In the beginning of Half-Blood Prince Dumbledore assures Harry that no one besides the two of them is aware of the entirety of the prophecy:

"There are only two people in the whole world who know the full contents of the prophecy made about you and Lord Voldemort, and they are both standing in this smelly, spidery broom shed.

However, at the end of Order of the Phoenix Dumbledore tells Harry:

"The official record was relabeled after Voldemort's attack on you as a child," said Dumbledore. "It seemed plain to the keeper of the Hall of Prophecy that Voldemort could only have tried to kill you because he knew you to be the one to whom Sibyll was referring."

This makes it seem like the keeper had also heard the full contents of the prophecy. If he had only heard part of it, why not just listen to the rest instead of relying on Voldemort's interpretation? If the answer to that is that a prophecy cannot be listened to without being destroyed, then how was he able to label it in the first place? If the labels are somehow automatically generated by magic, the keeper would surely not be audacious enough to relabel it based solely on Voldemort's interpretation, especially as he would have no way of knowing that Voldemort had ever heard the prophecy.

So, if we assume that the keeper had in fact heard the entire prophecy, how do we account for Dumbledore's assertion in Half-Blood Prince? Did Dumbledore simply misspeak? Or was the keeper no longer alive, so technically no one currently knew the contents even though someone had known the contents?

  • 3
    Dumbledore is never to be trusted, there are lots of occasions when what he says is just a half truth or is pretty misleading. He tends to add a bit of drama when possible. Maybe that's also the case here.
    – Shana Tar
    Nov 18, 2018 at 10:05
  • 1
    @ShanaTar Or it's true ... from a certain point of view. Nov 22, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


We do not have any canon answer here, just guesses. So I would say NO. I have expanded on 3 possible answers, but I believe the actual answer would be Option 3 mentioned below.

Option 1: The Keeper did listen to the prophecy but died before Book 5

The possibility that the Keeper of the Hall of Prophesy died sometime between updating the label on the prophesy and the destruction of the prophesy is the least complicated of the possible answers here.

The other possibilities are dependent on 'how' the prophecy was stored. The prophecy can not be made again. And the person who made it (Trelawney) has no recollection of it and is unaware that the prophecy was made. So, the prophecy has to be recorded either automatically when it is made using some magic OR by the person(s) who heard it/ who it was made to. [counterpoint- We have no source proving that Harry recorded Trelawney's second prophecy]

Option 2: Prophecy is automatically stored once it is made

If the prophecy is recorded automatically, it would be difficult to determine who made it to whom and what its contents were. So, it would have to be heard to find out what/who it is about. So it would be quite a leap to label Trelawney's first prophecy as relating to "V and some kid" without listening to it. However the record of the Prophecy was labelled about both points. So the ministry found out all these details. While this is possible, that would be very hard to track down. SO the keeper also had to listen to the prophecy to know who it was about. Which brings us back to Option 1.

[MY ANSWER]Option 3: Prophecy is stored by the person who heard it

IF the prophecy was stored by Dumbledore, it is possible that he gave the Keeper of the Prophesies the general details about it. Namely:

  • It was made by Trelawney
  • It was heard by APWBD
  • It was about 2 people-Voldemort and _____.

According to the books, this was written on the record in the hall:

S.P.T to A.P.W.B.D
Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter

The keeper relabelled the prophecy afterwards with Harry's name.

"The official record was relabeled after Voldemort’s attack on you as a child," said Dumbledore. "It seemed plain to the keeper of the Hall of Prophecy that Voldemort could only have tried to kill you because he knew you to be the one to whom Sibyll was referring."
— Dumbledore to Harry in Book 5

So, it might be possible to store the prophecy without listening to it again- basically just submit a thread of memory with some details of the prophecy. This might be a law in the Wizarding world/ a general practice followed by wizards who care about these things (Dumbledore could have taken the prophecy seriously because of Trelawney's ancestry).

The magical world has quite a few items with some sort of ID verification- eg. Harry's moleskin pouch, ALL snitches. The record of the Prophecy can be enchanted similarly and perhaps no one else (except, in this case Harry and Voldemort) can open it once it is stored.

This related question has a different accepted answer, however that answer has quite a few loopholes as pointed out in my answer above- Prophecy record keeping_Harry Potter

  • I see some weaknesses in your theory (option 3). 1) It relies on prophecy hearers to submit them to the Ministry. Why would someone submit it? Especially Dumbledore who notoriously did not want information about Voldy to be publicized. 2) If Dumbledore just told the Keeper that the prophecy was about Voldy and X, why would the Keeper relabel it? He doesn't even know what the prophecy was about. Maybe it had nothing to do with Voldy trying to kill someone. 3) Why base a relabeling on Voldy's actions, when Voldy never even heard the prophecy? He should at least ask Dumbledore before relabeling.
    – Alex
    Nov 21, 2018 at 6:28
  • You raise good points- i will tackle them one by one-
    – Shanty
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:45
  • 1) Why should anyone, especially Dumbledore, submit the prophecy? Guess- Perhaps there is a law to that effect OR perhaps all learned wizards know that they have to submit a record if they hear it. That's why the record room is so full. As to why Dumbledore did it- simple- 2 reasons, 1st as a backup if he dies(he cannot be sure Voldy will return in Dumby's lifetime) and 2nd as a general object of interest or study (same reason he didnt destroy horcrux books/Kill the DEs he caught- he tried as far as possible to not bypass laws using his power). He knew it was a risk, but did it anyway.
    – Shanty
    Nov 27, 2018 at 18:53
  • 2) According to the Keeper's viewpoint, the prophecy must have meant something important- nobody cared much about the prophecy of the Grim in Book3. But Dumbledore submitted this one- must be something important. What could it be? The circumstances were so bizarre that the Keeper could have thought that this was foretold (as it actually was) without hearing the prophecy. The keeper just put 2 and 2 together- "Child born in July- circumstances related to Voldy- lived after hit by killing curse" must be a one in a million occurrence, so it must have been what was prophesied.
    – Shanty
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:02
  • my answer about 2) pretty much cover what I wanted to say about 3). Something extraordinary happened, there was a prophecy about 2 people involved in it, anyone can go to the conclusion that the prophecy was in fact about the extraordinary thing itself.
    – Shanty
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:05

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