|“||I, who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal – to conquer death. And now, I was tested, and it appeared that one or more of my experiments had worked … for I had not been killed, though the curse should have done it.||„|
|~ Lord Voldemort's ultimate goal involving the Horcruxes.|
Horcrux is the name given to an object containing part of a wizard's soul hidden by himself to gain immortality. Creating one Horcrux gives one the ability to anchor one's very spirit to the world of the living if the body was destroyed, giving them the chance to create a new body. The more Horcruxes one created, the closer one was to true immortality. Creating multiple Horcruxes was suggested to be costly to the creator, by both diminishing their humanity and even physically disfiguring them to the point that they not only become eviler, but also turned into a humanoid abomination of their former selves, deformations which only worsened had they further meddling into other Dark Arts at the same time.
This concerns the Horcruxes in general as well as the most famous ones that used to sustain the life of the Harry Potter franchise's main villain Lord Voldemort.
In the Harry Potter universe, the idea dubbed "Horcrux" was said to have been invented by Herpo the Foul, the same Dark Wizard who crafted the means to create a Basilisk snake over 900 years ago in Greece. The other known Horcrux creator was Lord Voldemort, who became the first and possibly the only known Wizard who created more than one Horcrux. Aside both of them, it was suggested that there were few other wizards who also create their own Horcruxes, as Horace Slughorn mentioned that the fate of those who used Horcruxes to survive was what only few would prefer.
The nature and concepts of Horcruxes were so terrifying, they were kept secret from most of the Wizarding World, and only few ever knew what they were. Hogwarts banned the subject of Horcruxes, and even books such as "Magick Moste Evile" only skimmed the subject, at best. The only known book that explained Horcruxes in detail was "Secrets of the Darkest Art". As little was known of the subject at that time, no one knew what the effects of creating more than one Horcrux would be, because, aside from Voldemort, nobody had done so.
By the time Harry Potter sacrificed himself to destroy a fragment of Lord Voldemort's spirit inside him and ensure his loved ones' safety by allowing the Dark Lord to kill him via one of the 3 Unforgivable Curses, the Boy Who Lived once again survived due to both the presence of said soul fragment and his late mother Lily's lingering sacrificial protection counter-charm, and briefly entered the realm of Limbo in which he discovered Voldemort's soul fragment that died with him existed in the stunted form of a flayed and mutilated baby. That was when he learned those who mutilated their own soul will never be able to move on from Limbo, let alone returning as a ghost because of its maimed and incomplete state, a terrible fate that would await his nemesis that prompted Harry to try to reason with the Dark Lord to no avail. It is unknown if this was either a standard fate meted out for all Horcrux creators, or if it was unique to Voldemort due to the number of Horcruxes he created. Regardless, the endeavor to undo the mutilation on one's soul is impossible after death as its state afterwards remained that way.
A Horcrux is created by putting a piece of the soul of a wizard or a witch into an object that he/she wishes to convert into. In order to split the spirit for creating a Horcrux, he/she must commit the act of murder as killing someone rips the soul apart. The rest of the Horcrux creation process is unknown, other than having a spell involved which used to encase a portion of his/her fractured soul into a chosen object. The detached soul fragment would always remain as it was when it was divided: Should the piece of soul inside a Horcrux manifested into a physical being, it would do so as the form of the creator itself during the time they create that Horcrux and the object that converted into a Horcrux would gain some elements of its creator's physical appearance. The instance was when Lord Voldemort manifested from his old Diary that has turned into one of his Horcruxes, he appeared as his teenage self at the time when he converted it. Other instance would be the eyes in Salazar Slytherin's Locket that resembled Voldemort's own as they were when he looked more human.
While the master soul (soul that remained in the creator's body) became unstable due to its splintered fragments have been used for Horcrux construction, he/she would live in non-corporeal form should his/her body destroyed, although there were methods of regaining physical form.
It appeared that there are a finite number of Horcruxes any one person may create before the process became too dangerous to attempt again. Though this limit was never explicitly stated, the number seemed to be set solidly at 7 intentional Horcruxes, and creating seven Horcruxes in addition to the person's own body rendered the soul unstable and liable to break off when the person whose soul it was committed murder. Dumbledore explicitly stated that Lord Voldemort's soul had become so unstable that it finally "broke apart" when Voldemort tried to murder Harry Potter for the first time on October 31st, 1981 in Godric's Hollow, where his deceased mother Lily's sacrificial protection that done to protect the young wizard causes a piece of the Dark Lord's soul wind up entered Harry's body and accidentally turned him into a Horcrux.
Horcruxes can be destroyed only by some specific ways, otherwise, it will regenerate. If a person's body was destroyed, his or her soul would remain intact, whereas with a Horcrux, it was the opposite, as the piece of soul depended upon its container to survive. The destruction of a Horcrux was difficult, but not impossible, and required that the receptacle to be damaged completely beyond physical or magical repair. When a Horcrux was damaged to that point, it may appear to "bleed" (ink in the case of Tom Riddle's Diary and a "dark blood-like substance" in the case of Ravenclaw's Diadem) and a scream may be heard as the soul fragment perished. However, as a safety measure to protect one's immortality and precious soul fragment, the creator would usually put powerful enchantments into the artifact to prevent damage, to the point where the most powerful house elf magic would not succeed.
It was unknown if the creator of the Horcrux would be able to sense that his soul fragment was destroyed, although Dumbledore stated that in the particular case of Voldemort, he would not feel their loss because his soul was split too many times and stayed that way for too long. However, this was completely reversed in the Harry Potter films: That is the reason Voldemort starts on the journey of seeing if all of the Horcruxes are safe in the books, but in the films, it is unclear if he even checks his hiding spots. When Hermione destroys the Hufflepuff Cup, Voldemort, Harry and Nagini all seem to be momentarily incapacitated by pain. This also happens when the Ravenclaw Diadem and Nagini are destroyed, clearly showing that all Horcruxes and the Master Soul feel the destruction of the other Horcruxes.
The following means to destroy Horcruxes includes:
- Basilisk Venom: It is shown in the Harry Potter series as the strongest snake poison, being able to destroy magical things and to kill a human in minutes (it almost killed Harry in the second book/movie, but he was healed by Fawkes the Phoenix), Basilisk Venom is powerful enough to destroy a Horcrux. The first display on Horcrux's destruction with Basilisk Venom was when Harry Potter used the giant snake's poisonous fang to destroy Tom Riddle's Diary. Hermione later used one to destroy Hufflepuff's Cup.
- Godric Gryffindor's Sword: The Sword, that was once keepsake of Hogwarts School co-founder Godric Gryffindor, made by goblins with a special metal capable of absorbing anything that strengthens it. When Harry used Gryffindor's Sword to kill the Basilisk, this ensorcelled blade absorbed the monster's poison, resulting it able to destroy Horcruxes. In the series, Gryffindor's Sword is used to destroy Gaunt's Ring, Slytherin's Locket, and Nagini.
- Fiendfyre: A cursed fire that can be cast by a very advanced spell. It cannot be put out by water and it burns faster than normal fire, its highly destructive power can destroy Horcruxes and other powerful magical objects. In the series, the Fiendfyre destroys Ravenclaw's Diadem.
- Killing Curse: The Killing Curse (incantation: Avada Kedavra) is the most powerful of the three Unforgivable Curses, and can cause instant death to someone in which its cast. Since the Horcrux is nothing more than a part of a soul, it is vulnerable to Avada Kedavra. In the series, the Death Curse is cast on Harry Potter, destroying the Horcrux within him and giving him the option to return after his "death", since he had more than one soul.
- Remorse: A Horcrux can be destroyed if a Witch or Wizard who created the Horcrux shows true remorse for his or her actions. However, the process is considered quite painful and it is stated that the Witch or Wizard could die from it. Since Lord Voldemort has never showed any remorse for his actions, none of his Horcruxes were destroyed by this.
Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes
|“||Voldemort's fear is death, ignominious death. I mean, he regards death itself as ignominious. He thinks that it's a shameful human weakness, as you know.||„|
|~ J.K Rowling about Voldemort's thantophobia.|
Lord Voldemort, who viewed death as a human weakness, feared it and created seven Horcruxes to keep himself immortal; six that he created intentionally using objects that he considered valuable and one that he accidentally created, which was Harry Potter himself, when Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby.
Tom Riddle's Diary
The Diary was the 1st Horcrux to be destroyed and the first to be created. It was created from the murder of Moaning Myrtle. It was destroyed by Harry Potter himself in the series in the second book/film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The diary was chosen by Voldemort to be a Horcrux because it was what bonded him to Hogwarts. It was secretly given to Ginny Weasley by Lucius Malfoy where neither of them aware with its nature as a Horcrux. Ginny, by writing in the Diary, discovered that he could answer her, and started to tell her secrets, making her open her heart to him. Tom Riddle's Diary then, started to control her and make her order his Basilisk to attack the students that were never considered pure-blood; in other words, anyone that had Muggle blood. When Harry descend to the Chamber of Secrets, the Diary orders the Basilisk to kill him. After Harry's victory against the monster, he used its poisonous fang to destroy the Diary's Horcrux.
Marvolo Gaunt's Ring
The Ring was the 2nd Horcrux to be destroyed. It was created from the murder of Voldemort's paternal family (Thomas Riddle, Mary Riddle, and Tom Riddle Sr.). It was destroyed by Professor Albus Dumbledore in the events between the fifth and the sixth books/movies Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was chosen by Voldemort to be a Horcrux because it belonged to his family and it was once from Salazar Slytherin, what bound him to nobility, even that he was a half-blood. Dumbledore destroyed it with Godric Gryffindor's Sword that absorbed the Basilisk's poison when Harry killed the beast with it. The Ring was protected by a curse that affected Dumbledore and would eventually cause his death.
Salazar Slytherin's Locket
The Locket was the 3rd Horcrux to be destroyed. It was created from the murder of a muggle tramp. It was destroyed by Ron Weasley in the final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the first part of its film adaptation. It was chosen by Lord Voldemort to be a Horcrux because it was from the great wizard Salazar Slytherin. The Locket was taken by Regulus Arcturus Black from its hiding place and left by Kreacher who tried to destroy it in vain. When Harry went to the hiding place, he found a fake of the Locket with "R.A.B." written in it. After discovering who was R.A.B. (Regulus), he asked Kreacher to find Mundungus Fletcher who stole it from the No. 12 Grimmauld Place. Then Dolores Umbridge took the Horcrux as a bribe from Fletcher and kept it on herself. Harry and his friends sneaked into the Ministry in disguise, stunned Umbridge, took the Horcrux, and escaped from the Ministry. After that, in the middle of a forest, Harry was trying to get Godric Gryffindor's Sword from a frozen lake when the Horcrux tried to drown him. Ron saved him and Harry told him that he should be the one to fight the Horcrux. When Ron tried to destroy it the Horcrux produced illusions of Harry and Hermione Granger, but when the illusions kissed themselves, Ron delivered a hit that destroyed the Horcrux.
Helga Hufflepuff's Cup
Hufflepuff's Cup was the 4th Horcrux to be destroyed. It was created from the murder of Hepzibah Smith (through poison). It was destroyed by Hermione Granger in the final book, and the second part of its film adaptation. It was chosen by Voldemort to be a Horcrux because it was from the great Witch Helga Hufflepuff. Its destruction is just mentioned in the book, but its shown in the film, where Hermione and Ron return to the Chamber of Secrets and use a Basilisk fang to destroy it.
Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem
Ravenclaw's Diadem was the 5th Horcrux to be destroyed. It was created from the murder of an Albanian peasant. It was destroyed by Harry in the last movie, and accidentally by Vincent Crabbe in the final book. It was chosen by Voldemort to be a Horcrux because it was from the great Witch Rowena Ravenclaw. In the film, after a duel with the Slytherin students, Gregory Goyle, casts a Fiendfyre spell and after running from it, Harry stabs the Diadem with a Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the fire. In the book, the spell is cast by Crabbe and accidentally destroys the Diadem.
Nagini was Lord Voldemort's pet snake and the 6th and last Horcrux to be destroyed. She became a Horcrux after the murder of Bertha Jorkins. She was killed by Neville Longbottom in the final book, and the second part of its film adaptation. She was chosen by Voldemort to be a Horcrux because She was the symbol of his power and his ability to speak to snakes, which was a rare ability. In the middle of the Battle of Hogwarts, Nagini was pursuing Ron and Hermione who were uselessly casting spells at her, when Neville suddenly appeared and cut the snake's head off.
Accidentally when he tried to kill Harry, Lord Voldemort imprisoned a part of his soul into him, turning him into a Horcrux. The Horcrux in Harry was the 7th Horcrux to be destroyed. It was destroyed in the final book, and the second part of its film adaptation, by Voldemort himself, though he did not know what he was doing. Voldemort cast a death curse in Harry, causing him to "die". When Harry went to something that looked like Limbo, where he found something that looked like a blooded baby version of Voldemort and Dumbledore's spirit. Since Harry had more than one soul, he could choose to die or to return; either way, the Horcrux's fate was sealed. During that point, Harry learned that Voldemort's soul was damaged so much that he was beyond anyone's help when he found a part of it in Limbo.
Powers and Abilities
Harry has the abilities of a common Wizard, he also shares Voldemort's power to speak to snakes and has a mind connection with him. Nagini has a great resistance to spells (as shown in her fight against Harry and Hermione, and then with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger), a very powerful and corrosive poison (which is shown in the fifth book in Arthur Weasley's wound made by her) and also a uncommon intelligence level. Being only objects, the other Horcruxes show the ability to project illusions and invade weak minds, in some cases, controlling or disabling them as an act of defense.
If they stay in emotional contact with a person, Horcruxes can also drain such person's life force using them to revive the Horcrux's owner. If Harry didn't destroy Tom Riddle's Diary, the Horcrux would have drain Ginny Weasley of her life force, allowing Voldemort to return. According to author J.K. Rowling, not only would Voldemort return, but he would have come back even stronger.
- Apart from the locket, the way Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger finding Lord Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in the films contrasted to that of in the books to the point of sparking a controversy; rather than through deduction skills and available leads, the main trio relied on Harry's guidance. The films goes to explain that a Horcrux will leave a trace of dark magic, this gives the person who touches the Horcrux visions of associated events and other related Horcruxes; when Harry touching Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, he experienced a flow of high speed visions including Tom Riddle screaming in agony (possibly due to the method of ripping his soul) and Nagini, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. This is also stated in Steve Klove's script for the film. This would ultimately lead Harry, Ron, and Hermione to know most (if not all) of the Horcruxes in the film versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- In the videogame adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is further explained that Harry can sense the presence of any of Voldemort's Horcruxes within his vicinity via. his scar's throbbing pain which intensifies the closer he is to one not unlike portable metal detectors which beeps louder upon getting closer with hidden metallic objects. This is exactly how he pinpointed the location of Salazar Slytherin's Locket in the Ministry of Magic, Helga Hufflepuff's Cup at Gringotts, and Ravenclaw's Diadem at the Room of Requirement.
- Another difference in films which also slightly contradicted what has been established in the book is that Voldemort can feel the destruction of his Horcruxes as soon as their numbers are halved (starting with Helga Hufflepuff's Cup) instead of not feeling it at all. True to this, Harry (the accidental Horcrux), Voldemort, and Nagini weren't incapacitated by pain during the Ring, Diary and Locket's destruction.
- Harry speculated that in addition of Gringotts' impressive security systems, the reason why Voldemort chose Lestrange's Vault in that place to hide Hufflepuff's Cup was because as a child, the Dark Lord envied Wizarding families who possess a vault there when he, an orphan whose magical maternal family has been reduced to poverty (and therefore would not have a vault for him to inherit), did not, something he would see as a sign of belonging to the Wizarding World. This further attributed to his explosive, violent breakdown upon learning the Trio's successful theft of the Cup and its subsequent destruction.
- The word Horcrux may be comprised of "hor" or "hore" (old English/middle-English) meaning "dirt, evil, impurity" and "crux" or "crúce" (old English) meaning "container, pitcher(ful), jar" which would therefore mean "container of evil". Alternatively, Horcrux can be seen as a combination of a shortening of "horrible" and "crux" (meaning "the Cross" in Latin). In this sense, a Horcrux would be something that a follower of the Cross would regard as horrible. On the other hand, "hor" could be derived from the French "hors", which means "outside". Thus, "Horcrux" would mean something that is "outside what is permitted under the Cross". The Greek "hor" means "boundary", which could refer to the boundary between life and death. Latin "crux" also lends way to words such as "crucify" and "excruciating", meaning "pain/torture", which may describe either the experience of ripping one's soul apart, or the terrible deeds that must be performed in order to create a Horcrux.
- The Harry Potter book series' author J. K. Rowling stated in Pottermore that Professor Quirinus Quirrell served as a temporary Horcrux when Lord Voldemort's soul possessed his body during Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts. A notable difference, however, is that the piece of soul within Quirrell was able to exist without its container, as it abandoned Quirrell and left him to die in the Underground Chambers. This is due to it being the "master" soul that serves as the awareness and consciousness of Voldemort's psyche.
- Based on this, the animals that Voldemort inhabited during his years of exile, such as rats and snakes, can also be considered temporary Horcruxes.
- J. K. Rowling knows exactly what the process for the creation of a Horcrux is, but is not telling yet. All she will say is that a spell is involved, and a horrific act is performed.
- The likelihood of the incantation to this spell being revealed is very low, as author J.K. Rowling said that she could not "possibly tell [us]. Some things are better left unsaid." in an interview, on July 30th, 2007.
- J. K. Rowling described the invention of the Horcrux as comparable to the splitting of the atom: "Something that people imagined might be able to be done, but couldn't quite bring it off, and then... and then people started doing it with sometimes catastrophic effects.".
- In an interview, J. K. Rowling was asked why the Horcrux within Harry Potter was never destroyed after he was poisoned by the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She replied that Fawkes's tears "mended" him before he could be destroyed beyond repair.
- The only Horcrux that Harry personally destroyed was Tom Riddle's Diary, even though he was the only one clearly stated to be sent for the mission. Also, he did not even know that it was a Horcrux at the time. The Ring was destroyed by Albus Dumbledore, the Locket was destroyed by Ron Weasley, the Cup was destroyed by Hermione Granger, the Diadem was destroyed with Fiendfyre that was conjured by Vincent Crabbe, Nagini was killed by Neville Longbottom, and the fragment within Harry was inadvertently destroyed by Voldemort himself. In the film adaptation, however, the Diadem is stabbed with the Basilisk's fang by Harry and then kicked by Ron into the oncoming Fiendfyre.
- Of the seven Horcruxes Lord Voldemort forged (intentionally and unintentionally), four of them were destroyed during the Battle of Hogwarts, along with Voldemort himself. In fact, aside from Salazar Slytherin's Locket, all Horcruxes were destroyed within the Hogwarts grounds, either during or before the aforementioned battle.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the only Horcruxes mentioned are the Diary, the Ring, and the Locket, leaving Harry with no direction in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows apart from vision induced by residual Dark Arts within the Ring when he touched it and later, his scar's reaction to Voldemort's Horcruxes within his vicinity which could be compared to metal detector with metallic objects. In addition, Ginny hides Harry's potion book while Harry closes his eyes (as well as kissing him for the very first time), and there is no indication that Harry sees the Diadem.
- A person who is a Horcrux also seems to possess some of the creator's abilities such as Harry Potter being able to use Parseltongue which is one of Voldemort's inherited abilities. It also creates a mental link between the two the strength of which seems to depend upon the strength of the creator. For example, when Voldemort was weak and only in a spiritual form, Harry could only sense his presence when he was close by and feel his anger, but after he returned to somewhat of a body, this expanded a bit into the occasional dream vision of things happening with Voldemort. After Voldemort returned to full power, this link expanded so that Harry got full visions in his dreams of what Voldemort was dwelling upon, but the link can also be two-way and Voldemort was able to use it and Legilimency to implant a false vision in Harry's mind. The link can be shut off with Occlumency on the part of one of the two with the link, but if the Occlumency slips, the link can reopen. The only way to sever the link completely and remove the abilities the Horcrux gives is to destroy the Horcrux itself.
- It is debatable if the Killing Curse can destroy inanimate Horcruxes, although given the extreme measures Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to go through to obtain Basilisk venom to destroy the Horcruxes they found during their search, it seems unlikely. It is also possible that none of them were capable of performing the curse, as successfully executing an unforgivable curse requires dark intentions, making it nearly impossible for a Non-Dark Wizard to do.
- According to Professor Dumbledore, Lord Voldemort was preserving the creation of his Horcruxes for significant deaths. However, this stands to be another one of Dumbledore's deductions being wrong, as Voldemort has used a Muggle tramp and Albanian peasant to create two of his Horcruxes, with no known significance for the two. However, Dumbledore only knew for certain of two of the murders committed to create Voldemort's Horcruxes: the murder of Moaning Myrtle (his very first killing) to create the Diary, and murder of Tom Riddle Sr., his father, for the Gaunt Ring Horcrux. Both of these murders were very significant, but it turns out later that Dumbledore was incorrect that all Horcrux-related deaths were important ones.
- J.K. Rowling's exact definition of a Horcrux is "a receptacle prepared by dark magic in which a Dark Wizard has intentionally hidden a fragment of his soul for the purpose of attaining immortality.".
- The concept of a "soul container" is not original to the Harry Potter universe.
- Most notably, the concept of storing ones soul in an external vessel is similar to the idea of a Lich, popularized by the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. A lich is an undead spell-caster who has stored their soul in a vessel called a phylactery to prevent death.
- It is unclear whether a Dark Wizard protected by a Horcrux could still be killed by being thrown through the Veil. It is also unconfirmed whether a Horcrux could be kissed by a Dementor, thereby presumably destroying it.
- In the fairy tale The Warlock's Hairy Heart, the main character of the story stores his own heart outside of his body via dark magic, similar to Horcruxes in both function and consequences. It was a feat considered impossible outside of the storybook, and was probably a metaphor for Horcrux-making, altered so that misguided readers may not try to imitate the exact process, but still similar enough for virtuous readers to understand the story's plot. This in turn resembles the Slavic tales of Koschei the Deathless.
- According to Dumbledore, even when Voldemort's Horcruxes were destroyed, his brain and magical powers would remain intact.
- Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy both never learned that they were each entrusted with a Horcrux despite being told to keep them under the strictest security. Furthermore, Severus Snape was unable to figure out Voldemort had created Horcruxes despite being told that a fragment of Voldemort's soul resides within Harry. In fact, despite Voldemort surviving the first rebounding Killing Curse and telling his Death Eaters that he alone went further than anyone on the path of immortality, none of them were able to understand that he utilized Horcruxes to achieve this. This all suggests that even among the most devoted Dark Arts practitioners such as them, they could not fathom that their master would dare mutilate his own soul for the sake of immortality. The only Death Eater who successfully learned Voldemort had created a Horcrux was Regulus Black and indeed he, despite coming from a family that had quite the affinity for the Dark Arts, was utterly horrified upon finding out and tried to destroy it.
- In the season 12 episode "The One You've Been Waiting" of the TV show Supernatural, a mystical relic containing the soul of Adolf Hitler was described as a Horcrux by Christoph Nauhaus while explaining how it worked which protagonist Sam Winchester recognized as a Harry Potter reference. Like a Horcrux in the Harry Potter series, it saved the soul of the creator to ensure their survival and eventual return.