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"If being good at Divination means I have to pretend to see death omens in a lump of tea leaves, I'm not sure I'll be studying it much longer! That lesson was absolute rubbish compared with my Arithmancy class!"
— Hermione Granger's opinion of Arithmancy[src]

Arithmancy was a magical discipline that studied the magical properties of numbers, including predicting the future with numbers and numerology.[1] Those who studied and practised Arithmancy were called Arithmancers.[2]

History

Arithmancy was an elective subject offered from the third year on at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,[3][4] the homework assignments of which included writing essays that required the consultation and/or composition of complex numerical charts.[5] Numerology and Grammatica was a textbook for this subject at Hogwarts that was used in the third year.[6]

On 25 December 1995, Harry Potter gave his best friend Hermione Granger a copy of New Theory of Numerology as a Christmas present, whilst they were visiting St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.[7]

Notable Arithmancers

Wizard(s) Notes
Bridget Wenlock The archetypal example; she was a celebrated witch who first discovered the magical properties of the number seven in the 13th century.[8][2]
Septima Vector Taught Arithmancy and also likely Advanced Arithmancy Studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for at least six years (possibly more).
Hermione Granger Studied Arithmancy from her third year onwards at Hogwarts,[9] which was her favourite subject.[5] Later gained an "Outstanding" at Ordinary Wizarding Level,[10] allowing her to study the subject further at N.E.W.T. level.[11]
Ben Copper Achieved an O.W.L. in this subject at Hogwarts.[12]
Percy Weasley Achieved an O.W.L. in this subject at Hogwarts.[13]
William Weasley Achieved an O.W.L. in this subject and worked as a Curse-Breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.[13]
Curse-Breakers An O.W.L. in Arithmancy was required for this career.[14]

Arithmancy texts

Etymology

Arithmancer and Arithmancy come from the Greek αριθμός (arithmos), meaning "number", and μαντεία (manteia), meaning "divination". Hence "Arithmancy" literally means "number divination", which is fitting.

Behind the scenes

  • In the real world, the term "Arithmancy" refers to a supposed form of divination based on assigning numerical values to words or phrases; the term "Numerology", referred to in canon as a branch of Arithmancy, refers to any of a number of different beliefs in a divine or mystical relationship between a number and coinciding events. It is unknown how similar Arithmancy is to basic Muggle mathematics.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione seems to choose Ancient Runes, not Arithmancy, as her favourite subject, comparing its superiority over Divination.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione expressed open contempt for the subject of Divination, which she detested because it seemed to be "a lot of guesswork." On the other hand, she also also proclaimed that Arithmancy (in which numerology, a term that in reality refers to any belief in the divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events, is prominent) is her favourite subject. While this may seem contradictory at first, a likely explanation is that Arithmancy applies a more rigorous and mathematical approach to predicting the future, which the scientifically-inclined Hermione would respond well to.
  • In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Murphy McNully was known to accurately predict the outcome of certain events by calculating the probability of them taking place, be it the estimated chance of success of an attempted Quidditch strategy, or the behaviour of his fellow students. As the wizarding equivalent to mathematics, and given its predictive capabilities, Murphy McNully presumably used arithmancy in order to calculate probabilities.

External links

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 2005 Royal Albert Hall interview with J. K. Rowling
  2. 2.0 2.1 J. K. Rowling's official site
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)
  4. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts School Subjects" at Wizarding World
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 23 (Christmas on the Closed Ward)
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 6 (Talons and Tea Leaves)
  10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  12. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 7 (Niffler Hunting) - Ben mentions desiring to be a Curse-Breaker, a career which requires a O.W.L. in Arithmancy. When Ben asks Jacob's sibling if he should become a Curse-Breaker, if the player chooses the option "You should", Jacob's sibling mentions that Ben enjoys Arithmancy. As this interaction takes place in Year 6, Ben has already completed his O.W.L.s by this point and is taking N.E.W.T. level Arithmancy classes.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - It is said that both Percy and Bill Weasley gained twelve O.W.L.s each, meaning one of them had to be Arithmancy.
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  15. Harry Potter Limited Edition - A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department: Posters, Prints, and Publications from the Harry Potter Films
Arithmancy
Professors: Septima Vector
Known Arithmancers: Sage Bragnam · Lukas Karuzos · Chiara Lobosca's father · Bridget Wenlock
Textbooks: Numerology and Grammatica · New Theory of Numerology
Arithmancy at Hogwarts: Arithmancy (class) · Classroom 7A · Advanced Arithmancy Studies
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