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Post by Darren on Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:27 pm


So this is a very very (very) long post describing the properties and laws of magic in Harry Potter. The different magic in Harry Potter is described here. A lot of the information is from Lexicon essays and Wikipedia, however, a lot is also canon to Potters Army as Rowling doesn't really focus much on explaining the properties of magic in the series. Since this is such a long post, I have separated this into various topics so you can find what you want more easily.


Although magic is not always inherited from parents, a child of two magic users will almost always be a magic user. In many old wizarding families, almost every member of the family is a wizard or a witch - Malfoys, Weasleys. So we can say that magic is nearly always inherited from the parents. There are rare scenarios when this doesn't happen, as in the case of Squibs, but this is rare. As Ron says in CoS, Squibs are much rarer than muggleborns. Muggleborns we can see are quite common. In the Chamber of Secrets, we see that a lot of the students at Hogwarts are muggleborns, it would be fair to say that about 1 fifth of them have muggles as parents. So in the end, we can conclude that though magic usually gets passed on, magic also randomly comes to people who have no other magic user in the family.

Another rather interesting thing is how magic potential gets passed on. In PS, many people expect great things from Harry not only because he defeated Voldemort, but because his parents were good wizards. So does that mean that he would be a good one too? Not necessarily. Neville's parents were aurors and he wasn't exactly a very good wizard, and Hermione was a muggle born and was the best magic user of them all. So just because someone else in their family is a good wizard, it does not mean that they will be too - this is evident most in the Dumbledore brothers. Whereas Albus is a total genius in magic, Aberforth barely knows how to use it.
(Lexicon Essay, "Is magic passed on?)


For a person's ability to perform magic to be of use, a good deal of training is needed. When 'wild,' typically with young and untrained children, magic will still manifest itself subconsciously in moments of strong apprehension, fear, or anger. Here at PA, players will often refer to this phenomenon as "accidental magic," or in other words, magic that happens without the user actually intending to cast it. It is often thought of as something that happens in young children but it is not exclusive to them.† For example, Harry Potter once made his hair grow back after a bad haircut, and, in anger, made his Aunt Marge inflate enormously. Whilst this reaction is almost always uncontrollable, Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort, was able to "make things move without touching them, ... Make animals do what he wanted without training them, ... make bad things happen to people who annoy him, ... or 'make them hurt if I [he] want[s] to'" when he was a young child, apparently intentionally. It should also be noted that Lily Potter was able to guide and control the blades of a flower by wanting to. This may be due to the fact that magic occurs through intention, which is often motivated by a powerful emotion such as anger or grief, and since Tom Riddle had quite the tormenting childhood he would have had a great amount of practice to hone this ability.
If someone has magic, they usually show it at the age of seven. The ability to control magic never happens before that, but it does happen after, in the case of Neville. At younger ages, you cannot use focused magic, and it generally happens accidentally, depending on your emotion. †This is the main aim of Hogwarts then, to learn to control your magic.
Every single wizard has a different magical potential. Magical potential is how strong a wizard is in the art of magic. There are many different types of magic that someone can excel at, for example, Bellatrix could be better in dark arts than McGonagall, but the truly great wizards can excel at every type of magic. Voldemort, Grindelwald, Snape and Dumbledore for example, can defeat many Death Eaters easily. A single spell by Dumbledore for example, made 'Harry's hair stand on end as it passed.'

Generally, we can see that all the very great wizards and witches are old. Does this mean that magical potential increases with age? It could. Perhaps, though, the more you use magic, the better you become at it.

Definitely, as you grow older, you get more control of your magic, so therefore you are able to use it better. We can see this in the duels and other examples in the books.

In the first book, before going to Hogwarts, Harry recalled some events that he had no idea how they happened, meaning that he had absolutely no control over his magic. The aim of Hogwarts is to teach you to control it, and it obviously works. Though Harry accidentally makes his Aunt Marge float in POA, that's the last time he accidentally makes something happen. Part of that could be Harry's education, and it is also possible that his intention has changed. Perhaps, as a result of seeing what intent and emotion can do, he has chosen to apply what he's used in a more "magically mature" way.

No doubt magical potential increases as a student goes through Hogwarts. we can see this through the duels in the series. In his first year, Harry stood absolutely no chance against Quirrel, and he had no dueling spells either (conversation with Ron about the midnight duel). In the second year, he learned Expelliarmus, but from the duel with Malfoy we can see that he only really knew some minor jinxes and hexes by now. In GoF, he stood no chance against Voldemort at the graveyard duel. In OoTP however, it would be fair to say Harry was almost as good as your average Death Eater at dueling, or he was just very lucky. By the sixth year though, he was most definitely as good at dueling as a Death Eater, as you could see in the battle. He however, still stood no chance for someone like Snape. I could give more examples, but its clear that Hogwarts education gives a student good training and increases their potential at magic. Every single talented magic user always did exceptionally well at Hogwarts (Snape, Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Tom Riddle). So basically, if you do well at Hogwarts, you are most likely to be a good wizard, if not, you are most likely not to be.


The first thing that JK Rowling did before writing the actual novels was to decide what magic can do, and what it can't do. If she put so much thought on it, we shouldn't just ignore it. Though she didn't specifically say what magic can do and what it can't in the series, we can see for ourselves.
First of all, it is important to understand that magical potential increases as you grow up. So you can't lift big objects with floating spells or do advanced transfiguration as a 1st year. However, you can as a 7th year. Not following these rules lead to unrealistic roleplaying, and that's the last thing we want.

All wizards have a limit, even Dumbledore can't move a whole building etc. We encourage you to remember not only your character's Hogwarts' training (or lack of it, if he or she is still learning,) but also your character's relative age and experiences.† If you seem to have trouble finding a realistic balance for your character, we'll be happy to give you a hand.

There are many laws of magic in the HP series. The biggest one is that once dead, a person cannot be revived by magic at all. There are portraits, the mirror of Erised, inferi, ghosts and the ring, but none of these actually revive the person to full life. Becoming a ghost, however, is as near as you would get.

There is also Gamps' Law of Elemental Transfiguration, which shows the exceptions to what you cannot conjure. Rowling tells us 2 - Food and Money. Food is mentioned in the series, whilst Rowling said the other in an Interview and it is quite obvious anyways - the economic system of the HP universe would be severely flawed then. Although Alchemy, a rare form of magic, can breach this one. Leprechauns can make gold, but it doesn't last. Another one is love, something that cannot be created by magical means. Love potions don't actually create love, but attraction. The fourth is life, real life. Though spells like Avis can create birds, these aren't real birds. Lastly, you cannot conjure things you have no knowledge of. For example, you can't conjure a book if you don't know whats in it, you can't conjure a computer if you don't know how its made.


Emotion can strongly effect the magic of a wizard or a witch. Tonks temporarily lost her power as a metamorphagus due to depression, †and her patronus changed shape to show her depression. Harry and Ariana both had bursts of magic far beyond their potential when angry. Therefore, it is possible that anger can increase magical potential, whereas sadness can decrease it. Professor Lupin emphasized to Harry that his patronus would not work if he did not attach a powerful feeling of happiness to his spellcasting. It is known that unforgivable curses are stronger when used for pleasure. This actually makes a lot of sense, if someone does not want to use the unforgivable curses for that reason, then they use the spell half-heartedly and therefore are not using it to its full potential.


Death was studied in the Department of Mysteries, at the death chamber. (chapter beyond the veil). Death is studied in detail in a room (called the Death Chamber) of the Department of Mysteries containing an enigmatic veil. Sirius Black falls through this veil after he is hit with a curse from Bellatrix Lestrange. Magical techniques have been used to extend life. The Philosopher's Stone was able to 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 has availed himself of other methods, being one of the few wizards ever to use Horcruxes in his long sought attempt to "conquer death", and is believed to be the only one to use multiple Horcruxes. In addition, the drinking of Unicorn blood will keep a person alive even if death is imminent, but at the terrible price of being cursed forever. Being magical can contribute to one's longevity, as there are several characters in the series who are quite long-lived.

It is revealed by Nearly Headless Nick in the fifth book that wizards have the choice of becoming ghosts when they pass away. The alternative is "passing on". Nick says that he became a ghost because he was foolish, "afraid of death." All Hogwarts headmasters appear in a portrait when they die, allowing consultation by future generations. In PA, it is presumed that these incarnations in portraits are not the actual spirit of the person depicted, but rather, is a magical reflection of sorts caused by the person who painted the portrait, presumably by the skills of the wizard/artist.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore says that there is no spell that can truly bring the dead back to life, however several cases of dead people becoming half-alive are known. In the Goblet of Fire, because of a connection between Harry and Voldemort's wands, images of Voldemort's recent victims appear and help Harry escape. According to Harry, they seemed too solid to be ghosts.

In Deathly Hallows, a magical item known as the Resurrection Stone is said to have the power to raise the dead. According to the legend of the Deathly Hallows, however, the people do not feel as if they belong in the human world and prefer to stay in their resting place. They are mere spirits, imitations and shadows of who they used to be. (Wikipedia)


Arguably the most powerful form of magic is also the most mysterious and elusive: love. Voldemort, having never experienced love himself, underestimates its influence. It is also significant that Voldemort's parents did not love each other: Merope, his mother, slipped his father some love potion as he rode by one day without his attractive companion, Cecilia. He became infatuated with Merope, and they eloped. Within three months of the marriage, Merope became pregnant. Merope decided to stop giving Tom the love potion; she believed either that he had fallen in love with her on his own or he would at least stay for their unborn child. She was wrong, and Tom quickly left his pregnant wife and went home to his parents, claiming to have been "hoodwinked" and tricked into marrying Merope.

It was through love that Lily Potter was able to save her son Harry from death by sacrificing her life so that he might live. Harry used very much the same mechanism to negate the power of Voldemort's spells against the students and teachers of Hogwarts and other companions. The exact nature of how "love-magic" works is unknown; it is studied in depth at the Department of Mysteries. Another example of love having a strong influence on Magic is when Snape's Patronus is revealed to be the same as Lily's, the only love of his life.

Even Amortentia, supposedly the strongest love potion in the world, cannot create real love, only a sort of powerful obsession or infatuation. True love is a magic beyond spellbooks and ingredients, something that can change the course of the world. Love cannot be bottled or canned ó in order for the magic to work; for the sparks to fly, the love must be real in nature and true on both sides. Love is not only the most powerful form of magic, but the greatest form of power.


Every single act of magic is done with an incantation. The fact that Dumbledore and Voldemort usually use magic without saying an incantation merely means that they are doing it non-verbally. There are thousands of spells, and only a couple were listed in the books. Incantations are basically what drive the magic, and every spell needs one. Since we don`t know the incantations for much of the magic used in the series, you can use magic without saying the incantation, as long as it doesn't breach the magical limits.

Dueling spells, hexes and jinxes usually have a `jet of light` come out of the wand towards the victim when cast. This jet of light travels towards the victim and when it hits, does the effect of the spell. The light takes time to travel, so the wizard has time to dodge or use a shield charm. Most charms and enchantments don't have this light, but happen without it - Wingardium Leviosa for example.

Wandlore was one of the main themes of the last novel. It is hinted in the books that powerful wizards could use wandless magic. In the movies they always did. At PA, powerful wizards and witches can use wandless magic, but it is significantly weaker. Younger people can use wandless magic as well (like when Harry used magic on Aunt Marge), but it is accidental--unfocused and usually comes from emotion. When using other people's wands, magic potential decreases, as that wand probably doesn't fit you well - like the blackthorn wand that Harry used in DH. When defeating another wizard, a person wins the others wand, so they can therefore use it better. However, the original owner can still use the wand - just not to its full potential.

Spells come in many forms:

Charms - with just a few exceptions, Charms are usually spells that do not have a harmful effect on others. Like the patronus charm, disillusion charm etc.
Jinxes - Jinxes are spells that have a minor harmful effect on others.
Hexes - As far as I can tell, hexes seem to be the same as jinxes. However, I guess that hexes last longer and are more harmful :/
Curses - Curses are spells that have a major harmful effect on others.
Enchantments - Enchantments are long term spells you can cast for positive effect on a person or object.
Transfiguration - Transfiguration includes switching something from one shape to another and conjuring objects out of thin air.

-Deserves a topic of its own - look in the magical ability thread.


The dark arts are a dark and dangerous form of magic that are, as Severus Snape says, unfixed, mutating, indestructible. The main aim of dark magic is to cause chaos and inflict others with pain. Most dark magic are curses, however there are other branches of dark magic - such as necromancy.

Necromancy is the ability to make dead people do your bidding - Inferi. These are merely corpses though, and have no brain power or emotion. Necromancy takes skill and just the simple evilness to be able to give life to a corpse.

That gets me to the point. Anyone can do dark magic - but a good wizard is unlikely to do it. A good wizard is unlikely to be very good at it either, as Bellatrix says, you have to mean it. So a sadist would be very good at a cruciatus curse. Basically, the more evil and destructive you are, the more you excel at the dark arts.

Nevertheless, people who aren't Death Eaters can use these spells, especially the Unforgivables. Harry uses them, sadly, and Voldemort refers to several of his Death Eaters being "killed by aurors."
In the wizarding world, dark magic is illegal of course, but that does not mean people don't use it. During Bartemius Crouch's rule, he made Unforgivable curses legal for aurors to use.


Magical creatures are mainly resistant to magic. This is not only in creatures such as dragons, whom most spells will just bounce off of, but even people like Hagrid - who is half giant. Vampires and Veela don't have magical resistance of any sort, but a werewolf, in transformed state does.


Some wizards can appear to take physical harm that would kill most muggles. We can see this throughout the series. Firstly, Harry Potter the baby might have defeated Voldemort, but can a one-year-old baby survive the destruction of his parents' home? Dumbledore explained that part of Harry's survival was dependent upon the shield provided to him by his mother's love. It does not say, however, if that was the sole reason or not.

Neville's family thought he might be a Squib. In order to test him, his great-uncle tried to surprise the little fellow by nearly killing him. He pushed him off a pier into the ocean, for example. Apparently, the "magic-ness" in him, if there is any, will manifest itself in a surprise of that kind. Then he got dropped from an upper story window and he bounced! This built-in protection indicated to his family that he was in fact magical. In the Muggle world, this great-uncle would be up on child endangerment charges. In the Wizarding World, there was a celebration to honor the fact that Neville did indeed possess magical abilities.

Various Quidditch players are injured in spectacular ways, including, for example, plowing into the ground at top speed. Krum took a bowling-ball-sized iron ball to the face, and only suffered a broken nose - not, for example, concussion or a skull fracture . When Harry was similarly hit by Crabbe's illegal bludger in the small of the back, he was only winded . In every case, they are not permanently injured and certainly not killed.

Neville again is a good example, this time in Flying class. He fell twenty feet from a broomstick. Twenty feet. Even if he's falling onto grass, this kid should be dead. All that happens is a broken wrist.

Whatever the actual mechanics of it, wizards clearly are not injured as quickly as Muggles. Perhaps its the magic in them, that responds automatically when in dangerous situations.
[Lexicon Essay, "ouch that must of hurt, or did it?]
To be continued.. Perhaps

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