We're introduced to the Deluminator several times throughout the books, however it is always presented as a magical device which can remove and replace the light in a room or area. How does that match up to the way in which it suddenly was able to lead Ron back to Harry and Hermione? I can't see how the two functions are related. Is this just a new feature of the Deluminator that was never foreshadowed in any way?

4 Answers 4


I don't believe there was any specific foretelling, but there was a running 'light in the dark' metaphor J.K. Rowling built throughout the series, and I think the Deluminator became the physical manifestation of that metaphor. I do not, however, think there has ever been any direct or predictable link between the metaphor and the Deluminator itself. It's entirely possible it grew into this purpose over the course of the series since we do see a name change for the device; 'Put-outer' becoming 'Deluminator'

The quote Izkata identified from the Prisoner of Azkaban movie is most likely a re-coloring of that scene with J.K's involvement in the screenplay. Though the movie was released ~3 years before the completion of Deathly Hallows book, where we see the previously undiscovered use, it could easily have been the intent of the author to use the movie as a vehicle to further deepen the metaphor in anticipation of its further use within the plot.

Potential references that may fill in backstory (more than foretelling) around the Deluminator and metaphor.

  1. During the bestowing from Dumbledore's will, Scrimgeour calls it a valuable, unique item, certainly of Dumbledore's own design. Implying speculated purpose beyond the simple cantrip of common use.
  2. After Ron leaves, and before his return, Harry and Hermione discovery Kendra/Ariana's grave in Godric's Hollow where the following quote, presumably by Dumbledore, appears: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

None of this foreshadows the additional power, but together it can build up to describe it decently. In sad, dark times the Deluminator, a lighter, can illuminate your path and show the way (back) to your heart.

Dumbledore's dark and sad history could certainly have led him to build the Deluminator in such a way as to also guide himself (and others) back to a path out of darkness.

It's all a bit of inference and speculation, but such is the way of metaphors some times.

If you want a bigger stretch ... "Deluminator" could also be read as "De luminator" or "The Luminator" which could have been the author's attempt at tongue-in-cheek foreshadowing within the name change. Implying not just a means by which to extinguish a light, but also shed it.

  • 1
    The quotation "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" is from the Gospels (Matthew 6,21 and Luke 12,34); Dumbledore presumably chose it (maybe this was what Josh intended but the sentence, as it's currently written, is unclear).
    – lfurini
    Feb 13, 2016 at 19:42

No, there was no clear foreshadowing of this ability of Deluminator.

  • Neither in the books before DH (the only use we see is the turning on/off the lights).

  • Nor in JKR's interviews. The only mention of Deluminator was:

    Ron got it because he (Dumbledore) knew that Ron might need a little more guidance than the other two` - from "JKR and the Live Chat, Bloomsbury.com, July 30, 2007"

  • Nor was it foreshadowed in the scene where the Will is read, for all the Will said was:

    "' To Ronald Bilius Weasley, I leave my Deluminator, in the hope that he will remember me when he uses it '

  • @Izkata: Great quote. Screenplay only I think, but the sentiment worded similarly (PoA which I don't have) could fit. Also, Scrimgeour calls it a valuable, unique item, certainly of Dumbledore's own design. Implying speculated purpose beyond the simple cantrip of common use. Also of possible note is the discovery of Kendra/Ariana's grave in Godric's Hollow after Ron leaves but before he returns. Here the quote, presumably by Dumbledore, appears: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." It makes a decent 'light in the dark' metaphor, manifested in the deluminator by Dumbledore.
    – Josh
    Mar 13, 2012 at 8:38
  • @Josh - my understanding of the question was that it applied to "up till Scrimgeour", but I could be wrong. Also, as you noted, the happiness thing is not in the books IMHO. Mar 13, 2012 at 10:36
  • But those 2 comments deserve their own answers Mar 13, 2012 at 10:36
  • I'd love to tag both of these answers as the best answer...
    – morganpdx
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:41

This seems to only be in the movies, but here's a quote from Dumbledore from Prisoner of Azkaban:

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

The movie was released between Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince.


Possibly by the help of Severus Snape

Before I explain my little theory, I'd like to point out that the best explanation of the Deluminator story is that Dumbledore have guessed that the Trio will split in someway and need to regroup again, and, thus; he left them the Deluminator. Of course, this raises the question how the Deluminator knows where the members of the Trio are, which is the very question you ask. The common answer is "Because magic and because Dumbledore is omniscient". (and possibly the correct one) This answer is not very satisfying so I will suggest the alternative one (but less supported by the book): The Deluminator is only a portal that allows people to move between locations, but it was Severus Snape who marked the destination.

One important point is that Ron wanted to reconcile with the group as soon as he left it, and even though he used the Deluminator many times, it did not show him the way until it did.

She had to look at Ron to see what he was showing them.

“The Deluminator?” she asked, so surprised she forgot to look cold and fierce.

“It doesn’t just turn the lights on and off,” said Ron. “I don’t know how it works or why it happened then and not any other time, because I’ve been wanting to come back ever since I left. But I was listening to the radio really early on Christmas morning and I heard... I heard you.”

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

As you can see from the quote, Ron is also surprised why the Deluminator only did his magic on the Christmas morning but not before. Incidentally, the moment the Deluminator shows the way to the pond in the Forest of Dean, there was another who just happened to learn that Harry Potter is in the Forest of Dean.

And now Snape stood again in the headmaster’s study as Phineas Nigellus came hurrying into his portrait.

“Headmaster! They are camping in the Forest of Dean! The Mudblood -”

“Do not use that word!”

“- the Granger girl, then, mentioned the place as she opened her bag and I heard her!”

“Good. Very good!” cried the portrait of Dumbledore behind the headmaster’s chair. “Now, Severus, the sword! Do not forget that it must be taken under conditions of need and valor - and he must not know that you give it! If Voldemort should read Harry’s mind and see you acting for him -”

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So it seems possible that the Deluminator was "activated" by Snape as soon as he learns that Harry is in the forest.

This theory may answer how the Deluminator functions, but leads to two new questions:

  1. Ron first used the Deluminator on Christmas Eve and ended up in Godric's Hollow (which is before he used it again to go to the Dean of Forest), but how did Snape know where Harry and Hermione are?

  2. How did Snape know that Ron is separated from Harry and Hermione? (which is also related to this question)

Note that Harry and Hermione were watched by someone in Godric's Hollow,

"Harry, stop.”

“What’s wrong?”

They had only just reached the grave of the unknown Abbott. “There’s someone there. Someone watching us. I can tell. There, over by the bushes.”

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

who turned out to be


That's why Voldemort, and by extension, Snape knew the location of Harry and Hermione and he also knew Ron wasn't with them.

Then again...

This theory is not strongly supported by the book, which offers the more plausible theory that the Deluminator somehow reacts to Ron's name, as in the case that the name "Voldemort" being a Taboo. (Though there is no mention of Ron's name being pronounced in the Forest of Dean.)

“You heard me on the radio?” she asked incredulously.

“No, I heard you coming out of my pocket. Your voice,” he held up the Deluminator again, “came out of this.”

“And what exactly did I say?” asked Hermione, her tone somewhere between skepticism and curiosity.

“My name. ‘Ron.’ And you said... something about a wand...”

Hermione turned a fiery shade of scarlet. Harry remembered: it had been the first time Ron’s name had been said aloud by either of them since the day he had left; Hermione had mentioned it when talking about repairing Harry’s wand.

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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