The Elder Wand is a legendary artifact in the Harry Potter universe and the key to immense power. It is one of the three Deathly Hallows and grants the owner immeasurable power in both combat and magic. The wand is made up of wood from an Elder Tree, and its core is the hair of a Thestral (an animal you can only see once you have witnessed death).
How Does Elder Wand Work?
The Elder Wand is unique in that it is primarily attracted to power. Other wands will display some form of loyalty towards their respective owners. However, the Elder Wand is different in that it tends to grant its allegiance to those who are either powerful in their own right or those who pursue power (usually through ruthless means).
The only way to diffuse the wand is for the true master of the wand to either die of natural causes or to consciously choose their death even at the hands of another wizard (this becomes important later on).
With such significant power, it is not surprising that the Elder Wand has a particularly dark and sordid past.
Before we get started, here’s a condensed table showing the chronological order of each owner and the approximate time they were in possession of the wand:
Elder Wand Ownership Chart & Table Timeline (In Order)
|Antioch’s Murderer (Name Unknown)||13th-Century|
|Emeric the Evil||The Middle Ages|
|Egbert the Egregious||The Middle Ages|
|Godelot||~fl. before 900 AD (One century after Egbert)|
|Hereward||The Middle Ages|
|Barnabas Deverill||Early 18th Century|
|Loxias||Early-Mid 18th Century|
|Arcus OR Livius||Unknown|
|Mykew Gregorovitch||Between 1909 – 1926|
|Gellert Grindelwald||1926 – 1945|
|Albus Dumbledore||1945 – 1997|
|Draco Malfoy||1997 – 1998|
|Tom Riddle / Lord Voldemort||1998|
|Harry Potter||1998 – TBD|
Now, let’s take a deeper and comprehensive look at each owner chronologically through the ages, starting with its original owner, Antioch Peverell.
Antioch Peverell (1292)
Antioch Peverell was the original owner of the Elder Wand, having either created it himself or received it as a gift from Death. Antioch’s ownership of the wand turned out to be fleeting, as shortly after acquiring it, Antioch had his throat slit and the wand stolen (the thief’s identity is unknown).
Antioch was one of the three Peverell brothers, and how he acquired the Elder Wand is a matter of speculation in the books. The symbol of the Deathly Hallows represents each Hallow, and the Elder Wand is the straight line that is dashed through the circle/eye.
According to the “Tale of the Three Brothers” Antioch was awarded the wand by Death himself for using his powerful magic and cunning to evade Death.
The other belief is stated by Dumbledore, in that he believed that Antioch and his brothers were extremely powerful wizards and that they had used their power to create the Elder Wand and the other Deathly Hallows.
And although the origin of the wand is a bit murky, its bloodied past is not. Antioch took his weapon to town and sought after a wizard he had previously quarreled with.
He challenged this wizard to a duel and, now armed with the Elder Wand, made short work of the rival wizard.
Shortly afterward, Antioch, in a fatal act of hubris, proceeded to a nearby inn where he got thoroughly drunk and bragged that he brandished this wand made by Death himself.
That night, an unknown figure slunk into Antioch’s room while he slept off his drink, slit his throat, and took his wand.
Thus began the violent and ruthless history of the Elder Wand. Let’s examine each (known) subsequent owner henceforth.
Emeric the Evil (The Middle Ages)
Emeric was the next known owner of the wand after Antioch, and we only know that he had acquired it sometime in the 13th century. How long Emeric possessed the wand is also unknown, however, we know that he conceded both his life and his wand in a duel with the rival wizard, Egbert the Egregious.
Emeric was a powerful dark wizard (a wizard who delves and practices primarily in the Dark Arts) who rode a dragon (yes, a dragon).
Although exactly how Emeric managed to get his hands on the Elder Wand is unknown, we can be quite certain that based on his name alone, he did not come across it through gentle nor scrupulous means.
There is, however, much more information on what exactly Emeric did once he brandished the Elder Wand. It is written that Emeric proceeded to blaze a hellish and brutal path through the South of England during the middle ages.
The nightmare that was Emeric was finally halted by another powerful wizard– Egbert the Egregious, in a head-to-head duel.
Egbert The Egregious (The Middle Ages)
There is not much conclusive information on Egbert, but we know that he became the successive master of the Elder Wand by defeating Emeric the Evil in an intense duel. How long he possessed the wand and how he came to lose the wand are a matter of speculation. Dumbledore suspects Egbert did not live much longer after acquiring the wand.
Given that Egbert was able to defeat Emeric while in possession of the Elder Wand, we can surmise that Egbert was a formidable wizard with particular skill in combat. In fact, Egbert is part of a very exclusive group of wizards who have claimed ownership of the Elder Wand by defeating its master in a duel.
The only other wizard to perform such a feat was none other than Albus Dumbledore (more on that later).
And, just like his predecessor, if nicknames and titles are to be believed, we can also be sure that Egbert earned the title of egregious through some seriously deplorable and heinous acts.
Egbert’s exact fate after mastering the wand is unknown, as is who he passed the wand onto. Some suspect he passed it down to his children, while others believe that Egbert himself was defeated and murdered in a duel as well, similarly to those before him.
Godelot (The Middle Ages)
The next in the line of prominent wizards to become master of the wand is Godelot. The details of how exactly Godelot came into possession of the Elder Wand and how long he possessed it are unclear; however, we know it was approximately an entire century after Egbert’s possession. Godelot was eventually murdered by his own son, Hereward, by being locked inside his own cellar and left to die.
Godelot’s relationship with the Elder Wand was a bit different than those who had mastered it before him. Godelot found the wand to be a source of great knowledge and inspiration. And, although Godelot was not nearly as violent as his predecessors, his intentions were just as dark.
With the help of the wand, Godelot scribed the legendary tomb, Magick Most Evile, which became a crucial piece of literature in the wizarding world, but especially for students of the Dark Arts. The book was a reference for spells and potions most foul and was also one of the first few pieces of literature to reference Horcruxes.
And, as you might have suspected, Godelot did not die of natural causes. Rather, Godelot’s fate was perhaps the darkest yet. Godelot was trapped and left to die in his very own cellar by his very own son, Hereward. Once Godelot perished, Hereward took the Elder Wand for his own.
Hereward (The Middle Ages)
What exactly Hereward did after obtaining the wand is somewhat of a mystery, as is how he came to lose it from his possession. It is suspected that Hereward was killed in a similar fashion to those before him, most likely from being murdered or on the losing side of a duel with a rival wizard.
Barnabas Deverill (Early Eighteenth Century)
It is not until the early eighteenth century that the Elder Wand resurfaces in history books, and this time it is in the hands of the dark wizard and accomplished warlock Barnabas Deverill. Barnabas’ fate was similar to that of Emeric, in that his evil reign was only ended by being usurped by a darker and much more powerful wizard.
However, the violence and gore that Barnabas proceeded to wreak upon the wizarding world before his demise became the stuff of legends, in which he is described as having…” used it to carve himself out a reputation as a fearsome warlock…”.
Loxias (Early – Mid Eighteenth Century)
Loxias was yet another Dark Wizard who murdered Barnabas and took the Elder Wand for his own. Loxias proceeded to liberally use the wand to dispatch of those he did not particularly like or trust. Loxias was eventually defeated, similar to his predecessors before him.
He was also the one to famously coin the term, “Deathstick” for the Elder Wand.
The person actually responsible for Loxias’ defeat is a matter of debate and speculation. Many have laid claim to the deed and the feat (even his own mother). However, according to Xenophilius Lovegood’s reckoning, it was most likely either Arcus or Livius.
Arcus or Livius (Unknown)
It is believed that Arcus or Livius became the next owner of ‘the Deathstick’ after Loxias. However, there is no source or evidence to know definitively. It is also at this point that Xenophilius Lovegood admits that the history of the Elder Wand becomes particularly difficult to track.
Mykew Gregorovitch (~1909 – 1926)
The Elder Wand makes its nineteenth-century appearance in the hands of renowned wand-maker Mykew Gregorovitch. We do not know when (nor how) Mykew came into possession of the Elder Wand, but we do know that it was stolen from him in 1926 by Gellert Grindelwald.
Mykew proves to be the most ‘innocent’ (or naive) owner of the wand, as, unlike each predecessor before him, he does not use it as a device to achieve grandiose plans of power.
Rather, Mykew, upon realizing the exact extent of the wand’s power, devotes much time and resources to studying it and attempting to duplicate its unique and extraordinary power. Word of Mykew’s unique possession and ‘secret’ project spread across the wizarding world (started by Mykew himself), and, of course, it eventually found its way to those with darker intentions.
And, consequently, one fateful evening, Mykew, in an attempt to confront an intruder in his workshop, is put under the effect of a stunning spell. The intruder escapes through a window with the Elder Wand in hand.
Gellert Grindelwald (1926 – 1945)
That intruder was none other than a young Gellert Grindelwald. And, by a stroke of luck, Gellert’s casting of the stunning spell on Mykew while fleeting was enough to transfer rightful ownership of the wand to Gellert, making him the next subsequent master. Grindelwald possessed the wand for 21 terrible years until he finally lost it in a duel with Albus Dumbledore.
Gellert befriended a young Albus Dumbledore whom he had met in Godric’s Hollow. However, their relationship would be forever destroyed by the tragic murder of Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana. Although the details of her death were not certain, Gellert was the prime suspect in her murder.
As such, he receded into hiding and delved deeper into the dark arts. Gellert became notorious in the wizarding world, a dark wizard that was only rivaled by the Dark Lord himself — Voldemort.
Albus would eventually track down Gellert at the urge of the wizarding community looking for justice for Ariana and to stop his reign of terror. Dumbledore would defeat (but not kill) Gellert in a head-on duel and, therefore, become the new master of the Elder Wand.
Albus Dumbledore (1945 – 1997)
Dumbledore possessed the Elder Wand for 52 years after defeating Grindelwald in a duel which is commonly considered the greatest duel in the history of the wizarding world. Albus eventually concedes possession of the wand to Draco Malfoy after being struck by his disarming spell. However, this transfer of ownership is unbeknownst to all involved, and the wand is buried with Dumbledore after his death.
It is an extraordinary feat to be the owner and master of the Elder Wand and a true testament to that wizard’s power and prowess. In the entire history of the Elder Wand, this was only ever accomplished by two wizards: Egbert the Egregious and Albus Dumbledore.
Albus was, without a doubt, one of the most powerful wizards in known history. Unlike those wizards who wielded great power before him, Dumbledore used his powers mostly for good. While others would let the dark arts and the thirst for power corrupt them, Dumbledore was a (much-needed) force of good in the wizarding world.
The same is true for how Albus chose to use the wand once he became its master. Dumbledore used the Elder Wand to accomplish great things, including the highly advanced summoning of the Gubraithian Fire or ‘Everlasting Fire’– a flame that never goes out, even after the original spellcaster dies.
The Elder Wand was also crucial in Albus’ battle with Voldemort and the Deatheaters. Albus fended off an attack on Hogwarts by the Deatheaters and also used it to defend against Voldemort himself.
However, upon realizing the growing force and power that was Voldemort and his cult, Dumbledore resigned himself to his fate and hatched a plan with Severus Snape to diffuse the Elder Wand entirely and stop it from falling into the hands of Voldemort.
This plan was interrupted by the unexpected meddling and interference by Harry’s rival (and despised brat) Draco Malfoy. Dumbledore, weak from the Drink of Despair, loses possession of the Elder Wand after being successfully struck by Draco’s disarming spell.
In an attempt to carry out the original plan, Snape intervenes by murdering Dumbledore with the Killing Curse before anyone else can.
However, unbeknownst to everyone, including Malfoy himself, the disarming spell was enough to transfer ownership of the Elder Wand from Albus to Draco before Snape could cancel out its powers.
Draco Malfoy (1997 – 1998)
Draco’s possession of the wand is rather anti-climactic and short-lived. The Elder Wand was buried alongside Dumbledore inside of his grave. It is not disturbed until being finally found by Lord Voldemort a year later.
Lord Voldemort (1998)
Voldemort does not ever become the true owner nor master of the wand. Voldemort is unaware of the transfer of ownership from Albus Dumbledore to Draco Malfoy and instead believes Snape to be the wand’s master after Dumbledore’s murder.
Consequently, Voldemort retrieves the wand from Albus’ grave and proceeds to murder Snape. It is not until his final battle with Harry does he realize he never was (and never will be) the trust master of death, nor the wand.
Voldemort’s pursuit of the Elder Wand is nothing short of relentless and brutal. He murders countless victims in his obsession, including the wand’s two previous masters, Grindelwald and Gregorvitch. Upon acquiring the wand from Albus’ grave, Voldemort soon realizes that he is not yet the true master of the wand.
Voldemort believes Snape to be the true master, as he was the one to cast the Killing Curse on Dumbledore. As such, Voldemort proceeds to have Snape murdered so that he can become the true master and unlock the full power of the wand.
It is not until the final showdown with Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts that Voldemort realizes he never was and never will be the true master of the wand. Rather, that title goes to none other than Harry.
Harry Potter (1998 – TBD)
Harry becomes the owner of the Elder Wand and true master of death after physically overpowering Malfoy in an altercation at the Malfoy Manor. After defeating Voldemort, Harry remains master of the wand, yet chooses to return it back to Dumbledore’s grave.
Harry was the only witness to Draco’s disarming of Albus. In fact, Dumbledore’s last act was to put Harry under a Full-Body Binding Curse while he is concealed by the Cloak of Invisibility.
Fast forward to the fatal Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, where Harry confronts Draco, in their confrontation, Harry physically wrestles Draco’s current wand from his grasp.
And, although Harry did not disarm the actual Elder Wand from Malfoy, the very act of overpowering him and disarming him was enough to transfer ownership and status as master of the Elder Wand to Harry. This seemingly small act would prove to be the key to defending against and ultimately defeating Lord Voldemort.
Harry, much like Dumbledore, resigned himself to his fate of dying at the hands of Lord Voldemort. In doing so, the Elder Wand would at least lose its potency. However, in their final encounter at the Forbidden Forest, Harry, armed with all three of the Deathly Hallows, proves himself to be the true master of death.
You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Voldemort casts the Killing Curse on Harry, but Harry does not die. And it is here that Harry realizes that he is the true master of the Elder Wand and that the Deathstick refused to harm its true master. In fact, Voldemort’s killing curse backfires on the Dark Lord himself– killing him and ending his reign of terror forever.
Being the true master of death, Harry chooses not to use the Elder Wand’s power – neither for good nor for evil. Instead, he chooses to return it to the side of its previous protector and Harry’s savior– Albus Dumbledore.
In doing so, Harry ensures that the wand will not fall into the wrong hands ever again, and the wand’s dark power will die with him.