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Yes, I know about the Taboo Spell that Ron mentioned in the almost mid-part of the books; it's a spell which Voldemort placed on his own name because people that are against his regime continue to mention his name without fear, and it was quite effective because they can easily track anyone who mentions the name especially the Order of the Phoenix.

But how do they actually track them?

I mean what specific information states the way of tracking someone who recently mentioned "Voldemort". Does it cross their mind like forming image of a canvas of a place or something? Or it burns the Dark Mark? (but i think not because Greyback didn't possess this mark) Or does Voldemort know their location when someone mentions his name? If yes, in what way does he know the locations?

Corrections are well accepted please remind me if this is a dupe.

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  • 8
    They use magic. Magic solves everything.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 21:54
  • Yep haha i just want to know the way how they work the spell
    – Invoker
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:03
  • 2
    The HP series uses a 'soft magic' system, so it isn't very well defined. Your guess is as good as anyone's
    – Fayth85
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:10
  • @Fayth85 i'm just not sure if this has an answer so i had a go with it. But yes, I guess there are kinds of magic Rowling didn't have specific information.
    – Invoker
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 11:50

2 Answers 2

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My copy of Deathly Hallows is locked away at the moment, but from some searching online, this is what Ron has to say about it:

"[...] Harry, that's how they track people! Using his name breaks protective enchantments, it causes some kind of magical disturbance [...] -can't get page number, sorry :(, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows

As far as I know, that's all the books have to say on the matter. My quick search of Pottermore didn't result in much.

The word 'Voldemort' triggers wand-wavy magic that breaks protective spells around the speaker and 'alerts' whoever is watching out on You-Know-Who's behalf. How strong of protective enchantments it breaks, how far from the speaker, the method of alert, aren't explained in the books, movies, & supplemental material that I've seen.

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  • The "magical disturbance" bit, though, makes me think that it might be similar to a magical flare.
    – Lumos
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:16
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    So basically, the Sith can sense the disturbance in the Force, right?
    – Oriol
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 3:32
  • You still have a good answer,especially the magical disturbance. Yes, I think Voldemort is the only one who 'senses' the trace, and alerts the Snatchers. If it breaks the protective enchantments, there'll be also a cause of magical disturbance, is it also the one that causes the enchantments to break? Or it's different?
    – Invoker
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 11:48
  • @BookStriker, from Ron's sentence, it sounds like the Taboo is what breaks the enchantments.
    – Lumos
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 15:19
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Unknown. But the Taboo probably works in a similar way to the Trace.

The spell that the Death Eaters/Snatchers use to enforce the Taboo isn't specified in the books. So there's no one-word answer to this question. However, it's worth noting that Voldemort's name only became Taboo after the Ministry of Magic fell to the Death Eaters. If they could've created the Taboo beforehand then I think they would have done so. The apparatus of the Ministry was required for them to enforce the Taboo.

The Taboo works, I think, a bit like the Trace (which monitors the unlawful use of magic in underage children). This allowed the Ministry to know where and when a child performed a spell (although not who actually did the magic...) pretty-much instantaneously. Harry apparently got his owls from the Ministry reprimanding him for his use of magic within minutes of the Trace being activated.

Dear Mr Potter,
We have received intelligence that a Hover Charm was used at your place of residence this evening at twelve minutes past nine.
As you know, underage wizards are not permitted to perform spells outside school, and further spellwork on your part may lead to expulsion from said school (Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage sorcery, 1875, Paragraph C).
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 2, Dobby's Warning).

Of course, the spell which powers the Trace isn't explained either. I'm guessing that having access to a Ministry of Magic list of trained witches and wizards doesn't hurt. However they work, both the Trace and the Taboo use the Ministry of Magic apparatus to detect things being done by the wizarding population. Indeed, the two have been confused in canon. In Deathly Hallows the trio are found with the Taboo but think that the Death Eaters may have used the Trace.

She turned to Harry.
"You - you don't think you've still got your Trace on you, do you, Harry?"
"He can't have," said Ron. "The Trace breaks at seventeen, that's wizarding law, you can't put it on an adult."
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 9, A Place to Hide).

My best guess would be they use some kind of tracking spell. We don't see this in canon but it fits with the results the spell produces.

Now they've put a Taboo on it, anyone who says it is trackable -- quick and easy way to find Order members!
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 20, Xenophilius Lovegood).


It should be noted that magic that works this way but which isn't fully explained isn't unheard of in Harry Potter. The Dark Mark works similarly. Voldemort can press his Mark and all Death Eaters Apparate to his location, even if they don't know where he is.

Every Death Eater had the sign burnt into him by the Dark Lord. It was a means of distinguishing each other, and his means of summoning us to him. When he touched the Mark of any Death Eater, we were to Disapparate, and Apparate, instantly, at his side.
(Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36, The Parting of the Ways).

Similarly, when a Death Eater presses their Mark Voldemort knows which Death Eater has pressed the Mark and is able to find them - even though there are Death Eaters scattered here, there and everywhere. How Voldemort and his gang are able to do this is never explained.

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  • The fact that it could be powered by the ministry is interesting but even if the effects are similar, the Taboo seems to work in reverse to the Trace. The Trace is cast on a person and warns you if an act is performed by that person. The Taboo is cast on a act and warns you if any person performs that act... From your quotes : "you can't put it on an adult" (so you put it on a person) and "they've put a Taboo on it [Voldemort's name]" (so you put it on a word or the act of saying that word).
    – Cartolin
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 9:42
  • Plus, wizards are registered but I don't think goblin, centaurs etc are, so it would be limited if you put it on the person based on a list from the ministry. Squibs wouldn't be on it either (and we know at least one that's helping the Order, Ms Figg).
    – Cartolin
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 9:47
  • @Cartolin I may well be wrong with the Trace connection since the spell isn't made clear in the books. For what it's worth though I don't think that the Trace is cast on people. (This isn't made clear either). I think the Ministry gets a red flag whenever someone who isn't an adult wizard uses magic. They they cross-reference that with their list of Hogwarts students to find out who lives at that address. It would make sense that those affected might feel that the Trace was "on" them, though it was just recording their actions. This is all just speculation though. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 10:47
  • But we still don't know if Voldemort and the Death Eaters could have possibly used an apparatus to detect the wizards and witches who mentions the name. However, your point with the Ministry of Magic can be possible; given the fact that Voldemort infiltrated the Ministry.
    – Invoker
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 12:29

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