This is a quote from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

There was a pause and then Snape said quietly, "Ah . . . Aunt Bellatrix has been teaching you Occlumency, I see. What thoughts are you trying to conceal from your master, Draco?"

So it seems that Prof. Snape could tell Draco had something to hide. Is it possible to tell if Occlumency is being used to hide the truth?

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    Your question answers itself: "Ah ... Aunt Bellatrix has been teaching you Occlumency, I see. What thoughts are you trying to conceal from your master, Draco?". Snape can obviously tell Draco is employing Occlumency in an attempt to conceal, because if you read further, Draco says something along the lines of, "I'm not hiding anything from [Voldemort]; it's you who I don't want mucking around in my mind." It's pretty common knowledge in the series that Occlumency is used to hide the truth from others. (And I realize that just because it's common knowledge in the series doesn't mean all know). Jul 18, 2013 at 14:12
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    @Slytherincess Actually I disagree. I think Snape guessed that Draco was using occlumency based on his behavior, not on his failed attempt to see his thoughts. I'll try and make it an answer if I have time today. I may be wrong though
    – Kalissar
    Jul 18, 2013 at 14:26
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    @Slytherincess I agree with Kalissar. First of all, I believe it was prefixed by something along the lines of "I know what you're doing, I can stop you!" Next, Snape was trying to find a particular thing he knew to be there, and its absence alone would have been strong evidence of occlumency. And third, Draco was inexperienced; it's likely that hiding the occlumency itself takes a great deal of skill and experience.
    – Kevin
    Jul 18, 2013 at 14:34
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    Can you use Occlumency to hide the fact that you are using Occlumency...?
    – TGnat
    Jul 18, 2013 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


In The Order of the Phoenix, when Snape is introducing Harry to Occlumency Snape says:

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.

The his refers to Voldemort, who is an accomplished Legilimens. Snape is inferring that Voldemort could not necessarily tell if someone was using Occlumency against him.

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    Moreover. as a silled Legilemens, presumably if it was possible to detect Occlumency, Voldemort WOULD have detected that Snape was hiding things from him. Jul 19, 2013 at 12:33
  • so it's not possible to tell if occulumency is being used or not?
    – user13267
    Jul 19, 2013 at 12:51
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    If the Occlumens is sufficiently skilled it is impossible for a Legilimens to tell that Occlumency is being used. Jul 19, 2013 at 13:28
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    I agree. Occlumency would be nearly worthless if it were always detectable.
    – Kevin
    Jul 19, 2013 at 16:38

In my opinion, it's all about skill. At first you may have trouble hiding the fact that you are protecting the mind, but over time your skill in the art of occlumency will increase and you will no longer have this problem. That is, since Draco was inexperienced in this technique and Snape was a master, the perception of the use of occlumency was expected.

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