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The prophecy that altered Harry's life forever

A prophecy was a prediction made by a Seer — someone with the ability to see into the future. They could take many different forms, but were often rendered in a cryptic language that did not allow easy or direct interpretation. The words of prophecies - as well as ghost-like images of the Seers who made them - could be stored in spun-glass spheres referred to as Prophecy Records.[1]

Although prophecies often held great importance, they could also cause significant harm if interpreted incorrectly. For example, if a person believed that they were the subject of a prophecy, they could go to great lengths to ensure that it came true (if positive) or take great pains to avoid it (if negative). These efforts could have a ripple effect that could harm innocent bystanders simply for being close to the subject, or if the subject believed those bystanders were obstacles to be overcome in their pursuits. Yet in the end, it could turn out that such efforts were fruitless, since that person was not the true subject of the prophecy in the first place.[2]

Making a prophecy

Although prophecy was considered a form of divination, there were key differences between true prophecy and more traditional "fortune-telling" methods such as tea leaf reading, palmistry, or crystal-gazing. Unlike those methods, prophecy had no technical procedures that could be followed, and the art was not even something that could be actively taught or practised. In most cases, a Seer began reciting a prophecy involuntarily, entering into a trance-like state and uttering the words in a distinctly different voice from their own. If Sybill Trelawney's experience was any indication, the Seer was left exhausted afterwards and may not even remember making the prophecy. On at least one occasion after reciting a prophecy, Trelawney assumed she had simply "dozed off".[3]

While some witches and wizards - such as Minerva McGonagall[4] and, to some extent, Albus Dumbledore - harboured a general distrust of divination, true prophecies were not lightly dismissed, even by sceptics. The truly wise knew that the words of prophecies always held importance, even if that importance was not easily or immediately apparent.[2]

Tycho Dodonus's prophecies

"A son cruelly banished
Despair of the daughter
Return, great avenger
With wings from the water.
— A prophecy from The Predictions of Tycho Dodonus[src]

Tycho Dodonus was an acclaimed Seer whose prophecies were often rendered in poetic verse. At some point before 1927, his prophecies were collected into a book entitled The Predictions of Tycho Dodonus.[5]

After the Obscurial Credence Barebone wreaked havoc on New York City, people began to suspect that he was in fact Corvus Lestrange, the long-lost son of the pure-blood Lestrange family. Prophecy 20 of Dodonus' book was cited as evidence for this belief, though it was eventually proven by Leta Lestrange that this prophecy could not refer to her half-brother, as she had inadvertently killed him herself many years before.[5]

When it was revealed that Credence was indeed of the Dumbledore family, an alternate interpretation of the prophecy would still apply to him as the "son cruelly banished", as the illegitimate son of Aberforth Dumbledore, with the despair of the daughter applying to how he was switched with Corvus by Leta (a choice she regretted for the rest of her life), with Corvus' unwilling sacrifice being the "wings from the water" and Credence's role as the "great avenger" being as opposition to Albus.

Sybill Trelawney's prophecies

First prophecy

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy[src]

Trelawney's first known prophecy was witnessed by Albus Dumbledore in 1980, foretelling the birth of a boy who would be capable — though not assured — of defeating Lord Voldemort, that Voldemort would "mark him as his equal", and that either the boy or Voldemort would ultimately kill the other. This boy was revealed to be Harry Potter.[2]

Harry was completely unaware of the Prophecy until it was revealed to him by Dumbledore after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[2]

Second prophecy

"It will happen tonight... The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight... the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight... before midnight... the servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master..."
Sybill Trelawney's second prophecy[src]

Trelawney's second known prophecy was witnessed by Harry Potter in 1994 — it foretold Peter Pettigrew's imminent return to Voldemort's service.[3]

Ministry of Magic's records

A prophecy record

Main Article: Prophecy Record

A Prophecy Record was a spun-glass, spherical object used to record a prophecy. The orbs contained swirling mist and were kept in the Hall of Prophecies inside the Department of Mysteries. Many were subsequently destroyed in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Only those mentioned in the Prophecy could remove the record from the Hall.[6]

Battle of the Department of Mysteries

Main Article: Battle of the Department of Mysteries

Baited by false visions of Sirius Black suffering under torture at the Ministry of Magic, instilled within his mind by Voldemort's use of Legilimency, Harry Potter, along with Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Ginevra Weasley and Luna Lovegood rushed to the Ministry in the hopes of rescuing Sirius. Using the details from Harry's vision to guide them, the group located the Hall of Prophecy, where Ron found a prophecy record inscribed with Harry's name.[1] It read:

S.P.T to A.P.W.B.D
Dark Lord
and (?) Harry Potter[1]

Harry Potter with his prophecy

S.P.T were the initials of Sybill Patricia Trelawney, and A.P.W.B.D, the initials of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. A question mark (?) was used in place of the as-of-then uncertain subject of the prophecy.[2]

Unbeknownst to the group, Death Eaters lay in wait for Harry to retrieve the Prophecy Record. Harry, seeing his name was on it, took it, causing the Death Eaters to reveal themselves. They subsequently chased the group through the Department of Mysteries, in an attempt to steal the Prophecy Record. During the following violence, the Record fell from Harry's pocket, was kicked away accidentally by Neville, and it was broken.[6]

Delphini's prophecy

By 2020, Delphini had received a prophecy from an unknown source. It read "when spares are spared, when time is turned, when unseen children murder their fathers: then will the Dark Lord return."[7]

The prophecy predicted Delphini's Plot to restore Lord Voldemort. The first line referred to Cedric Diggory who had been killed during the Duel in Little Hangleton by Peter Pettigrew as Lord Voldemort saw him as a "spare." The prophecy prompted Delphini to send Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter back in time to save Cedric's life, thus sparing the spare and turning back time. By creating an alternate reality in which Cedric became a Death Eater due to his humiliation in the Second Task, Albus, who felt unseen by his father, created a world in which Harry died in the Battle of Hogwarts and Voldemort returned.[7]

This alternate reality was ultimately negated by Scorpius with the help of the alternate Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Severus Snape, causing Delphini to instead attempt to prevent Voldemort from trying to kill baby Harry in Godric's Hollow.[7]

Behind the scenes


Notes and references

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)