HARRY POTTER question: Can muggles make or even use magical potions or artifacts?

I’m only a casual Potter reader, but even I know what muggles–that is, the non-magical majority of the world–cannot do magic in the sense of casting spells, no matter how assiduously they work to memorize the procedure. It is my impression as well that muggles cannot use a magic wand, either, as the wand serves only to focus the wizards inherent magical power.

But what about things like potions? Does the magic of a mandrake-root based potion come only from the ingredients, or must the brewer also be connected to the source of magical energy? Regardless of that, could a wizard as competent as Severus Snape make a potion that a muggle could use? How about the time-travel gizmo the little girl wizard used in the third or fourth movie–could a muggle use that?

I dunno. That’s why I’m asking you people. And as the OP I will add that anything Potter related is on topic for this thread as long as it isn’t porn.

Re: Dudley - the ton-tongue toffee. HP and the Goblet of Fire

Perhaps not a potion exactly but it worked on him. Drawing a blank on anything else right now.

Dudley is one of HP’s cousins, yes? Did he make the toffee or whatever?

I wasn’t asking if potions and artifacts would work on muggles. Clearly they do, otherwise the regular PM wouldn’t give a fricking frack what the magic PM does. I’m asking if a smart muggle, given ingredients and instructions, could brew and/or use a potion on someone else, or if the wizard’s native power is essential to the fabrication / utilization of potions and artifacts.

My bad, I misunderstood the question.

Hermione, the little wizard girl, came from two non-magical parents so I would think it’s probably possible though I have no proof.

Eta: at least for potions. They seem to be very formulaic.

Rowling has said that muggles would not be able to brew potions. One Harry Potter wiki did say that potions have an advantage over spells because they are able to be used by non-wizards but it had no citations pointing to a canonical document or interview. Time turners? Speaking purely out of my ass, since when the cabinet housing them was destroyed in the Ministry of magic, it smashed, reappeared whole and smashed again ad infinitum, I’d say that a non-wizard could use a time turner since its magic is apparently innate but it may react inappropriate or dangerously.

My interpretation is that potions and other magical devices must be infused with magic during their creation, and so cannot be made by wizards. As far as I recall, there is no explicit indication of this in the books, but there are indications that magical changes are occurring in the potions during the brewing process. Odd color changes are mentioned, and Neville managed to melt cauldrons while trying to make potions:

These are clearly results that are not expected from the ingredients, which suggests that active magic is at work; the brewers are simply channeling the magic through the process, rather than through a wand. We already know that wizards can achieve magical effects without a wand; Harry and Neville, at least, are cited as having done so.

The conclusion I draw from this is that potions and magical devices cannot be made by muggles, but can affect them and be used by them, because the item has already been imbued with the magic required for its function. An exception would be items which require a specifically magical action in order to activate. A muggle could presumably see things in the Pensieve, for example, but would have no way to put their own thoughts/memories in it; if it happened to be empty, they could not use it.

I assumed there are some words or spells that accompanied the brewing, but have no cite for that.
Of course Muggles wouldn’t be able to get many of the ingredients, or at least not the magical versions (i.e. we can get mandrakes but our’s don’t generally scream like rooty babies).

No cite, but I seem to recall it being mentioned in the books that the students used their wands in Potions class. I want to say they tapped the sides of their cauldrons with their wands during the potion-making process, and there may have been some potions that had to be stirred with a wand. This would indicate that the potion-maker isn’t just mixing up the correct ingredients, but that they have to make use of their own magical abilities during the process. So even if a Muggle had a recipe and the correct ingredients for a potion, it wouldn’t come out correctly. It might still do something, but that would presumably be due simply to the mundane chemical properties of the ingredients.

I don’t see any reason why a wizard-brewed potion wouldn’t work on a Muggle, though. IIRC it’s stated or at least suggested that Lord Voldemort’s mother used a love potion on his Muggle father.

I agree. I’d also suspect that a charmed object would remain charmed if it came into the possession of a Muggle. I guess a cursed object also.

In his introduction, Snape says, “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic.” I think that supports your point, in that it implies that there is some wand use, but much less than in actual spellcasting classes. It’s also possible, however, that wands are used only for general utility purposes in the class–like cleanup or lighting the fires–and not to empower the potions directly.

This seems to be most of what Arthur Weasley’s job is about. Shrinking keys, animated tea sets, and so forth don’t seem to actually be cursed, as such, but they are certainly enchanted, and Arthur seems to be kept busy dealing with incidents that arise when they come into the possession of muggles. The cursed necklace was marked with a card indicating that it had killed some number of muggle owners.

This link to mugglenet.com backs this up with a quote, but no link, to what JKR said.


Post #3 says:

Rhymer Enterprises is looking to enter the metaphysical realm? Don’t help him, people! :wink:

I thought Snape said there would be no waving of wands or silly incantations in his class.

I expect if a recipe could be reproduced independently by anyone with the same ingredients and the same conditions it would be science.
And this ain’t science.

Regular cooking must lie somewhere in between.

What about Witches (and Warlocks?). It seems that there is a distinction, but what is it?

Oh, just remembered (hate to quote Cracked.com again but …) why Hogwarts was all in harrys head

“Witch” is simply the female version of a wizard.

I’ve never been able to figure out what JKR meant by “Warlock.” It’s often implied that warlocks are evil wizards, but not, IIRC, in the Potterverse.

Cracked can bite my shiny metal ass.

I haven’t read enough of Rowling to be sure of her intent, but etymologically, wizard means wise one, while warlock means oath-breaker. In a world where magic is real, it makes sense that the latter would come to be pejorative.

In the potterverse warlocks are wizards who excel in dueling or martial magics or or who have performed an act of unusual bravery or daring.

According to the wiki, warlock is more of a title than a type of wizard:

For example, Dumbledore was the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.

ETA: I need to be quicker with my copy/pasting.

I wish I had access to the OED, but according to Wiktonary, “wizard” comes from Middle English wys plus ard and basically means “one who is wise”. “Warlock” is older, coming from Old English “waerloga” (and that from a mixture of Proto-Indo-European and English). The non-obsolete definition of “male equivalent of a witch” probably comes from the obsolete definitions of both “liar or oath-breaker” and “the Devil or a demon”, leading to the other definition in the UK of a man in league with the Devil (as a witch is in league with the Devil). “Witch” comes from the Old English “wicce” and previously from Proto-Germanic “wikjo”. Please note I’ve omitted a number of diacritical marks.

So anyway, it’s probably simply that the better equivalent to a witch is a warlock, and considering the school was founded in the late 10th century Middle English would not have existed yet. So the default would presumably be “witch” and “warlock” or probably “wicce” and “wicca” at the date of the founding of the school. This assumes that the founders were all speakers of Old English, that they decided to use Old English (since they weren’t all from England), and that the founding of the school in the Scottish Highlands didn’t mean that Middle Irish (which, being a Celtic language has no real relationship to the Germanic family that Old English is in) was used instead. And no, I’m not going to find the equivalent of witch, wizard, and warlock in Middle Irish. That said, it’s probably a safe bet that there was a combination of Celtic and Germanic languages spoken at Hogwarts throughout the centuries until the British Isles pretty much standardized on English.

This, of course, assumes that Rowling is a linguist or philologist on the order of J.R.R. Tolkien. While Rowling is fond of using Latin and other languages to name characters, spells, and so on, somehow I doubt she gave the whole “wizard” vs. “warlock” question much thought.

Edit: Well, I took a lot longer getting there, but I still like my explanation better than the presumably official one of a title. It just being a title is boring.