Laws of Magic (The Dresden Files)

The Laws of Magic are a set of rules governing the use of magic by wizards in the fictional world of wizard Harry Dresden. Developed and enforced by the White Council, a co-operative of Magic Practitioners led by the Senior Council consisting of 7 members said by legend to have been founded by Arthur's Merlin, the Laws of Magic are primarily intended to guard against the misuse of magic by wizards against humans. The White Council admits only a fraction of Practitioners to their ranks, as only the strongest are considered. They openly apply the Seven Laws on any person capable of doing magic .

Wizards deemed to have violated any of the Seven Laws are termed warlocks. There is little differentiation between the usage of wizard or warlock other than warlocks have violated one (or more) of the Laws of Magic and wizards have not. All of the Laws carry the death penalty, to be carried out by a Warden of the White Council. Wardens are the enforcement arm of the White Council that patrols and protects the wizard world. In some instances a form of probation, the Doom of Damocles is rendered instead. Under the Doom, a wizard is openly under the suspicion and scrutiny of the White Council and any further infractions will automatically warrant execution. A wizard under a Doom is placed in the custody of another wizard. In the case of another infraction, both wizards are killed. Furthermore, the Senior Council of the White Council has one of its members appointed to the position of Blackstaff. The Blackstaff has the discretion of being able to break the Laws as he or she sees fit in order to prevent the Laws from becoming a liability against the White Council. The very position of Blackstaff and its functions is not a commonly known piece of information. The person holding the title has the right to ignore the will of the Senior Council, if they deem it be in the Council's best interest.

The Laws are:

  • Thou shalt not kill by use of magic. A plea of self-defense is allowed in mitigation, though it seems to work only rarely. Probation is only granted if another wizard is willing to tie their life to the warlock's. Wardens often wield swords when detaining and executing warlocks to avoid a technical infraction of this Law. At several points in the series, however, Wardens have used lethal magic against human wizards; it is possible that Wardens are allowed some latitude in the heat of combat, as obviously in battle they are employed with the consent of the Council, or rather this is an extension of the latitude of self-defense. The use of magic to kill non-human beings, on the other hand, is lawful; a wizard may, for example, use magic to kill a ghoul, a vampire or any being of the Nevernever without breaking this Law.
  • Thou shalt not transform others. See also shapechangers.
  • Thou shalt not invade the mind of another. During an attempt on his mind, Harry makes the comment that because of its outlaw status, research into mind magic is remarkably limited and as a result, training to resist such invasions is very basic. Molly Carpenter broke this Law.
  • Thou shalt not enthrall another. Enthrallment is the term for magically dominating another through binding their will to one's own. It is not the same as compelling non-human beings through arrangements or exchanges; if the wizard does not actually control the being's mind through magic, the Law is not broken. It is implied that this is one of the Laws which extends to wizards acting upon denizens of the Nevernever. Justin DuMorne broke this Law, having enthralled Elaine with intent to enthrall Harry, and Molly Carpenter was tried for breaking this Law.
  • Thou shalt not reach beyond the Borders of Life. This Law prohibits both research into and the practice of necromancy, described as the summoning, binding and exploitation of the unwilling dead. The Law applies specifically to human necromancy, a condition Harry exploits in order to defeat a group of necromancers in Dead Beat, but the Wardens (and, by implication, the rest of the Council) still frown upon any form of the practice. It is unknown if this rule would apply to dead non-human sentients, as most inhabitants of the Nevernever are ectoplasmic and not of flesh. Harry notes that Black Court vampires are vulnerable to necromancy in an unspecified fashion, and it is unknown if such use would constitute a breaking of the Law. Communicating with spirits of the dead who are willing to do so is not a violation of this law.
  • Thou shalt not swim against the Currents of Time. This prohibits any attempt to change the past through temporal manipulation for fear of paradoxes. Even magical prediction is frowned upon except in the vaguest, most general forms. It is stated, however, that some beings in the Dresdenverse exist in the past, present, and future at once, and that such beings can be dangerous for this reason.
  • Thou shalt not seek beyond the Outer Gates. Beings from beyond the Gates are known as Outsiders, and are among the deadliest known threats to humanity – their existence itself is antithetical to the universe. In Cold Days, Harry Dresden visits the Outer Gates with Mother Summer, where it is revealed that the Outer Gates are literally a pair of gates located on a wall that spans the outer boundaries of the Winter Court's territory in the faerie realm. They are implied to be the furthest limit of the universe, and bar the Outsiders from entering this universe. They are defended by millions, possibly billions of Unseelie Fae who wage constant war against the Outsiders. They are aided by some Seelie Fae medics, and the Gatekeeper, who helps protect the Gates from breaches from this universe by enforcing the Seventh Law, and he coordinates efforts with other trusted factions. The Dresden Files RPG has expanded upon this law in its publications, establishing that is illegal to attempt to even learn anything about what lies beyond the Outer Gates, though it acknowledges that there is obviously some grey area here or the Wardens wouldn't know what to look for.

As a corollary to this last law, Harry's brother Thomas is involved with an organization whose entire purpose is to bury forever the knowledge of a great many powerful entities from ancient times. The purpose of the Venatori and this law are remarkably similar.

The baseline laws are listed in a conversation between Ebenezar McCoy and Harry Dresden in the novel Blood Rites (Novel 6 Chapter 35 Paragraph 27) when McCoy discusses his title and position of Blackstaff to Harry.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Storm Front
  • Fool Moon
  • Grave Peril
  • Summer Knight
  • Death Masks
  • Blood Rites
  • Dead Beat
  • Proven Guilty
  • White Night
  • Small Favor
  • Backup: A Story of the Dresden Files
  • Turn Coat
  • Changes
  • Side Jobs
  • Ghost Story
  • Cold Days
  • Skin Game
Graphic novels
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Storm Front
  • Storm Front Vol 2
  • Harry Dresden
  • Karrin Murphy
  • Thomas Raith
  • Other characters
  • Major organizations
  • Other groups
  • Seven Laws of Magic

Famous quotes containing the words laws and/or magic:

    One of the most attractive of those ancient books that I have met with is The Laws of Menu.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
    The storm-wind’s moody madness—
    Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
    And childhood’s nest of gladness.
    The magic words shall hold thee fast:
    Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.
    Lewis Carroll [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson] (1832–1898)