A recent thread on Pensieves has lead me into thinking about Harry's unincidental Legilimecy powers. For a context, please go to this thread Could the Pensieve work the same way as Horcruxes?

I posted a comment in which I gave a wild speculation

IS it not because he is a Horcrux and a part of Voldemort's power in Legilimency is within him? This is a wild speculation, though: Is it possible that Voldemort's legilimens' inability to get into Snape's occulumens is because the part of Voldy's soul with a very powerful legilines was transferred to Harry? And by that, Harry was able to breach Snape's occulumens in HBP (although Harry did not intentionally do it).

Any thoughts?

  • 1
    I don't think Harry ever uses legilimency in the books
    – user13267
    Dec 19, 2013 at 11:11

4 Answers 4


Harry was able to breach Snape's occlumens because he used the shield charm "protego" which caused Snape's charm to backfire on Snape instead. It was not due to Harry's legilimency skills. So Harry doesn't exactly have any Legilimency skills. What happened in HBP with Snape was purely coincidental. Apart from that, there is a slight chance some of Voldemort's legilimency got transferred to Harry just like Harry became a Parseltongue. And Voldemort couldn't get into Snape's head because Snape was really good at occlumency.

  • "Apart from that, there is a slight chance some of Voldemort's legilimency got transferred to Harry just like Harry became a Parseltongue." But that would make Parseltongue a skill, is that not correct? Also, I have learned from Pottermore that Salazar Slytherin is a powerful Legilimens. And I could not really recall but I think I have read somewhere that Voldy is a direct descendant of Slytherin. So, given that legilimens is a skill, could the tendency to learn legilimens a "hereditary" thing?
    – gelolopez
    Dec 20, 2013 at 2:04
  • 1
    By that comparison, I meant to show the probability of some skills/powers being transferred. Legilimens could have a hereditary aspect too. Some wizards are more efficient at some skills than others, the reason may be some amount of inheritance too.
    – Stark07
    Dec 20, 2013 at 4:55
  • parseltongue, we are told in the books, is more of an inherent ability that may be inherited. Harry was never taught it, he just did it. Hence the widespread suspicion in CoS that Harry was Slytherin's heir. Occlumency/Legilimency seems to involve more teaching. As Ashish says, there may be some amount of heritability about it (like any branch of magic) which would make you more predisposed to be good at something, but unless you train and build up that potential it won't actually translate to actual results. Dec 20, 2013 at 7:38

I see legilimency as a 'learned' skill more than an inate ability.

Obviously some wizards are better at it than others and it's probably viewed as somewhat of a 'dark' art.

Harry was taught occlumency so, in my mind both disciplines are taught rather than inherited.

From the books it seems that Harry was never much good at either so I'd agree with @Ashish that Harry's charm caused a breach in Snapes occlumency.

  • That Legilimency is a Dark Art does not seem the case, as wizards like Dumbledore are seen to make good use of it. “Harry, you were never a good Occlumens —” — Half Blood Prince, Chapter 25, The Seer Overheard. And see the initial discussion between Harry and Dumbledore in that book on getting the memory from Slughorn. Jul 1, 2014 at 21:39

There are two questions here:

  1. Is it possible that Voldemort's inability to get into Snape's mind is because the part of Voldemort's soul with a very powerful ability for legilimency was transferred to Harry?

The answer is no. Because, as Dumbledore tells Harry, splitting the soul leads to no decline in one's brain and magical powers:

"Never forget, though, that while his soul may be damaged beyond repair, his brain and his magical powers remain intact. It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort even without his Horcruxes.” - Half Blood Prince, Chapter 23, Horcruxes.

And Legilimency and Occlumency are magical powers where you channel your inherent magic and sometimes use the wand.

  1. Was Harry able to breach Snape's Occulumency in HBP because of the part of Voldemort's soul in him?

The answer is again no, as ash_k29 explains above. In the situation, Snape was teaching Harry Occlumency, trying to invade his mind. But then Harry unpredictably reacted with a Shield charm (Protego), which reflects (minor to moderate) spells, making Snape's Legilimens, which requires continued channeling of magic, rebound on himself. Of course, Snape would not have closed his mind as thoroughly as he does with Voldemort. How the intended victim is enabled the fruits of the rebounding Legilimens is not clear, but that something of the sort is to be expected is attested by the fact that Snape took special care to procure Dumbledore's Pensieve to remove some of his worst (and strategic, may be) memories.

While it is possible that Harry was endowed with some skill in Legilimency from the part of Voldemort' soul in him, like his ability for Parseltongue, there's nothing in canon to support this. And that Harry was never an accomplished Occlumens is attested by Dumbledore in the next book:

“Harry, you were never a good Occlumens —”

Half Blood Prince, Chapter 25, The Seer Overheard.

As Pat Dobson points out above, Legilimency seems an acquired skill rather than an innate ability like the capacity to speak Parseltongue, and is thus less likely to be transfered in this way, from the manner in which the sinister process it is depicted in the books — Harry does not get any of Voldemort's skills in magic.


Harry just reflected Snape’s own spell back on him with Protego.

Harry’s seeing into Snape’s memories is a fairly clear case of Harry reflecting Snape’s Legilimens spell back on him by using Protego, the Shield Charm. First, Snape casts Legilimens on Harry.

“Now, if you are ready, we will start again.’

He raised his wand: ‘One – two – three – Legilimens!
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)

Then, Harry casts Protego, and right after that, begins seeing Snape’s memories.

“Harry raised his own wand.


Snape staggered – his wand flew upwards, away from Harry – and suddenly Harry’s mind was teeming with memories that were not his: a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner … a greasy-haired teenager sat alone in a dark bedroom, pointing his wand at the ceiling, shooting down flies … a girl was laughing as a scrawny boy tried to mount a bucking broomstick –”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)

Protego is known to reflect spells but leave them having the same effect as they originally would. Bellatrix sends Harry’s own Stunning Spell back at him by using Protego.

“Stupefy!’ yelled Harry. He had edged right around to where the goblin stood beaming up at the now headless wizard and taken aim at her back as she peered around the fountain. She reacted so fast he barely had time to duck.


The jet of red light, his own Stunning Spell, bounced back at him.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)

Harry only sees into someone else’s memories then, right after reflecting a Legilimens spell with Protego, and never again after that, unless there was a clear reason he could, like he was using a Pensieve. This means it’s much more likely that Harry doesn’t have any Legilimency skills, from the Dark Lord’s soul or otherwise, and was helped only by Snape’s spell that he’d reflected onto him.

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