34

From the answers to this question, we know that one doesn't have to be a wizard to own a wand.

Also, in other works, the ability to do magic is often tied to a magical object, such as a wand. In the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia, Mickey Mouse, as the apprentice, dons the sorcerer's hat and is suddenly able to do magic. But usually, it's the wand.
For instance in a sequel to Cinderella, where other characters are able to do magic by using the Fairy Godmother's wand and saying the magic words. Also, a trope I've noticed in cartoons, is where two non-magical characters find a wand and use it in turn to transform each other in increasingly absurd creatures and objects.

So how does this work in Harry Potter's world? Could a Muggle do anything with a wand, or is it just a stick to them?

4
  • 36
    Yes, they can wave it around and pretend to be a wizard.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 19:40
  • 1
    BTW, in the original of the Sorcerer's Apprentice (Der Zauberlehrling), the ability to do magic has nothing to do with hats or wands or anything, just with remembering the incantation. ("Seine Wort und Werke - Merkt ich, und den Brauch - Und mit Geistesstärke - Tu ich Wunder auch". — "His words and works I remembered, and the ceremony too - And with strength of spirit I also can make wonders happen".) Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 19:47
  • 12
    It's a pointy stick! It could put their eye out!
    – Jeff
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:52
  • 2
    @sqb - In light of the latest pottermore updates (stating that a muggle was able to use a wand in a semi-controllable fashion) I thought you might like to reconsider your acceptance.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 20:46

3 Answers 3

39

Yes, a Muggle can do something with a wand.

According to the brand new "History of American Magic" writings on Pottermore, a Muggle (from a family described as being descended from wizards, but possessing no magic) was able to use a wand in a semi-controlled fashion:

Bartholomew had disseminated his leaflets widely, and a few newspapers had taken him seriously enough to print pictures of Dorcus’s wand and note that it ‘had a kick like a mule’ if waved.

We have a similar quote from Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Note that the wand rebels against use by a Muggle.

As Isolt watched, James finished marking the graves he had dug by hand, then picked up the two broken wands that had lain beside the Boot parents. Frowning he examined the sparking core of dragon heartstring that protruded from Mr Boot’s, then gave it a casual wave. As invariably happens when a No-Maj waves a wand, it rebelled. James was sent flying backwards across the clearing, hit a tree and was knocked out cold.


We also see a movie example of a non-wizard (in this case, a monkey) using a wand in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

A monkey grabbing a wand, and using it to teleport outside of its enclosure


JKR addressed this point in an interview in 2006;

I been asked what would happen if a Muggle picked up a magic wand in my world. And the answer would probably be something accidental... possibly quite violent. Because a wand, in my world, is merely a vehicle — a vessel for what lies inside the person.

and again in the footnotes for "The Tales of Beedle the Bard":

While the “rogue” ability to perform magic sometimes appears in those of apparent non-magical descent (though several later studies have suggested that there will have been a witch or wizard somewhere on the family tree), Muggles cannot perform magic. The best — or worst — they could hope for are random and uncontrollable effects generated by a genuine magical wand, which, as an instrument through which magic is supposed to be channeled, sometimes holds residual power, which it may discharge at odd moments

This makes it clear that that while a true Muggle couldn't generally create a controllable magical force such as a spell or a hex through their own magical powers, they could potentially create a big bang or a explosion from the magic remaining within a magic wand.

There's also the (evidently quite small, but still real) possibility that they have sufficient magical heritage to make a wand do something.

9
  • 6
    I love that the same exact quote is being used to support directly contradictory answers... :) (For what it's worth, this answer agrees with how I would interpret the quote, but it's a pretty confusing statement.)
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:32
  • The quote from the footnotes states "(...) Muggles cannot perform magic", yet your answer says they can.
    – SQB
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 20:24
  • 1
    @SQB - I disagree. The quote is largely at odds with itself since it's stating that a muggle can pick up an wand and make something happen with it.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 20:28
  • The "kick like a mule" quote seems to be in line with the "not reliably" answer you had.
    – SQB
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 21:16
  • 3
    With the recently released trailer of 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore', we can see that Jacob had been given a wand. It was not revealed whether he could really channel his magic through the wand, but I'm pretty sure there will be an epic moment or two of him saving his friends.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:33
12

No.

JK Rowling discussed this in an interview in 2006 (in a question about Muggles brewing potions):

I been asked what would happen if a Muggle picked up a magic wand in my world. And the answer would probably be something accidental... possibly quite violent. Because a wand, in my world, is merely a vehicle — a vessel for what lies inside the person.

Squibs might have residual magic passed through their family tree, and there was a question about non-human creatures using wands recently (goblins, house-elves, etc.) who all have an innate magical ability, but Muggles generally have none. (Or so little that it can’t be put to effect.)

In the 2007 Bloomsbury web chat, JK Rowling was discussing how Muggle-borns acquire their ability, and suggested that it was a partially inherited trait:

How exactly do Muggle-borns receive magical ability?

Muggle-borns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene re-surfaces in some unexpected places.

So Muggles may have a very small part of the magical gene buried inside them, but this is probably so small as to be a rounding error. This means that there’s effectively nothing for the wand to channel, so they couldn’t use it to perform magic.

This also explains the potential variation in reaction from the wand: a Muggle with absolutely no magical blood might get nothing from a wand, whereas somebody with a long-forgotten magical ancestor might get some sparks or a small explosion.

However, there doesn’t seem to be any law in canon which specifically bans a Muggle from possessing a wand. But somebody who gave a wand to a Muggle who was unaware of the magical world (whether deliberately or by accident) might be in breach of the Statute of Secrecy.

16
  • 15
    I don't quite get the quote: Rowling is saying that something "accidental and violent" would occur if a Muggle picks up a wand - doesn't that imply that Muggles do have some sort of inner power/magic/something/etc, rather than none at all?
    – Saturn
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:34
  • 1
    @Voldemort: I read the violent discharges as a misfire, arising because there’s no magic to channel.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:39
  • 1
    @alexwlchan: it could be read as the wand defending against the muggle b/c it feels insulted being used by one. There is plenty of cannon stating that wizards merely use wands to channel their magic. Later on, we also learn that wands have their own magic (and life and will!) as well. Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 9:02
  • 2
    @DoctorWho22 - first of all, as usual, Wikia is not canon. That whole section of Wikia isn't referenced at all. And "a Muggle's possession of a wand could be considered a breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy" is somewhat wrong; as a Muggle getting a wand from a wizard spouse would NOT be a breach (as they already know about a wizard) Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 15:01
  • 7
    I disagree totally. The canon quote from JKR suggests that a muggle could get the wand to do something, just not controllably.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 19:41
-1

No they cannot:

Wizards can perform magic without wands. This suggests that they are capable of doing magic because it is within them.

Harry is able to make the glass disappear from the snake enclosure just because he was angry. It is not mentioned in the HP universe that when muggles get angry they can perform such magic, in fact it is explicitly stated otherwise by Hagrid when convincing Harry of his ability.

Therefore it is possible that magic does not come from the wand but the person possessing it.

However there is a visible trend that a stronger wand = stronger magic (think Elder Wand), but this may not indicate that the wand is the device that produces magic, only the device that channels it. Better wands, then, can channel the witch/wizard's spell with a greater degree of efficiency than lesser wands.

No canon mention is made of the possible implications of what would happen should a wizard leave their wand lying around in a muggle place for them to get their hands on.

1
  • 2
    JKR said she had "been asked what would happen if a Muggle picked up a magic wand in my world. And the answer would probably be something accidental... possibly quite violent.". Word of god answers are considered fully canon.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.