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The Mission for the Elder Wand took place in 1997, and continued in 1998. It occurred when Voldemort spent nearly a year seeking out the Elder Wand, hoping to use it to successfully kill Harry Potter, his archenemy.[1]


Background information

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]

The Elder Tree from which the wand was made

According to the "Tale of the Three Brothers" (as compiled in The Tales of Beedle the Bard) three brothers — suspected to be Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus Peverell — were out travelling when they came to a treacherous river that had been known to claim the lives of many that had attempted to cross it.[2] Taking no chances, the three brothers pulled out their wands and conjured a bridge out of thin air. However, as they began to cross it, they found a hooded figure blocking their path. It was Death himself, dressed in a simple long black cloak. Death felt cheated that the three brothers had outsmarted him and had not drowned in the river, as many others had.[3][2]

Death gives Antioch Peverell the Elder Wand

While pretending to congratulate them for their triumph, Death schemed against them. He offered each brother their choice of gift as a reward for outsmarting him. The eldest went first, and being a belligerent man he asked for a wand that would defeat all others. Death went to a nearby elder tree and created a wand from its wood, which he handed to the eldest brother. The second brother, who wanted to humiliate Death even further, 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. Reluctantly, Death handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility.[2][3] Albus Dumbledore thought it was unlikely that the Elder Wand was actually made by Death, and assumed that it may have been created by the eldest of the three Peverell brothers, Antioch.[4]

Antioch's throat is slit

Antioch then travelled for about a week, reaching a village where he met with his rival, who he killed in a duel. He then travelled to an inn, where he drunkenly boasted of the wand's powers. That night however, he was murdered in his sleep by another wizard who slayed his throat, thereby allowing him to achieve mastery of the wand.[2] The wand eventually reached the possession of Emeric the Evil, who was defeated in a duel with Egbert the Egregious, thereby causing the wands ownership to pass on to Egbert.[3][5]

Godelot is locked in his cellar

It is unknown what happened to Egbert, but his wand eventually came into the possesion of the dark wizard Godelot, who perished in his cellar after his own son Hereward, who stole the wand from him, locked him there, causing the mastery of the Elder Wand to pass on to Hereward. Eventually, the wand came into the possession of Barnabas Deverill, who was defeated by Loxias. It is difficult to trace the wands history after Loxias[5], but some believe that it was either Arcus or Livius who took the wand from him.[3]

Plot to kill Harry Potter

In the spring of 1994, Harry Potter duelled Lord Voldemort in the Little Hangleton graveyard.[6] When Harry fended off the attack and escaped via Portkey, Voldemort failed in his quest to kill Harry, and began to question why he failed while at the same time searching for Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy. Eventually, he discovered the Elder Wand, and knew it would help him destroy Harry. He began to exhaust months searching for it.[1]


Garrick Ollivander

Soon after the start of the quest, Voldemort kidnapped wandmaker Garrick Ollivander and demanded to know why he could not beat Harry in 1994. Ollivander told him to use a different wand, so he brought the wand of Lucius Malfoy to the fight instead. After flying to his position, he engaged Harry a second time. This time, he wielded a wand with a different core. However, the wand broke during the fight, and Voldemort was forced to retreat. Upon returning, he demanded to know why the wand failed him, and Ollivander did not know. Voldemort then proceeded to torture him for information regarding the Elder Wand.[1]

Mykew Gregorovitch

Following the capture of Ollivander, Voldemort hunted down Mykew Gregorovitch down over the course of the next few months. He found Gregorovitch in his wand shop and, after using a spell to discard several wands, cornered the latter, using two spells to keep him from escaping. Voldemort demanded he give him the Elder Wand, but Gregorovitch said that someone had stolen it from him decades ago. Enraged at his failure, Voldemort believed he was lying, and used Legilimency to probe his mind and confirm Gregorovitch's story. During his search through Gregorovitch's memories, Voldemort found the memory of the incident when he lost the wand to a teenage boy who stole it in the night. Voldemort immediately demanded to know who the thief was, but Gregorovitch did not know who it was. Recognising he had all the information he required, and that Gregorovitch was no longer useful to him, Voldemort performed the Killing Curse on the wandmaker.[1]

Gellert Grindelwald

Voldemort broke into the prison Nurmengard Castle, where Gellert Grindelwald was being held, and demanded to know the location of the Elder Wand. It was only during the confrontation in Grindelwald’s cell that Voldemort learned Albus Dumbledore had claimed the wand in a duel decades back. Grindelwald baffled Voldemort when he showed no fear during the interrogation, taunting Voldemort and laughing at his desire for the wand. Being summoned at that point due to an ongoing conflict at Malfoy Manor, Voldemort, intent on answering the call, murdered him in a rage without gaining any information. However, Voldemort deduced that Dumbledore, who had defeated Grindelwald, had won the Elder Wand, and headed off to his grave.[1]

The theft

" [...] and as he took it, a shower of sparks flew from its tip, sparkling over the corpse of its last owner, ready to serve a new master at last."
— Voldemort finishes his mission[src]

Voldemort uses the wand for the first time

After interrogating and killing Grindelwald, Lord Voldemort flew to the White Tomb near Hogwarts and used his own wand to crack open the tomb. He proceeded to remove the sheets from around Dumbledore's body, allowing him to take the wand within. He did not realise that Harry Potter had recently won the allegiance of the wand from Draco Malfoy. Now victorious in his mission, Voldemort gave the wand a heavy blast into the air, illuminating the light sky in the process.[1]


Voldemort's first known use of the wand was after the second break-in of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, in which he massacred goblins. When he believed the wand was not serving him faithfully, he summoned Severus Snape midway through the Battle of Hogwarts, incorrectly deducing that he had won the wand when he killed Albus Dumbledore, subsequently executing him. He knew the wand could be passed on through murder, but he did not know there existed other means as well. Lord Voldemort used the wand against Harry Potter as soon as he was given the chance. However, his first try backfired when Harry returned from Limbo relatively unscathed, and his second backfired when its power rebounded due to the wand's allegiance, killing him.[1]


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Tale of the Three Brothers
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Tales of Beedle the Bard - Albus Dumbledore on "The Tale of the Three Brothers"
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)