In "Goblet of Fire", Priori Incantatem effect caused Voldemort's wand to emit the "specters" of the last spells cast by the wand - in that case, Wormtail's new hand and Killing curses for Cedric, Frank Bryce, and James and Lily Potters.

But why specifically was the Priori Incantatem effect stopped after Lily's "ghost" appeared?

Surely, Voldemort has done magic with his wand before killing Potters.

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    I have many times wondered the exact same thing! Great question. :) Dec 30, 2011 at 19:57
  • @Slytherincess - heh. At least half the credit goes to you - the impetus for remembering that issue is my trying to answer your PI question Dec 30, 2011 at 19:58
  • Yes, Priori Incantatem has always interested me, not only as a magical event, but also as a subject with a lot of unexplained factors. I don't think I've ever fully understood it, for the very reason you cite in this question. Dec 30, 2011 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


If Tom Riddle Sr. and Tom Riddle's grandparents were Voldemort's last murders prior to Priori Incantatem in the graveyard in Goblet of Fire, then those murders were performed with Morphin Gaunt's wand, as Tom Riddle framed Morphin for the Riddles' murders. So those three victims would not emerge from Voldemort's wand in the graveyard. However, this doesn't explain why the Muggle tramp, Hepzibah Smith, or the Albanian peasant don't appear as well. (Moaning Myrtle having been killed by the basilisk)

The HP Wiki suggests that the screaming sounds emitted from Voldemort's wand during Priori Incantatem was the regurgitation of the Cruciatus Curse.

Conjecture: Perhaps Priori Incantatem is somehow tied to spells involving the human spirit -- the Unforgivables maybe. It's not like Voldemort's wand spat out Tarantellegra, Levicorpus, or the Bat Bogey Hex! Come to think of it -- why didn't it spit out the spell required to make a Horcrux? That spell would have come after a murder, and Horcruxes involve the human essence. Hmm. I have mixed feelings on it. Good question!

ETA: I found this explanation in Goblet of Fire:

I am guessing other such forms appeared... less recent victims of Voldemort’s wand ...

An old man,’ Harry said, his throat still constricted. ‘Bertha Jorkins. And ...

Your parents?’ said Dumbledore quietly.

Yes,’ said Harry.

Sirius’ grip on Harry’s shoulder was now so tight it was painful.

The last murders the wand performed,’ said Dumbledore, nodding. ‘In reverse order. More would have appeared, of course, had you maintained the connection.

So apparently when Harry broke the connection between the two wands, the other murder victims didn't have a chance to re-emerge from Voldemort's wand. This is from chapter 36, The Parting of the Ways. I also found the answer to my ghost question :)

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    Am I the only one picturing a clip of Voldemort doing Bat Bogey Hex? Dec 30, 2011 at 22:36
  • @DVK - IKR? Or that spell that makes a person's toenails grow like five feet long or whatever. BTW, I found the answer to your question and am going to edit it into my answer. :) Dec 31, 2011 at 0:05

It makes since to me that it would only go back as far as the created connection between Voldemort and Harry Potter.

He didn't have his wand until it was recovered for him by Wormtail. It is possible the only spell he cast in his decrepit state was the killing curse on Frank Bryce. Weak as he was he probably had Wormtail do all of his spell casting for him.

Technically James Potter would have died before the link between Harry and Voldemort was created, but that was still within a few minutes of the connection, so will fudge that up to a not entirely accurate spell.

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    "Priori Incantatem resulted from the joined souls" - wasn't it from joinced wand cores rather than souls? I like the theory though. +1 Dec 30, 2011 at 20:26
  • Olavander figured the cores were joined, but when Voldemort tried Lucius' wand he had the same effect. Because their souls were joined (or rather Harry's was polluted). Dec 30, 2011 at 20:30
  • I researched GoF and it says Priori Incantatem only occurs when wands sharing the same core (brothers) meet and are forced to do battle against one another. Brother wands will not work properly against each other, so when forced to duel, Priori Incantatem occurs. Priori Incantatem is also apparently very rare. Regarding Lucius's wand, IIRC, Ollivander had no explanation as to why Lucius's wand didn't work against Harry. :) Dec 31, 2011 at 0:02
  • Unfortunately that complete invalidates my entire answer. So I think your facts should be stricken from the record. Dec 31, 2011 at 0:12
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    Hey, it could be worse! I once clung fiercely to a theory of my own making that Dumbledore's withered and blackened hand was actually the Hand of Glory, somehow transferred Franken-style to Dumbledore's arm. (A flashlight would have been a much easier and more sensible option than the Hand of Glory!) :) Dec 31, 2011 at 0:17

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