Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Prophecy
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic|
|Type||Magical artifact or occurrence|
|Features||Prediction of the future|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban|
A Prophecy is a valid prediction of the future, as opposed to the "fortune-telling" of Divination.
The term Prophecy refers to two different objects in the series. The first and what Muggles most likely expect is the actual utterance, describing things yet to pass. The second is the glass sphere which contains a record, a memory of that prophecy, so that it may be acted upon or its validity checked at a later time.
While Divination, as a means of predicting the future, tries to achieve the same validity as Prophecy, its methods remain laughable to those analyzing them. However, the one person in the series who is capable of Prophecy is the Divination teacher, Professor Trelawney. The mysticism inherent in Divination may make the mind more open to Prophecy, but it is equally possible that a family history of Prophecy impels one towards a career in the organized fakery called Divination.
During the story, we see only two Prophecies in full, both uttered by Professor Trelawney. The first concerns Peter Pettigrew's escape, and his return to "the Dark Lord", and it is couched in terms that Harry is unable to understand until after the named events have occurred. From our perspective, the prophecy's ambiguous term, "his greatest servant", refers to Pettigrew. To the story's characters, however, Voldemort's greatest servant had, early on, seemed to be Sirius Black.
The second prophecy was actually made prior to Harry's birth, and concerns Harry and his interaction with Voldemort. We hear this prophecy in Dumbledore's memories, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, we learn about its existence much earlier, and it is what drives much of the book's action, as Voldemort seems to be blindly reacting to it.
The Battle in the Ministry that forms the climax to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix occurs in the Hall of Prophecies, where copies of all known prophecies are stored in literally hundreds of thousands of small glass spheres, each containing, presumably, a labeled and cataloged prophecy. The battle does result in probably hundreds of these spheres being broken, and fragments of at least two other prophecies can be heard, but amidst the battle, we are unable verify what we are hearing.
A clear distinction must be drawn between Divination, which is taught as an academic subject but which is clearly little better than Muggle fortune-telling, involving the same artifacts and equipment, and Prophecy, which has a basis in reality but is apparently innate and unteachable.
Prophecies, stored in crystal spheres, are kept in the Department of Mysteries, in a store-room associated with the areas used for the study of the mystery of Time. As the areas involved with the study of the Mysteries are interconnected in the same way that the Mysteries are, it is unsurprising that there is also apparently some interconnection between the Prophecy warehouse and the areas devoted to the mysteries of Consciousness and Death.
The author has stated, in an entry on her web site, that she and Sybill had been extremely careful in the wording of the prophecy. The prophecy that drives the entire series is precisely this: 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... The author notes that it is ambiguous, in that it can refer to either Harry or Neville Longbottom, and in particular that, like the prophecy in Macbeth, if the prophecy had not been made, much of the story would not have happened.