The Theory and Practice of Prediction
A theory as to the nature and functioning of
Divination as a magical art...
by Paul Dionne
Divination is almost always
misunderstood as "predicting the future". Yes, it certainly is
meant to do that, but successful
Divination does not predict the raw
future. Divination really predicts a
future based on events that are currently happening outside of the
wizard's or witch's direct knowledge.
Let me try to make a couple of examples. A
Divination on Person A getting hit by
a bus as they cross the street next Tuesday will not work. But a
Divination on Person A getting hit by
a bus on Tuesday will work when, at the very moment of the
Divination spell, an enemy of Person A
is planning to run over Person A on Tuesday. See the difference?
The Divination is really a form of
"sensory perception" that is perceiving something going on
elsewhere that, if continued through to it's natural conclusion, will have an
impact to someone or something in the future. It is not looking into
the future, seeing something happen, coming back to the present and reporting
This begs these two questions (at least):
First of all, why doesn't Divination
work better then? Because even when you have the facts, you can't always
deduce an outcome. A lot of it depends on human behavior, which is inherently
"big prediction" about LV
is very strong because he is not only really predictable but also really
powerful and nasty.
Second, why doesn't the wizarding world
understand what it is, why do they still consider it 'foreseeing the future'?
In a word, prejudice. Because it's not reliable, it's not treated seriously,
and those who have "the gift" are blinded by its wonder that they
don't see the reality either. In order to figure it out, you have to use more
scientific methods, and Hermione
herself says in PS16 that wizards
and witches aren't the best at using logic.
Now to the book. Here are the snippets [all from
PA] regarding the mis-named
"telling the future", and how they fit, or debunk, my theory:
Trelawney's "Big Prediction"
She predicts that LV's servant who
has been chained for twelve years will break free and rejoin his master.
Voldemort will rise again with his
servant's aid, greater and more powerful than he ever was. All that is to
happen that night. Now, at that very moment,
Sirius is steadfastly tracking
Wormtail and is already getting
close. Crookshanks is also on the
case on Sirius' behalf.
Voldemort is planning his own rebirth,
but does not have the ability due to his current form. Now, if the spell
first of all gathers up all this 'real time' knowledge, then the spell can
also put two and two together. It is logical for
Crookshanks to uncover
Wormtail (Pettigrew). It is
reasonable to assume that Pettigrew
can evade them as he has managed to in the past. It is reasonable to assume
that his cover as Scabbers will be
blown. It is reasonable to assume he will return to
Voldemort, and that
Voldemort will have
Pettigrew's help to be reborn. And
the power of Voldemort in this whole
equation makes it really "strike home" with Trelawney, hence the trancelike state she
enters. Then the spell delivers this conclusion to Trelawney, and she spouts
it off as a prediction. So it's not out of thin air, it's an assemblage
of data with a conclusion drawn.
Other, minor, predictions
Trelawney predicting that
Neville will break a cup appears to
come out of thin air (PA6).
Neville isn't planning on breaking a
cup. But Neville is a nervous klutz
in real-time, so she is seeing something that, if continued to it's natural
conclusion, results in Neville
breaking a cup. I think my theory still holds here.
Trelawney predicts someone won't be
around by Easter. Seems to come out of the blue
Hermione already hates the
class, taken to it's natural conclusion means she's gone by Easter.
Trelawney seeing the
'Grim' many times around
Harry. It's almost universally agreed
upon that this Grim is really
a representation of Sirius aka Padfoot.
In real-time, Sirius is interested in
Harry. Also the skull (danger), the club
(an attack), etc., is very evident: in real-time,
Sirius is planning on attacking
Wormtail who is in the pocket of
Harry's best friend. If her
Divination saw all that going on, the
natural conclusion would be "Harry
will see a big black dog attacking someone, with danger, etc." So the
Lupin will not be with
Hogwarts for very long
(PA11). This, too, fits the
theory. If you have all the facts about
Lupin, you can deduce he won't stay long,
her spell simply put together the pieces for her.
Harry seems to predict that
Buckbeak survives and flies away
(PA16). OK, this seems to go
against my theory. None of the events that led to
Buckbeak's release seem to even be
in the planning stages at this time, so yeah, this seems to debunk me.
Unless someone would be kind enough to twist this in my favor!
[Since Harry invented that story
off the top of his head when he actually saw nothing at all, and since it
was simply based on what he wished would happen, I don't think it's an
example of Divination at all, just
coincidence, so there is no need for it to fit this theory. -ed.]
NEXT: Research in GF
for additional information. .
© 2002 by Paul Dionne