Louanne Murphy - May 3 - 7 min read
"The Most Mysterious Creatures in Harry Potter and Their Origins"
Updated: May 9
Exploring the Mythological Roots of Harry Potter's Most Enigmatic Creatures

It's important to note that the origins and inspirations discussed in the article may not be the only possible explanations and that there may be differing interpretations among fans and scholars.

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The world of Harry Potter is full of amazing, interesting, and mysterious creatures. There is everything, from the thieving nifflers to the villainous dementors, leaving everyone a creature to suit their tastes. But not everyone knows where these beings got their start. From Greek Mythology to Lord of the Rings, J.K. Rowling took inspiration from a ton of sources. Let’s delve into and explore some of the possible origins of these creatures.


These winged horses were first introduced in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix” and are only visible to those who have witnessed death. Despite their association with darkness and death, Thestrals are gentle and kind creatures. Their origins could perhaps be traced back to Greek Mythology, where they were known as Hippocamps.

Hippocampus are sea creatures that have the upper body of a horse and the lower body of a fish or serpent. They are often depicted as being loyal companions to sea gods and heroes and were believed to be capable of traveling over both land and sea. Hippocampus were considered symbols of strength, power, and freedom, and they were often used in ancient art and architecture as decorative motifs.

Thestrals may have also been inspired by the each-uisce, a creature from Irish and Scottish mythology. The each-uisce is a shape-shifting water horse that lures people to ride on its back and then drags them to their doom in the water. It is said to be a carnivorous creature that feeds on humans and can transform into variety of shapes to deceive its prey. Like the Thestrals, the each-uisce is a creature associated with death and darkness, and it may have been an influence on the creation of these magical winged horses.


Boggarts are mischievous shapeshifters that take on the form of whatever their victim fears the most. They are known for causing chaos and mischief in homes. The origins of the Boggart can be traced back to English folklore.

In English folklore, a boggart is a mischievous and troublesome spirit that was believed to inhabit houses. They were often blamed for objects that went missing or were moved, strange noises in the night, and other inexplicable occurrences. Boggarts were known for their shape-shifting abilities and their ability to take on the form of whatever their victim feared the most. They were said to enjoy causing fear and panic in their victims and would often torment a particular family or household for years. To ward off a boggart, people would leave offerings of milk or other food and drink outside their homes in the hopes of appeasing the spirit. In some cases, people would even move out of their homes to escape the torment of a particularly troublesome boggart.


Perhaps the most terrifying creature in the Harry Potter series, Dementors are soul-sucking beings that feed on the happiness and positive emotions of their victims. J.K. Rowling has revealed that she was inspired by her own experience with depression when she created the Dementors. However, the creature's design was heavily influenced by the Nazgul from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" series.

The Nazgul were ringwraiths that served the Dark Lord Sauron and were known for their terrifying appearance and their ability to instill fear in their victims.

The Basilisk

In "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," Harry comes face to face with the Basilisk, a giant serpent with deadly venom and the power to kill with a single stare. The Basilisk has its roots in Greek and Roman mythology, where it was known as the "King of Serpents”.

According to legend, the Basilisk's venom was incredibly potent and could kill a man instantly. The Basilisk was also believed to be able to turn people to stone with its gaze. In some versions of the myth, the only way to kill the basilisk was with the crow of a rooster. This belief is said to have arisen from the idea that roosters were natural enemies of snakes and could kill them with their sharp beaks. In other versions of the myth, a mirror was used to reflect the basilisk’s gaze back onto itself, causing its own destruction. The basilisk was a popular subject in medieval bestiaries and was often depicted as a symbol of evil and danger. Its image was also used in heraldry and as a decorative motif in architecture and art.

The Merpeople

Merpeople are half-human, half-fish creatures that live in the depths of the Black Lake. They are known for their beautiful singing voices, but also for their fierce and protective nature. The origins of the Merpeople can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology, where they were known as Nereids.

The Nereids were sea nymphs who were the daughters of the sea god Nereus. They were often depicted as being beautiful and alluring creatures with the lower bodies of fish and the upper bodies of women. They were believed to have the power to prophesize, control the waves, and calm the sea. Nereids were also associated with various sea creatures, such as dolphins and seals, and were often depicted as accompanying and playing with these animals. They were considered to be friendly to sailors and were sometimes called upon for protection during sea voyages. In some myths, Nereids were also depicted as being involved in romantic affairs with mortal men, such as the hero Perseus. In other myths, however, they were described as beautiful and alluring, but also dangerous and vengeful.


Nifflers are small, black and furry creatures with a long snout, a pouch on their belly, and an insatiable appetite for shiny objects. In the Harry Potter series, they were first introduced in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as creatures that Hagrid brought to Hogwarts for his Care of Magical Creatures class. Nifflers have a mischievous and playful nature, and they are often used by wizards and witches to locate buried treasure or stolen items.

The origin of Nifflers can be traced back to European folklore, where they were known as "kobolds." Kobolds are mischievous household spirits that were believed to help with household chores, but also enjoyed playing tricks on their human hosts. They were often depicted as small, impish creatures with a penchant for shiny objects, similar to the Nifflers in the Harry Potter series.

In German folklore, kobolds were said to live in the mines and were responsible for creating mischief and causing accidents. They were believed to have the power to transform into various shapes and sizes, and were often blamed for lost tools or stolen items. Despite their mischievous nature, kobolds were also considered to be protective spirits that could bring good luck and prosperity to those who treated them kindly.

In Norse mythology, kobolds were known as "dwarves," small creatures with a talent for metallurgy and smithing. They were often depicted as living in the mountains or underground, and were known for their craftsmanship and ability to create magical items.

Cornish Pixies

Cornish Pixies are small, blue-skinned creatures that first appeared in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." They are known for their mischievous nature and their tendency to cause chaos and mayhem. The origins of Cornish Pixies can be traced back to Cornish folklore.

In Cornish folklore, pixies are mischievous and sometimes malevolent creatures that are said to inhabit the countryside. They are known for playing pranks on humans, stealing food and drink, and generally causing mischief. Pixies are often depicted as small, humanoid creatures with pointed ears and wings. They are believed to have magical powers, and some stories suggest that they can grant wishes or bestow good luck upon those who treat them kindly.

The Cornish Pixies in the Harry Potter series are based on this traditional folklore but have been given their own unique characteristics and personalities. They are known for their high-pitched voices and their tendency to fly around in swarms. In the books, they are shown causing chaos in the Hogwarts castle, stealing items and creating havoc in classrooms. Despite their mischievous nature, they are ultimately harmless and are often used for entertainment purposes by wizards and witches.


Veela are beautiful and alluring creatures that possess a certain level of magical ability. They are first introduced in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" during the Quidditch World Cup, where they perform a dance that mesmerizes the male audience. Veela are known for their strikingly beautiful appearance, with long, silver hair and glowing skin. They have a humanoid shape, but their features are more refined and ethereal than those of humans.

The origins of the Veela can be traced back to Slavic folklore. In Slavic mythology, the Veela are often depicted as beautiful, seductive fairies who live in the forest. They are known for their mesmerizing dance, which can enchant any man who watches it. However, the Veela are also said to have a dark side. If angered, they can become wrathful and vengeful, causing natural disasters and even death.

In the Harry Potter series, the Veela are portrayed as semi-human magical creatures that are highly skilled in the art of seduction. They possess the ability to hypnotize and control the minds of men, making them highly dangerous to be around. The Veela are also able to transform into bird-like creatures with sharp talons and a ferocious demeanor.

It is worth noting that the Veela are not always evil. In "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," one of the Veela, Fleur Delacour, becomes a close ally of Harry and his friends. Despite their enchanting beauty and seductive powers, the Veela are complex creatures with a dark side that should not be underestimated.


Mandrakes are a magical plant in the Harry Potter series with a humanoid appearance and a powerful shriek that can knock out those who hear it. The mandrake has its origins in ancient folklore and was believed to have medicinal and magical properties.

In ancient Greece and Rome, mandrakes were considered to have strong healing powers and were used in medical treatments for various ailments. However, they were also associated with superstition and magic, and it was believed that they possessed the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.

In medieval times, mandrakes were often associated with witchcraft and were believed to be able to perform miraculous feats, such as granting fertility, invisibility, and immortality. The mandrake's distinctive humanoid appearance was thought to be a sign of its magical powers, and it was often used in potions and spells.

The Harry Potter series is full of fascinating and mysterious creatures that have captivated the hearts and imaginations of readers around the world. Each creature has its own unique history and origins, often rooted in ancient mythology and folklore. From the majestic Thestrals to the terrifying Dementors, these creatures add an extra layer of magic and wonder to the wizarding world.

The origins and inspirations discussed in the article are based on research and interpretation and may not be the only possible explanations. There may be differing opinions among fans and scholars.

The article contains spoilers for the Harry Potter series.

The author is not affiliated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any official Harry Potter or Wizarding World entities.

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