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The Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law

by David Haber

Elemental transfiguration is the magical art of physically converting one thing into another. But as with all types of magic, there are limitations to what you can do with transfiguration, as we learn in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Hermione mentions the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration. But she only tells us one of them. What are the other four? I think we know two more, and can guess another.

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Reader Comments: (Page 5)

Does it ever explain in the books why you can eat animals that you conjure or transfigure? We see examples of birds being conjured and many items being transfigured into animals. If you transfigure a shoe into a rabit or something, can you roast it over a fire and eat it?

Posted by Mike from Seattle on May 19, 2008 08:42 AM

I think that it's love because you can't make someone accutally love you permantly because otherwise bellertixe would of done that to voldemort

Posted by Anonymous on May 19, 2008 11:08 AM

To everyone saying it could be love:
It could NOT be love. The law is "he five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration" (292 Us edition of DH). Love has nothing to do with transfiguration. True, it is not possible to create actual love, but what does that have to do with transfiguration? Nothing.
With bringing a human back from the . That sort of relates to transfiguration. It should probably be stated that you can't transfigure something into a soul or life.

Posted by Elan on May 19, 2008 3:59 PM

You rightly said, David, that it is possible to conjure food from somewhere as long as you know where from. I've got one question regarding this: In the chapter "The Goblin's Revenge" Ron, Hermione and Harry are still starving because they are unable to conjure food from anywhere. I find this a bit strange because we learn in this chapter that Ted Tonks, Dean Thomas and the two Goblins are roasting salmon that they have freshly caught from the river nearby; and the smell is tantalizing. I wonder why neither Harry nor Ron nor Hermione ever tried to conjure any fish - to be sure they should have known there was salmon in the water?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on May 20, 2008 08:25 AM

Good question. Remember, they were inside a circle of protection that Hermione put on the tent. Ted Tonks, Dean Thomas and the Goblins were outside of that protection. Perhaps they thought "going fishing" outside of the protection of the tent was too risky.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on May 20, 2008 2:43 PM

I don't think its love. However, I agree with Alicia who said that it could be that you can't totally transfigure into something. Love can't be it because most of you don't see that its not transfiguration. Its an emotion, a feeling, something that makes a person tick- magically or muglelly(?).

Posted by Katie from Princeton, NJ on May 22, 2008 4:30 PM

I think that the last exception to Gamp's law must be wands. Whenever a wand is broken or partially damaged in the books, no one ever takes it to McGonagall or tries to fix it. They just assume that it is broken for ever.

Posted by Mike from Wales on May 26, 2008 06:53 AM

Hi all,

I don't think it is money beacause dumbledore mentions it when he and harry discuse the live of voldermorts mother, the part he says she could have take care of herselfs magically.
The problem is i think that goblin's know so much about their money they can tell if it's fake or note. Muggle money would give them problems I am sure! So it is not suppose to be money but precious metals. Otherwise like someone said the Philosopher's Stone wouldn't be of much use indeed

Wands really is one because olivander said to harry that he only could make him a new one. Only The elder wand is such an exceptional wand only harry could use it to fix his wand, he tried it before with different wands but is would work.

Then one problem i can't figure out isn't healing a form of life? If that is true maybe we are back to 4...

So I think we have: Food, Life (all: human, animals and plants), Healing, Wands and Love or metals

Posted by Roolland from Groningen, The Netherlands on May 27, 2008 03:03 AM

I first want to say, what a great article, as are all the articles on this site. Now back to business. Love, wands, people. I don't think it ar any of these. Love is not a thing, it is an emotion or a power noone can really explain. And I don't think wands are a part of transfiguration, I just think that you have to desribe that to wand magic. I also don't think that the fourth one is people. Because that has to do with souls and human bos, and I think that the exceptions are more practical, like food and money. I think we allready have 3 exceptions. But what can the other ones be? Can it be the weather? I don't recall anyone ever changed the weather in the books. Or is that too big? Or clothes?

Posted by Claudia from Netherlands on May 27, 2008 07:18 AM

Claudia, I totally agree with you. But, as you may have noticed, the weather is already mentioned on the first page by MissMoonlight. I support her vieuw though. Look at the facts. The ministry of magic controls the fake weather that is visible through the windows. Nowhere is said that this is indeed the real weather. Nobody, not ever in the books, has changed the weather. OK, Dumbledore dried Harry's clothes in HBP, but that's not really changing the weather, is it? Nor is Hermione's water-repelling spell in POA. Wizard and Whiches are surtainly able to protect themselves from the weather, but they simply can't change it.

Posted by Deep Purple from Netherland on May 27, 2008 12:34 PM

I agree with everyone who has said that the last one may be animal life--but with restrictions. Hermione was able to Conjure little canaries, and she talked with Percy about Vanishing kittens, but I think it all depends on the type of animal. For example, would one be able to Conjure a unicorn, rip out its tail hairs, and sell them for whatever fantastical price Slughorn said they were? Would one be able to transfigure an earthworm into a human being/corpse?

I think this correlates with the complexity of the animal (mammals versus reptiles, vertebrates, etc.) and the magical power of the animal (for example, flobberworms versus centaurs). This would make it impossible to Conjure humans or any sentient beings.

Posted by Hakeber from Mars on May 27, 2008 9:02 PM

Deep purple thanks for the back up.

And Roolland, Voldemorts mother could have taken care of herself in other ways then with money. Cause if she could have conjured up money, then the weasleys could do it too. And they are still poor. So I really think David is right on the money part.

Posted by Claudia from Netherlands on May 28, 2008 07:09 AM

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