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Thread: Theories on Harry Potter Magic

  1. #1
    the_weird_one
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    Theories on Harry Potter Magic

    So, a couple days ago, I was looking through old drawings of mine in my notebook, when I came across an entry entitled "Witch Diary". I looked at it, and it reminded me of how much I apply these simple facts to MNFF daily Harry Potter canon. I decided to post it for well, what else but discussion.

    What is it, though? Basically, rules for magic-- where it can go and how well it is controlled. It's very limited, though, so don't expect it to be a full-flegded collage essay. It just states simple facts and points about the magical world. So, without further ado, here it is--

    1. Witches can do magic without wands, but it's in better control with them.

    2. Spells can be written in any language, even English. But the deeper in history of the language, the more ancient the spell, and the more perfected and used. It also, because it is more used, can be better than made-up ones. Spells do not have to rhyme.

    3. Boy witches (aka sorcerers, wizards, etc.) can be more or less powerful than the average witch, just to clarify.

    4. A witch can have a familiar. A familiar works similar to a wand (see entries 6 and 7.)

    5. You can do magic without spells, but it is in better control with them. (like in PoA, Harry sends his aunt up into the sky, using uncontrolled magic.)

    6. The least controlled magic is one without a wand, and chanting no spells. (see above)

    7. A wand is something like a training device, it trains you to do magic, so that when you do it without a wand, it is more controlled.

    8. Muggles cannot do magic, with or without a wand. However, they can work some potions.

    9. Magical creatures, such as centaurs, trolls, and merpeople, have their own communities, and can do magic to their own limits.

    10. Genies (fortune tellers and such) can be classified as witches and wizards, but they do have some limits to their powers (like being trapped in a bottle or small space, limited amounts of magic, etc.) They can also grant things for themselves.

    11. Muggleborns (witches who were born from muggles) have the exact same level of power as purebloods. The way a muggleborn became magical is that a distant relative of theirs is a witch/wizard and they therefore inherited their powers.

    12. Half-bloods are a witch with a father/mother as a muggle. They can inherit either the magical side, or the non-magical side. In some rare cases, they inherit both - which means they can do most spells, but not all.

    13. Magic can be shared to by witches to muggles --- although this is very, very complicated. In some cases, you just have to be smart enough or do something to obtain magic, you don't have to be born with it.

    This was made up right before HP7 came out, and it was mostly inspired by other magical series (how many times did I use that word? ) I did not have any knowledge of fan fiction back then, so I find it very interesting to see these topics being mentioned elsewhere. Any comments on this? Questions? Enragement? Concerns? Disagreements?

    -Addy

  2. #2
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_weird_one
    1. Witches can do magic without wands, but it's in better control with them.
    There are very few examples of controlled wandless magic in the books. However, wandless magic must exist, since humans surely did magic before wands were invented.

    2. Spells can be written in any language, even English. But the deeper in history of the language, the more ancient the spell, and the more perfected and used. It also, because it is more used, can be better than made-up ones. Spells do not have to rhyme.
    I'd agree that in general, the older and more tested spells are probably superior. However, a newly invented spell might prove to be just as effective. We know very little about how new spells are "invented," but apparently a fifteen-year-old Severus Snape was able to come up with quite a few potent new spells.

    3. Boy witches (aka sorcerers, wizards, etc.) can be more or less powerful than the average witch, just to clarify.
    I would assume so. There's no evidence in the books that there's any correlation between magical talent and sex.

    4. A witch can have a familiar. A familiar works similar to a wand (see entries 6 and 7.)
    Not sure about that. In actual magical lore, witches do use familiars for spells, and a lot of other fantasy fiction has familiars playing an important role, but in the Harry Potter books, familiars never seem to be much more than highly intelligent pets.

    5. You can do magic without spells, but it is in better control with them. (like in PoA, Harry sends his aunt up into the sky, using uncontrolled magic.)
    Falls into the "wandless magic" category again (although Harry probably did have his wand on him when he blew up Aunt Marge).

    6. The least controlled magic is one without a wand, and chanting no spells. (see above)
    The only examples of which we see in the books is children's uncontrolled magic.

    7. A wand is something like a training device, it trains you to do magic, so that when you do it without a wand, it is more controlled.
    I don't think a wand is a training device. That implies that once you learn how to cast a spell properly, you don't need your wand anymore. Wands appear to be necessary for most magic.

    8. Muggles cannot do magic, with or without a wand. However, they can work some potions.
    According to Rowling, Muggles can't do any kind of magic, including potion-making.

    9. Magical creatures, such as centaurs, trolls, and merpeople, have their own communities, and can do magic to their own limits.
    We never see examples of centaurs, trolls, or merpeople using magic. It's implied that goblins can (or want to) use wands, and of course elves have their own innate magic.

    10. Genies (fortune tellers and such) can be classified as witches and wizards, but they do have some limits to their powers (like being trapped in a bottle or small space, limited amounts of magic, etc.) They can also grant things for themselves.
    Since genies are never even mentioned in the books, you have a blank slate. I don't think they'd be classified as witches and wizards, though. They're probably magical beings with their own innate magic, rather like elves.

    11. Muggleborns (witches who were born from muggles) have the exact same level of power as purebloods. The way a muggleborn became magical is that a distant relative of theirs is a witch/wizard and they therefore inherited their powers.
    True in the books, though Rowling seems to understand genetics about as well as she understands math.

    12. Half-bloods are a witch with a father/mother as a muggle. They can inherit either the magical side, or the non-magical side. In some rare cases, they inherit both - which means they can do most spells, but not all.
    So Muggle-born wizards are always fully magical, but half-blood wizards are sometimes not? I don't think that makes sense.

    13. Magic can be shared to by witches to muggles --- although this is very, very complicated. In some cases, you just have to be smart enough or do something to obtain magic, you don't have to be born with it.
    This is contradicted by canon, but would make an interesting AU story.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    The only examples of which we see in the books is children's uncontrolled magic.
    This seems to be coming up a lot lately - what Lily does with the flower and the swing in TPT doesn't seem all that uncontrolled. Also, I somehow feel I remember Dumbledore using (or being mentioned to have used) wandless magic at some point; and then there is the Animagus transformation, which doesn't require a wand. I definitely believe that it's possible, but that it is a more "natural" way of casting spells - you have to think/feel what you want to achieve rather than channel a certain spell that you have learned from a textbook. Like for example the young Lily wants to land safely, and she focusses on that, and does it without knowing an incantation. She couldn't have cast the incantation without a want, but at the same time a wand wouldn't have helped her at all to channel her natural magical power if she didn't know a spell. Does this still make sense?

    I think some powerful child witches/wizards can actually control their magic (see, for example, Tom Riddle, too), but then later it takes a much more powerful witch/wizard to do it again - like it's very easy to "cast" spells as a child without words, but once you've learned the incantations and how to channel your magic through a wand, it's hard to do them nonverbally.
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    Originally Posted by Inverarity
    10. Genies (fortune tellers and such) can be classified as witches and wizards, but they do have some limits to their powers (like being trapped in a bottle or small space, limited amounts of magic, etc.) They can also grant things for themselves.
    Since genies are never even mentioned in the books, you have a blank slate. I don't think they'd be classified as witches and wizards, though. They're probably magical beings with their own innate magic, rather like elves.
    Would that not fall under the classification of 'Creatures of Near-Human Intelligence'?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kara
    Also, I somehow feel I remember Dumbledore using (or being mentioned to have used) wandless magic at some point;
    Yes, in HBP, when they were looking for the entrance to the cave, he used magic without a wand. He was feeling for something... he might have done it another time, too.
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  6. #6
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    Okay so I have definitely come up with lots of theory about this because of Curiosity, because that involves spell creation.
    I think wands just make magic easier. It takes a LOT of focus to do magic sans wand and/or spell. Most wizards probably can't or don't do it without either a lot of emotion (like Harry's anger on the occasions during which his magic does out of control things) or a lot of training of their willpower and concentration. I also think it would take a certain degree of power to ever do that proficiently, but that may just be me. But certainly for magic such as the enchantments on the Mirror of Erised etc there wouldn't be spells just waiting there for you to do that. And the Animagus transformation - that too seems to me to be an effort of will/focus. Same with the green/red sparks cos I don't ever remember them learning or saying a spell for that! And per canon, nonverbal spells are more difficult to do - they require more focus. So yeah, I think mostly wands and spells alike just make it easy to do magic (though not neccessarily effortless!) The wand sort of channels your inner magic, makes it easier to draw on that power. And the spell is a path set down for magic, an established method to get a desired result. To an extent you have to have willpower for that, but not so much than you would if you weren't using a spell.

    Disagreements with rules:

    2. Spells can be written in any language, even English. But the deeper in history of the language, the more ancient the spell, and the more perfected and used. It also, because it is more used, can be better than made-up ones. Spells do not have to rhyme.
    I definitely think that an established spell will be much easier than one you make up. But I don't think language honestly factors into it. I think the reason for Latin, really, is that no one speaks it in everyday conversation, and thus there's not the possibility of accidentally casting a spell. Also, Latin and Greek were the languages of scholars back in the day, especially Latin. I don't imagine using Latin for spells is much different than using Latin to name the species of animals people study.

    7. A wand is something like a training device, it trains you to do magic, so that when you do it without a wand, it is more controlled.
    In a way this fits in a bit with my theory. xD Definitely I think that the better and more experienced you are at wand magic the more your willpower will be trained already, and thus it would take you that much closer to the level of training you'd need to do wandless magic. So in principle, I guess I agree with this. But a wand as simply a training device is going a bit far. Many wizards lean on this all their lives; mostly just "great" wizards learn the skill of wandless magic.

  7. #7
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    I'm going to revive this thread since I think my China fic is headed in weird directions from established HP canon.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm far from a canon expert, but how magic works in the body is never expounded upon. I've read fantasy stories where to work spells, the person has to envision the source of their magic inside them.

    Anyway, the Chinese wizards in my story envision magic as a system of energy, like chi. They also believe that it is the desire to make something happen that is the most necessary element to making a spell work (at least for things involving wand-work like Charms and Transfiguration. I doubt this would work for a discipline like Potions). The wand, the gestures and the words make the spell work easier but if a wizard or witch wants something to happen badly enough, and they throw enough raw power at it, it can happen.

    A wand is simply the most basic form of tool that people use and wood is the most common element. Thus, in general, it's fine to teach huge groups of people using wood-based wands. It is not necessarily the most effective way of channeling one's magic because there are four other elements (water, fire, metal and earth) and if someone's magic is highly tied to an element that is not wood, they're better off using a wand made out of something that is not wood.

    A wand shape is also just the most convenient for the majority of basic spells that work for everyone. Other shapes can be more useful or powerful but that is highly dependent on the user, because not every shape works for every person.
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  8. #8
    Siriusblue
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    ???

    Are there any general rules as to creating spells?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siriusblue
    Are there any general rules as to creating spells?
    It doesn't seem like it.

    They can be in any language - Hermoine creates the Point Me spell that is in English, and it seems likely that other clever young witches and wizards have made up spells in their native languages.

    Magic doesn't necessarily require a wand, though wandless magic seems significantly harder to do and somewhat more uncontrolled. I'm also unsure whether they can be called "spells".

    I don't think there's anything ever said about certain wand angles being better or worse, though you could make something up along those lines.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_weird_one

    12. Half-bloods are a witch with a father/mother as a muggle. They can inherit either the magical side, or the non-magical side. In some rare cases, they inherit both - which means they can do most spells, but not all.
    I'm pretty sure a half-blood is almost always a wizard/witch. However I'm pretty sure there is no in between. If you're magical, you're magical. It wouldn't be genetics that prevent you from performing spells it would be intelligence and practice.

    Quote Originally Posted by AidaLuthien
    Anyway, the Chinese wizards in my story envision magic as a system of energy, like chi. They also believe that it is the desire to make something happen that is the most necessary element to making a spell work (at least for things involving wand-work like Charms and Transfiguration. I doubt this would work for a discipline like Potions). The wand, the gestures and the words make the spell work easier but if a wizard or witch wants something to happen badly enough, and they throw enough raw power at it, it can happen.
    I think that's a very interesting idea. Like you said, the way magic works is not ever explained. Maybe each culture has a different idea of how magic flows. In the books they had to practice the spells, they didn't just say the words and poof! it works. Actually, your idea reminds me of Apparition- focusing on the location. To me that seems like channeling your magic to bring you to the desired destination, like channeling your magic to do the desired spell. Also, when Snape taught the N.E.W.T DADA class non-verbal spells he told them to focus on the spell they wanted to cast it since they couldn't say the incantation.

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