Through the seven books by Harry Potter and the original eight films, The Wizarding World introduced readers and viewers to a variety of magical items that turned out to play major and massive roles in the overall plot. Items such as the Vanished Cabinet, the Mirror of Ecstasy, the Resurrection Stone and even the moving chess pieces have all been instrumental in helping or preventing Harry and his friends from achieving their goals.
Another mysterious object the characters came into contact with was the mysterious Veil in the Department of Mysteries. But despite its rather enigmatic presence and the significant role it plays in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Veil is never adequately discussed. It appears briefly in the fifth book and movie, but in all the ensuing chaos, no one really sits down to explain why it exists or what it means. So, all we need to do is a few scattered explanations.
In case you are one of those ardent Potterheads who are still trying to figure out what exactly that mystical Veil is, there your answer.
What is the veil?
In Order of the Phoenix , Harry and his friends discover the Veil as they escape from the Death Eaters who trick them into believing they have captured Sirius Black. Moments before all hell breaks loose, the group ends up in the death chamber and stumbles upon the veil. In simple terms, the physical structure is a kind of doorway between the plane where living people exist and the place where their souls end up after their death.
While in the books the veil is described as a tattered black curtain hanging inside a stone arch, in the film it appears to be made of dull gray fog. In both cases, the curtain / fog is constantly moving “as if it had just been touched”, implying that the spirits of the dead were entering the afterlife through it but could not be seen.
Although not explicitly stated, the Veil appears to function very similarly to the Thestrals. Just as only those who have witnessed someone’s death can see winged horse-like creatures, only those who believe in the afterlife can feel the otherworldly vibrations of the Veil. While Harry, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ron Weasley and Ginny Weasley were all spellbound, only Harry and Luna could hear the faint whispers and hums of the dead and felt like someone was on the other side. The voices of the dead, though still inaudible, grew louder as Harry tried to talk to whoever was on the other side.
JK Rowling once has explained how the living perceive the Veil in a chat with Melissa Anelli for her book Harry, to History:
“Luna firmly believes in the afterlife. She is very clear about this. And she hears them speak or hears them speak much more clearly than Harry does. This is the idea of faith. Harry thinks he can hear them; he is attracted. But Harry has had a life so steeped in death that he now has an unusually strong curiosity for the afterlife, especially a 15-year-old boy, as he is at Phoenix .
According to hyper-rational Hermione Granger, there has never been anything intriguing about life after death. But even though she couldn’t feel or feel any presence in the Veil, she knew it was dangerous.
“It’s not fair, Harry, come on, come on.”
Why is the Veil in the Department of Mysteries?
Not many know what goes on in this particular department or what its employees called Unspeakable are doing there. It has been explained that the Veil is in the Chamber of Death, where the concept of Death is being studied. It is possible that, just like other magical items such as the Resurrection Stone, the Veil was the creation of a powerful wizard who made a physical manifestation of the door between the dead and the living.
There is also the possibility that the Veil is indeed a mythical portal and that it has existed at this very spot for centuries. The Department of Mysteries was founded in 1672, more than a decade before the Ministry of Magic was established in 1707. Although it is obvious that the Ministry was built around the department, it is possible that the department itself was built around the point. where the Veil was located so that its employees can study and research it.
Can the living cross the veil?
As we see from Harry’s reaction in Order of Phoenix, the longer you stare at the Veil, the more enthralled they will be and will feel a “strong inclination to go up on stage and cross it”. We see Harry unconsciously walking towards it as if he were attracted to an invisible force. If he does not stop, a person would walk through the Veil, never to return, as it is not meant to be passed through by the living. If they do, they can’t go back, as they die instantly after crossing its threshold.
Unfortunately, we see an example of this when Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange hits Sirius with a spell during their fight in the Department of Mysteries. In the movies, Sirius is struck by a murderous curse, which means he was dead before his body passed through the barrier. In the books, however, Bellatrix hits him with a spell that appears as a streak of red light, meaning it was Stupefy or some other curse, not Avada Kedavra. The spell stunned Sirius or left him unable to resist, and he fell backwards into the Veil which engulfed his body, killing him instantly.
“Harry saw the mixed look of fear and surprise on his godfather’s worn and once beautiful face as he fell through the ancient door and disappeared behind the veil.”
During Dumbledore’s last rites in Harry Potter and the halfblood Prince, Harry reveals that it was the first funeral he ever attended. Sirius’s body was never recovered from the Veil, which implies that when a living person passes through it, the barrier is completely gone it takes away the soul and body, never planning to return them in any form. As Lupine tells a distraught Harry after Sirius has fallen through the veil, “There’s nothing you can do, Harry … nothing … he’s gone.”
Unlike the other magical items we see in the Harry Potter , the Veil is perhaps the most dangerous artifact. While one must voluntarily become obsessed with the Resurrection Stone or the Mirror of Ecstasy to suffer the consequences, the mere presence of the Veil is enough to lure any unsuspecting individual to premature death.