- "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 is an elective course taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It teaches 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 is 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 the applicant for the teaching post was the famous great-great-granddaughter of a celebrated Seer, 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).
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 teashop. The Divination Stairwell leads to this classroom, connected to the rest of the castle by a long corridor.
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.
Because the subtle science of Divination is not exact, and "woolly", Hermione Granger had great difficulty with, and disdain for, it. After consulting with Professor Minerva McGonagall, who shared Hermione's scepticism for Divination, and then being insulted by Professor Trelawney about how she lacked the requirements for Divination, Hermione dropped out of the class altogether with dramatic flair to concentrate on Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Also so she could have less time using her Time-Turner.
Some students, such as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, also could not achieve any success in this course, and regretted ever taking it. In order to scrape a pass in the course, they 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.
- 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 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.
Her rather ineffective teaching methods made her a primary target for Hogwarts High Inquisitor'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.
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 is 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 in 1998.
Firenze had been kicked out of his group in the Forbidden Forest. Bane had accused him of serving humans, and banished him. 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
- It is interesting to note that when Harry and Ron begin making up predictions in their Divination homework in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they happen to predict, exactly, the dangers that await Harry in the Triwizard Tournament: first that he will be "in danger of burns" (the first trial of overcoming a dragon); next that he will "lose a treasured possession" (Ron, his best friend, whom he will have to recover from the Merpeople); then get "stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend" (his D.A.D.A. professor); and finally "come off worse in a fight" (clearly, 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. Furthermore, although we do not hear any more of their fabricated predictions after that it is noted that they grew "steadily more tragic" and even predicted their own horrific deaths - eerily enough, later events do steadily grow more tragic and many wizards and witches do die horrifically in the future (particularly in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).
- 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.
- As revealed in Pottermore, J. K. Rowling had originally devised Divination to be compulsory from the first year.
- Harry and several of his classmates attended Divination homework meetings in the 1995-1996 school year.
- Albus Dumbledore never took this subject himself.
- Draco Malfoy, and his cronies Crabbe and Goyle were never mentioned to have taken the subject in the book, but they can be seen during the Divination scenes in the the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix despite them not taking the subject in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 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 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))
- 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)
Notes and references
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts School Subjects" at Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
|Professors: Sybill Trelawney · Firenze|
|Known Seers: Calchas · Cassandra Vablatsky · Cassandra Trelawney · Inigo Imago · Mopsus · Professor Mopsus · Unidentified Canadian Seer · 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|
|The Eleven Schools: Beauxbatons · Castelobruxo · Durmstrang · Hogwarts · Ilvermorny · Koldovstoretz · Mahoutokoro · Uagadou|
|Specialised schools: Academy of Broom Flying · Charm School · Euro-Glyph School of Extraordinary Languages · Merge School of Under-Water Spellage · Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts|
|Examinations: First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams · Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test|
|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|
|Extra-curricular classes: Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Frog Choir · Ghoul Studies · Hogwarts orchestra · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy|