Lesson 6) Serpents and Serums

As students enter the classroom, Professor Turing hands back their exams. The class midterm average, as well as the standard deviation and grade distribution, is sandwiched between an image of a large snake and an image of a magical plant on the chalkboard at the front of the room.

Welcome back to class, everyone! Today, we will discuss a few other ways that the magic of the Full Moon affects us in the Wizarding world. In particular, we will be discussing basilisks, fluxweed, and Veritaserum. At the end of this class, I will be giving out the second (and last) of the Year 2 required essays.

We have a lot of good topics to cover today, so let’s begin!

Hatching Basilisk Eggs

Image Source: Harry Potter Wiki

Basilisks are large, magical serpents that are known to kill Wizards and Witches who look directly into their eyes. Those who look at a Basilisk’s eyes indirectly, such as through a reflection of a mirror, merely become Petrified. Their venom is very toxic, and the only way to counter the effects of basilisk venom is with phoenix tears. That being said, those with the ability to speak Parseltongue may have the ability to command one of these serpents. 

Basilisks, as well as the killing of these giant snakes, have played important roles in our school history. Salazar Slytherin, one of the school’s founders, placed a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets. Tom Riddle, who later became Lord Voldemort, used the basilisk - he was able to control the serpent by speaking Parseltongue - to attack others in Hogwarts. Later, Harry Potter killed the basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor.

Chicken Eggs
Image Source: Telegraph

Unlike many creatures, whose eggs are laid by mothers of the same species, Basilisk eggs are not laid by basilisks; all basilisk eggs start as chicken eggs, such as the ones in the picture above. When a chicken hatches the eggs, they are merely mundane. However, when a toad hatches the eggs, the magic carried by the toad transforms them into basilisk eggs. This is why those who own chicken farms or chicken coops must be regularly inspected by the Ministry of Magic - we do not want wizards breeding basilisks. Any person caught with toads hatching chicken eggs will be punished harshly. Other suspicious-looking signs include chickens sitting on egg replacements; this could mean that eggs have been switched out from underneath the chicken.

Basilisk eggs may take a while to hatch, but the magic from the Full Moon may cause basilisk eggs to hatch early. As with the Mooncalf and werewolf examples, Basilisk eggs absorb magic from the Full Moon. Once the magic reaches the shell of the egg, the magic penetrates into the interior, where it is absorbed by the Basilisk inside. Many times, this will not give the Basilisk enough strength to break out of the shell, but sometimes, the strength of the Full Moon will empower the Basilisk to crack open its egg. This is why many Basilisks tend to be born during the Full Moon. It is quite interesting - ironic - that such a violent and aggressive creature is often born under the gentle glow of the Full Moon.

Picking Fluxweed

Image Source: Wikipedia

While the Full Moon may have rather scary effects such as triggering a werewolf’s wolf form or speeding up the hatching of basilisk eggs, the Full Moon’s magic can also be seen in more gentle applications, such as the production of the magical oils necessary for Polyjuice Potions. Fluxweed - or, as Muggles call it, flixweed - is a plant that is a key ingredient in Polyjuice Potions. When a Magical person drinks a Polyjuice potion, she or he takes on the form of another person. Although appearing as another person can be a very significant and beneficial advantage, the potion itself is very hard to brew, as you will need to brew it at least a month before you use it. You will learn more about the Polyjuice Potion in future Potions lessons.

For this potion to be effective, you must collect quality ingredients. As for the fluxweed, it must be harvested during the Full Moon for the potion to be effective. The magic of the Full Moon stimulates fluxweed to produce the magical oils necessary for the successful completion of the potion. The oils coat the leaves of the fluxweed during the Full Moon. During other phases of the Moon, the plant absorbs and breaks down the oils and uses the magic present in the oils to grow - therefore, if one picks the plant during a different lunar phase, there will not be enough magical oils on the leaves. However, if one picks the plant during the Full Moon, the oils remain on the plant, as a dead plant cannot absorb the oils. 

Brewing Veritaserum

Image Source: Harry Potter Wiki

The magic of the Full Moon can be used to “mature” certain potions so that their magical effects are available for use. Veritaserum is another potent potion that is often used in the Wizarding world. Those who drink Veritaserum are magically induced to say only what they believe is the truth. Of course, the individual might not know the truth or may genuinely be mistaken as to the truth, so not everything the individual says may be actually true. Nevertheless, Veritaserum is a very powerful potion when used in certain settings.

Veritaserum is also one of the most difficult potions to brew. It takes one month to complete a brewing of Veritaserum. One of the key steps in the potion is being able to use the gentle yet powerful magic of the Full Moon to properly activate and blend all the ingredients in the potion.

Once the potion is brewed, however, it is easy to see clues as to Veritaserum’s lunar influence. The potion is odorless and colorless, and it has the transparency and viscosity of water. In addition, the dosage needed for an appropriate effect is very small - just three drops. Thus, Veritaserum can be placed into an unsuspecting person’s drink without the target realizing what has happened. Veritaserum reflects the gentle yet powerful nature of the Moon’s magic.

Thank you again for your time. In the next two lessons, we will be discussing the moons of other planets in the solar system. I will see you again next Wednesday. Have a good night!

The Moon, The Lifebringer

NOTE - This course will soon be undergoing rewrites. Stay tuned!