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The Deathly Hallows Symbol and the artifacts that it represents are key to the Harry Potter saga, in that the owner becomes the ‘master of Death’ with unspeakable power. These items are the legendary Cloak of Invisibility, Resurrection Stone, and Elder Wand.
You may have seen the symbol while watching the films, and wondered what exactly the symbol means. Let’s take a deeper look.
Deathly Hallows Symbol Meaning
The Deathly Hallows symbol is a triangle with a ring in its center and a vertical line going through it. At first glance, it looks like an abstract eye, and its components represent each Hallow: the Cloak of Invisibility (the triangle), the Resurrection Stone (the ring), and the Elder Wand (the vertical line).
Triangle Meaning – Cloak of Invisibility Hallow
The first Hallow symbolized as the triangle is the Cloak of Invisibility. While invisibility cloaks aren’t necessarily rare in the wizarding world, these common cloaks fade with age and can be destroyed.
However, the Deathly Hallows Cloak is indestructible, remained flawless through the ages, and completely conceals whoever hides beneath it. It was also acquired by Harry in a rather ordinary means- as a Potter-Pervell family heirloom.
Circle Meaning – Resurrection Stone Hallow
The second Hallow is the Resurrection Stone. It is completely unique in its existence, in that it has the power to bring the dead back to life.
Even though it might not work exactly as one would expect. The resurrection stone was bound onto a ring, and, like the invisibility cloak, it was passed down generation to generation until it was in the hands of the Gaunt family.
The resurrection stone takes on a bit of a darker turn, in that the Gaunt family, completely unaware of the significance or power of the stone, are brutally murdered by Tom Ridley. One of the first acts of violence that Tom will commit in his pursuit of power and his transformation to the dark lord- Voldemort
Vertical Line Meaning – Elder Wand Hallow
The last Hallow, the Elder Wand, is an unbeatable wand that makes its owner win every battle they enter. It is unsurprising then that the Elder Wand possesses the darkest past of all the three Hallows.
Its history is rich with blood and betrayal. A testament to this is the term ‘Deathstick’ as one of it’s murderous owners- Loxias – so aptly named it.
And the pursuit of power is never final (and rarely is it benevolent). In the Harry Potter series, it is not shocking that the Deathstick is coveted by none other than the dark lord himself — Voldemort.
Not only this, but Draco Malfoy, another of the series’ antagonists, briefly stumbles into rightful ownership of the wand as well.
To better understand the history of each Hallow, let’s take a look at the origin of the deathly hallows symbol.
Deathly Hallows Symbol Origin
The origins of the Deathly Hallows sprung from Beedle the Bard’s fairy tale “The Tale of the Three Brothers”. The three brothers are rumored to be the brothers Peverell – Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus.
“Who are the Peverells?” asked Ron.
“That was the name on the grave with the mark on it, in Godric’s Hollow,” said Hermione, still watching Xenophilius. “Ignotus Peverell.”
“Exactly!” said Xenophilius, his forefinger raised pedantically. “The sign of the Death Hallows on Ignotus’s grave is conclusive proof!”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Though notoriously unreliable to separate facts from fiction, his knowledge of the Hallows turns out to be precisely what the three need.
He shares his belief that the Hallows are the focal point of The Tale of the Three Brothers and asks Hermoine to read it to them.
The Story of the Deathly Hallows
The story goes that these three men were wandering a dark path alongside each other when they came across a dangerous river. All three men are wizards, so they cast a spell to erect a bridge across the river for safe passage.
As they attempt to pass, a cloaked dark figure appears, blocking their path. It turns out to be Death. Death is upset that these three evaded dying in the treacherous waters as wanderers usually did.
Cunningly, Death offers each of the men a gift for being clever enough to trick Death. This is how the Deathly Hallows came into existence- at least according to this children’s tale.
The eldest brother, Antioch, asks for the most powerful wand in existence. Death creates the Elder Wand from a nearby Elder tree.
The second brother, Cadmus, asks for the power to bring people back to life. Death creates the resurrection stone from a pebble he picks off the riverbank.
The youngest brother, Ignotus, doesn’t trust Death and asks for the means to walk away without Death following him. Death reluctantly cuts off a piece of his own cloak- thus, creating the cloak of invisibility.
The story goes on to follow each of the brothers to their death, with the youngest brother, Ignotus, passing on the invisibility cloak to his son.
We later learn that Harry is a distant relative of Ignotus, whose cloak passed down to him through the generations. (Source)
Now that we know the origin of each Hallow, it is worth taking a deeper look at the sordid past of the darkest of the three hallows – the Elder Wand
The Elder Wand History
The history of the Elder Wand is dark and nefarious, much like those wizards and warlocks that continued to pursue it through the ages.
The darkness is almost instant, as, when Antioch returns back to town after acquring the Elder Wand, he immediately looks for a fellow wizard whom he previously had a particular grievance. He quickly finds him, challenges him to a wizard duel, and defeats him with great ease.
Antioch celebrates his victory by going to the tavern in town and proceeds to get thoroughly intoxicated, bragging about his newfound power.
That same very night, while in a drunken sleep, a thief sneaks into his room, slits Antioch’s throat, and becomes the new rightful owner of the Elder Wand (it seems that Death was not so easily bested after all).
This thief’s name is unknown, however, he sets in motion a long (and bloody) exchange of the Elder Wand.
Learn the full history of the Elder Wand owners, including timelines, and explanations.