According to J.K. Rowling, the Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength:

JKR: The Elder Wand is simply the most dispassionate and ruthless of wands in that it will only take into consideration strength. [..] the Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength. So it's completely unsentimental. It will only go where the power is. So if you win, then you've won the wand. So you don't need to kill with it. But, as is pointed out in the books, not least by Dumbledore because it is a wand of such immense power, almost inevitably, it attracts wizards who are prepared to kill and who will kill. And also it attracts wizards like Voldemort who confuse being prepared to murder with strength.

PotterCast Interviews J.K. Rowling, part two. PotterCast #131, 24 December 2007.

However, in the limbo between the two worlds, Dumbledore says:

“Maybe a man in a million could unite the Hallows, Harry. I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and to use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35: "King's Cross"

(In a previous question, we didn't discuss the word "permitted".)

What did Dumbledore mean? Does he believe in Death or other higher forces?

1 Answer 1


Dumbledore simply means that he wasn't worthy, in his own mind, to unite the Hallows.

There was no one person out there who was stopping Dumbledore from owning the Cloak or the Stone, or permitting him to own the Elder Wand. Dumbledore permitted himself to use the wand, and only the wand, because he knew he wasn't to be trusted with the others. He explains this a couple of paragraphs before your quote when he recounts finding the Resurrection Stone.

"When I discovered it, after all those years, buried in the abandoned home of the Gaunts, the Hallow I had craved most of all - though in my youth I had wanted it for very different reasons - I lost my head, Harry. I quite forgot that it was now a Horcrux, that the ring was sure to carry a curse. I picked it up, and I put it on, and for a second I imagined that I was about to see Ariana, and my mother, and my father, and to tell them how very, very sorry I was...
"I was such a fool, Harry. After all those years, I had learned nothing. I was unworthy to unite the Deathly Hallows, I had proved it time and again, and here was final proof."
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35, Kings Cross).

See how Dumbledore is his harshest critic. Nobody else says that he's unworthy to unite the Hallows. Dumbledore makes that evaluation of himself. After failing to show restraint when faced with the Resurrection Stone he concludes that he shouldn't be allowed to possess the Stone or the Cloak. This is part of the theme in Deathly Hallows of Dumbledore having lofty ambitions and not trusting himself with power.

He permits himself to keep the Elder Wand only because he knows the damage that it could wreak in more dangerous hands.

"I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and to use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it."
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35, Kings Cross).

He's a caretaker of the wand more than anything else. Because he didn't take it "for gain" he believed that he was "fit" to wield the Elder Wand - although it's clear that he views this as the bluntest and least subtle of the Hallows.

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