There are a number of questions on this site about the protection spell that Lily gave to Harry through her death, but one question doesn't seem to have been touched on:

Why aren't such spells commonplace?

This question and its answers make it clear that the intention to sacrifice yourself is a vital part of the spell, but even so, would that really be so uncommon? The books make it sound like Harry's protection is incredibly rare, even unique. But Rowling herself, quoted in that question, says...

Now any mother, any normal mother would have done what Lily did.

And not just mothers! Many fathers and grandparents would likely do the same, even friends or lovers. Wars and armed conflicts inevitably lead to stories of comrades "throwing themselves on the grenade" to save their cherished friends. Hell, plenty of famous/powerful people have bodyguards whose whole job is to "jump in front of the bullet." Now maybe a Secret Service officer doesn't have enough love for his protectee to make the spell work, but within the novels I'm sure Harry, Ron, and Hermione would have been willing to sacrifice themselves for the others at any point, and that certainly would have been out of love.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone has people sacrificing their lives for each other everyday, but wouldn't that kind of protection spell still be fairly commonplace? Especially during a time of strife, like during Voldemort or Grindelwald's rise and reign? It seems like the more dangerous the era, the more often people would be making this kind of sacrifice.

Why would this kind of spell be so rare, given how natural the impulse to protect your loved ones is?

  • @calccrypto - I think mine is the closer dupe. – Valorum Jan 28 '15 at 20:56
  • @Richard Ahhh. That was the one I was really looking for – calccrypto Jan 28 '15 at 20:56
  • @calccrypto It's not a duplicate, I'm specifically asking because of questions like those two. Those questions make it clear that "potential survival" is a requirement. But situations like that aren't all that rare. People step into danger all the time. "Kill me, but let him live" isn't a once-a-millenia sentiment. So why don't other instances of it convey similar protections? – Nerrolken Jan 28 '15 at 20:57
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    @Nerrolken "Kill me, but let him live" comes from the victim (Lily Potter). JKR makes it clear that it is the attacker (Voldemort) that has to make the offer (in the sense that Voldemort had no need/desire to kill her, and even told her to get out of the way). – calccrypto Jan 28 '15 at 21:01
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    On the one hand, I can see the distinction you're trying to make. On the other, if you are making that distinction, there really isn't enough canonical evidence to say why it's so unique - it may have happened before but not been recorded, or it may never have happened before because there aren't as many wizards as humans. We don't know. And any answer to that would be speculation at best unless Slytherincess pulls out another magical Rowling quote. – Zibbobz Jan 28 '15 at 21:41

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