Legilimency was equated to the fictitious Muggle art of mind reading, but most practitioners of Legilimency considered that a very naïve and backward approach. They believed that the mind was structured more as a many-layered thing teaming with thoughts than a mere readable book with clarity. The skill used to tactically evade being examined by legilimency was called occlumency. In the Harry Potter Universe, it is not known if legilimency existed since magic or was later discovered by some wizard or witch. Some of the earliest legilimens include the four Hogwarts founders who taught this ability to the Sorting Hat to screen students. Salazar Slytherin was considered one of the most accomplished legilimens of his time. Other skilled legilimens include Queenie Goldstein, Albus Dumbledore, Lord Voldemort, and Severus Snape.
How does a Legilimens Use Legilimency?
A highly skilled legilimens could use Legilimency without using a wand or the incantation Legilimens. However, for someone who was just a novice in the art of Legilimency, it was easier to invade the mind of another person by using a wand or wandlessly, by uttering the incantation Legilimens. There were also two types of legilimens, namely naturally born legilimens and acquired legilimens. Some wizards and witches, most notably Queenie Goldstein, Jacob and even Tom Riddle may have been natural legilimens in that they acquired their skills by birth. However, some wizards and witches would develop it as an acquired skill as was possible in the case of Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore.
Who Uses It In The Harry Potter Series?
The first known Legilimens in the Harry Potter universe is Salazar Slytherin. He used to be an accomplished Legilimens and is attributed with adding the skill of Legilimency to the Sorting Hat during its creation. This would help the hat understand each student and assign them an appropriate house.
Several Dark Wizards from the past, most notably Ekrizdis, who lived on the island that came to be known as Azkaban, was also known to be a Legilimens as he was capable of luring Muggle sailors into the island.
Queenie Goldstein in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a gifted Legilimens. She was a Legilimens by birth and could easily read what was happening in the minds of everyone surrounding her. Queenie’s Legilimency would eventually help Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein, and Jacob Kowalski to escape from the MACUSA building. Furthermore, Queenie would use her Legilimency to report to Grindelwald about Aurelius Dumbledore (previously known as Credence Barebone) and what he is thinking, but sometimes she would also read Grindelwald’s mind.
Severus Snape was an accomplished Legilimens and was asked by Albus Dumbledore to teach occlumency to Harry Potter after it became evident that there was a connection between the minds of him and the Dark Lord. Snape made several attempts to teach occlumency to Harry Potter, but Snape’s unsupportive and demeaning methods helped very little in teaching Harry the art of occlumency. Snape used legilimency several times on Harry when teaching him to control his emotions and prevent his mind from giving away any information.
Snape used legilimency again, this time non-verbally to figure out how Harry Potter had managed to learn the spell Sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy and realized that Harry was in possession of his Potions book from where Harry had learned the spell. Snape would again use legilimency on Harry to anticipate each spell and block it before Harry casts them on Snape after Snape killed Albus Dumbledore.
The Dark Lord, or Lord Voldemort, was a very accomplished Legilimens and was considered by many, especially his Death Eaters to be the greatest wizard and Legilimens ever. It is believed that Voldemort enjoyed being an invader of the inside of skulls of his victims and of his subject’s thoughts. However, he was unable to properly tell what Draco thought because Draco was taught Occlumency by his aunt Bellatrix Lestrange.
Albus Dumbledore, who was considered by many to be the greatest wizard alive in his time, was both an accomplished legilimens and occlumens. He used his skills of legilimency several times to understand what Harry was going through. Furthermore, he used legilimency to great effect when he uncovered the plot of the house-elf Kreacher to bring Harry Potter to the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic.
Harry Potter never managed to master the art of Occlumency although he was trained by Snape for a short while. Despite Hermione Granger’s continued requests to Harry to apply occlumency, he almost never used it. However, it is possible that he revisited this art and even mastered it in his leisure time in his later life.
Legilimens in the Muggle World
Although there are no real legilimens or occlumens in the Muggle world due to the mere fact that magic doesn’t exist in the Muggle world, there still exist practitioners of disciplines that resemble mind-reading. There also exist methodology courses in fields like psychology which help professionals read people through their actions. The study of popular culture, gender and the work of anthropologists can also be considered to be a type of mind-reading as it sheds profound light on the thought processes of people as a group. Theologians, historians, rhetoricians, and even economists have made several contributions to behavioural studies that map people’s actions in groups and can predict the future solely based on statistical models.
Furthermore, the work of mentalists and the attempt of scholars trained in deduction can also be considered to be similar to legilimens as they use interesting techniques like cold reading, hot reading, and deduction to map an understanding of a person’s psyche.
Who are Legilimens in Harry Potter?
Legilimens in the Harry Potter series are witches or wizards who are capable of reading or analyzing the mind of another person. They are either gifted with this ability at birth or are trained in the discipline of Legilimency and are capable of accessing the thoughts of another person with great ease. Some examples of accomplished Legilimens in the Harry Potter series include Albus Dumbledore, Queenie Goldstein, Lord Voldemort, and Severus Snape.
Was Luna Lovegood a Legilimens?
No, Luna Lovegood was not a Legilimens. It is possible that she had a flair for understanding a person’s deep thoughts, but it is highly unlikely that she was a Legilimens. Although she was able to tell what Harry was thinking on several occasions, it was most likely just her intuition and not her using Legilimency.
Can anyone be a Legilimens?
Yes, anyone could theoretically be a Legilimens if they were given enough training despite the fact that some people were born as a Legilimens. Legilimency was a complex discipline with several techniques and not all of those techniques were restricted to people who were born with the gift of Legilimency. Many accomplished wizards and witches were skilled in Legilimency even though they never had that ability at birth. Therefore, anybody who had the will to train in Legilimency could become a Legilimens.