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Inspired by Would Nagini have become the master of the Elder Wand?

Somehow it seems odd to me that wand ownership may pass to just any animal (even magical ones, such as Nagini), but Harry Potter has lots of sentient non-humans as well. Would it be possible for such humanoids (goblins, centaurs, merpeople, giants, etc, or any living creature in general) to be able to master (or at least use) a wand?

Some references:

In the last book Griphook states that the right to carry wands has been long contested between wizards and goblins, indicating goblins probably can use wands, but the wizards won't let them.

In the Goblet of Fire after the Quidditch World Cup, some wizards accuse Winky of casting Voldemort's mark using a wand (I will try to find the quotes later), indicating it might be possible for house elves to use wands

I think there are a few other such incidents as well; I will probably add them as I remember.

PS: I found this: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Wand_Ban
but it does not cite any references. Could anyone please approve or disapprove this with the relevant quotes?

  • I have nought but speculation derived from the books but upon my reading, the fact that goblins want to carry wands told me that they could use them: why else would they want them? I've tried looking for examples of goblins breaking the wand-ban and using a wand illegally but came up dry. – Mac Cooper Apr 22 '14 at 10:47
  • FYI: I edited out the goblins part from my answer which inspired this; since the quote provided in the comments indicates that they CAN (but aren't allowed to). – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 22 '14 at 10:50
  • 2
    @Mac: Like Griphook said, he believes wizards are withholding secrets of wand use from goblins. Maybe they just believe they can use a wand, or perhaps they can channel their magic through a wand but are not physically able to do so as good as the wizards, but have somehow developed a concept among themselves that wizards are deliberately not allowing them to practice with wands and that's why they are not that good in using them – user13267 Apr 22 '14 at 10:51
  • @user13267 - should be an answer :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 22 '14 at 10:53
  • @DVK: may be, but this is all speculation on my part. I don't have any sources. – user13267 Apr 22 '14 at 10:54
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Canon suggests that goblins could certainly use wands, and probably other non-human creatures as well.

The Goblet of Fire quote you want is this one, which introduces the wand ban:

“Here, look.” Mr. Diggory held up a wand and showed it to Mr. Weasley. “Had it in her [Winky’s] hand. So that’s clause three of the Code of Wand Use broken, for a start. No non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand.

This suggests that there are non-human creatures can use wands (although mastery is still up for debate). If they couldn’t use them, then the law would be redundant.

The wording of the law marks humans out as different from other creatures, and reads like a deliberate attempt to promote human supremacy. Various quotes from JKR suggest that you need a wand to do certain forms of advanced magic. Restricting access to wands would prevent them from using this magic.

In a 2001 interview, she suggests that wands are necessary for “really good spells”:

Do you need a wand to do magic?

You can do unfocused and uncontrolled magic without a wand (for instance when Harry blows up Aunt Marge) but to do really good spells, yes, you need a wand.

In a 2006 interview, she similarly says that wands are necessary to make potions:

There is a magical component to the potion, not just the ingredients. So, at some point you’re going to have to use a wand.

House-elves and goblins both have branches of advanced magic that don't require wands (apparition and metalwork, for example). However, neither show an aptitude in spells or potion-making; this does suggest that a wand ban was a deliberate attempt to prevent non-human creatures accessing certain branches of magic.

Case study: goblins

We have enough detail in the canon to study goblins in particular.

In Deathly Hallows, Griphook explicitly states that wizards are using a wand ban to restrict the magical abilities of goblins:

“The right to carry a wand,” said the goblin quietly, “has long been contested between wizards and goblins.”

“Well, goblins can do magic without wands,” said Ron.

“That is immaterial! Wizards refuse to share the secrets of wandlore with other magical beings, they deny us the possibility of extending our powers!

[…]

“As the Dark Lord becomes ever more powerful, your race is set still more firmly above mine!”

This tension is hinted more subtley in Order of the Phoenix:

“It depends what they're [goblins are] offered,” said Lupin. “And I’m not talking about gold; if they’re offered freedoms we’ve been denying them for centuries they’re going to be tempted.”

Presumably these freedoms include the ability to carry a wand.

The “centuries” comment comes from the third WOMBAT (written by JKR), which states that the wand ban was passed in 1631:

The Ministry of Magic Decree of 1631, preventing all magical beings other than wizards carrying a wand.

There are various references to a goblin rebellion in 1612, based in Hogsmeade. There's no canon evidence that the wand ban was directly prompted by this rebellion, but it probably helped.

Finally, in the late 1990s, JKR wrote and released four copies of the Daily Prophet, called The Daily Prophet newsletters, to the UK fan club. I can't find full text copies online (see this discussion on HP Wikia), but the HPL Lexicon has a good summary, which includes this piece on goblins:

Goblin riots erupt in Chipping Clodbury

B.O.G. (Brotherhood of Goblins) supporters ran riot during a meeting with representatives from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. The goblins used illegal wands for transfiguration and called for the release of activist Hodrod the Horny-Handed. Goblin-wizard relations are reported to be at an all time low.

Here we see the goblins actually using wands, and wizards getting angsty about it.

Given how keen goblins are to be allowed to use and study wands, it only seems logical that they would be able to use them. There’s nothing to indicate goblins are unusual in this respect, so we may assume that other non-human creatures can use wands as well.

  • What about Fleur? Does her use of a wand suggest that veela can use them, or does she have too much human in her? – CHEESE Jun 24 '16 at 15:03
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I think that any creature that can knowingly use magic, could use wands. While Hagrid is half human, he is also half giant and had no problems using a wand (prior to being kicked out of Hogwarts, anyway).

The quote that you reference is here:

Griphook: "The right to carry a wand has long been contested between wizards and goblins."

Ron Weasley: "Well, goblins can do magic without wands."

Griphook: "That is immaterial! Wizards refuse to share the secrets of wandlore with other magical beings, they deny us the possibility of extending our powers!"

I don't think that it solely the use of wands, but also the secrets of crafting the wands. Having the wands wouldn't necessarily give them any more power, but allow them to focus and extend their innate abilities, which presumably could be done by any sentient magical being. Griphook doesn't just reference goblins, he references all magical beings. This is somewhat reinforced by the aphorism "The wand chooses the wizard".

There is also some evidence that wands are, to an extent, self aware/activating, perhaps as an extension of having a piece of a magical creature at its core.

  • I like how you are hinting that wands are made exclusively to unleash humans' powers. It gives a lot of sense to Griphook's quote. – Alfredo Hernández Apr 22 '14 at 18:01
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Possibly - a goblin uses a wand in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie.

There’s at least one case seen of non-human wand use. In the screenplay for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, there’s a goblin jazz singer who’s mentioned as having a wand and using it to create smoke effects during her performance.

“A glamorous goblin JAZZ SINGER croons on a stage full of goblin musicians, smoky images wafting from her wand to illustrate her lyrics. All is dingy and shabby, an atmosphere of menacing fun.”
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

It’s not said if she’s mastered it, but this is an example of a non-human shown using a wand.

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