Riddle's Diary

Tom Riddle's diary, the first Horcrux that Harry Potter encountered, as seen in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

A Horcrux is a fictional magical object in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. The concept of a Horcrux was first revealed in the sixth novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, although Horcruxes are present in earlier novels without being identified as such. Rowling uses the character Horace Slughorn to introduce their properties. Their retrieval and destruction forms the main focus of the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


In an online diary entry, Rowling described a Horcrux as a "receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a part of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality."[1] With part of a wizard's soul thus stored, the wizard becomes immortal so long as the Horcrux remains intact. For this reason, Horcruxes are typically hidden in a safe location. Even if the wizard's body is destroyed, a portion of his soul will remain preserved within the Horcrux.[2] However, the destruction of the creator's body leaves the wizard or witch in a state of half-life, without corporeal form.[3] The dark magic involved in the creation of a Horcrux is considered most despicable and is therefore rarely published, even in books devoted to the Dark Arts.

A Horcrux can be made from any normal object, including living organisms. Destroying a Horcrux will destroy the fragment of soul contained within it, ending its protection and returning the creator to a state of mortality. If a wizard has created more than one Horcrux, he will remain immortal until all are destroyed. Once destroyed, the wizard will die normally if mortally wounded. [4]

The portion of soul within a Horcrux also has the ability to take spiritual possession of other people. This possession is limited to those who become emotionally attached to the Horcrux. Once possessed, the soul within the Horcrux can take total control of the person's actions while the person remains completely unaware of the connection. Once a person has become possessed by a Horcrux, the Dark Wizard has the ability to take corporal form by draining the life force of the possessed person. None of these spiritual connections extend to a wizard's other Horcruxes.

Lord Voldemort is the only wizard explicitly mentioned as having created a Horcrux (though others are known to have done so), and is the only wizard known to have created more than one.[5]

In essence, a Horcrux is quite similar to the idea of a Lich's Phylactery, found in Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinders, and other popular roleplaying games.


Rowling uses Professor Slughorn's expository dialogue to reveal that the creation of a Horcrux requires one to commit a murder, which, as "the supreme act of evil, (...) rips the soul apart."[6] After the murder, a spell is cast to infuse part of the ripped soul into an object, which becomes the Horcrux. Rowling has never published the actual enchantment. In the final book of the series, Hermione Granger finds the spell in a book titled Secrets of the Darkest Art[7].

There is no apparent restriction on the nature of the items that can be made into a Horcrux. Both inanimate objects and living organism have been used as Horcruxes. There is also no known limit on the number of Horcruxes a wizard can create. However, as the creator's soul is divided into progressively smaller portions, he loses more of his natural humanity and his soul becomes increasingly unstable, as in the case of Voldemort.

Under very specific conditions, a Horcrux can be made without the intention or knowledge of the creator. The only time this is known to have occurred is when Voldemort unsuccessfully used the Killing Curse on one-year-old Harry Potter. Voldemort's body was destroyed by the attempted murder and a portion of his soul was embedded within Harry.


Horcruxes are extremely difficult to destroy. They cannot be destroyed by conventional means such as smashing, breaking, or burning. In order to be destroyed, a Horcrux must suffer damage so severe that repair through magical means would be impossible. Once irreparably damaged, the fragment of soul within a Horcrux is destroyed.

A Horcrux can be magically undone only if the creator goes through a process of deep remorse for the murder committed to create the Horcrux. The pain of this remorse is so excruciating that the process itself may kill the creator.[HP7]

Voldemort's HorcruxesEdit

Voldemort's creation of Horcruxes is central to the later storyline of the Harry Potter novels.

Believing that seven is a powerful, mystical number (see Bridget Wenlock), Voldemort intended to create six Horcruxes, and leave the remaining seventh portion of his soul within his body.[8] However, Voldemort unintentionally created a seventh Horcrux (the sixth sequentially) when his Killing Curse on the one-year-old Harry Potter backfired. It destroyed his body and infused a part of his soul into Harry. Only six Horcruxes ever existed at any one time in the series.

All of Voldemort's consciously created Horcruxes were made using objects that had been important or held some sentimental value.[9] He used artifacts from three of the four founders of Hogwarts (he was unable to obtain a relic from Godric Gryffindor), his childhood diary (which contained proof that he was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin), the Peverell family ring owned by his maternal grandfather, and the snake Nagini.

Each Horcrux is destroyed by a different person, as shown in the following table:

Horcrux Created with the murder of [10] Hiding place Destroyed by Destroyed using Notes
Tom Riddle's diary Moaning Myrtle In the care of Lucius Malfoy Harry Potter Basilisk fang Lucius Malfoy planted the diary on Ginny Weasley to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, not knowing it was a Horcrux.
Marvolo Gaunt's Ring/Resurrection Stone Tom Riddle Senior Gaunt's Shack Albus Dumbledore Sword of Gryffindor Voldemort created this Horcrux, not knowing the ring was also the Resurrection Stone, the second of the three Deathly Hallows.
Helga Hufflepuff's Cup Hepzibah Smith Gringotts Bank, in the Lestrange's vault Hermione Granger Basilisk fang Stolen from Hepzibah Smith, along with Slytherin's Locket.
Salazar Slytherin's Locket A Muggle tramp A coastal cliffside cave Ron Weasley Sword of Gryffindor Stolen from Hepzibah Smith, along with Hufflepuff's Cup. Originally recovered from the cave by Regulus Black and Kreacher.
Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem An Albanian peasant The Room of Requirement in Hogwarts Vincent Crabbe Fiendfyre Discovered by Harry in the Room of Requirement, but destroyed by a Fiendfyre curse cast by Vincent Crabbe.
Harry Potter N/A N/A Lord Voldemort Killing curse When the attempted Killing curse rebounded, a part of Voldemort's soul flew into the nearest living thing, Harry Potter. Since a spell was not cast and the creation unintentional, it is impossible to determine whose murder led to Harry becoming a Horcrux.
Nagini Bertha Jorkins N/A Neville Longbottom Sword of Gryffindor Dumbledore believed that the Horcrux was created through the murder of Frank Bryce, however J. K. Rowling stated that the Horcrux was formed earlier with the murder of Bertha Jorkins.

Tom Riddle's DiaryEdit

Tom Riddle used his diary to create his first Horcrux during his sixth year as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He cast the spell after murdering a fellow student nicknamed Moaning Myrtle. The diary is introduced in the fourth chapter of the Chamber of Secrets and is destroyed by Harry Potter during the climax of the same book.

Before Voldemort's downfall, he entrusted the Horcrux to Lucius Malfoy. While aware of its corrupting magical properties, Malfoy did not know the diary was a Horcrux. In an attempt to discredit Arthur Weasley, Malfoy hid the diary in Ginny Weasley's book bag. The spirit of Tom Riddle possessed Ginny and through her reopened the Chamber of Secrets. In the end of book two, Harry saved Ginny and destroyed the diary by stabbing it with the venomous fang of a Basilisk.

When asked what would have happened if Ginny had died and Riddle had managed to escape, author J. K. Rowling declined to give a straight answer, but revealed that "it would have strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably."[11]

To Rowling, a diary is a very scary object. She said in an interview that "the temptation particularly for a young girl, [is] to pour out her heart to a diary." Rowling's little sister Diane was prone to this, and her great fear was that someone would read her diary. This gave Rowling the idea to have a diary that is, in itself, against the confider.[12]

Marvolo Gaunt's ring / Cadmus Peverell's Resurrection StoneEdit

Tom Riddle created his second Horcrux using a ring owned by his maternal grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt. He cast the spell after murdering his father. The ring is introduced during the fourth chapter of the Half-Blood Prince having already been destroyed by Albus Dumbledore.

Riddle took the gold ring, which had a black stone inscribed with a magical symbol, from his uncle Morfin Gaunt, whom he had framed for the murder of his father and grandparents. Riddle wore the ring while still a student Hogwarts, but eventually hid it in the house where the Gaunt family had lived. It was hidden under the floorboards, placed in a golden box, and protected by several enchantments.

Albus Dumbledore found Marvolo Gaunt's ring in the summer of 1996. Dumbledore destroyed the Horcrux with Godric Gryffindor's sword. Due to a curse, he was also seriously injured after putting the ring on his finger. The injury left his right arm permanently disfigured and would have killed him quickly but for the intervention of professor Severus Snape, who could still only postpone its inevitably fatal effects.[13] The damaged ring was kept for a time on a table in the Headmaster's office.

Before his death, Dumbledore hid the ring's black stone inside a golden snitch (the very same golden snitch Harry Potter had caught in his first ever Quidditch match at Hogwarts) and willed the snitch to Harry Potter. Dumbledore had learned that the stone was, in fact, the Resurrection Stone, one of the three Deathly Hallows. Voldemort was unaware of the stone's additional magical properties.

Helga Hufflepuff's CupEdit

Tom Riddle used a cup owned by Hogwarts founder Helga Hufflepuff to create his next Horcrux. The spell was cast after he murdered Hepzibah Smith. The cup is introduced during the twentieth chapter of the Half-Blood Prince and is destroyed by Hermione Granger in the thirty-first chapter of the Deathly Hallows.

Hepzibah Smith, who owned the cup, was a distant descendant of Helga Hufflepuff. Riddle killed Smith, stole the cup, then framed her house elf for the murder.

Voldemort entrusted the cup to Bellatrix Lestrange, who kept it protected in her family's vault at Gringotts Bank, a place that Harry guessed that the once penniless Voldemort would have always coveted a connection to. Additional protective spells, including the Gemino and Flagrante curses, were used to protect the contents of the vault. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger stole the cup after breaking into the bank.

Hermione destroyed this Horcrux using a fang from the remains of the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.

Salazar Slytherin's LocketEdit

Tom Riddle created his next Horcrux using a locket once owned by Salazar Slytherin and which had belonged to Riddle's mother, Merope Gaunt. The spell was cast after Riddle murdered a muggle tramp.[10] The locket is introduced briefly in the Order of the Phoenix (described only as "a heavy locket that none of them could open") and is destroyed by Ron Weasley in the nineteenth chapter of the Deathly Hallows.

Slytherin's locket was passed down through the generations and eventually ended up in the possession of Merope Gaunt. After being abandoned by her husband Tom Riddle Senior, Merope sold the locket to Caractacus Burke for ten galleons, a fraction of the Locket's true value.

The locket was eventually sold to Hepzibah Smith. Riddle stole the locket, along with Helga Hufflepuff's cup, after murdering Smith. Once the locket became a Horcrux, Voldemort hid it in a cave where he had once terrorized two of his fellow orphans. The cave's magical protection included an enchanted boat and the use of inferi.

Disillusioned Death Eater Regulus Black learned about the Horcrux and its hiding place. In an effort to bring about Voldemort's eventual downfall, he and his house elf Kreacher broke through the magical protection and stole the locket. While Black died in the effort, killed by the surrounding inferi, Kreacher took the locket back to their home at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.

Kreacher continued to protect the locket for years. However, while the Order of the Phoenix was using the house as its headquarters, the locket was stolen by Mundungus Fletcher, a petty criminal and member of the Order. He gave it to Dolores Umbridge as a bribe when she caught him selling stolen property.

Two years later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione infiltrated The Ministry of Magic, where Umbridge worked, and stole the locket. Ron later saved Harry from being strangled by the locket. The Horcrux inside assumed the shape of Harry and Hermione and played off of Ron's fear that Harry and Hermione had started a relationship during his absence (and longer held fear that in Hermione's eyes he, Ron, would never match up to Harry). The Horcrux attempted to possess him, but Ron overcame its influence and destroyed it using the sword of Godric Gryffindor.

Rowena Ravenclaw's DiademEdit

Tom Riddle created his fifth Horcrux using Hogwarts founder Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem. The spell was cast after he murdered an Albanian peasant[10]. The diadem is officially introduced by the character Xenophilius Lovegood during the twentieth chapter of the Deathly Hallows and is accidentally destroyed eleven chapters later.

Ravenclaw's daughter Helena stole the diadem from her mother in an attempt to become more intelligent. She fled to Albania where she hid the diadem in the hollow of a tree.

After Helena died, she became the Ravenclaw house ghost known as the Grey Lady. Tom Riddle, while a student at the school, charmed her into telling him the location of the lost diadem. Shortly after the murder of Hepzibah Smith, Riddle traveled to Albania and took possession of the artifact. Years later, when Voldemort returned to Hogwarts and reapplied for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, he hid this Horcrux in the Room of Requirement.

Harry Potter deduced the Diadem's location in the Room of Hidden Things (one manifestation of the Room of Requirement). The diadem was accidentally destroyed by a Fiendfyre spell cast by Vincent Crabbe, who died in the resulting fire.

Harry PotterEdit

Voldemort inadvertently created his sixth Horcrux during the attempted murder of Harry Potter in 1981. The Horcrux spell was not cast and it is therefore impossible to determine whose murder led to the Horcrux's creation. The portion of Voldemort's soul within Harry is destroyed by Voldemort himself at the close of the thirty-fourth chapter of the Deathly Hallows.

Harry, as a baby, was the only living entity left in the room when Voldemort's fatal Killing Curse backfired on himself. Voldemort's soul had been so weakened and destabilized by his continuous murders and creation of Horcruxes that, when he was ripped from his body after the Curse backfired, a fragment of his soul was lost and attached itself to Harry. This gave Harry a window into the Dark Lord's mind and his gift of Parseltongue. It may also have been a factor in the Sorting Hat's inclination to place him in Slytherin House—though as Dumbledore points out in Chamber of Secrets, Harry naturally possesses many of Slytherin's ideal traits anyway ("Resourcefulness... determination... a certain disregard for rules") and might well have earned the recommendation regardless.

Years later, Voldemort used some of Harry's blood to resurrect himself, as described in the fourth book. By doing so, Voldemort thus built Lily's protection into his physical form ("His body keeps her sacrifice alive"[14]). Thus, ironically, when Voldemort attempted to make himself "invincible"[15] by killing the Chosen One, he set in motion a series of events that created the opposite—rendering Harry impervious to death, whether by Voldemort's hand or another's, so long as Voldemort remained in his newly-created body. This accounts for the "gleam of triumph" in Dumbledore's eyes in the fourth book: by using Harry's blood, Voldemort essentially guaranteed his own defeat.

Dumbledore never directly suggested to Harry that he could be a Horcrux; instead he asked Severus Snape to reveal this information to Harry near the end of his task, hoping Harry would be able to sacrifice himself willingly. Thus, Voldemort attempted to kill Harry, unaware of the multiple protections Harry had against him (Lily's sacrifice, his status as a Horcrux, his status as rightful owner of the Elder Wand), and, by being willing to die, Harry ensured that when he was no longer a Horcrux, the connection between them broken and both he and Voldemort mortal, he could fully return to life and be able to defeat the Dark Lord. Additionally, Harry's willing sacrifice, much like his mother's, ensured that Voldemort would be unable to harm anyone for whom Harry had "died".[16]


Harry Potter character
Mary GrandPre's illustration of Nagini
Species Snake
First appearance Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Voldemort used his devoted pet serpent, Nagini, to create his final Horcrux. He cast the spell after murdering Ministry official Bertha Jorkins[17]. Nagini is introduced in the first chapter of the Goblet of Fire and is killed by Neville Longbottom in the final chapter of the Deathly Hallows.

Nagini (Hindi: nāginī, pronounced /ˡnɑːgɪniː/, although in the films, etc. as /nəˡgiːni/; variant of Hindi: nāgin, a female cobra, from Hindi/Sanskrit: nāg, a cobra) is a large venomous serpent and the loyal pet of the series' primary antagonist. Voldemort intended Nagini to be his sixth Horcrux, which would have split his soul into the magically significant seven pieces. Since he had inadvertently made Harry into a Horcrux, Nagini was in fact his seventh Horcrux. As with his diary, Voldemort intended Nagini to be a tool as well as a safeguard of his immortality.

Lord Voldemort is able to communicate with her due to his ability to speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes. Readers are first introduced to Nagini when the snake is the first to notice Frank Bryce, the Riddles' gardener, and alerts Voldemort to Bryce's presence. During the fourth year Harry spends at Hogwarts, Voldemort's temporary body was sustained by Nagini's "milk" (presumably her venom), harvested by Peter Pettigrew. In the fifth book, Harry witnesses Nagini attacking Arthur Weasley in one of his dreams. He saw this from Nagini's point of view, and felt as though he himself was the snake. Dumbledore believed this to be due to Harry's mental connection to Voldemort, with Harry's witnessing the attack by virtue of the fact that Voldemort's mind "happened to be" in Nagini at the time. This is the first indication of Nagini and Voldemort's deeper connection, having the ability to share each other's thoughts and, unwillingly, share them with Harry as well.

In the final book, Nagini consumes Professor Charity Burbage, Hogwarts' Muggle Studies teacher, after the Killing Curse is used on her. Later on, Nagini is placed inside the body of Bathilda Bagshot by Voldemort, and uses the hiding place to launch a surprise attack on Harry while he is in Godric's Hollow. Because snake senses are different, being able to sense heat and movement in a way humans can't, Nagini is able to detect Harry and Hermione even when they were under the Invisibility Cloak.[17] After discovering that Harry is searching for his Horcruxes, Voldemort places Nagini into a protective magical shell to prevent her from being killed, and uses her to slay Severus Snape by expanding the shell over Snape and trapping him with Nagini. When Harry is apparently killed by Voldemort, Nagini is released from the protective shell and is draped around Voldemort's shoulders during the Death Eater's "victory march" back to Hogwarts. After Neville openly defies Voldemort, Voldemort punishes him by putting the Sorting Hat atop his head and setting it on fire. The Death Eaters are then attacked, and Neville pulls Godric Gryffindor's sword from the Hat and beheads Nagini.

Since she was Voldemort's last remaining Horcrux, her death sets up the series' climactic duel between him and Harry Potter. With no Horcruxes remaining and therefore normally mortal, Voldemort's death in that duel is final.

Similar objects in mythology and other works of fictionEdit

  • In Tolkien's books about Middle-earth there are notable examples of magic used to store or bond a portion of the soul or power to objects, such as Sauron's One Ring and Morgoth's `Ring´ (Morgoth's Ring was in fact the whole of Middle-earth). However, these actions were not aimed at immortality, as Sauron and Morgoth (both Ainur) were in fact already immortal, their true purpose was to create a bond with the material world, so they could use their power to influence it.
  • Genie or Djinn, a supernatural being in Arabic mythology and Islam. In Western culture, genies are generally conceived as immortal beings concealed in an object (most often an oil lamp).
  • Lich, a type of undead creature in modern fantasy fiction. A lich is a necromancer who stores his soul in a magical receptacle called a phylactery. Until the phylactery is destroyed, the lich cannot be permanently killed.
  • In Lloyd Alexander's book Taran Wanderer, the enchanter Morda infuses his littlest finger with his life force, cuts off the finger, and hides it in the woods, making him essentially invincible until the protagonist manages to snap the finger bone and kill Morda.
  • In the anime series Yu-Gi-Oh!, there are Ancient Egyptian artifacts known as the Millennium Items. The Millennium Puzzle contains the soul of a Pharaoh, and the Millennium Ring contains a fragment of a demon named Zorc. The 'Spirit of the Ring' is able to make copies of himself and transfer himself into other inanimate objects or people's minds.
  • in Rumiko Takahashi's InuYasha, Yura of the Hair seals her soul in a comb preventing herself from succumbing to her injuries even when InuYasha rips out her heart until Kagome destroys the comb with her arrow.
  • The Soulstones in the popular Diablo computer games are much like Horcruxes, as they contain the souls of Mephisto, Diablo and Baal, and they allow the three Demons to regain corporeal form once again, after the stones have been inserted into a new body.



  1. Author's website, Diary entry, Sept 29th, Harry Potter Lexicon archive
  2. Rowling, J. K. (2005). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (in English). London: Bloomsbury/New York City: Scholastic, et al. p. 503. UK ISBN 0747581088/U.S. ISBN 0439784549.
  3. Rowling, J. K. (2000). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (in English). London: Bloomsbury, et al. p.566. UK ISBN 074754624X.
  4. Rowling, J. K. (2005). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (in English). New York City: Scholastic, et al. p.503. U.S. ISBN 0439784549. "That seventh piece of soul will be the last that anybody wishing to kill Voldemort must attack – the piece that lives in his body."
  5. Rowling, J. K. (2005). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (in English). New York City: Scholastic, et al. pp. 501–502. U.S. ISBN 0439784549. "That seventh piece of soul will be the last that anybody wishing to kill Voldemort must attack – the piece that lives in his body.
  6. Rowling, J. K. (2005). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (in English). London: Bloomsbury, et al. p.465. UK ISBN 0747581088.
  7. Rowling, J. K. (2007). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (in English). London: Bloomsbury, et al. p.465. UK ISBN 0747581088.
  8. Half-Blood Prince (US Scholastic Hardback edition), p.506
  9. Half-Blood Prince (US Scholastic Hardback edition), p.504
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Harry Potter at Bloomsbury
  11. In 'Chamber of Secrets', what would have happened if Ginny had died and Tom Riddle had escaped the diary?
  12. The Diary of Tom Riddle
  13. Rowling, Deathly Hallows (Arthur A. Levine Books edition), pp.680-683
  14. Rowling, Deathly Hallows (Arthur A. Levine Books edition), pp.710
  15. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books edition), pp.473: "He seems to have reserved the process of making Horcruxes for particularly significant deaths. You [Harry] would certainly have been that. He believed that in killing you, he was destroying the danger the prophecy had outlined. He believed that he was making himself invincible. I am sure he was intending to make his final Horcrux with your death."
  16. Rowling, Deathly Hallows (Arthur A. Levine Books edition), pp.738
  17. 17.0 17.1 "J.K. Rowling Web Chat Transcript". The Leaky Cauldron. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 

Online resourcesEdit


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