Welcome to Potions 401!
Please read the following announcements before joining the course.
1. If you have submitted an assignment for this course, do NOT send the grading staff a message asking when your work will be graded if less than a month has elapsed. If more than a month has elapsed, please contact Professor Draekon and provide your Grade ID for that assignment in your message.
2. If you have any questions about the course content, please reach out to any Professor's Assistant for Potions 401. A list of current PAs can be found on the right side of this page.
3. If you believe an assignment has been graded in error, please reach out to Professor Draekon or Andromeda Cyreus, and provide your Grade ID for that assignment in your message.
4. Suggestions, compliments and constructive criticism about the course are always appreciated. If you have any comments about Potions 401, please send an owl to Professor Draekon.
Lesson 1) You're Amazing Just The Way You Are (Introduction to Physical Modification Potions)
The potions dungeon is darker than usual. Professor Draekon encourages the students to take their seats, but it is hard not to notice the translucent images revolving in the center of the room. Famous beauties including Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra, Venus as depicted in The Birth of Venus, Samyukta, and others hover and change. A simple trick courtesy of the Charms department, it seems to feed off of students’ concepts of beauty, changing as different people draw closer, evolving as they move away. Who do you see?
Suddenly, the images disappear and the room goes dark. As the lecture begins, images of those mentioned and their names appear. Slowly, as the lecture continues, these evaporate and the lights brighten gradually, reaching normal level as the syllabus, written on the board, is seen.
Helen, Queen of Laconia. The Four Beauties of China. Callicrates of Sparta. Cleopatra VII. Adonis. The list of men, women, and perceived deities who were claimed to possess otherworldly beauty extends as far back as we have record of society. Tales describe these beings - both magical and non-magical - who have a stunning hold on all men and women who behold them, and have the ability to influence world events simply by giving or withholding love and affection. In some historical cases, this is simply a case of over-exaggeration or of romanticized interpretation of events. In others, such people may have had a naturally incredible beauty given the time and place in which they lived. And the third possibility, the one that connects to our topic in Potions 401, is that these men and women used magical potions and elixirs in order to make themselves more desirable.
These potions may have come in two forms: a love potion of some sort, the likes of which we will not discuss until your Fifth Year when we cover psychological potions, and beautifying potions. Potions that enhance, improve, or give the impression of beauty are among the oldest that we have identified on record. There is evidence of their use in Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, and Ancient Greece, where both men and women made use of their powers. Now, as we will learn in today’s lesson, love potions and beautifying potions are not entirely different in some aspects. Some may even say that beautifying potions are, in many ways, much more complex and subtle than love and lust potions. It invokes not only a physical alteration to the body, but also takes into account personal psychology and the perception of those around the user.
In Potions 401, we will be discussing potions that enhance or impact our physical or perceived being in some way. This includes potions that increase beauty, enhance strength, and even those that sharpen wit, enhance memory, and increase relaxation and peacefulness, all of these traits tying into certain aspects of the physical being that we will cover in class. We will have a full nine lab sessions this year, including a different recipe in every single class. We will also include discussions of the mechanisms and theories of how these potions work, and how they target specific areas of the body and the mind in order to enact these changes.
Here is the general syllabus for what you can expect to learn in Potions 401, including the potion we will be brewing each lab. After each class, recipes from Peregrin Tugwood’s Guide to Looking Great! (And Feeling Fine) will be transcribed and added to the book in the library.
[Image credit: Dane Lautner]
As with last year, there will be quizzes accompanying every lesson. Some lessons will also have at least one essay or unique submission-based option. However, similarly to last year, they will not all be mandatory. Some will be extra credit and optional. However, those essays will usually have very creative components to them, so I encourage people to try them if they have the time.
In ancient times when magical and non-magical people lived in closer proximity, beauty potions and anti-aging elixirs were dispensed by magical people much in the same way we see healing: a potioneer who brewed concoctions for witches and wizards would most often also brew remedies for non-magical customers. While it is possible that some of the beauty potions dispensed to Muggles did have magic, as the Muggles had not yet grown intolerant to magical energy, quite often these “potions” were composed of healthful mundane ingredients.
For instance, an ancient European Elixir of Life, a concoction said to promote extended youth, was recently reconstructed by Muggle anthropologists. The major ingredients in this elixir were all non-magical in nature, including gentian root, aloe, rhubarb, Spanish saffron, and zedoary. These are all popular ingredients still utilized by modern herbalists that provide health. There are currently Muggle studies that suggest that saffron, for example, may alleviate major depressive disorder. It has also been linked to helping prevent certain types of cancer as well as preventing degeneration of sight as one gets older. Rhubarb is a natural laxative used in Chinese herbology that also appears in many ancient and medieval Arabic and European concoctions. Thus, instead of providing their customers with a magical solution to their concerns about aging, often potioneers in ancient times would also incorporate mundane - but very healthful - solutions that would help prevent certain diseases or slow down the degeneration process. This can be seen somewhat similar to the Muggle concentration on many healthy juices and smoothies in this era.
In terms of ancient magical recipes, the placenta of magical creatures was often used in beautification concoctions. The superstition around the reasoning was that the innate beauty associated with the beginnings of life would be infused into the consumer of the potion. One of the strongest ancient beauty potions is supposedly a recipe that calls for use of the placenta of a unicorn. Now obtaining unicorn placenta is not an easy task, so there is little knowledge as to the efficacy of unicorn placenta as a primary ingredient in potions. It is rumored that this was the potion taken by Helen of Troy, the “most beautiful woman in the world” whose face “launched a thousand ships”, but we have no evidence confirming or denying this claim. During this time, ginger root and lemon juice were also used as primary ingredients in the beautification potions.
In Ancient China, witches and wizards also used the third leg of the fenghuang, a magical three-legged bird, in potions that increased youthful appearance and beauty. Although this bird was used in potions intended for consumption by both genders, interestingly it seems to be more effective in beautification potions specifically aimed at male consumers.
As magical and non-magical people began to drift apart owing to the rise of Christianity and the persecution of magic, magical people began to experiment more readily with strictly magical ingredients in their beautification practices. Fairy wings were added as primary ingredients, while butterfly wings and unicorn hair were added as secondary ingredients. The previous professor for Potions, Lucrezia Batyaeva, discusses that as well in Care of Magical Creatures. However, for those who did not take that class, butterfly wings are typically used in illusory and hallucinogenic potions. When incorporated as secondary ingredients in a potion towards beauty - or any other physical characteristics - they have a similar quality on those her perceive the user of the potion. While not used in a large enough quantity to cause a true “hallucination”, they give off a perception of the subject being a bit more pleasing to behold.
Boar whiskers collected within three days of the new moon - again, as discussed in Professor Batyaeva's guest lecture - may also be used to impact the release of pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals secreted by animals that influence and impact the behavior of animals of the same species. This reaction can vary from acting as a warning or alarm or leaving a trail towards safe food sources. In the case of boar whiskers used in beauty potions, it causes an increase in the release of lust or sex pheromones in the one who drinks it, this chemical reaction evoking the desires of those who come in close proximity.
One of the most well-known Beautification Potions was first published in the 16th century in Zygmunt Budge’s Book of Potions. One of the more eccentric personalities in potioneering, Zygmunt Budge attended Hogwarts until he left the school at the age of fourteen following an argument with the Headmaster. He eventually made his way to Hermetray in the Outer Hebrides, which are located northwest of Scotland. He spent the rest of his life obsessively pursuing his continued discovery of potions and writing his masterpiece, the Book of Potions.
Budge’s original Beautification Potion had an incredibly strong impact on the user’s pheromones: when testing it upon himself, Budge - who was not exactly of great beauty naturally - found his secluded island surrounded by Muggle women in boats who called out to him and propositioned him freely. Ultimately, he was forced to revert to his own normal appearance and charge down onto the shore wearing only a loincloth in order to scare them away. We will, as you may assume, not be brewing this strong a potion in this class.
Instead we will be brewing a potion that was created by Sacharissa Tugwood in the early twentieth century. Tugwood was born in 1874, and she also attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, graduating in 1893. Her favorite and best subject at the school was Potions, and she continued her work in appearance-based and cosmetic potions. She was the first witch known to use beautification potions and cosmetic potions on a daily basis, and she ultimately popularized these concoctions. Much subtler than Budge’s Beautification Potion, Tugwood’s only enhanced beauty to a reasonable level, so that one could go out feeling confident but without attracting a swarm of magical and muggle admirers.
Tugwood’s son, Peregrin Tugwood, was a very fashionable wizard who joined his mother’s company following his own graduation from Hogwarts. He was easily recognized by his collection of outlandish green hats (the Tugwood family came from a long line of Slytherins) and his penchant for vibrant, patterned trousers. While his mother had a talent in brewing potions, Peregrin was more business and market-oriented, and he was greatly responsible for commercializing the potions that his mother invented. The first ever cosmetic potions advertisement appeared in the Daily Prophet in 1921, when Tugwood’s Tinctures, a line of skin-clearing products, announced their inclusion in the apothecary in Diagon’s Alley. The ad was incredibly simple, and many did not quite understand what it was advertising. However, this proved to be excellent business, as many witches and wizards turned up in Diagon Alley asking shopkeepers what these tinctures were. The buzz led to increased curiosity, and many picked up the beauty products to try.
External beauty aside, Sacharissa Tugwood did a fairly impressive job of self-preservation: the witch lived to the ripe old age of ninety-two. After her death in 1966, her son Peregrin and his own sons took over Tugwood’s line of products and included home guides for adventurous witches and wizards who wanted to hazard their own hand at the recipes.
Today, the most well-known purveyor of beautifying potions and serums is Madam Primpernelle, who owns a shop in Diagon Alley called, appropriately, Madam Primpernelle’s Beautifying Potions. While the shop does do most of its own in-house brewing with a staff of senior and junior Potioneers (a very nice position for a Potioneer who wants to get into a still relatively-lucrative facet of potion-making), they also do purchase other brands, including a few of the older Tugwood lines, which are still considered some of the best to this day.
Madam Augustine Primpernelle herself hails from Toulouse, France. She was born in 1965 and attended Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. She specialized in physical charms and potions, and worked for a time for a beautifying potions company in France. She moved to London in 1990 following a beau named Louis Sarkozy and began working for the Tugwood family. After breaking up with Louis some years later, Madam Primpernelle decided that the time had come to make her own way in life. She began by curating the best beauty potions from throughout the world - primarily the UK, India, and China - and sold them door-to-door as a “representative” for those companies. Eventually, after establishing a name for herself as the Beauty Witch of London, Madam Primpernelle purchased her first brick and mortar shop on Diagon Alley, and began selling a limited range of products.
Following some success, in 2002, Madam Primpernelle began to do her own brewing in-house, incorporating her own recipes and moving away from her previous role as a distributor. Over time, more and more of the potions sold in Madam Primpernelle’s Beautifying Potions bore her own brand.
Estimated Brewing Time:
Pewter Cauldron: 1 hour, 56 minutes and 15 seconds
Brass Cauldron: 1 hour, 45 minutes and 9 seconds
Copper Cauldron: 1 hour, 35 minutes and 9.6 seconds
1.5 L of water
4 fairy wings1
3 butterfly wings2
2 strands of unicorn tail hair2
45 mL of lemon juice2
3 rose petals1
3 grapes of the Crimson Glory Vine (Vitis coignetiae)1
2-4 mint leaves3*
15 mL of honey3
Optional: 15 ml Flobberworm Mucus
* Can vary based on taste preference
- Add 1 L of water to your cauldron, and bring the heat to 363 Kelvin (90°C/194°F).
- Add 2 fairy wings and 3 butterfly wings to your mortar and crush it to an even consistency with your pestle.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the mixture to the cauldron.
- Add 2 unicorn tail hairs to the cauldron.
- Bring the heat up to 383 Kelvin (120°C/248°F) for 15 seconds, and then reduce heat again to 363 Kelvin (90°C/194°F).
- Stir twice counterclockwise with your wand.
- Add 15 mL lemon juice to the cauldron.
- Allow the potion to brew in your pewter cauldron for 35 minutes. (This would be 31 minutes and 30 seconds in a brass cauldron and 28 minutes and 21 seconds in a copper cauldron.)
At this point, if your potion looks a putrid green, never fear! This is how it should appear. It may smell a bit like moldy bread as well, though it’s not advised that the brewer inhales the fumes, since the butterfly wings will be so potent at this phase.
- Add 3 rose petals to the cauldron.
- Remove the cauldron from the heat source entirely.
- Add 3 grapes to the cauldron.
Caution: If the cauldron is not removed from this phase of the brewing, it will cause the fumes of the potion to have hallucinatory properties. If the brewer manages to avoid these fumes, whatever potion is created will be a powerful narcotic, and can be dangerous in large doses.
- Add the caudron back to a heat source of 363 Kelvin (90°C/194°F).
- Stir once clockwise with your wand.
- Add 30 mL lemon juice to the cauldron.
- Allow the potion to brew in your pewter cauldron for 23 minutes. (This would be 20 minutes and 42 seconds in a brass cauldron and 18 minutes and 37.8 seconds in a copper cauldron.)
At this point of the brewing process, you may still get a bit dizzy from the fumes of the potion, but it should not be hazardous. It will be a pale pink in color with occasional yellow sparks.
- Add 500 mL water to the cauldron.
- Add 2 to 4 mint leaves to the cauldron.
- Add 2 whole fairy wings to the cauldron.
- Let the potion brew for 5 minutes.
Note: The smell of the potion will be rather potent at this point. If inhaled, it will smell strongly of pine cones.
- Add 15 mL honey to the cauldron.
- Stir thrice clockwise with your wand.
- Allow the potion to brew in your pewter cauldron for 53 minutes. (This would be 47 minutes and 42 seconds in a brass cauldron and 42 minutes and 55.8 seconds in a copper cauldron.)
It is not too common to add Flobberworm mucus to this potion but if you would like to do so for a slightly thicker texture, remove the potion from the heat altogether at this point in the brewing process. Allow it to cool before adding 15 mL of the mucus to the mixture, stirring it to an even consistency with your wand.
Whether or not you add Flobberworm mucus, the potion should be a pale blue with lemon yellow streaks. These yellow streaks will not mix with the pale blue even if it is stirred with a non-magical implement. Stirring with a magical utensil following the conclusion of the brewing process will make the potion ineffective.
This potion should be stored in room temperature to slightly warmer climates. Light exposure does not harm the brew, although it should not be stored for long periods in direct sunlight. It can be kept for up to three years before the effects begin to diminish.
This potion is to be consumed orally. 30 to 45 mL should be taken either plain or in tea or another (preferably warm) beverage.
Within two days of use, the consumer should notice smoother skin, with diminishing of visible blemishes and any dryness or shininess. Any visible skin breakouts should begin to diminish as well. They potion may marginally speed an individual’s metabolism, though this does not occur in all cases. It will also increase the attraction pheromones exhibited by a person, so this may warrant unwanted attraction from those around the witch or wizard.
Those who have allergies to any of the ingredients of this recipe should consult an aesthetic potioneer before beginning a regimen of the potions. There have been very few side effects associated with this potion. A few people have reported hot flashes or lightheadedness. While there is no evidence that these side effects cause long term harm, please discontinue use and consult with a Potioneer or Healer if they become uncomfortable or detrimental.
Theory Break: Stirring
In the first year of Potions, we discussed the stirring charm Halato, and how this charm is used for stirring in either direction. It is actually one of the easiest spells to perform nonverbally, so if you are tired of hearing yourself and everyone around you muttering it throughout labs, in a few years you will rid yourself of the necessity. In the second year, we also discussed basic molecular bonding and what creates a molecule. However, we never discussed the impact that magical stirring has on a potion. As a brief “afterlude” for this first lesson of Potions Year Four, I thought it might be appropriate to give a brief glimpse at what happens when you stir using magical energy.
As you may have guessed based on the progression of stirring in previous years, it has been discovered the counterclockwise stirring works to separate particles and cause minor disassembling of molecular structures. In transitional ingredients, this has also been shown to release the magical energy. As such, after the first few ingredients have been added to the cauldron, the brewing process typically involves counterclockwise stirring. In contrast, stirring clockwise is associated with reforming new bonds and compounds in the potion.
While there is still some guesswork involved when discovering new potions, there is a general scale used by potioneers when estimating stirring techniques involved with new potions:
- Once: Very basic molecular disturbance; will not cause many shifts of bonds
- Twice: Minor-moderate molecular disturbance; will cause relatively enhanced breaking or reforming
- Thrice: Moderate molecular disturbance; will cause a mid-range of molecular effects
- Four Times: Slightly extreme molecular disturbance; will cause potentially dangerous molecular reaction
- Five Times: Extreme molecular disturbance; will cause potentially volatile reactions - these potions must only be attempted by an experienced potioneer with advanced research background
As one increases the magically charged breaking or reformation of particles, it becomes increasingly dangerous or difficult. As such, most potions brewed by beginner to intermediate potioneers involve stirring thrice at most. Unless one is relatively skilled, working with potions with stirring potential beyond that can be hazardous. There are experimental potions that involve stirring with a magical implement six or even seven times, but this often leads to extremely volatile solutions that must be handled with the utmost care. It can be somewhat compared to over-inflating a balloon and waiting for it to either explode away from you or blow up in your face.
With this brief look - and warning - we conclude the first lesson of the fourth year of Potions. For your homework, you will have a quiz on this section, and you will also research a standard of beauty that is of your interest. Next week we will be looking at a simple blemish removal cream as well. Safe studying, and see you next week.
Original lesson written by Professor Lucrezia Batyaeva
Image credits here and here
Tale As Old As Time