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Obscurial

Credence Barebone transforming into his Obscurus form

"Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. So instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus."
Newton Scamander explaining to Jacob Kowalski[src]

An Obscurial is a young wizard or witch who developed a dark parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse.

Description

"An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it."
—J.K. Rowling[1]
Times Square Fantastic Beasts CC Trailer WM

When a magical child is forced to repress their talent through physical or psychological abuse, they develop a parasitical magical force inside of them called Obscurus, resulting from their strong emotions of distress.

An Obscurial may lose control when they reach their emotional and mental breaking point, releasing their Obscurus as an invisible (or nearly invisible) destructive wind. In extreme cases, they may physically transform into an Obscurus.

When an Obscurial releases the Obscurus within, their eyes become pure white and their physical form vibrates and becomes distorted. While the Obscurus is invisible, the Obscurial can physically interact with the world without making physical contact, though the ability is uncontrolled and triggered by the host's distress, anger, or other intense emotions. This notably damages structures and objects near the host.

Usually, children possessed by an Obscurus almost always die before their 10th birthdays, but as exemplified by Credence Barebone, a wizard with tremendous latent powers can survive longer. When the child dies, the Obscurus vanishes along with them, though Newton Scamander successfully kept one alive when its host died by encasing it in a magical bubble.

History

In ancient times, Obscurials were more common, when wizards were hunted by Muggles. However, when the wizarding world and the Muggle world separated, the trend dropped as children were no longer forced to hide their true nature among their own.

Obscurials were believed to have completely disappeared from the United States of America by 1926 according to Seraphina Picquery. To the knowledge of the International Confederation, an Obscurus had not existed in the United States for over 200 years.[2]

Known Obscurials

Person Notes
Sudanese girl A young girl who was persecuted by her village because she exhibited magical abilities. She died when she was eight years old, with Scamander preserving her Obscurus before her death.
Credence Barebone Regularly beaten and psychologically abused by his adoptive mother Mary Lou Barebone, who hated magic. He was eventually consumed by his Obscurus and went on a rampage which destroyed large parts of New York.

Behind the scenes

  • Many have wondered why Harry Potter did not develop an Obscurus, or become an Obscurial. On her official website F.A.Q., author J. K. Rowling answered: "An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it. The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so."[3]
  • While still unconfirmed, Ariana Dumbledore was potentially an Obscurial too, as the description of her "illness" given by her brother Aberforth fit the description of an Obscurial; "It destroyed her, what they did: she was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned her inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless". It would also explain how, as an untrained witch, she was capable of killing her mother in an uncontrolled rage with magic.
    • Furthermore, if she was indeed an Obscurial her interactions with a young Grindelwald could also explain why the Dark Wizard was later so interested by the power of an Obscurus or Obscurial. Ariana also lived longer than the average Obscurial, having died at the age of 14, whereas most Obscurials (with the exception of Credence Barebone) didn't live past age 10. If Ariana was an Obscurial, then this was a fact kept hidden by the Dumbledores, since it was widely believed no Obscurial had existed for at least two hundred years, even thirty years after her death, and that none lived longer than ten years of age.

Author's comments

"The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so."

Appearances

Notes and references