The Harry Potter Compendium

A basilisk, whose indirect gaze causes petrification.

"Dark Magic of the most advanced kind."
Albus Dumbledore on petrification[src]

Petrification is the process of being turned to stone. The only proven causes of petrification are the gaze of the Gorgon and the Basilisk, the latter only when reflected in or seen through another object. However, there may be a Dark spell that does the same.

It should not be confused with the Full Body-Bind Curse or the Hardening Charm.


Victims of petrification are paralysed and unmovable, and seem to be unconscious; it takes careful examination to discern whether a victim is petrified or dead. The difference between petrification and death is that the petrified victim appears to enter rigor mortis instantaneously and remains that way, while a dead person enters, and leaves it, within a normal timeframe. A petrified ghost will turn a dark smoky grey and can only be moved using a fan. The only effective remedy for petrification is a draught made of Mandrake roots.

The Full Body-Bind Curse is similar to petrification, but it is temporary, easily lifted, and the victim is fully conscious, thus it is not nearly as dangerous. Transmogrifian Torture has been said by Gilderoy Lockhart to cause death and petrification; however, the truth of his claims are dubious.

In 1943 and 1992, Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk was released from the Chamber of Secrets in Hogwarts and petrified several Muggle-born students; in the former case, one student, Myrtle, was killed.[1]

Known victims of Petrification[]

File:Justin petrified COS 1.jpg

Justin Finch-Fletchley shortly after his petrification

  • Mrs. Norris — saw the Basilisk's reflection through a puddle of water on the second floor corridor.
  • Colin Creevey — saw the Basilisk through his camera; the Basilisk's gaze also burned his camera's film to a crisp.
  • Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington — saw the Basilisk directly through himself, but, as a ghost, he could not die again.
  • Justin Finch-Fletchley — saw the Basilisk through Nearly Headless Nick, who was transparent.
  • Hermione Granger — saw the Basilisk through Penelope Clearwater's mirror.
  • Penelope Clearwater — saw the Basilisk through her mirror; it is possible that Penelope is half-blooded and was only subject to an attack because she was there when the Basilisk petrified Hermione, a Muggle-born.


  • The Latin verb petrificare means "to make into stone", from the Latin word for "rock", petra.

Behind the scenes[]

File:Nearly headless nick petrified basilisk.jpg

Nearly Headless Nick petrified

  • It is unknown how Nearly Headless Nick was revived from being petrified, because, as a ghost, he presumably would not have been able to consume the antidote. (However, as petrified humans cannot consume potions either, being unconscious, perhaps the antidote is administered in a way that could also revive ghosts.)
  • In mythology, petrification is associated with Medusa the Gorgon and the cockatrice as well as the basilisk. In Cornish folklore, petrification legends explain the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments, such as the Merry Maidens stone circle.[2]
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Quirinus Quirrell appeared to be turned to stone when touched by Harry, due to the latter's counter-charm reacting to Voldemort (to whom Quirrell was biological linked), and eventually crumbled apart. This form of petrification was not seen in anywhere else in the series.


Notes and references[]