The Harry Potter Triangle Symbol - Where Did it Come From?

The Harry Potter Triangle Symbol - Where Did it Come From?

The triangle-shaped symbol from the Harry Potter series is about as well known as the lightning bolt, but not quite as understood. 

The lightning bolt symbol is simply the shape of the scar on Harry's forehead, whereas the triangle symbol has a long and interesting history. 

The triangle has a circle inside it and a vertical line right through the middle. This is the sign of the Deathly Hallows, which have always been thought of as just a bedtime story for children. 

What is the Deathly Hallows symbol?

In every household in the wizarding world, there is a children's book called ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’. 

Hermione Granger inherited this book in her Hogwarts Headmaster's will, while Harry was given a golden snitch. The book contains bedtime stories such as ‘Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump’, ‘The Warlock's Hairy Heart’, and of course, ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’, which is the very bedtime tale that our Deathly Hallows symbol comes from. 

The legend goes that while three brothers were traveling along a lonely road one night, they came to a river they could not cross by wading or swimming. They used magic to conjure a bridge across the water and started to walk across.

But their path was blocked by Death. 

He was not happy, to say the least. This was one of his favorite spots for taking the souls of drowned travellers, and felt cheated. But he sneakily decided to trick the brothers instead of showing them how he felt, so he congratulated them on their magical bridge and told them he wanted to give them each a prize.

Incendio magical bridge

The oldest brother asked for a wand that would win every duel, one more powerful than any other. So Death fashioned him a wand from the branch of a nearby elder tree, and it looked like this

The second brother asked for the power to bring others back from the dead. So Death took a stone from the riverbank and gave it to him, telling him that the stone would give him that power. 

The third brother, a smart guy by all accounts, asked Death for something that would allow him to leave that place without Death being able to follow him. So Death gave the youngest brother his own cloak of invisibility. 

These three powerful objects make up the Deathly Hallows.

Where do we first see the Deathly Hallows symbol?

In the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry attends the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. There he meets his friend Luna’s father, Xenophilius Lovegood, who wears a strange symbol hung from a gold chain around his neck.

Harry doesn’t think much about it until speaking to Viktor Krum later on. Krum tells Harry that the symbol is the sign of Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who was defeated by Dumbledore years earlier. 

Later in the story, when reading Rita Skeeter’s book, ‘The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore’, Harry is shocked to learn that Grindelwald and Albus were firm friends as young men. 

When does the trio learn what the Deathly Hallows symbol is?

Hermione noticed that the triangle symbol was inscribed inside the book ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’, left to her in Dumbledore’s will. Later, when she and Harry visited Godric’s Hollow, where Harry’s family had lived, she saw the symbol again on an old grave.


Incendio Harry Potter visited Godric’s Hollow

Later again, she read a letter inside Rita Skeeter's book, written by Albus in his youth to his friend Gellert Grindelwald. She realized that the A of Albus in Dumbledore’s signature had been replaced by a small triangular symbol, identical to the one on her Beedles storybook cover.

Being the smartest witch of her age, she put it all together pretty quickly. If you’re a fan, you can buy Hermione's beautiful vinewood wand here.

Once the connection between these symbols and the symbol Xenophilius Lovegood had been wearing around his neck was realized, the trio knew they had to look into it. That is when they decided to go and speak to Xenophilius, to see if he could shed any light on the meaning of the triangular symbol.

Luna’s father explained to Harry, Ron, and Hermione that he believed, as did others, that the story of the three brothers who cheated Death was true, that they had been given those items from Death, and these were known as the Deathly Hallows. He used a quill and some parchment to draw the symbol. 

First, he drew a vertical line, which represented the Elder Wand. Then he drew a circle around the line, to symbolize the Resurrection Stone. 

Then finally, he enclosed both the circle and the line in a triangle that represented the Cloak of Invisibility. Each magical item in one symbol, making up the Deathly Hallows.  

Who were the three brothers?

It is believed that the original owners of the Deathly Hallows were the Peverell brothers, Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus Peverell. It was the grave of Ignotus Peverell that Hermione found in Godric’s Hollow, with the mark of the Deathly Hallows carved into the stone. 

The Peverell’s were a pureblood wizarding family, whose name died out long before Harry Potter came along. But the hallows were passed down through the generations (or stolen over and over again), so let’s find out where they ended up.

The Cloak of Invisibility

The third brother, who was clever, remember? Well, Death searched for him for years but never found him. 

Not until the brother was an old man, and was ready for Death, did he take off his invisibility cloak and show himself. The cloak was passed down through generations until it came to Harry Potter, as the Potters were descended from the Peverell family. 

Dumbledore had borrowed the invisibility cloak from James Potter before James was killed, and so he passed it on to Harry when he became a Hogwarts student.

The trio only realizes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Harry’s invisibility cloak is so rare there isn’t another one out there! The cloak is still in the Potter family to this day.

The Resurrection Stone

The stone taken by Death from the riverbank was brought home by the second brother. He used this stone to bring a girl he loved back from the dead. But she was not the same. 


Incendio Harry Potter the resurrection stone

She was cold and sad and quiet, and he knew she did not belong in the mortal world with him. The brother was so full of hopelessness that he killed himself so that he could be with his love in the afterlife. Death was his fate after all.

The stone was passed down through his family, either through children of his own or perhaps his brothers' families. It finally ended up in the possession of Tom Riddle. 

His family, the Gaunts, were descendants of the Peverell brothers (so the Gaunts and Lord Voldemort are very distantly related to Harry Potter!) and the resurrection stone was set into a ring that had become a family heirloom. They had no idea what it truly was, and Voldemort made this ring one of his first Horcruxes.

This ring Horcrux was destroyed years later by Dumbledore, who then passed the stone on to Harry, hidden in the Golden Snitch. 

Harry used it in the forbidden forest when faced Voldemort, and it summoned his parents who gave him the courage to die. Afterward, he dropped the Resurrection Stone in the forest, never to be found again. 


Incendio Harry Potter used  the forbidden forest


The Elder Wand

Given names such as the ‘Deathstick’, and the ‘Wand of Destiny’, the Elder Wand, unlike the other hallows, never really disappeared as time passed. It has a bloody history, with tales through the years of an unbeatable wand which the owners were murdered for. You can buy your own Wand of Destiny here!

The original owner, after his encounter with Death, sought out an old enemy of his and duelled him. Of course, he won, with his fancy new wand, and afterwards boasted of the unbeatable wand to anyone listening. 

He met his fate that night, and the wand was stolen. This became quite a pattern for the owners of the wand. Wizards with names like Emeric the Evil and Egbert the Egregious were happy to dispose of the owner so that they could possess the powerful item. 

Years later the wandmaker Gregorovitch came into possession of it, but it was stolen from him by Grindelwald. When Dumbledore duelled Grindelwald and won, he took the Elder Wand from him. Dumbledore was buried with the wand, but Voldemort split the tomb of the headmaster open and stole the wand from him. 

Voldemort sought it out at first because he thought that the most powerful wand in existence would help him to beat Harry Potter. Later he also believed it would make him invincible. But he could not use it well, for the wand's allegiance lay elsewhere. 

Explaining how the wand being loyal to the owner is separate from the wand itself gets a bit complicated. In the words of the great wandmaker Garrick Ollivander, “In general,... where a wand has been won, its allegiance will change.” 

Incendio Harry Potter's wand

Dumbledore owned the Elder Wand, but just before he died he was disarmed by Draco Malfoy, and the wand became loyal to Draco even though he did not physically possess the wand. 

Then Harry Potter disarmed Draco at Malfoy Manor, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so the allegiance passed to Harry. And so, even though the wand was laid to rest with Albus Dumbledore, its loyalty was with Harry, so when Harry physically took the wand from Voldemort, it was truly his.

He used the powerful Elder Wand to repair his own holly and phoenix feather wand, which a rebounding curse had broken. Only the most powerful wand could repair it. At the end of the movie, Harry snaps the Elder Wand in half and throws it away. 

However, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the book, Harry tells his friends that he is going to put the Elder Wand back where it came from, presumably his old headmaster’s grave. 

And that is where it should stay.

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