At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore & Hogwarts Legacy & Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells & Harry Potter: Magic Awakened & Harry Potter: Wizards Unite & Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
Magic was a supernatural force that changed aspects of the world at fundamental levels. The ability for humans to use magic was a hereditary trait passed down from a person's ancestors, which allowed witches and wizards to practise it. Rather than being a mystical or unnatural pursuit that defied the laws of nature, however, magic simply allowed those who could wield it to exploit them in very specific and creative ways that Muggle science were unable to replicate.
One example of this, for example, was in how Vanishment did not actually make objects cease to exist, but rather, according to Professor McGonagall, go "into non-being, which is to say, everything", which was consistent with the law of conservation of matter and energy. Magic also followed its own set of rules with respect to what it could do, such as how Conjured objects could only exist for a temporary period of time, and objects couldn't be enlarged beyond a certain point without becoming unstable and/or exploding.
- 1 Nature
- 2 Transmission and users
- 3 History of magic
- 4 Spellcasting
- 5 Limits
- 6 Relations with magic
- 7 Study of magic
- 8 Magical items and devices
- 9 The wizarding world
- 10 See also
- 11 Behind the scenes
- 12 Appearances
- 13 Notes and references
The basic concepts of magic were fairly simple — even a two-year-old wizard could do some form of magic — but the inherent power and potential for misuse were great indeed. It was for this reason that promising young witches and wizards were sent to schools of magic, such as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to refine their craft and learn the art and responsibility of their power. There, they learned a variety of magical specialities, general theory and the history of magic in their world.
Magic was unable to be performed by non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles), which was what separated the Muggle world from the wizarding world. As a substitute for magic, Muggles used technology, but in the same sense, many wizards were ignorant of the workings of most Muggle devices, including electricity. Both Muggles and wizards viewed their choice of tool as completely and utterly logical and ordinary, although each would find the other's tools fascinating or even mysterious.
Squibs were also unable to perform magic, but they were in a unique position, as they were born into wizarding families, which gave them the option to choose between living in the wizarding world like a second-class citizen, or living in the Muggle world while concealing everything they knew about magic.
Transmission and users
In humans, the ability to perform magic, or lack thereof, was an inborn attribute. The former was the norm in the children of magical couples and rare in those of Muggles. The wizarding gene (found in witches and wizards) was dominant, while the non-magical gene (found in Muggles and Squibs) was recessive (see Magic genes for more details).
Those unable to do magic who were born to magical parents were known as Squibs; this was when the non-magical gene resurfaced, causing the offspring to therefore be non-magical. A witch or wizard born to Muggle parents was known as a Muggle-born. This was when a Muggle family was descended from a Squib, and the wizarding gene resurfaced many generations later. Muggle-borns were far more common than Squibs, which might be a feature of the disparate sizes of the Muggle and wizarding populations.
- "Elf magic isn't like wizard's magic, is it?"
- — Ron Weasley contrasts different types of magic[src]
Other intelligent magical beings in the wizarding world, such as veelas, goblins and house-elves, could also perform their own brand of magic, distinctly different from human magic. Other magical creatures might possess their own forms of rudimentary magic, including fairies.
History of magic
Not to be confused with History of Magic, a Hogwarts class.
Like the human race itself, magic was supposed to have originated in Africa. Wizards and witches were known to society at large and were held in awe and high esteem due to their unique powers. Ancient Egyptian wizards placed curses to protect their tombs from plunderers. Ancient Indian wizards created the Snake Summons Spell. The wand was invented in Europe during the B.C. era. Dark Magic was practised and evident in ancient Greece, with Herpo the Foul being infamous for pioneering a multitude of forbidden practices, including creating the first known basilisk, as well as the first known Horcrux.
Circa 1000 AD
By about the 10th century in Europe, non-magical people slowly became more wary of witches and wizards due to their unique gift. Sensing the growing distrust, four of the greatest British witches and wizards of the age founded Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland. One of the founders, Salazar Slytherin, built the Chamber of Secrets after his belief that only pure-blood wizards should be allowed into Hogwarts was dismissed. While this idea was considered radical at the time and dismissed, the separation of the two cultures continued and grew over the next 700 years.
During this time, the magical population was governed by the Wizard's Council (sometimes referred to as the Warlock's Council). As their relationship with Muggles strained, witches and wizards began to fraternise with their own kin and grow closer with each other. The Triwizard Tournament and Quidditch became national and international events.
Paranoia of wizardkind slowly broke into outright malice, and witch-hunts began to emerge throughout Europe. While they were afraid of magic, Muggles were not very good at recognising it, allowing many a wizard to escape witch burnings unharmed with the use of a Flame-Freezing Charm. Eccentric witch Wendelin the Weird, who enjoyed the sensation of the charm, allowed herself to be burned at the stake at least forty-seven times in various disguises. Within the wizarding world itself, growing discrimination against other magical beings such as house-elves and goblins began to emerge.
With the coming of the Renaissance and the increasing reliance among Muggles on scientific reasoning, the divide between the wizarding and Muggle worlds grew ever wider. Each culture went on to create their own separate civilization, including social structures, economies, governments, etc. Each borrowed a little from the other as the years went by, but it became apparent that the Muggles must be disassociated from their magical kin for their own good.
Of the remaining Muggles that acknowledged their magical neighbours, some continued to persecute them. Others tried to exploit their magical power for their own gain and quick fixes to their problems. One such example is that of the royal court of Britain, which continued to host wizards, such as Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington.
Beedle the Bard wrote his tales to preach a message of tolerance toward Muggles, but his message was ignored at the time as the division between Muggles and Wizards grew. With the growing intolerance of Muggles in wizarding society came a growing favour among some in the purity of blood, turning Salazar Slytherin's beliefs mainstream. At the end of the 1400s, Daisy Dodderidge constructed the Leaky Cauldron pub along a country path outside London as a portal between the wizarding and Muggle worlds.
During these years, Goblin Rebellions broke out all over Britain, and (perhaps not coincidentally) St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries was established. Muggle persecution reached an all-time high, and it was a very dark time for the magical community.
In 1689, the governments of the wizarding world met to consider solutions to the crisis and draft the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, which called for all of wizardkind to go into hiding to avoid persecution. The infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692 only furthered to exacerbate the need for separation, and the law was officially established that same year. With the separation of the two worlds now put into effect, all of wizardkind went into hiding for good, forming their own isolated communities. In Britain, wizarding families began to cluster around small towns up and down the country, where they found relative safety and anonymity in numbers. The responsibility of the various wizarding governments in each country was laid out for maintaining the secrecy of everything magical, from Quidditch games to dragons.
The magical governments of each country suppressed all exposure of anything magical to Muggles. As decades passed without incident, magic slowly faded into obscurity and became the stuff of fairy tales and legend for non-magical people, with the few clinging to these beliefs being seen as mad.
By the 19th century, as giants were facing an increasingly limited amount of space to live in, a war broke out amongst themselves, bringing their species to the brink of extinction. In 1811, Grogan Stump reformed the British Ministry of Magic. In 1881, Albus Dumbledore was born.
Prejudice against Muggles and the ideas of pure-blood supremacy was still very strong. These sentiments were taken advantage of by the notorious Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald as he tried to establish a system that would enslave Muggles in fear of the next world war, but he was defeated in 1945 by Albus Dumbledore in a legendary duel.
Tom Riddle, who would later be known and feared as Lord Voldemort and the last living descent of Salazar Slytherin, made two attempts to take over control of the wizarding world in Britain. His first attempt, in the 1970s, was cut short on 31 October, 1981, falling to a curse that he cast on Harry Potter which rebounded upon himself.
The giants, most of whom fought for Voldemort, retreated to northern Europe. However, thirteen years later, Voldemort rose again on 24 June, 1994, as he survived thanks to his Horcruxes. He managed to take control of the British Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts (1 August, 1997) but on 2 May, 1998, after his Horcruxes were all destroyed, he was ultimately defeated, once again by having a curse that he cast towards Harry Potter being rebounded upon himself.
Some Muggles who were aware of the Wizarding world, such as the Dursley and the Barebone family, very much hated and feared magic and wizardkind. Once it was revealed that Harry Potter was a wizard, use of the word "magic" was forbidden at 4 Privet Drive and the merest mention of it was enough to send Vernon and Petunia Dursley into fits of rage and panic.
- "There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words."
- — Learning the difficulty in spellcasting[src]
Spells were 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. Spells were divided into rough categories, such as "charms", "curses", "hexes", or "jinxes". Typically casting required an incantation, most often in a modified form of Latin and gesturing with a wand in the case of humans. However, these seemed to be aids to the will only; wands merely focused a person's magic. It was evidently also possible to use a wand without holding it. Harry himself performed Lumos to light his wand when it was lying on the ground somewhere near him. Additionally, Animagi and Metamorphagi did not need wands to undergo their transformations.
A wand focused magic to such a significant degree, that the vast majority of witches and wizards were often powerless without one. However, one could do magic without a wand, though it was often unfocused and uncontrolled. Still, few wizards could perform directed magic without a wand if they had enough skill and power, but it was still more difficult and tiring. A wizard or witch was at their best when using their own wand: when using another's, one's spells were not as strong as they normally would be, as dictated by the laws of wandlore.
Spells could be cast non-verbally, but again, most still required a wand for this. This technique was taught in the sixth year of study at Hogwarts and required the caster to concentrate on the incantation. While most magic required the caster to use their voice, some such as Levicorpus did not, which were apparently designed to be used non-verbally. This might depend on the witch or wizard.
Some very skilled and powerful wizards and witches could use magic both wandlessly and wordlessly. Dumbledore had been known to do impressive feats of magic without speaking, such as conjuring enough squashy purple sleeping bags to accommodate the entire student population, or his attacks during his duel with Voldemort in the Atrium.
Regardless of how skilled a witch or wizard is, they were by no means without limits. The following were some of the limits of magical abilities:
- Rule of creation: While it was possible to conjure things out of nothing and duplicate items, it was far more tricky to create something that fit an exact specification rather than a general one. Moreover, a magically imitated object would never be as "real" as the genuine one, with duplicated food being less fulfilling than the real thing, and conjured creatures only demonstrating surface-level behaviour. Furthermore, magically imitated objects tended not to be as resistant to deterioration as the natural ones, being prone to breaking, cracking, melting, rusting, and other forms of breakdown.
- Rule against immortality: It was almost impossible to make oneself truly immortal, only to extend one's lifespan using powerful magical means, such as with the Philosopher's Stone Creating at least one Horcrux was said to grant the person immortality, as a part of their soul was Earth-bound. However, it was considered the vilest of acts. Becoming a ghost was another option for wizards and witches; but it was said that this was "a pale imitation of life". Whether or not they were truly sentient beings of independent existence is unclear; as Severus Snape stated that a ghost was merely "the imprint of a departed soul left upon the earth".
- "No spell can reawaken the dead."
- — The limits of magic and its application[src]
- Rule against resurrection: Likewise, it was impossible to resurrect the dead. While corpses could be transformed into obedient Inferi on a living wizard's command, they were little more than zombies with no soul or will of their own. It was also possible via the rare Priori Incantatem effect to converse with ghost-like "shadows" of magically murdered people. The Resurrection Stone allowed one to talk to the dead, but those brought back by the Stone were not corporeal, nor did they wish to be disturbed from their peaceful rest. The result of such a summoning was usually detrimental to the summoner.
Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration
- "Your mother can't produce food out of thin air, no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration... It's impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you've already got some.."
- — The exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration[src]
The Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration were first mentioned and explained by Hemione in 1997 and again mentioned off-handedly by Ronald Weasley in 1998. Food was one of these: witches or wizards could cook and prepare food using magic, but not create it from nothing. Out of the five exceptions, only food was mentioned explicitly, although speculation had proposed many other possibilities. There is a strong possibility that money was another exception, since if wizards could simply materialise money out of thin air, the economic system of the wizarding world would be seriously disrupted. While the Philosopher's Stone did permit alchemy (including, presumably, turning base metals into gold), the Stone was an extremely rare, even unique object whose owner didn't exploit its powers.
There were numerous examples of food appearing to have been conjured from nothing, such as the sudden materialisation of ingredients in the pots of Molly Weasley's kitchen, Ollivander creating a fountain of wine from the end of Harry's wand, and when Professor McGonagall created a self-refilling plate of sandwiches for Harry and Ron. In all cases, these events could be reasonably explained as food either being multiplied — which was allowable under Gamp's Law, according to Hermione — or transported from elsewhere. One example of this was banqueting in Hogwarts — the food was prepared by house-elves in the kitchens and laid onto four replica tables, directly below the actual house tables in the Great Hall. The food was then magically transported to the tables.
- Unsupported flight: While wizards and witches could fly through the air with bewitched objects such as broomsticks, it was long believed that true, unsupported flight was an impossibility. Uncontrolled levitation of a person could be achieved, mostly by charming the clothes they were wearing, but they couldn't move freely in midair. Animagi whose forms took on flying creatures might enjoy the sensation of flight, but Animagi by themselves were quite rare, let alone those whose forms were able to take flight. Thus, true flight was long accepted to be beyond the wizarding world's reach. Eventually, however, Lord Voldemort, one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time, pushed beyond the boundaries of known magic, and discovered a method of flying through the air unaided with full control.
- Burning dead flesh: While a living wizard might protect themselves from fire with a basic Flame Freezing Charm, no spell had yet been found to render dead flesh impervious to burning.
- Heart removal: In addition, in the story The Warlock's Hairy Heart, the main character removed his heart via dark magic in order to prevent himself from falling in love, while preserving both its and his own life. Such a form of magic was considered impossible outside of the storybook.
Relations with magic
Magic and emotions
- "Of course, it is also possible that her unrequited love and the attendant despair sapped her of her powers; that can happen."
- — The relationship between emotion and magic[src]
A witch or wizard's emotional state could affect their inherent abilities. For instance, an agent of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force was said to have been able to produce better results with their Inn Charm after they channelled the goodwill they received from inn-keepers they met on their travels into their spell-casting, and Gareth Greengrass, a senior researcher in the Department of Mysteries, at one point documented over seven hundred instances of spells being cast in anger, and found that they were all more powerful than even the casters themselves had thought themselves capable of producing. On the flip side, however, Nymphadora Tonks temporarily lost her power as a Metamorphmagus after suffering severe emotional turmoil and sadness over her grief for the death of Sirius Black, and when Remus Lupin would not return her affections, to the point of going on lethal mission to avoid contact. In effect, the form of her Patronus changed to a wolf (which matched the form of his) to reflect her love for Lupin. Similarly, the magical abilities of Merope Gaunt was greatly hampered by and only truly flourished once she was free from her father's oppression. Albus Dumbledore also noted that it was possible for a witch or wizard to be sapped of their magical power altogether if undergoing profound levels of despair.
Wizardkind were also weakened when in the presence of Dementors for prolonged periods, as said creatures attacked their prey psychologically by making them recall their worst memories. This in turn left the victims physically vulnerable. Dementors sucked the happiness out of any one in their presence, making it hard to preform magic, as casting spells required a certain level of emotional stability. This was one of the reasons the Patronus Charm was considered such advanced magic. Several spells involved the use of emotion when casting them. The Patronus Charm required the caster to concentrate on a happy memory. Force of will under extenuating circumstances also helped in casting spells, and affected the force with which they were cast. An example of this was when Harry was able to conjure a corporeal Patronus when Sirius Black was in danger of being administered the Dementor's Kiss. Another example of magic and emotions was when Ron Weasley caused it to snow above him with his wand when he felt guilt over breaking up with Lavender Brown without using any worded spells.
Many other examples of emotion-influenced magic included Ariana Dumbledore (Dumbledore's sister) being emotionally scarred at a young age and then her magic turned volatile and uncontrolled. In addition, Harry magically inflated his Aunt Marge wandlessly and non-verbally, out of sheer anger when she disrespected his parents by calling his father a drunk.
Magic and love
- "There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all."
- — The power of love and its effect on magic[src]
Arguably the most powerful branch of magic was also the most mysterious and elusive: love. Lord Voldemort, having never experienced love himself, underestimated its influence — to his detriment. It was through love that Lily Evans was able to save her son, Harry, from death by sacrificing her life, so that he might live.
Because of his mother's protection, Harry was unable to be touched by Voldemort. Voldemort attempted to overcome this obstacle by using Harry's blood in his resurrection; however, since Lily's magical protection was in Harry's blood and his blood now flowed through Voldemort's new body, this actually meant that Harry could not be killed by Voldemort while Voldemort himself was still alive. Harry used very much the same mechanism of sacrificial protection to negate the power of Voldemort's spells against the students and teachers of Hogwarts during the Battle of Hogwarts. The exact nature of how "love-magic" works is unknown; it was studied in-depth at the Department of Mysteries where they had a giant cauldron of Amortentia.
It is implied that the inability to love was what made Voldemort as evil as he was. Severus Snape, who voluntarily joined the Death Eaters on leaving Hogwarts, turned spy for the Order of the Phoenix when he realised that the woman he loved was being threatened by Voldemort. Similarly, Narcissa Malfoy's love for her son Draco eventually led her to betray Voldemort, directly leading to Harry's survival — another oversight on Voldemort's part. With these examples, it is hinted that anybody with the ability to love couldn't go as far down the path of evil as Voldemort had done, and it was his complete lack of compassion that made him capable of what he did.
Magic and death
- Voldemort: "There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!"
- Albus Dumbledore: "You are quite wrong. Indeed, your failure to understand there are much worse things than death has always been your weakness."
- — Discussion of the nature of death[src]
The phenomenon of death was studied in detail in a room (called the Death Chamber) of the Department of Mysteries containing an enigmatic veil. Sirius Black fell through this veil after he was hit with a spell from Bellatrix Lestrange and died.
There were a few magical techniques that had been used to extend life. The Philosopher's Stone could be used to prepare a potion that postponed death for the rest of eternity, so long as the potion was drunk on a regular basis. Voldemort had availed himself of other methods, being one of the few wizards ever to use Horcruxes in his long sought attempt to "conquer death", and was believed to be the only one to use multiple Horcruxes. Legend held that if one were to possess the three Deathly Hallows, these tools would enable the possessor to become the "master of death". However, being a true "master of death" meant being willing to accept that death was inevitable. In addition, the drinking of unicorn blood would keep a person alive even if death was imminent, but at the terrible price of being cursed forever.
Being magical could contribute to one's longevity, as there were several people who were quite long-lived (such as Albus Dumbledore, Bathilda Bagshot, and Griselda Marchbanks, who was an invigilator during Albus Dumbledore's O.W.L examinations). This could mainly be attributed to the speed and effectiveness of magical healing, such as potions that cured many sicknesses and ailments including the common cold, spells for instantaneous, scarless healing, and transportation to hospitals being a matter of a few seconds and a side-along apparator or a handful of Floo Powder.
It was revealed by Nearly Headless Nick in 1995 that all witches and wizards had the choice of becoming ghosts when they passed away. The alternative was "passing on". Nick said that he became a ghost because he was foolish, "afraid of death".
All Hogwarts headmasters appeared in a portrait when they died, allowing consultation by future generations. Dumbledore said that there was no spell that could truly bring the dead back to life; however, several cases of dead people becoming half-alive were known. Because of a connection between Harry and Voldemort's wands (Priori Incantatem), images of Voldemort's recent victims appeared and helped Harry escape during their duel in 1995. According to Harry, they seemed too solid to be ghosts. While wizards could linger as ghosts or animate dead bodies as the Inferi or Charmed skeletons, no magic was capable of bringing a dead person back to full and true life. The closest possibility was via the Resurrection Stone.
Study of magic
It should be noted that, whilst the ability to perform magic usually revealed itself by age seven, there were exceptions when individuals remained mundane until quite late in life when — in extremely desperate circumstances — they suddenly revealed their magical capacity. However, such "late-bloomers" were rare, possibly more so than Squibs. For a person's ability to perform magic to be useful, a good deal of training was required to acquire the correct discipline. When "wild", typically with young and untrained children, magic would manifest itself subconsciously in moments of strong apprehension, fear or anger. A powerful or intelligent wizard or witch could direct this force in less random ways, like Lily Evans and Tom Riddle.
As magic was what governed the wizarding world, there were many people who made it their business to study the magical arts, as well as magic being taught to young witches and wizards. Main fields of magical study taught at the magical school of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were Arithmancy, Charms, Dark Arts, Divination, Herbology, Potions, and Transfiguration. Types of wizards with special magical abilities included Animagi (wizards who could turn into animals), Arithmancer, a Legilimens (one who could penetrate another's mind), an Occlumens (one who could protect their mind from external penetration), Metamorphmagi (wizards who could change their physical appearance), a Parselmouth (one who could converse with snakes), and a Seer (one who could predict the future). There were also different forms of offensive/defensive magic, as well as the various types of spells: curse, hex, and jinx.
History of Magic
Many witches and wizards studied the history of magic throughout time; they were known as magical historians, and History of Magic was also a class taught at Hogwarts. One of the most celebrated magical historians of all time was Bathilda Bagshot, author of A History of Magic, which chronicalled the entire history of the magical world up till the end of the First Wizarding War. It remained a standard Hogwarts textbook for this study. The subject had been taught by Professor Cuthbert Binns since the 1700s until some point after the Second Wizarding War, and Professor Jacob Gorski in the late 2000s. The History of Magic was taken in Classroom 4F in Hogwarts.
Arithmancy was a branch of magic that was concerned with the magical properties of numbers; someone who practised Arithmancy was called an Arithmancer. For example, in the 1200s, Bridget Wenlock, a famous Arithmancer, discovered the magical properties of the number seven. An O.W.L in Arithmancy was required to apply for a Curse-Breaker's job at Gringotts.
Arithmancy at Hogwarts was taught by Professor Vector. In her class, students were expected to write essays and to be able to understand complicated number charts, which were part of their homework. Hermione Granger appeared to be the only Gryffindor in her year who attempted an O.W.L in this subject (which is her favourite).
Herbology was the study of magical plants and fungi, including their care and their magical properties and uses. Some magical plants formed important ingredients in potions, while others had magical effects in their own right.
At Hogwarts, all students were required to attempt an O.W.L. in Herbology, so all first through fifth year students took the class, which was taught by Professor Pomona Sprout. Herbology classes were held in the greenhouses and included plenty of hands-on activities, including handling Snargaluffs, repotting mandrakes, and harvesting bubotuber pus. Students were also assigned essays as homework. At some time in the 1990s or 2000s, the post for Herbology was taken by Neville Longbottom, since before the start of the 2017–2018 school year, Ginny Potter told her son James Sirius Potter to give her love to Neville.
Potions were magical liquids created by mixing various ingredients in a cauldron according to very specific rules. These mixtures must usually be drunk to give their magical effect. The ingredients in potions ranged from the mundane to the bizarre and fantastic, and the procedures for creating some potions could be complicated and time-consuming.
Potions class was taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts from c. 1980 to the fall of 1996. Horace Slughorn took over as Potions Master for the 1996–1997 school year. The Potions classroom at Hogwarts was located in a chilly, dark, and gloomy dungeon. This class was mandatory from years 1–5, but was only allowed at N.E.W.T.-level if a student had achieved at least an "Exceeds Expectations" on their O.W.L. exam.
Charms were a type of magic spell concerned with enchanting an object to behave in a way that wasn't normal for that object. For example, the Summoning Charm brought an object to the caster. Charms was also something of a catch-all for spells that weren't Transfiguration (spells that changed the inherent nature of an object). In some sense, if a spell wasn't Transfiguration, it was probably a charm, or else a counter-spell or healing spell.
A charm might cause something to flash different colours. It might cause an object to levitate or even fly through the air. Charms could make a person laugh or dance or even create a bubble of breathable air around a person's head. In all of these cases, the object or the person didn't really change, they just did something unexpected. Some Charms could be extremely powerful. The Fidelius Charm, for example, could completely hide a person or a place in such a way that no one could find them unless they were given the location by a Secret-Keeper. Memory Charms could be so strong that they completely removed a person's memory or even damaged their mind permanently.
Charms were in some ways the opposite of curses: charms seemed to have an inherent positive tone (e.g. Tickling Charm), while most curses had an inherent negative one. This is not to say that charms were weaker magic; a well-chosen charm, counter-spell or healing spell was a powerful magical tool against curses, jinxes and hexes. Professor Flitwick, the Hogwarts Charms teacher, was rumoured to have once been a duelling champion, after all.
Transfiguration was magic which changed one object into another. It was possible to change inanimate objects into animate ones and vice versa. Some Transfiguration spells altered a part of something, such as changing a person's ears from normal into rabbit ears. At Hogwarts, Transfiguration was taught by Professor McGonagall until at least 1997. Albus Dumbledore was the Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts before her.
Transfiguration spells were cast in ancient times as well. Circe, a witch who lived on the Greek island of Aeaea, was famous for turning lost sailors into pigs. The opposite of Transfiguration was Untransfiguration, which would be returning something to its proper form.
The Dark Arts differed from other forms of magic in the intent of the wizard using it. Most magic was relatively neutral — it could be used for bad or good. Some magic, however, was evil in its intention through and through. Spells of this kind were often called curses. Curses were spells that were often intended to cause harm to another person. This intention to do harm placed that spell into the realm of the Dark Arts. Although offensive and potentially dangerous curses existed in number, three were considered usable only for great evil, which earned them the special classification of "Unforgivable Curses". Ultimately, the deep, true intention of the caster was what made the difference.
This was a difficult distinction to make in many cases. However, understanding the difference between acceptable and Dark magic was of key importance for witches and wizards in training, which was why Defence Against the Dark Arts was such an important class for students at Hogwarts. Some other schools had a reputation for teaching the Dark Arts, not Defence Against the Dark Arts; Durmstrang was such a school.
Legilimency, a branch of magic not normally taught at Hogwarts (at least, not at Ordinary Wizarding Level), was the ability to extract emotions, thoughts, and memories from another person's mind. Although the word literally translated as "mind-reading", this was considered a naive interpretation of the art by its practitioners. Someone who practised Legilimency was known as a Legilimens.
Legilimency was easier when the spell-caster was physically near the target, and when the target was off-guard, relaxed, or otherwise vulnerable. Eye contact was often essential, so it was useful for a Legilimens to verbally manipulate his or her target into meeting the Legilimens's eyes, with the fringe benefit that the target's emotional state might bring relevant associated memories to the surface. All of this seemed to tally quite nicely with what is known of the nature of human memory in Muggle science. The only known defence against Legilimency was Occlumency or the Protective Charm (Protego). The incantation required for Legilimency was Legilimens. Some well-known Legilimens were Albus Dumbledore, Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape.
Occlumency was the art of magically defending the mind against external penetration, sealing it against magical intrusion and influence — the defensive counter to Legilimency. A practitioner of Occlumency was referred to as an Occlumens.
Occlumency was a necessary prerequisite to defeat a Legilimens's lie-detector abilities without suspicious behaviour such as avoiding face-to-face contact and eye contact. Elementary Occlumency involved clearing the mind of thought and emotion, so that the Legilimens could find no emotional ties to memories that the target wished to conceal. Simple resistance to attack required similar skills to those needed to resist the Imperius Curse. In its more advanced form, Occlumency allowed the user to suppress only feelings and memories that contradicted what the user wished a Legilimens to believe, thus allowing the Occlumens to lie without self-betrayal. Some well-known practitioners of Occlumency were Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape.
Divination was magic which attempted to foresee future events. Many in the wizarding world considered this branch of magic to be imprecise at best. There were several types of Divination. The most imprecise was what was commonly known as "fortunetelling", and this was what Sybill Trelawney taught at Hogwarts. The second kind of Divination was what was practised by the centaurs. When Firenze the centaur started teaching Divination classes in the spring of 1996, he taught these techniques, although they were mostly lost on the human students in his classes.
The third type of Divination was called Seeing. This was true Divination, although what the Seer revealed was usually in the form of a Prophecy which then itself required some interpretation. A Seer, one who possessed the Inner Eye, didn't seem to have control over their Seeing. Trelawney, for example, only made actual prophecies three times, although she made plenty of claims about everything from troubles ahead for various students to Neville breaking a teacup. In each case when she made an actual prophecy, Trelawney went into a trance and spoke in a completely different voice, and after speaking the prophecy, she didn't remember a thing about it.
True Seeing was very rare, but it had happened plenty of times over the centuries. There was a huge cathedral-sized room of the Department of Mysteries where records of thousands of prophecies were stored in glass spheres. Each sphere was labelled with the initials of the Seer who spoke the Prophecy and the person it was spoken to and with the subject of the Prophecy.
Magical items and devices
The following devices and items were endowed with various types of magic, that gave them certain properties and abilities. They were used by the wizarding community. Some items were common, while others were considered rare.
- Wands – Most human magic was done using a wand. The wand served as a tool to focus and control the magical energy of the spell. It was possible to cast spells without using a wand, but for most wizards results were unfocused. Wands were created from wood with some magical substance at its heart.
- Broomsticks – Brooms were magical mode of transportation in the wizarding world. They were also used in the wizarding sport Quidditch. There were several different types of broomsticks, such the Nimbus 2000 and the Firebolt. Both of the mentioned broom were international standard. Broomsticks were also the worst kept wizarding secret.
- Deathly Hallows – They were three items: the Elder Wand, Cloak of Invisibility, and Resurrection Stone. They were considered to be a great wizarding secret, and possession of all three was reputed to make the owner the Master of Death. The only known Masters of Death were Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter.
- Flying Ford Anglia – The Flying Ford Anglia was a turquoise automobile bought by Arthur Weasley. He bewitched it to be able to fly and installed an Invisibility Booster. He also magically expanded the inner spaces so that an enormous amount of luggage could fit in the boot and an amazing number of people could sit comfortably in its wide seats.
- Mirror of Erised – A magnificent mirror, as high as a classroom ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. The inscription carved around the top read "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi", which was "I show not your face but your heart's desire" written backward.
- Marauder's Map – This magical map of Hogwarts Castle showed the entire castle and grounds of Hogwarts, including seven secret passages out of Hogwarts and into Hogsmeade. However, it did not show the Room of Requirement or the Chamber of Secrets. The Map used the Homonculus Charm to keep track of everyone at Hogwarts, and was embedded with a repelling spell directed at Snape.
- Pensieve – A Pensieve was a shallow stone basin with ancient Saxon runes and symbols carved around the edge used to collect and view memories. When in use, a silvery light shone from its contents, which were bright, whitish silver, and cloud-like, moving ceaselessly. Harry thought the stuff in the basin looked like "light made liquid – or like wind made solid".
- Portraits and paintings – Portraits were paintings made of certain individuals, namely witches and warlocks. The subject of a magical portrait was sentient due to enchantments placed on the portrait by the painter. The portrait would be able to use some of the subject's favourite phrases and imitate their general demeanour, based on how the subject appeared to the painter. However, they were limited in what they could say or do.
The wizarding world
The wizarding society existed as a shadow society to the Muggle world and worked as hard as it could to keep its existence a secret, save for all but a few Muggles, those of whom included those who were related to witches and wizards, or important Muggles such as the Prime Minister. Most things of magical nature were hidden or otherwise obscured from Muggles; others (such as Dementors) simply couldn't be seen by them, but Muggles did feel the effects of them. There was also an office in the British Ministry of Magic for the misuse of Muggle artefacts that dealt with people charming objects typically found in a Muggle society.
The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was established in 1689 by the International Confederation of Wizards to safeguard wizards from persecution at the hands of Muggles. To most magical people, the Muggle world was unknown and their attempts to disguise themselves as Muggles often had mostly humourous results. Muggle Studies at Hogwarts was considered a soft option.
Behind the scenes
- "I don't believe in witchcraft, though I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I'm a practising witch. Ninety — let's say ninety five percent at least, of the magic in the books is entirely invented by me. And I've used things from folklore and I've used bits of what people used to believe worked magically just to add a certain flavour, but I've always twisted them to suit my own ends. I mean, I've taken liberties with folklore to suit my plot."
- — J. K. Rowling regarding the magic in her books[src]
- It has never been outright specified whether magic itself is a purely biological element, similar to a form of mutation that is passed down among family lines, or if it is an external energy force which magical beings merely tap into for their power.
- According to J.K. Rowling, nobody knows where magic comes from.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (soundtrack)
- The Archive of Magic: The Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Creator: Harry Potter
- Creator: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Dimensions
- Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
- Harry Potter: Spells
- Harry Potter: Find Scabbers
- The Queen's Handbag
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Motorbike Escape
- Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
- J. K. Rowling's official site
- Wizarding World
- Daily Prophet Newsletters
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- Wonderbook: Book of Potions
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter Limited Edition
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter: The Artifact Vault
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The Making of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter Official Site
- The Road to Hogwarts Sweepstakes
- Harry Potter: The Wand Collection
- Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films: Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and Beyond
- Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
- Hogwarts Legacy
Notes and references
- J. K. Rowling's official site
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30 (The Sacking of Severus Snape)
- Accio Quote!
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Wizarding Schools" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Technology" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8 (The Hearing)
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Uagadou" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 1 (Owl Post)
- Harry Potter Official Site via Internet Archive
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 8 (The Deathday Party)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Leaky Cauldron" at Wizarding World
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 1 (The Worst Birthday)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1 (Dudley Demented)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9 (Grim Defeat)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 15 (The Goblin's Revenge)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Inferi" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 34 (The Forest Again)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 18 (The Weighing of the Wands)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 4 (The Seven Potters)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "The Warlock's Hairy Heart"
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (SOS Task Force Training - Calamity Essentials I - Tribuomnus)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (SOS Task Force Training - Calamity Essentials I - Did You Somehow Interview Him?)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 5 (The Dementor)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 20 (The Dementor's Kiss)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21 (Hermione's Secret)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 24 (Sectumsempra)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 2 (Aunt Marge's Big Mistake)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15 (The Forbidden Forest)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
- Accio Quote!
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 24 (Occlumency)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 6 (Talons and Tea Leaves)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 14 (Felix Felicis)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13 (Mad-Eye Moody)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Epilogue (Nineteen Years Later)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
- J.K.Rowling Official Site - Extra Stuff
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder's Map)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Professor McGonagall" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 11 (Aboard the Hogwarts Express)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 34 (The Department of Mysteries)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 3 (The Burrow)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts Portraits" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- Barnes and Noble interview, March 19, 1999