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- "Then he realised it was a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue. As they watched, it rose higher and higher, blazing in a haze of greenish smoke, etched against the black sky like a new constellation."
- — Harry Potter viewing the Dark Mark in the sky, summoned with this spell[src]
Morsmordre was the incantation of a dark charm used to conjure the image of the Dark Mark, the skull-and-serpent sign used by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, in the sky. The Death Eaters cast their mark over the homes of anyone they killed as their calling card.
First Wizarding War
In the First Wizarding War, Morsmordre became something of a signature move for the Death Eaters. After a murder, the spell would be cast in order to both claim credit for the attack, and to further terrify the wizarding community.
After Voldemort's first defeat, the Mark was no longer seen since the method for casting it was known only to the innermost circle of Death Eaters. If these individuals had escaped death or Azkaban, they had done so by lying about their membership in the organisation, and therefore casting the spell would have been something of a give-away. It was noted that precious few wizards knew how to perform this spell.
- Barty Crouch Senior: "Which of you did it? Which of you conjured the Dark Mark?"
- Harry Potter: "We didn’t do that!"
- Ron Weasley: "We didn’t do anything! What did you want to attack us for?"
- Barty Crouch Senior: "Do not lie, sir! You have been discovered at the scene of the crime!"
- — Bartemius Crouch Senior accusing Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger of having used this spell at the Quidditch World Cup riot[src]
Barty Crouch Junior cast the spell after witnessing a number of disloyal Death Eaters engaged in Muggle torture and rioting after the Quidditch World Cup. His motive in casting this spell was primarily to terrify the former Death Eaters, as opposed to the other spectators. This caused a widespread panic, as seeing the sign after 14 years made people think Voldemort has returned, and Death Eaters feared the possibility of Voldemort's return more than the civilians due to their disloyalty to the Dark Lord may bring retributions.
At first, the house-elf Winky was blamed for the act due to the fact that both she and the wand used to cast the spell were found together at the location from which the spell was apparently cast. After it was remembered that only a former Death Eater would have had the knowledge to cast the spell, both Winky along with Harry, Ron and Hermione were cleared of any involvement.
Voldemort later used his knowledge of this event to contradict Lucius Malfoy's claim that he was on the alert for any sign of Voldemort's return, and would have immediately rejoined him, upon his return at the Little Hangleton graveyard.
Once the Second Wizarding War broke out, it is safe to assume that appearances of the Dark Mark were frequent. Igor Karkaroff was killed in 1996 by Death Eaters for betraying Lord Voldemort, and the Dark Mark was cast over the shack in which his body was found.
It was cast over Hogwarts' Astronomy Tower by Gibbon when the Death Eaters invaded the castle in 1997, in order to lure Albus Dumbledore to the tower so that Draco Malfoy could kill him. In this case, the Mark was cast before, rather than after, a murder.
Another derivation may come from French mort, "death", and mordre, "to bite". The English word murder could also contribute. The literal translation of the Norwegian word "morsmodre" would be "mothers killers".
It may also be a reference to the word "mord", which means "murder" in Icelandic, German, Norwegian, Danish Polish and Swedish, since the spell is cast after someone has been murdered, and sounds like "mass murder" and "mortal."
Behind the scenes
- Despite the film adaptions showing that the caster simply has to point the wand upwards and speak the incantation to launch the mark, in Harry Potter: Spells shows the hand movement required.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Dark Mark only appears greenish when it was cast at the Quidditch World Cup. When cast later in the same film after Voldemort's resurrection, along with its appearances in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it appears to be formed out of dark grey clouds.
- In the book version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Dark Mark was cast over the Quidditch World Cup by Barty Crouch Jnr with Harry's wand in order to terrify the disloyal Death Eaters who were willing to engage in muggle torture but not search for their (former) master. However, in the the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Mark was cast by his own wand after the Death Eaters destroyed the campsite.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Dark Mark was cast after the Death Eaters attacked Diagon Alley and destroyed the Millennium Bridge, with it towering over London.
- In the book version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Dark Mark was cast over the Astronomy Tower by Gibbon in order to lure Dumbledore to that location. However, in the film adaption, the Mark was non-verbally cast by Bellatrix Lestrange in celebration after Dumbledore was killed. Furthermore, in the film the Mark was dispelled by the mourning residents of Hogwarts as a sign of respect for the late headmaster.
- This is the only spell that Barty Crouch Jnr casts onscreen, in his true form, before becoming Alastor Moody by means of Polyjuice Potion.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Seen in the Daily Prophet) (Heard)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Wizarding World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Harry Potter: Spells
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite