The meaning behind Snape’s first words to Harry will blow your mind

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Heart officially broken.

    It has been over twenty years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the series of stories about the wizard, was published. And as impossible as it might seem, we’re still discovering new things about the books.

    But of all the recent revelations, this one really did blow our minds.

    Remember that very first Potions lessons where Snape asks Harry: ‘Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to and infusion of wormwood?’

    And while Hermione’s hand shot into the air, Harry was left completely bewildered?

    Well, it turns out there was a lot more meaning to that question than we just thought. Thankfully, one eagle-eyed reader was able to point it out.

    Tumblr user and Potter fan Tomhiddles explains:

    The first thing Snape asks Harry is “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” According to Victorian Flower Language, asphodel is a type of lily meaning ‘My regrets follow you to the grave’ and wormwood means ‘absence’ and also typically symbolised bitter sorrow. If you combined that, it meant ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death’.

    We know, incredible right? But that’s not all.

    Asphodel was once believed to be a cure for snake bites. Could this be coincidence or a subtle reference to Voldemort, the dark wizard who killed Lily and could speak to snakes?

    And just to completely blow your minds, there’s one more thing…

    According to Snape, if you did combine Powdered Root of Asphodel and an infusion of Wormwood, you’d brew a sleeping potion ‘so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death.’

    Is this Snape trying to tell us that the ingredients which his regret over Lily’s fate together reflect what his life is now i.e. a living death? Because we know that his part in Lily’s death has haunted him for years.

    We knew JK Rowling did her research but Merlin’s beard! That is a LOT of hidden meanings in just one sentence.

    Reading now

    Popular entertainment stories