Orbs float above The Charmed Ones as they relinquish their powers[1]

"That's not how powers work. They're not good or bad by themselves, it's how we use them."
Piper explains how powers work.[src]

Powers are magical traits caused by the possession of a piece of the All. They are a biological part of beings that predominately resides in the blood. A power can manifest itself in several ways: in the onset of puberty,[2] as a reflex when a being is in direct need, or just when the being is ready to receive the power.

Powers are neither good nor evil, it's a matter of how they are used. However, over centuries, several powers have been associated with either one of the sides. For example; the ability to create fire is associated with evil and demons were known to commonly possess fire-based powers. Other powers, like Blinking, which is now considered to be a standard warlock power, used to be a typical witch power during the 17th century.[3]

It is very dangerous for mortals to gain possession of powers because they are not meant to have them. As described in the Book of Shadows, mortals become confused, then frightened, paranoid, violent, and demonic, and will ultimately die unless the powers are withdrawn.[4]

Categories of Powers

Type Usage Examples
Active Offensive Attacking and vanquishing or killing other beings Telekinesis, Molecular Combustion, Fireballs, Energy Balls, Fire Throwing, Telekinetic Orbing
Defensive Defending oneself and others from harm or detection Deflection, Molecular Immobilization, Intangibility, Force Field, Invisibility
Supportive Powers not usable in battle, but otherwise useful Premonition, Astral Projection, Empathy, Telepathy, Healing, Mind Manipulation
Transportation Transport oneself and others from one place to another Flight, Hyper Speed, Levitation, Floating, Hovering, Time Travel
Teleportation Teleportation through space, time or planes Orbing, Blinking, Shimmering, Flaming, Beaming, Smoking, Portal Creation, Fading
Passive Automatic powers that are always in effect and cannot be controlled Immortality, Immunity, Invincibility, High Resistance, Reconstitution, Adjusting

Stealing Powers

Eames stealing the deflection power from Vivian

The most common M.O. of demons and warlocks is to steal powers from other magical beings to increase their own strength. Killing another witch and stealing his or her powers will turn a witch into a warlock. As such, warlocks generally steal the powers of witches; though they will also target other beings to build their power base and achieve their personal end goals. All warlocks possess the innate ability to kill other magical beings and absorb their magic though an athame.

Most demons, by contrast, lack the natural ability to steal powers. Some upper level and fewer lower level demons do have this ability. Other demons require spells, rituals or magical objects in order to steal powers. Demons generally steal powers to build up their own power and strength, to climb the ladder of the demonic hierarchy and eventually take over the Underworld.

Methods of Power Stealing

In order to obtain the powers from another being one must usually kill it. This is the preferred way for demons and warlocks. They generally use a lethal power or an athame, after which they absorb the powers.

The Dogan absorbing the powers from Abet.

Warlocks prefer to use only an athame, since athames can be used to channel magic. When warlocks and demons (with the ability to steal powers) kill their victims the powers automatically transfer from victims into the warlocks. However, when using a special type of athame, warlocks and demons can store the powers into the blade until they are ready to absorb them.

Evil witches generally use spells and potions to steal another witch's powers. This allows them to steal powers, unknown to the victim as well as steal them from a distance and without any harm. Vanquishing the evil witch usually sends back the stolen powers to their original possessors, should they still be alive.

To Call a Witch's Powers

The spell in the Book of Shadows.

This spell, which can be found in the Book of Shadows, is used to steal the powers from another witch. First one has to brew a potion, which has to be consumed, willingly or unwillingly, by the witch whose powers are sought. After consumption, the adjoining spell then has to be chanted to steal and absorb the powers. This spell was supposedly added to the Book of Shadows to teach future witches a lesson about personal gain, or to reclaim stolen powers.

Binding Powers

Main article: Power Binding

This refers to the process of using a spell or potion to disable a witch's basic and active powers, rendering them powerless. The act of binding does not remove the powers but simply makes them dormant until the binding was undone. This can be achieved by reversing the unbinding, becoming unbound under stressful situations or due the death of the person who performed the binding. Binding is usually performed on young witches as they are considered incapable of properly using their powers until old enough, and that having powers is potentially dangerous as it makes them targets to evil beings or simply because their active power is too destructive. Examples of binding include:

The Evil Enchantress powerless after forcibly having her powers bound.

  • In an alternate reality where the existence of magic was known by mortals and witches were persecuted, Piper contemplated binding her daughter Melinda's powers so that she would be safe from exposure. While initially set on having Melinda's powers bound using a spell, Piper decided at the last minute not to.
  • When the Charmed Ones encountered the Evil Enchantress, who was bent on becoming the Queen of 12th century kingdom by magically manipulating the Prince and conceiving his heir, they resolved to stop her plot permanently by binding her powers, as she was a powerful evil witch that could conjure the elements. They bound her powers using a Binding Potion by throwing it near her.

Tyler willingly binds his powers by drinking a potion.

  • Tyler Michaels voluntarily had his powers bound, being a young Firestarter who couldn't control his pyrokinetic abilities and was almost made a student in the training academy of a demon named Ludlow. His power eventually became unbound five years later when he was attacked by demons. Piper made the potion used to bind his powers, while also considering whether to she should bind her own child's powers.
  • The Stillman Sisters was a trio of low-level evil witches who gained notoriety for their small-time cons and hustles. This granted them an entry in the Book of Shadows; though it was only a small paragraph that claimed they weren't worth vanquishing and instructed the reader to only bind their magic if they proved to be a nuisance. The Charmed Ones eventually did so after the Stillman sisters took their identities. 
  • Paige reluctantly decided to bind her daughters' powers after one of them set fire to their house. 

Disempowering Beings

Tuatha Disempowers the Charmed Ones

Tuatha casting her spell

In 1999, an two-hundred year old evil witch called Tuatha was accidentally freed from her prison. In order to prevent the Charmed Ones from killing her, she disempowered them. The spell required a fresh human heart for each witch who had to be disempowered. However, her spell did not bind the potion making ability of the Charmed Ones, but their potions had no effect on her.

A few years later, the warlock Bacarra, used the same method as Tuatha, though he only required one heart.

Counteracting Powers

When vanquishing an evil being, it may happen that powers have to be counteracted.

The Charmed Ones Vanquish Eames

Eames being vanquished by the Charmed Ones.

In 2001 the Charmed Ones faced the warlock Eames. He had been planning to kill all Elders and Whitelighters since the late 1980s. In order to vanquish him, the Charmed Ones had to counteract three powers he had stolen; cloning, transmogrification, and deflection. They did so using the following spell;

Time for amends, and a victim's revenge.
Cloning power turn sour.
Power to change turn to strange,
I'm rejectin' your deflection.

The last three lines where individually written by one of the sisters and counteracted a specific power. Phoebe noted that her line (the last one) sounded a little western.

Relinquishing Powers

Only to be done in direst emergency, powers can be relinquished. Simply put, powers can be given up. This can be accomplished by a spell.

Related article: To Relinquish Our Powers

Rex Buckland Blackmails Prue Halliwell

As the sisters' magic gets relinquished, the Book of Shadows erases itself.

In early 1999, a warlock only known by his alias as Rex Buckland, was able to blackmail Prue Halliwell. With the use of trickery and magic, Rex made Prue steal a valuable tiara at the auction house she worked at, thus framing a robery.[1]

When Prue was put in jail, her sisters helped her to escape but while they ran away, they were caught by Rex, who had taken a photograph of their escape. He proposed that the sisters used the relinquishing spell in their Book of Shadows, and give him their charmed powers.

The Charmed Ones' powers are stored into the magical container.

After a long discussion and with no other choice, the sisters agreed and did as he said. They cast the relinquishment spell and stored their powers in a magical container that Rex had given them. As the sisters handed over their powers to Rex, he ordered his partner and lover, Hannah to kill them.

Leo restoring the book and undoing the spell.

However on that moment, Leo Wyatt, the Charmed Ones' Whitelighter, used his powers to reverse the magic and undo the relinquishment spell. This caused for the sisters' powers to return, making them able to rescue themselves from Hannah, who had transformed herself into a black panther.

Back at the Manor, the sisters decided to burn the entry from their Book of Shadows, making it unable for future generations to relinquish their powers.

The Spell Kept Safe in Piper's Mind

The spell

In late 2001, Piper got kidnapped by the Source of All Evil. He had learned that Piper had memorized the relinquishment spell before she and her sisters burned the page from the Book of Shadows a few years back.

By entering her mind, he tried to manipulate her. By making her believe that she was mentally ill, that her being a witch was part of her imagination, he tried to make her say the spell to cure her of her illness. The Source almost succeeded, had it not been for the intervention of Piper's sisters and Leo.

Powers in Mortals

See also: Corruption

Mortals are humans who possess no magical powers and whose biological functions doesn't allow them to. It has been established that if mortals are granted too much power, they will fall into a state of paranoia and insanity as their body and mentality is not prepared for dealing with them.[5]

However, in 2009, magic switched and supernatural beings were stripped of their powers, while mortals were granted them. However, in this case, mortals didn't suffer any kind of paranoia or insanity, presumably due to the magical balance being switched to allow them to handle the magic as well as beings in the Magical Community could.[6]

Notes and Trivia

This is what happens when pregnant witches don't train their powers on a daily basis[7]

  • The Charmed Ones are the only beings to have a power connection where they can tap into each one another's powers. For example, when Paige was unable to speak and had to orb Wyatt to her, away from the Crone, Piper and Phoebe touched her arms and called out for Wyatt; activating Paige's power to telekinetically orb Wyatt to her.[8]
  • In some episodes, there are deviations in a power's natural color (for example: red energy balls and purple orbs).
  • According to Grams, during pregnancy, a witch has to train her powers daily.[9] If not, the witch's powers can go awry. This was proven in the next episode by Piper when she was pregnant with Wyatt. When she tried to blow up demons, she would instead create fireworks or flowers.
  • Artifacts, like the Book of Shadows, can possess powers as well. However, these powers were given to them by charms and spells that were cast upon them. Their strength usually depends on the being whose using that artifact. For example, as the bond between the Charmed Ones grows, so does the strength of their Book of Shadows.
  • Some artifacts are specifically created to contain powers. These Power Containers are used to store powers.[1] Even mortals can be used to store powers, a method generally used by Demonic Power Brokers. However, since mortals were not born to receive any kind of magical power, this will ultimately result in their self-destruction.[4]
  • The Charmed Ones vanquished a large number of evil beings by redirecting their own or their allies' powers against them.
  • Astral Projection is the only known power that can be obtained by through learning rather than naturally possessing it or taking it from another being. Powers like Super Strength can be accessed through the use of other powers.
  • Certain beings are named specifically for the power they naturally possess, even if that power isn't necessarily exclusive to them:

Behind the Scenes

  • Each power on the show has its particular sound effect when a power is activated. If a power has a prolonged effect, like Molecular Immobilization, a corresponding sound effect may be heard when the power deactivates.
  • It's proven in "All Hell Breaks Loose" that the sound effect for Prue's Telekinesis is indeed real in-universe rather than an aesthetic feature for the audience because it can be heard on camera. The same cannot be said of powers like Empathy, which features a series of wind chimes each time Phoebe used it in order cue the audience of it happening, but this is not heard nor acknowledged by any of the characters.
  • Throughout the course of the first few seasons, both the visual effects as the sound effects changed.
  • Telekinesis was the only power in the Unaired Pilot that was not accompanied by a sound effect.
  • In the comics, powers like Telekinesis and Molecular Immobilization are physically represented by energy coming from the user's hands, even though no such effect was used in the show. This is probably used to best illustrate the power being used as it cannot be done so in comic form otherwise.

See also