Draught of Living Death

The Draught of Living Death is one of the most potent potions strong enough to put someone to sleep perpetually. It is prepared through a very arduous process and requires skills to master preparation.

The Definitive Glossary for Harry Potter

Draught of Living Death is a very powerful potion that causes its drinker to go into a deep slumber. The effects of this potion are very strong and sometimes continue indefinitely.

Draught of Living Death is an advanced potion with very powerful effects. It is known to induce sleep in the one who takes it perpetually and caution is advised before using it. It is a very powerful sleeping draught that can put its drinker into a deathlike slumber which can only be reversed with a few potions like the Wiggenweld potion which is an effective antidote for the draught. It is one of the potions that sixth-year students at Hogwarts are supposed to make in their Potions class. Harry wins the small vial of Felix Felicis, or Liquid Luck from Professor Slughorn, for making one of the best draughts he has ever seen. 

Draught of Living Death: Potion Ingredients

  • Powdered Root of Asphodel 
  • Fragments of Valerian root
  • Infusion of Wormwood
  • Standard Potion water
  • The brain of a sloth
  • A Sopophorous bean’s juice
  • Moondew
  • Flowerhead

A History of the Potion

One of the earliest mentions of the Draught of Living Death comes from the story of the wizard prince who kissed a princess out of her sleep. An old hag Leticia Somnolens gave the Draught of Living Death to a princess and she fell into a very powerful sleep. Later, a prince came by and kissed her on the lips after applying the Wiggenweld potion on his lips. She then awoke from her sleep. This story is also the one told in the muggle world as the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Several uses of this draught have been recorded ever since.

First Mention in the Harry Potter Series

The draught of living death is first mentioned in the Harry Potter series of books in the first potions class that Harry attends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Severus Snape deliberately asks Harry a bunch of questions and belittles him in front of the class for not knowing the answers.

The first question he asks is what he would get if he added a powder root of Asphodel to an infusion of wormwood. The answer to this question happens to be the Draught of Living Death. Snape also asks two other questions, one about a bezoar and another about Monkshood and the Wolfsbane potion. Since it is an essential potion for sixth-year N.E.W.T class students to brew at Hogwarts, it is later found out that even Severus Snape brewed this potion in his sixth year in 1976 and was commended for his work by Horace Slughorn, the then Potions master.

First and Only Appearance in the Harry Potter Series

The first appearance of the Draught of Living Death occurs in the first potions class conducted by Horace Slughorn for sixth-year N.E.W.T students. Harry and Ron are late for this class as they are later sent by Professor McGonagall to attend it. After getting a dusty old copy of the Advanced Potion-Making textbook after Ron snatches the newer book from the cupboard, they both make it to the class.

Slughorn first shows the class three different potions and asks them to identify the potions. Hermione Granger is the one who answers and identifies all three of them correctly – Veritaserum, which is a very powerful truth serum, Amortentia, the strongest love potion in the world, Polyjuice Potion, the potion used to attain another person’s appearance. He also showed them a small vial of Liquid Luck, which rewards its drinker with immense luck for a day. He promises to reward a small vial of Felix Felicis to whoever brews the best draught of living death in the single hour left for the class to end.

As the students get to work, Harry notices that his textbook has a lot of scribblings in and claims to be the property of the ‘Half-Blood Prince’. Harry also notices that there are a lot of instructions scribbled around the print suggesting how to create the draught. Harry begins following these bookmarked instructions. 

While the rest of the students including Hermione, were finding it difficult to brew the potion, Harry seemed to ease through the process by following the Half-Blood Prince’s instructions which would later turn out to be the instructions of Severus Snape. He uses the following recipe to make it.

After adding the essence of wormwood, powdered root of Asphodel, stirring twice, and adding the sloth brain, all into a cauldron, the scribbled instructions suggested that the Sopophorous beans should be crushed with a silver dagger at a slight angle and not cut as it releases the juices better. This was unlike the instructions printed on the book that claimed that the Sopophorous beans need to be cut. A small piece of Valerian root is also added, preferably square in shape.

After adding these square pieces of Valerian root, one must stir clockwise seven times. The Half-Blood Prince’s book, however, mentioned that for every seven clockwise stirs, an anticlockwise stir must be added. Harry ends up following all these instructions, and soon enough, his potion turns a light shade of lilac, and then into a transparent liquid.

When Professor Slughorn visits Harry’s table, he is very impressed by Harry’s work. Despite being a very effective draught, it is also a very dangerous potion, and the finesse with which Harry makes it leaves the whole class spellbound. Professor Slughorn also goes so far as to claim that Harry’s potion is the best draught of living death potion he had ever seen.

To the disappointment of the entire class, especially the Slytherin table and Draco, Harry bags the reward of a vial of Felix Felicis. Slughorn later even confesses at one of his parties that Harry is a talented potion-maker, much to the surprise of Snape. Harry goes on to use the potion to gain hours of luck to eventually convince Slughorn himself to give Harry what he wants.  

Furthermore, at Hagrid’s hut, Slughorn mentions Harry’s mother and how she gifted him a beautiful lily and that he guessed it was her who gifted it to him because of his mother’s maiden name, Lily. This conversation eventually leads to Slughorn giving Harry the memory of his discussion with Lord Voldemort, something that Dumbledore had been very persistent to obtain. It is the talent that Harry shows while making the draught of living death that leads to this point where Slughorn still has a lot of respect and admiration for him.

Draught of Living Death and Sleeping Beauty

Since the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty is also a tale that contains magic, it is very interesting that the narrative universe of both Harry Potter and Sleeping Beauty are the same. According to the legend from the Harry Potter universe, it is believed that a hag named Leticia Somnolens poisoned a princess with the Draught of Living Death, thereby sending her into an eternal slumber. Later, it is believed that a prince kissed the princess with the Wiggenweld Potion, the antidote for the Draught, which brought her back into an awake state. This story is that of Sleeping Beauty, who was poisoned by a hag and was later brought back by the kiss of a prince.


Is there an antidote for the Draught of Living Death?

Yes, the Wiggenweld potion serves as an antidote to the Draught of Living Death. It was once used by a wizard prince to bring back a princess from a sleeping trance caused by the Draught of Living Death.

Who was better in Potions Snape or Slughorn?

It is very difficult to accurately compare the two gifted potion masters. Firstly because they studied potions at a very different time from each other, and secondly, even though Horace Slughorn was very experienced and a great teacher even to Snape, Snape was extremely skilled and a genius of sorts in the art of potion-making as is evident from his knowledge as the Half-Blood Prince.

What is Draught of Living Death?

Draught of Living Death is a potion that is capable of putting its drinker into a deep sleep. It is considered to be extremely strong and its effect is very immediate and almost always perpetual. However, it also has one known antidote, known as the Wiggenweld potion, which can revive the drinker from the sleep it induces.

What does the Draught of Living Death look like?

The Draught of Living Death is a sleeping potion that is supposed to turn a pale lilac colour when prepared before it turns into a clear solution. Once all the ingredients are added to it, finally, a piece of valerian root is added and that changes the colour of the potion to a pale red colour before it turns into a pale transparent solution.

What is the antidote for Draught of Living Death?

The Draught of Living Death has only one known antidote called the Wiggenweld potion. It is prepared from the extracts of the bark of the Wiggentree and is used to cure anyone who has drank the Draught of Living Death potion. A wizard prince once used the Wiggenweld potion to cure a princess who was given the Draught of Sleeping Death by a hag named Leticia Somnolens.

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