You know when you have so many thoughts bottled up in your head that you feel overwhelmed and scattered? You have a hard time concentrating and sleeping? Trying to focus on one thing at a time becomes a challenge and eventually you feel edgy and cranky?

Me too.

So the first time I read about a Pensieve in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I wished that it was real.


A Pensieve is a wide and shallow dish made of metal or stone, often elaborately decorated or inlaid with precious stones, and carrying powerful and complex enchantments. Pensieves are rare, because only the most advanced wizards ever use them, and because the majority of wizardkind is afraid of doing so.

At times, when one’s head is so full of thoughts that one cannot hear oneself think, it is useful to be able to take some of those thoughts and literally set them aside. The practiced Wizard can extract a thought from his head and store it in a phial or in the Pensieve for another time. If it is in the Pensieve, it is possible to stir the thoughts stored there together and look for patterns. It appears that the wizard has the choice of extracting an entire memory, leaving no trace of it in his head, as Professor Snape does in Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix or extracting a copy of a memory, retaining the original, as Professor Slughorn does in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It is also apparently possible to edit these extracted memories, though it is a difficult task and one which is often not done well.

How wonderful would it be to have a device in which to place thoughts and memories? Those many early mornings when you wake from a deep sleep and stay awake because of all the thoughts fighting for your attention at 3:00AM? How wonderful would it be to take those and place them safely in a Pensieve to look at or take care of later?

After giving this some thought (at 4:00AM) I realized that we have a few ways to deal with those things here in the real world. Nothing as cool as a Pensieve though.

Lists: When I need to remember something I make a list. I am a list person! I have shopping lists and to-do lists. I have main lists and sub-lists. It has become a running joke about me but I’m okay with that. Lists help me relax because as long as I have put something on a list I don’t have to worry about remembering it. I get it out of my head. I can look at that list at anytime, secure in knowing that I haven’t lost that thought.

The Reminder app on my phone is the digital version of lists and I use it constantly. I love that I can write what I want to remember and then select a date and time to get it done by. Wonderful! Any time I hear myself saying that I have to remember to do something, it goes in that app.

Writing/Journals: Writing in my journal works too. I always have too much to say and think about. Writing it all out is a great relief. And I’m sure my family and friends appreciate not having to listen to me endlessly.

Trusted Friends/Family: My favorite way of dealing with too many things on my mind is to spend time with a trusted friend or family member sharing our many ideas. Spending sometimes hours with both of us, or all of us, talking. Each person listens carefully to the others and each gets to talk. As long as it doesn’t turn into a toxic and negative discussion that feeds on itself. That isn’t healthy for anyone. But positive discussions and helpful ideas are wonderful.

After using any of these methods of getting too much clutter out of my brain leaves me feeling calm and focused again.

A friend who knows my love of the Harry Potter universe and who knows me well enough to know that I wish a Pensieve was

real, gave me one.

It’s fun to figure out ways to make the real world a little more magical.   

Pensieve Case

Open case

3 thoughts on “Pensieve

  1. Erica/Erika says:

    A really great post, Sherrie! I loved every Harry Potter book. Your post resonates with me and likely with many. The “many thoughts” “overwhelmed” “trouble sleeping.” You are writing about a very wise Wizard. I like and use everything and everyone on your list. I may create a theoretical Pensieve for my bedroom. I believe the real world is magical. Very witty and interesting!

    • Erica, Thank you so much. I’m very happy and grateful that this post resonated with you. It’s always good to know that we aren’t the only ones to feel and relate to the same things.

  2. Douglas A Hlousek says:

    Lists, writing about things & trusted friends all work. We have to take the time to do one or more whaen our heads get too full. Just recognizing that you need to do these thngs is a big step!

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