Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 144

Who taught the teacher?

At the beginning of this chapter, we touched a bit on ancient magic, deep magic, Dumbledore, and Lord Voldemort. So we were wondering – how did Dumbledore become the wizard that he was at the time of his death? He never ended up traveling, and presumably didn’t do much with his life besides teach. Where did he learn this incredible magic? How does one become that “type” of wizard?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or send us an AudioBoom using the little green button on the right!

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    One will need several things to become as impressive as Albus Dumbledore. First of all, a great amount of raw magical talent is required. If the average magical person has 3 stars of magical power, Albus has 7. So he is exceptional from the beginning, even when he is not yet trained. Living in a magical family, he has the opportunity to learn a lot about the magical world at home. He can observe his parents using magic and knows that once he gets his wand he will also be able to do the things they do. High Intelligence helps him to learn what his parents teach him, maybe he can learn a second language and has access to loads of books. His family is not poor, so buying educational stuff is possible and valued. When it becomes clear that his younger brother is not gifted in the same way, they each get their roles as “the smart one” and “the practical one” and do anything they can to conform to those roles.
    At Hogwarts, Albus is at the centre of magical knowledge and it takes him only three or four years to go through the entire library. He can remember everything he reads and that makes passing tests remarkably easy. His teachers like him because he is smart, well behaved and exceptionally talented, they give him all the opportunities to learn more and try out things that average students don’t get. When he get’s older and writes essays that are published in magazines, other wizards and witches contact him and they exchange thoughts. Albus never has to study or repeat things, he seems to grasp concepts with an ease that makes it look like he is reading a teacher’s mind when they ask questions and he’s always faster and more thorough in his assignments. So he has more time to do even more other things, for example read fiction. He discovers muggle fiction as a source of knowledge about their culture, about science and the value of entertainment. Listening to music helps him relax and recover from long sessions of writing.
    When he meets Grindelwald, he can finally work on ideas with someone who is equally gifted and fast thinking. In those few months Albus makes a few years’ worth of progress in adapting knowledge he already had to new things that Gellert teaches him. Sadly after Ariana’s death and his row with Aberforth Albus realizes that he has been up in the clouds with his mind, and that he needs to use his talents to make something better in the world. He dedicates himself to teaching, uses his free time to give advice to everyone who wants it, researches a lot and aquires many magical objects that are rare and whose purpose is not widely known. Figuring out how things work is fun for him, puzzles and challenges wake him up and he enjoys a well phrased joke and pun. Somehow he can go on just a couple of hours sleep, so his nights are filled with experimenting, conversations, short term travels, reading and studying knitting patterns. With every offer he gets to join the Wizengamot and so on he meets more people who are in awe of his abilities and share their thoughts with him. He basically collects anything that might be of intellectual, educational or other value and adds it to his remarkable memory to be used when needed.
    Because he can do magical every day tasks with such ease, he is always searching for new challenges and that way nonverbal or wandless magic are his things. By the time he becomes headmaster he can basically do half the spells without an incantation or wand movement, just with concentration and imagination and reciting of runes in his head and impressive gestures. After reading the works of Tolkien Albus adapts some of Gandalf’s typical antics. Using a 2 meter walking stick for channeling magic does also work, he has collaborated with a wandmaker from Africa to build a customized one, but in the end he discovers that wands are optional if a magical person has learned to feel magic with their own body. Wandering around Hogwarts he can feel traces of magic, some whimsical, some scary.
    As soon as he goes out hunting for horcruxes, this ability becomes irreplacable. After more than a century of using magic often, employing great amounts of magic to make things work and wandering deep into magical theory of transfiguration and historical magical accidents, Albus is the Yoda of wizarding Britain. Incredibly wise, always looking at the bigger picture and making others go to great lengths to discover and use their talents.

    tl;dr: Dumbledore read Lord of the Rings and by impersonating Gandalf he discovered a lot of interesting things…


  • Sian Zoe Dawson

    Part of the way he became who he was was by observing other people. I think that you can learn a lot from observing your elders and peers, and by watching them and learning from them, then this can help a young witch or wizard increase their powers and magical capability. I also think that Dumbledore’s power comes not only from observing, but also from experience, like what happened when his sister, Arianna, died. This might have nothing to do with that, but I think that some of Dumbledore’s magic is influenced by some of the things he says, and this doesn’t necessarily mean in the spells that he casts. What I mean by this is that magic is a great force and can be used and expressed in many ways, not only just by a wand, but also by some of the things we do or say in everyday life, which once again brings me back to my point with Arianna. Even though he tried to be the pacifist and stop the fighting, it didn’t work, and Arianna unfortunately ended up in the centre of things. This experience gave him wisdom, and wisdom is in my opinion a force of magic, which is as powerful as it is a knowledgeable thing. Wisdom helps Dumbledore grow (along with his magic), but unfortunately, both cannot save him from his inevitable end; which just goes to show that even though magic, wisdom and knowledge can help you get so fart with some things, it could also be our downfall. I only say this because in some ways, as powerful as Dumbledore is, and as we discover, he is not as intelligent and powerful as we give him credit for.
    However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he is not an intelligent being. He is, for he is rather good at detecting aspects of magic both inside the school and out; so apart from observing, there may be some things he learnt on his own and by using his own initiative in a way in which we don’t know of and have never known about.

  • Voldemort’s Lost Nose

    I think there is a magical equivalent of a university that you can study at after leaving Hogwarts, but since Harry wants to be an Auror and the training for that is at the Ministry, we wouldn’t hear about it. I can easily imagine Dumbledore studying the deeper secrets of how magic works. Though I think you would need good marks from Hogwarts to attend the magical university, I don’t think it’s unusual: I imagine that Healers, wand makers, Hogwarts professors or anyone else who needs a deeper understanding of how magic works would be taught there (except of course DADA teachers, because the university can’t educate them fast enough to meet to demands). Combine this education with an extraordinary intelligence and a lot of experience, and you’ve got Dumbledore.

    When trying to understand magic, I often compare it to the concept of fields in physics. Just like electromagnetic waves (such as light and x-rays) travel through an electromagnetic field, I imagine magical “waves” (such as spells) traveling through a magical “field”. With this in mind, what Dumbledore senses at the cave would be a strong magical field due to the presence of strong magic – just like a strong magnetic field is caused by the presence of a strong magnet.

    In high school physics, you learn about how to manipulate waves – for example by letting laser light travel through a diffraction grating. With the magical wave analogy in mind, manipulating waves is similar to casting spells, which you learn at Hogwarts, the magical equivalent of a high school. But the deeper understanding of field theory isn’t taught before university level. Similarly, I would imagine that the deeper understanding of the magical field isn’t taught at Hogwarts, but at the magical university. I study chemistry at university, and I’ve just had a course where part of the curriculum was how to test whether an electric field exist in a given place – just like Dumbledore detects the presence of a magical field outside the cave.

    • PuffNProud

      Gotta say…I laughed out loud at your username!

      • Voldemort’s Lost Nose

        Haha, thanks :)

  • Casey L.

    First and foremost, Dumbledore is extraordinarily talented in his own right. In Order of the Phoenix, Professor Marchbanks tells Umbridge she sat through Dumbledore’s transfiguration and charms N.E.W.T.s and saw him doing things with a wand, “I’d never seen before,” and given she had seen roughly 100 years of students by the time she said that, that should say plenty about Dumbledore’s innate ability.
    After that, I think Dumbledore was curious and willing to experiment in subjects beyond his field of expertise – for example, he is credited with discovering the 12 uses of dragon blood and for inventing the deluminator. And he has somehow managed to learn the languages of the mermaids and goblins.
    Finally, it seems safe to assume Dumbledore was not afraid to work with others to learn new things. We know he was friends with Nicolas Flamel, which may be evidence that he did travel. After all, Flamel is French, and I don’t remember seeing any evidence in the books that he ever left France. Perhaps during his lifetime, Dumbledore did travel abroad to visit other witches and wizards. He also may have learned quite a bit from Gellert Grindelwald, who seems to have been almost as talented as Dumbledore, and coming from a different country and gone to a different school, he may have been able to teach some things to a young Dumbledore. What is more, being involved with International Confederation of Wizards would have given Dumbledore access to various witches and wizards from around the world.
    I also think Dumbledore’s curiosity resulted in him being a life-long learning, and with over 100 years of life, he had a lot of time to learn the magic he knew at the time of his death.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      Good thing that you bring up Griselda Marchbanks! She states that he did things with a wand that she had never seen before when he was 17, and later in his life he can do such things even without a wand.

      • PuffNProud

        I wish that quote had come up in the Mugglenet Academia podcast about sex and Harry Potter.

    • PuffNProud

      I agree. With Dumbledore’s responsibilities and activities, he had to travel. Even as a headmaster, it would seem prudent to visit the other schools or at least inquire about courses of study to keep your school competitive.

  • Hufflepug

    I think there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s important to explain both Dumbledore’s academic side of magic and his intuitive side.

    First, the academic side. Hogwarts isn’t just any school. Their teachers seem to be the top experts in their fields in the British wizarding society. So even if Dumbledore devoted his life to teaching, I think it would make more sense to consider him along the lines of a college professor with a Ph.D., so he has studied his field more deeply than anyone else. As for where he learned it all, he was a great student at Hogwarts and there was probably a point at which he was so deep in his studies there that he only got half of what he was learning from class and the rest of it from books that he checked out from the library. There was a guy at my high school who finished the highest level of math before he graduated and his teachers had to start teaching him advanced college-level calculus that went past what even the smartest students learned in high school – I think Dumbledore was probably like that in a lot of his classes. Imagine Hermione times 100. I think it says a lot about his bravery that he was sorted into Gryffindor instead of Ravenclaw. He also had Grindelwald, another genius student, to influence him. They shared their knowledge like Harry and his friends would share Chocolate Frogs or pranks from the Weasleys’ shop. I kind of equate him to Benjamin Franklin or Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom were polymaths who devoted their lives to their studies and had massive effects on history.

    Second is the intuitive side. This might have stemmed somewhat from the academic side when you consider how Dumbledore might have started reading about this highly advanced ancient magic when he was still a student. So he may have originally had more exposure to the idea of it, which could contribute to him being more aware of it than other witches and wizards. There are a lot of quotes in the series about how we sense what we are willing to sense, which is a large reason why the wizarding world is still a secret from Muggles. I think it goes farther than just wizards and muggles, but also could explain some differences between different witches and wizards. Some people may be more primed for it and also may be exposed to it more than others. With every exposure, it may become easier to know exactly what to look for, or how to “tune” yourself to the magical traces. We know that Dumbledore probably did expose himself to some of this ancient magic in his early life when he and Grindelwald searched for the Deathly Hallows, and he has also been on Voldemort’s tail for quite some time which may have contributed to it. We also know that he spends most of his time at Hogwarts, which although it’s a school is FULL of ancient and mysterious magic that have been there since the time of the founders, so again, he might be primed for it. So that’s one explanation of how Dumbledore can sense the magical traces. Another explanation could just be that Dumbledore is inherently more magical than other people, like some people can be naturally taller or more adept at math than others. Maybe there is a heightened sensitivity to magic that is just deep within his soul.

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    How could life at the Dumbledore’s have been before the muggle kids attacked Ariana and Percival was sent to Azkaban? In my headcanon Ariana was just as talented as Albus. There is one episode of the Firefly series that shows River and Simon Tam as children, and that is how I imagine Ariana and Albus when they were very young. Simon is doing an assignment and River interrupts her roleplaying to correct him. The attacks that River suffers from later when she is older are what I imagine Ariana’s outbursts could have been like. A young Albus who is not around very often can’t really deal with them, that gives Aberforth the opportunity to shine.

  • Ravenclawesome

    I think natural intelligence is at
    least part of it. Dumbledore is clearly very able-minded and has a curiosity to learn more about things, which would have inspired his quest to know advanced magic. But beyond that, he must have a deeper capability and intuition to understand magic. Just like some people are more gifted at introspection or have a greater sensitivity to the non-physical aspects of human existence, I feel like Dumbledore has been gifted with a mind that can understand magic beyond the surface level. Of course, this alone cannot give him the knowledge
    that he would eventually learn, but rather the predisposition to being able to comprehend it.

    When it came to learning the knowledge, I think Dumbledore’s curiosity would prompt him to learn from as many sources as he could. He probably was the kind of kid and student who asked questions non-stop. He probably gathered answers to his questions from countless professors, friends, and acquaintances, and I can imagine that he did
    a whole lot of reading as well. We know that he interacted with many talented wizards such as Flamel and Grindelwald, but I don’t think the inspiration behind his magical genius came from only one source, because if he was merely an apprentice of an equally great wizard, his abilities would not be considered so remarkable for generations to come.

  • Minerva’s tartan biscuit tin

    There are probably more aspects to it than I could ever consider but for me in this scene especially it comes down to Magic having different levels
    and layers. In this scene I feel like he is not relying on controling magic alone but can feel / sensing it. Senses aren’t ecqually developed for everyone (e.g. some people can
    see better than others by nature) but senses can also be honed (like
    the sense of taste a sommelier developes in the course of practice). I guess Dumbledore just has a better perception of / sense for magic by nature and eventually realized that his feelng for how magic works was better developed than that of average wizards / witches. Over time he will have found out that paying attention to this sense would enable him to be an even better wizard than he was when he just focused on controling magic (if you can feel how magic works, it would help you to find the best way to use it for your purpose after all). That’s why I always explained this scene to myself with comparing it to someone who focused on using a certain sense. Instead of closing eyes to enjoy listening to music even more he reached out with his sense for magic (and over that forgot that he wasn’t alone which his oher senses would have reminded him of otherwise).
    Add to that the determination of a scholar to learn as much about a subject as possible, years of practice and Dumbledoe’s wish to become someone better and I always had my key ingredients for Dumbledore’s magical awesomeness.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      great explaination! So Dumbledore uses his magic-sense and that way he can basically “smell” where someone used magic, especially powerful spells or dark magic. He knows Riddle’s style, which is somehow unique like a scent or handwriting or fingerprint.

  • If we look at the typical wizard we see that magic is not taken very seriously. The Malfoys have magic, but have power through money. The Weasleys have magic, but find fun and intrigue in EVERYTHING else. Look at young Voldee. He had magic, but didn’t have anything else. He spent all his time and energy towards magic. Voldemort, who is younger than Dumbledore, is also a great wizard. He had less time that Dumbledore to achieve his greatness.

    Dumbledore may have simply dedicated time and energy towards magic. He made more of an effort than any other wizards typically do. We see how little interest the students have in learning magic. Dumbledore just wasn’t this way and therefore was able to delve into deep and raw magic. He also spent time with Grindewald, possibly working on strong magic abilities.

    Even though I believe strongly that Dumbledore travels time, which is a theory for another time, it might just be this simple. Dumbledore made an effort to know magic that others didn’t care to know.

  • SpinnersEnd

    I think a great deal of Dumbledore’s talent is inherent. He’s smart and has a wealth of natural magic. And we see him seek out people who are his intellectual equal (though, admittedly, they are few and far between). I also think one of Dumbledore’s greatest is his ability to sympathize and empathize. I believe that gives him an ability to think through how things work and why they work the way they do.

    But most of all, I think Dumbledore’s greatest asset is his inquisitiveness. This means he reads, he asks questions and willing to test his theories, regardless of how certain he is of them.

  • WizardorWhat

    Practice plus a bit of natural skill, I suspect.

    Dumbledore tells Harry, ‘[Voldermort’s] powers, as you heard, were surprisingly well-developed and most interestingly and ominously of all – he had already discovered that he had some measure of control over them, and begun to use them consciously’. Voldemort was unusually powerful anyway, was chosen by a wand which according to Ollivander was a ‘[p]owerful wand, very powerful…’, and having every motivation to become extraordinary, worked hard at his craft and became the supervillain we all know and love.

    • Exactly. Voldee had more dedication towards witchcraft and wizardry than any other wizard. Dumbledore simply was the same.

  • I think Dumbledore was always not only very talented but rather bookish. I’ve always imagined him spending an exorbitant amount of time reading. More than Hermione has been known to. He has had the entire Hogwarts library at his disposal since he was 11 & considering he was 115 when he did he had roughly 100 years (give or take considering summers away & so on) to read ever book there! I’m sure he tested theories he had & practiced concepts he read about. As for the more “initiative” magic Kat mentions I feel like certain things come very naturally to people. It’s clear that Dumbledore has a very natural talent for all sorts of magic so all of the testing of theories & practicing of concepts would only add to his natural talents.

  • WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock?

    This is something I’ve wondered about often, and I have a few ideas, and one big question.

    We know that Rowling has some strong ideas about education and teaching, and through the examples of Harry, Ron and Hermione, she’s showed us that 1) great teachers can mean a lot, but that 2) you get what you put in to your education. Hermione clearly proves that. She spends so much time in independent study that she easily outstrips everyone around her.

    Dumbledore strikes a chord with me as an educator, because I deal with gifted kids, and he very clearly was one. He’s obviously brilliant, way ahead of nearly everyone around him, and bored with his life as a result. But he is also driven. In his obituary from Doge, it’s mentioned that “he not only won every prize of note that the school offered, he was soon in regular correspondence with the most notable magical names of the day, including Nicolas Flamel, the celebrated alchemist; Bathilda Bagshot, the noted historian; and Adalbert Waffling, the magical theoretician.” So Dumbledore is clearly talented and ambitious, but he also educates himself — he writes to notable wizards and academics who are still alive and strikes up correspondence. He lives in the same village as the most notable magical historian alive, and no doubt makes good use of that relationship to learn. He takes advantage of his resources and he drives his own learning. I think in his correspondence with people like Flamel, and particularly Adalbert Waffling, he would learn much more than the magic taught at Hogwarts — he would also learn magical theory, and that theoretical knowledge lies at the heart of his understanding of deep magic, the kind that is so advanced.

    Equally clearly, Voldemort did the same. Tom Riddle was an up-and-comer at Hogwarts, and again, he clearly educated himself. He learned magic at school, but he obviously pursued his own studies, and he understands elemental magical theory in the same way Dumbledore does. There is a link there, and I think much of it comes from their personal drive to learn. Hermione drives her own learning in the same way.

    Dumbledore’s obit also says that his papers were published in “Transfiguration Today,” “Challenges in Charming,” and “The Practical Potioneer,” so the wizarding world must have something similar to the publishing community of Muggle scientists.

    I have to wonder, however, about the Elder Wand. I know we will discuss this more as we get to book 7, but… in the comments others have mentioned that line that stuck with me, too, about Dumbledore — “did things with a wand I’d never seen before.” This is clearly before he took the Elder Wand from Grindelwald, as this quote refers to when Dumbledore was still at school. He is a genius in his own right, certainly. I have to wonder, though, what effect the Elder Wand had on Dumbledore’s abilities. Given how powerful and brilliant he was, what more did the Elder Wand grant him? Dumbledore on his own is a daunting prospective. Imagining him with the Elder Wand, for all of those years, with everything he could have done, is dizzying to contemplate. Granted, it is only in the hands of a brilliant wizard like Dumbledore that the Elder Wand could ever be safe — he is already known to be the greatest wizard alive, so there would not be such a remarkable change in his own magical ability that others would notice and attribute it to the wand. He could keep his secret safe as long as he chose to exercise caution and rule his own ambitious impulses. But I still wonder what the Elder Wand in Dumbledore’s hands truly meant, as opposed to Dumbledore without it.

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      I hadn’t really thought of this before but now that you’ve brought it up, it does make sense. Not knocking Dumbledore’s intelligence – because he was obviously a very bright man with a good understanding of wizards and the world around him – but having the wand couldn’t have hurt, especially with Dumbledore dueling Voldemort in the ministry. Maybe, also, the wand allowed Dumbledore to explore areas of advanced magic he wasn’t able to before because of the magical qualities it possessed, hence indirectly increasing his magical abilities.

      • WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock?

        That’s possible, and an interesting thought. I wonder if it allowed him a deeper understanding of magic, precisely BECAUSE of the person he was. We have seen that lesser men with the Elder Wand simply used it as a sort of super-weapon — just for the power to dominate others. If Dumbledore did not use it that way, though, could he have used the Elder Wand in a way that was devoted to deepening his understanding of elemental magic? And if that is the case, and I imagine the intention has a great deal to do with it, does that mean that the Wand responded to him differently, or at least opened up new understanding to him ?

  • Roonil Wazlib

    I think that curiousity is the key to Dumbledore’s extensive knowledge and power. I think he is curious in the way that our greatest scientists and inventors are curious. He just has an innate desire to understand
    how the world–how magic–works. And of course, he is highly intelligent as well, which enabled him to act on his curiousity in extraordinary ways. Throughout the series we get small snippets of his life that point to Dumbledore seeking out and mastering many different facets and applications of magic. He explored and researched advanced magic outside of the classroom while at school. Later, he discovered not one, but twelve uses for dragon blood. He collaborated with Nicholas Flamel, but as far as we know, Dumbledore never used the sorcerer’s stone himself…it seems his interest was in the knowledge, not the riches or immortality. He speaks many languages, implying that he has spent time learning from merfolk, goblins, and other magical creatures. I believe that becoming headmaster also increased Dumbledore’s powers, because the job gave him a chance to access and learn about the ancient magic that is part of the castle itself.

    Voldemort and Dumbledore are both incredibly accomplished wizards, but in such different ways. Voldemort is interested only in the magic that he thinks will gain him power and immortality. Dumbledore, on the other hand, sees all Magic as one and the same–wizard magic, love, house elf magic, etc–and seeks to understand all of it.

  • PuffNProud

    Another thought, there are many instances for spells and charms where we are told the emotion must be strong. Examples: Expecto Patronum (it must be a strong happy memory), Crucio, Imperio, AK (you have to mean it). I’m wondering if one of the things that makes you a truly great wizard or “that type of wizard” is a greater emotional commitment to magic i.e. the stronger the emotion, the more emotionally involved, the more you can use your instrument (body, wand) and be powerful.

  • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

    Like the hosts mentioned in the episodes, it has always bothered me that schooling ends abruptly at age 17 and learning, from then on, seems to be through apprenticeships. But just because Hogwarts functions that way does not mean that Wizarding Universities do not exist. Maybe in Europe or the States there are other types of schools Dumbledore went to – I believe that if they existed, he went (even though he didn’t end up traveling, I could see him spending summers abroad in different schools as a young teacher).

    As a few people have mentioned, learning from watching others is also really important. Dumbledore could pick up on the little things people did – similarly to how Hermione could pick up on little things in books and apply them to her daily life. But even more than that, I believe that Dumbledore took the time to know people. So much of the Wizarding World is politics and you don’t need a high level degree in Magic to understand that (in fact, I believe that most of this understanding comes from being around people and situations and just listening and paying attention). Dumbledore built himself a reputation – he worked to know people like Snape and Fudge, to learn who they were and what they wanted. He did the same with Voldemort and was able to find his weak points. So yes, I believe that most of Dumbledore’s power comes through people skills. The rest from books and experience, both of which Dumbledore had lots of.

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      in other words – in the game of Wizarding thrones, you either win or you die. Dumbledore does both

  • SocksAreImportant

    I haven’t really thought about where he learned all of his knowledge. I think his personality drives a desire to learn. He probably read any book he could get his hands on. He no doubt learned from Grindelwald and having the elder wand certainly helped him. But I wonder how we can say he didn’t do much of any traveling? It wouldn’t surprise me if he did a lot of traveling during the summer.

  • Silverdoe25

    Let’s not forget that the guy is over 100 years old. That is a long time for him to hone his magical skills. He may never have traveled the world with Doge, but in all of his years as Transfiguration professor with summers off, he could have easily traveled and continued his studies.

  • QueenSilver171

    Bouncing off Casey L.’s point, in which we do hear that during his N.E.W.T. exams, Dumbledore could “do things with a wand never seen before,” we immediately get the image of Dumbledore as some sort of kid genius. I have to admit I’ve never considered the question of how Dumbledore learned this magic, ’cause…it’s Dumbledore, guys! However, we do see that from an early age, Dumbledore had been delving into magic outside of his curriculum, and even more, researching his own magical methods.

    We already see that Dumbledore is interested in research by his work with Nicholas Flamel and finding the 12 uses of dragon’s blood. Therefore, Dumbledore must have always had an interest in researching innovative means of magic. Who’s to say that he actually has a teacher then? Dumbledore teaches himself through methodical experiments. On the show, you’ve spoken briefly about how different spells are created, i.e. Levicorpus spell and Sectumsempra. From what we understand, wizards and witches experiment on their own to create these new spells, and I can picture Dumbledore doing the same. His innate abilities, wisdom, and deep love for knowledge and research, just make his experiments much more brilliant. Although Dumbledore vowed to quit seeking the Elder Wand, he still continued to push the boundaries of magic through knowledge and wisdom rather than through power (as Voldemort did).

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    When we talk about what abilities and opportunities Dumbledore had, I think we should not forget to mention what he did not have: factors that kept him from learning, experimenting and researching. Pandora Lovegood did like to do magical experiments, too, and I’m sure she discovered interesting things, but we don’t know that because one day something went wrong and she was killed. Dumbledore was lucky that none of his experiments ended in this way.

    He also had just his brother left in regards to family, and if he had chosen to raise a family that would have made it more difficult for him to find time for research. By becoming a teacher he does somehow co-raise nearly every magical kid in Britain, but that’s another kind of responsibility.
    Molly Weasley might have had it in her to write dozens of books and revolutionize housework spells and gardening charms, but with seven kids? Arthur Weasley certainly has the curiosity that makes a good researcher, but somehow he lacks what it takes to organize his findings.

    And imagine what Little Crouch could have managed if he had not fallen to the ranks of the Death Eaters but used his brains for, let’s say, medicine and healing.

    Dumbledore is capable, that’s true. But he’s also privileged.

  • Jake Potter

    I kind of like to view young Dumbledore as a male version of Hermione. Very smart, quick-witted and a fast learner. His interest in finding out information is very Hermione-like as well, so I’m just assuming he had a particular aptitude for learning much like Hermione. Remember, Hermione was always the brightest witch her age, partially owing to her willingness to learn and succeed. I would think Dumbledore was the same.

    We see that he always wanted to understand things more before acting on them (whether or not he had ulterior motives) and had a desire to achieve his goals. I’m thinking this is the reason why he became the wizard he was before his death.

    I also believe the fact that he was tempted guy the dark side of magic had something to do with it as well. Voldemort’s downfall was actually perusing the Dark Arts, but he was still a powerful wizard partially because of his willingness to delve into them. Dumbledore was only tempted, but who’s to say even that didn’t help in his path to understanding magic a bit more than others? It’s no secret that Dark Magic is powerful magic, possibly the most powerful outside of love, so that could be the reason he became so great. He and Voldemort are two sides of the same coin; one was tempted by this powerful, evil magic, the other actually pursued it. Dumbledore even said he didn’t want to become Minister because he didn’t trust himself with that kind of power.

    On a side note, is it possible that the Elder Wand, being from Death itself, had something to do with his power seeing as Dumbledore was tempted by Dark Magic? I would think being from Death, the Dark Magic side would be a little more prominent.