File:First time.jpg
"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."
Severus Snape to a Defence Against the Dark Arts class[src]

The Dark Arts, also known as Dark magic, refers to any type of magic that is mainly used to cause harm. The Dark Arts encompass many spells and actions ranging from using the Unforgivable Curses to brewing harmful or poisonous potions to breeding Dark creatures such as Basilisks, and its practice is generally illegal. 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 ArtsEdit

Dumbledore: "You call it 'greatness,' what you have been doing, do you?"
Riddle: "Certainly. I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed -"
Dumbledore: "Of some kinds of magic. Of some. Of others, you remain...forgive me...woefully ignorant."
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."
Albus Dumbledore and Tom Marvolo Riddle[src]

The Dark Arts are generally regarded as corrupting those who use them. After engaging in them extensively for many years, even Tom Marvolo Riddle's appearance demonstrated his corruption — he lost his former handsomeness, eventually taking on serpentine physical qualities and red eyes[1]. Albus Dumbledore, in particular, suggested that engaging in the Dark Arts 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 incapable of murder, but that if he did go through with murder, his soul would be "ripped apart"[1]. 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.

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[2]. 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[3]. Injuries caused by Dark magic never fully heal, such as George Weasley's ear after it was cut off by a Sectumsempra he was struck with during the Battle over Little Whinging[4].

Dumbledore: " have never been seduced by the Dark Arts, never, even for a second, shown the slightest desire to become one of Voldemort's followers!"
Harry: "Of course I haven't! He killed my mum and dad!"
Dumbledore: "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! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart..."
Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter in 1996[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 love. This is the reason Harry Potter triumphed over Lord Voldemort — first, because his mother willingly sacrificed her life for his, and then because Harry sacrificed his own for those he loved[3].

The Dark Arts and the lawEdit

"When a wizard goes over ter the Dark Side, there's nothin' and no one that matters to 'em any more..."
Rubeus Hagrid[src]

The Dark Arts are generally illegal to practice in the wizarding world, but this prohibition is not universal; for example, while Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry teaches only Defence Against the Dark Arts, Durmstrang Institute teaches the Dark Arts itself. Also, in times of war, the Ministry of Magic has been known to permit Aurors to use Dark magic against its enemies; though whether spells generally considered "dark" are evil when used in some circumstances is unknown, for example, Albus Dumbledore said that it would not harm Severus Snape to kill him (Dumbledore) as Dumbledore had asked him to, as he was going to die anyway. When Lord Voldemort was in control of wizarding Britain in late 1997 to mid-1998, the Dark Arts were legalised and taught at Hogwarts by Death Eater professor Amycus Carrow[3]

In addition, there is a matter of degree. The three Unforgivable Curses are punishable by an automatic life sentence in Azkaban Prison[5] when used on humans, except when permitted in wartime, whereas some types of magic can have Dark as well as more benign uses and, thus, are presumably not always illegal.

Known Dark ArtsEdit

Dark spellsEdit

"Magic, especially Dark magic ... leaves traces."
Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter on Dark spells[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. They can be classified into three groups: jinxes, hexes & curses. These groups form a hierarchy, with jinxes at the base, curses at the top and hexes in-between. 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.

Whilst Dark Spells are considered a branch of the Dark Arts, it should be noted that Dark Spells can also be used defensively (e.g. for Defence Against the Dark Arts) and hence for good as well as evil (like all spell types).

Dark potionsEdit

The following potions are identified as Dark:

  • 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.
  • Voldemort's rebirth potion: This potion is said by Voldemort to be "an old piece of Dark Magic"[5]. Its ingredients include a bone from the father unknowingly given, flesh from the servant willing 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 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 infections or protections, like a love sacrifice or lycanthrophy, it will also poison or protect the wizard or witch reborn with it.
  • Drink of Despair: a 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.[1]

Dark itemsEdit

File:Riddle Diary.jpg
"Of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction–"
—the introduction of Magick Moste Evile[src]

The following items are associated with Dark Magic:[6]

  • Cursed books: 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.
File:Hand of Glory.jpg
  • Hand of Glory: A severed human hand with a candle placed within it. It provides light only to the holder.[7] It is able to penetrate Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.
  • Horcrux: 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.[1]


Many magical creatures may be considered Dark, for example: the Dementor, Lethifold, Grindylow &werewolves.

General PracticesEdit

Some other practices that would be considered Dark include:

Known practitionersEdit

File:Death eaters worldcup.jpg

The following wizards and witches are known to have practised the Dark Arts (Those who used the Dark Arts but are not Dark Wizards are marked with an *. Death Eaters are marked with **. )

Known textsEdit

The following texts are known to discuss the Dark Arts:

Behind the scenesEdit

  • 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[3].
  • The Dark Arts are similar to magic known as maleficium, which is used in a similar manner.


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  4. Deathly Hallows, Ch. 5. Also, in Ch. 17, Harry mentions "the injuries from Dark can't repair the damage."
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  6. Harry Potter Lexicon: Dark Magic Items
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CS
  8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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