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Harry Potter and Ron Weasley unenthusiastically gaze into a crystal ball in Divination class

"Many witches and wizards, talented though they are in the area of loud bangs and smells and sudden disappearings, are yet unable to penetrate the veiled mysteries of the future."
Sybill Trelawney[src]

Divination was a branch of magic that involved attempting to foresee the future, or gather insights into past, present and future events, through various rituals and tools.[1]

Human divination

"Divination is one of the most imprecise branches of magic. I shall not conceal from you that I have very little patience with it."
Minerva McGonagall's negative view of Divination[src]

A record of Trelawney's first prophecy

Witches and wizards who were born with the rare natural gift for prophecy were known as Seers, who cold foresee the future with their Inner Eye.[1][2] Seers were very rare, but there was a room within the Department of Mysteries where thousands of Prophecies were stored in glass spheres. Each sphere was labelled with the initials of the Seer who spoke the Prophecy and the person it was spoken to. The subject of the Prophecy was then recorded and stored within the sphere itself.[3][4]

A third year Divination class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Non-Seers could learn divination methods and develop and gain various insights with them, but their success varied.[1][5][6] Divination was taught as an elective subject from the third year on at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[7][8][1] A common way of seeing the future was with the aid of a cystal ball.

Divination had been practised since ancient times. The earliest known method of human fortune-telling was the product known in the West as Chinese Fortune Sticks.[9]

Learned wizards and witches seemed to regard the practice of divination with scepticism. Hermione Granger once described it as "woolly" and "a lot of guesswork,"[1] Minerva McGonagall thought it was "one of the most imprecise branches of magic,"[1] and before he decided to take on Sybill Trelawney as Divination professor at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore was inclined to scrap the subject altogether.[6]

Silver lime wands had a reputation for performing best for Seers and those skilled in Legilimency.[10]

Centaur divination

"In the past decade, the indications have been that Wizard-kind is living through nothing more than a brief calm between two wars. Mars, bringer of battle, shines brightly above us, suggesting that the fight must break out again soon. How soon, centaurs may attempt to divine by the burning of certain herbs and leaves, by the observation of fume and flame..."
Firenze explaining Centaur Divination[src]

Firenze teaching Divination class in 1996

Centaurs had a way of practising divination distinct from that of humans,[11] apparently mainly based around observing the movement of planets, moons, and stars,[12] which they had been doing for centuries by 1996.[11] It could take up to a decade for centaurs to understand what these celestial portents meant, and even then, the results were rarely precise.[11] They may have attempted to narrow their prediction of when an event would take place by burning certain herbs, such as sage and mallowsweet, and looking for various shapes and symbols in the fumes.[11] The Forbidden Forest centaur colony heavily practised this kind of Divination which helped them reach their predictions about what would happen.[12]

Centaurs seemed to have had a low opinion of human methods of divination. Firenze, who taught Divination at Hogwarts, described what "humans call fortune-telling" as "self-flattering nonsense," and voiced the belief that humans obsessed over mundane, day-to-day predictions because they were "blinkered and fettered by the limitations of [their] kind."[11]

Known methods

Method(s) Notes
Astrology Observing the movements of planets and stars.[13][11]
Bibliomancy Involved opening a book on a random page, in order to interpret its contents in a contextual way, or to adapt its meaning to the present time.[14]
Capnomancy Reading smoke patterns.[15]
Cartomancy Reading Tarot cards.[1][16][17][18]
Catoptromancy Looking into mirrors.[19]
Chinese Fortune Sticks[9] Involved wooden sticks that told the user's daily fortune.[9]
Crystal-gazing Looking into a crystal ball.[20][21]
Dream interpretation Analysing the meaning of dreams.[22][23]
Fire-omens[1] Unknown, possibly related to observing flames.
Heptomology[24] Unknown, possibly related to the number seven.
Ichthyomancy Involving fish.[19]
Myomancy Involving rats and mice.[25][26]
Numerology Predicting the future using numbers.[27]
Ornithomancy[24] Reading omens from observing the behaviour of birds.[28]
Ovomancy Cracking open eggs and observing which way the yolks fell.[29][30]
Palmistry Reading the lines on a person's palm.[1][31][32]
Phyllomancy Involving the use of leaves.[33]
Rune stones Somehow using rune stones to divine the future.[24]
Tessomancy Reading tea leaves.[1][34][35]
Xylomancy Reading twigs.[36][37]

Known texts

Behind the scenes

  • In real life, divination is the practice of communing with supernatural forces to determine the future. Though dismissed by modern science as superstition, many cultures worldwide have practised or do practise some form of divination. As magic consists of supernatural forces, true Divination actually can be learned and achieved like the other magical arts, whether or not a wizard possesses the Inner Eye.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione Granger compares Divination to Ancient Runes, thinking the first a woolly subject and the second very fascinating; however, in the novel she did the same but with Divination and Arithmancy.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 6 (Talons and Tea Leaves)
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 34 (The Department of Mysteries)
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 4 (The Leaky Cauldron)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - (see this image)
  10. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Wand Woods" at Wizarding World
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15 (The Forbidden Forest)
  13. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13 (Mad-Eye Moody)
  14. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 40 (A Witch Scorned) - Divination Lesson "Bibliomancy"
  15. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 27 (Now That's What I Call A Cursed CD) - Divination Lesson "Smoke Patterns"
  16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
  18. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 7 (Niffler Hunting) - Divination Lesson "Cartomancy"
  19. 19.0 19.1 Illustration of Diagon Alley by Jim Kay from the Deluxe Illustrated Slipcase Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (see here).
  20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 15 (The Quidditch Final)
  21. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 11 (Love in a Bottle) - Divination Lesson "Crystal-gazing"
  22. 22.0 22.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  23. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 34 (Final Preparations) - Divination Lesson "Dream Interpretation"
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 25 (The Beetle at Bay)
  25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition
  26. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 28 (Moving On) - Divination Lesson "Myomancy"
  27. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 15 (In the Deep End) - Divination Lesson "Numerology"
  28. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 11 (Goodbye, Magical Creatures…) - Divination Lesson "Ornithomancy"
  29. Pottermore - introduction for Ravenclaws (transcription available here)
  30. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 44 (The Perfect Party) - Divination Lesson "Ovomancy"
  31. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
  32. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 4 (Friends in Low Places) - Divination Lesson "Palmistry"
  33. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 36 (Impenetrable and Unplottable) - Divination Lesson "Phyllomancy"
  34. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) - Chapter 9 (Tea Leaves)
  35. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 2 (Curses and Prophecies) - Divination Lesson "Tessomancy"
  36. 36.0 36.1 Pottermore - Xylomancy trunk description
  37. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 23 (A Brilliant Surprise) - Divination Lesson "Xylomancy"
  38. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 20 (Hagrid's Tale)
  39. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  40. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
Divination
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 · Capnomancy · Cartomancy · Catoptromancy · Crystal-gazing · Crystal ball · Dream interpretation · Fire-omens · Heptomology · Horoscope · Ichthyomancy · Myomancy · Ornithomancy · Orrery · Ovomancy · Palmistry · Personal chart · Phyllomancy · Prophecy · Rune stone · 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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