Some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
An individual male human with magical ability is known as a wizard (plural: wizards), and an individual female human with magical ability is known as a witch (plural: witches), though "wizard" is sometimes used as a gender-neutral singular noun like "man".
In childhood, wizards and witches may exhibit random bursts of magic, called accidental magic, which are honed and controlled as they progress to maturity.
To perform controlled magic, almost all wizards/witches need to use a wand, although the skill of wandless magic may be mastered in later life. A few highly advanced wizards can do controlled magical acts without a wand, such as Albus Dumbledore, who demonstrated the ability at the close of Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Lord Voldemort, who once demonstrated this ability during the Battle of the Seven Potters in 1997.
Magical ability is an inherited trait usually passed from parent to child. Pure-bloods are born of two wizarding parents and half-bloods are often born of one wizard and one Muggle or Muggle-born parent. Muggle-born wizards and witches are born with their magical abilities because they are distantly descended from a Squib who often marries into a Muggle family. From this point on, that branch of the wizarding family often loses all traces of its wizarding legacy, which resurfaces many generations later in a Muggle-born descendant.
Wizard life expectancy in Britain reached 137¾ years in the mid-1990s, according to the Ministry of Divine Health, although the oldest wizard on record reached the age of 755 in late 1991; wizards have a much longer life expectancy than Muggles.
Some wizards exhibit special inborn (or acquired) attributes which mark them as unique amongst their kind. They are listed as follows:
Some wizards are born with abilities beyond those of the average wizard. Seers, for example, have the skill of insight into future events. They may garner this insight through visions and dreams or through scrying physical objects like tea dregs, tarot cards, and crystal balls. Some seers include Sybill Trelawney and her ancestor Cassandra.
While some wizards have the ability to turn into animals, it is not an inherent power, but rather a trained technique. This type of wizard is called an Animagus (plural Animagi). Babbitty Rabbitty was said to be an Animagus with the ability to transform into a rabbit. Professor McGonagall is an Animagus who can turn into a cat. The first recorded Animagus was Falco Aesalon, who could turn into a falcon.
The Animagi have to register themselves at the Ministry of Magic, because human Transfiguration can go horribly wrong. However, there are some unregistered Animagi. Examples are James Potter, who turned into a Stag; Sirius Black, who turned into a large black Dog; Peter Pettigrew, who turned into a Rat; and Rita Skeeter, who could turn into a Beetle to gather information for her articles. In the case of the first three, they turned into Animagi to assist Remus Lupin to transform into a werewolf in a place where there are no humans. Peter also turned into a rat to convince people that Sirius killed him, while masquerading as "Scabbers", Percy Weasley's and Ronald Weasley's former pet.
Other wizards may have the ability to change only their physical appearance rather than their bodily form. This type of wizard is termed a Metamorphmagus. Such a wizard can change the shape of their noses, hair colour, and other physical attributes. Nymphadora Tonks and Teddy Lupin were known Metamorphmagi.
Communicating with animals
Some wizards and witches have the ability to talk to animals. For instance, a Parselmouth can speak to snakes. This ability is extremely rare. Salazar Slytherin was an infamous Parselmouth, and his descendants, such as Lord Voldemort, inherited this trait. Harry Potter also acquired this ability when part of Voldemort's soul bonded with him the night he tried to kill Harry. When the piece of Voldemort's soul inside him was destroyed, Harry lost this ability. Other wizards, like Rubeus Hagrid for example, have an innate ability to communicate and bond with all kinds of animals. Animagi have also demonstrated being able to subtly influence animals while assuming their animal forms.
Squibs or wizard-borns are individuals born to at least one magical parent who cannot perform magic at all past age 11. Squibs are, in essence, 'wizard-born Muggles.' They are much less common than Muggle-borns and are in fact, very rare. Squibs are looked upon with a degree of disdain by some witches and wizards, especially pure-bloods.
There exist some individuals that continue to exhibit a lack of magical power past age 11 and yet spontaneously — in desperate circumstances — manage to perform magic later on in life. However, this is rare, possibly more so than squibs.
Legilimens are people who can perform Legilimency. These people can tune into other people's minds, but have difficulty reading the minds of those people who can perform Occlumency. The act of Legilimens is referred to as mind reading in the Muggle world.
Some wizards have the ability to protect their minds from others who can perform Legilimency. This ability is called Occlumency. Severus Snape tried teaching Occlumency to Harry Potter during Harry's fifth year in Hogwarts.
As decreed by the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, wizards maintain a society entirely separate from Muggle society, with their own culture and traditions. Wizards populate areas all over the globe. At the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, over 100,000 wizards were in attendance. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there are several hundred students in residence at any given time.
It is not clear how many witches and wizards are in the entire world, but some hints are given. It is stated that there are ten times more Muggles than wizards in the world. If the global Muggle population was about 5 billion in the 1990s, it would mean that the wizard population was 500 million. However, it is also said that the British wizard population is about 3,000, one third being Hogwarts students. This would indicate a very low birth rate (although wizarding families are big, they live more than their Muggle counterparts) and mean that other countries are much more populous than Britain or that there is somewhere in the world where a very large concentration of wizards occur (one much larger than Britain's). In all likelihood, however, the former is a dramatic overestimate, the latter something of an underestimate.
Wizards may live together in communities such as Godric's Hollow or Hogsmeade. Other wizards live in solitary locations such as Spinner's End or 12 Grimmauld Place. Most wizards maintain little if no contact with Muggle society and find Muggles strange and unpleasant. They are somewhat ignorant to the Muggle world but in a different manner than Muggles as of the Wizarding World. While Muggles are completely unaware of wizards, wizards appear to be ignorant of certain aspects of the Muggle world, such as electricity and other modern technologies that become redundant and, at times, non-sensical when one is able to use magic. While certain aspects of Muggle society are evident in the wizarding one, wizards seem to be a number of decades if not centuries behind Muggles in other areas. In addition, wizards are sometimes just as progressive, if not more, on certain issues than their Muggle counterparts, such as women's rights.
Some wizards do not like to talk about their Muggle relatives, or even deny their existence altogether. Other wizards, such as Lord Voldemort, have even killed some of their Muggle relatives altogether. Other wizards, like Arthur Weasley find Muggles to be highly intriguing and ingenious. Hermione Granger, a Muggle-born witch, took up Muggle Studies at Hogwarts because she felt it would be fascinating to think about Muggles from a wizarding perspective.
Behind the scenes
- The origins of wizardkind are unknown. Whether, in ancient times, some humans randomly discovered they had magic, or there was some sort of ritual or potion or pact, their origins remain a mystery. However, if it was the first, then some Muggle-borns may not be the descendants of Squibs and Muggles, but new purebloods.
- Despite their science and living conditions being almost Medieval, wizards are, ironically, probably healthier than Muggles, presumably due to their lack of hazardous substances, technogenic waste, and computers.
- In The Bible's extended texts, the Apocrypha, angels taught Adam magic along with other supernatural knowledge. Whether this has any links with the origins of wizardkind is unknown.
- Muggles who perform illusions or tricks to make it look as real magic is known as a magician. A true wizard being called magician is a grave insult to them, as Vernon Dursley did to James Potter I.
- Some wizards bear unusual physical characteristics. Rolanda Hooch, for instance, was mentioned to have yellow eyes.
- A few reasons why the Death Eaters (and other wizards) are so good at remaining hidden from Muggles is as follows:
- Most wizards protect their dwellings with Unplottable Charms, hence, known criminals locations would not show up on Muggle or wizard maps anyway
- Most wizard dwellings, especially those of wanted criminals, are heavily guarded against forced entry, by both magical spells and magical creatures such as Basilisks or Acromantula
- Muggles who encounter acts of magic have the memory of the encounter erased by the Ministry, or, in the case of supremacist Death Eaters, the Muggles would be killed outright upon visiting the dwelling of said Death Eater, but in a way that would not arouse suspicion
- Death Eaters can also perform high levels of magic above other wizards, thus protecting themselves from unwanted law officers.
- Harry Potter Prequel (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
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- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
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- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
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- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
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- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Quidditch Through the Ages
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- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
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