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"Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. So instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus."
Newton Scamander explaining to Jacob Kowalski[src]

Credence Barebone transforming into his Obscurus form

An Obscurial was a young wizard or witch who had developed a dark parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse.[1]

According to Albus Dumbledore, an Obscurial could possibly be healed by replacing their feelings of alienation, which ultimately created their Obscurus, with a sense of belonging.[2]

Description

"It's an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that busts out and attacks, and then vanishes."
Tina Goldstein[src]

A transformed Credence loose in Time Square

When a magical child was forced to repress their talent through physical or psychological abuse, they developed a parasitical magical force inside of them called Obscurus, resulting from their strong emotions of distress.[1]

An Obscurial might lose control when they reached their emotional and mental breaking point, releasing their Obscurus as an invisible (or nearly invisible) destructive wind. In extreme cases, they might physically transform into an Obscurus.[1]

When an Obscurial released the Obscurus within, their eyes became pure white and their physical form vibrated and became distorted. While the Obscurus was invisible, the Obscurial could physically interact with the world without making physical contact, though the ability was uncontrolled and triggered by the host's distress, anger, or other intense emotions. This notably damaged structures and objects near the host.[1]

Children possessed by an Obscurus almost always died before their tenth birthdays, but as exemplified by Credence Barebone, a wizard or witch with tremendous latent powers could survive longer. When the child died, the Obscurus vanished along with them, though Newt Scamander successfully kept one alive when its host died by encasing it in a magical bubble. It seemed that Obscurials couldn't be killed in Obscurus form; the Obscurus might be shattered temporarily, but the Obscurial themselves would still be alive if Credence was anything to go by. However, he was only one example and was stated to be unusually powerful.[1]

History

In ancient times, when wizards were hunted by Muggles, Obscurials were more common. However, when the wizarding world and the Muggle world separated with the development of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, the trend dropped as children were no longer forced to hide their true nature among their own.[1] They could be taught to accept and control their powers without suppressing them.

In 1926, approximately 3 months before his trip to New York, British Magizoologist Newt Scamander discovered an 8 year old Sudanese Obscurial during a study of African magical creatures. The girl had been trapped and severely abused by fearful muggles, causing the development of her powers.[3] Newt attempted to help her and succeeded in separating the Obscurus from its young host, but the girl didn't survive.[3] However, he did manage to magically preserve the Obscurus. [4] She represented the first documented case of an Obscurial in centuries.[3]

Obscurials were believed to have completely disappeared from the United States of America by 1926, according to Seraphina Picquery. To the knowledge of the International Confederation of Wizards, an Obscurus had not existed in the United States for over 200 years.[5] However, that same year a young wizard named Credence Barebone was revealed to be an Obscurial, and went on a destructive rampage that caused significant damage to the city, also causing a major breach of the Statute of Secrecy.[6]

Newt's experiences in Sudan allowed him to correctly identify Barebone as an Obscurial. He attempted to help the ailing young man but was thwarted by interference by MACUSA Aurors and Gellert Grindelwald, then disguised as MACUSA agent Percival Graves. They attacked Barebone, who was apparently destroyed. However, Newt's subsequent actions did reveal Grindlewald's identity and erased the memories of New York's muggle population, ending the Statute of Secrecy crisis.[1]

Known Obscurials

Person Notes
Sudanese girl A young girl who was persecuted by her village because she exhibited magical abilities. She died when she was eight years old, with Scamander preserving her Obscurus before her death.[1]
Credence Barebone Regularly beaten and psychologically abused by his adoptive mother Mary Lou Barebone, who hated magic. He was eventually consumed by his Obscurus and went on a rampage which destroyed large parts of New York.[1] He miraclously survived the incident.[2]

Behind the scenes

  • Many have wondered why Harry Potter did not develop an Obscurus, or become an Obscurial. On her official website F.A.Q., author J. K. Rowling answered: "An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it. The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so."[7]
  • While still unconfirmed, Ariana Dumbledore was potentially an Obscurial too, as the description of her "illness" given by her brother Aberforth fit the description of an Obscurial; "It destroyed her, what they did: she was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned her inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless". It would also explain how, as an untrained witch, she was capable of killing her mother in an uncontrolled rage with magic.
    • Furthermore, if she was indeed an Obscurial her interactions with a young Grindelwald could also explain why the Dark Wizard was later so interested by the power of an Obscurus or Obscurial. Ariana also lived longer than the average Obscurial, having died at the age of 14, whereas most documented Obscurials (with the exception of Credence Barebone) didn't live past age 10. If Ariana was an Obscurial, then this was a fact kept hidden by the Dumbledores, since it was widely believed no Obscurial had existed for at least two hundred years, even thirty years after her death, and that none lived longer than ten years of age.
    • If Ariana was indeed an Obscurial, it could make her one of two in her family, due to Credence Barebone possibly being a relative of hers. Grindlewald claimed that Barebone was born Aurelius Dumbledore with an as yet unrevealed relationship to the family; the truth of these claims is unknown.

Appearances

Notes and references

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