Underage Magic Detection

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Underage Magic Detection

Post  Potteraholic on Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:17 pm

This topic serves as an archive of a thread from the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum as hosted on World Crossing, which ceased operation on April 15, 2011. It was copied/saved by Lady Arabella and reformatted/reposted by Potteraholic. ~Potteraholic


Michael Franz - Sep 29, 2006 10:04 pm
Edited by Kip Carter Dec 6, 2006 12:00 am

In Book 3 and Book 5, we saw Harry get notices from the Ministry of Magic about underage magic they detected. They seem quite detailed, with both the name of the spell cast and the exact time of casting. But, in Harry's trial in Book 5, it says that Harry's house has always been closely watched. Does this mean that the level of detail in these notices is only available at Harry's house, or would Hermione get the same should she perform underage magic?

(Of course, she'd never actually do it; it's purely hypothetical.)

In Book 6, we get a bit more information on the magic detection system. The Ministry can detect magic in a location, but can't actually determine who cast it. But, if the Ministry can determine the name of the spell being cast, why doesn't an alarm go off at the first sign of an Avada Kedavra? Perhaps this detail is only available near Harry's house after all. But even then, why didn't the Ministry detect that someone was using some kind of magic in the Riddle house when Voldemort killed them? Surely this should set off some kind of alarm for doing magic in the presence of Muggles.

My question is: What can and can't be detected? Since Dumbledore said the system would be useless for underage wizards with wizard parents, is this system specially installed only near the homes of Muggle-born wizards? Is it some kind of Big Brother umbrella that can track every spell in the country? If not, how does the Ministry know if a wizard uses magic on or near a Muggle?
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Underage Magic Detection (posts #1 to #32)

Post  Potteraholic on Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:21 pm

S.E. Jones - Sep 29, 2006 10:56 pm (#1 of 32)

I'd guess that they can detect it, but only if they know to look for it and if they know where to look for it. They were probably watching Harry's house because 1) he's "The Boy Who Lived" and 2) he's living in a Muggle household. I'd imagine other Muggle-born wizards are probably watched (though not as closely) after they start attending school but that the Ministry doesn't even bother to watch wizarding homes since you'd never be able to tell who did what.




zelmia - Sep 30, 2006 7:05 am (#2 of 32)

As always when this subject comes up, I would like to point out that in both CS and OP (books 2 and 5, respectively), the warning letters Harry received began:

"We have received intelligence that a hover charm/patronus charm was used... Malfalda Hopkirk, etc

In both of these instances, someone was deliberately trying to get Harry into trouble with the Ministry. In the first case, Dobby wanted Harry expelled so that Harry would be safe from the dangers that awaited him at Hogwarts. In the second case, Dolores Umbridge wanted Harry (apparently) to be sent to prison to silence his claims about Voldemort's return.

Since these are the only examples of "warning letters" being sent to the alleged offending under-age wizard, I'm not convinced that the Ministry would have known about these Charms without an informant having notified them.




shepherdess - Sep 30, 2006 7:18 am (#3 of 32)

Actually, I think it was book 2, not 3. In CS, after Dobby does magic, Harry receives a letter stating (in part):

"We have received intelligence that a Hover Charm was used at your place of residence this evening at twelve minutes past nine."

And in book 5, the letter he receives says (again in part):

"We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle."

I would like a definition of receiving "intelligence". Does that just mean that some kind of "magic sensors" went off? To me, it sounds like someone gave them the information; someone watching Harry. Or, perhaps a combination of both. Surely, if there are "magic sensors" that tell the ministry when magic has been performed, it couldn't tell if there was a Muggle present.

Michael, that's a good question about what the MoM knew (or didn't know) when Tom killed his family.




shadzar - Sep 30, 2006 8:41 am (#4 of 32)

The cat lady. Her name slips my mind for some reason at the moment. She could have seen the Patronus and "reported" to the ministry about it. If she was watching Harry to help protect him she would surely report Dementors in the area.

It isn’t said whether or not she or Filch even can detect the use of magic, only she can't use it herself right?

Maybe their affinity for their cats lets them "understand" them and can tell something from them to know about the hover charm. One of her cats witnessed it through the window and "told" her about it.

Why not felitounge? I mean the ability to talk with snakes exists so why not cats? How can something only exist for one type of animal? Maybe that is why they have the affinity with their animals cause they can someone understand them. Then she could have just been peeking in the Dursley window herself.

O.o




Choices - Sep 30, 2006 9:02 am (#5 of 32) Edited Sep 30, 2006 10:07 am

I think Mrs. Figg was too busy running to help Harry to report to the MOM that he had produced a Patronus Charm. She was practically on the scene when Harry did it. I don't think she had time to run home and telephone the MOM. She is a Squib and can't do magic, but I believe her cat alerted her to trouble that involved Harry and she hurried to the scene.

Also, we know from HBP that the MOM detected the magic that Morfin Gaunt performed on a Muggle and sent Bob Ogden to investigate. So, they do have some way of knowing when magic is performed randomly throughout the area. I used to think they were just watching #4 Privet Drive carefully because of Harry, but obviously they watch all over. I tend to think they detect magic in much the same way as the birth of a magical child is detected at Hogwarts and their birth is noted in a book. It involves magical sensors and really can't be explained so Muggles can understand it.




Michael Franz - Sep 30, 2006 9:28 am (#6 of 32) Edited Sep 30, 2006 10:38 am

Mrs. Figg was the one who found Harry immediately after the Dementor attack in Book 5. She knew about the Patronus, all right, but she reported to Dumbledore, not the Ministry.

While it's true that Dobby and Umbridge were trying to set Harry up, I don't think they were actually involved in sending the letters. They just set up situations that would cause the Ministry to send the letters. If Umbridge could have sent the letter herself, why send the Dementors at all?

And if "intelligence" means someone saw the charm and reported it, how could the Ministry not know who cast it?

Also, we know from HBP that the MOM detected the magic that Morfin Gaunt performed on a Muggle and sent Bob Ogden to investigate.

We know the Ministry found out about it, but we don't know how. They must have some way of detecting magic used on Muggles in order to preserve wizarding secrecy, but, then, why didn't any alarms go off when Voldemort AK'd the Riddles? Yes, the Ministry "knew at once this was a wizard's murder," but the context implies they knew nothing until after the maid (and the Muggle police) found the bodies.




Choices - Sep 30, 2006 9:35 am (#7 of 32)

Michael - "Mrs. Figg was the one who found Harry immediately after the Dementor attack in Book 5. She knew about the Patronus, all right, but she reported to Dumbledore, not the Ministry."

Actually she couldn't report to Dumbledore - she had no way - so she sent Mundungus because he could Apparate and she couldn't.




Michael Franz - Sep 30, 2006 9:40 am (#8 of 32)

My point about Mrs. Figg was that neither she nor any other Order of the Phoenix member would ever want the Ministry to know about it. Therefore, the Ministry must have their own source of information.




Choices - Sep 30, 2006 10:05 am (#9 of 32)

I agree that the MOM has it's own way of finding out about magic performed, especially in front of Muggles. She wanted Dumbledore to know because I am sure she figured the MOM knew, and Dumbledore needed to do damage control.




haymoni - Sep 30, 2006 5:00 pm (#10 of 32)

I pictured a team of Ministry wizards sitting in front of some kind of map - each of them watching a different sector. The map would light up every time magic was used improperly in the sector they were watching.

"We have blue hair in Sector 12. I can't wait for that Potter kid to get his letter!"




Choices - Oct 1, 2006 9:09 am (#11 of 32)

LOL That is close to how I imagine it, Haymoni.




Detail Seeker - Oct 1, 2006 1:03 pm (#12 of 32)

To add on Haymoni's picture: I do not think, the Ministry monitors every part of Britain, but - like real life secret services monitoring telephone connections - certain places, they are interested in - that not only for Underage Magic, but for every Magic. Privet Drive is certainly interesting for them, but why they should monitor the Gaunt's place is to be guessed - continuous Muggle baiting could be a possibility.

The following technical model may be a working hypothesis until JKR may reveal her notion of this process:

Magic Detectors are set up around the place to be monitored. These monitor the energy spectra of radiation occurring there, filtering out e.g. radio waves and other Muggle induced "noise". The rest of the signal is compared to spells and matches are registered. So, the type of spell performed can be found out.

Though this seems viable, I do not want to drop the "spy information" theory. If a person unknown at the moment watched the Dementor scene, he or she would have seen Harry performing the spell before two Muggles: Dudley and Miss Figg. The Ministry knows, that Dudley knows about Harry being Magic, so this would not be breaking the secrecy. But the Ministry did not know about Miss Figg and her state of being a Squib. The spy could not be brought forward during the trial, as this would uncover the identity of this spy and might lead to the Umbridge ordering the attack.

A combination of both would also be possible: Area wide monitoring of Britain for Spells plus a hint, where and when to look for signs of Magic.




shadzar - Oct 1, 2006 1:18 pm (#13 of 32) Edited Oct 1, 2006 2:18 pm

Strange thought just hit me while the boards were down a while ago....

Marauders Map. It shows exclusively the area of Hogwarts, and the people on it (whenever/however the map decides to show).

Suppose the MoM has something similar that doesn't require multiple floor levels, but more like just a big wall map of Britain. The only time it shows anyone is when a spell is cast by a wizard under the age of 17 and outside of the allowed wizarding areas, and which spell is cast. Possibly even an audible that magic was used that remains until someone records or checks out the alert of potential underage magic use.

Could this mean the Marauders learn how to make the map from the same source as the MoM map (if exists) was made?




S.E. Jones - Oct 1, 2006 2:12 pm (#14 of 32)

shadzar --The only time it shows anyone is when a spell is cast by a wizard under the age of 17...--

We know from Dumbledore's explanation in Book 6 that they can't tell if the magic is cast by someone who is under 17 or someone who is over 17. They can tell magic is performed and what that magic was, but not much more.




shadzar - Oct 1, 2006 4:35 pm (#15 of 32)

OK yeah, barring those things the map could work and be the source from the creation of the Marauders Map. So the MoM underage map just shows the spell name and location. Hmm, guess that would require someone watching full time to know who so maybe that doesn't work out so well.




virginiaelizabeth - Oct 2, 2006 8:10 pm (#16 of 32)

I always pictured it as a big map that lights up when a spell is cast, but that the MoM really only pays attention to the areas that are high in Muggles. Like Privet Drive, or Hermione's house. They keep a special eye on those areas, because Harry, or Hermione would be the only ones in that area, capable of doing magic, thus they'd be notified. It would be pointless for them to pay close attention to the area where the Wesley's lived simply because it'd be impossible to tell who cast the spell. Same goes for the Riddle House. There were no wizards living in that area, so they had no reason to be watching it closely. It'd be very hard to watch every part of Britain, so they pick and chose the 'hot spots' of the country and watch those. The only places that they'd really need to be concerned with would be the areas where a wizard was living amongst Muggles, so that's where they're going to be paying the most attention to. The MOM is looking for magic in these spots, so if it happens in a spot they aren't watching, it would make sense that the magic would go un-noticed, as did with the Riddle's murder.




S.E. Jones - Oct 2, 2006 11:24 pm (#17 of 32)

virginiaelizabeth, that's how I saw it too.




shepherdess - Oct 5, 2006 10:19 pm (#18 of 32) Edited Oct 5, 2006 11:20 pm

The whole "magic sensor" thing could be part of the reason Dumbledore knew what happened at Godric's Hollow so quickly. There had to be at least three spells cast that evening (the one that killed James, the one that killed Lily, and the one that ricocheted off Harry). But if there was an actual battle, or defensive spells being cast, or LV casting spells other than the killing ones, then any sensors would have registered a lot of activity at that location. Surely if the MoM can have sensors, Dumbledore could have them too. He did seem to have a love for gadgets.




Michael Franz - Oct 15, 2006 1:50 pm (#19 of 32)

I suspect the wizarding world must have agents inside the Muggle police. That way, if any crimes happen that are obviously of wizarding origin, the Ministry will know about them and be able to send their own people to investigate. Since they didn't know about the Riddles' death until after the Muggle authorities got there, it stands to reason they "knew at once it was a wizard's murder" because they had an inside man who examined the bodies.




Mattew Bates - Oct 18, 2006 2:36 pm (#20 of 32)

It would be pointless for them to pay close attention to the area where the Weasley's lived simply because it'd be impossible to tell who cast the spell. Same goes for the Riddle House. There were no wizards living in that area, so they had no reason to be watching it closely.

On the contrary, virginiaelizabeth. Morfin Gaunt, a know Muggle-baiter, lived very close to the Riddle house. Indeed, I'm sure their sensors are how Bob Ogden knew to go there so many years earlier. If the Ministry truly didn't know the Riddles had been AK'd until after the Muggle authorities got there, then someone at the Ministry was very negligent in their duties.




Solitaire - Nov 11, 2006 10:01 am (#21 of 32)

Consider these comments made at Harry's hearing in OotP, when Mrs. Figg identified herself as Harry's neighbor:

"We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whinging, other than Harry Potter," said Madam Bones at once. "That situation has always been closely monitored, given ... given past events."

This sounds to me as though the Ministry generally keeps tabs on witches and wizards living in close proximity to Muggles. But from Madam Bones’ comments, it also sounds to me as though the Ministry may have some people placed in and around Harry's neighborhood whose specific job it is to watch Harry and the Dursleys. JM2K, of course ...

Solitaire




S.E. Jones - Nov 11, 2006 3:36 pm (#22 of 32)

I didn't get that the Ministry had people there in and around Harry's neighborhood watching him. I more got the feeling that the Ministry was watching a greater radius around Harry than most wizards/witches living in Muggle neighborhoods for any signs of magic activity and this area had more people monitoring it than were usually needed for any particular area (I'm guessing the monitoring station is at the MoM). I'm just thinking that, if the MoM had people physically there I'm thinking someone would've seen the Dementors as Figg claimed to, or at least would've recognized the result of their presence.




Solitaire - Nov 11, 2006 6:02 pm (#23 of 32)

I'm just thinking that, if the MoM had people physically there I'm thinking someone would've seen the Dementors as Figg claimed to, or at least would've recognized the result of their presence.

Maybe ... I think it's interesting that whatever "sensors" are able to pick up underage witchcraft (as well as Dobby's Hover Charm) didn't register Mundungus Disapparating from in front of #4PD and blame that on Harry, too. And if they are able to detect the presence of magic, why were they not able to detect the Dementors? Is it possible that someone in the Ministry (who wants Harry in Azkaban or dead) is tampering with the "sensors" of Magic in the Ministry?

Solitaire




S.E. Jones - Nov 11, 2006 6:33 pm (#24 of 32)

Possibly, but what department is the underage detection office under? It seems that Fudge's direct office would've been the one to interact with the Dementors, so I could easily see Umbridge being able to send something using Fudge's name to whoever passes out assignments to the Dementors. But, you'd think the magical detection would be more under Magical Law Enforcement, which would've been Bones, right? I can't see Bones not noticing if reports weren't being turned in or something. I could see the Dementors not showing up on the monitors simply because Dobby didn't show up (otherwise they would've registered the presence of a House-elf at the time of the hover charm). I am curious about the Disapparating, though. Maybe certain kinds of magic don't show up on the sensor? Disapparating doesn't have an external objective, what I mean is it does something to the castor not to a victim/subject/object other than the castor. They also didn't seem to catch Dobby Apparating and Disapparating within the house either.




valuereflection - Nov 11, 2006 7:48 pm (#25 of 32)

When the Advance Guard came to Privet Drive, the MoM's underage magic detectors did not register any of the magic that they used. Tonks cast Lumos, a packing spell for Harry's trunk, Scourgify, and Locomotor Trunk. Moody cast a Disillusionment Charm. Everyone rode brooms.

Two of them (Tonks and Shacklebolt) were MoM employees. They could have told the underage magic department beforehand that they would be dropping into Privet Drive that night so any magic would be explained. But I don't think they would choose to tip off the MoM about activities of the Order. I suspect that instead Tonks and Shacklebolt tampered with the sensors that night.

From the following interchange at the beginning of Harry's hearing, I concluded that the MoM sent an owl to Privet Drive that morning, on August 12, because they believed Harry was still living there. (I think they hoped the owl would arrive too late for Harry to rearrange his travel plans in order to arrive at the earlier time.)

"You're late."

"Sorry," said Harry nervously. "I-I didn't know the time had changed."

"That is not the Wizengamot's fault," said the voice. "An owl was sent to you this morning..."

During the time when Harry was living at Grimmauld Place, did the MoM believe that he remained at Privet Drive? Did an Order member tamper with their sensors which monitored Privet Drive during that month?




Pinky Prime - Dec 3, 2006 8:02 pm (#26 of 32)

It strikes me as odd that Dumbledore had a lot of charts and other astrological stuff in his study. Moody had dark detectors and such. The Marauders had their map. Mrs. Weasley has her clock.

When the Advance Guard came to Privet Drive, the MoM's underage magic detectors did not register any of the magic that they used. Tonks cast Lumos, a packing spell for Harry's trunk, Scourgify, and Locomotor Trunk. Moody cast a Disillusionment Charm. Everyone rode brooms.

The Privet Drive magical detection of suspected underage magic should have known the time of Harry's departure from Privet drive.

No mention of an Owl arriving the previous year about more charges in HBP probably because he was now "The Chosen Boy".

I'd bet Arthur Weasley cleared his visit with the Ministry before he picked Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup. So I'm thinking the ministry would have known a few people were organized to pick up Harry for his trial. (Dumbledore's lot!) not necessarily knowing the schedule for the OoTP.




Steve Newton - Dec 4, 2006 6:28 am (#27 of 32)

PP, I just figured that some Order member arranged for nobody to notice.




Choices - Dec 5, 2006 11:44 am (#28 of 32)

Pinky - "I'd bet Arthur Weasley cleared his visit with the Ministry before he picked Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup."

Arthur mentions that he had a friend hook up the Dursleys to the Floo Network temporarily so he could pick up Harry, but he says nothing of clearing it with the Ministry higher-ups. I'd bet he didn't.

Pinky - "It strikes me as odd that Dumbledore had a lot of charts and other astrological stuff in his study."

I do not remember reading that Dumbledore had charts and other astrological stuff in his office. Could you point me to where it says that? I remember lots of little delicate silver instruments, but nothing about charts or astrology. I think astrology is Trelawney's area of "expertise", and the stargazing Centaurs, not Dumbledore's.




Mattew Bates - Dec 5, 2006 2:38 pm (#29 of 32)

Pinky Prime, Astronomy is a required subject at Hogwarts, and some potions require ingredients picked at certain astronomic times - fluxweed picked at the full moon for Polyjuice Potion, for example. It stands to reason that some magic is more effective if done during specific astronomic events, and perhaps even ineffective if done at other times. A great wizard like Dumbledore would keep track of those times.




Choices - Dec 5, 2006 6:10 pm (#30 of 32)

But Mattew, we don't know that for sure, do we? I just want to know where in the books it mentions Dumbledore having astrological charts and astrology "stuff" in his office and now, I want to know where in the books it says that certain magical spells are more effective during specific astronomic events. Never do we hear Harry (or anyone) say...."I'd hex you now, but I think I'll wait for the next eclipse, full moon, meteor shower, etc., so it will have a stronger effect." Is there anywhere in the books that a spell and an astronomic event are mentioned as working better together?




Pinky Prime - Dec 6, 2006 4:53 am (#31 of 32)

Pinky - "It strikes me as odd that Dumbledore had a lot of charts and other astrological stuff in his study."

I do not remember reading that Dumbledore had charts and other astrological stuff in his office. Could you point me to where it says that?

A child may have to be identified with the address in question and registered with the MoM. In order for them make it "(Magically Legal which is another theory)' It is not canon about "It strikes me as odd that Dumbledore had a lot of charts and other astrological stuff in his study." I was thinking of his likes and dislikes according to his favorite "Hogwarts studies". And if you really want to know "the Movie contamination spell" will have me in a St. Mungo’s yet! I thought I saw a telescope..

WILL GET BACK TO YOU SOON as I research where I got this info. P.S. I will try to do better with my support info the next time I post.

PINKY PRIME




Mattew Bates - Dec 6, 2006 9:49 am (#32 of 32)

I'll admit I'm making a leap, Choices, but I'm starting from Canon. We know that Astronomy is important enough to magic to be a required subject, and that some astronomic events affect some magical plants used as potion ingredients and some magical creatures. Still, just because we haven't heard about something yet doesn't mean that it's outside of JKR's framework. Based on those previous examples, I suspect that certain obscure spells are either only effective at certain times, or amplified at certain times. The reason they remain obscure is because their effectiveness cannot be relied upon at all times, or they may be more powerful than intended because of coincidence. We are also told that certain spells are complex - I suspect that timing is part of what makes them so. Wouldn't there be a certain logic to casting a Fidelius charm at the new moon?

Anyway, this as much as I find this discussion fascinating, I fear I've drifted too far from Underage Magic Detection to continue this topic here. Is there a better thread for this?
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