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"Crystal-gazing is a particularly refined art."
Professor Trelawney describing the art of reading crystal balls[src]

A crystal ball (or, as Seers prefer to call it, the Orb) is a magical crystal sphere which Seers gaze into for the purpose of Divination.[1]

Because of their condensed thickness, they can serve as makeshift blunt weapons, as Trelawney managed to knock out the werewolf Fenrir Greyback by throwing one at his head, and then used her wand to launch more as projectiles.[3]

History

In 1927, Nicolas Flamel looked over at his crystal ball, which showed, among other things, that Grindelwald was about to host a rally for his followers at the Lestrange Mausoleum at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. They also saw Credence Barebone and Nagini heading there, along with Queenie Goldstein.[5]

In 1992, there was a Healer in Diagon Alley that kept what appeared to be a crystal ball on her desk.[6]

The crystal balls as used by the students in Divination class

Sybill Trelawney introduced all third year students to this device and its proper use in 1994. However, most students, Harry Potter and his friends in general, saw nothing more than the white blank swirl in it, and Ron joked about how that night would be very foggy.[1] In their end of year exam, the third years had to look into a crystal ball and predict the future. Harry lied and said that he saw Buckbeak getting off his trial that night. Professor Trelawney then made a prediction, one of the two genuinely accurate predictions she had ever made in her lifetime.[2]

A Crystal Ball

Later that same year, Trelawney claimed during one class to have seen death while crystal-gazing the night before, having received an overpowering urge to consult the Orb while knitting. Harry Potter, however, long used to such predictions, simply yawned "widely and obviously" in response.[7]

In 1996, crystal gazing was part of the Divination O.W.L. exams, and while Harry failed to see anything in his, Ron embarrassed himself by describing at length the ugly man with a wart on his nose that he saw in his crystal ball, before realising that he was describing his examiner's reflection.[8]

"And with a move like a tennis serve, she heaved another enormous crystal sphere from her bag, waved her wand through the air, and caused the ball to speed across the hall and smash through a window."
— Trelawney weaponizing crystal balls during the Battle of Hogwarts.[src]

A Crystal Ball

These objects were used by Professor Sybill Trelawney in the Battle of Hogwarts, against the Death Eaters; she threw one at Fenrir Greyback as he attempted to fiercely maul Lavender Brown, knocking the werewolf out. Lavender unfortunately succumbed to her wounds from Greyback's attack and died shortly after. Trelawney then used her wand to launch more crystal balls as projectiles.[3]

During the Calamity which affected the Wizarding world in the 2010s, Crystal Balls were among the various magical items which threatened the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Volunteer wizards and witches employed by the Statute of Secrecy Task Force were tasked to overpowering Crystal Balls trapped as Foundables to their original place in the world.[9]

Behind the scenes

Appearances

Notes and references

Divination
B3C6M2 Trelawney's first Divination lesson in the trio's third year.jpg
Professors: Sybill Trelawney · Firenze
Known Seers: Calchas · Cassandra Vablatsky · Cassandra Trelawney · Gellert Grindelwald · Inigo Imago · Johan Hoffman · Liz Tuttle's mother · Mopsus · Professor Mopsus · Susie Sooth · Tycho Dodonus · Unidentified Canadian Seer · Unidentified female Seer · Unidentified male Seer
Textbooks: The Dream Oracle · Unfogging the Future
Methods: Astrology · Bibliomancy · Cartomancy · Catoptromancy · Crystal-gazing · Crystal ball · Dream interpretation · Fire-omens · Heptomology · Ichthyomancy · Myomancy · Ornithomancy · Ovomancy · Palmistry · Scrying mirror · Tarot cards · Tessomancy · Xylomancy
Divination at Hogwarts: Divination (class) · Divination Classroom · Divination staircase · Sybill Trelawney's office · Classroom 11 · Xylomancy (class)
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