The Death Eaters were the stuff of nightmares for those of us who grew up on Harry Potter - and even those who didn’t have probably heard of them. They were followers of the Dark Lord Voldemort, who believed that pure, magical blood should rule over all and they were very vocal about it when they rallied around Voldemort, going as far as to torture, blackmail, and murder those who disagreed.
It’s hard to imagine why the Death Eaters wanted to join up though—they had to follow some pretty harsh rules from Voldemort, who was almost as hard on them as he was on everyone else.
10. Get A Dark Mark Tattoo
The first crazy rule the Death Eaters had to follow was getting a tattoo on their forearm. A tattoo is a life-long commitment but this one was, er—unlike any other. It’s a skull with a serpent protruding from the mouth, and it’s pretty big. Did the Death Eaters just wear long sleeves at all times? What did they do in summer? It gets hot in the UK sometimes, I promise!
Only Voldemort’s inner circle had to get this tattoo, and it seems to be treated weirdly as an honor but to be honest, I don’t think I’d have been keen.
9. Answer His Call When It Burns
As if the tattoo itself wasn’t enough, it burned black when Voldemort wanted them to come to him and apparently, it hurt. That burning was literal. So they could be with their family or in the middle of a work meeting and they would have to simply apparate away. This could end up getting pretty hard to cover up, random urgent calls. Being a Death Eater was very much illegal, so I wonder what excuses they sometimes had to come up with to cover for the fact they had to disappear right away when Lord Voldemort was calling.
Safe to say, he wasn’t a super considerate boss.
8. Never Ask Questions
The Death Eaters were never allowed to ask questions. Every interaction we saw them having with Lord Voldemort was murmuring consent to things, or answering his questions—there was never a moment where they were able to ask anything, and there was a definite sense that they would have been punished if they did.
Seems kind of unfair considering the things he was asking them to do, but that’s Voldemort all over. It just seems weird that such powerful wizards were okay with doing this for a man they absolutely did not know. Because after all, they didn’t know him at all.
7. Abandon Everyone Else
Everyone was to be abandoned for this cause. Even if their families were involved and supported it, Voldemort and ultimately, blood supremacy, had to come above all else. They were to leave everything behind for this, which must have been especially difficult for those with children — we saw Lucius Malfoy struggling with this, evil as he clearly was. He had a soul in there somewhere.
The Death Eaters must have really believed in this cause to be willing to give up everything for it. Voldemort must have been really charming at one point… you know, before the whole red eyes and noseless deal.
6. Don’t Dilute Your Blood
Being a member of the pure-blood cause meant, of course, that they were not to dilute that blood. A pure-blood couldn’t marry “down”, which means they couldn’t marry anyone who wasn’t a pure-blood.
Want to know why that’s so weird? When the Death Eaters were formed, there were only twenty-eight pure-blood families left. That doesn’t leave much room for choosing, so things were starting to get a little questionable on that front. But Voldemort was pretty strict about keeping as much pure blood in the world as possible, so there’s that, I guess. Gotta just choose from the ones that are left.
5. But Follow A Half-Blood For A Pure-Blood Cause
What’s hilarious about all this is that Voldemort was a half-blood. They were following a half-blood for the cause of blood supremacy.
Isn’t that insane? None of the Death Eaters knew Voldemort was a half-blood, but I have to wonder how they didn’t figure it out. He never gave his real name. The twenty-eight pure-blood families left were all named, and they must have all known he wasn’t part of them. The Death Eaters blindly followed someone telling them half-bloods were lesser — a half-blood himself. How did no one put two and two together and be like, “um, wait a minute, there’s something fishy about this?”
4. Put Your Life At Risk For This
Being a Death Eater was by no means a safe job. They were the inner circle of one side of a war, which meant their life was constantly at risk. They were going against soldiers in the Order of the Phoenix and, since Voldemort’s cause was illegal, the entire Ministry of Magic. They were risking their carers, Azkaban, everything—there was nothing safe about being a Death Eater, meaning each of them must have truly believed in this awful cause or they were just really terrified of Lord Voldemort.
Willing to bet it was the latter, for a lot of them.
3. Or Often, Just Throw It Away Entirely
Sometimes it wasn’t even a case of risking their lives.
Sometimes it was a case of throwing it away.
Look at when Draco Malfoy became a Death Eater. He was tasked with killing Dumbledore. Voldemort had found this impossible in the past, so a sixth year Hogwarts student certainly wasn’t going to be able to do it, and everyone knew that. But because Voldemort had asked, he had to do it—either try and kill Dumbledore and die in the process, or be killed by Voldemort himself.
I didn’t predict that I’d start feeling sorry for Draco and then book six happened and I most certainly did.
2. Do Not Use Voldemort’s Name
This was a rule for everyone that Voldemort tried to impose but among the Death Eaters, those who listened to him, he actually could. They were not allowed to say his name. (And the rest ended up risking Death Eaters popping up if they did say it, thanks to the Taboo he put on it in The Deathly Hallows.)
Voldemort thought this would inspire fear, and he was right. Most people referred to him as You-Know-Who, or He Who Must Not Be Named. The Death Eaters would refer to him as the Dark Lord. Which… if you’re calling someone dark, surely you realize their cause is pretty evil, but anyway.
It was considered severely disrespectful to use his name, and Voldemort only tolerated the utmost respect from his Death Eaters.
1. Do Anything He Asks
Above all, they were expected to do anything Voldemort asked. It didn’t matter what this was. They were asked to blackmail people, they were asked to torture them, and they were asked to murder them. The series is littered with people who died at the hands of the Death Eaters, and even people who were tortured into insanity for information. Voldemort would only take people into his inner ranks that he was quite sure he could manipulate and control entirely—and if anyone ever stepped out of line, they were tortured or killed depending on the severity of their transgressions.
Yikes. No Thanks.