Killing splits the soul, right. Using whatever spell then puts that piece of soul into an object, creating a Horcrux. I think it was Slughorn who said that no man ever split his soul more than once, other than Voldemort. But how? I understand he was talking about Horcruxes, but that's merely the act of saving that lost piece of soul. Doesn't killing more than one person split your soul more than once? If not, how did Voldemort do it? Shouldn't anyone who has killed seven or more people look like Voldemort then?

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    The difference probably is that someone that doesn't create a Horrcrux is diminishing it's soul (first a splinter is split, then that small fragment is forever lost, now the whole soul is a bit smaller). If you kill again, you reduce further your soul, but no split it again. Voldemort has a seven times splitted soul, while other serial killers have a smaller soul.
    – Bardo
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 11:34
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    "The first person to steal money" is not the same as "The first person to mistakenly pick up someone else's money". Stealing inherently means having the intent to steal. Similarly, Voldemort is the first to intentionally split his soul, rather than having it happen as a tangential consequence.
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:07
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    @JohnDoe: How is it implied? Narratively, or does a character state it? Is this character guessing, asking, or stating it as a fact? How much can we trust their statement, are they a credible source? Can this person simply not be making the same mistake of seeing causation where there is correlation? It seems very much possible, given that Voldemort is rather unique (so there's no large dataset to base yourself on). And then there's still the out-of-universe explanation of telegraphing his evilness. The story is intended to include a young(er) audience, after all.
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:28
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    @Flater "Voldemort is the first to intentionally split his soul" Voldemort didn't invent the Horcrux spell, so even if we assume that intent is required for your soul to split (I disagree with this assumption) when you commit murder, he's definitely not the first person to do it. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 15:10
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    @AnthonyGrist: The inventor of the nuclear bomb did not drop it on a city either. Invention does not always mean using it yourself. Especially in fiction, where a weapon is invented that then turns out to be much too dangerous, it is common to hide the discovery and not use it, if its inventor has any shred of decency.
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


He meant that the Dark Lord was the only one to split his soul to create multiple Horcruxes.

Although he refers to it as "splitting the soul" it's implicit that he means splitting the soul, to then turn the split portion into a Horcrux. It's also very heavily implied that using a murder to split the soul and creating a Horcrux with it is far more damaging than simply committing murder without creating a Horcrux. This may be because even after committing a murder and splitting the soul, without creating a Horcrux, all the pieces of soul stay in the person they belong to. Whatever the reason, it's clear that creating a Horcrux is a step beyond murder on the scale of evil.

“By an act of evil – the supreme act of evil. By committing murder. Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: he would encase the torn portion –’ ‘Encase? But how –?” - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

Most wizards who commit murder likely don't do it with the intention of creating a Horcrux, and it's implied that every mention of soul splitting is specifically as it applies to Horcrux creation rather than simply murder.

“You heard Voldemort: what he particularly wanted from Horace was an opinion on what would happen to the wizard who created more than one Horcrux, what would happen to the wizard so determined to evade death that he would be prepared to murder many times, rip his soul repeatedly, so as to store it in many, separately concealed Horcruxes. No book would have given him that information. As far as I know – as far, I am sure, as Voldemort knew – no wizard had ever done more than tear his soul in two.” - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

It becomes a bit more clear that they're talking about multiple Horcruxes and not simply multiple murders (without using the murder to create Horcruxes) when Dumbledore explains how he came to suspect that the Dark Lord had multiple Horcruxes. Here, it's fairly clear that he means "splitting the soul multiple times to encase the pieces in multiple objects creating Horcruxes" as the actions that put the Dark Lord beyond the realms of usual evil.

“I, who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality.” That was what you told me he said. “Further than anybody.” And I thought I knew what that meant, though the Death Eaters did not. He was referring to his Horcruxes, Horcruxes in the plural, Harry, which I do not believe any other wizard has ever had. Yet it fitted: Lord Voldemort had seemed to grow less human with the passing years, and the transformation he had undergone seemed to me to be only explicable if his soul was mutilated beyond the realms of what we might call usual evil …” - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)


The piece of soul has to be deliberately intended to be split off, with the intent of creating a Horcrux. Presumably just killing doesn't split the soul - otherwise everyone's souls would be ripped up, even Molly Weasley, and Voldemort's soul only split while killing Harry because it was already so weak after being split so many times.

"I do think that the strict definition of "Horcrux," once I write the [Harry Potter Encyclopedia], will have to be given, and that the definition will be that a receptacle is prepared by Dark Magic to become the receptacle of a fragmented piece of soul, and that that piece of soul was deliberately detached from the master soul to act as a future safeguard, or anchor, to life, and a safeguard against death."
J.K. Rowling

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    But that goes against what Slughorn told Tom. He specifically stated that murder rips the soul apart since it is against nature. I'm sure it was mentioned in other instances as well
    – John Doe
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 11:57
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    @JohnDoe "And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?” “You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” said Dumbledore. > from this conversation between Snape and Dumbledore it seems intent matters. Dumbledore plays according to utatilitarian moral rules, 'good' intentions and sacrifice of one/few individuals for the greater good is fine.
    – user68762
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 12:21
  • But just killing for fun, which I'm guessing loads of wizards have done in the past, should spilt your soul then. If the intent is purely to kill?
    – John Doe
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 12:25
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    It seems to me like in the HP world, murder is always damaging to the soul, but only when you go through the horcrux-making process can you take advantage of that damage to rip off a piece of soul and put it in something. Otherwise the soul just heals or stays broken inside you. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:58
  • Previous discussion whether killing will always damage one’s soul: Does accidental homicide cause one’s soul to split?, Did Snape ever commit murder?
    – chirlu
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 14:15

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