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"He was gone from the hall, he was locked in the coils of a creature with red eyes, so tightly bound that Harry did not know where his body ended and the creature's began. They were fused together, bound by pain, and there was no escape — And when the creature spoke, it used Harry's mouth, so that in his agony he felt his jaw move...."
Harry Potter being possessed by Lord Voldemort[src]

Possession[1] was a form of the Dark Arts in which a person's soul occupied another, for the purpose of control.


Possession was a type of Dark Magic which involved a person's soul inhabiting or taking control of another person's mind and body. When people were possessed, they did not always know or remember what they did.[2] It was a way of having power and control over another person. The stronger the soul, the stronger the possession could be. If the soul abandoned the possessed, their body could not always heal, and they would die.[3]


A soul in the living world without a physical body could possess and control the minds of animals or people; however, it was barely strong enough. Voldemort possessed the bodies of small animals, including snakes while hiding in the forests of Albania, but only snakes could bear it. When he possessed Quirinus Quirrell, he developed a deformed physical form with his head visible on the back of Quirrell's head. He couldn't control his mind and instead had to demand things. With this method, Quirrell inherited Voldemort's strengths and weaknesses. He could fly unsupported and couldn't touch Harry Potter.[3][4]

A soul within a Horcrux could siphon a person's life-force, feeding on their inner-feelings deep within their soul. If someone grew emotionally attached to the object, the soul inside of it could flit in and out of their body.[5]

Ginerva Weasley willingly shared her feelings and by extension her soul with Tom Riddle's Diary, increasing its power and ability to control her mind. Ginny had no recollection of her actions during her possessions. The connection broke when the diary was destroyed by a Basilisk's fang.[6]

Voldemort's possession of Harry Potter caused tremendous pain. He could control Harry's body and used it to speak. Harry felt like he was trapped in Voldemort's body, like they were "fused together, bound by pain". Voldemort could also feel what Harry was feeling. Harry drove the possession out with feelings of love and happiness.[7]


Dark Lord's missing years (1981-1992)[]

In 1981, when Voldemort's body was destroyed, he ran away to Albania and possessed animals for power. After a long time in hiding where he waited for his Death Eaters, Quirinus Quirrell found him. Voldemort possessed him, travelling back to Great Britain with the determination to steal the Philosopher's Stone. He failed when Harry Potter intervened, and Quirrell died when Voldemort abandoned his body. He travelled back to Albania, where he continued to possess animals for power.[3][4]

Re-opening the Chamber of Secrets (1992-1993)[]

When Voldemort, after an unsuccessful attempt to steal the Philosopher's Stone, was still hiding in Albania, Lucius Malfoy was still in possession of his diary. At Flourish and Blotts, Malfoy planted the diary on eleven-year-old Ginny Weasley, who brought it to Hogwarts.[8] Ginny began writing in and found that a sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle was answering. She found comfort in the diary, confiding it with her worries, not knowing she was being manipulated. Riddle would always have sympathy for her. The diary slowly drained her life and energy, transferring it to itself. Under the diary's control, Ginny re-opened the Chamber of Secrets and released the Basilisk, which petrified several students. After a year, Harry found the Chamber of Secrets and destroyed the diary, freeing her from the possession.[6]

Harry Potter's possession (1996)[]

In early 1996 after a visit to St. Mungo's, Harry thought he was possessed by Voldemort.[2]

On 18 June 1996, during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Harry was fully possessed by Voldemort during the Duel in the Ministry Atrium, hoping that Dumbledore would kill the boy in an attempt to destroy Voldemort himself, but Harry's heart, full of grief over the death of his godfather Sirius Black, became too overwhelming to bear and he was able to force Voldemort out of his mind, as Voldemort did not understand the concept of love.[7]

Known uses[]

Possessor(s) Victim(s) Date(s) Notes
Lord Voldemort Small animals 1981 - 1991 He possessed them for power.[4]
Quirinus Quirrell 1991–1992 school year To get the Philosopher's Stone.[3]
Ginevra Weasley 1992–1993 school year To open the Chamber of Secrets, possessed by T. M. Riddle's Diary.[6]
Harry Potter June 1996 To torture Harry in the Ministry Atrium.[7]

Known practitioners[]


Notes and references[]

  1. J. K. Rowling's official site - see here
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 24 (Occlumency)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 6 (The Ghoul in Pyjamas)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts)