In the world of Harry Potter, it appears that Divination is a mostly hereditary field; the only seers shown in the books are all related. Students studying the field in class, however, appear to have limited luck -- they try to see the future in leaves and cards, but most seem to go nowhere.

Firenze describes the human version of Divination as

Self-flattering nonsense

The centaurs, however, use a form of Divination that is much closer to Astrology. That form, too, appears to have limited success.

Trelawney herself says

Many witches and wizards, talented though they are in the area of loud bangs and smells and sudden disappearings, are yet unable to penetrate the veiled mysteries of the future.

So the question remains: Can a student succeed at Divination via sheer hard work?

Divination not working

  • 4
    Maybe, but as Harry and Ron know, studying is totally not worth it
    – CHEESE
    Feb 8, 2016 at 18:49
  • 1
    I think yes, but you have to have the natural potential. Some would never be good at it, some are ok at it and might learn something and a few are gifted but need training up.
    – ThruGog
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:28
  • I wonder if the size of the prophesy room at the ministry tells us anything.
    – Zoredache
    Feb 9, 2016 at 4:12
  • Doesn't the top answer here answer this question?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 9, 2016 at 13:24
  • @randal'thor It does. At least this "dupe" would actually be a dupe.
    – user40790
    Feb 9, 2016 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


Here's what the wiki says:

Non-Seers can learn divination methods, but their success varies

For once, I totally agree with the wiki, and my reasoning is very simple: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been teaching their third years and up Divination for over a thousand years. Through all of those years, a lot of different smart people (and Dolores Umbridge) have been part of the school's administration. Many of these people are responsible for groundbreaking discoveries in all fields of magic (on the other hand, Umbridge) so it is highly unlikely that the fact that Divination can't be taught has gone unnoticed for so long. It is true that it is hard to learn it--almost impossible, in fact, but it is possible. Even for extremely Gifted Seers, who are in touch with their Inner Eyes or whatever cannot See very much, so it stands to reason that there won't be many learned Seers and that they will mostly get their predictions wrong (not as much, of course, as Dolores Umbridge, who got a Troll on her O.W.L).

  • 1
    I must not tell lies: I am not a fan of Umbridge.
    – CHEESE
    Feb 8, 2016 at 23:31
  • it may be because she behaved like a troll.... also Dumbledore thought the whole subject to be unnecessary... And Dumbledore's thinking normally turns out to be accurate.... Feb 9, 2016 at 15:41

It is more like a natural instinct or talent (for non-seers). Some tend to have a knack for it, and some don't. And in humans, those some and how they had that talent is unclear in the books.

For example, where Professor Trelawney has been seeing all sorts of signs like the grim and what not; Harry and Ron couldn't even see anything, except for a waft of clouds.

So, it is more of a natural instinct which can be nurtured through relevant education, rather than something like Potions or Transfiguration, which can be learned from scratch and till achieving mastery.