23 Enchanting Fan Theories About Magic In 'Harry Potter' That'll Put A Spell On You

List Rules
Vote up your favorite theory about the magic in 'Harry Potter.'

The world has fallen in love with Harry Potter, but how many people really know about how magic works in the wizarding world?

Below, fans have shared their theories about the mechanics of magic in Harry Potter. Vote up your favorites!


  • 1
    29 VOTES

    Moody Taught The Unforgivable Curses To Harry's Class Because He Wanted To See If Harry Could Resist The Imperius Curse

    Moody Taught The Unforgivable Curses To Harry's Class Because He Wanted To See If Harry Could Resist The Imperius Curse
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/acerthorn:

    In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Professor Moody (who is actually Barty Crouch Jr. in disguise) starts the year off by teaching the 4th Year Gryffindors about the Unforgiveable Curses. In the second lesson, he actually puts the Imperius Curse on the class so they can know what it feels like. He even placed the curse on Harry four times in order to give Harry enough practice to be able to throw off the curse entirely. While this certainly makes sense if we accept that Moody is the real Moody and is legitimately interested in teaching the class these useful skills, in fact, the opposite is true. It's a fake Moody who is actively trying to lure Harry to Voldemort so that Voldemort can get his body back and then kill him. It seems like a tactically retarded move to actively teach your master's mortal enemy how to throw off one of the most potent weapons your master has against you.

    My theory is that the original plan was to lure Harry to a secluded location using the Imperius Curse, get him to touch some random portkey without anyone seeing him, and then the plan proceeds as SuperCarlinBrothers theorizes. The lesson on the second week of term was merely designed to test Harry to see if using the Imperius Curse would even have worked on him. Bear in mind that, even the first time Harry was under the Imperius Curse, he still demonstrated some basic resistance to it. So, it turns out that Harry can actually fight the imperius curse. So we can't just have Harry come into Moody's Office with no witnesses. Time for Plan B: Rigging the Triwizard Tournament.

    29 votes
  • 2
    26 VOTES

    The Ministry Of Magic Mandated Wands For Magic Use Because It Would Allow Them Easier Control Over Their Subjects

    The Ministry Of Magic Mandated Wands For Magic Use Because It Would Allow Them Easier Control Over Their Subjects
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/EquivalentInflation:

    From some of Rowling's assorted lore (I know, I know, but this was an actual thought out, written lore books, so it's not quite as awful), many wizarding societies (like pre-colonial Native Americans or Africans) never used wands. In fact, Uagadou (African Hogwarts) taught students primarily withoutwands. Since Uagadou was known for having some of the best Transfigurers in the world, we can assume that this had no effect on their power of their magic. We can also see wandless magic in a number of cases where underage witches and wizards pull off impressive magical feats with no wands at all.

    However, in the few rare cases when Hogwarts students try wandless magic, it always fails miserably. The school doesn't teach it, not even as an optional course. Why?

    Forcing reliance on wands makes it easier for Wizarding governments to keep the peace. Most of their serious (or even minor) crimes are punished by having your wand broken. This provides an easy way for the Ministry and others to prevent repeat offenders, as well as stopping prison escapes.

    Imagine how easy it would be to get out of Azkaban if anyone could just cast the Patronus charm with their bare hands. Imagine how absolutely useless "Expelliarmus" would be if your opponent had no weapon to disarm. Imagine how dangerous it would be to have that expelled Hogwarts student go rogue and start blasting up muggles with their bare hands. Hell, even Prior Incantato, the spell that the ministry used to get most of its evidence in magic cases is based on the suspect having a wand. Obviously, the Ministry can't allow any of that to happen, as it would undermine their entire government.

    The Ministry of Magic does have the power to impact curriculum at Hogwarts. We see them do this more obviously with Umbridge, but it's shown repeatedly that they set examination standards, skill requirements, etc., and likely have a great deal of influence over textbooks. Wands are required for every Hogwarts student, likely at the Ministry's command.

    From what we can tell, there are very few quality wandmakers. Ollivander was the best, and it's mentioned that there are a few others, but it requires a high degree of skill, time, and materials. That means that the Ministry can very easily keep an eye on who gets one, and block any criminals, or the "undesirables" of their choice.

    We see mentions of wizards and witches using wands from a long, long time ago, so this likely wasn't some ministry scheme that came out of nowhere. However, once the tradition was in place, the Ministry would have enthusiastically supported it, and made sure that it stayed as the norm.

    26 votes
  • 3
    23 VOTES

    Spells In 'Harry Potter' Are In Latin Because They Were Invented By Europeans, But Other Countries Aren't Held To These Specific Phrases To Perform Magic

    Spells In 'Harry Potter' Are In Latin Because They Were Invented By Europeans, But Other Countries Aren't Held To These Specific Phrases To Perform Magic
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/Xygnux:

    Spells were invented by Europeans, that's why they sound Latin.

    Considering there are cultures that can do sophisticated magic without wands, which are considered almost impossible by the Europeans, it may be possible that the magic can be accessed by different ways, and different cultures may have invented different spells based on different languages that ended up doing the same thing.

    Some of the spells do not sound like Latin and were absorbed by Europeans later. For example, Avada Kedavra, [which has been confirmed to have Aramaic roots].

    23 votes
  • 4
    21 VOTES

    Lupin's Magical Candles Do More Than Produce Light

    Lupin's Magical Candles Do More Than Produce Light
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/d33pwint3r:

    In Prisoner of Azkaban (film) we see the inside of Lupin's office when Harry was learning the patronus. During the first battle against the bogart/dementor we get a close up on one of the candles. The top vertebra is marked with 'VIII' and the numbers continue down the candle. This is a very specific detail to incorporate into a film and required more investigation. I counted the remaining vertebrae, beginning with 8 and determined that in the full candle there were 21 vertebrae. I checked the other candles in the shots and they were also 21 vertebrae candles.

    After the bogart is returned to the trunk, we see Lupin immediately re-ignite the candles even though it is perfectly lit in the office without need of further light. This gives two possibilities:

    First, Lupin really likes those candles. They are kinda creepy and cool looking but that isn't really worth the screen time to show him relighting them.

    Second, they are burning constantly and marking time passage. This, I believe is more likely. Lupin is marking the passage of time through the cycle of the moon.

    After the full moon is complete, Lupin lights a new candle which burns through days 1-21 of the cycle. On day 22, he begins taking his Wolfsbane potion to allow it to be in effect when the full moon begins. Assuming that there is a period of time that the moon has an effect (supported by tonks in one of the later movies "The first night is always the worst") days 23-28 he sleeps from the effects of the potion and after the full moon is complete, begins a new set of candles.

    21 votes
  • 5
    30 VOTES

    More People Possess The Inner-Eye For Divination Than You'd Think, With Harry And Ron Being Prime Examples (To Their Ignorance)

    More People Possess The Inner-Eye For Divination Than You'd Think, With Harry And Ron Being Prime Examples (To Their Ignorance)
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/minisaladfresh:

    Harry and Ron make no secret of the fact that they don't have any interest (or even belief) in Divination, and Professor Trelawney tells them several times that they 'do not possess the inner eye' - at least until they discover that the best way to get good marks in the subject is by appealing to Trelawney's love of doom and gloom by pretending to predict their own deaths and suffering.

    However, despite Harry and Ron not even believing in Divination, and Professor Trelawney's insistence that they do not possess 'the gift' required to gaze into the future there is actually a surprising amount of evidence that they are two of the most gifted mystics in the Wizarding World.

    By the start of their fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry and Ron have all but given up on actually trying to do Divination properly. When given the homework of using planets to predict their futures, they end up throwing aside their planetary charts and decide to just make stuff up. Together, they 'make up' that Harry is in danger of suffering burns, drowning, losing a treasured possession, being stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend, and of course, dying.

    All of these things happen.

    Shortly after coming up with these 'fake' predictions, Harry is entered into the Triwizard Tournament.

    The first task of the tournament? Facing a dragon. Danger of suffering burns? Check.

    Second task, Harry is faced with surviving an hour underwater in the Black Lake. Danger of drowning? Check.

    His objective in that task is to rescue the friends that were taken from him. Losing a treasured possession? Check.

    By the end of the year, Harry discovers that Mad-Eye Moody, the man who has helped Harry throughout the year, is actually a Death Eater in disguise and was helping him only to guide him into Voldemort's hands. Stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend? Check.

    30 votes
  • 6
    27 VOTES

    You Can Only Create A Horcux If You Use Avada Kedavra

    You Can Only Create A Horcux If You Use Avada Kedavra
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / Warner Bros. Pictures

    From Redditor u/InverseHashFunction:

    I'll start with a theory about AK and why it's unforgivable compared to other curses that kill. AK isn't so much a "killing curse" as it is a "soul separation curse". Cast on a living being and the being drops dead with no internal or external signs of trauma. There are other curses that kill, such as the one Molly Weasley uses on Bellatrix, but that one caused physical damage. AK also (at least in the book) causes no physical damage to objects (in the movies this rule is ignored)*. When the curse hits a living being (not under the protection of a charm like Lily's protection), the soul is separated from that living thing and cannot be reunited to the body, except possibly under one circumstance**.

    So where does AK come into play on making a horcrux? It's not in the murder committed needed to make a horcrux. Indeed we see that Voldemort makes his first horcrux with a murder committed by commanding the basilisk to kill. By committing the murder one has fragmented one's soul. However, the soul is still entirely contained in one's body. Remorse at this point could heal the soul and make it one again. However, if one decides to make a horcrux, one has to remove a fragment of soul from one's own body. We have a spell for that! By casting AK on oneself with the intent of creating a horcrux, one can remove a piece of soul from the body and place it in another vessel.

    This explains everything that happened on the night that Harry's parents died. Voldemort killed them, fragmenting his soul. We know his intention was to create a sixth and final horcrux with the murder of Harry Potter. So he had the intention to create a horcrux in part of his mind when he cast Avada Kedavra on Harry. However, the spell rebounded and hit him, inadvertently separating the fragment of soul from the murder from the rest of Voldemort's soul, and separating all of his soul from his body. One fragment went to Harry as the horcrux fragment and the other fragment... floated around or whatever it did until it found Quirrel and floated around some more until it became whatever he was at the beginning of GoF. In his arrogance, Voldemort did not realize that he made Harry into a horcrux even though he met all the prerequisites for making one.

    The whole truth of AK is concealed from most of the wizarding world. That's why it's given the nickname of "Killing Curse" and put on the unforgivable list while many other curses capable of doing so much more damage are not. I would wager that few wizards know the truth that AK is the soul separating curse. Probably fewer than five Unspeakables in the Department of Mysteries and the Minister of Magic (who probably has the knowledge obliviated at the end of his or her term). Even then they may not know about it's use for making a horcrux.

    27 votes