"Then he returned to the Gaunt hovel, performed the complex bit of magic that would implant a false memory in his uncle's mind, laid Morfin's wand beside its unconscious owner, pocketed the ancient ring he wore, and departed."
—Theory that Voldemort used this spell[src]

This was a charm (incantation unknown), which could be used by a witch or wizard to implant a false memory into their victim's mind without the victim realising it was not originally theirs. It differed from the Memory Charm in that the latter erases memories whilst this one adds them, albeit wholly artificial ones.[2]

History

Tom Riddle cast this charm twice; firstly in 1943 upon his uncle Morfin Gaunt,[3] then sometime later on the house-elf Hokey.[4] Both instances were to hide his crimes and make the victims believe they were responsible. Albus Dumbledore was able to use his considerable Legilimency skills to bypass the false memories and obtain the truth that was hidden beneath. However, while he attempted to use the true memory to secure Morfin's release from Azkaban (and failed as Morfin died before he could be exonerated), Hokey's memory was insufficient to prove her innocence.

Later that same year, Tom Riddle may have used the spell to make Harry Potter believe his godfather Sirius Black was being tortured by him in the Department of Mysteries.[5] However, it is possible that Voldemort simply created an image in Harry's mind through his tight Occlumens connection with Harry (due to the Horcrux connection) so that Harry would see what Voldemort's imagination dreamt up. It may have been up to Harry whether or not to believe it since he is persuaded by Hermione to check to see whether Sirius is really in the Department of Mysteries (not in Grimmauld Place). Voldemort is relying, therefore, on Harry's concern for Sirius's safety to get him to come, just as he is sure Harry will come to him in the forest during the break in the Battle of Hogwarts.

It is possible that Professor Horace Slughorn used this in the next school year to hide his memory of Voldemort asking him about Horcruxes,[6] although as he retained awareness of the true memory his spell may be a different one. It is also possible that he simply repressed it to such a degree that it could not be extracted from him against his will, as the memory he gave Dumbledore simple went blank at the right times and was replaced by a disembodied shouting, rather than images; this was noted to be crudely done.

Hermione Granger used this in 1997 to make her parents believe they were named Wendell and Monica Wilkins respectively, that they had no children, and to make them move to Australia in order to protect them from Voldemort and his Death Eaters.[7]

Known practitioners

Behind the scenes

  • The actual name and incantation for this charm are unknown.
  • This spell is reversible, as Hermione found her parents after the war and lifted it.
    • Albus Dumbledore could use Legilimency to extract the true version of the memories that Riddle falsified using the spell, although he admitted it was difficult and required a great deal of skill in the art.
  • In the film, Hermione uses Obliviate instead of this spell.
    • In the film Half-Blood Prince, the effect of Slughorn's memory modification is different, appearing as a muffling of sound, followed by Slughorn ordering Riddle out personally.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. http://web.archive.org/web/20100205155451/http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/wotm.cfm "Mnemone Radford 1562 - 1649 Developed Memory Modifying Charms. First Ministry of Magic Obliviator." this potentially means she made this charm, because its plural.
  2. 30 July 2007 WebChat with J.K. Rowling
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 6 (The Ghoul in Pyjamas)
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