fight off certain creatures. Some schools, such as Durmstrang, actually teach Dark Magic. A Dark Arts class was also taught at Hogwarts while it was under Death Eater control.

[edit] Curses

Curses are usually offensive spells that cause harm to the target. On Rowling’s official site, she describes curses as a spell type characterizing dark magic.[11] All, to a certain degree, are in some circumstances justifiable, and the use even of the Unforgivable Curses by Aurors was sanctioned during the closing years of Voldemort’s first rise.

Curses identified as Dark in the books include:

  • Sectumsempra – a curse that causes slashing wounds on the victim and can remove body parts if aimed properly.
  • Antonin Dolohov’s Curse (incantation unknown) – this curse causes serious internal injury without leaving external marks, suggesting it is some form of telekinetic impulse that inflicts blunt-force injuries and crush wounding to the target; when Harry is struck by a partially shielded version of the curse, the experience is described as being “like a blunt knife slashed across his face”.
  • Horcrux Curse (incantation unknown) – a curse, apparently abhorred by most wizards, that allows the caster to store a fragment of his or her soul in the target object, making it a Horcrux. However, the caster must commit murder, a truly evil deed, in order to split the soul. As long as the object is not destroyed, the wizard cannot die.
  • Morsmordre – conjures the Dark Mark. It is used exclusively by the Death Eaters to signify that they have killed or to lure someone into a trap.
  • Fiendfyre – a spell that creates apparently-sentient “cursed fire” that assumes the shape of dark creatures and animals that attack the opponent. This fire is one of the few forces capable of destroying a Horcrux.
  • Petrification – a “Dark Magic of the most advanced kind” (Dumbledore). Petrifies the victim, rendering him/her/it unable to move. The effects of this curse are removed when the victims take a potion made from full-grown mandrakes.
  • Inferius curse/spell. According to Professor Dumbledore, Inferi are “dead bodies that have been bewitched to do a Dark wizard’s bidding” (HBP). The spell or method of awakening Inferi, however, is unknown, but it is considered to be Dark magic, demonstrated by the fact that Professor Snape teaches his students about Inferi in his Defence Against the Dark Arts class (HBP).

[edit] Unforgivable Curses

Main article: Unforgivable Curses

[edit] Others

Some spells are considered Dark Magic, even though they are not intended to cause injury.

A love potion can be classified as an example of Dark Art, since it overrides the victim’s true feelings. Generally love potions are not taken particularly seriously, so it seems unlikely that they are truly dangerous in a traditional sense. (Hermione Granger claims that they are neither Dark nor dangerous, Harry’s response is to consider one of the girls attempting to slip him one and to disagree.)

Petrificus Totalus (mentioned in The Philosophers Stone) can be described as Dark Magic but it is intended only to immobilize the victim for some time, thus allowing the caster to get away without harm. If the caster is a Dark wizard, however, the results of the spell can be serious.

[edit] Dark Wizards

Dark Wizards are identified by their use of Dark Magic or Dark Items. Though many are Death Eaters, this is not always the case. Slytherin house at Hogwarts is identified as the house most accepting of the Dark Arts. Aside from the Death Eaters, other Dark Wizards include:

  • Gellert Grindelwald
  • Herpo the Foul
  • Mr Borgin
  • Caractacus Burke
  • Numerous witches and wizards at Knockturn alley

[edit] Dark Mark

The Dark Mark as produced in film.

The Dark Mark as produced in film.

The Dark Mark as seen on the back cover of the American Edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The Dark Mark as seen on the back cover of the American Edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The Dark Mark is the symbol of Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters. It looks like a skull with a snake coming out of the mouth in place of the tongue. As a spell it is cast by a Death Eater whenever he or she has murdered someone. The spell used by Death Eaters to conjure the Mark is Morsmordre. It first appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and is described as a “colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue.” Once in the sky it was “blazing in a haze of greenish smoke.”.

The Dark Mark brand on Barty Crouch Jr's left arm, as portrayed in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Dark Mark brand on Barty Crouch Jr’s left arm, as portrayed in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Dark Marks are also branded on the left forearm of the closest followers of Voldemort. The mark serves as a connection between Lord Voldemort and each who bear it, he can summon them by touching his mark, causing it and those of his followers to burn and change colour. Death Eaters can summon Voldemort in the same fashion.

Following Voldemort’s ultimate defeat, the Dark Marks on his Death Eaters fade into a scar “not dissimilar” to Harry’s.[12]

[edit] Dark items

Dark Items are magical objects that have a malign purpose or are otherwise principally associated with Dark Magic. Of these, the most notable is the Horcrux, an object carrying a piece of the creator’s divided soul. Creating a Horcrux is one of the most terrible magical acts, as the creator must commit murder as part of the process. This item bears a striking similarity to a phylactery, a fantasy object that contains a spellcaster’s soul turning him or her into a lich. The phylactery, too, can resurrect the creator.

The Dark Items have two main purposes:

  • To aid the user of the item.
  • To curse or manipulate unsuspecting users.

[edit] Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort

  • Tom Riddle’s diary
  • Marvolo Gaunt‘s ring
  • Salazar Slytherin‘s locket
  • Helga Hufflepuff‘s cup
  • Rowena Ravenclaw‘s diadem
  • Nagini the snake
  • Harry Potter – Although Dumbledore tells Harry that he was the Horcrux that was never ‘meant to be’, J. K. Rowling tells[13] The Leaky Cauldron in an audio interview that she had made Dumbledore say that for ‘simplicity’. She says that for an object to be transformed into a Horcrux, the object (or receptacle, as she calls it) must be made ready to receive the bit of soul. By the time Voldemort went to kill Harry, his soul was so unstable that when the killing curse rebounded onto him, the force of it ripped his soul into two, one which entered the closest living being in the vicinity (Harry). The other half of the soul is the bit that Voldemort clings on to for 13 years until his rebirth. Rowling makes it clear that Harry was not a Horcrux, although he carried a bit of Voldemort’s soul in his body for 16 years.

[edit] Other Dark Items

  • Forbidden Books including:
    • Sonnets of a Sorcerer, which forces the reader to speak forever in rhyme
    • A book that sears the eyes of the reader
    • A book that the reader cannot stop reading or dispose of.
  • The Hand of Glory (a mummified hand that can hold a candle, the light from which being visible only to the holder of the Hand).
  • Unnamed items which can be found in Borgin & Burkes
    • Blood-stained playing cards
    • A staring glass eye
    • Evil-looking masks
    • Human bones
    • Rusty, spiked instruments
    • Long coil of hangman’s rope
    • Opal necklace that is cursed and has claimed the lives of nineteen Muggles and is also known to of nearly killed Katie Bell in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
  • Items which can be found in Knockturn Alley
    • Poisonous candles
    • Human fingernails
  • Items which can be found in Number 12 Grimmauld Place
    • Biting silver snuffbox filled with Wartcap Powder
    • A spidery instrument, rather like a many-legged tweezers, which scurried away and tried to puncture Harry’s skin, destroyed by Sirius
    • A music box that played a sinister but compelling tune which would have put all the listeners into an enchanted sleep, had it not been stopped by Ginny Weasley
    • A grandfather clock that shot heavy bolts at passers-by
    • An ancient set of purple robes that tried to strangle Ron
    • An ornate crystal bottle with a large opal set into the stopper, full of what looked like blood
    • Claws
    • Rusty daggers
    • Coiled snakeskin

[edit] Inferius

An Inferius (plural: Inferi) is a corpse controlled through a Dark wizard’s spells. An Inferius is not alive, but a dead body that has been bewitched into acting like a puppet for the witch or wizard. It is apparent that Inferi cannot think for themselves: they are created to perform a specific duty assigned by the Dark wizard who commands them, and as seen in the Inferi guarding Lord Voldemort‘s Horcrux in a sea-side cave, remain idle until their task can be performed. This task is then thoughtlessly carried out, whether or not it will produce any result. Inferi are difficult to harm by magic; however, they can be repelled by fire or any other forms of heat or light, as the Inferi in Voldemort’s cave had never been exposed to either of these elements. When defeated, they return to their idle state.

Inferi are more or less modified versions of zombies (which have been mentioned as apparently separate creatures [HP1]), much closer to the zombies of Voodoo folklore than those usually portrayed in films. They are considered dangerous and frightening enough by the magical world that impersonating an Inferius (as Mundungus Fletcher does in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) is an offence worthy of imprisonment in Azkaban. The word Inferi is the Latin name for Hades, the Greek underworld where the dead reside, as inferus means “below” in Latin.

The Ministry of Magic fears that Voldemort is killing enough people to make an army of Inferi: as they are dead, they are very difficult to stop. When Voldemort was hiding one of his Horcruxes in the past, he filled a lake in a cave with many Inferi, which were to attack and drown anyone but Voldemort who came into the cavern and took the locket. When Harry and Dumbledore took the locket, the Inferi attacked Harry, and Dumbledore repelled them with a rope of fire. It is also revealed that the Inferi almost killed Kreacher after he took a drink from the basin in order to help Voldemort hide his Horcruxes. One of the many Inferi in the lake was Regulus Black, who switched the lockets in an attempt to bring Voldemort down.

[edit] Dark creatures

[edit] Portraits

In the Harry Potter series the subjects of magical portraits (even those of characters that are dead) can move (or simulate motion, at least within the two-dimensional plane of the picture), interact with living observers, speak, and demonstrate apparent emotion and personality. Some can even move to other portraits to visit each other, or to relay messages, or (if more than one painting of the subject exists) can move between separate locations via their portraits. Many such portraits are found on the walls of Hogwarts. It is unknown how magical portraits come into being: whether they are produced by a painter or brought into existence by other means. Magical photographs with similar properties are created by developing normal film in a magic potion.

At least two portraits, that of The Fat Lady and of Ariana Dumbledore, can perform at least one action with a direct effect on the world outside the frame of her painting. The Fat Lady’s portrait is the door that covers the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, and she can swing the portrait open or closed to allow or prevent entry. Ariana’s was able to swing open revealing the secret passage from the Hog’s Head Inn to Hogwarts that was created by Neville Longbottom using the Room of Requirement.

Portraits can also move between paintings, going wherever they like in the Hogwarts grounds. However, outside the grounds, portraits can only move to other paintings (of themselves) or with which they are linked, for example, Phineas Nigellus Black who has a painting in The Headmaster’s Office and at 12 Grimmauld Place. In “The Deathly Hallows” Harry asks Phineas Nigellus to bring him Dumbledore’s painting from Hogwarts through to the 12 Grimmauld Place copy; this is when Black explains that paintings can only move out of Hogwarts into copies of themselves.

In “Deathly Hallows” Snape takes instruction and advice from Dumbledore’s portrait; suggesting that portraits retain memories and personality, or can be enchanted to retain memories. Dumbledore’s portrait also cries when it finds that Harry was successful in defeating Lord Voldemort, again suggesting that portraits keep the memories of those they are painted after.

Authorial statements regarding portraits have been vague. J. K. Rowling made a comment in an interview that a portrait is something like a faint imprint of the person in question, imitating the basic attitude and thought patterns of the person, though less realised than a ghost [14] (ghosts, as Nearly Headless Nick explains, are the souls of wizards who feared to leave the world).

[edit] Portraits in the Headmaster’s office

The portraits in the Headmaster’s office depict all of the former Heads of Hogwarts. The portraits act to advise the Headmaster and are “honour-bound to give service to the present headmaster” (according to Armando Dippet). They include:

[edit] The Fat Lady

Harry Potter character
The Fat Lady
Actor Elizabeth Spriggs, Dawn French
First appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The portrait of the Fat Lady is the door to Gryffindor Tower, which is hidden behind her painting. She will open it (sometimes grudgingly) when the correct password is uttered. She is often upset after being awakened, and is often seen drunk with her best friend, Violet. The Fat Lady has no other known name, and it is unknown whether she is supposed to represent a real person. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, she leaves her portrait in the middle of the night, locking Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville out of Gryffindor Tower. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Fat Lady’s portrait is slashed by Sirius Black and it is some time before she dares to guard Gryffindor Tower again. After her portrait was restored, she requested protection next time someone tries to attack her portrait. Thus, two security trolls were hired.

In the first film (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) the Fat Lady is played by Elizabeth Spriggs. She does not appear in the second film. In the third film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) she is played by Dawn French. She does not appear in the fourth or fifth films.

[edit] Others

[edit] Photographs

Wizarding photographs of people have similar properties to magical painted portraits: the figures within move about or even sometimes leave the frame. As with the paintings, the images of people in the photographs do not appear to age.

Photographs from ordinary Muggle cameras can be made to seem alive. Colin Creevey mentions in the Chamber of Secrets (book 2) that a boy in his dormitory said that if he develops the film ‘in the right potion, the pictures will move.’ However, figures in wizarding pictures do not reflect the emotions or actions of their counterparts in the real world.

Moving photos also appear in wizard newspapers and other print media, as well as on Chocolate Frog cards. This is exemplified in Prisoner of Azkaban when pictures of Sirius Black are printed in The Daily Prophet newspaper. The magazine Witch Weekly also contains pictures of smiling and winking witches.

The images of people in photographs display little sentience. The subjects of some photographs can leave the frame, but no indication has been given that they are able to visit or communicate with other photographs or with people in the world, as is the case with their painted counterparts.

[edit] Communicating with the dead

In the wizarding world, having a soul which continues to exist after the death of the physical body is not an article of faith, as it is for religious muggles, but an empirically proven fact. Some kinds of magic exist both for summoning the dead and communicating with them and for manipulating the souls of still-living people. However, such magic is rare, some of it considered very dark such as the production of Horcruxes – and even when not dark is considered better reserved for very special occasions. Necromancy is conspicuously absent from the curriculum of Hogwarts, raising the dead is not one of the things which a wizard or witch are expected to perform in the course of a normal career, and the organizational table of the Ministry of Magic makes no mention of a department for dealing with such issues.

An exception to the above is communication with the limited group of dead who chose to remain in the world as ghosts. That is simple and straightforward, forms a part of daily life in Hogwarts, and needs no greater exercise of magic than what is needed for gaining entry to the magic school in the first place. As noted above, magical portraits also provide a way of communicating with the dead people depicted in them, who seem to have left part of their essence in the world when they “went on” – enough for both Snape and Harry to meaningfully communicate with and report to Dumbledore’s portrait after he had died.

To the contrary, communicating with dead people who did “go on” is a far more rare and difficult business, and occurs only on very special occasions: In Harry’s first battle with Voldemort in “Goblet of Fire”, when the people killed by Voldemort’s wand emerge for a moment; in “Deathly Hallows” when Harry, believing that he is going to his death, summons the shades of the dead people most dear to him by way of the Resurrection Stone; and, in the final chapters of “Deathly Hallows,” when Harry had been hit by the Avada Kedavra curse but saved by his mother’s protection that still resided in Voldemort’s body (which protected the charm and kept it active,) he becomes suspended in a limbo-like status and is able to meet and speak freely with the dead Dumbledore.

In principle, by gaining possession of the Resurrection Stone Harry could have continued to summon any dead people he wanted. However, at the very first place where this Stone is mentioned it is made clear that such conduct is wrong, and that when its original possessor in the Tale of the Three Brothers used it to bring back his dead beloved, she was unhappy at having her peace disturbed until he finally chose to die himself and join her. Harry prefers to let the Stone lie where it had fallen in the forest, and Dumbledore’s portrait praises this as “a wise and courageous decision”.

It is never specified exactly where it is that the dead go who chose to “go on” rather than remain in the world as ghosts, except for noting that they find peace there. There is no mention in any of the books of a Hell and a Paradise, a God who condemns sinners to damnation or a Satan who tempts them to sell their souls. However, when a person chooses to damage his own soul, as in the production of Horcruxes, he must face the result of having a tortured afterlife with a damaged soul and being denied the peace which other souls find. He has, so to speak, done it to himself.


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