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Magick Moste Evile - What is (and isn't) a Horcrux

by Kevin McDonald

A Horcrux is a container in which the witch or wizard who makes one puts a piece of their soul to keep safe in the event that their body is destroyed. A Horcrux prevents the soul from "passing on" and thereby holds the witch or wizard's consciousness earth bound. That's it. From that point on, steps would have to be taken to re-establish ones self in a body.

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Reader Comments: (Page 15)

I believe, like so many others, that the tiara had once belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw. I am talking about the tiara in the Room of Requirement, not the one belonging to Great Auntie Muriel. I have thought for a long time that a Horcrux was hidden in the Room of Requirement, but it took me a while to figure out that I doubted Nagini was a Horcrux. That left an opening for the tiara to squeeze into. Anywho, if the tiara was Ravenclaw's, Horcrux-ified by Voldemort, and stuffed into the Room of Requirement, it would fit, would it not? Voldemort would then have a Horcrux from as many founders as possible.

I don't think Voldemort found a Horcrux from Gryffindor, because the only two relics of Gryffindor were the Sorting Hat and the sword. On JKR's site, she explained (in a way which amused me), that the Sorting Hat is NOT a Horcrux. I believe the sword is still safe inside Dumbledore's office. I haven't read the book in a while, but I believe that after Dumbledore's , when McGonagall and the others were sitting in the office with Harry, that Harry looked around and saw the sword on the wall. Correct me if I am wrong. I took this to mean that Voldemort had not gotten a hold of it: remember, it was in the Sorting Hat. "Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat." Remember? Voldemort couldn't have gotten it. Dumbledore would have seen to that: he was around before Voldemort, and had every opportunity to make sure as many relics of the founders as possible were safe from harm.

About Nagini: I agree in the fullest with Monkeeshrines. But to add to that: Inanimate objects are not alive, so you can't call them immortal. If they were Transfigured, they would indeed take on the properties of whatever they were Transfigured into: such as being mortal. Pettigrew survived as a rat because he was still a human. As a human, he could survive those years, so as a rat he could as well.

Although, under your theory, if Nagini were ed, Voldemort could Transfigure the corpse and BAAAM there's the cup or whatever it is. I still doubt it though...

Posted by Ashley R. from Missouri on June 7, 2007 6:01 PM

Ashley R. from Missouri:

Nicely put about the Transfigured vs. Animagus properties.

I also believe the tiara in the room of requirement is Ravenclaw's and a Horcrux, but that does not necessarily exclude Nagini, remember that Dumbledore mentioned as Horcruxes
1. Tom Riddle's diary (destroyed)
2. Marvolo Gaunt's ring (destroyed)
3. Slytherin's locket (presumed destroyed by Regulus Black)
4. Hufflepuff's cup (whereabouts unknown)
5. Something of either Ravenclaw or Huffelpuf(whereabouts unknown)
6. Nagini the giant snake (Dumbledore's guess)

So, the 5th Horcrux might just be Tiara in the Room of Requirement.

These are my thoughts, although I know that Hervé from Strasbourg does not agree with me, and would probably suggest it is Ravenclaw’s wand, which we may have seen on Olivander’s shop on SS/PS being displayed on a cushion (I believe that the wand IS Ravenclaws, but not a horcrux, and it is now in Neville’s position).

Posted by Emilio from Mexico City, Mexico on June 8, 2007 11:07 AM

Emilio: I'm not sure at all about Ravenclaw's wand. What I really believe is that we have a Horcrux for each founder and each Horcrux can be considered as a relic. For Ravenclaw's relic, both theories work:

If the relics match the magician card of tarot game (the 1st major arcane), then there is a wand, and the best bet is about Ravenclaw.

If the relics are related to the quest for holy grail (as suggested by Dumbledore's name Percival, then the grail should be Hufflepuff cup, and there could be a tiara. A tiara is from time to time mentioned in grail legends. Notice that tiaras were used as talismans in rolegame Runescape (maybe one of Jo's sources). So the tiara could play a role, and be something else than a Horcrux.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on June 9, 2007 03:30 AM

herve - As I've mentioned before, I don't think that Jo uses role playing games as sources. However, she and the makers of the games may have some of the same sources, so you may be partially right there.

I also dug back in my memory to Spanish class in high school where our teacher would occasionally play cards with us using a Spanish deck. The suits were cups, swords, coins and clubs. I couldn't help but compare this to the discussion of the Celtic relics we've been having. I have been unable to find much useful information regarding why these symbols were used as card suits, though.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 11, 2007 06:54 AM


You're right, in the first tarot games, the minor arcanes were cups, swords, coins and clubs. Those suits were used in other card games, until it became spades, diamonds and so on.

About role playing games, I think I read somewhere that Jo was pretty fond of them. So she might have been involved in some of them and got some ideas, even if it's clearly not her main source of inspiration.

I told about Shadowrun. The source I quoted for the Sword of Nuada stands in a book called "Worlds withoud end", written by american noveler Caroline Spector. Strangely enough, her two other published books are called "Scars" and "Little treasures". And her website holds a link to a man called Doug Potter, just as follows:

"Terrific illustrator. Writes
and draws comic books. His political
cartoons are tres groovy. And he cooks.
Not to mention he's married to my knitting
guru, Lynne. Check him out."

Lynne Potter could have easily become Lily Potter.

All that is most probably coincidental, but funny isn't it?

Posted by herve from strasbourg on June 12, 2007 12:45 AM

Herve - I'm still a bit doubtful that Jo took inspiration from role playing games, at least on purpose. I don't recall reading or hearing about her enjoying them, but you've probably looked in more, and different, places than me. Do you remember where you read it?

Incidentally, if we want to go with this notion of role games inspiring her, we can see even parallels between a more prevalent theme. Voldemort compares favorably to lich kings (yay Dungeons and Dragons reference!), who, for those that don't know, were un dark magic users who had gained immortality by storing part of their soul in a phylactery (a jar). Sound familiar? If we stop there, then it seems perfectly possible and perhaps even likely that the idea for horcruxes came from D&D.;

However, let's not. There are vestiges of Egyptian burial practices of sealing pieces of a person inside jars in preparation of entering the realm of immortality. In verifying my info (since it's been a while since I did anything D&D;) I also came across a Slavic legend of Koschei, a dark wizard or demon who gained immortality by placing his soul in the eye of a needle, and further used seven layers of protection for it, since breaking the needle would make him mortal again. This legend of Koschei has striking similarities to both the Lich idea and horcruxes. Both the legend and the Egyptian beliefs were there long before role-playing games or Harry Potter.

Of course, you could be completely right and she may have consciously sampled the games. I am strong in my opinion that she didn't because at the time she was coming up with this stuff, 1990 to 1994, she was a between-jobs teacher and single mom trying to write a novel; doesn't leave much time for role playing. Even after her success, rearing 3 children is pretty time consuming. I can't say anything about Runescape, seeing as the tiara link at this time is only speculative; the the first edition of Shadowrun was released in 1989. You did bring up the link to Nuada's sword (and yes, I know I spelled it wrong - repeatedly - in my last comment) and I do think that is a brilliant connection.

What has been be again, what has been done be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 14, 2007 07:28 AM

Monkeeshrines: you're right, and it's incredible how all those novels, legends, myths fit together, even sometimes with east-asian beliefs.

HP looks like a synthesis of so many different things... and yet so much alike.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on June 14, 2007 10:54 PM


I still have a doubt of how a horcurx is created. I think, to create a horcrux, the witch/wizard must someone. Then they themselves have to be ed. With the help of another person their soul is encased. I dont know whether i am right or not.

Posted by Kalaiselvi from Vellore,TN,India on June 21, 2007 10:01 PM

Kevin, Great article. I just have a few things that in my opinion are not quite right.

First, I think the diary was originally a horcrux and not turned into one later on. If Voldemort had successfully planted the diary with a magical memory that could possess someone else, then it would be ridiculous to turn it into a horcrux later on. The magical memory would have been enough to let people know he was Slytherin's heir. So if he made it a horcrux at a later time he would be knowingly endangering a portion of his soul to accomplish a task that would have already been accomplished with the magical memory. The point of the diary was to let others know that he Tom Riddle/Voldemort was Slytherin's heir.

But as Dumbledore stated, "The diary began to think and act, which is more than a mere memory can do" (not a direct quote). That tells us that it had to be a horcrux, but as I said, it would have been stupid of Voldemort to turn it into a horcrux later on in life if he had already successfully planted the memory in it. Also, the fact that the "person" that came out of the diary was the 16 year old Riddle leads me to believe that the horcrux was made when he was 16. Here are my beliefs as to why my statement makes sense.

I think that the soul reflects what we look like externally to some degree, in the same way a ghost looks like the person that d. When a person becomes a ghost they keep the same image as when they d, and the ghost does not continue to age. So the portion of his soul trapped inside each horcrux would look exactly like Voldemort did when he placed that portion into it. So the reason the diary horcrux looks like the 16 year old Tom Riddle, is because he was 16 when he created it.

The second thing is that I truly believe that the snake Nagini is a horcrux. The reason is this. In my reading of mythology and fantasy stories I found that there is a magical creature known as a naga. A naga is a snake with human like qualities. Sometimes this is portrayed as a snake with a human face, sometimes as a normal looking snake that can speak like a human. So in different stories of nagas the naga is presented differently. In my opinion Nagini is a horcrux because it would solidify the referrence to a naga with more than just a similarity in the names. I mean what could be a more human like quality than holding a portion of a human soul inside itself. J.K. loves to use word play when naming people, creatures, places, etc in her books. And naga (a snake with human like qualities) = Nagini (a snake with a portion of a human soul inside it) in my opinion.

Posted by Keith Pastorek from Johnstown, PA on June 29, 2007 12:15 PM

Keith Pastorek from Johnstown,

WOW, That Naga theory is interesting, I, for one, buy it.

Posted by Emilio from Mexico City, Mexico on July 2, 2007 5:43 PM

Has anyone ever thought about the possibility of Harry's Firebolt being a Horcrux?

Maybe Voldemort, knowing Harry's aptitude at Quidditch, knew that the one Firebolt in the shop would eventually fall into Harry's hands. Remember that the diary helped Voldemort to affect people around it. If Harry was riding a Horcrux hundreds of feet in the air, it would be easy to use the Horcrux to him somehow. He has a unique way to Harry now that no one foresee. Although the time frame he had to make it a Horcrux was before he had a body, there are some spells that can be preformed without a wand. maybe he possessed and ed someone near the shop and performed the spell on the broom.

Posted by Professor Green from UCLA on July 7, 2007 12:50 PM

i agree that nagini is a horcrux.

Posted by Mark Campbell from N.Ireland on July 13, 2007 05:30 AM

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