42

In reading Why does the Aguamenti spell work? question, Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration came up in DVK's answer.

‘It’s quite straightforward, really,’ said Neville modestly. ‘I’d been in here about a day and a half, and getting really hungry, and wishing I could get something to eat, and that’s when the passage to the Hog’s Head opened up. I went through it and met Aberforth. He’s been providing us with food, because for some reason, that’s the one thing the Room doesn’t really do.’

‘Yeah, well, food’s one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration,’ said Ron, to general astonishment.

Deathly Hallows - page 465 - Bloomsbury - chapter 29, The Lost Diadem

I personally suspect money is one of the exceptions due to two examples given in the books. In Goblet of Fire, Leprechaun gold disappears after a brief period of time (granted, it could simply be charmed to do so). In Deathly Hallows, in the Lestranges' vault, the Gemino Curse, which causes whatever treasure that is touched to multiply almost infinitely, but the copies are worthless.

‘They have added Gemino and Flagrante Curses!’ said Griphook. ‘Everything you touch will burn and multiply, but the copies are worthless [...]’

Deathly Hallows - pages 433-434 - Bloomsbury - chapter 26, Gringotts

For the five exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration, so far I know and have guessed at food and money respectively:

1) Food
2) Money?
3) ?
4) ?
5) ?

What are the other four exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration?

NOTE: I'm looking for a canon-based answer (books, JKR, Pottermore, and the like). I do not prefer answers from the HP Wikia or the Wikipedia. Thoughtful subjective answers in the spirit of canon are fine.

  • 9
    Just thought I would point out that the exceptions are not necessarily going to be limited to things that can't be transfigured. Since we don't know really anything about them they could be something along the lines of "You cannot transfigure food. You cannot transfigure items of X size into items of 2X size. You cannot transfigure items more than Y times. You cannot transfigure items rhyming with 'blimp'." – NominSim Oct 16 '12 at 22:39
  • 12
    Don't forget dilithium, latinum, and anti-matter! – jwodder Oct 16 '12 at 23:16
  • 6
    1.Food, 2. Money, 3. ???, 4.Profit! – AncientSwordRage Oct 17 '12 at 13:58
  • 1
    I think before the question can be properly answered we need to know if Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration is a law in the legal sense or the academic sense. Is it like Newton's Third Law? Or is it like the law saying I can't drill through a cat for fun? If it's a law like the former, then they'll most likely be things like love and resurrecting the dead and such. If it's a law like the latter, then they could be almost anything. – Freddy Jones Sep 29 '16 at 22:37
  • 1
    The answer of the fanfiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which is neat enough to be worthy of canon, is that they are money, food, liquid/gas, burnable things, and living subjects. Money on the grounds that the goblins are extraordinarily protective of the sanctity of currency; the next three because the effects are disastrous when the Transfiguration eventually wears off. (If someone has ingested Transfigured food or inhaled Transfigured gas or smoke, and then the Transfiguration ends, the person now has chunks of the original medium floating around inside their bloodstream.) – Patrick Stevens Sep 18 '18 at 6:42
27

There's very little explicitly stated about the mechanics of Rowling's "Potterverse". The five exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration are taken to be things that cannot be conjured from nothing or transfigured from unrelated items. The only exception given any real attention is food, as you have stated. The other four are left up for speculation.

  • Love - While hardly a substance one can think to have a physical presence, love is considered one of the exceptions to Gamp's Law as it is impossible to create using magic. Obsession or extreme infatuation can be created with so-called "love potions", but they are nothing close to the real thing.
  • Old Life - Interestingly enough, new life can be created through magic, birds from the Avis charm for example, but dead is dead in the Potterverse.

    Even one of the Hallows, a legendary magic item, can only conjure a wraith and not actually bring someone back to life.

These two are that make the most immediate sense and explicitly said in the book to impossible to conjure through magic, although not stated as exceptions to Gamp's Law. There is speculation on other exceptions (such as precious metals and clothing), but nothing substantive.

  • 6
    Clothing and precious metals are speculated to be exceptions as the Weasleys are ridiculously poor and if clothing and precious metals were not exceptions, then they should be able to magic themselves out of poverty. Or at least have decent dress robes. – Steam Oct 17 '12 at 13:50
  • 9
    Possibly not precious metals, but JKR touched on money in an interview. “There is legislation about what you can conjure and what you can’t. Something that you conjure out of thin air will not last. This is a rule I set down for myself early on.” I’m not sure whether that means money is impossible, but it sounds illegal. Sixth question down: accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0700-swns-alfie.htm – alexwlchan Sep 5 '13 at 14:29
21

I once read in an interview a long time ago that the five exceptions are:

  • Food.
  • Money.
  • Knowledge. You cannot magically learn something or obtain information without effort, otherwise there would be little point in having a school in the first place.
  • Love. As the story said, you can create infatuation, but not true love.
  • Soul. You can create life (like spells that conjure birds), but you cannot transmute a soul to revive someone.
  • 17
    Can you cite a source for this? – Niall C. Oct 27 '12 at 21:50
  • 6
    This is what I thought, too. If you could get a source for this, it'd be a great answer. – Gabe Willard Oct 28 '12 at 0:33
  • 1
    @NiallC. Q: It seems that the wizards and witches at Hogwarts are able to conjure up many things, such as food for the feasts, chairs and sleeping bags. . .if this is so, why does the wizarding world need money ? What are the limitations on the material objects you can conjure up ? It seems unnecessary that the Weasleys would be in such need of money. . . (Jan Campbell) A: Very good question (well done, Jan!!). There is legislation about what you can conjure and what you can't. Something that you conjure out of thin air will not last. This is a rule I set down for myself early on. – BCLC Jul 13 '15 at 21:53
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    Not a complete source though. So we have food money love ( "Amortentia doesn't create actual love, of course. That's impossible. But it does cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. For that reason, it is probably the most dangerous potion in this room." —Horace Slughorn while in Potion class in 1996 ). – BCLC Jul 13 '15 at 21:54
  • 1
    @BCLC, oh, sorry about that. I had trouble parsing the comment. – Kyralessa Sep 4 '18 at 18:20
8

Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration

To be honest, I don't think that J.K. Rowling actually created five exceptions of transfiguration. I actually just think that she needed some laws to tell us what wizards can't - it wouldn't be funny or interesting to read about Harry, Ron and Hermione running around and just create everything they need out of thin air. So she created one rule, said there are more than one, so fans don't see flaws in her storytelling. But she mentioned that it's impossible to create money with a spell. So we know only two exceptions.

Here my thought list (bold is the known Laws of Gamp):

  • Food
  • Love
  • Soul
  • Money/Gold
  • Information

Food: We know that it's impossible to create food out of thin air. While it's possible to transform food or duplicate it, and of cause make animals and plants grow much faster, it's impossible to use the wand and create food out of nowhere. This is the only exception of transfiguration we know.

Hermione: "Your mother can’t produce food out of thin air, no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfigura—"

Ron: "Oh, speak English, can’t you?"

Hermione: "It’s impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some..."

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley on the exceptions to Gamp's Law

Love: We know that it's impossible to create love. Love potions etc. don't create real love, but it can create a sense of infatuation and obsession. Slughorn mentioned that it's impossible to create real love. Meanwhile, Dumbledore actually said that the Ministry of Magic has true love locked up.

"There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all."—Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter on the power of love

Money: J.K. Rowling told us in an interview, that it's impossible to create money out of nowhere, or the magical world wouldn't work. I think the same goes for gold etc. Why? Because it would ruin the economy.

"Count yer coins! A' there's no point in tryin' to steal any, Goyle," he added, his beetle-black eyes narrowed. "It's leprechaun gold. Vanishes after a few hours." (GoF pg. 544/472)

But it's possible to create gold and money with alchemy.

Soul: It's possible to create NEW life, but it's not possible to get someone back from death.

Information: While it's possible to increase your intelligence, gather information, make yourself more clever, take information from your head and put it into another one and, in general, is possible to manipulate with what you know; it's not possible to wave your wand and get the solution.

Yes, there are correcting feathers and feathers writing the correct answers; but I think it's very limited in some way. Else Dumbledore (or everyone else) could easily get the information about Tom Riddle in fractions of a second: or just create new spells in no time.

So yes, it's possible to gather information and make yourself clever and more knowing, but it's not possible to create information out of nowhere.


But then, it doesn't cover everything. Since potions aren't food, it should be possible to create it out of thin air (if our five exceptions are true).

Here a list of things it doesn't cover:

  • Potions
  • Healing every wound in seconds
  • Create new humans with a spell
  • etc.

I think it's smart of J.K. Rowling not to give us the solution. Since we don't know all exceptions, she can say that many of the flaws in her story are covered by this law. Simple.

Not to mention that there are a lot of flaws in her storytelling: like, why are there poor wizards? Why can't e.g. Lupus just use magic to create new clothes?

I love the Harry Potter books, but she needed to come with some borders; it wouldn't be a funny story if all wizards are rich, socially equal and Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione hunt Horcruxes from a luxury hotel with spare bath. We just need some people to be poor to feel with them.

4

We don't know all of them, but from the solved Wombats we can deduce one or two additional rules:

- Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects:

From The Solved Wombats, Grade Three, Part Three - Magical Theory (the numbers to the left of the choices are point values for the given answer):

Question 11 out of 15

Which of the following is/are IMPOSSIBLE?

0 ☐ Transfiguring inanimate objects into animate objects

5Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects

0 ☐ Vanishing inanimate objects

2 ☐ Vanishing animate objects

-5 ☐ All of the above

0 ☐ None of the above

From the point value of five, this indicates that this is the correct answer, and thus there is an exception to the rules of transfiguration: Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects.

Another rule we learn:

Which of the following is/are POSSIBLE?

5 ☐ Curing a poison victim without the correct antidote

4 ☐ Curing a curse victim without the correct counter-spell

0 ☐ Un-transfiguring a person or object without knowing what they were originally

0Transfiguring animals into humans

-3 ☐ All of the above

From this we see that animals cannot be tranfigured into humans.

However its unclear if these are two separate exceptions to the rules of transfiguration, or if these two exceptions are one rule:'One cannot transfigure an object into a different state of consciousness'. However, it is a near-certainty that this exception (or these exceptions) will be included on Gamp's list, as they are very basic and fundamental.

1

Steam and Arthur have already mentioned love as one of the exceptions, but let me give the exact quote from the novel to support this. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince chapter 9, Professor Slughorn declares this plainly when he talks about a love potion.

‘Amortentina doesn't really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. […]’

Professor Dumbledore guesses in the next chapter that Merope Gaunt has used a love potion on Tom Riddle Senior, but failed to create love that way.

1

I wonder what Gramp's Law of Elemental Tranfiguration is? Food after all is an exception. Knowing the law could help know what the range of exceptions are. In any case:

  1. Food, that's canon. But the key here, I believe, is that you can't create good food. I believe you could create a turkey sandwich, but it would be like eating air or dust or something. It would have no filling, or no nutritional value. (That's why the Weasleys had good food but were always hungry). You can summon food if you know where it is as with the food in the great hall that is prepared by house elves and set out on identical tables beneath the great hall and summoned up to it. It can also be replicated and made bigger (engorgio spell).

  2. Magical Objects. you can't conjure up or transfigure something into a magical object. By magical object I mean things like Wands (who would need Ollivander), potions, etc. You can transfigure some potions into something else, but you can't wave your wand have a cauldron full of Felix Felicis. Or another Magic Wand. etc. You can't transfigure potion ingredients. They have to be grown or collected (Slughorn collecting unicorn hair and Acromantuala venom). Why Snape was mad because he thought Harry was stealing his stores.

  3. Knowledge. Previous writers had said that you have to work to learn and you can't use magic to learn like in the Matrix. I would interpret this as, you can't conjure up books and so forth. I can't wave my wand, mutter an incantation, and create a books that will teach me how to make a philosopher's stone. Someone has to discover how to do it, and then write the book. You can't conjure up or transfigure knowledge.

  4. Money. Being able to create money or wealth would totally upset/ruin the capitalist economy.

  5. Body parts can be changed in magical ways, but there are definitely limits to what transfiguration can do. Harry's bones could be regrown overnight using Skelegrow (CS10) and Hermione could shrink her teeth without braces (GF23), but those may have worked because the children were still growing and changing anyway. George Weasley was an adult when his ear was cursed off with Sectumsempra, and it could not be replaced (DH5). Mad-Eye Moody's magical replacement eye, missing nose, and chicken-claw foot are probably clues that Gamp's Law does not allow for full body-rebuilding (GF12). There was almost nothing Madam Pomfrey could do for Bill Weasley's painful scars when he was attacked by Fenrir Greyback (HBP30).

  • Do you have any references to support this? – Skooba Jan 20 '18 at 16:31
  • The same references as everyone else. thoughtful, subjective answers. – Grandpa2390 Jan 20 '18 at 16:47
  • @skooba you realize the asker asked for thoughtful, subjective answers. – Grandpa2390 Jan 20 '18 at 17:14
  • That comment came while in the First Post review queue. Having now rad the rest of he answers and question it seems that this answer does not really add any new information either. – Skooba Jan 20 '18 at 17:25
  • @Skooba I think that could be said for every response on here. Everyone says the same thing but with a slightly different interpretation. we all may share similar ideas, but our complete responses are not identical. Whatever. We shall agree to disagree. – Grandpa2390 Jan 20 '18 at 17:32
0

The answers that I have been able to deduce are 1. Money (precious metals) 2. Food 3. Revive or raise the dead 4. Regain or regrow a body part that has been removed by dark magic

Number 5. is purely speculation mind you, but from my research I believe the answer to be power. One cannot simply wave their wand and give themselves or another individual a larger magical core.

  • How can the fifth be right? The Djinni was able to make Jaffar the greatest wizard of the world. – b_jonas Mar 25 '14 at 6:47
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    @b_jonas What does that have to do with Harry Potter? – Anthony Grist Mar 25 '14 at 16:07
  • @AnthonyGrist: in Aladdin, the Djinni has specifically listed what wishes he can't fulfill. These include raising the dead and making someone fall in love with someone else, which are two of the five exceptions conjectured here, so the rules seem close enough in general. Admittedly, the djinni could make Aladdin rich, but he might have done that not by creating money from thin air, but by taking existing valuables from the rich, such as from hiding places like the Cave of Wonders seen in the movie. – b_jonas Apr 12 '15 at 21:58
0

I agree with an article in the Harry Potter lexicon.

Wands cannot be conjured by a witch or wizard, but must be manufactured by a true wand maker, such as Mr. Ollivander or Gregorovitch. The reason for this is probably that wands themselves are "sentient" or self-aware, and they choose the wizard, not the other way around (Pm). The Weasley Twins could only manage "fake" wands (GF4), and broken wands can be dangerous and must be replaced (PA4). Or a wand can change allegiance, as the Elder Wand did between Draco and Harry (DH35). However the only time a wand was repaired by a wizard instead of a wandmaker was when Harry using the Elder Wand to fix his holly-phoenix wand after he became Master of Death. That was a very special case, and he used a very special wand (DH36

Wands and Foci in general cannot be transfigured as the object would have the caster’s magic interfering with the attempt to channel the current user’s magic. To cast a spell one must visualize the new object and then saturate his or her magic into the object and trusting it to transfigure the original into the picture in his or her mind. The transfigured object will only last as long as the magic powering the spell retained the magical energy used to create or transmute. Thus the wand would still have the interference between two different magical signatures within its core.

-1

Well, if this comment by "alexwlchan" is correct:

JKR touched on money in an interview. “There is legislation about what you can conjure and what you can’t. Something that you conjure out of thin air will not last. This is a rule I set down for myself early on.” [...] Sixth question down: http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0700-swns-alfie.htm


So, expanding from that, conjured food won't feed you...

Conjured Water is gonna make you worse...

Conjured Money isn't permanent...

And then 2 other categories of physical things...

Transforming sapients into inanimates?

  • You can conjure water with a simple spell. – Valorum Oct 6 at 0:34
  • @Valorum - Aguamenti. Yes... I forgot that its water is supposed to be drinkable... Hmm... How hard would that be to be just transfiguring the water in ambient air, or summoning it from somewhere else? – Malady Oct 6 at 0:36
  • "Aguamenti: To conjure water, which can be used to quench thirst or battle a fire". Pottermore seems quite clear that it's conjuration, not transfiguration that's taking place. – Valorum Oct 6 at 0:38
  • @Valorum - Right... So, if the interview quote is taken as accurate, then the Aguamenti water isn't conjured from thin air. ... How consistent is "conjuration" vs "transfiguration" as separate terms? – Malady Oct 6 at 1:03

protected by Skooba Jan 20 '18 at 16:54

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