‘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…’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
We all had a bit of a laugh at Professor Trelawney’s soggy tea leaves when Harry, Ron and Hermione took on Divination, so imagine Harry’s consternation when it turned out she actually made the prophecy that defined his entire life.
Although the prophecy was very much self-fulfilling in that Voldemort acted the way he did because of the prophecy (not unlike a Greek tragedy), it definitely unfolded the way Trelawney told it. The one who could vanquish the Dark Lord would be marked as his equal, and have power the Dark Lord knows not; Harry of course turned out to be a Horcrux and was protected due to his mother’s sacrifice.
Even more fascinating is that if Voldemort had gone the other way, these books could have ended up being called Neville Longbottom and the… fill in the blanks. After all, Neville was also ‘born as the seventh month dies’ and was born to parents who had defied Voldemort on three occasions. Even odder still is that Harry and Neville ended up being good friends, with Neville even finishing off one of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes.
It’s a real shame for Trelawney that, on the rare occasions she predicted a hugely important prophecy, she promptly forgot all about it and went back to seeing Grims in teacups.
Harry’s Divination exam was a classic example. Much to his concern, his teacher went into a strange fugue and foretold that ‘the servant’ would set out to rejoin his master, and the Dark Lord would rise, ‘greater and more terrible than ever before’.
It may have sounded pretty grandiose and unbelievable, and even Trelawney herself dismissed it as ‘far-fetched’ but she had, in fact, done it again. Peter Pettigrew did indeed reunite with Voldemort, and assisted him in his rebirth, where he used Harry’s blood to restore the Dark wizard to power.
When it came to Lord Voldemort, Trelawney’s inner eye always had him covered.
So when she wasn’t foreshadowing the return of Lord Voldemort, she was foreshadowing the demise of her china collection.
Poor Neville Longbottom ended up breaking a teacup or two almost immediately after Trelawney predicted he would. Of course, it does beg the question: did Neville break the teacup because he had been told he would, which made him nervous and jumpy? Or was it really written in the stars? Either way, we have to give this one to Professor Trelawney – Hermione would be appalled.
We would win the ‘Understatement of the Year’ award by suggesting that Hermione didn’t quite like Divination. The biggest bookworm in Hogwarts denounced the subject as ‘woolly’ and a lot of ‘guesswork’, so it wasn’t terribly surprisingly when Hermione decided she’d had enough of pulling apart Professor Trelawney’s ‘predictions’ and packed the lesson in.
Ironically, this actually fulfilled Trelawney’s earlier prediction where she foretold that ‘one of our number will leave forever’. Cosmic! Or maybe she could just sense Hermione didn’t like her.
Lavender Brown, along with Padma and Parvati Patil, were huge Divination devotees and hung on to Professor Trelawney’s every word like it was gospel. So when Lavender was warned that the thing she had been dreading would take place on Friday the sixteenth of October, she took it very, very seriously. Spookily, Lavender received a letter on that very day informing her that her rabbit had been killed by a fox.
Technically, had Lavender really been dreading the death of the little guy? Whether or not the wording was quite correct, the date was sound enough.
This was more of a superstition than a prediction, but once again Sybil stumbled upon something. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Trelawney was more than reluctant to join them for Christmas dinner because 12 people were already seated. According to Trelawney, when 13 people are at the table, the first person to rise will be the first to die. What a way to get out of a social gathering!
If you only give this section of the book a quick read without much thought, you’d be forgiven for thinking she got this one spectacularly wrong. However, look a little bit closer and you’ll see that Ron constantly carried Scabbers in his pocket due to the looming threat of Crookshanks, and seeing that the rat was actually Peter Pettigrew, that made 13 already at the table before Trelawney sat down. Albus Dumbledore was the first to rise when he greeted her... and he was indeed the first of that group to die.
When Harry overheard Professor Trelawney muttering to herself and shuffling her cards, he didn’t think much of it. But pay attention to her seemingly pointless ramblings, as they seem to be distressingly accurate. Professor Trelawney was agitated because Dumbledore wouldn’t heed her warnings of approaching doom.
She repeatedly saw ‘the lightning-struck tower. Calamity. Disaster. Coming nearer all the time.’
Alone, these utterances don’t hold much significance... but when Dumbledore was hit by the Killing Curse at the top of the Astronomy Tower mere hours later, everything suddenly slotted together.