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Several stored memories

A memory is a record of an event originating from a human or creature's mind.

Memories in the wizarding world

Extraction and external viewing

Dumbledore extracting a memory out of his head

Memories could be extracted from a person's mind and reviewed, from an outside point of view, in a Pensieve. These memories appeared as silver, hair-like wisps, and could be stored in bottles.[1] Extracted memories could be altered, as Horace Slughorn attempted to do to a memory he gave to Albus Dumbledore in the 1996–1997 school year, although such alterations left noticeable flaws in the recollection — this particular memory left sudden clouds with a booming voice in place of the crucial scenes; Dumbledore noted it was crudely done, so if done with more details and skills, a false memory might not be flawed.[2] A fragment of Lord Voldemort's soul was able to show his memories through the power of his diary, rather than the need of extracting it and placing it into a Pensieve.[3]

Once viewing the memory, the viewers couldn't be seen or heard by anyone other than other viewers. What truly made this phenomenon remarkable was the fact that viewers could witness every aspect of the memory as they saw fit from a third person perspective, even if the owner of the memory had little to no knowledge of what they were seeing, since one viewer was able to tail other people in the memory whilst the past version of the memory's owner was present at a fair distance away. The viewer was also intangible to all other physical matters and energies of the said memory, as Harry Potter was considered a phantom, invisible and intangible, to the rest of the past world he was viewing; a man shaking hands with Dumbledore went right through Harry's body, causing neither of them harm, and a later memory when Harry was phasing through many desks in the Great Hall while rushing to his past father's location, to which was described if done in the real world the desks would be sent flying.

Internal viewing

Snape performing Legilimency on Harry

Memories could be read without the needs of extracting them, through the powers of Legilimency; however, those that were extracted and then deposited into a magical device like the Pensieve or a simple vial could no longer be viewed through this manner.[1] Also, Veritaserum worked based on the memories of the person, and if there were any alterations done to such memories, they would speak what they assumed to be the truth, not the truth that had been suppressed.[4] Occlumency, the art of suppressing such memories and thoughts, was a way to counter the two aforementioned methods. A master Occlumens such as Severus Snape could choose what memories to suppress instead of completely blocking out Legilimency, so as to prevent the opposition from knowing crucial information without knowing that they were blocking it out on purpose.[5]

External interference and damage

Lockhart accidentally and irreversibly erases his own memories

Memories could receive external interference such as the Memory Charm or false memory spell, which could suppress certain memories or create fake ones, respectively. Such alterations might cause permanent memory damage if done at a great intensity or incorrectly, as Gilderoy Lockhart[6][7] and Bertha Jorkins[4] both suffered severe amnesia that was irreversible. When Lord Voldemort forcibly broke through the Memory Charm on the latter, she remembered all of the things that were suppressed, but at the price of her body and mind suffering damage far beyond repair. Such alterations could also be bypassed such as when Dumbledore extracted a true memory over a false one in Morfin Gaunt, though he noted it to be a difficult task.[2]

It was possible for someone to modify their own memories, both to prevent other people from learning the truth and to give themselves a sense of false comfort, as Horace Slughorn did to himself to spare himself of the guilt of giving Voldemort information on Horcruxes. Unlike being modified by others, the person could still recall the true memory that was suppressed under the false, although Slughorn's attempt was done rather crudely, in which periodic gaps where a thick smokescreen and his own booming voice took over the true scenes, which Dumbledore noted the true memory was still accessible by Slughorn. In terms of a self-modified memory, it became somewhat congealed and difficult to pour out of a vial.[2]

It was possible to improve one's memories, known formulas included Memory Potion,[8][9] Baruffio's Brain Elixir, and powdered dragon claw.[10]

When Riddle manifested from the diary horcrux, he claimed to be "a memory, preserved in a diary for 50 years".[11] However, due to his ability to think for himself and create a semi-corporeal form via sapping Ginny Weasley's life force,[12] Albus Dumbledore suspected against this, as no mere memory could achieve such a sinister and complex effect.[13] The soul fragment only told Harry Potter that it was a memory to preserve the secrecy of his origin's immortality.[3]

Known shared or stored memories

A Pensieve, a magical device used to review memories

See also

Behind the scenes

  • Dumbledore's office is full of those memories contained in vials that the production designed and then commissioned a London-based glassblower to craft them. "We designed hundreds of those vials, of different sizes. From 15 inches to tiny ones," say MinaLima, the graphic designers who worked on all 8 Harry Potter films, "They are our favourite pieces from the sixth film, I guess!"


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 24 (Occlumency)
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 23 (Christmas on the Closed Ward)
  8. Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World
  9. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 30 (Journey to the Whomping Willow) - Potions Lesson "Memory Potion"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 (Dobby's Reward)
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  15. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
  16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
  19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 21 (The Eye of the Snake)
  22. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
  23. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
  24. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (See this video)
  25. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "The Fountain of Fair Fortune"