"I don't believe in witchcraft, though I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I'm a practicing witch. Ninety - let's say ninety five percent at least, of the magic in the books in entirely invented by me. And I've used things from folklore and I've used bits of what people used to believe worked magically just to add a certain flavor, but I've always twisted them to suit my own ends. I mean, I've taken liberties with folklore to suit my plot."
- J.K. Rowling on magic in the books (HPM)


Magic is what sets folks in the wizarding world apart from their Muggle neighbors. Magic is the heart and soul of the wizarding culture in the same way that science and technology are the heart and soul of Muggle culture. Where a Muggle would pound a stake into the ground using a sledge hammer (a simple machine), a wizard would use a wand. Both the Muggle and the wizard view their choice of tool as completely and utterly logical and ordinary, although each would find the other’s tools fascinating and even mysterious.

The basic concepts of magic are fairly simple — even a two-year-old wizard can do some form of magic — but the inherent power and potential for misuse are great indeed. It is for this reason that promising young witches and wizards are sent off to Hogwarts and other schools of magic to refine their craft and learn the art and responsibility of their power. At Hogwarts, students learn a variety of magical specialties as well as general theory and the history of magic in their world.

Fields of Magical Study

  • Arithmancy
  • Charms
  • The Dark Arts
  • Divination
  • Herbology
  • Legilimency
  • Healing
  • Occlumency
  • Potions
  • Transfiguration

 Types of Magical People

  • Animagus
  • Arithmancer
  • Legilimens
  • Metamorphmagus
  • Occlumens
  • Parselmouth
  • Seer

Categories of Magic

  • Movement Magic
  • Vanishing Magic
  • Offensive/Defensive Magic
  • Curses, Hexes, and Jinxes

original page date 26-December-2000
last page update 17-April-2006 MLW



Rowling spent the first five years of creating the Harry Potter books working on "the rules" for her fictional universe. She doesn't spell out these rules in the books, but she drops plenty of hints. In order for the ordinary "Muggle" reader to better understand the way things work in the world she created, the Lexicon presents a series of essays detailing these rules, as far as we can discern them. None of these essays was written by Rowling herself, but each is based on careful analysis and interpretation of events in the stories. Find links to these essays in the Related Entries section to the right.

  • Wand, Word, and Will: How Magic Works
  • Ancient Magic: Magic from Before the Dawn of Time? essay by Steve Vander Ark
  • Familiarity, A Key to Understanding Spellwork essay by Paul Dionne
  • Harry Potter's Magic essay by Alan Jacobs
  • Limits of Magic essay by Caius Marcius
  • Magical Ability and Magic Wands essay by Lisa Inman
  • Magical Devices and their Muggle Counterparts essay by Steve Vander Ark
  • A Magical Worldview
  • Muggle vs. Wizarding Technology essay by Joywitch M. Curmudgeon
  • Spells and Charms: The Nature of Magic essay by Amy Z.
  • Thoughts About Wands essay by Amy Z.
  • When Magic Meets Muggle Technology essay by PrefectMarcus

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