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SPOILERS UPCOMING; FAIR WARNING!

Severus Snape was a Death Eater when he heard Sybil Trelawney's prophecy in the Hog's Head Pub in 1980.

He later regrets telling Voldemort of the prophecy when he learns that the prophecy relates to Lily (whom he had a deep love for); which is revealed to us in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - The Prince's Tale.

After which Albus Dumbledore (founder of the Order of the Phoenix) sets Snape to the task of 'double-agent'; to pretend to spy on Dumbledore yet truly helping Dumbledore and helping Harry secretively.

We later see in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Snape is clearly one of the trusted members of the Order (as well as being privy to the 'Fidelius' charm of the headquarters) - 1995-1996.

So at some point between telling Dumbledore of his "regret", and the events of the Order of the Phoenix, Snape has become a member of the Order. I'm not sure if this is answered explicitly; or is it implied that straight after Severus' first information to Albus, he (Snape) was made a member of the Order?

When was Snape made a member of the Order of the Phoenix?

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    I don't wish to be rude, but this question sounds like you are asking whether he was inducted on a Monday or Tuesday. Why does it matter? – calccrypto Apr 28 '14 at 2:50
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    No no, as in, the general year or after such n such event... Would like to know for background. Dumbledore trusted Snape, most people (in-universe) don't know why; could help to know when. – Möoz Apr 28 '14 at 3:42
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    I don't see how... Anyways, since the Order disbanded after Voldemort's fall, and only regrouped after book 4, is that not the earliest Snape could have been inducted? Even if he joined after the "regret" incident, I doubt anyone other than Dumbledore knew, so I'm not sure it would count. Keeping tabs on Quirell in book 1 simply meant that Snape was working for Dumbledore (just a spy), not necessarily having become a member of the Order. – calccrypto Apr 28 '14 at 4:08
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    The Order isn't like a club. You don't send a membership dues and get a membership card. You're an Order member when Dumbledore says you are. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 28 '14 at 17:47
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As mentioned by calccrypto it never becomes clear if Snape ever became a member of the original Order. He could have been spying for Dumbledore personally instead. Some known events can minimise the window in which he switched sides, but whether this made him a member of the Order is unknown.

Through Dumbledore’s pensieve, we are privy to his memory of the trial of Igor Karkaroff. Where Karkaroff accuses Snape of being a Death Eater, this was quickly countered:

Dumbledore had got to his feet. ‘I have given evidence already on this matter,’ he said calmly. ‘Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk. He is now no more a Death Eater than I am.’

The Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30: The Pensieve

This seems to suggest that Snape at least took up his role as double agent prior to the day of Voldemort’s demise, 31 October 1981.

Snape would not have switched sides before Harry’s birthday 31 July 1980 as this is the earliest date for the subject of the prophecy to be determined.

After Harry’s birth, and after Voldemort deciding it was Harry and not Neville, would mark the earliest time Snape would have turned to Dumbledore for help.

The Harry Potter wiki gives us one possible other hint:

In October 1981, Dumbledore told the Potters that their best chance of remaining safe against Voldemort was the Fidelius Charm.

Moving the latest date to “October 1981”, as Dumbledore acted upon Snape’s advice here.

Thus Snape would have switched sides earliest 31 July 1980 and latest October 1981.

Edit to add an alternative timeline:

Cornelius Fudge retells the lead up to James and Lily’s hiding as follows:

One of [Dumbledore’s useful spies] tipped him off, and he alerted James and Lily at once. He advised them to go into hiding. […] Dumbledore told them that their best chance was the Fidelius Charm.

The Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10: The Marauder’s Map

Followed a bit later in the conversation by:

Barely a week after the Fidelius Charm has been performed –

This suggests the timeline is much closer together. The Fidelius charm would have been performed on October 24 and even if it was ‘an immensely complex spell’ according to Flitwick I can’t imagine it taking more than a week to set-up. That would mean Snape went to Dumbledore around October 17.

This means Snape would not have switched sides until mid-October 1981. This left very little time for him to work as a double agent, which could explain why many members of the Order (e.g. Alastor Moody) stayed sceptical of him.

  • Switched sided does not necessarily mean having joined the Order. – calccrypto Apr 28 '14 at 7:50
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    @calccrypto, you are right. I did add it is never said wether he becomes part of the Order or works for Dumbledore separately. I’ll consider making this more clear. – Martijn Apr 28 '14 at 8:01

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