How did Tom Riddle, upon being denied the position of teacher for Defence Against the Dark Arts, actually go about cursing it? Did he just whip out his wand and say “Positionus Cursus”? Did he dip the job listing in a potion? Did he cast a spell on the classroom where it was held?

Are there any clues about how Tom Riddle went about cursing the Defence Against the Dark Arts position?

  • You ought to listen to Hermione more, who says superstition.
    – Karl
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


We don’t know - it’s never said.

Though the curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts post is mentioned several times, and it’s made clear it’s there because of the Dark Lord being refused the post himself, it’s never explained exactly how the curse was cast on it.

“Was he after the Defence Against the Dark Arts job again, sir? He didn’t say …’

‘Oh, he definitely wanted the Defence Against the Dark Arts job,’ said Dumbledore. ‘The aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have never been able to keep a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

It is confirmed that there was indeed a curse, and the departure of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher each year wasn’t a coincidence, because JKR stated that the jinx on the teaching post broke because the Dark Lord was dead.

MV: Do you-- do Ron and Hermione or Harry ever return to Hogwarts in any capacity?

JKR: Well, I can well imagine Harry returning to give the odd talk on-- on Defense Against the Dark Arts. And-- I-- and, of course, the jinx is broken now because Voldemort's gone. Now they can keep a good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher from here on in. So that aspect of the-of the wizarding education is now provided for.
- Today Show interview (July 26, 2007)

However, we don’t know anything about how the Dark Lord actually put the curse on the post. It’s also possible that he didn’t intentionally or knowingly curse the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching post, but that his anger at not getting it caused ‘instinctive’ magic to curse it without him actually trying to. Even skilled wizards can cause things to happen through instinctive magic, especially in situations where their emotions are extreme.

“Do it! You have no idea of the danger we are in!’ shrieked Bellatrix: she looked frightening, mad; a thin stream of fire issued from her wand and burned a hole in the carpet.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)

That would explain why he’s so willing to put his servants (Quirrell, Barty Crouch Jr., and Amycus Carrow) in the position, and why he never used a similar curse again on any other position like Headmaster of Hogwarts or the Aurors.

  • 8
    Hocus-pocus fiddle dee dee, noone will stay unless it's me Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 16:31

He probably didn't.

As I have argued in several answers, most lengthily here, there was no curse. In fact, your question is one of the lines of evidence that there was no curse, as there is simply no known way to curse a "position".

  • 3
    Problem, though, is that your lengthy answer doesn't provide any actual proof that the post was not actually cursed. You simply cite a lack of evidence: that we know is not the same thing as evidence of lack. In your defence, everything I've read in these questions is vague at best hyperbole at worse.
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    @Adamant You don't have to ignore that Hogwarts hasn't been able to retain teachers. You just have to realize that a correlation between a certain event and the inability to retain teachers does not prove that the event caused the inability. As for Dumbledore's knowledge, he never even said that there was a curse. As for Rowling's statements.... well, I'll admit that I ignore them.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 0:46
  • 1
    @Adamant Maybe Dumbledore meant that Voldemort set up a fund to pay off every teacher to leave after a year. Or maybe Dumbledore believed in some sort of Karma that was paying him back for refusing Voldemort the position. Or any number of other far-fetched possibilities. The point is that the only thing we know for sure is that Dumbledore associated the inability to retain teachers with refusing Voldemort the job, but we don't know how or why.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 0:57
  • 1
    @Adamant And positing a nebulous curse that we've never hear of that somehow affects an intangible position causing each holder of that position to leave the job for completely unrelated reasons is also a stretch. The only difference is that in addition to being a stretch it also seems to contradict the implications of other parts of the books.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 1:01
  • 1
    @Adamant The ones we see were unrelated. Quirrel left because Voldemort caused his death; Lockhart left because he lost his mind; Lupin left because he was exposed; Moody/Crouch Jr. left because he lost his soul (and was anyway only contracted for one year); Umbridge left because Dumbledore never wanted her in the first place, and after what happened she probably didn't want to come back anyway; Snape left because he was promoted; Carrow left because he was a Death Eater and his side lost the war.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 1:04

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