Currently I'm reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and on page 78 Dumbledore says:

"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."

And I wonder if is Dumbledore forgetting the person who made the prophecy to him originally, Sybill Trelawney? It seems to me, that for someone as bold, clever, meticulous and thorough as Dumbledore, such detail isn't really irrelevant.

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    Sybil Trelawney has no memory of the prophecy she made to Dumbledore or the one she made to Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban.
    – Legion600
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 1:24
  • Just because she doesn't remember her prophecies doesn't mean that they're not in her mind, does it? Specially since this specific prophecy was made at the Hog's Head, it makes you wonder how did it end up at the Department of Mysteries. I'd question the fact that Dumbledore placed it there since it wouldn't be a smart move at all. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 1:29
  • I ask because even if Sybil doesn't remember, the memory/event could be extracted from her mind somehow. Be it a Pensieve (doubtful, though) or simply Legilimency—— and someone like Lord Voldemort who's known to be an excellent Legilimens could interpret whatever he finds within the mind of someone like Sybil. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


People who make prophecies don't remember them. We see this as early as Prisoner of Azkaban.

‘You – you just told me that the – the Dark Lord’s going to rise again ... that his servant’s going to go back to him ...’

Professor Trelawney looked thoroughly startled.

‘The Dark Lord? He Who Must Not Be Named? My dear boy, that’s hardly something to joke about ... rise again, indeed ...’ (PoA, Ch. 16, Professor Trelawney's Prediction)

Dumbledore straight up tells Harry she can't remember the prophecy

I cannot ask Firenze to return to the forest, where he is now an outcast, nor can I ask Sybill Trelawney to leave. Between ourselves, she has no idea of the danger she would be in outside the castle. She does not know — and I think it would be unwise to enlighten her — that she made the prophecy about you and Voldemort, you see." (HBP, Ch. 19, Elf Tails)

And Professor Trelawney even gives her own (prophecy-less) recollection of the night.

I well remember my first interview with Dumbledore,' went on Professor Trelawney, in throaty tones. 'He was deeply impressed, of course, deeply impressed ... I was staying at the Hog's Head, which I do not advise, incidentally - bed bugs, dear boy - but funds were low. Dumbledore did me the courtesy of calling upon me in my room at the inn. He questioned me ... I must confess that, at first, I thought he seemed ill-disposed towards Divination ... and I remember I was starting to feel a little odd, I had not eaten much that day ... but then ...'

'... but then we were rudely interrupted by Severus Snape!' (HBP, Ch. 25, The Seer Overheard)

You mention Legilimency and the Pensieve, and that's something to that. Dumbledore, after all, is able to extract Morfin Gaunt's memory of his encounter with Tom Riddle that way. But in that case, there was a true memory that had been magically altered waiting underneath. Every indication is that Trelawney never formed any memory of the prophecy to begin with. And more to the point, Professor Trelawney lives under the constant protection of Dumbledore, making it difficult if not impossible for Voldemort to get at her.

Or put another way, if it were easier for Voldemort to get the prophecy from Trelawney rather than the most secure section of the Ministry of Magic, don't you think that would have been his plan?

  • Another possibility is that Voldemort didn't even know who made the prophecy. Snape HEARD it, but didn't see it. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 11:30
  • Could you elaborate more on this "every indication is that Trelawney never formed any memory of the prophecy to begin with." I mean—— why are you assuming that just because somebody doesn't remember something, there's no memory of it? There are many things we don't remember from our childhood or when we were infants, yet the memories are there even if we don't have a magical way to get to them. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 11:46
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    If you ask a child about something immediately after an event had happened, they'd remember it. Trelawney can't even manage that. This isn't a matter of "forgetting" through magical or mundane means, it's a matter of not even being conscious for the event. PoA says her "eyes were unfocused and her mouth sagging," and that she spoke in an entirely different voice, saying things she considered ridiculous. My guess is that prophecy is akin to possession, during which Ginny just had huge chunks of no memories. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 12:14

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