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The Divination subject in Hogwarts is practically a copy of the most common muggle divination practices like:

  • horoscopes
  • interpretation of dreams
  • reading the future in tea leafs
  • palm reading

It is also exactly as effective as the muggle practices - most of it is either pure fraud or fraud mixed with generic predictions that are very likely to come true.

This is in deep contrast with other muggle legends/imaginations that are actually true in the wizarding world. Examples:

  • Muggles depict witches flying on brooms - witches and wizards actually fly on brooms.
  • Muggles have a legend about the Philosopher's Stone - it actually exists.
  • Muggles write stories about dragons, Veela, Leprechauns, Unicorns etc - they also exist.

Divination is an exception of still being a fraud.

Did JKR mean something special with that like making a joke on the actual "divination" practices?

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    Erm. Yes. Obviously. In much the same way that there are no wiccans at Hogwarts. – Valorum Jan 22 '16 at 20:15
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    @SeanDuggan - "“Hey Ebony!” shouted a voice. I looked up. It was…. Draco Malfoy! “What’s up Draco?” I asked. “Nothing.” he said shyly." – Valorum Jan 22 '16 at 20:27
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    I wouldn't say they're a mockery, so much as they're the inspiration for the muggle practices. – Carpe CM Jan 22 '16 at 20:48
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    I mean, with the exception of the divinations & prophecies that came true and were very serious, there were divinations & prophecies that didn't come true and were a joke. Just like, with the exception of all the pizza I've eaten, I haven't eaten any pizza... – Vogie Jan 26 '16 at 15:13
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    @vap78 Sorry, I thought we were talking about the Harry Potter Books. In Prisoner of Azkaban, she successfully uses tea-leaf divination on both Harry (although misinterpreting the black dog for the Grim, rather than puppy-Sirius) & Neville, then a tarot prediction for Dumbledore's death. All the other predictions she made, save the fake ones for Umbridge, came true... Harry even did die in '98 (although he got better) – Vogie Jan 26 '16 at 19:09
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No, at least not intentionally. It seems to have been shown that way to keep the story more intriguing.

JKR had early plans for a different Divination professor that would have had much more talent than Trelawney is shown to have.

During a press conference in 2005: She mentioned a character named Mopsus (a name taken from an ancient Greek seer).

Richard Wheatley for the RNIB - Blind children everywhere are delighted that they can read this book at the same time as sighted people, would you ever include a blind character in one of your Harry Potter books?

JK Rowling: Funny you should say that because at one point there was a blind character who went by the name of Mopsus, and I will let you look him up because there is a mythological connection there, but he sort of ­­ that was a very early character and he had the power of second sight, in other words he was a bit like Professor Trelawney, he was a very, very early character, this was when I was drafting Philosopher's Stone, the reason I cut him was he was too good. As the story evolved, if there was somebody who really could do divination at the time that Harry was alive, it greatly diminished the drama of the story because someone out there knew what was going to happen.

So that is why Mopsus went and I have never really replaced him, although I suppose Mad-Eye Moody, had some of Mopsus' characterisation. He has one magical eye because he lost an eye in a fight with a Death Eater, so good question.


It may also be that Professor Trelawney was a bit more gifted than she was given credit for...

How many of Trelawney's prophecies have come true?

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