Harry Potter: What Is 'Ancient Magic' Really About? Here Are the Best Theories
“Ancient magic” was referenced several times in the Harry Potter franchise and was the central concept of the Hogwarts Legacy video game. But what is ancient magic?
- The Harry Potter franchise never explained the nature of ancient magic despite mentioning it several times.
- Fans came up with their own theories about ancient magic, including some rather interesting ones.
- According to fans, ancient magic could be defined by its mechanics, origins, or even accessibility.
There are a handful of concepts that were touched upon but never explored in the Harry Potter books and movies, but ancient magic is among the most enigmatic of them. It’s referenced fairly often in the original books, and there’s even a AAA video game where ancient magic plays a huge part — but we were never told what it is.
When Do We Encounter Ancient Magic in Harry Potter?
According to the Harry Potter books, the Hogwarts castle was built with ancient magic which likely explains why it lasted so long after the Founders’ deaths. The magical protection Lily Potter provided her son Harry is also referred to as a form of ancient magic, and Dumbledore uses this term when talking about love.
According to Pottermore, the creation of Horcruxes, too, is considered ancient magic — and, of course, there’s also Hogwarts Legacy where the player and several characters directly use ancient magic but never explain its true nature… But it’s also a question of whether to consider this game canon or ignore it like The Cursed Child.
Either way, there are enough references to ancient magic in the original books as it is. Still, we never learned much about it, how it works, and what its origins are. Naturally, fans came up with their own theories, some of which are rather brilliant.
Ancient Magic Is the First Form of Magic
Centuries ago, there had to be the first wizards ever: the Muggles in whom magic manifested. Since then, they became their own cast known as wizards, and their magic developed — but to this day, ancient magic occasionally awakens in someone, especially the Muggle-borns, and it’s difficult to learn for actual wizards.
Ancient Magic Is Based on Primal Concepts
The forces of nature, the fundamental laws of magic, and raw power and emotions are the bases of ancient magic. Instead of relying upon spells, it draws upon something bigger and heavier, like the elements or human feelings. The magic that manifests in small kids is also a form of ancient magic, according to this theory.
Ancient Magic Is an Old Programming Language
Not literally, of course, but in a way that, instead of having pre-made incantations and hand movements, it’s multi-layered and requires deep understanding. Each part of the “spell” needs to be thought through and performed separately to take effect: for instance, to levitate an object, you would need to “rewire” its gravity at least twice.
Ancient Magic Is Spirit or Ritual-Based
Starting from the shamans of old times, ancient magic is much slower than its modern version. It relies on complex rituals that need special conditions and elements to draw upon natural forces or even spirits. Alternatively, like in the case of Lily Potter, it might happen on its own under very specific circumstances.
Ancient Magic Is Anything That’s Forgotten
This explanation claims that ancient magic is not a form of magic at all: it’s just the code name for any wizarding knowledge that was lost or forgotten. Whatever the mechanics of a certain spell or ritual are, the only requirement it needs to meet to be classified as ancient magic is that barely anyone knows how to actually use it.