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Inferi (Harry Potter)

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Subject: Inferi, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, List of spells in Harry Potter
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Inferi (Harry Potter)

In the Harry Potter series created by J. K. Rowling, magic is depicted as a natural force that can be used to override the usual laws of nature. Many fictional magical creatures exist in the series, while ordinary creatures sometimes exhibit new magical properties in the novels' world. Objects, too, can be enhanced or imbued with magical property. The small percentage of humans who are able to perform magic are referred to as witches and wizards, in contrast to the non-magical muggles.

In humans, magic or the lack thereof is an inborn attribute. It is inherited, carried on "dominant resilient genes".[1] Magic is the norm in the children of magical couples and less common in those of muggles. Exceptions exist: those unable to do magic who are born to magical parents are known as squibs, whereas a witch or wizard born to muggle parents is known as a muggle-born, or by the pejorative "mudblood". While muggle-borns are quite common, squibs are extremely rare.

Using magic

For a person's ability to perform magic to be of use, much 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.[2] Magic can manifest itself on occasions of sadness as well. For example, Harry Potter once made his hair grow back after a bad haircut; set a boa constrictor on his cousin Dudley at the London Zoo; and, in anger, made Aunt Marge inflate enormously. While this reaction is usually 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. In addition, Lily Potter was able to guide and control the blooming of a flower by wanting to.[3] Almost all magic is done with the use of a supporting tool or focus, typically a wand. On the subject of magic without the use of a wand, Rowling says:[4] Template:Cquote Mark Williams, who played Arthur Weasley in the films, commented in the special 50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments, "If only I had a wand, and I could KILL people!"[5] A wizard or witch is only at their best when using their own wand. Throughout the series, it is evident that when using another's wand, one's spells are not as strong as they normally would be.[HP1] Ownership of a wand can transfer from one person to another if the original owner of the wand is forcibly disarmed (either magically or manually, as evident from Draco Malfoy's magical disarming of Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince and Harry's manual disarming of Draco in Deathly Hallows). Moreover, if a person has the allegiance of more than one wand, and one of them is forcibly taken away, the other wands that respond to this person will also change their allegiance (Harry's taking Draco's hawthorn wand in Malfoy Manor in Deathly Hallows, leads to the Elder Wand also accepting Harry as its master: "Does the wand in your hand know that its last master was disarmed? Because if it does ... I am the true master of the Elder Wand.")[HP7]

Within the books, technical details of magic are obscure. Of Harry's lessons, only those involving magical creatures, potions or divination are given in any detail.

Severus Snape once told Harry Potter that "Time and space matter in magic" during Harry's first Occlumency lesson in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Albus Dumbledore told Harry after finding the magically concealed boat to reach the locket Horcrux that "Magic always leaves traces, sometimes very distinctive traces."[HP6]

The limits of magic

Before publishing the first Harry Potter novel, Rowling spent five years establishing the limitations of magic - determining what it could and could not do. "The most important thing to decide when you're creating a fantasy world," she said in 2000, "is what the characters CAN'T do." For instance, while it is possible to conjure things out of thin air, it is far more tricky to create something that fits an exact specification rather than a general one; moreover, any objects so conjured tend not to last.[6]

Harry's status as an orphan from the first book quickly establishes that resurrection of the dead is impossible.[7] While corpses can be transformed into obedient Inferi on a living wizard's command, they are little more than zombies with no soul or will of their own. It is also possible through the rare Priori Incantatem effect to converse with ghost-like "shadows" of magically murdered people. The Resurrection Stone also allows one to talk to the dead, but those brought back by the Stone are not corporeal, nor do they wish to be disturbed from their peaceful rest. Throughout the series, this limit is continually mentioned, and wizards try to transcend it at their own folly.

Likewise, it is not possible to make oneself immortal unless one makes use of a mystical object of great power to sustain life (such as the Philosopher's Stone created by Nicolas Flamel or a Horcrux, the latter having been used by Tom Riddle). If one were to possess the three Deathly Hallows, it is fabled that they would possess the tools to become the "master of death". However, it is hinted that to be a true "master of death" is to be willing to accept that death is inevitable. Becoming a ghost is also an option for wizards and witches; however, it is said that it is "a pale imitation of life". Whether or not ghosts are sentient is not told. However, Snape states that a ghost is merely "the imprint of a departed soul left upon the earth".

True love is almost impossible to create magically, though Amortentia, a love potion, can create a powerful sense of infatuation.

Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration

The Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration is a magical theory mentioned by Hermione and later repeated by Ron in the final book. She explains that food is one of these: witches or wizards can cook and prepare food using magic, but not create it. Out of the five exceptions, only food is mentioned explicitly in the series — although speculation amongst fans has proposed many other possibilities.

Rowling herself has stated once in interview that money is something wizards cannot simply materialise out of thin air,[6] or the economic system of the Wizarding World would then be gravely flawed and disrupted. While the Philosopher's Stone does permit alchemy, this is portrayed as an extremely rare, even unique, object, whose owner does not exploit its powers.

There are numerous examples in the series of food appearing to have been conjured from nothing, such as the sudden materialisation of ingredients in the pots of Molly Weasley's kitchen and when Professor McGonagall creates a self-refilling plate of sandwiches for Harry and Ron in The Chamber of Secrets. In all cases, these events can be reasonably explained as food either being multiplied — which is allowable under Gamp's Law, according to Hermione — or transported from elsewhere. One example of this is Banqueting in Hogwarts — the food is prepared by elves in the kitchens and laid onto four replica tables, directly below the actual house tables in the Great Hall. The food is then magically transported to the tables.

Magic and emotion

A witch or wizard's emotional state can affect their inherent abilities. In Half-Blood Prince, Nymphadora Tonks temporarily lost her power as a Metamorphmagus after suffering sadness over her grief for the death of Sirius Black, and for her love for Remus Lupin, who wanted to distance himself from her due to his being a werewolf. The form of her Patronus changed to reflect her depression. As related to Harry by Dumbledore, Merope Gaunt only demonstrated any magical ability when removed from her father's oppression, but then seemed to lose it again when her husband abandoned her. Many other examples of emotion-influenced magic appear throughout the series, with Ariana Dumbledore, and Harry's attack upon Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, being prime examples. Several magical spells involve the use of emotion when casting them. The Patronus charm, for example, requires the caster to concentrate on a happy memory. Force of will under extenuating circumstances also helps in casting spells, and affects the force with which they are cast. An example of this is when Harry is able to conjure a corporeal Patronus when Sirius Black is in danger of being administered the Dementor's Kiss. [HP3]

Magic and death

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 can be used to prepare a potion that postpones death for the rest of eternity, so long as the potion is 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 (such as Griselda Marchbanks, who was an invigilator during Albus Dumbledore's O.W.L examinations).

It is revealed by Nearly Headless Nick in the fifth book that all witches and 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 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 (Priori Incantatem), 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 merely apparitions: imitations and shadows of who they used to be.

Magic and love

In Harry Potter, love is treated as a branch of magic, although it does not seem to be something that is easily controlled, rising unbidden from the emotion itself. Lily’s sacrifice on Harry’s behalf, for example, comes around at the end of the series to work to Harry’s advantage in unforeseen ways.[HP7] Love is an important theme in the books, and it is implied that it is Voldemort’s inability to understand the concept that leads to his eventual downfall. Since he does not understand the selfless love contained in Lily’s sacrifice, he is unable to predict the consequences of Harry’s own sacrifice at the end of Deathly Hallows. Thus he is unprepared for the fact that Harry’s friends are protected from his spells.[HP7] Voldemort also unwittingly ensures that Harry is tied to life while Voldemort lives, by taking some of his blood in the hope that he will be able to gain some of the protection that lingers in Harry as a result of Lily’s sacrifice.[HP4]

It is implied that the inability to love is what makes Voldemort as evil as he is. Severus Snape, who voluntarily joined the Death Eaters on leaving Hogwarts, turns spy for the Order of the Phoenix when he realises that the woman he loves is being threatened by Voldemort.[HP7] Similarly, Narcissa Malfoy’s love for her son Draco eventually leads her to betray Voldemort, directly leading to Harry’s survival[HP7] – another oversight on Voldemort’s part. With these examples, the book strongly hints that anybody with the ability to love cannot go as far down the path of evil as Voldemort has done, and it is his complete lack of compassion that makes him capable of what he does.

Selflessness is a concept strongly tied to love in the books. Sacrifice of one’s life for the people one loves is seen in Harry’s case as well as Lily’s. Also, when confronting Wormtail about his betrayal of the Potters, Sirius tells him “You should have died for them! As we would have done for you!”[HP3]


Spells are 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. Typically casting requires an incantation, most often in a modified form of Latin (see Dog Latin), and gesturing with a wand. However, these seem to be aids to the will only; wands are in most cases required, but there are indications that sufficiently advanced witches and wizards can perform spells without them. Spells can also be cast non-verbally, but with a wand. This technique is taught in the sixth year of study at Hogwarts and requires the caster to concentrate on the incantation. Some spells (e.g. Levicorpus) are apparently designed to be used non-verbally. While most magic shown in the books requires the caster to use their voice, some do not (and this may depend on the witch or wizard). Dumbledore has been known to do impressive feats of magic without speaking, such as conjuring enough squashy purple sleeping bags to accommodate the entire student population[HP3] or during his duel with Voldemort towards the end of Order of the Phoenix.

It is evidently also possible to use a wand without holding it. Harry himself performs Lumos to light his wand when it is lying on the ground somewhere near him[HP5]. Additionally, Animagi and Metamorphmagi do not need wands to undergo their transformations.

Spells are divided into rough categories, such as "charms", "curses", "hexes", or "jinxes". Although offensive and potentially dangerous curses exist in number, three are considered usable only for great evil, which earns them the special classification of "Unforgivable Curses".

Magical abilities

The following is a list of special abilities that a wizard or witch in the Harry Potter universe may have.

Animagi transformation

An Animagus (portmanteau of animal and magus) is a witch or wizard who can turn into a particular animal or magical creature at will. This ability is not innate: it must be acquired by magical means. All Animagi must register at a central authority; it is illegal to obtain this ability without registering, although out of the five Animagi described as such in the books (Minerva McGonagall, Rita Skeeter, James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew), only McGonagall is mentioned as a registered Animagus.

Animagi transformation is one of the few forms of magic that can be performed deliberately wandlessly. This is exemplified when both Sirius and Peter are left wandless for over 10 years, both retaining the ability with supposedly no ill effects. When Animagi transform, the animal appears to be a normal animal. However, during Prisoner of Azkaban, it is noted that Ron's pet rat Scabbers (later revealed as Peter Pettigrew's Animagus form) has lived over twelve years when only expected to live three. Also, an Animagus in animal form retains the ability to think like a human, which is the principal difference from being an animagus and being transfigured into an animal. Characteristics of an Animagus' human form can manifest themselves in the animal transformation: general appeararance of both Pettigrew and Sirius Black, markings around McGonagall's eyes that resemble her glasses, Pettigrew missing a toe from one paw to match the finger he cut off, and so on.

Each Animagus has a specific animal form, and cannot transform into any other animal. The animal cannot be chosen: it is uniquely suited to that individual's personality, like the Patronus Charm, and in most cases the Animagus will change into the same animal used in the person's Patronus charm. (McGonagall's Patronus is a cat, like her Animagus form; James Potter's was a stag, which was also his Animagus form.) Similarly, when an Animagus transforms it is always into the same animal (i.e. same markings, same colours, etc.). When an Animagus registers, they must record all the defining physical traits of their animal form so that the Ministry can identify them.

Explicit emphasis is made in the books on the differences between Animagi and werewolves. Animagi have full control over their transformations and retain their minds, whereas werewolves' transformations are involuntary and include severe changes in personality. After the person has transformed into a werewolf, he no longer remembers who he is; he would kill his best friend if he got anywhere near him. A werewolf only responds to the call of his own kind. The only way that a werewolf can retain his sanity, intelligence and memory while transformed is using the Wolfsbane Potion.

Rowling also makes it clear in The Tales of Beedle the Bard that an animagus is not the same as a wizard simply transfiguring themselves into an animal. The former ability, as mentioned above, allows the witch or wizard to maintain their own mind and human powers of reasoning and memory. The latter, however, would cause the person to gain the brain of the animal they have transfigured into. This would lead to the obvious problem that they would forget that they were a wizard and be trapped, unknowingly, in this form for the rest of that creature's lifespan unless transformed back by another wizard.


A Metamorphmagus (a portmanteau of metamorph and magus) is a witch or wizard born with the innate ability to change some or all of their appearance at will. The talent cannot be acquired; a witch or wizard who has it must be born with it.

Nymphadora Tonks and her son, Teddy Lupin are currently the only known Metamorphmagi in the series; it is a very rare ability, possibly hereditary. Tonks is known to change her hair colour and style according to her mood. Indeed, she even appears as an old woman on occasion. She can also change her nose appearance, as she does when eating with the Weasley family to entertain Ginny and Hermione. Her son, Teddy Lupin, also inherited this trait, as his hair is mentioned repeatedly changing colour.

The extent of these appearance-altering abilities and the limits thereof are not entirely clear. According to Rowling, a Metamorphmagus can alter his or her appearance completely, for instance, from black to white, young to old, handsome to plain and so on.[8] In one example, Tonks changes her facial appearance by reshaping her nose into "a beaklike protuberance like Snape's", to "something resembling a button mushroom", and "one like a pig snout" which reminded Harry of his cousin Dudley.[9] The emotional state of a Metamorphmagus can affect their abilities.


Parseltongue is the language of snakes. It is, in the common mind, associated with Dark Magic (although Dumbledore stated that it is not necessarily an evil quality), and those possessing the ability to speak it ("Parselmouths") are very rare. It appears to be a skill acquired through learning or via a method of xenoglossia, such as through genetic inheritance (or by use of Dark or dangerous Magic). Harry is a Parselmouth: it is revealed in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to be due to Voldemort's passing on some of his abilities to Harry the night he tried to kill him. In Deathly Hallows it is revealed that it is a part of Voldemort's soul within Harry that grants him this ability, which is later destroyed leaving Harry stripped of the ability.[10]

Other known Parselmouths include: Salazar Slytherin and his descendants, including the Gaunts and Voldemort. Dumbledore can also understand Parseltongue; however, he learnt it and did not naturally possess the ability.[11] In Half-Blood Prince he repeats Morfin Gaunt's words "the big house over the way", which were spoken in Parseltongue.

Ron uses Parseltongue in the final book to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, but he is only imitating a phrase Harry used earlier in the book.

Rowling borrowed the term from "an old word for someone who has a problem with the mouth, like a hare lip".[12]

The version of Parseltongue used in the films was designed by Professor Francis Nolan, Professor of Phonetics at University of Cambridge. It is designed to be an ergative-absolutive language featuring geminate consonants and VSO word order. It also has a high frequency of fricative and pharyngeal consonants, to acoustically approximate the physiology of a snake.


Flight without aid of a broomstick or other object is a relatively rare ability. Death Eaters and members of the Auror can fly using no object. They appear to be coated in some sort of White or black veil whilst flying this way. Voldemort can do this without the aid of a broom or carpet, as can Snape.

Objects are also known to be enchanted so they fly. Sirius had a flying motorbike that he lent to Hagrid to bring Harry to the Dursley's, and Arthur Weasley enchanted a Ford Anglia to fly.[HP2] The enchantments cast on these machines do not affect their normal functions and purposes, except the ability of flight.


A Seer is a witch or wizard with the clairvoyant ability to predict future events. The predictions given through this ability can sometimes be self-fulfilling prophecies, and Dumbledore states in Order of the Phoenix that not all of them come true, depending on the choices made by those mentioned. This would seem to indicate that a Seer predicts possible or likely events, at least in some cases. Sybill Trelawney is noted to never remember that she has made a prophecy when it is a true one. She speaks in a hoarse voice and only if a wizard is present will anyone know about it.

In the Hall of Prophecy at the Department of Mysteries, thousands upon thousands of glass spheres are imbued with records of prophecies made by Seers. Only a person mentioned in a prophecy can safely retrieve it; anyone else who tries to do so will be driven insane.

According to McGonagall, true Seers are extremely rare. Sybill Trelawney is the only Seer portrayed in the books, although it is mentioned that Sybill's great-great-grandmother, Cassandra Trelawney, was a renowned Seer in her day. Trelawney is considered an "old fraud" by her students, and is sacked by Dolores Umbridge in the fifth book for it. However, she has twice made true prophecies (not counting minor predictions such as Neville's breaking a teacup). It is unclear whether Trelawney's visions of the Grim 'following' Harry in his third year are Sirius Black in Animagus form or just Trelawney being melodramatic and predicting the tragic death of a student as she has done every year.

In an ironic twist, however, when looked over in hindsight after reading the books, all of Trelawney's predictions (for example predicting Harry Potter and Remus Lupin's death - though the former was only through a technicality) come true eventually.

Legilimency and Occlumency

Legilimency is the magical skill of extracting feelings and memories from another person's mind — a form of magical "telepathy" (although Snape, an able practitioner of the art, dismisses the colloquial term, "mind-reading", as a drastic oversimplification). It also allows one to convey visions or memories to another person, whether real or imaginary. A witch or wizard possessing this skill is called a Legilimens, and can, for example, detect lies and deceit in another person, witness memories in another person's past, or "plant" false visions in another's mind.

The counter-skill to Legilimency is Occlumency (and its user, known as an Occlumens), by which one can compartmentalise one's emotions, or prevent a Legilimens from discovering thoughts or memories which contradict one's spoken words or actions. An advanced form of Occlumency is planting false temporary memories inside an Occlumens´ own head while blocking all other true memories, so if a Legilimens, even a highly skilled one, were to attempt to read the mind he or she would find false memories only and believe everything was right. This is how Snape was able to lie to Voldemort for years.

Voldemort, Snape, and Dumbledore are all known to be skilled in Legilimency and Occlumency. Throughout the books, Snape is repeatedly said to be highly skilled in Occlumency.[13] Voldemort is said to be the master of Legilimency by Snape, as he, in almost all cases, immediately knows during conversations if someone lies to him.

The skills are first mentioned in Order of the Phoenix, (though Harry gets the impression before that Snape can read minds) wherein Snape is instructed by Dumbledore to give Harry lessons in Occlumency. Whether as a result of negligence in Snape's instruction, or poor aptitude on Harry's part, Harry never made any progress in the skill, and as a result he was lured by Voldemort through a carefully calculated vision he falsely believed to be real. Only once has Harry managed to overcome Snape with the use of Occlumency, in Order of the Phoenix.[14] It seems that not everyone is able to master Occlumency. Also, although it appears to be an advanced form of magic, a young wizard can learn to be an Occlumens (Draco Malfoy was able to block Snape's attempt to use Legilimency on him in his 6th year, after being taught Occlumency by Bellatrix Lestrange). Near the end of Order of the Phoenix, Harry learns from Dumbledore that his love for Sirius is what caused Voldemort to release his possession of Harry. Revolting from the love in Harry, Voldemort feared the further use of Legilimency on Harry, drawing away from their connection. This allows Harry to freely see/feel Voldemort's thoughts/emotions in the next two books. In Deathly Hallows, Harry finally does master Occlumency - shutting his mind to Voldemort - when Dobby dies. He realises that his grief - or what Dumbledore calls it, love - is what can block out the Dark Lord.

Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy and Barty Crouch, Jr also have skill in Occlumency, since Bellatrix was clearly said to have taught Draco to shield his thoughts from Snape.[HP6] It was never clearly said that Narcissa was an Occlumens, but since she successfully managed to prevent Voldemort (the master of Legilimency) from detecting her lie about Harry's death, she is very likely to be one.[HP7]

Legilimency and Occlumency are not part of the normal curriculum at Hogwarts, and most students would graduate without learning them. They seem to be considered a more advanced form of magic.

Apparition and Disapparition

Apparition is a magical form of teleportation, through which a witch or wizard can disappear ("Disapparate") from one location and reappear ("Apparate") in another. It is sometimes accompanied by a distinctive cracking or popping sound, though this is associated with ineptitude rather than success; the most skilled wizards can Apparate "so suddenly and silently" that they seem to have "popped out of the ground" (Dumbledore). The act is also accompanied by a very unpleasant squeezing sensation, as though being sent through a tight rubber tube, according to Harry.[HP6]

The Ministry of Magic licenses Apparition. A witch or wizard must be 17 years old or older and have a licence to Apparate as a means of transportation in much the same way real-world governments require individuals to have a licence to drive a motor vehicle. Students at Hogwarts may attend Ministry-administered Apparition lessons during their sixth year, and may take their examination once they turn seventeen. It is shown that although it is possible to Apparate without a licence, it is not usually done (unless in lessons) and is illegal. In Deathly Hallows, Harry does not possess a licence, but since his Trace has been lifted, the Ministry is likely unaware that he does it.

Learning to Apparate is difficult, and students run the risk of splinching — being physically split between the origin and destination — which requires the assistance of the Ministry's Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to undo properly, although essence of dittany can also mend certain wounds. Splinching is quite common during lessons, and can be uncomfortable (and at times rather gruesome) depending on the body parts splinched, but is ultimately harmless if properly reversed. It is implied that though Ron can Apparate, he isn't terribly skilled at it, seeing as he splinches himself at least three times (once losing half an eyebrow, two fingernails and part of his arm.); Harry and Hermione both pick up the skill quickly in comparison. As explained in the Half-Blood Prince, there is no word spell to Apparate or Disapparate, but the caster has to concentrate on the location on which he has to apparate, needs to be fully focused on the spell, and also has to "feel" it through the whole body.

It is considered rude to Apparate directly into a private area, such as a home. Dumbledore states in Half-Blood Prince that it would be "quite as rude as kicking down the front door". For this reason, and for reasons of security, many homes also have Anti-Apparition spells protecting them from uninvited intrusions. The accepted way to travel to a home is to Apparate to a nearby location and continue to the final destination on foot. Apparition is considered unreliable over long distances, and even experienced users of the technique sometimes prefer other means of transport, such as broomsticks. Indeed, even the prodigiously skilled Lord Voldemort elects to fly back to England after visiting the far-flung Nurmengard.

For reasons of security, the grounds and buildings of Hogwarts are protected by ancient Anti-Apparition and Anti-Disapparition spells, which prevent humans from Apparition in the school grounds. This does not extend to magical creatures such as house-elves and phoenixes, who can still use their own form of Apparition. There is also a spell that prevents individuals from Apparating, which Dumbledore places on the Death Eaters captured at the Ministry in Order of the Phoenix; a sister spell, which allows one to Apparate into a location but prevents them from Disapparating out of it, is cast by the Death Eaters in Hogsmeade in concordance with the Caterwauling Charm. So far, Dumbledore is the only person who can both Apparate and Disapparate from the school grounds, since he is the headmaster.

As noted above, certain magical creatures that can Apparate and Disapparate are governed by a different set of laws than apply to witches and wizards. Dobby, Kreacher and the rest of the house-elf population can Apparate within the Hogwarts grounds, as is demonstrated on multiple occasions, most notably when Dobby visits Harry in the hospital wing, and when Dobby and Kreacher are summoned by Harry and assigned to tail Draco Malfoy (and subsequently return to give reports on his activities). Kreacher is also able to Disapparate from the enchanted cave back to Number 12, Grimmauld Place; Dobby is able to Apparate into the cellar at Malfoy Manor despite protective charms, and rescues Luna Lovegood, Dean Thomas and Mr Ollivander via Side-Along Apparition. The phoenix Fawkes Disapparates from the headmaster's office at Hogwarts along with Dumbledore when the latter manages to evade arrest at the hands of Ministry officials in Order of the Phoenix; though it is cited in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" that phoenixes and diricawls can Apparate, it is unclear in this situation whether Fawkes's involvement was absolutely necessary to get Dumbledore out of the office.

A witch or wizard can use Side-Along Apparition to take others with them during Apparition. Dumbledore successfully transports Harry this way several times, and notably, Harry's first non-lesson attempt at the skill is the Side-Along Apparition with the weakened Dumbledore when they return from the seaside cave. Despite this one example of skill coming through in a pinch, the ability to successfully lead a Side-Along Apparition may require more advanced skill or at least more concentration, as Hermione does cause serious damage to Ron's arm when she Side-Along Apparates with both boys in a moment of great stress. The consequences of attempting to Apparate or even Side-Along Apparate without a wand are unclear but considered in Deathly Hallows. After their narrow and bungled escape from the Ministry, Ron wonders what will happen to Reg and Mary Cattermole, since the latter's wand was confiscated from her upon signing in at the Ministry due to her questionable Blood Status. This unanswered question may be an insinuation that muggles cannot participate even in Side-Along Apparition.

In the Order of the Phoenix film, Death Eaters and Order members Apparate and Disapparate in clouds of smoke. Death Eaters appear and disappear in black smoke, Order members in white. In the film, both sides also appear to be able to "half-apparate" in which their bodies were made out of smoke, giving them the ability to fly. This is not canon to the books and probably just used for more cinematic, atmospheric purposes. Interestingly, both times Fred and George apparated and disapparated, they did it with a pop as in the books.

In the books, the words "Apparate" and "Disapparate", like many other neologisms used by Rowling, are capitalised, whereas established English words such as "jinx" and "hex" are not. The words themselves are most likely derived from the French apparaître and disparaître, meaning 'to appear' and 'to disappear'. Another possible derivation is from the English word “apparition”, meaning "a supernatural appearance of a person or thing; anything that appears, especially something remarkable or startling; an act of appearing", which comes from the Latin "apparitio", meaning attendance. "Disapparate" probably comes from the same word but with the prefix: “dis-” expressing negation or reversal.

Other teleportation

Some other forms of instantaneous travel occur, such as a house elf's ability to teleport or Fawkes's ability to appear and disappear in a burst of flame. (In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it is stated that all phoenixes have this ability.) In the novels, Harry refers to this as "Apparition" but this may be because of his inexperience and not the fact. This theory is further reinforced as neither Fawkes nor house-elves are restricted by anti-Apparition magic. Fawkes also vanishes silently and in a burst of flame, whereas a wizard Apparating is accompanied by a very loud "crack" (or a quiet "pop") with no visible effect.

Some magical devices like the Floo Network, Portkeys and Vanishing Cabinets are also forms of magical teleportation.

Veela charm

An ability attributed to Veela and those of Veela heritage, such as Fleur Delacour. It is used to charm males, much like the Sirens in The Odyssey.

Harry seems more resistant to this than Ron and most others, though the first time he was exposed to it his reaction was similar to Ron's. Men who are exposed to it over time become more resistant to it, although the Veela charm takes full effect if the Veela surprises the man, as noted by Ron in The Half-Blood Prince. It is possible that Victoire Weasley (Fleur's daughter) has inherited this ability from Fleur. As no men of Veela descent have been portrayed in the books (although Bill and Fleur have a son named Louis, as well as two daughters), it is unknown whether they would also have this ability.

As shown in Goblet of Fire, Veela hair can be used as cores to create wands. According to famed wandmaker Mr. Ollivander, these wands are a little "temperamental". Since Fleur's contains one of her grandmother's hairs, being a positive familial bond, no inherent problem is seen within this particular wand.

Magical resistance

This refers to a certain degree of immunity against hexes and spells found in powerful creatures such as trolls, dragons, and giants. Hagrid is resistant to certain spells, like the Stunning Spell, due to his giant blood. This type of resistance is not insurmountable; if enough Stunning Spells, for example, are fired at a creature with magical resistance at once, the creature may still be rendered unconscious. Also, wizards and witches can resist a spell with the power of their own sheer will, such as Harry did in Goblet of Fire, when Barty Crouch Jr. disguised as Alastor Moody tried to control Harry with the Imperius curse and Harry resisted.

Subjects at Hogwarts

At Hogwarts, students must study a core group of subjects for the first two years, after which they must choose between several electives. During their final two years, students are permitted to take more specialized subjects such as Alchemy.

Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Potions, Astronomy, History of Magic, and Herbology are compulsory subjects for the first five years, as well as flying lessons. At the end of their second year, students are required to add at least two optional subjects to their syllabus for the start of the third year. The five choices are Arithmancy, Muggle Studies, Divination, Study of Ancient Runes and Care of Magical Creatures. Very specialised subjects such as Alchemy are sometimes offered in the final two years, if there is sufficient demand. There is a total of twelve named Professors at Hogwarts, each specializing in one of these subjects.


Transfiguration is essentially the art of changing the properties of an object.[15] Transfiguration is a theory-based subject, including topics such as "Switching Spells" (altering only a part of some object, such as when Hagrid gave Dudley a pig tail); Vanishing Spells (causing an object to completely disappear);[OP Ch.13] and Conjuring Spells (creating objects out of thin air).[OP Ch.13] It is possible to change inanimate objects into animate ones and vice versa – Minerva McGonagall, the class's teacher, transfigures her desk into a pig and back in Philosopher's Stone.[PS Ch.8]

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Defence Against the Dark Arts, commonly shortened to D.A.D.A.,[16] is the class that teaches students defensive techniques to defend against the Dark Arts, and to be protected from Dark creatures. The subject has an extraordinarily high turnover of staff members – throughout the series no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has retained the post for more than one school year. Harry is exceptionally skilled in this subject. During the period the story takes place, the class is taught by Quirinus Quirrell (book one), Gilderoy Lockhart (book two), Remus Lupin (book three), Bartemius Crouch Jr impersonating Alastor "Mad-eye" Moody (book four), Dolores Umbridge (book five), Severus Snape (book six), and Amycus Carrow (book seven). Hagrid suggests in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that "They're startin' ter think the job's jinxed. No one's lasted long for a while now." In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore suggests that Voldemort cursed the position because his application for it was rejected.[HBP Ch.20] The existence of the jinx was eventually confirmed by Rowling. The position had also been coveted by Snape, but he was denied the position as well. Snape was finally appointed D.A.D.A. professor in Half-Blood Prince. Rowling announced in an interview that once Voldemort had died, the jinx he placed on the office was lifted and a permanent professor had been teaching the subject between the end of Deathly Hallows and the epilogue, set nineteen years afterwards. Furthermore, she imagines that Harry Potter occasionally comes to the class to give lectures on the subject.[17]


Charms is the class that teaches how to develop incantations for the uses of bewitchment. Rowling has described Charms as a type of magic spell concerned with giving an object new and unexpected properties.[15] Charms classes are described as notoriously noisy and chaotic, as the lessons are largely practical.[OP Ch.18] Many of the exposition sequences in the books are set in Charms classes, which are on the second floor of Hogwarts. The class is taught by Filius Flitwick.


Potions is described as the art of creating mixtures with magical effects. It requires the correct mixing and stirring of ingredients at the right times and temperatures. As to the question of whether a muggle could brew a potion, given the correct magical ingredients, Rowling has said, "Potions seems, on the face of it, to be the most muggle-friendly subject. But there does come a point in which you need to do more than stir."[18] Snape's lessons are depicted as unhappy, oppressing times set in a gloomy dungeon in the basement of the castle, whilst Slughorn's, who replaces Snape as Potions Master, are shown as more cheerful and even fun at times.


Astronomy classes take place in the Astronomy Tower, the tallest tower in Hogwarts, and are taught by Professor Aurora Sinistra. Lessons involve observations of the night skies with telescopes. No astronomy lessons are shown in the books, but they are frequently referenced. Rowling describes one of Harry's Astronomy exams in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Also, bits of the Astronomy Tower are seen throughout the film series, such as HP2 and HP3, and featured in The Half-Blood Prince, as the place where Dumbledore died, and seen in The Deathly Hallows. Known student homework activities include learning the names of stars, constellations and planets, and their location, movements, and environments.

History of Magic

History of Magic is the study of magical history. Cuthbert Binns' lessons are depicted as some of the most boring at Hogwarts. They are only lectures, given without pause, about significant events in wizarding history. Topics have included goblin rebellions, giant wars, and the origins of wizarding secrecy. This is the only class at Hogwarts that is taught by a ghost, as the professor never noticed he had died and simply continued teaching as if nothing had changed.


Herbology is the study of magical plants and how to take care of, utilise and combat them. There are at least three greenhouses described in the books, holding a variety of magical plants. Herbology is also the only subject Neville excels in. The epilogue to Deathly Hallows explains that he later replaces Professor Sprout as the Herbology teacher.


Arithmancy is a branch of magic concerned with the magical properties of numbers. As neither Harry nor Ron take this class; almost nothing is known about it. It is, however, a favourite subject of Hermione. Arithmancy is reportedly difficult, as it requires memorising or working with many charts. In Order of the Phoenix, it is mentioned that the study of Arithmancy is required to become a Curse-Breaker for Gringotts. The subject is taught by Professor Septima Vector.

Study of Ancient Runes

Study of Ancient Runes, more commonly known as Ancient Runes, is a generally theoretical subject that studies the ancient runic scripts. Because only Hermione studies it, little else is known about this subject, taught by Professor Bathsheda Babbling.[19] In Deathly Hallows Dumbledore bequeaths his copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is written in ancient runes, to Hermione.


Divination is the art of predicting the future. Various methods are described, including tea leaves, fire omens, crystal balls, palmistry, cartomancy (including the reading of conventional playing cards and the tarot), astrology, and dream interpretations. Divination is described by Professor McGonagall as "one of the most imprecise branches of magic".[PA Ch.6] Supporters of the subject claim that it is an inexact science that requires innate gifts such as the "Inner Eye". Those opposed claim that the subject is irrelevant and fraudulent. Harry is first taught Divination by Professor Trelawney, and then later by Firenze after Trelawney is sacked by Dolores Umbridge in Harry's fifth year. In the sixth (and presumably seventh) year, Firenze and Professor Trelawney share Divination classes, divided by grade level.

Care of Magical Creatures

Care of Magical Creatures is the class which instructs students on how to care for magical beasts. Classes are held outside the castle. In Harry's first two years, the class is taken by Professor Silvanus Kettleburn who then retires "in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs". Dumbledore then recruits the gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid to accept a teaching position along with his gamekeeping duties. Although Hagrid is obviously very experienced and knowledgeable, he doesn't "have a normal person's view of what's dangerous", an example being that the Care Of Magical Creatures students were required to get a literally ferocious textbook called the "Monster Book of Monsters", and so consistently misjudges the risk that the animals he uses in his lessons pose to his students[PA Ch.6][GF Ch.13], which sometimes results in chaos. When Hagrid is absent, his lessons are taken over by Professor Grubbly-Plank, a witch and an acquaintance of Dumbledore's.

Muggle Studies

Muggle Studies is a class taught by Charity Burbage which involves the study of the muggle (non-magical) culture "from a wizarding point of view." The only need for witches and wizards to learn about muggle ways and means, is to ensure they can blend in with muggles while needing to do so (for example, at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup). As the class is only mentioned as being taken by Hermione, and for just one year, little is known about its curriculum. In the opening chapter of the final book, Voldemort murders Professor Charity Burbage because she portrays muggles in a positive light and is opposed to limiting wizardry to only people of pure-blood origins. For the rest of the academic year covered by Deathly Hallows, the Death Eater Alecto Carrow teaches Muggle Studies. However, her lessons (which are made compulsory) mainly describe muggles and muggle-borns as subhuman and worthy of persecution.


Alchemy classes are not mentioned in the Harry Potter series; however, Rowling has used Alchemy as an example of a 'specialised' subject offered when there is sufficient demand. Alchemy is a philosophical tradition searching for the philosopher's stone, which is said to have the power to turn base metals into gold and to contain the elixir of life, which makes or keeps the drinker young and immortal. As mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Nicholas Flamel created a Philosopher's Stone, but it was destroyed at the end of Harry's first year.


Flying is the class that teaches the use of broomsticks made for the use of flying and is taught only to Hogwarts first years by Rolanda Hooch. The subject is the only one that requires physicality. The only flying lesson depicted in the Harry Potter series is in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.


Apparition is the magical form of teleportation in the Harry Potter series. Apparition is an optional class for those in the sixth and seventh years. The lessons are taught by Wilkie Twycross, a Ministry of Magic Apparition Instructor, in Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. In the wizarding world, performing Apparition requires a license and may only be legally performed by people over seventeen years of age. The described reason for the restriction is that Apparition is dangerous if done improperly: insufficient concentration may lead to body parts being left behind in an unfortunate side-effect known as splinching; Twycross explains this as happening when a witch or wizard is insufficiently determined. Magical enchantments on Hogwarts castle and grounds prevent Apparition and Disapparition inside the castle; however it is explained in Half-Blood Prince that these protections are temporarily relaxed within the Great Hall for short periods to permit students to practice. Students are warned, though, that they will not be able to Apparate outside of the Great Hall and that it would be unwise to try.

Spell-like effects

Unbreakable Vow

The Unbreakable Vow is a voluntary agreement made between two witches or wizards. It must be performed with a witness ("Bonder") on hand, holding their wand on the agreeing persons' linked hands to bind them with magic as a tongue of flame. The Vow is not literally "unbreakable" as the person taking it is still able to go back on his or her word, but doing so will cause instant death. The Unbreakable Vow was first introduced in Half-Blood Prince, in which Snape made a promise to Narcissa Malfoy to protect Draco, with Bellatrix as the "Bonder", as her son attempted to fulfil the Dark Lord's task, and for Snape to fulfil the task if something should prevent Draco from doing it. Another example in Half-Blood Prince occurs when Ron tells Harry how Fred and George tried to make him undertake an Unbreakable Vow, but because of their father's intervention, they did not succeed.

Priori Incantatem

Priori Incantatem, or the Reverse Spell Effect, is used to detect the spells cast by a wand. The spells cast by the wand will emerge in smoky or ghost-like replicas in reverse order, with the latest spell emerging first. It is first encountered in Goblet of Fire when the house elf Winky is found holding Harry's wand. This spell is used to reveal that it was indeed Harry's wand that cast the Dark Mark. In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, it is revealed that the teenage Voldemort murdered his father and grandparents using his uncle Morfin's wand, knowing that, when examined, the wand would incriminate Morfin as the murderer. In Deathly Hallows, Harry feared that a Priori Incantatem spell would be used on Hermione's wand after the Death Eaters had a hold of it. This would reveal that she had accidentally broken his holly-and-phoenix-feather wand (with her wand) when a curse misfired and they both narrowly escaped Voldemort earlier. As a result, the protection of the shared cores was lost and, worse still, this would now be made known to Voldemort. During the final duel between Harry and Voldemort, the latter mentions that he knows that the holly and phoenix wand is destroyed, implying that the Priori Incantatem had indeed been performed on Hermione's wand, as they had feared.

Forcing two wands that share the source of their cores to do battle can also cause a more potent form of Priori Incantatem. The tips of the two wands will connect, forming a thick golden "thread" of energy, and the two wands' masters fight a battle of wills. The loser's wand will regurgitate shadows of spells that it has cast in reverse order. This phenomenon occurred during the duel between Harry and Voldemort at the end of Goblet of Fire. Their simultaneous spells (Harry and Voldemort cast "Expelliarmus" and "Avada Kedavra" respectively) triggered the threads, and as Voldemort lost the battle of wills, his wand regurgitated, in reverse order, shades of the spells he had cast with it – screams of pain from torturing various victims, echoes of the people his wand had murdered: Cedric Diggory; Frank Bryce; Bertha Jorkins; as well as Harry's parents. Harry was previously informed by Mr. Ollivander that the holly wand that "chose" Harry was the "brother" of the yew wand that gave him the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, although the significance of this was not discussed then. Dumbledore later revealed to Harry that his and Voldemort's wands both contained a tail feather given by Dumbledore's pet phoenix, Fawkes.

Dark Arts

The Dark Arts are those magical spells and practices that are usually used for malicious purposes. Practitioners of Dark Arts are referred to as Dark witches or wizards. The most prominent of these is Voldemort, known to them as the Dark Lord. His followers, known as Death Eaters, practice the Dark Arts while doing his bidding.

The type of spells characteristic of Dark Arts are known as curses,[20] which usually cause harm to the target. All, to a certain degree, are in some circumstances justifiable. The motivation of the caster affects a curse's result. This is most notable in the case of Cruciatus: when cast by Harry, angered by the death of his godfather at Bellatrix's hands and desiring to punish her, it causes a short moment of pain. As Bellatrix herself comments, righteous anger does not allow the spell to work for long. When cast by figures such as Voldemort, who desire to inflict pain for its own sake, it causes intense agony that can last as long as the Dark witch or wizard desires. Use of Dark Magic can corrupt the soul and body; Voldemort has used such magic in his quest to prolong his life and obtain great power. Dark Arts also caused Voldemort to look deformed and inhuman, a side effect of splitting his soul into Horcruxes.

According to Snape, the Dark Arts "are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal... unfixed, mutating, indestructible".[21] They also appear to be the most common form of magic used by criminals, while dangerous spells used by others in the books are frequently labelled Dark. In magical dueling, for example, there are any number of spells that may be used to attack, immobilise, or disarm an opponent without causing pain or lasting harm; however, spells such as the Cruciatus Curse or Sectumsempra, judged to be Dark by reliable authorities, wound or seriously distress a victim in some way.

In the Wizarding world, use of the Dark Arts is strongly stigmatised and even illegal; however, these spells are prevalent enough that even before the rise of Voldemort, many schools, (including Hogwarts), taught Defence Against the Dark Arts as a standard subject. Techniques include anti-curses and simple spells to disable or disarm attackers or fight off certain creatures. Some schools, such as Durmstrang, teach Dark Magic. A Dark Arts class was also taught at Hogwarts while it was under Death Eater control.

Unforgivable Curses

The Unforgivable Curses are some of the most powerful known Dark Arts spells. They were first classified as unforgivable in 1717. Used by the books' villains, such as Voldemort and the Death Eaters and in some cases the Ministry of Magic, their use inspires horror and great fear amongst others. The curses are so named because their use is — except by Ministry authorisation — forbidden and unforgivable in the Wizarding world when used on another human or probably any sentient being. The use of any of these spells on another human being is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban. The only exception is if a person is proved to have done them under the influence of the Imperius Curse. These curses are thus very rarely used openly. However, in Deathly Hallows, the Unforgivable Curses are used liberally by good characters, ranging from Professor McGonagall with the Imperius Curse, to Harry effectively using the Cruciatus Curse. He also uses the Imperius curse on a goblin and a suspicious Death Eater during their disguised attack upon Gringotts Bank. However, at the time the Unforgivable curses had been made legal. Since the spells are very powerful, their use requires a strong desire to cause the effects, a directed will, and great skill.

It is noted that to perform the Unforgivable Curses, the caster must "mean it". This means that they need to want the effects a fair amount for the effects to last. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry attempted to use the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix, but he was drawing only from righteous anger and did not truly 'mean it'. Bellatrix explained that a caster must truly want their victim to suffer, and thus Harry's spell caused her to feel pain for only a moment. Nonetheless, the sheer force of the curse is enough to blast Bellatrix off of her feet.

The use of the Unforgivable Curses was authorised against Voldemort and his followers by Bartemius Crouch Sr, during the First Wizarding War. Shortly after his resurrection, Voldemort names two Death Eaters "killed by Aurors".

The Unforgivable Curses:

  • Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse. The curse is used for Murder. This is also one of the most powerful curses. The spell cannot be directly blocked and casted away, but it can be prevented (using the Expelliarmus spell), or avoided (either by moving out of the way, or by conjuring a solid object to obstruct the curse). The spell causes immediate, painless death, and cannot be reversed. The curse, when summoned, is shown as a bright green jet of light.
  • Crucio, the Cruciatus Curse. The curse is used for torturing a person. The strength of the curse is determined by the person who cast it. If the person casts the curse wanting to cause pain for the sake of it, it induces unbearable agony in the victim. The curse is so powerful that it can even torture a person to the point that they are exhausted to death, or in a more sadistic case, it causes permanent amnesia and insanity (the case of Neville's parents, who were tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange). The curse, when summoned, is shown in a bright-faded blue light. When Hogwarts was under Death Eater control, the Dark Arts teacher forced the students in his class to use the Cruciatus Curse on students who had been assigned detention.
  • Imperio, the Imperius Curse. The curse used for mind control, and can force the victim to do things (s)he would be unwilling to do or even incapable of under normal circumstances. The strength (and also the duration) of the curse is determined by the determination of the person who cast it, as well as by the level of resistance of the victim. The curse, when summoned, is shown in a bright haze.

Dark Mark

The Dark Mark is the symbol of Voldemort and the Death Eaters that appears in the sky when conjured. It looks like a skull with a snake coming out of the mouth in place of the tongue. As a spell it is cast by a Death Eater whenever he or she has murdered someone. The spell used by Death Eaters to conjure the Mark is Morsmordre. It first appears in Goblet of Fire and is described as a "colossal skull, composed of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue". Once in the sky it was "blazing in a haze of greenish smoke".

Dark Marks are also branded on the left forearm of the closest followers of Voldemort. The mark serves as a connection between Voldemort and each who bears it; he can summon them by touching his mark, causing it and those of his followers to burn and change colour. Death Eaters can summon Voldemort in the same fashion. Following Voldemort's ultimate defeat, the Dark Marks on his Death Eaters fade into a scar "similar" to Harry's.[10] In the books, the Dark Mark is described as green; however, in the films, it was only green at the Quidditch World Cup. In all other film appearances it has been grey.


Distinguish from Infernus.

An Inferius (plural: Inferi) is a corpse controlled through a Dark wizard's spells. An Inferius is not alive, but a dead body that has been bewitched into acting like a puppet for the witch or wizard; this manifests itself as a white mist in the controlled corpse's eyes. They cannot think for themselves: they are created to perform a specific duty assigned by the Dark wizard who commands them, and as seen in the Inferi guarding Voldemort's Horcrux in a seaside cave, remain idle until their task can be performed. This task is then thoughtlessly carried out, whether or not it will produce any result. Inferi are difficult to harm by magic; however, they can be repelled by fire or any other forms of heat or light, as the Inferi in Voldemort's cave had never been exposed to either of these elements. When defeated, they return to their idle state.

Inferi are considered dangerous and frightening enough by the magical world that impersonating an Inferius (as Mundungus Fletcher does in Half-Blood Prince) is an offence worthy of imprisonment in Azkaban.

The Ministry of Magic fears that Voldemort is killing enough people to make an army of Inferi: as they are dead, they are very difficult to stop. When Voldemort was hiding one of his Horcruxes in the past, he filled a lake in a cave with many Inferi, which were to attack and drown anyone but Voldemort who came into the cavern and took the locket. When Harry and Dumbledore took the locket, the Inferi attacked Harry; Dumbledore repelled them with a rope of fire. It is also revealed that the Inferi almost killed Kreacher after he drank from the basin to help Voldemort hide his Horcruxes, but because elves must disapparate (a form of teleporting) whenever they are summoned by their master, he escaped when Regulus Black summoned him, unaware of Kreacher being drowned by Inferi. It was, instead, Kreacher's master Regulus Black who drank and was drowned by the Inferi so that Kreacher could escape a second time.

In Latin, the word inferus (plural: inferi) means "below", often referring in the plural to "the gods below" (see di inferi) or the spirits of the dead.[22] Inferius is a neuter singular form of inferior, a comparative adjective meaning "lower".[22][23]


Main article: Horcrux

A horcrux is an object created using dark magic to attain effective immortality. The concept is first introduced in the sixth novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, although horcruxes are present in earlier novels without being described or expanded upon.

A horcrux is created when a soul-shard split from a murderer's soul is infused into an object, which is then hidden or in some other manner kept safe. (When a person commits murder, his soul becomes traumatized and splits into more than one piece. A horcrux is nothing more than the fused object/soul-shard created when the portion of the murderer's soul that was split off is infused into some material object.) The point of creating a horcrux is to prevent the passage of a soul to the afterlife (death) by anchoring a portion of the soul in the material world.

Ordinarily, when one's body is killed, the soul departs for the next world. If, however, the body of a horcrux owner is killed, that portion of his soul which had remained in his body will not pass on to the next world, but will rather exist in a non-corporeal form capable of being resurrected by another wizard, as in The Half-Blood Prince and the The Deathly Hallows. If all of someone's horcruxes are destroyed, then his soul's only anchor in the material world would be his body, the destruction of which would then cause his final death.


In the Harry Potter series the subjects of magical portraits (even those of characters that are dead) can move, interact with living observers, speak and demonstrate apparent emotion and personality. Some can even move to other portraits to visit each other, or to relay messages, or (if more than one painting of the subject exists) can move between separate locations by way of their portraits. Many such portraits are found on the walls of Hogwarts. It is unknown how magical portraits come into being: whether they are produced by a painter or brought into existence by other means. Magical photographs with similar properties can be created by developing normal film in a magic potion.

At least three portraits, those of The Fat Lady and Ariana Dumbledore, and the Hogwarts Kitchen Portrait, can perform at least one action with a direct effect on the world outside the frame of the painting. The Fat Lady's portrait is the door that covers the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, and she can swing the portrait open when given the correct password or close to prevent entry. Ariana's is able to swing open revealing the secret passage from the Hog's Head Inn to Hogwarts that was created by Neville Longbottom using the Room of Requirement. The Hogwarts Kitchen portrait, a painting of a large bowl filled with fruit, will swing open after the pear gets tickled and giggles, to reveal a hidden door that leads into the kitchens where the Hogwarts house-elves work.

Portraits can also move between paintings, going wherever they like in the same building. However, outside the building, portraits can only move to other paintings of themselves, for example, Phineas Nigellus Black who has a painting in The Headmaster's Office and at 12 Grimmauld Place. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry asks Phineas Nigellus to bring him Dumbledore's painting from Hogwarts through to the 12 Grimmauld Place copy; this is when Black explains that paintings can only move out of Hogwarts into other portraits of themselves.

In Deathly Hallows Snape takes instruction and advice from Dumbledore's portrait; suggesting that portraits retain memories and personality, or can be enchanted to retain memories. Dumbledore also cries in his portrait when he finds that Harry was successful in defeating Voldemort, again suggesting that portraits keep the memories of those they are painted after.

Authorial statements regarding portraits have been vague. Rowling made a comment in an interview that a portrait is something like a faint imprint of the person in question, imitating the basic attitude and thought patterns of the person. It is therefore completely different from a ghost, which, as explained by Nearly Headless Nick, are the souls of wizards who are afraid to leave the world. Portraits exist completely separately from the person's soul, being just an impression of the person passed on.[24] Rowling may have found inspiration in short stories by the French novelist Théophile Gautier (1811–1872). In La Cafetière (The Coffee Pot, 1831) and in Omphale (1834) people in portraits and tapestries come alive, step out from the wall into the room, drink coffee, dance, talk with and kiss the story-teller.[25]

Portraits in the Headmaster's office

The portraits in the Headmaster's office depict all the former Heads of Hogwarts, with the exception of Dolores Umbridge. The portraits act to advise the Headmaster and are "honour-bound to give service to the present headmaster" (according to Armando Dippet). They include:

  • Phineas Nigellus Black: Linked to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place in London. According to his great-great-grandson Sirius Black, Phineas was the least popular headmaster Hogwarts ever had. In Deathly Hallows, Hermione removes the portrait from 12 Grimmauld Place and takes it with the trio in their quest for Horcruxes. Phineas is upset by the lack of respect with which the trio treats him, but he provides them with information about events at Hogwarts. Phineas also provides the trio with information on how Dumbledore destroyed a Horcrux and the history of Godric Gryffindor's sword, including that it is goblin made and able to destroy Horcruxes. It is revealed through Snape's memories that Phineas has been helping Snape and Dumbledore find the trio. In the film adaptation of Order of the Phoenix, he is portrayed by John Atterbury.
  • Armando Dippet: Preceded Dumbledore, while Tom Riddle was a student and the latter opened the Chamber of Secrets. Professor Dippet is also mentioned as favouring Tom Riddle and as being unaware of his true evil nature. Dippet was portrayed by Alfred Burke in Chamber of Secrets.
  • Dilys Derwent: Linked to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries in London.
  • Professor Everard: Linked to the Ministry of Magic, particularly to the Department of Mysteries, in London. In Order of the Phoenix, he was portrayed by Sam Beazley.
  • Dexter Fortescue
  • Albus Dumbledore
  • Severus Snape: Wasn't present when Harry returned to the office after Voldemort's death, but Rowling strongly implies that Harry urged, and was successful in his endeavour, that it be placed up soon thereafter.[26]

The Fat Lady

The portrait of the Fat Lady is the door to Gryffindor Tower, which is hidden behind her painting. She will open it (sometimes grudgingly) when the correct password is uttered. She is often upset after being awoken, and is often seen drunk with her best friend, Violet. The Fat Lady has no other known name, and it is unknown whether she is supposed to represent a real person. In Philosopher's Stone, she leaves her portrait in the middle of the night, locking Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville out of Gryffindor Tower, forcing them to run across the school. Luckily for them, when they return, she has returned to her portrait, allowing them to escape into Gryffindor Tower. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black slashes the Fat Lady’s portrait when she won't let him in without a password and it is some time before she dares to guard Gryffindor Tower again. After her portrait was restored, she requested protection in case someone tried to attack her portrait again. Thus, two security trolls were hired. In Half Blood Prince, she gets so annoyed with Harry's late return that she pretends the password has changed and tries to call him back when he heads off to talk to Dumbledore. When Harry later confirms Dumbledore's death, she lets out a sob and for the only time in the series, she opens without the password for Harry in her grief.

In the first film the Fat Lady is played by Elizabeth Spriggs, and by Dawn French in the third film.


  • Sir Cadogan — a portrait described by Ron in Prisoner of Azkaban as "mental". When the Fat Lady left (after her painting was slashed), he guarded the Gryffindor common room, it being admitted that he was the only one brave (or possibly crazy) enough to do so after the attack. He developed a reputation for making new and difficult passwords for the students to enter the Gryffindor common room and was eventually fired after letting Sirius Black into the common room.
  • Violet, a friend of the Fat Lady.
  • Walburga Black at 12 Grimmauld Place.
  • Ariana Dumbledore at the Hog's Head.
  • The portrait of a mermaid in the Prefects' bathroom.
  • The Hogwarts Kitchens Portrait, which depicts a large bowl of fruit. The hidden door leading to the kitchens becomes visible after tickling the pear on the portrait.
  • Elfrida Cragg (Ministry of Magic).
  • Medieval Healer in St Mungo's stairwell.
  • A magical portrait in the muggle Prime Minister's office depicts a "froglike little man wearing a long silver wig", and is used by the Ministry to communicate with the Prime Minister of the day.
  • Anne Boleyn in the Grand Staircase (Philosopher's Stone film only).
  • Moving kittens painted on wall-mounted china plates in Dolores Umbridge's office at Hogwarts and within the Ministry.
  • The portrait of the Friars with a 500-year-old vat of wine, which is consumed by the Fat Lady and Violet during Christmas of 1996.
  • The Portrait of Dilys Derwent at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
  • Barnabus the Barmy attempting to teach trolls how to ballet dance outside the Room of Requirement. The "portrait" of Barnabus the Barmy is actually a tapestry, as mentioned in the Harry Potter books.


Wizarding photographs of people have similar properties to magical painted portraits: the figures within move about or even sometimes leave the frame. As with the paintings, the images of people in the photographs do not appear to age. Photographs from ordinary muggle cameras can be made to seem alive. Colin Creevey mentions in Chamber of Secrets that a boy in his dormitory said that if he develops the film 'in the right potion', the pictures will move.[27] However, figures in Wizarding pictures do not reflect the emotions or actions of their counterparts in the real world, and cannot speak. Moving photos also appear in wizard newspapers and other print media, as well as on Chocolate Frog cards. This is exemplified in Prisoner of Azkaban when pictures of Sirius are printed in The Daily Prophet newspaper.[28] The magazine Witch Weekly also contains pictures of smiling and winking witches. The images of people in photographs display little sentience. The subjects of some photographs can leave the frame, but no indication has been given that they are able to visit or communicate with other photographs or with people in the world, as happens with their painted counterparts. However, it appears that they do have some knowledge of current events, as seen by Harry when he goes to Mr Weasley's office on Order of the Phoenix. The family photograph on Arthur's desk shows everyone except Percy "who appeared to have walked out of it".[29] It is also mentioned that in a photo (taken by Colin Creevey) of Gilderoy Lockhart and Harry, Harry's picture had walked out and was resisting all of Lockhart's efforts to pull him back in.


External links

Harry Potter portal
  • Magic ] on Harry Potter Wiki, an external wiki]

fr:Univers de Harry Potter#Magie

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