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Dobby using house-elf magic to take Narcissa Malfoy's wand

"Elf magic isn't like wizard magic, is it? I mean, they can Apparate and Disapparate in and out of Hogwarts when we can't."
Ron Weasley regarding house-elf magic[src]

House-elves had their own brand of magic that only they had access to, as did many other magical creatures. The upper limits of elf magic were not known; however, it was incredibly versatile and allowed them to perform very powerful magic.

They were often underestimated however because of their small stature. Their loyalty also prevented them from using magic against their masters until they were free. This amounted to their reputation as push overs and leading lives of abuse.


Circus Arcanus House-elf

House-elf using their magic to clear up and Apparate

To test the security around the locket Horcrux in the 1970s, Lord Voldemort required a house-elf for the job, and Regulus Black nominated Kreacher. After using Kreacher for his purposes, Voldemort left him there to die. Bound by the laws of his kind, Kreacher was able to Disapparate out of the cave and return to Regulus because Regulus had told Kreacher to return after the task was finished.

In 1993, Dobby protected Harry Potter by using his magic to throw Lucius Malfoy across the floor, and in 1994, Winky used her magic to bind Barty Crouch Jnr to her, to make sure he did not escape. Winky's magic broke when she was rendered unconscious.

In 1998, Dobby disarmed Narcissa Malfoy by snapping his fingers. Her wand flew into Harry Potter's hand.

It is implied that with a wand and the proper knowledge, house-elves might be able to do other magic, as Winky was accused of using the Morsmordre spell to conjure the Dark Mark in the sky, though it was in fact cast by Bartemius Crouch Jnr. Bartemius Crouch Snr suggested that Amos Diggory was implying that "I routinely teach my servants to conjure the Dark Mark", suggesting that it would have been possible for Winky to use the spell if she had the knowledge.

Examples of house-elf magic[]

Harry Potter once remarked that house-elves were actually much more capable of wielding advanced magic than wizards, despite not having wands.[1]

House-elves had access to their very own brand of wandless magic that only they could use. It should be noted that house-elves did not verbally cast spells, rather their magic was performed through their sheer force of will and intent. This made a house-elf all the more dangerous, considering they could perform feats of magic in places that restricted even witches and wizards from doing so.[1][2] The upper limits of their magic were not known; however, it was incredibly versatile and on occasion had proved to be very powerful, despite having certain limitations due to the fact they didn't use wands.

It had been demonstrated that even with wands, wizards had been unable to break spells by house-elves.[3]

Type Notes

Dobby using his magic to Apparate

Dobby apparate

Dobby using his magic to Side-Along Apparate

House-elves could Apparate even in places where wizards and witches could not. It was not thought possible to prevent a house-elf from doing so, given the various examples of this in heavily secured locations. This was proven when Kreacher Apparated out of The Cave where Voldemort hid his locket horcrux to test the locket's security. The cave had an extremely powerful dark magical barrier to forbid such from happening, placed there by none other than the greatest Dark Lord of all time, Voldemort. However, despite this, Kreacher succeeded where even Dumbledore did not. This was a testament to the power of house-elf magic. House-elves could also Apparate in groups, in order to transport others, such as when Dobby would Apparate his friends Harry, Ron and Hermione together; this was called Side-Along Apparition. Another example of a house-elf Apparating into a location that had been heavily protected from such things, was when Dobby Apparated in and out of Malfoy Manor to save Harry and his friends. This was an impossible feat for witches and wizards alike, who had to gain entry by the front gate.[1][4][2]
Charms House-elves were highly capable of casting charms. This was shown when Dobby notably performed the Hover Charm on a pudding in the Dursley house. This was also shown when Kreacher performed cleaning charms to assist in his errands for the House of Black. House-elves were renowned for using domestic charms around the homes of their masters.[5][6] House-elves could also enchant objects for various purposes, as Dobby was capable of sealing the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters with magic, along with charming a Bludger to attack Harry Potter.[5]
Dobby protecting Harry Potter

Dobby using his magic to protect Harry Potter

House-elves were capable fighters and could duel witches and wizards in magical combat. This was shown when the house-elves took part in the battle of Hogwarts, although most of the elves used knives and cleavers to attack the ankles of the wizards. Dobby also attacked Lucius Malfoy in order to protect Harry Potter with a powerful blasting or stunning spell. It isn't specified what the spell was.[1][5]
Disarming House-elves could disarm witches and wizards with the snap of their fingers. This was shown when Dobby disarmed Narcissa Malfoy in combat.[1]
Magical binding Winky was capable of binding an individual to her proximity. This seemed to be quite powerful, as when she used it on Bartemius Crouch Junior, he could not sever the bond even after acquiring a wand. However, once she had fallen unconscious, her spell broke.[3]

House-elves and wands[]

Despite a house-elf not requiring a wand to perform any of the above-mentioned feats of magic, it was known throughout the wizarding world that an elf had the potential to wield a wand. Doing so would greatly increase their already formidable powers; however, after the ban on wand use by magical creatures, elves were forbidden to do so. Despite this, elves were quite happy not using a wand, as it didn't greatly diminish their capabilities anyway.

Behind the scenes[]

  • In the LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 level, Dobby's Plan, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley try and capture Dobby while he curses the rogue Bludger. Whenever Dobby would be hit, he would Apparate to the next location. When playing as Dobby in levels, the only spell he had was the Levitation Charm inspired by the similar charm he used on Aunt Petunia's pudding.
  • In both the books and films, elves have never performed their magic with incantations or wands, but with a snap of their fingers. This suggests that elf magic is self-taught, harnessed through sheer force of will and intent alone in order to achieve the desired effects they want. However, when Dobby used elf magic to levitate a cake in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Ministry recognised it as the Hover Charm through The Trace, so it is debatable. The Ministry's recognition of the charm however was not included in the film.[5] Regardless of this, in the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter remarks how house-elves are actually much more capable of wielding advanced magic than wizards, despite not having wands.[1]
  • It is unclear precisely how different house-elf magic was to wizard magic; it was different enough for elves to be unaffected by wizard magic Anti-Disapparition Jinxes and Anti-Apparition Charms,[7] yet not different enough for the Trace to be able to tell them apart.[8]


Notes and references[]