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In the magical world (in Harry Potter) can ghosts use magic?

Can magic be used on ghosts?

Or, once they become ghosts, can they interact with magic at all?

  • I'd say that going through solid objects might count as magic... but I'm not sure that's the same thing as 'use magic'. – Pryftan Jul 13 '18 at 2:19
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I'm not sure if it's proof, but ghosts put together some food for Nearly Headless Nick's deadthday party. Assuming it wasn't Hogwarts' house-elves who did it, presumably this means they did it by magic.

On a related note, they exchanged letters (invitations/rejections for Headless Hunt). That also seems to imply using magic.

  • And on the note of maybe not proof: they can also go through solid objects. Might not be 'use of' but still arguably a form of magic - in some form or another. – Pryftan Jul 13 '18 at 2:20
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Nearly Headless Nick was petrified by the Basilisk in Chamber of Secrets, thus interacted with magic.

  • Ah, yes! Forgot about that -- any incidences of ghosts using magic? – Tango Feb 3 '12 at 4:27
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    Doesn't a ghost teach History of Magic? Professor Binns? He's seen holding a wand in the Lego Harry Potter games. I dunno if he uses it at all, though. – OghmaOsiris Feb 3 '12 at 5:11
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    @OghmaOsiris Professor Binns also has the magical ability to make make Harry and Ron never pay attention in his class! – Dason Feb 3 '12 at 5:39
  • @OghmaOsiris - I can't find an instance in the book where Prof. Binns is holding a wand. I did find, though, that apparently he looks like a giant, wrinkled tortoise with glasses :D – Slytherincess Feb 3 '12 at 9:43
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Ghosts Cannot "Use Magic", They Can Interact With It

While Nearly Headless Nick's encounter with the Basilisk, and his subsequent "un-petrification", implies that magic can be used upon ghosts, there is no reason to believe that, conversely, ghosts can use magic.

  1. Ghosts are imprints of dead witches and wizards, they are wandering souls that "did not go further". They can perceive in some superficial and unsatisfactory way their surroundings and their presence can be felt (or even seen if you are a witch or wizard). Existing in the physical world alongside living people even if dead - that's the whole range of what we could call their magical powers. Indeed sources such as Pottermore do not reference any others. In other words, they cannot permanently alter their physical surrounding through magic (otherwise what would be the difference with respect to living witches/wizards?).
  2. The presence of food at the ghost party in CS8 is no indication of magical powers whatsoever. To begin, it's rotten food, probably the left-overs provided by the Hogwarts elves. Even if not, food is the 1st exception to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration:

    "Your mother can't produce food out of thin air," said Hermione. "no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfigura --" (DH15)

  3. The fact that ghosts can exchange mail among them also does not imply the use of magic. Nick is described pulling a letter out of his pocket. As ghosts can wear clothes, it is reasonable to assume that they can also carry and exchange (among themselves!) belongings. Neither of these consists of physical matter but is a property of the appearance of the ghost. Therefore, no magic other than the ghost's existence is implied.

    "But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddendly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket [...] (CS8)

  4. I would argue that if ghosts had "concrete" magical powers, then Myrtle would have inflicted corporal vengeance on her bully Olive Hornby, not simply haunted him. Also, she would have reacted to Ginny throwing Riddle's diary at her.

  • Interesting... Any thoughts about: "On a related note, they exchanged letters (invitations/rejections for Headless Hunt). That also seems to imply using magic." – Odin1806 Jun 17 '18 at 19:29
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    Nick is described pulling a letter out of his pocket. As ghosts can wear clothes, it is reasonable to assume that they can also carry and exchange (among themselves!) belongings. Neither of these consists of physical matter but is a property of the appearance of the ghost. Therefore, no magic other than the ghost's existence is implied. @Odin1806 – erised Jun 17 '18 at 20:00

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