- "So you have chosen to study Divination, the most difficult of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you. Books can take you only so far in this field..."
- —Sybill Trelawney talking to the class about Divination[src]
Divination was an elective course taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It taught methods of divining the future, or gathering insights into future events, through various rituals and tools. The magic taught in this class, as well as the ability to say prophetic things was a branch of magic referred to as "Divination."
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore had originally decided that this course should no longer be taught at Hogwarts, it being considered obscure and inaccurate to most. However, seeing that the applicant for the teaching post, Sybill Trelawney, was the great-great-granddaughter of the celebrated Seer Cassandra Trelawney, Dumbledore decided to give her a chance. When she made a Prophecy that impressed Dumbledore, she was granted the position (though the true reason was to protect her from Lord Voldemort, who was desperate to hear the rest of the prophecy).
Divination is an elective subject available beginning in a student's third year. Students study a myriad of ways to scry information about the future, including tea dregs, crystal balls, visions, and Astrology and horoscope charts. Other methods of divining the future include smoke patterns, dreams, tarot cards, and the interpretation of prophecies, though the latter is quite rare. Guides and textbooks allow students of Divination to discern or translate what observed symbols intend to mean.
Some students, such as Percy Weasley, thought the subject very useful, especially when thinking about the future, while others, such as the Trio, could not achieve any success in this course, and regretted ever taking it. Hermione Granger eventually dropped the class, while Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, in order to scrape a pass in the course, merely made up plenty of things when it comes to predicting the future, not taking the work seriously. They usually added plenty of tragedies, so Professor Trelawney would be satisfied, despite the false predictions could be far-fetched. They would also make fun out of the class whenever possible, as when Ron saw nothing but thick white swirl in the crystal ball, he joked about foreseeing a very foggy night, to which his friends laughed. Due to lack of interest leading to poor efforts, Harry was among the known students to have failed his Divination O.W.L., and ceased taking any advanced studies.
Hermione Granger had great difficulty with Divination because it is not exact and "woolly," and she developed a disdain for the subject because it a subject in which studying and books cannot help if one lacks the natural ability. She quit the subject after Professor Trelawney told her she lacked the talent, which allowed her to return her Time-Turner and focus more on Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Minerva McGonagall shared Hermione's scepticism and her personal dislike for Professor Trelawney, whom McGonagall believed to be a fraud. Albus Dumbledore also never took this subject himself.
The classroom located in the North Tower is accessible through a circular trapdoor. The room is described as looking like a cross between somebody's attic and an old-fashioned tea shop. The Divination Stairwell leads to this classroom, connected to the rest of the castle by a long corridor.
- Sybill Trelawney: "The fates have informed me that your examination in June will concern the Orb, and I am anxious to give you sufficient practise."
- Hermione Granger: "Well honestly...'the fates have informed her'... Who sets the exam? She does!"
- — Professor Trelawney and Hermione Granger in Divination[src]
Albus Dumbledore hired Sybill Trelawney to become the Divination teacher circa 1979. Originally, Dumbledore plotted to scrap the subject altogether, and only gave Sybill an interview for the sake of her esteemed heritage. To his disappointment, she showed none of the prestige her celebrated ancestor did. As he was prepared to let her down gently, Trelawney entered a trance and made a prophecy regarding to the Dark Lord's downfall. Dumbledore immediately hired her, mostly to protect her from the Dark Lord, but also in hopes of hearing another genuine prophecy. Sybill, however, did not know this, due to the trance she was in.
Sybill then began teaching Divination circa 1979, and was still teaching until 1998. Her beginner's class relied heavily on the art of scrying, however, Trelawney's teaching style did not go over well with most students. Only students Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil seemed to really take to the subject. Others fell asleep in her heavily-incensed and stifling classroom or considered the class to be a joke. Hermione Granger decided to quit the class for good, as Trelawney told her that she had not the Inner Eye, and because she thought Trelawney's predictions were inaccurate, and the few accurate ones are due to mere chance. Not many students liked her because they thought she was mad.
While her lessons were relatively safe, Professor Trelawney was renowned for predicting the death of a student each year. These prophecies never came true, although Lavender Brown's did find out that her pet rabbit Binky had died on the predetermined date Professor Trelawney dictated on her first day of class. Also, she had predicted that Neville Longbottom would break a cup from her china tea set. She also issued a genuine prediction to Harry Potter that Voldemort's servant would return to him the same day and Voldemort would once again rise to full power stronger than before.
Her rather ineffective teaching methods made her a primary target for Hogwarts High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge's negative evaluations, being bombarded with questions and demands during probation, and eventually, Trelawney was dismissed for inadequate performance. She was reinstated at the end of the year.
- "Sibyll Trelawney may have Seen, I do not know, but she wastes her time, in the main, on the self-flattering nonsense humans call fortune-telling. I, however, am here to explain the wisdom of centaurs, which is impersonal and impartial. We watch the skies for the great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there. It may take ten years to be sure of what we are seeing."
- —Firenze's unique approach to Divination[src]
Starting in 1995, Firenze began teaching Divination after Professor Trelawney was viciously fired by High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge. Firenze's lessons took place in Classroom Eleven, on the ground floor, because he was a centaur and could not climb up a ladder that led in to Professor Trelawney's stifling classroom. His classes focused mainly on Astrology and a method of Fire-omens. He continued to teach the subject until 1998.
Firenze had been kicked out of his group in the Forbidden Forest, having been accused of serving humans by Bane. He decided to work as a professor in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as he couldn't set foot in the Forbidden Forest because he would be trampled to death by the Centaur herd.
Behind the scenes
- Interestingly, when Harry and Ron made up predictions in their Divination homework, they happened to predict, exactly, the dangers that awaited Harry in the Triwizard Tournament:
- He will be "in danger of burns" (the first task of overcoming a dragon)
- He will "lose a treasured possession" (Ron, his best friend, whom he had to recover from the Merpeople)
- Then get "stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend" (his D.A.D.A. professor)
- Finally "come off worse in a fight" (his duel with Lord Voldemort in the Little Hangleton graveyard)
- Similarly, whilst they are making up predictions, Ron and Harry "foresee" that Harry will lose his bet that Ron will win his fight (which he supposedly came off worse in). This also comes true (more or less) again with respect to the Triwizard tournament as it is later revealed that Ludo Bagman lost his bet that Harry would win the Triwizard tournament outright (which culminated in Harry coming off worse). They also claim they will drown, which nearly happens in the Second Task.
- Given the above (as well as the nature of Sybill Trelawney's gift) it may be that - with respect to the art of Divination - true talent does not lie in making accurate predictions, but in recognising that they have been made.
- J. K. Rowling originally devised Divination to be compulsory from the first year.
- Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle and Pansy Parkinson were never mentioned to have taken the subject in the books, but they can be seen during the Divination scenes in the the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, despite they were not shown taking the subject in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- It is possible that Divination only has an O.W.L. exam, as Sybill Trelawney says that passing the exam is not primarily necessary to gain more insights and/or to improve the Inner Eye. Therefore, it might be that, like at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in general, Divination is offered as an extra-curricular class in the sixth and seventh year, including Xylomancy. Hence, the statement of the latter being an 'often overlooked' type of Divination.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Wizarding World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 6 (Talons and Tea Leaves)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 4 (The Leaky Cauldron)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13 (Mad-Eye Moody)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 21 (The House-Elf Liberation Front)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 29 (The Dream)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 15 (The Quidditch Final)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 11 (Love in a Bottle) - Divination Lesson "Crystal-gazing"
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 25 (The Beetle at Bay)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 4 (Friends in Low Places) - Divination Lesson "Palmistry"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 2 (Curses and Prophecies) - Divination Lesson "Tessomancy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 40 (A Witch Scorned) - Divination Lesson "Bibliomancy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 23 (A Brilliant Surprise) - Divination Lesson "Xylomancy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 28 (Moving On) - Divination Lesson "Myomancy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 15 (In the Deep End) - Divination Lesson "Numerology"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 34 (Final Preparations) - Divination Lesson "Dream Interpretation"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 7 (Niffler Hunting) - Divination Lesson "Cartomancy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 44 (The Perfect Party) - Divination Lesson "Ovomancy"
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 30 (Grawp)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts School Subjects" at Wizarding World
|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)|
|Core classes||Astronomy · Charms · Defence Against the Dark Arts · Herbology · History of Magic · Potions · Transfiguration|
|Elective classes||Alchemy · Arithmancy · Care of Magical Creatures · Divination · Muggle Studies · Study of Ancient Runes|
|Extracurricular classes||Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Ghoul Studies · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy|
|First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams · |
Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test