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Revision as of 21:27, November 8, 2010

"My wicked and most subtle friend. Who knows ways of magick moste evil."

The Elder Wand, variably known as the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny, the Eldruhn Wand, and the Elhorn Wand, is one of the Deathly Hallows. According to legend, whoever united it with the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility would be the Master of Death. It was said to be the most powerful wand that had ever existed and was able to perform feats of magic that would normally be considered impossible. For example, it was able to fully mend another wand that was thought to be damaged beyond repair.


Mythic origins of the Elder Wand

"So the oldest brother, who was a combative man, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence: a wand that must always win duels for its owner, a wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death!"
The Tale of the Three Brothers[src]

According to The Tale of the Three Brothers in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the three brothers—suspected to be the Peverell brothers: Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus Peverell—were out travelling the world one day when they came across a treacherous river that had been known to claim many lives when attempting to cross it.[3] The three brothers pulled out their wands and conjured a bridge out of thin air. As they began to cross it, however, they found a hooded figure blocking their path midway across the bridge. It was Death himself, and he did not like missing out on new victims.[3] While he pretended to congratulate them for their triumph, Death schemed against them. He offered each brother a gift for outsmarting Death. The eldest went first, and being a belligerent man, he asked for a wand that would defeat all others. Death went to the nearest tree and created a wand of elder and Thestral tail hair.[3] He gave it to the eldest and proceeded to give gifts to the other brothers. The second brother asked for an object that would recall the dead and was given the Resurrection Stone. The youngest was wiser than his brothers and was sceptical of Death's intentions. He asked for an object that would allow him to live his life without the fear of Death following him. Defeated, Death handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility.[3]

Early known history

"Wand of elder, never prosper."
—An old saying about Wands made of Elder.[src]
Dumbledore and Elder Wand

Albus Dumbledore and the Elder Wand.

As it was unlikely that he received it from Death, the Elder Wand was most likely created by the eldest of the three Peverell brothers, Antioch. It is fifteen inches long, made of Elder. It has a core of Thestral tail hair, which is "a tricky substance that only wizards that mastered death can control," according to legend.[3] After killing a rival wizard in a duel shortly after creating the wand, Antioch drunkenly boasted of the wand's powers. He was murdered in his sleep that night, and another wizard took possession of the wand.[3] Over time, the powerful wand passed through various owners, usually under violent circumstances, and acquired names such as "The Deathstick" and the "Wand of Destiny."[1] Several of the wand's owners are known as its "bloody trail" was "splattered across the pages of Wizarding history." Some of its owners were as follows: Emeric the Evil, Egbert the Egregious, Godelot, Hereward, Barnabas Deverill, and finally Loxias.[5][2] Many of these owners were killed by their successors in order to attain mastery in their lust for power.

Recent history

"I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and to use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it."
Albus Dumbledore on the Deathly Hallows and the Elder Wand[src]

It eventually ended up in the possession of the wandmaker Gregorovitch, who boasted about trying to duplicate its powers. It was stolen from him by the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, when he was only a young man; he stunned Gregorovitch to acquire mastery of the wand.[1] Grindelwald used it to cause havoc in an attempt to create a new world order in Europe. When he was defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945, mastery of the Elder Wand passed to him.[6]

Many years later, during the Second Wizarding War, in order to save himself from a more agonising death, Dumbledore asked Severus Snape to kill him. As this act was agreed upon, Dumbledore would not be "defeated," and the powers of the Elder Wand would be nullified. However, before he was killed by Snape, he had been defeated. Draco Malfoy disarmed Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower the night Dumbledore died. Unknowingly, he became the master of the Elder Wand.[7]


Lord Voldemort tests the Elder Wand after taking it from Dumbledore's grave.

Throughout the later half of 1997 and into the spring of 1998, Lord Voldemort sought the Elder Wand.[1] He desired the Elder Wand in order to finally conquer Harry Potter and, therefore, render himself invulnerable. He traced the wand's recent history, and it led him to Dumbledore.[1] After robbing Dumbledore's grave of the wand which had been buried with its previous master, Voldemort took possession of it.[1] When it would not act as he believed it should, he ordered Nagini to murder Snape so mastery of the Elder Wand would pass to him, since he believed Snape to be the wand's master. However, as Harry Potter, who had been briefly seeking the wand as well, later deduced, its true master was Draco Malfoy.[1] Nearly a year after Draco had unknowingly become the wand's master, Harry had taken Draco's wand by force, making him the master of the Elder Wand.[1]

Late in the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter, who had learned that he had been made into a Horcrux, walked into the Forbidden Forest to sacrifice himself to Lord Voldemort.[1] Voldemort cast a Killing Curse on Harry using the Elder Wand. The wand seemingly worked because Harry intended to die at Voldemort's hand, much as Dumbledore had planned his death with Snape. Harry had entered a limbo state, portrayed as King's Cross Station, from which he could choose to return.[1] When he did return, Voldemort cast the Cruciatus Curse on Harry's "dead" body but caused no pain. At this point, Harry realised that he was, in fact, the master of the Elder Wand.[1]

Harry: "I'm putting the Elder Wand back where it came from. It can stay there. If I die a natural death like Ignotus, its power will be broken, won't it? The previous master will never have been defeated. That'll be the end of it."
Ron: "Are you sure?"
Hermione: "I think Harry's right."
— Harry on his decision to give up the Elder Wand[src]

In the final confrontation in the Great Hall, Voldemort used the Elder Wand to perform the Killing Curse on Harry again.[1] However, Harry had no intention of dying this time, and as such the wand had refused to harm its true master. The curse rebounded on Voldemort, finally killing him.[1] Harry, now the true master and possessor of the wand, used it to repair his first wand of Phoenix feather and Holly.[1] He then returned the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's tomb, declaring it to be more trouble than it was worth.[1]


"An unbeatable wand, Hermione!"
Ron Weasley to Hermione Granger.[src]

The Elder Wand was the most powerful wand in existence. Its owner could have used it to cast spells more powerful than believed to be magically possible.[1] For example, Harry Potter was able to repair his regular, Phoenix feather wand using the Elder Wand in 1998, even though broken wands were supposed to be damaged beyond magical repair.[1]

Although the wand was rumoured to be unbeatable, in Dumbledore's commentary on The Tale of The Three Brothers, in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, he commented that the Elder Wand, while being immensely powerful, had never been unbeatable, as it had been beaten hundreds of times.[2] For it to pass to a new master, the wand must have been beaten, and as there have been many masters of the wand, it was obvious that it was possible to defeat the wielder of the Elder Wand. For example, Grindelwald, though he had mastered the Wand, was still defeated by Dumbledore in 1945.[6] Also, fifty years later, Dumbledore could not truly defeat Lord Voldemort in their duel at the Ministry of Magic though the Elder Wand still allowed him to fight the Dark Lord to a stalemate.[8] As The Elder Wand was the only one wand that has Thestral tail hair as its core,[9] it was also immune from the Priori Incantatem effect, adding to its power.[10]

Other elder wands

While "The Elder Wand" (capitalised) refers to one of the Deathly Hallows, other wands have been made from elder wood.[2] In general wizards seem to eschew elder wands, due at least in part to the sordid history of the Elder Wand itself, favouring wands made from various other woods, such as holly, willow, vine, and oak.[2] Ron repeats an old wizarding saying, "Wand of elder, never prosper" after Hermione reads The Tale of the Three Brothers, to illustrate how wizarding lore may be passed from generation to generation.[1]

Behind the scenes

  • Dumbledore's commentary on the Tale of the Three Brothers notes that all known Masters of the Elder Wand had been male.[2]
  • The film-makers for the Potter series designed Albus Dumbledore's wand for the films years before it was revealed to be the Elder Wand, or that the Elder Wand even existed. Fortunately, the wand they created happened to be extremely unique-looking among all the film series' wands, even bearing carvings which resemble clusters of elderberries running down its length. [11]
  • Those to whom the Elder Wand is not loyal can perform feats of magic equivalent to owning a regular wand. In the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort remarked about this to Severus Snape, and reasoned that, since he believed Snape to be the master of the Elder Wand, Voldemort would have to kill him to claim true mastery of it. The only thing that it has been shown that the Elder Wand cannot do (or, rather, will not do) is harm its own master if it finds itself in the physical possession of another.[1]
  • At the end of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Elder Wand is seen lying on the headmaster's desk, instead of being buried in the White Tomb. Though as there is no burial scene in the film, it is possible that the wand was buried with him.[12]
  • Albus Dumbledore is the only known wizard to have defeated a Master of the Elder Wand (Gellert Grindelwald) in a wizarding duel.[6] Other Masters of the Elder Wand obtained mastery through deceit, stealth (as when Grindelwald stole it from Gregorovitch),[1] foul play (the murder of Antioch Peverell in his sleep),[3] happenstance (as when Draco Malfoy disarmed Albus Dumbledore, who was concurrently casting a Full Body-Bind Curse on Harry Potter)[7] or beating the current master while he does not physically possess the wand (as in Harry Potter's disarming of Draco Malfoy).[1] This is another testament to Dumbledore's innate magical skills, which he references to Harry when the latter is in limbo by admitting that although both he and Grindelwald were equally skilled in magic, he was a shade more skilful.
  • In Part 1 of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after taking the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave, Voldemort casts a powerful lightning-like spell into the sky to test its power. This is reportedly when the first Part will end.

Author's comments

J. K. Rowling has discussed how the Elder Wand behaves slightly different from other wands in its loyalty:

"The Elder Wand is simply the most dispassionate and ruthless of wands in that it will only take into consideration strength. So one would expect a certain amount of loyalty from one's wand. So even if you were disarmed while carrying it, even if you lost a fight while carrying it, it has developed an affinity with you that it will not give up easily. If, however, a wand is won, properly won in an adult duel, then a wand may switch allegiance... However, the Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength. So it's completely unsentimental. It will only go where the power is. So if you win, then you've won the wand. So you don't need to kill with it. But...almost inevitably, it attracts wizards who are prepared to kill and who will kill. And also it attracts wizards like Voldemort who confuse being prepared to murder with strength."[13]

See also


Wand Sign

The Elder Wand is one of the Deathly Hallows, represented here by the vertical line.

Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 Albus Dumbledore's notes in The Tales of Beedle the Bard (real).
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 The Tale of the Three Brothers
  4. It says so on J.K. Rowling's website.
  5. Either Arcus or Livius may have taken it from him, but Dumbledore claims no one really knows that it wasn't even his own mother.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  9. It says so on J. K. Rowling's website.
  10. As Priori Incantantum needs a core from the same source someone's wand core has, it is impossible for it to have the Priori Incantantem effect to happen for the Elder Wand.
  11. Harry Potter films
  12. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
  13. 24 December 2007 PotterCast Interviews with J.K. Rowling
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