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In the first book it seems that Voldemort has been reduced to nothing but a ghostly wisp. But IIRC by the fourth book he's somehow had a body that is carried around by wormtail. In the first book he needs someone to inhabit, by the forth, he can't really move around, but he does have a body back.

How did this transition happen?

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3  
:p The same way Stella got her groove back :p – Joshua Shane Liberman Jul 11 '11 at 22:46
    
@JoshuaShaneLiberman - Was it down the side of the sofa cushion? That's where I'm always losing things... – Valorum Jan 16 at 23:46
up vote 19 down vote accepted

Voldemort used what is known as a "Rudimentary Body Potion", which is something he seems to have invented himself. The primary ingredients of this potion are unicorn blood and Nagini's venom. Wormtail prepared this potion, under the direction of Voldemort.

It didn't have much strength, but it was better than no body at all. He could cast a few simple spells when in that form, however.

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The included link admits that it is mostly conjecture with a "mention only" of a reference in the novel. It would be nice to see something more specific. – TGnat Jul 11 '11 at 13:06
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I tried to add the complete quote as a comment, but it was too long, so I added it as an aswer to the question. And I think it would be better as an answer as it is a direct answer to the question from the material as opposed to a link to a wiki. – OghmaOsiris Jul 11 '11 at 19:55
    
Another classic case of wiki inventing their own canon. – ibid Feb 21 at 0:01

From the Goblet of Fire:

Voldemort smiled his terrible smile, his red eyes blank and pitiless.

'Wormtail's body, of course, was ill-adapted for possession, as all assumed him dead, and would attract far too much attention if seen. However, he was the able-bodied servant I needed, and, poor wizard though he is, Wormtail was able to follow the instructions I gave him, which would return me to a rudimentary, weak body of my own, a body I would be able to inhabit while awaiting the essential ingredients for true rebirth ... a spell or two of my own invention ... a little help from my dear Nagini' - Voldemort's red eyes fell upon the continually circling snake - 'a potion concocted from unicorn blood, and the snake venom Nagini provided ... I was soon returned to an almost human form, and strong enough to travel. [...]'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.569 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 33, The Death Eaters

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Recommend combing this answer with the one from @pearsonartphoto for a truly complete answer. – TGnat Jul 11 '11 at 13:26
    
I would have, but I couldn't lol – OghmaOsiris Jul 11 '11 at 13:27
    
I remember there is a part where he said that he needs to survive inside some animals body before Wormtail found him. Do you remember? – Phelios Aug 2 '11 at 8:05
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I think it was a tauntaun. – OghmaOsiris Aug 12 '11 at 18:41

I think the creation of the rudimentary body has a connection with the horcruxes, as we saw in the 7th book, the part of the soul that is in one horcrux is like Voldemort's rudimentary body in book 4. So maybe somehow Voldemort gave Wormtail some instructions of how to bring that physical manifestation of a rendered soul into existence and I don't think they killed a baby or something. We'll find out in the final installment of GOF on Pottermore.

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No, the body didn't need to be connected to the horcruxes. Voldemort is actually a Lich, the horcruxes are his Soul Jars. Soul Jars only prevent the Lich from being destroyed, He just formed his new body around the part of soul that had remained in his old body that was destroyed when he tried to kill Harry, and possessed Quirrell. A Lich needs to rip out its soul and place it in a Soul Jar which it must hide because it is the only way to defeat it and the Lich itself can't do anything useful with his Soul Jars but hide them, they're inert objects, just like the horcruxes.

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