If you could have a magical skill, which would it be? Would you conjure the most perfect Patronus to protect those around you? Would your Apparition abilities be the envy of others? And what about those skills that come with genes, rather than practice? Let’s examine some of the most magical talents in the wizarding world – and think about which is the most desirable or not-so-desirable...
The ‘Inner Eye’ is often said to be a rare and much sought-after skill in the wizarding world, with many in the community looking to Seers to find the answers in life. Gifted Seers have the ability to create Prophecies, which can determine the future of various witches and wizards, and in the case of Harry Potter, change the course of wizarding history.
While Divination professor Sybill Trelawney had to exaggerate her skill-set a bit (it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Neville Longbottom would break a teacup) she still made the prophecy about Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter that would shape the events of the first and second wizarding war.
In the case of Sybill, her predictions only seem to be successful when she enters a sort of trance-state, where she doesn’t seem to quite remember what she’s said. When it comes to reading tea leaves and dream analysis, those Divination techniques seem ever so slightly more inaccurate.
So, as a skill, knowing the future is something many of us wish we could do – but the talent does come with responsibilities. If Sybill Trelawney had not made her prophecy, Lord Voldemort’s story could have unfolded very differently, for example. But your powers would be celebrated in the wizarding world, for sure, and you’d most likely get a Divination teaching job out of it, if not a couple of successful books. But is it all worth it, to be the one who ends up changing the course of events with the words you say? Perhaps the great unknown is best left that way.
A Metamorphmagus has the extraordinarily uncommon gift of being able to change their appearance at will. We famously met one in the Harry Potter series: Nymphadora Tonks, who used her shapeshifting abilities wisely in her job as an Auror. From changing hair colour to changing your whole face, the abilities of a Metamorphmagus seem unparalleled to the most advanced Transfiguration. It can also be hereditary, as we saw when Tonks had her baby, Teddy Lupin, whose hair kept changing colours just after birth.
It’s perfectly understandable to just be horrendously jealous of such a skill, seeing as it is a natural gift and comes with a whole string of possibilities. Tonks even said that the phenomenon helped her pass her Auror training, inevitably excelling at Concealment and Disguise.
The only downside we could really see about being a Metamorphmagus is the fact that the magic seems to be affected by your emotions.
When Tonks was upset about her feelings for Remus Lupin, her appearance naturally became more sombre – and Hermione theorised that her powers had actually been stilted.
The ability to turn into an animal at any-given time sounds immeasurably cool on paper – but it is famously extremely difficult to become one.
Once you’ve actually mastered the art of becoming one, you also need to make sure you’re registered, although funnily enough, we ended up meeting more unregistered Animagi in the Harry Potter books than we did legal ones. Professor McGonagall could famously (and legally) turn into a cat, but the Marauders and Rita Skeeter all had ulterior motives for becoming Animagi, so therefore didn’t bother to get themselves officially on the books.
So with all the admin out the way, becoming an animal at will served many witches and wizards well – especially Sirius Black, who was able to remain hidden in plain sight despite being on the run from Azkaban, in his black dog form. On the other hand, Peter Pettigrew was also able to hide from the law and even fake his own death, so you can understand why Animagi are usually registered...
But ultimately, if you’re an animal-lover and love to be at one with nature, an Animagus would be a perfect piece of magic to be able to perform.
In layman’s terms, being a Legilimens means you can read peoples’ minds – although, really, it’s far more complex than that. As Severus Snape once said, ‘the mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure’.
We started to learn about both Legilimency and Occlumency (the magic that counters it) during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where we learnt that Lord Voldemort was adept at infiltrating Harry’s mind. In turn, Harry struggled with the counter-magic, Occlumency, and failed on numerous occasions to close his mind. His teacher, Professor Snape, however, had learnt to master both skills with aplomb. Professor Dumbledore also displayed his skills in the area. Draco Malfoy was even known to have mastered Occlumency during his secret-mission in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we meet a fully accomplished Legilimens in Queenie, who gently uses her gift to bond with others, such as Jacob and Newt, although Newt doesn’t quite like it. That’s the thing with this magical skill – it’s quite invasive, and although the No-Maj Jacob was impressed and enamoured with Queenie, Newt found it a troublesome quirk.
Indeed, this skill does hold the risk of severing your relationships with people, who may often feel on guard about what they’re thinking about when they’re around a Legilimens. But that’s not to say it’s not a tremendously useful talent to have.
There are other out-of-the-ordinary pieces of magic we have seen exhibited across the wizarding world, such as flight without a broom, casting Patronuses, wandless magic, wordless magic, Apparition, creating Horcruxes and beyond. Dumbledore once said “he doesn’t need a cloak to become invisible” and we often wonder what other powers are out there.
There are also Veelas, that come with their own magical aura and impossible beauty, as we learnt from meeting Fleur, who is part-Veela. Veela hair can even be used as wand cores.
There are also magical ailments, such as Obscurials, vampires and werewolves, which come with unwanted traits. Obscurials are known to have very short lives, while Lupin's struggles with being a werewolf were spoken about often across the Harry Potter series. By being connected to Voldemort, Harry was able to speak Parseltongue too - but usually, this skill was passed down throughout Salazar Slytherin's descendents.
And some acquired skills can end horribly if performed by the wrong person or in the wrong way. For example, when an ancient Dark wizard called Raczidian once attempted to cast the defensive spell, the Patronus Charm, the spell backfired on him, and his life ended devoured by maggots!
Other mastered skills, such as Apparating, can end in Splinching, which Ron experienced in the most horrible way in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
So, as you can see, every magical skill comes with its own set of complications, but ultimately there are some pieces of magical phenomena that can set a witch or wizard ahead of their peers.
Which skill would you like to attain if you lived in the wizarding world?