Some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
- "The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible."
- —Description of the Dark Arts[src]
The Dark Arts, also known as Dark Magic, refers to any type of magic that is mainly used to cause harm, control, or even death to the victim. Despite being labelled "dark", the Dark Arts are not necessarily "evil".
The Dark Arts encompass many spells and actions ranging from the powerful Unforgivable Curses to brewing harmful or poisonous potions to breeding Dark creatures such as Basilisks, Dementors or Inferi, and its practise is often illegal or at least discouraged. Practitioners are referred to as Dark wizards or witches, the most prominent and powerful of whom was Lord Voldemort. His followers, known as Death Eaters, also practised the Dark Arts.
Nature of the Dark Arts
- Tom Riddle: "I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed —"
- Albus Dumbledore: "Of some kinds of magic. Of some. Of others, you remain... forgive me... woefully ignorant."
- Tom Riddle: "The old argument. But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore."
- — A serious discussion regarding the nature of the Dark Arts[src]
The Dark Arts are generally regarded as corrupting to those who use them (which is part of the reason they are considered "dark"). After engaging in them extensively for many years, even Tom Riddle's appearance demonstrated his corruption — he lost his former handsomeness, eventually taking on serpentine physical qualities and red eyes. Albus Dumbledore, in particular, suggested that engaging in any of the Dark Arts that involve murder was damaging to the soul; for instance, he told Severus Snape that Draco Malfoy's soul was "not yet so damaged" that he is probably capable of murder, but that if he did go through with murder, his soul would be "ripped apart". This suggests that using very dark magic, such as the Killing Curse, damages an individual's soul. The dark art of creating a Horcrux involves literally splitting the soul for the unnatural purpose of achieving immortality. Quirinus Quirrell was interested in dark magics, initially by a theoretical view to gain recognition, but his curiosity turned to avarice, and eventually he was completely drawn in and corrupted.
According to Snape, the Dark Arts are pragmatic in nature, where every time a branch is defeated, it only comes back "fiercer and cleverer" than before. It is therefore imperative that one's defences must be as versatile as these foul arts themselves.
Powerful dark spells also require malicious intent in order to be successful. To cast the Cruciatus Curse, for instance, one must truly desire to cause pain in and of itself, according to Bellatrix Lestrange. The Dark Arts can also be difficult to control; for example, Vincent Crabbe lost control of the cursed fire he created in 1998 and was killed by it. Injuries caused by dark magic sometimes never fully heal, such as George Weasley's ear after it was cut off by a Sectumsempra he was struck with during the Battle of the Seven Potters. Some curses can remain in one's genes, being passed down through generations as recessive, or can reemerge in a descendant that could lead to frail health, Astoria Malfoy was one such victim of her ancestor's curse.
Dark creatures can also have lasting impacts that are deadly or incredibly harmful to those who come into contact with them. Basilisks have the ability to petrify people who see them indirectly or kill them with their gaze, or from the venom in their fangs. While petrification can be cured by mandrake root, and wounds from basilisk fangs cured by phoenix tears, these treatments are difficult to prepare or obtain. Dementors have the ability to suck out people's soul with their kiss. There is no cure for someone who has had their soul removed as they spend the rest of their lives in a vegetative state.
- "You are protected, in short, by your ability to love! The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort's!"
- —Explanation of the best type of protection against the Dark Arts[src]
According to Albus Dumbledore, the only power strong enough to enable a person to resist the temptation of the Dark Arts, and to defeat them, is pure love. He was perhaps referring to the Sacrificial protection shield, which Lily Potter inadvertently used to protect infant Harry Potter and Harry himself later used to protect the defenders of Hogwarts by letting himself willingly be hit by a Killing Curse from the Dark Lord. However, Harry was not killed by this curse, since it only destroyed the part of Voldemort's soul inside him; he spent a brief time in limbo before returning to the land of the living.
While the Dark Arts have a bad reputation, overall, dark magic is not, by definition, "evil" magic. Indeed, dark magic can be used for good as well as evil. Even the Killing Curse can be used for good, as Albus Dumbledore said that it would not harm Severus Snape to kill him (Dumbledore) as he had asked Snape to kill him since he was going to die anyway (and it would ultimately serve to fool Voldemort and lead to his destruction). Using the Dark Arts in an act of true mercy in and of itself contradicts the very stark moral view that many such as Bartemius Crouch Senior publicly espoused regarding them.
At the same time, dark magic is not the only type of magic that can be used with the intent to kill. For example, the Severing Charm can kill if used irresponsibly.
The only exception to this rule is the spell which creates a Horcrux; this is an entirely selfish act — taking a life in order to prolong one's own. This act is so reprehensible that the caster's soul becomes fragmented, allowing the creation of a Horcrux. The soul can only be restored by complete remorse for the murder, or repentance, which is actually painful enough to cause death.
The suitability of a wand to perform dark magic depends, at least partly, on its core; dragon heartstring, phoenix feather, and rougarou hair have a reputation for being suitable for it, while it's hard to perform dark magic with unicorn hair wands.
The Dark Arts and the law
- "When a wizard goes over ter the Dark Side, there's nothin' and no one that matters to 'em any more..."
- —The nature of the Dark Side[src]
Although many members of the wizarding world appear to frown upon the Dark Arts, they are not prohibited (with the exception of the Unforgivables) and may even — under certain conditions — be encouraged. For example, while Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry teaches only Defence Against the Dark Arts, Durmstrang Institute teaches the Dark Arts itself. Moreover, shops like Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley openly trade in Dark artefacts, and are patronised by "hundreds of people", which suggests that at least some aspects of the Dark Arts are somewhat socially acceptable or at the very least legal among parts of the wizarding population.
Also, in times of war, the Ministry of Magic has been known to permit Aurors to use strong Dark magic against its enemies. When Lord Voldemort was in control of wizarding Britain in late 1997 to mid-1998, every aspect of the Dark Arts was legalised and taught at Hogwarts by Death Eater professor Amycus Carrow. However, Voldemort was controlling the Ministry at this time, so it may not be standard protocol.
In addition, there is a matter of degree. The three Unforgivable Curses are punishable by an automatic life sentence in Azkaban Prison when used on humans, except when permitted in wartime, whereas some types of magic can have more benign uses as well as Dark uses and, thus, are presumably not always illegal.
Known Dark magic
- "Magic, especially Dark magic... leaves traces."
- —The negative effects of Dark magic[src]
A Dark spell is primarily defined as any spell that consistently affects the object in a negative manner, usually associated with varying levels of discomfort.
Dark spells can be classified into three groups: jinxes, hexes, & curses. These groups form a hierarchy, with jinxes at the base, hexes in-between, and curses at the top. The further one ascends up this hierarchy, the more wicked, the stronger, the longer-lasting and the less reversible the Dark spell's effects appear to be. The Unforgivable Curses are the strongest known Dark spells in existence, as their effects are very powerful and their use requires skill.
The following are some Dark spells:
Minor Dark magic, inconvenience to the target.
Consistently affects the object in a negative manner, major inconvenience to the target.
The worst kind of dark magic, intended to affect the target in a strongly negative manner.
|Killing Curse||Avada Kedavra|
Dark Potions are potions that cause negative effects on those who drink them or cause harm in some way or another. Dark Potions may also include ingredients that are not common in regular potions, that possess usual properties. Some Dark potions include the following:
|Rudimentary body potion||A potion used to or used in combination with other magic to create a rudimentary body that can be inhabited by a non-corporeal wizard.|
|Regeneration potion||A potion noted by Lord Voldemort to be "an old piece of Dark Magic". Its ingredients include a bone from the father unknowingly given, flesh from the servant willingly given, and blood from an enemy of the one for whom it is intended. It creates a new body for a Dark witch or wizard who has used Horcruxes and lost their original body, as Voldemort did. This new body is a replica of the old one and has its former powers too. It apparently requires that the Dark wizard exist within a rudimentary body that can be placed within the cauldron after all the ingredients are added. If the blood of the enemy contains protections or infections, like a love sacrifice or lycanthrophy, it will also affect or protect the wizard or witch reborn with it.|
|Drink of Despair||An emerald green potion used in a basin in which the locket Horcrux was hidden. Its consumption caused the drinker to see "terrible things", dehydrate, and experience excruciating burning in one's insides. Because of the 'terrible things', it has an effect similar to the presence of a Dementor.|
Books can be bewitched to cause harm to anyone who attempts to read them. Examples include Sonnets of a Sorcerer, which causes the reader to speak in rhymes, and an unnamed book that a person can never stop reading. Tom Riddle's Diary is both a cursed book and a Horcrux.
A Hand of Glory is a severed human hand with a candle placed within it. It provides light only to the holder, and is commonly attributed to thieves and plunderers. It is able to penetrate Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.
A Horcrux is thought to be the darkest of all objects, a Horcrux is an object (or living being) that contains a fragment of a Dark wizard's divided soul. It is used to provide protection against death.
Opal Necklace is an item turned up in Borgin and Burkes, was apparently purchased by Draco Malfoy, and almost killed Katie Bell. It is cursed very heavily, to the extent that merely touching it causes nearly instant death. It has killed at least nineteen Muggles.
Various objects in the Black house can be classified as Dark, such as an enchanted music box that would put people to sleep, purple robes that try to strangle those who get close, and a highly dangerous locket Horcrux that contained Voldemort's mutilated soul.
A Black Quill does not require ink, as it writes with the blood of the person using it. What the user writes will be carved onto the back of his or her hand, and the blood from the words sliced into the hand will be magically syphoned and used as ink on the parchment. It is used as a torture device.
Many magical creatures and beings alike may be considered Dark, all of which are deeply feared and/or despised by numerous different wizards and witches. Some of those creatures/beings include the following:
Acromantulas are a species of giant spider, these giant spiders with a taste for human flesh. There is a large colony of them living in the Forbidden Forest on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is suggested that wizardkind stay clear of them due to how dangerous they are. Breeding Acromantulas has been made illegal by the Ministry of Magic and are included in the Ban on Experimental Breeding.
A Basilisk is a giant serpent, also known as the King of Serpents. Looking a Basilisk directly in the eye will immediately kill the victim, but indirect contact will merely render them Petrified. It is known as one of the foulest creatures on Earth. Breeding Basilisks has been made illegal by the Ministry of Magic and are included in the Ban on Experimental Breeding. The punishment for breeding this creature depends on the ruling of the Wizengamot.
Dementors are widely considered to be one of the foulest beings to inhabit the world. Dementors feed on human happiness and thus generate feelings of depression and despair in any person in close proximity to them. They can also consume a person's soul through the process known as the Dementor's Kiss. The Dementor's Kiss is considered a fate worse then death.
Grindylows are small, horned, pale-green water demon. It has long, strong (albeit brittle) fingers which it uses to strangle its prey. Students at Hogwarts are taught to defend themselves against them in their third year of magical education.
Hags are a savage being that looks like an ugly, old witch but has more warts. They possess rudimentary magic, similar to that of a troll. They prefer to eat children and some even advertise themselves as babysitters.
A Inferi is a dead body, reanimated by a Dark Wizard's spell. The spells used to reanimate the corpse are complex and difficult to preform. There is a large difference between an Inferius and a ghost. Voldemort was known to have an army of Inferi, mostly consisting of homeless Muggles that the Dark Lord murdered.
Lethifold is a carnivorous and highly dangerous magical creature. It was also considered a Dark creature because of its aggressive and violent nature. The only known spell that will work against it is the highly advanced Patronus Charm.
A werewolf is a human-being who, upon the complete rising of the full moon, becomes a fearsome and deadly near-wolf. This condition is caused by infection with lycanthropy. Werewolves are unfairly treated within the magical community and are looked down upon by witches and wizards who do not have the condition. The Ministry of Magic has introduced legislation in regards to Werewolves, as a means of controlling them.
Some other practises that would be considered Dark include: Breaking the Ban on Experimental Breeding by hatching a basilisk, for example, consuming the blood of a unicorn, and Necromancy, the Dark Art of raising the dead.
The following wizards and witches are known to have used Dark Magic. Note that as above, the Dark Arts encompass many different types of spells, including many that seem to be in everyday use by most wizards — this section is limited to those who have used strong dark magic at least once.
|Barnabas Deverill||He mastered the Elder Wand in the early eighteenth century and "used it to carve himself out a reputation as a fearsome warlock, until his reign of terror was ended"|
|Egbert the Egregious||Was once Master of the Elder Wand after killing Emeric the Evil in a ferocious duel (Emeric was "slaughtered")|
|Ekrizdis||Dark Wizard of unknown nationality and the original inhabitant of the fortress of Azkaban|
|Emeric the Evil||Was a short-lived but exceptionally aggressive wizard. He was once the master of the Elder Wand|
|Gellert Grindelwald||Considered to be one of the most powerful and dangerous Dark Wizards of all time, considered to be surpassed only by Tom Riddle|
|Godelot||An "unpleasant character", was a dark wizard who once owned the Elder Wand.|
|Gormlaith Gaunt||A pure-blood supremacist and the aunt of Isolt Sayre|
|Hereward||Mastered the Elder Wand after murdering his own father to acquire it|
|Herpo the Foul||He is one of the earliest known Dark Wizards and his work is still a lasting aspect of dark magic to date|
|Loxias||Master of the Elder Wand after Barnabas Deverill and gave it the name of "the Deathstick"|
|Merwyn the Malicious||Credited with the invention of many unpleasant jinxes and hexes .|
|Morgan le Fay||A powerful Dark witch who lived during the Middle Ages|
|Narcissa Malfoy||Not officially a Death Eater herself, Narcissa believed in the importance of blood purity and supported her husband in following Lord Voldemort|
|Raczidian||According to an ancient story, attacked a wizarding village, only to be foiled by the Patronus of Illyius|
|Salazar Slytherin||One of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry|
|Tom Riddle||The most dangerous Dark wizard of all time, finally defeated by Harry Potter|
|Walburga Black||A pure-blood supremacist and believer in Voldemort's cause|
|Yardley Platt||Infamous wizard because he was a serial Goblin killer|
|Krall||"Sulky" and "ambitious"|
|Vinda Rosier||She was said to be mysterious|
|Adonis Mulciber||After graduating from Hogwarts, he became a Death Eater|
|Antonin Dolohov||Possibly imprisoned||Fought in the First Wizarding War, during which he tortured many Muggles, and wizards and witches who were not supporters of the Dark Lord|
|Amycus Carrow||1997, Amycus was made Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. This class, which for all intents and purposes simply became "Dark Arts"|
|Alecto Carrow||Professor of Muggle Studies; she taught the thinking that Muggles are lesser than Wizardkind,|
|Augustus Rookwood||Spy who worked as an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries|
|Avery||Member of Tom Riddle's gang when they attended Hogwarts|
|Bartemius Crouch Jnr||Dementor's Kiss||A loyal follower and helped insure Voldemort's return to power in 1995|
|Bellatrix Lestrange||Deceased||Voldemort's most loyal follower and best lieutenant. She was the last Death Eaters standing during the Battle of Hogwarts|
|Corban Yaxley||Possibly imprisoned||Voldemort was in control of the Ministry of Magic, Yaxley became the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement|
|Draco Malfoy||Defected||Was made a Death Eaters as a means to punish his father and given the task of assassinating Albus Dumbledore|
|Evan Rosier||Deceased||After graduating from Hogwarts he became a Death Eater|
|Crabbe||Possibly imprisoned||Participated in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries|
|Goyle||Returned to Lord Voldemort when he rose to power again in 1995|
|Gregory Goyle||Fought in the Battle of Hogwarts|
|Igor Karkaroff||Deceased||Headmaster of Durmstrang Institute and was murdered for defecting|
|Lestrange||Member of Tom Riddle's gang and one of the earliest Death Eaters|
|Lucius Malfoy||Defected||He joined the Death Eaters, who shared his views on blood purity, and participated in the First and Second Wizarding War|
|Muliciber||Possibly imprisoned||Member of Tom Riddle's gang and one of the earliest Death Eaters|
|Peter Pettigrew||Deceased||Betrayed the Potter family to Voldemort during the First Wizarding War|
|Rabastan Lestrange||Possibly imprisoned||Brother of Rodolphus and brother-in-law of Bellatrix. He fought in the First and Second Wizarding Wars|
|Regulus Black||Deceased||Discovered the location of Voldemort's locket Horcrux and was drowned his his lake of Inferi|
|Rodolphus Lestrange||Possibly imprisoned||Brother of Rabastan and husband of Bellatrix. He fought in the First and Second Wizarding Wars|
|Rosier||One of the earliest Death Eaters of Lord Voldemort. He fought in the First Wizarding War|
|Severus Snape||Defected||Became a spy for the Order and was instrumental in the defeat of Voldemort|
|Travers||Possibly imprisoned||He fought in the First Wizarding War, during which he helped murdered Marlene McKinnon and her family, and was imprisoned for committing this crime. He also fought in the Second Wizarding War|
|Vincent Crabbe||Deceased||Died during the Battle of Hogwarts attempting to murder the trio|
|Walden Macnair||Possibly imprisoned||He managed to avoid Azkaban, and worked for the Ministry of Magic as Executioner. He fought in the First and Second Wizarding Wars|
|Other Death Eaters|
|Alastor Moody||Occasional user||Capable preforming the Unforgivable Curses and many other curses, hexes, and jinxes|
|Albus Dumbledore||Capable of preforming many curses, hexes, and jinxes|
|Bartemius Crouch Senior||Capable of preforming the Unforgivable Curses and many others|
|Ginevra Weasley||Capable of preforming a highly powerful Bat-Bogey Hex and can preform other curses, hexes, and jinxes|
|Harry Potter||Capable preforming two of the three Unforgivable Curses and many other curses, hexes, and jinxes|
|Hermione Granger||Capable of preforming many curses, hexes, and jinxes|
|Minerva McGonagall||Capable of preforming the Imperius Curse|
|Molly Weasley||Capable of preforming many curses, hexes, and jinxes. This includes a powerful curse the killed Bellatrix Lestrange|
|Pius Thicknesse||Imperiused||While Imperiused he preformed numerous Dark spells|
|Viktor Krum||While Imperiused he preformed the Cruciatus Curse|
|Durmstrang students||Durmstrang is infamous for teaching its students the Dark Arts|
|Hogwarts students (1997–1998 school year)||Threatened||Forced to preform the Dark Arts, including the Unforgivable Curses|
The following texts are known to discuss the Dark Arts:
Behind the scenes
- Some spells may not be considered Dark magic in and of themselves, but may be used for Dark purposes. For example, the Taboo curse allows the caster to track anyone who says a certain word or name. This gives the caster a great deal of power over people's speech, and spreads fear. It may thus be considered to have Dark applications, such as when it was used by Death Eaters to track their enemies during the Second Wizarding War.
- The Dark Arts are similar to magic known as maleficium, which is used in a similar manner.
- The antihero in the fairy tale The Warlock's Hairy Heart utilised a piece of Dark Magic to remove his heart from his body to ensure he would never fall in love, while keeping himself alive without this vital organ within his body. This was considered an impossible feat outside of the story.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ Deathly Hallows, Ch. 5. Also, in Ch. 17, Harry mentions "the injuries from Dark Magic... You can't repair the damage."
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ Harry Potter Lexicon: Dark Magic Items
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone