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"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's introduction to new Divination students in 1993

Sybill Trelawney's predictions refer to the two prophecies and the many predictions Sybill made over the course of her life. Both of these prophecies and many of her predictions came true, however big and small. Her most famous prophecy was the one she made about the defeat of Lord Voldemort by Harry Potter's hand.

Background

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Sybill Trelawney

Sybill Trelawney was a Seer who taught Divination at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Sybill was a descendant of the renowned Seer Cassandra Trelawney, and was the first in her family to possess the gift of the Inner Eye since Cassandra. Sybill struggled to find work based on her ancestry because she believed her employers did not treat her right as a true Seer. Eventually, Sybill started to make false predictions and in 1980, she arranged a meeting with Albus Dumbledore at the Hog's Head in the hope of acquiring the position of the Divination professor at Hogwarts School. Dumbledore agreed to meet with her because of the ancestry, but was left disappointed when she showed no sign of Cassandra's skills. Dumbledore kindly declined Sybill's offer, but reconsidered after she went into a trance and gave her first prophecy.[1]

Prophecies

A prophecy is usually given by a Seer involuntarily in a trance-like state. They speak in a different voice and do not seem to remember the event taking place. They will be left exhausted, with Sybill Trelawney merely thinking that she had dozed off. A prophecy may be placed into spun-glass objects such as a ball which is known as a Prophecy Record. They should then be put in the Hall of Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries, which is a room in the Ministry of Magic. They would be named and protected with a number of anti-theft spells to keep them safe. One of these spells induces madness. Only those who the prophecy refers to have the authority to move them, but once they have, the prophecy can be stolen without any consequences. Sybill Trelawney made two prophecies, both of which came true.

The 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 goes into a trance and gives her first prophecy to Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape
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The Prophecy Record containing the first prophecy

In 1980, Sybill Trelawney gave her first prophecy. She spoke of the defeat of Lord Voldemort. She made her prophecy in the presence of both Albus Dumbledore and the Death Eater Severus Snape, who was eavesdropping at the door. Knowing he would tell Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore then hired Trelawney in the hope of protecting her.[1] This prediction came true after Voldemort marked Harry Potter as his equal and this ultimately led to his defeat twice. The first in October 1981 and the second in May 1998.

The 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..."
—Sybil Trelawney’s prediction to Harry Potter
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Sybill Trelawney giving her prophecy to Harry Potter

The second prophecy was the second prophecy Sybill made in a trance about Lord Voldemort, shortly after Harry Potter completed his Divination exam. She made this one in 1994 and everything she said came to be. When the prophecy was made, Harry assumed that the servant who had been chained for twelve years was Sirius Black. However, it actually referred to Peter Pettigrew, who, after faking his death, remained in hiding in his Animagus form for twelve years. Later that day, Harry, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley discovered the truth and in a series of events, Peter broke free and set out to find Lord Voldemort. The following year, Pettigrew helped Voldemort rise again when he brewed the potion which gave Voldemort a corporeal form again.

Ironically, when Sybill was told by Harry that she had made this prophecy, she did not remember it and said she would never have made up something as "far fetched" as that. She merely thought that she dozed off.[2]

Predictions

Sybill's predictions were different from her prophecies. She was aware she was making them and they were smaller in consequence and quite vague. She often deduced them from a medium such as palmistry or tasseography. Sybill made many predictions and a lot of them did come true. However, many of them could have easily been deduced without the “Inner Eye”.

The deaths of students

"Then you should know, Potter, that Sybill Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is her favourite way of greeting a new class. If it were not for the fact that I never speak ill of my colleagues –"
Professor McGonagall about Sybill Trelawney

While teaching at Hogwarts, Sybill predicted the deaths of many students every year. It bemused her students who never took her very seriously. It also became something the other professors thought was ridiculous, such as Professor McGonagall, who told the students there was nothing to worry about. In particular, she predicted the death of Harry Potter several times.

However, Sybill later took back her predictions of Harry's death when Harry gave an interview to The Quibbler in 1995. She changed her prediction to say that Harry would have a long life, have twelve children and become Minister for Magic. Sybill probably changed it for the readers of the interview, who may have found it wrong of her to tell a child he was going to die. Even though Sybill wasn't being serious, Harry did go on to have a long life but he does not have twelve children and is unlikely too. Whether he becomes Minster for Magic is also unlikely.[3]

The Grim

"The Grim, my dear, the Grim!’ cried Professor Trelawney, who looked shocked that Harry hadn’t understood. ‘The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen – the worst omen – of death!"
—Sybill explains the meaning of The Grim to Harry Potter
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The Grim in Harry's teacup during Divination

The Grim refers to both the death of Harry Potter and the return of Sirius Black. It is mentioned several times throughout the 1993-1994 school year.

In his first Divination lesson, Sybill had Harry and her other students read tea leaves. When Sybill looked into Harry's cup, she deduced many things. The first thing she saw was a falcon, which she says means he has deadly enemy. This obviously means Lord Voldemort. Hermione Granger pointed out everyone knows that.

She then saw a club which meant he would be attacked. This can be seen as true, since he is obviously attacked many times. Later in that same year alone, he is attacked by Dementors and a werewolf. Sybill then noticed a skull, which she says means there is great danger in his path. This is true for the same reason as the club. The Death Eaters symbol was also a skull. She then screamed and said she now sees The Grim, which is an omen of death. The Grim is the form of a spectral dog. She then predicted Harry's death for the first time. Harry did face his death in the Battle of Hogwarts.

However, Sybill did not see at the time the connection to Sirius Black. Sirius Black's Patronus was a big, black dog. Spectral could also be used to describe Sirius' appearance. Perhaps The Grim was also a foreshadowing of Harry meeting Sirius by the end of the school year. Closer to this meeting, Trelawney says in another lesson "it is here, plainer than ever before... my dear, stalking towards you, growing ever closer... the (Grim)". This is further proof that The Grim also meant Sirius Black himself. These predictions can be counted as true.[3]

Neville's grandmother

"You, boy,’ she said suddenly to Neville, who almost toppled off his pouffe, ‘is your grandmother well?’ ‘I think so,’ said Neville tremulously. ‘I wouldn’t be so sure if I were you, dear,’ said Professor Trelawney, the firelight glinting on her long emerald earrings."
—Sybill’s warning to Neville about Augusta Longbottom

Sybill told Neville Longbottom in a Divination lesson that he shouldn't be so sure that his grandmother was well. However, Augusta seemed well the day before at King's Cross and no further comment is made about her health, so it is unknown whether this was true.[3]

Parvati's warning

"By the way, my dear,’ she shot suddenly at Parvati Patil, ‘beware a red-haired man."
—Sybill’s warning to Parvati Patil

Sybill told Parvati Patil in a Divination lesson that she should beware of a red haired man. It is possible that she was referring to the way Ronald Weasley treated her sister when he invited her to the Yule Ball in 1994.[3]

The flu

" Unfortunately, classes will be disrupted in February by a nasty bout of flu. I myself will lose my voice."
—Sybill's warning to her students in their first lesson

Sybill predicted in a Divination lesson that her classes would be disrupted by the flu in February and that she would lose her voice. This is never confirmed to have happened.[3]

The loss of a student

"And around Easter, one of our number will leave us for ever."
—Sybill says she thinks someone will leave by the end of spring

It was said by Sybill in a Divination lesson that one of her students would be leaving the class forever at Easter 1994. Easter takes place in spring, which is when Hermione Granger stormed out her lesson and never returned. When this happened, Lavender remembered the prediction and was deeply impressed. Sybill then claimed that she even knew back then it would be Hermione who would leave, but that she had hoped she might have mistaken the Signs. She told everyone how the Inner Eye can be a burden.[3]

The sixteenth of October

"Thank you, my dear. Incidentally, that thing you are dreading – it will happen on Friday the sixteenth of October."
—Sybill's warning to Lavender Brown

Sybill told Lavender Brown that the thing she was dreading would happen on 16 October. This came true, because on that date, Lavender received a letter telling her that her pet rabbit had been killed by a fox. Even though Sybill was vague about what Lavender was dreading, Lavender did say that she was "obviously dreading him dying."[3]

The pink and blue cups

""Oh and dear", she caught Neville by the arm as he made to stand up, “after you've broken your first cup, would you be so kind as to select one of the blue patterned ones? I'm rather attached to the pink.""
— Sybill’s prediction to Neville Longbottom

Neville Longbottom was told by Sybill that he would break a pink cup. She asked him to use blue one next because she knew he would break a second cup and hoped it wasn't another of her beloved pink ones. This can be counted as a true prediction because he did break both cups.[3]

Being late

"Oh, and dear –’ she pointed at Neville, ‘you’ll be late next time, so mind you work extra hard to catch up."
— Sybill's warning to Neville Longbottom

Neville Longbottom was also told by Sybill that he would be late to the next lesson and she asked him to work extra hard to keep up. It is unknown whether Neville was ever late to one, so this cannot be confirmed to be a true prediction.[3]

Professor Lupin

"If you must know, Minerva, I have seen that poor Professor Lupin will not be with us for very long. He seems aware, himself, that his time is short. He positively fled when I offered to crystal-gaze for him –"
—Sybill tries to make out she does see the future when Professor McGonagall doubted her

Sybill says at Christmas lunch in 1993 that she does not think Professor Lupin will be with them much longer. This is true, since he leaves the school at the end of the year.

Sybill said this when she was doubted by Professor McGonagall. Sybill had questioned the other guests on where Professor Lupin was. In an attempt to point out she does have the gift, she may have made up the comment about him not being with them much longer. She probably deduced this without the Inner Eye, because she says he seemed to think his time there was short too, and it is also well known no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher stays more than a year since a curse was put on it by Voldemort. She then claimed this:

"One does not parade the fact that one is All-Knowing. I frequently act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to make others nervous."
—Sybill trying to claim she did know the truth
Because of this as well, the prediction cannot be taken seriously as a true prediction made by Sybill.[4]
"I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!"
— Sybill to Professor Dumbledore when he offers her a chair at the table

She also noted there will be 13 guests at the table if she sits with them. She claimed the first to rise will be the first to die. Since the first to die at the table was Dumbledore, but Harry Potter and Ron Weasley were the first to rise, this should only be understood as a superstition. However, there is another way of looking at it. Sybill asks Harry and Ron who went to stand up first. They didn’t know, but if it was Harry, it should be noted he died first out of the two.[4]

The final exam

"I have decided to introduce the crystal ball a little earlier than I had planned,’ said Professor Trelawney, seating herself with her back to the fire and gazing around. ‘The fates have informed me that your examination in June will concern the Orb, and I am anxious to give you sufficient practise."
—Sybill claims she knows what the exam will be about even though she sets the exam

Sybill told her students that she predicted their final exam will be about the Orb. This comes true but as Hermione pointed out, Sybill herself sets the exam so she could have made up the prediction to make herself look more authentic.[5]

The final exam was later taken with each student sitting with Professor Trelawney one by one. When Neville was taking the final exam, Sybill told him that he would have a horrible accident if he told the students waiting for their turn what she had asked of him.Since this warning stops Neville from telling the others, there is no way of proving this was ever a true prediction. She may have made it up to scare him into not telling anyone.[6]

Midwinter

"Born under — what, sorry?” said Harry.
"Saturn, dear, the planet Saturn!” said Professor Trelawney, sounding definitely irritated that he wasn’t riveted by this news. “I was saying that Saturn was surely in a position of power in the heavens at the moment of your birth. . . . Your dark hair . . . your mean stature . . . tragic losses so young in life . . . I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?”
“No,” said Harry, “I was born in July.
"
—Sybill clearly makes a mistake - or did she?

In one of her first Divination lessons of the 1994-1995 school year, Sybill made several predictions about Harry Potter.

The first thing she noted was that she thought he put on a "brave face to hide the troubled soul within". This may be counted as a true prediction but whether the Inner Eye had something do with it is another matter.

However, she then told him his worries were not baseless, because the thing he feared most would happen very soon. At first, Harry didn't think he was worried about anything, but when he dwelled on what she said, he realised he was still worried about the prophecy Sybill made in his third year about the return of Lord Voldemort. By the end of the new school year, this came true so this can be counted as a true prediction.

She then predicts “Death, my dears. Yes, it comes ever closer”. Everyone assumed she once again meant Harry, but since she doesn’t say it meant him this time, she could have of meant Cedric Diggory or any others who would die in the very near Second Wizarding War too.

While Harry was thinking about this, Sybill started teaching her students about how the position of planets at the time of their birth may predict their future or give insights into who they are. She seemed to deduced that Harry was born under Saturn, which meant he was born in midwinter. At the time, this was clearly ridiculous because as Harry pointed out, he was born at the end of July in summer. But Sybill was making some kind of sense in the end after all. Harry was a Horcrux, which meant he possessed a part of Voldemort’s soul inside him. Voldemort was in fact born in the middle of winter on December 31st. So this can be counted as a true prediction but Sybill probably didn’t know or understand what she saying at the time.[7]

The cards

"Two of spades: conflict,” she murmured, as she passed the place where Harry crouched, hidden. “Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner —"
—Sybill reads the cards for the first time

In 1997, Sybill dealt a number of cards on her own. She did not know that Harry Potter was hiding in the room at the time. She dealt in total, four cards. She then decides the cards must be wrong. She later told Harry that she went on to deal the cards again and again and received the same ones every time. She also told him about a fifth card she had later dealt. Every card has a connection to Dumbledore's death soon after.

The first card dealt was the two of spades, which means conflict. She received this card when she walked by the place where Harry was hiding. Conflict soon came when the Death Eaters managed to get into the school.

The second card dealt was the Seven of Spades, which is also known as an ill omen. This was a foreshadowing of the portents of evil – the Death Eaters again – bringing bad news to the school.

The third card dealt was the ten of spades, which means violence. Violence followed in the Death Eaters path.

She then dealt the fourth card, which was the knave of spades. She says this means “a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner”. The cards could be telling her many things, but in connection to Dumbledore's death, it makes sense that the young man is Draco Malfoy, who disliked Dumbledore. When Draco stood before Dumbledore and told him he had to kill him, Dumbledore questioned Draco in the hope of stalling him until Snape arrived. This is when Sybill decides the cards have to be wrong and puts them away.

It is worth noting every card was a Spade. In Tarot connotation, Spades means amongst other bad connotations - arguments, illness or death. A suit of Spades also means truth. This was meant to be a clue to Sybill that the cards were telling the truth and were leading to death.[8][1]

However, she later deals the cards again and the same four cards keep showing up. She also decided to deal a fifth card, which was named the lightning-struck tower. Sybill said this meant calamity and disaster. This was obviously meant to be the Astronomy Tower where Albus Dumbledore was killed in a “jet of green light”.[9]

She told Harry this while she was trying to hide the cards in the Room of Requirement. She had gone to tell Dumbledore about the cards but he didn't seem to believe her and told her he would prefer less visits from her in the future. She then decided the cards were Dark objects and this is why she was trying to hide them. This should be taken as a true prediction but it was not one Sybill understood.[8]

Behind the scenes

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 5 (The Dementor)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 11 (The Firebolt)
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 15 (The Quidditch Final)
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Professor Trelawney's Prediction)
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13 (Mad-Eye Moody)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)