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Cartomancy is the art of reading cards to gain insight into future events.[1] There are special kinds of cards designed especially for this purpose, known as a tarot cards,[1] but standard playing cards can also be used.[2][3]


In 1993, when Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger arrived at the Divination classroom for their first-ever lesson, the shelves lining the walls were stuffed with packs of worn playing cards and other items.[2]

In 1996, Harry Potter was going down a corridor when Sybill Trelawney came around the corner, shuffling through and reading a deck of playing cards as she walked. Harry ducked behind a statue to avoid being seen, but when Trelawney came to the knave of spades — which she said indicated "a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner" while speaking to herself — she stopped right in front of it. However, she quickly convinced herself this reading must be incorrect, and continued on her way.[3]

In 1997, on the night Albus Dumbledore was to die, Harry again encountered Trelawney in a corridor. She told him that she had done several tarot readings, drawing the lightning-struck tower every time, an extremely ill omen. She also remarked that Firenze, who she had consulted about this portent, knew nothing of cartomancy.[1]

Card meanings

Playing cards, according to Sybill Trelawney:[3]

  • Two of spades — "conflict"
  • Seven of spades — "an ill omen"
  • Ten of spades — "violence"
  • Knave of spades — "a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner"

Tarot cards, according to Sybill Trelawney:

  • The lightning-struck tower — "calamity" and "disaster"[1]

Notes and references

Professors: Sybill Trelawney · Firenze
Known Seers: Calchas · Cassandra Vablatsky · Cassandra Trelawney · Inigo Imago · Mopsus · Professor Mopsus · Unidentified female Seer · Unidentified male Seer
Textbooks: The Dream Oracle · Unfogging the Future
Methods: Astrology · Cartomancy · Catoptromancy · Crystal-gazing · Crystal ball · Dream interpretation · Fire-omens · Heptomology · Ichthyomancy · Palmistry · Ornithomancy · Tarot cards · Tessomancy
Divination at Hogwarts: Divination (class) · Divination Classroom · Divination staircase · Sybill Trelawney's office · Classroom 11

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