Creating a Horcrux
The purpose of creating a Horcrux is to grant immortality to the person who created the Horcrux. Only two people are known to have successfully created Horcruxes: Herpo the Foul and Tom Riddle (later known as Lord Voldemort). A Horcrux is arguably the darkest of the Dark Arts and is made when a wizard murders someone and performs the proper ritual, which rips a part of the murderer's soul and attaches it to a chosen vessel. The bit of soul remains protected in the vessel, thus ensuring the murderer's immortality.
The immortality obtained by Horcruxes is not a desirable one. Only the soul of the person who created a Horcrux is immortal, not his body. When the body dies the wizard goes into a state of existence that is less than that of a ghost.
The soul of a human is meant to remain whole, not ripped apart. Ripping apart one's soul has several negative side effects:
- The wizard becomes dehumanized, both physically and mentally, as a result of losing part of his soul. This process of becoming dehumanized was seen in the memories that Dumbledore shared with Harry via the Pensieve. Tom Riddle's physical appearance looked normal after he created his first Horcrux, but 10-15 years later, after he had made several more Horcruxes and no longer went by the name of Tom, Voldemort's skin was extremely white and his features looked burned and blurred. We can also assume that the there is a direct correlation between a smaller and smaller Master Soul (the part remaining in the wizard) and a decline in morality, sympathy, and humanity.
- The wizard's Master Soul becomes unstable and unpredictable. This was seen when Voldemort attempted to kill baby Harry and his killing curse rebounded on him. Voldemort's soul was so unstable by that time that another part was unintentionally ripped away and latched itself onto Harry. When that happened Harry became a partial Horcrux because a part of Voldemort's soul resided inside him but Voldemort did not intend to make a Horcrux, nor did he even know this had happened, and didn't do the ritual required to complete the process.
Herpo the Foul was a Dark Wizard during Ancient Greece. He successfully mastered many aspect of the Dark Arts and is believed to have created the ritual required to create a Horcrux when he made his one and only Horcrux. It is unknown if Herpo's Horcrux was destroyed, thus allowing him to die, or if he still lives in a state that is so awful that death would be better, a state that was described to Harry Potter by Professor Horace Slughorn.
Tom Riddle feared death more than anything else and made his first Horcrux during his fifth year at Hogwarts, around age 16 because he wanted to live forever. But one Horcrux was not enough for Tom, who believed in the magical power of the number seven and wanted his soul torn into a total of seven pieces (six Horcruxes plus his Master Soul). He approached Professor Slughorn some time after he made his second Horcrux and asked what would happen if he made six Horcruxes. Professor Slughorn was horrified by the prospect of making any Horcruxes and Tom quickly dropped the subject.
Reversing a Horcrux
It is possible to reverse a Horcrux and have the torn soul fragment reunite with the Master Soul, but it is unlikely that any wizard evil enough to create a Horcrux would be willing to do what is needed for this to happen. A Horcrux can only be reversed if the wizard feels true remorse for or has repentance for his action, a process that is believed to be so painful that it can be fatal. The fatal aspect of reversing a Horcrux is just an educated guess on the part of Dumbledore since neither Herpo the Foul nor Lord Voldemort wanted to reverse their Horcruxes.
Destroying a Horcrux
A wizard who has created Horcruxes will remain immortal unless the Horcruxes are destroyed, something that can be done but is incredibly difficult to do. The three known methods for destroying a Horcrux are almost as dangerous as creating a Horcrux:
- Basilisk venom will destroy a Horcrux, but Basilisks are a XXXXX-class creature. XXXXX-class creatures are the most deadly and dangerous of all magical creatures, are known wizard killers, and are impossible to domesticate or train. Any wizard who goes after Basilisk venom is almost sure to die in the process, unless he has access to Phoenix tears, an incredibly rare substance that is the only known antidote to the venom.
- Fiendfyre will destroy a Horcrux but this cursed fire can only be controlled by extremely skilled wizards.
- The Killing Curse will kill both a living vessel and the Horcrux contained within the living creature.
What Happens if a Wizard Dies While Horcruxes Remain?
As I said above, the purpose of a Horcrux is to ensure the immortality of the wizard who created it. The wizard's human body can be killed but his soul will survive in a state of limbo because the soul fragments live on in the Horcruxes. This is what happened to Voldemort after he tried to kill baby Harry. His soul kept the essence of who he was alive after his body died, and he wandered for a decade in a form that was less than ghostly.
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