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What is the Department of Mysteries?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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In the Harry Potter books, the Department of Mysteries is a department within the Ministry of Magic which focuses on covert research and possibly development as well. Little is known about the workings of the Department of Mysteries within the general wizarding community, making the department analogous to other top secret government departments around the world. Readers are introduced to the Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Employees of the Department of Mysteries are called “Unspeakables.” Like other employees of clandestine organizations, they appear to lead largely closed and private lives, and they are not friendly or outgoing with other Ministry employees. The qualifications for being an Unspeakable are unknown, but presumably Unspeakables are very talented researchers and wizards.

To access to the Department of Mysteries, wizards take a Ministry lift down to the ninth level of the massive underground complex. A single door opens to a large circular room lined with more doors. When a door is closed, the circular room rotates, making it impossible to know where one has come from. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione Granger very cleverly uses a spell to make large flaming “X”s on the doors, allowing the group of young wizards to keep track of which doors they have already tried.

Numerous different rooms can be found within the Department of Mysteries. They appear to be set aside for researching complex projects and very advanced magic. It is also possible that the Department of Mysteries conceals potentially dangerous items. Within one of the rooms is a power “at once more wonderful and more terrible than death,” according to Albus Dumbledore, and this room is always kept locked. Some of the rooms are explored in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series.

One of the pivotal rooms within the Department of Mysteries is the Hall of Prophecy, which contains archived prophecies about the wizarding world, held in small glass balls. Prophecies can only be claimed by the wizards involved in them. Another room holds a large tank of brains with linked thoughts, while one contains an assortment of planets floating in space. Time-Turners and other devices related to time are kept in large room, and they are largely destroyed during the battle in the Ministry. The characters also visit a room which appears to focus on death in the fifth book, with a mysterious veil hanging from a large archway.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By momothree — On May 11, 2011

@googie98- The Battle of the Department of Mysteries happened in 1996. There had been a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney that involved a child and Voldemort. The prophecy was that this child would destroy Voldemort. After hearing of this prophecy, Voldemort wanted more details and lured Dumbledore’s Army to the Hall to get his sought after information. In his attempt, the orb that contained the contents of the prophecy was destroyed. Harry, however, heard the prophecy from the Penseive in Dumbledore’s office.

Lord Voldemort was still trying to find ways to hear this prophecy. He created a vision in Harry’s mind of his godfather being tortured leading Harry and his friends to the Ministry where 12 of Voldemort’s Death Eaters were waiting. Dumbledore’s Army managed to flee and while fighting off attacks from the Dark Wizards. The Order of the Phoenix arrived and saved most of them. However, Sirius Black was killed in the attack.

During this battle, there was considerable damage to the Department of Mysteries. Many Time-Tuners were lost.

By googie98 — On May 10, 2011

What was the Department of Mysteries' battle about?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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