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"Wizards represent all that the true 'Muggle' most fears: They are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!"
J. K. Rowling's overview of wizardkind

Wizardkind[7][8][9][10] were humans that were born with the ability to perform magic. An individual male human with magical ability was known as a wizard (plural: wizards), and an individual female human with magical ability was known as a witch (plural: witches), though "wizard" was sometimes used as a gender-neutral singular noun like "man". There were three statues of wizardkind: pure-blood, half-blood and Muggle-borns, and they were relative to Squibs and Muggles.

It was said that most of the greatest wizards did not have an ounce of logic, suggesting their complete reliance of powerful magic led them to neglect other aspects of their mind.[11]


The origins of wizardkind is unknown. Whether, in ancient times, some humans randomly discovered they had magic, or there was some sort of ritual or potion or pact, their origins remained a mystery.

However, if it was the first, then some Muggle-borns may not have been the descendants of Squibs (as was most often theorised) but entirely new wizards, like the very first members of wizardkind.

Performing magic

In childhood, wizards and witches may have exhibited random bursts of magic, called accidental magic, which were honed and controlled as they progress to maturity.[12][13]

To perform controlled magic, almost all wizards/witches needed to use a wand, although the advanced skill of wandless magic may have been mastered in later life. A few highly advanced wizards could do controlled magical feats without a wand, such as Albus Dumbledore, who demonstrated the ability at the close of Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,[12] and Lord Voldemort, who once demonstrated this ability during the Battle of the Seven Potters in 1997.[14]


Main article: Blood status
"Most wizards these days are half-blood anyway. If we hadn’t married Muggles we’d’ve died out."
— Ron Weasley discussing blood purity[src]

The trio (left to right): Ron Weasley: pure-blood; Harry Potter: half-blood; Hermione Granger: Muggle-born

Magical ability was an inherited trait usually passed from parent to child. Wizards and witches are classified by blood status.[15]

Pure-bloods were born of two wizarding parents and at the very least, four wizarding grandparents. However, many believed a pure-blood family tree should have no Muggle ancestors despite the fact that every family tree had at least one Muggle ancestor by the 1990s.[16]

Half-bloods were mainly born of one wizard and one Muggle or Muggle-born parent.[15]

Muggle-born wizards and witches were distantly descended from a Squib who had married into a Muggle family. The magical gene resurfaced many years later in a Muggle-born descendant when that branch of the wizarding family had usually lost all traces of its wizarding legacy.[15]

However one inherited their magic made no difference whatsoever — a pure-blood's, half-blood's, and Muggle-born's abilities and physiologies were indistinguishable.


"Barry Wee Willie Winkle celebrates his 755th birthday in style tonight by throwing a huge party for all the wizards and witches he has ever known. 30 million are expected to attend tonight."
— The Daily Prophet, 14 August, 1991[src]

The physiology of wizards was subtly different from that of non-wizards. As such, wizards would react differently to the effects of contact with a magical creature, such as being attacked by a Murtlap.[17] Wizards also by nature could not be fooled by certain types of magic or magical barriers. It was, for example, possible to hide certain magic from Muggles via Muggle-Repelling Charms, which naturally would have no effect on wizards.[18]

Wizards had the power to cure 'mundane' illnesses and injuries, and contact with non-magical creatures that Muggles could not. However, they could struggle to repair any damage caused by magical means such as the Memory Charm and Unforgivable Curses.[19]

Despite their science and living conditions being almost Medieval, wizards were, ironically, probably healthier than Muggles, presumably due to their inherent magic protecting them from most mundane illnesses.[19]

Life span

See also: List of oldest wizards

Wizard life expectancy in Britain reached an average 137¾ years in the mid-1990s, according to the Ministry of Divine Health,[20] although the oldest wizard on record reached the age of 755 in late 1991;[21] wizards in general have a much longer life expectancy than Muggles,[22] usually living two or three times as long as their non magical counterparts, some living even longer than that depending on circumstances.

In addition, seeing as James Potter's parents had him "late in life,” witches likely have significantly longer childbearing years than Muggle women.

Physical appearance

Most wizards looked no different from Muggles, although some wizards bear unusual physical characteristics. Rolanda Hooch, for instance, had yellow eyes.[12] This was consistent with some magic being shown to affect bodily appearance, especially the eyes (as, for instance, Tom Riddle's eyes turned bright red after his constant use of the Dark Arts).[23]

In other cases, this may simply have been a cosmetic application of self-transfiguration, charm work or potion usage to alter the colour of one's eyes or hair to reflect the wizard's personal preferences.[24]


"I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick."
Filius Flitwick setting Seamus Finnigan lines[src]

Some wizards exhibited special inborn (or acquired) attributes which marked them as unique amongst their kind. They are listed as follows:

Inborn attributes

These often hereditary traits marked subdivisions within wizardkind.

Type(s) Notes


Some wizards were born with abilities beyond those of the average wizard. Seers, for example, had the skill of insight into future events. They may have garnered this insight through visions and dreams or through scrying physical objects like tea leaves, tarot cards, and crystal balls. Some seers included Sybill Trelawney and her ancestor Cassandra Trelawney.[13][25]


Other wizards may have had the ability to change only their physical appearance rather than their bodily form. This type of wizard was termed a Metamorphmagus. Such a wizard could change the shape of their noses, hair colour, and other physical attributes.[24] Nymphadora Tonks[24] and Teddy Lupin[26] were known Metamorphmagi.

Parselmouths (and other animal communication)

Some wizards and witches had the ability to talk to animals. For instance, a Parselmouth could speak to snakes. This ability was extremely rare. Salazar Slytherin was an infamous Parselmouth,[27] and his descendants,[23] such as Lord Voldemort, inherited this trait. Harry Potter also acquired this ability when part of Voldemort's soul bonded with him the night he tried to kill Harry.[14]

Rubeus Hagrid has demonstrated an uncanny ability to communicate and bond with all kinds of animals,[12][27] though this may have not been a true magical trait, but merely a gift, a mere knack at interpreting animal behaviour, that some Muggles showed. Animagi had also demonstrated being able to subtly influence animals while assuming their animal forms.[13]


Some witches were the carriers of a blood curse, one that would eventually lead them turning into a beast permanently.[28] The curse was carried from birth and is passed down from parents to children. The beast form of a Maledictus individuals depended on the individual curse cast.[29]


Veela had been known to marry wizards, and wizarding children of these unions were Half-Veela, and they would inherit magical ability from their wizarding parent, as well as the beauty, charm, and seductive dance from their Veela parent. Veela traits seemed to persist for at least a few generations (examples being Apolline Delacour, and her daughters Fleur, and Gabrielle). It is unknown whether half-blooded Veela could throw fire or transform into harpy-like creatures as their full-blooded relatives could.[30]


There existed some individuals that continued to exhibit a lack of magical power past age 11 and yet spontaneously — in desperate circumstances — managed to perform magic later on in life. However, this was rare, possibly more so than squibs.[31]

Acquired traits


Main article: Animagus
"It took them the best part of three years to work out how to do it. Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong — one reason the Ministry keeps a close watch on those attempting to do it. Peter needed all the help he could get from James and Sirius. Finally, in our fifth year, they managed it. They could each turn into a different animal at will."
Remus Lupin on how the Marauders became Animagi wizards[src]

Minerva McGonagall, a registered Animagus with the form of a cat

While some wizards had the ability to turn into animals, it was not an inherent power, but rather a trained technique. This type of wizard was called an Animagus (plural Animagi). Babbitty Rabitty was said to be an Animagus with the ability to transform into a rabbit. Minerva McGonagall was an Animagus who could turn into a cat.[12][13] The first recorded Animagus was Falco Aesalon, who could turn into a falcon.[32]

Animagi had to register themselves at the British Ministry of Magic, because Human Transfiguration could go horribly wrong. However, there were some unregistered Animagi. Examples are James Potter, who turned into a large red Stag; Sirius Black, who turned into a large black dog; Peter Pettigrew, who turned into a small grey rat;[13] and Rita Skeeter, who could turn into a beetle to gather information for her articles.[30] In the case of the first three, they turned into Animagi to assist Remus Lupin to transform into a werewolf in a place where there are no humans. Peter also turned into a rat to convince people that Sirius killed him, while masquerading as "Scabbers", Percy Weasley's and Ronald Weasley's former pet.[13]


Main article: Werewolf
"You have only ever seen me amongst the Order, or under Dumbledore's protection at Hogwarts! You don't know how most of the wizarding world sees creatures like me! When they know of my affliction, they can barely talk to me!"
— Werewolf Remus Lupin regarding his affliction[src]

Remus Lupin, in his werewolf form

A werewolf (also known as a lycanthrope)[33] was a creature who normally resembled human being but, upon the complete rising of the full moon, became an uncontrollable, fearsome and deadly wolf. This condition was caused by infection with lycanthropy, also known as werewolfry.[34] There were various differences between werewolves' wolf form and actual wolves, making it easier to detect one.

A werewolf could not choose whether or not to transform and would no longer remember who they were once transformed and were very aggressive; multiple werewolves were known to kill their best friends or loved ones while in wolf form if they were given the chance.[35] Despite this, they were able to recall everything they had experienced throughout their transformation upon reverting to their human form.[35]


"The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter. Or at least most minds are... It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legilimency are able, under certain conditions, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly."
— The art of Legilimency[src]

Lord Voldemort using Legilimency on Harry Potter

Legilimens were wizards who could perform Legilimency. These wizards could tune into other people's minds, but had difficulty reading the minds of those people who could perform Occlumency. The act of Legilimens was referred to as "mind-reading" in the Muggle world.[25] It is also possible to be born as a Legilimens, as Queenie Goldstein was noted to be a natural at the skill.[17]

The most advanced Legilimens could perform Legilimency nonverbally and wandlessly, but less talented practitioners must use the incantation Legilimens to enter their victim's mind. If a target was not skilled in Occlumency, a Legilimens would be able to detect if the person was lying.


"The magical defence of the mind against external penetration. An obscure branch of magic, but a highly useful one."
— A basic description of Occlumency[src]

Some wizards had the ability to protect their minds from others who could perform Legilimency. This ability was called Occlumency. Severus Snape tried teaching Occlumency to Harry Potter during Harry's fifth year in Hogwarts.[25] The most basic form of Occlumency, judging from Severus Snape's early lessons on the subject to Harry Potter, involved clearing one's mind — making it "blank and empty" — in order to prevent a Legilimens from perceiving one's emotions and thoughts.

More advanced Occlumency involved suppressing only the thoughts, emotions, and memories that would contradict whatever it was an Occlumens wished a Legilimens to believe. This produced a "faux" layer of mentality that could totally throw off the perspective of one who used Legilimency into thinking that the said layer being the legitimate one whilst its bona fide counterpart lay deeper within


Main article: Obscurial
"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."
— Explanation of an Obscurial[src]

Credence transforming into his Obscurus form

An Obscurial was a witch or wizard who, due to being raised in an environment where their magic was viewed negatively, developed an Obscurus, a dark parasitic force resulting from their own magic being suppressed and tainted by negative emotion. Obscurials hardly ever lived beyond the age of ten, the only verified case being that of Credence Barebone.[17]

Due to the extensive time spent suppressed, their magic, when unleashed as an Obscurus, could perform feats far more powerful than that of the average witch or wizard (indeed, the power of Credence's Obscurus impressed even Gellert Grindelwald), though usually only for short spans of time, as the user's death often followed soon after. At this point, the magic was in the control of the Obscurus itself, and couldn't be directed by the Obscurial's will.[17]


Main article: Wizarding world
"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort."
— Draco Malfoy to Harry Potter in their first year at Hogwarts[src]

Wizards and witches raising their wands in a salute

As decreed by the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, wizards maintained a society entirely separate from Muggle society, with their own culture and traditions.[12] Wizards populated areas all over the globe. At the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, over 100,000 wizards were in attendance.[30] At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there were several hundred students in residence at any given time. About 30 million wizards attended Barry Winkle's 755th birthday party in 1991.[36]

It is not clear how many witches and wizards were in the entire world, but some hints are given. It is stated that there were ten times more Muggles than wizards in the world. If the global Muggle population was about 5 billion in the 1990s, it would mean that the wizard population was 500 million. However, it is also said that the British wizard population was about 3,000, one third being Hogwarts students. This would indicate a very low birth rate (although wizarding families are big, they live more than their Muggle counterparts) and mean that other countries were much more populous than Britain or that there was somewhere in the world where a very large concentration of wizards occurred (one much larger than Britain's). In all likelihood, however, the former is a dramatic overestimate, the latter something of an underestimate.

Hogsmeade village

Wizards might live together in communities such as Godric's Hollow[14] or Hogsmeade.[13] Other wizards lived in solitary locations such as Spinner's End[23] or 12 Grimmauld Place.[25] The first wizarding communities were said to have come up in India[15] and the Middle East. More sophisticated communities would come up in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Most wizards maintained little if no contact with Muggle society and found Muggles strange and unpleasant. They were somewhat ignorant to the Muggle world but in a different manner than Muggles as of the Wizarding World.

While Muggles were completely unaware of wizards, wizards appeared to be ignorant of certain aspects of the Muggle world, such as electricity and other modern technologies that became redundant and, at times, non-sensical when one was able to use magic. While certain aspects of Muggle society were evident in the wizarding one, wizards seemed to be a number of decades if not centuries behind Muggles in other areas. In addition, wizards were sometimes just as progressive, if not more, on certain issues than their Muggle counterparts, such as women's rights.[15]

Muggle Studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Some wizards did not like to talk about their Muggle relatives, or even denied their existence altogether. Other wizards, such as Lord Voldemort, had even murdered some of their Muggle relatives altogether.[23] Other wizards, like Arthur Weasley, found Muggles to be highly intriguing and ingenious.[27] Hermione Granger, a Muggle-born witch, took up Muggle Studies at Hogwarts because she felt it would be fascinating to think about Muggles from a wizarding perspective.[13]

A Muggle who performed illusions or tricks to make it look as real magic was known as a magician. A true wizard being called magician was a grave insult to them, as Vernon Dursley did to James Potter I.[15]

See also

Behind the scenes

  • Wizards are mentioned to be male members of wizardkind, while witches are mentioned to be female members (although the word "wizard" can be used to generalise). This is technically incorrect, as the male version of a witch is called a warlock and the female version of a wizard is called a wizardess.


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 7 (Mudbloods And Murmurs)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 1 (The Boy Who Lived)
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Pottermore
  16. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Pure-Blood" at Wizarding World
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
  18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 15 (The Goblin's Revenge)
  19. 19.0 19.1 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Illness and Disability" at Wizarding World
  20. The Making of Harry Potter - (see this image).
  21. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - (see this image).
  22. J. K. Rowling interview with Scholastic
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  26. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 25 (Shell Cottage)
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  28. Everything you need to know about Nagini at Pottermore
  29. @gabifcr: Is always a snake? @jk_rowling: No, they can be other creatures. Depends on the curse. by J.K. Rowling on Twitter
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  31. Accio Quote - J.K. Rowling's 1999 Barnes and Noble Interview
  32. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  33. Lupine Lawlessness: Why Lycanthropes Don't Deserve to Live
  34. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) - (see this image)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  36. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)