In the Harry Potter universe, love is a very potent, mysterious force and the power source of some "old magic". The most prominent use in the series is the protection that made Harry himself survive Lord Voldemort's killing curse. The protection is triggered by Harry's mother Lily voluntarily sacrificing herself to save her son out of pure love.

Now, it seems rather obvious to me that Muggles are just as capable of love as wizards, and just as capable of sacrificing themselves for their loved ones. The question is: Does the love a muggle have the same magical force as the love of a wizard? Had Lily been a muggle (instead of a muggle-born witch) would her sacrifice have protected Harry in the same way?

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    Given that it's Lily's magic that protects him, the most obvious answer is "no".
    – Valorum
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Your question stems from a misunderstanding. Lily Potter's sacrifice of her own life (in order to defend her infant son, Harry) is what created the magical counter-curse. Had his mother been a muggle, her sacrifice would not have created the sacrificial protection charm and he would have been at the mercy of Voldemort who sought to kill him in order to stymie the prophecy.

In a 2005 interview, JKR makes it clear that the protection stems from his mother, rather than simply having been conferred by the circumstances;

JK Rowling: That has been explained in the books to an extent, it has been explained in the books but possibly you haven't yet finished this book when it is made very clear. Harry receives magical protection from his mother's sacrifice as long as he remains close to her blood. In other words, Aunt Petunia. That protection won't continue to hold once he is a man, once he turns 17 - he is no longer given that protective aura by his mother, so Dumbledore wants him to go back one more time to ensure the protection continues to his 17th birthday and after that he really is on his own.

For the record, Harry himself was (as has been discussed) largely average as a wizard and certainly no match for Lord Voldemort. His mother, by comparison is described as having been "talented", "skilful", "bright", etc etc.

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realise that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


"But I knew too where Voldemort was weak. And so I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he knows, which he despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimated — to his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day." - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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    The parts you highlight are exactly the parts that confuse me. "love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark." Can't a muggle love equally strong? Then why doesn't it leave a mark?
    – kviiri
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 15:11
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    Because only a wizard can cast a magical spell or charm. Love + sacrifice + magical ability = protection
    – Valorum
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 15:22
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    Meh... I'm still not sure that's convincing enough, but the fault is with JKR's unclearness, not you. Commented May 17, 2014 at 15:33
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    I'm not sure this answer is accurate. Harry conferred a similar protective enchantment upon his friends when he chose to die for them in the last book, which helped them fight against Voldemort during the final battle. So, "average" as you believe Harry is, he pulled of the enchantment, because of circumstances, as well.
    – user31178
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:39
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    Right. I think being magical was still a requirement, as the question asks, but I question whether aptitude for magic is necessary. If it had been Neville, I think it would have still worked!
    – user31178
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:49

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