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Albus Dumbledore moving "on"

"After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure."
Albus Dumbledore regarding life after death[src]

Afterlife (also referred to as life after death) was the concept that an essential part of an individual's identity or the stream of consciousness continued to manifest after the death of the physical body. It was unknown if the wizarding afterlife differed from their non-magic counterparts. It was unknown if non-magic people were subject to the same laws governing the soul as wizardkind. It appeared that the afterlife was something that most of the magical community believed in, as there were numerous examples of it.


According to various ideas about the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that continued to exist on after death could be some partial element, or the entire soul or spirit, of an individual, which carried with it and could confer personal identity or, on the contrary, could not, as in Indian nirvana. Belief in an afterlife, which could be naturalistic or supernatural, was in contrast to the belief in oblivion after death. In some views, this continued existence often took place in a spiritual realm.

Limbo DH2

Harry Potter waking up in limbo

The afterlife in the wizarding world appeared to be heavily influenced by the state of an individual's soul. If the soul was incomplete and damaged, it affected one's ability to move on after death. For example, with the destruction of all of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes his broken and mangled soul was forced to exist in its stunted form in limbo permanently. He had violated the laws of nature to such a terrible degree that he was forced to pay the consequences.[1] A ghost was someone who chose to remain in the world of the living after death, mostly due to fear of the unknown. A ghost is then forced to stay on the physical plane as imprints left by their souls.[2][3]

The veil was an enigmatic structure located in the Department of Mysteries. It seemed to be a manifestation of the barrier between the land of the living and the land of the dead. Once inside the realm of the dead, there was no return to the living world, as it was a one-way trip, and the passing through the Veil proved immediately fatal to all who crossed it. The living could have the strangest feeling that there was someone standing right behind the Veil, on the other side of the archway. The words of the ones beyond the Veil were inaudible except for "faint whispering and murmuring noises" coming from the other side of the Veil. When the living person attempted to communicate, the dead tried harder and their whispering and murmuring became louder.[4]


Luna Lovegood: "And anyway, it's not as though I'll never see Mum again, is it?"
Harry Potter: "Er — isn't it?"
Luna Lovegood: "Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn't you?"
Harry Potter: "You mean..."
Luna Lovegood: "In that room with the archway. They were just lurking out of sight, that's all. You heard them."
— Luna and Harry discussing the Veil and the afterlife[src]

When Harry Potter and his friends travelled to the Ministry in 1996, they found themselves in the Death Chamber and strangely drawn to the Veil. Harry, Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, and Neville Longbottom were all entranced by the Veil, most likely because they all believed more or less in some type of afterlife. It is implied that Hermione Granger did not, as she did not hear the voices. Harry and Luna heard the voices of their deceased loved ones from beyond.[4]

After the death of Sirius Black Harry asked Nearly Headless Nick about ghosts and how a wizard becomes one. Nick stated that ghosts are imprints left upon the Earth and that very few wizards would choose such a path. He also stated that Sirius would never choose such a thing and that he would have gone on, implying that ghosts know that there is some form of life after death.[2] Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood briefly discussed death and the afterlife. Luna mentions the death of her mother and informs Harry that she will see her again, as she is just out of sight. She also mentions the voices that she and Harry heard beyond the veil.[2]

On James and Lily Potter's grave in Godric's Hollow, the message carved into the headstone was "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death". This message meant living on after death and that death is nothing to fear, but something that is inevitable and should be accepted.[5]


Dumbledore expressing excitement for "the next great adventure"

After being hit by Voldemort's Killing Curse in 1998, Harry awoke to find himself lying naked in a formless mist. After a period of adjustment the mist began to take shape into a copy of King's Cross Station. Harry then saw a stunted whimpering child-like form lying on the ground, for which he felt both pity and revulsion. He also saw the deceased Albus Dumbledore and the two had a long talk in which Dumbledore answered many of Harry's questions and told him that he was not actually dead. As a soul that was whole and complete Harry was given the choice to return to the world of the living to finally stop Voldemort, or to board a train and "go on". Harry choose to live instead of boarding a train to the afterlife.[1]


Grindelwald welcoming death at the hands of Voldemort

When trapped and unarmed in Nurmengard, facing certain death at the hands of the only dark wizard more powerful than himself, Lord Voldemort, Grindelwald was openly defiant towards him, even mocking, goading Voldemort into killing him by saying that he welcomed death, but that it would not "bring him what [he] sought", saying there is so much he "doesn't understand". Indeed, he seemed to exhibit a grotesque remnant of the "merry, wild" temperament of his youth. Grindelwald's last words consisted of the dressing-down of Voldemort, and a rather enthusiastic outlook on "the next great adventure", all of which seems clear in its connection to his old friend and lover, Albus Dumbledore.[6]


Heaven was often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a Paradise, in contrast to Hell or the Underworld or the "low places", and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith, or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe in the possibility of a Heaven on Earth in a World to Come.

Hell, in many religious and folkloric traditions, is a place of torment and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as eternal destinations while religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations. Typically, these traditions locate hell in another dimension or under the Earth's surface and often include entrances to Hell from the land of the living.

Other traditions, which do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward, merely describe Hell as an abode of the dead, the grave, a neutral place located under the surface of Earth.

The wizarding world is aware of the concept of hell, as Neville Longbottom once referred to it. Wizards seem to view hell the same way Non-magic people do, as Neville also inferred that it was hot.[7] If wizards are aware of the concept of hell they most likely are also aware of the concept of Heaven or nirvana. It is unknown if they believe in those ideals or not.


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
  3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow)
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)