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"I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death —"
— Professor Severus Snape on the nature of brewing potions[src]

A potion (Latin potio, 'beverage') was a magical mixture, commonly brewed in a cauldron and used to create a number of magical effects on the drinker.[1] Potions ranged in effects, nature, and brewing difficulty. An example of a beginners potion was the Cure for Boils, which was the first potion learned at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[1] An incredibly advanced and challenging one was the Polyjuice Potion, that even adult witches and wizards had trouble with.[14][15]

A wizard or witch who specialised in potion brewing was known as a potioneer[16] or a Potions Master.[1] Potion-making was also the wizarding equivalent of Muggle chemistry.[3]

Nature

"Potions are not for the impatient, but their effects are usually difficult to undo by any but another skilled potioneer. This branch of magic carries a certain mystique and therefore status."
— The nature of potion-making[src]

Potion ingredients

Potions were brewed from ingredients with magical properties.[3][1] Potions could be used as: medicines, antidotes,[17][2] solutions, poisons,[18] or give the drinker any magical effect from strength enhancement[19] to immunity to flames.[18] Potions were not necessarily used by drinking them, as some could be applied by physical contact or create an effect simply by being created, such as the Regeneration potion.[20] According to former Hogwarts Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape, potions could be used for numerous different magical purposes.[1]

A potions lab, containing various ingredients and equipment

Potions had a distinct advantage over typical spells in that they could be used even by the non-magical, provided that they had the potion itself at their disposal. There were also certain magical effects that could only be induced through the use of potions. Some potions duplicated the effects of spells and charms, but a few (for instance, the Polyjuice Potion, and Felix Felicis)[15][16] had effects impossible to achieve any other way.[3] Generally speaking, witches and wizards favoured whichever method they found easiest, or most satisfying, to produce their chosen end.[3]

Potions were not for the impatient, but their effects were usually difficult to undo by any but another skilled potioneer.[3] This branch of magic carried a certain mystique and therefore status. There was also the dark cachet of handling substances that were highly dangerous. The popular idea of a potions expert within the wizarding community was of a brooding, slow-burning personality.[3]

Potion brewing always required some degree of wand work to complete the brewing process,[3] contrary to the introductory speech Professor Snape gave to his first years in 1991.[1] Hence, non-magic people could not brew them even if given the ingredients and instructions, as it would only result in nasty-tasting (and possibly poisonous) soup with no magical effect whatsoever.[3]

Dangers

Potions had to be brewed carefully to achieve the proper effects. In certain cases, those that were brewed incorrectly or in a dirty cauldron could become poisons.[21][22] In other cases, even potions that had been brewed correctly may in some cases had deleterious effects, even if their intended effect is beneficial; for example, Felix Felicis caused recklessness and overconfidence when used more than sparingly,[16][13] while the Elixir to Induce Euphoria had side-effects such as excessive singing and nose-tweaking, though these could be countered by adding peppermint to the potion.[23]

Teaching and labeling

"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic."
— Professor Snape in Potions class[src]

A first year Potions lesson

There was a Potions class, devoted to the study of potion recipes, brewing execution and effects, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[1] It was a core class and was mandatory throughout the first five years of a students education.[1][24] It was optional to students in their sixth and seventh years to those who achieved a high score on their Ordinary Wizarding Level exam.[25][16]

An advanced N.E.W.T.-level Potions class

In this class, students learnt the correct way to brew potions, following specific recipes and using various magical ingredients to create the potions, starting with simple ones first,[1] and moving to more advanced ones as they progressed in knowledge.[16]

To enter into the N.E.W.T. class, a Hogwarts student had to achieve either an 'Outstanding' or 'Exceeds Expectations' on their O.W.L. exam.[25] Anyone who achieved anything less would not be able to keep up with the advanced course work nor the increase of housework. Potions was also noted to be a hard subject to achieve an O.W.L. in, as proven when only twelve students advanced to N.E.W.T.-level class in 1996.[16]

There existed a Potions Association that oversaw the labelling of certain potions, and possibly other aspects of the field. The association was directly associated with the Ministry of Magic.[26][27]

Supplies

Equipment

Ingredients

Jobs related to potion-making

A potioneer

A potioneer, also known as a potion-brewer or potion-maker, was a witch or wizard who made potions for a living,[16] meaning that their primary source of income came from making potions or in someway related to potions in general. This could include working as a professional brewer, studying or inventing potions, or teaching potions as a subject at a wizarding school.[1] A N.E.W.T. in Potions was one of the necessary qualifications required to become a Healer and an Auror.[29]

A person who taught Potions was sometimes known as a Potions Master,[1] one who had achieved a N.E.W.T. in the subject.

Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts from 1980 to the fall of 1996.[1][30] Horace Slughorn, who had taught Potions many years before, took over as Potions Master in 1996.[31] Other known Potions professors were Swoopstikes and Vindictus Viridian. Swoopstikes was an entomologist, with a vast knowledge of magical insects and Viridian was a former Headmaster at Hogwarts and author.[32]

Known potioneers

Texts on potions

Potion-related businesses

An advertisement could be seen in The Quibbler about a potion-making business or potioneer called Ancient Potion Maker.[42]

In 1996, a business called Potions Lady that specialised in making potions for women placed an advertisement in the Daily Prophet.[42]

See also

Behind the scenes

  • As brewing potions only requires minimal wand magic, Snape's warning against "foolish wand-waving or silly incantations", likely means that he expects the students to limit themselves to the task at hand and not attempt any other spells in class.

Author's comments

  • It is often asked whether a Muggle could create a magic potion, given a Potions book and the right ingredients. The answer, unfortunately, is no. There is always some element of wandwork necessary to make a potion (merely adding dead flies and asphodel to a pot hanging over a fire will give you nothing but nasty-tasting, not to mention poisonous, soup).[3]
  • "Chemistry was my least favourite subject at school, and I gave it up as soon as I could. Naturally, when I was trying to decide which subject Harry's arch-enemy, Severus Snape, should teach, it had to be the wizarding equivalent. This makes it all the stranger that I found Snape's introduction to his subject quite compelling ('I can teach you to bottle fame, brew glory, even put a stopper on death...'), apparently part of me found Potions quite as interesting as Snape did; and indeed I always enjoyed creating potions in the books, and researching ingredients for them. Many of the components of the various draughts and libations that Harry creates for Snape exist (or were once believed to exist) and have (or were believed to have) the properties I gave them. Dittany, for instance, really does have healing properties (it is an anti-inflammatory, although I would not advise Splinching yourself to test it); a bezoar really is a mass taken from the intestines of an animal, and it really was once believed that drinking water in which a bezoar was placed could cure you of poisoning."[3]

Appearances

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Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 3.33 3.34 3.35 3.36 3.37 3.38 3.39 3.40 3.41 3.42 3.43 3.44 3.45 3.46 3.47 3.48 3.49 3.50 3.51 3.52 3.53 3.54 3.55 3.56 3.57 3.58 3.59 Pottermore
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15 (The Forbidden Forest)
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pottermore (archived)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 23 (The Legend Of Dai Ryusaki And The Dark Scroll)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 J. K. Rowling's official site
  10. 10.0 10.1 Daily Prophet Newsletters: 1 October, 1999, Page 1
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 12 (And Hello Magical Accidents and Catastrophes)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Wonderbook: Book of Potions
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
  20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7 (The Boggart in the Wardrobe)
  22. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
  23. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 22 (After the Burial)
  24. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts School Subjects" at Wizarding World
  25. 25.0 25.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  26. Harry Potter Wizard's CollectionLabel Collection book (see this image)
  27. MinaLima Design - Potion Labels - The Printorium (see this image)
  28. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  29. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  30. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)
  31. 31.0 31.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  34. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
  36. Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World
  37. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
  38. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
  39. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
  40. Harry Potter Trading Card Game
  41. Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey, p. 504 (see this image)
  42. 42.0 42.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
  43. Hogwarts Mystery trailer
Potions (class)
Wideye-or-awakening-potion.png
Potioneers
Arsenius Jigger · Bilius Finbok · Blossom Degrasse · Dai Ryusaki · Damocles Belby · Erica Stainwright · Fleamont Potter · Gethsemane Prickle · Gilderoy Lockhart · Glossy · Glover Hipworth · Golpalott · Gregory the Smarmy · Gunhilda de Gorsemoor · Hector Dagworth-Granger · Hesper Starkey · J. Pippin · Laverne de Montmorency · Libatius Borage · Linfred of Stinchcombe · Mulpepper · Mundungus Fletcher · Nicolas Flamel · Phineas Bourne · Quintia McQuoid · Regulus Moonshine · Rogue alchemist · Rubens Winikus · Sacharissa Tugwood · Skower · Tilden Toots · Dr Ubbly · Vindictus Viridian · Zenith Xeep · Zygmunt Budge
Potions at Hogwarts
Cauldron cupboard · Dungeon Five · Potions basement · Potions Classroom · Potions Club · Potions Staircase · Potion Master's office · Potions Storeroom
Professors Bartholomew · Horace Slughorn · Severus Snape · Swoopstikes · Unnamed Professor (16th century) · Unnamed Professor (19th century) · Unnamed Professor (2021)
Textbooks A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery · Advanced Potion-Making · Ingredient Encyclopedia · Magical Drafts and Potions · One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
Potions studied at Hogwarts
Ageing Potion · Amortentia · Antidotes · Antidote to Common Poisons · Antidote to garish pink blended poison · Antidote to Uncommon Poisons · Befuddlement Draught · Calming Draught · Cheese-Based Potions · Confusing Concoction · Cough potion · Cure for Boils · Deflating Draught · Doxycide · Draught of Living Death · Draught of Peace · Elixir to Induce Euphoria · Erumpent Potion · Essence of Insanity · Everlasting Elixirs · Felix Felicis · Fire Protection Potion · Forgetfulness Potion · The Famous French Method for the Bite of a Mad Dog · Garish pink blended poison · Garrotting Gas · Girding Potion · Hair-Raising Potion · Herbicide Potion · Hiccoughing Solution · Invigoration Draught · Laughing Potion · Memory Potion · Pepperup Potion · Polyjuice Potion · Pompion Potion · Potion for Dreamless Sleep · Rat Tonic · Regerminating Potion · Scintillation Solution · Shrinking Solution · Skele-Gro · Sleeping Draught · Strength Potion · Strengthening Solution · Swelling Solution · Undetectable Poisons · Veritaserum · Weedosoros · Wideye Potion · Wiggenweld Potion · Wit-Sharpening Potion · Wolfsbane Potion · Wound-Cleaning Potion
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