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Why domestic magic should not be underestimated

Some magic is not as flashy as others, but whether you’re magically knitting or magically hexing, no one should be put in a box depending on their wizarding lifestyle.

Molly Weasley wags her finger
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Muggles love to imagine what spells we’d use if we were witches and wizards. We’d obviously all be made Aurors, and travel across the world duelling Dark wizards. Reducto! Expulso! Petrificus Totalus! Etc.

But the sort of spells that Aurors do isn’t the only powerful magic. Even though duels and big, loud, explosive spells seem like the most exciting ones, we often forget that some magic-users prefer to use their abilities on domestic tasks – not that this magic isn’t any less important.

For starters, knowing a few strong domestic charms can be much more useful in the life of an everyday witch or wizard, and will only get more impressive as you grow up. It’s like how in the Muggle world knowing how to bleed a radiator is really helpful, but not very sexy.

Being able to make your laundry put itself away or make the dishes wash themselves may not get you a date to the Yule Ball, but it’ll pay off for you long term. Turning into a cat has some wow factor, but only a few witches and wizards become Animagi, and how often would that be actually helpful in your general day-to-day anyway?

More importantly, the wizarding world has shown us several times that you should never discount someone who’s good at magical home economics as only being good at that – they can still be formidable opponents.

Molly Weasley was the second mother we all wish we’d had. She cooked, cleaned and cared for an entire family (and a large one at that), often performing several chores at once using only her magic. With the time she saved she was able to knit extremely fetching jumpers for her family.

Queenie with her wand
Queenie and her wand.

Queenie Goldstein, Tina’s sister and a native New Yorker from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), was a beautiful witch who designed equally beautiful robes and dresses. She worked a desk job at MACUSA and was overlooked for promotion, despite the fact that she had a sufficiently strong command of magic – even if that command was to boil and plate potatoes, slice apples, roll pastry and lay the table all at once. That’s not to mention combining and baking ingredients into an apple strudel in mid-air! Trust us, food is one of the only exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration: you can’t just make it appear. Even if you’re really good at Transfiguration, you need to be as good at charms as Queenie to turn raw ingredients into a pudding without even using an oven.

Both these witches were incredibly formidable magic users, but were often discounted as being the opposite, especially by their opponents, simply because they chose to divert their skills to domestic spells. Just look at how the majority of wizard-kind perceived house-elves! And we all know that the Malfoys learned their mistake the hard way in underestimating Dobby – Dobby, the brave, loyal friend who ended up having a pivotal role in the Second Wizarding War.

Dobby bows to Harry in his bedroom in Privet Drive
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

You can’t tell us that Molly Weasley protecting her daughter and defeating Bellatrix Lestrange in a single-combat duel wasn’t one of the most affecting moments in all of the books. Bellatrix Lestrange, let’s not forget, was one of Voldemort’s most trusted lieutenants and proved herself time and again to be an extremely powerful opponent. Lestrange was able to defeat Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks, both seasoned duellists (and Tonks was even trained as an Auror), but proved no match for the might of Molly Weasley: mother, home-maker, dangerous.

Queenie, meanwhile, aided Jacob Kowalski in breaking into Percival Graves’s office, and held her cool as she smuggled all of her friends right out of MACUSA in Newt’s magical suitcase. She was able to do this despite being stopped by her supervisor Abernathy, who was, tellingly, overcome with embarrassment when she nebulously claimed the suitcase contained ‘ladies’ things’!

Despite Abernathy’s obvious attraction to her, Queenie was much more drawn to Jacob, who respected her abilities, and shared her affinity for pastry-making.

Aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski.
Aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski.

We must remember that, just like in the Muggle world, different people have different skills, and enjoy different things. Just because someone makes the choice to use their magic for domestic charms, that doesn’t make them any less powerful, intelligent or able to whip you in a duel than any other witch or wizard. You can ignore it if you want, but don’t come crying to us when you realise you don’t know how to make your own dinner. If you don’t respect these people they’re unlikely to share any of their excellent strudel.