In Prisoner of Azkaban, Lupin states that:

‘Oh, no,’ said Lupin. ‘Much worse than that. You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of self any more, no memory, no ... anything. There’s no chance at all of recovery. You’ll just – exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone for ever ... lost.’

And in Order of the Phoenix, Severus Snape says:

“Only Muggles talk of ‘mind reading.’ The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter . . . or at least, most minds are. . . .” He smirked. “It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legilimency are able, under certain conditions, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly. The Dark Lord, for instance, almost always knows when somebody is lying to him. Only those skilled at Occlumency are able to shut down those feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and so utter falsehoods in his presence without detection.”

Also, Harry Potter housing a piece of Lord Voldemort's soul allows Voldemort an Harry to look into each other's minds when both are at their relaxed moments and intervals. They see and share each other's thoughts unless at least one or the other blocks it off with Occlumency.

So if thoughts are not etched into the mind, are they etched into the soul?

  • 1
    If you quote from a source, please cite your source and use quote formatting (> at the start of a paragraph).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 23:46
  • 1
    It seems to me that in the Harry Potter universe, the mind - being an abstract concept that incorporates both our ability to think and to remember - depends during life upon both the brain and the soul in order to function. (After life, including in the half-way place Harry saw as King's Cross, the soul seems to be all that you need.) Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 4:59
  • I still don't see how you make the logical transition from "thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls" to "thoughts are not etched into the mind." Why do you think thoughts aren't stored in the mind, when the rest of Snape's comments strongly imply that they are?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


I believe that your quotes on Legilimency and Occlumency are irrelevant - while the thoughts are not etched onto a skull, as Snape says, this isn't because thoughts don't reside within the mind. Rather, it has to do with the structure of the human mind - people don't actually 'remember' things, they re-experience them. People only vaguely think about things in language (only the most conscious thoughts are in a language, and that's a tiny percentage of what people are actually thinking).

In short, Snape is trying to explain modern psychological understandings of how the brain works to a disinterested 15-year-old, and is using his typical teaching style of "Be an ominous jerk and don't try very hard to get a complete understanding across".

Thus, having discussed part of the reason for your confusion, we can answer your question definitively:


Memories, in the Harry Potter universe are stored within the soul. This is absolutely, 100% certain. Ghosts have no physical form, yet they retain their living memories. Voldemort, when he was disembodied, was 'less than a spirit', simply existing as a soul fragment.

He still retained his memories.

So, yes. Memories, in the Harry Potter world, are tied to your soul. When you are alive and possess a body, they are fed into your brain (or perhaps your soul resides within your brain) but they are undoubtedly a part of your soul.

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