Sybill Trelawney

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Sybill Patricia Trelawney
Sybill Trelawney.JPG
Biographical information

9 March

Blood status


Marital status

Divorced, no children prior to 1962[1], Great Britain

Physical information




Hair colour


Eye colour

Dark green

Skin colour


Family information
Family members
Magical characteristics

Lord Voldemort[2]


Hazel and unicorn hair, 9½ inches, very flexible





Sybill Trelawney: "Certainly I knew, Minerva. But one does not parade the fact that one is All-Knowing. I frequently act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to make others nervous."
Minerva McGonagall: "That explains a great deal."
— Professor Trelawney and Minerva McGonagall.[src]

Professor Sybill Patricia Trelawney (b. 9 March, pre. 1962[1]) was a witch and professor of Divination, alongside Firenze,[4] at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The great-great-granddaughter of the celebrated Cassandra Trelawney,[5] she was also a Seer.

It was Trelawney herself who made the prophecy concerning Voldemort and the one with the power to vanquish him (Voldemort took this to mean Harry Potter) during her job interview with Albus Dumbledore.[4] At the end of the 1993-1994 school year, she accurately predicted the escape of Peter Pettigrew and return of Lord Voldemort.[6] Two school years later, Trelawney was greatly distressed by Dolores Umbridge, who dismissed her and attempted to banish her from Hogwarts Castle, though Dumbledore allowed her to remain at the school.[5] She was greatly offended when she later had to teach alongside the centaur Firenze,[4] and participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, dropping crystal balls on Death Eaters' heads[7] and tending to the wounded and killed along with Padma Patil.[8]

Professor Trelawney continued to teach well into the 2010s, continuing her tradition of predicting the deaths of her students. Since Firenze was welcomed back to his herd, it is possible that she taught Divination on her own again.


Early life[edit]

Dolores Umbridge: "And you are a great-great-granddaughter of the celebrated seer Cassandra Trelawney?"
Trelawney: "Yes."
Dolores Umbridge: "But I think — correct me if I am mistaken — that you are the first in your family since Cassandra to be possessed of the Second Sight?"
Trelawney: "These things often skip — er — three generations."
— Sybill Trelawney being questioned by Dolores Umbridge.[src]

Sybill was born on 9 March in an unknown year, to a Muggle mother and wizard father, into the half- or pure-blood Trelawney family. There were three generations between her and Cassandra Trelawney, who was a renowned Seer. No one in the family since Cassandra had possessed the Second Sight.

Presumably purchasing or inheriting her wand at the age of eleven, Sybill attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which she referred to as her home. Being sorted into Ravenclaw in 1973 at the latest, she may have been a member of the Slug Club[3] because of her ancestry. In her third year, Sybill presumably took Divination as one of her elective subjects, and achieved high grades in her O.W.L and N.E.W.T.

She married early, but it ended in unforeseen rupture due to Sybill's refusal to adopt the surname Higglebottom. They had no children.

Job application[edit]

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...

–Sybill's prophecy which secured her job., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In 1980, Sybill, who by this point had begun making false predictions, arranged a meeting with Albus Dumbledore in the Hog's Head where she was staying in the hopes of acquiring the position of professor of Divination at Hogwarts School. Dumbledore agreed to give her a chance because of her ancestry.

Sybill displayed none of Cassandra's divinatory skills, which disappointed Dumbledore even though he was planning on discontinuing the subject anyway. After courteously telling her she was not fit for the position, Sybill entered a real trance and made the prophecy about Voldemort's defeat. It so happened that the Death Eater Severus Snape was eavesdropping at the door, which placed Trelawney in great danger from Voldemort. Hoping to protect Sybill,Dumbledore hired her.

Career at Hogwarts[edit]

Early years (1980-1990)[edit]

Sybill Trelawney has predicted the death of a student every year since she came to this school. None of them have died yet.

Minerva McGonagall on Trelawney., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As a professor, Trelawney taught in the Divination Classroom on the seventh floor of the North Tower.[6] She presumably also ran the Divination Workshop. Minerva McGonagall claimed that she predicted the death of one of her students every year, none of whom had yet died.

Professor Trelawney very rarely attended meals in the Great Hall with the rest of the school, preferring to remain in her tower. She appeared to be acquainted with a certain colleague of hers, but frequently clashed with Professor McGonagall.[6]

1991-1992 school year[edit]

Do not disturb, crystal gazing

–Trelawney's notice., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)

At some point in the 1991-1992 school year, Professor Trelawney locked her classroom door, with a notice saying "Do not disturb, crystal gazing". Harry Potter, who had just joined the school, attempted to open it without realising that it was locked.[9]

1993-1994 school year[edit]

So you may have chosen to study Divination, the most difficult of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you. Books can take you only so far in this field...

–Trelawney meeting her new third year class., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

During the 1993–1994 school year, Professor Trelawney gained Harry Potter as a student, who had only chosen to take Divination because his friend, Ronald Weasley, had.[10] She opened her lesson with normal fortune-teller practices and vague predictions, including that Neville Longbottom would break at least one teacup, something Lavender Brown was dreading would happen on 16 October, and that, around Easter, one of her students would leave the class forever.

During a class on tea leaves, Trelawney saw the Grim — a well-known omen of death — in Harry Potter's cup. This visibly disturbed the class, who went rather shaken to Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall.

After Neville broke two teacups, Lavender's rabbit Binky was killed, and Hermione Granger, after being greatly insulted by Professor Trelawney, stormed out of a lesson, Lavender and Parvati and Padma Patil[11] became great supporters of Trelawney.

During Christmas, Trelawney decided to join the small dinner in the Great Hall. However, once she saw the amount of people at the table she tried to refuse, claiming that if she joins, they will become a party of the unlucky number thirteen and the first to rise will be the first to die. An impatient McGonagall states that they'll risk it. Two hours later, both Harry and Ron bolted up from their seats, causing Trelawney to shrilly ask which one of them got up first. McGonagall drily joked that unless there was a mad axe-man waiting in the Entrance Hall to slaughter the first person he sees, it makes little difference.

While conducting the third year exams with the Gryffindors, Professor Trelawney, while invigilating Harry Potter, entered a trance and made a prediction that the Voldemort's servant would be freed, returning to him that night. When she returned to normal seconds later, she could not remember anything happening.

Harry later told this to Professor Dumbledore, who said that he should offer her a pay raise for making a total of two real prophecies.

1994-1995 school year[edit]

You are preoccupied, my dear. My Inner Eye sees past your brave face to the troubled soul within. And I regret to say that your worries are not baseless. I see difficult times ahead for you, alas... most difficult... I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass... and perhaps sooner than you think...

–Professor Trelawney to Harry Potter., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The following year, the Triwizard Tournament took place at Hogwarts and Harry Potter was one of the champions. Trelawney continued to annoy him with increased predictions of his death. She guessed that Harry had lost his parents because he was born during midwinter, heralding a tragic life. However, Harry told her he was born in July.

Once, Rita Skeeter, in the form of a beetle, eavesdropped upon Harry during Trelawney's lesson when Harry had a crisis caused by his scar. Trelawney was very excited and pressed Harry to tell her what had happened, saying that she had experience in these matters and that the clairvoyant vibrations of her room could allow him to see further than he had ever seen before. Unfortunately for Trelawney, Harry refused.

At the end of the year, Trelawney learned about the death of Cedric Diggory and the return of Lord Voldemort. The Second Wizarding War had begun.

1995-1996 school year[edit]

Professor Trelawney was standing in the middle of the entrance hall with her wand in one hand and an empty sherry bottle in the other, looking utterly mad. Her hair was sticking up on end, her glasses were lopsided so that one eye was magnified more than the other; her innumerable shawls and scarves were trailing haphazardly from her shoulders, giving the impression that she was falling apart at the seems. Two large trunks lay on the floor beside her, one of them upside-down; it looked very much as though it had been thrown down the stairs after her.

–Sybill Trelawney while she is being sacked by Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Early on in the 1995–1996 school year, Dolores Umbridge was made Hogwarts High Inquisitor by Ministry edict, and appeared in Trelawney's classroom with a clipboard, making notes. Trelawney saw this as an intrusion, and was most upset and angered by it. Umbridge asked Trelawney to justify her teaching techniques and required a prediction from her. Trelawney at first was indignant, and haughtily claimed that the Inner Eye does not See upon command. Unimpressed, Umbridge made to leave. Panicked, Trelawney attempted to persuade Umbridge that she could suddenly see great danger in her future, but the High Inquisitor remained unmoved.

During free time that year, Professor Trelawney was visited in her tower by Lavender Brown and the Patil twins, who had additional sessions of Divination with her[11].

Umbridge later put Professor Trelawney on probation, which greatly distressed and insulted her. She became uncharacteristically brisk and started drinking a large amount of cooking sherry, which she hid in the Room of Requirement.[4] Harry Potter noted that Trelawney became more harassed and bedraggled in appearance, like she was falling apart at the seams.

After Harry Potter stood up to Professor Umbridge by giving an interview to The Quibbler, edited by Xenophilius Lovegood, Trelawney showed her support by breaking her usual pattern of predicting horrible deaths for Harry, instead predicting that he would have a long life, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children.

Eventually, Trelawney was dismissed by Umbridge, who almost threw her bodily from the castle, gleefully relishing the fact that Trelawney was in paroxysms of grief over her dismissal. Before she could be chased off the premises, Dumbledore came to her aid and insisted that she stay at Hogwarts, as Umbridge had no authority to banish her from the school grounds. This was partially to protect Trelawney from Voldemort who would target her for making the prediction concerning Harry and himself. Despite not having much respect for Trelawney, McGonagall comforted her as best she could and helped Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout get her back inside to her tower.

Trelawney was replaced by the centaur Firenze, appointed by Dumbledore, much to Umbridge's shock and fury; she hated both the fact that Firenze was what she called a "half-breed" and that Dumbledore appointed someone without consulting her. Firenze taught in Classroom 11 rather than the North Tower, where Trelawney remained living.

She was finally reinstated to her teaching position after Umbridge was suspended. This meant that, since Dumbledore could not ask him to return to the herd that tried to kill him, she would have to share classes with Professor Firenze, a fact she was not pleased with.

1996-1997 school year[edit]

He and Professor Trelawney are dividing classes between them this year. The sixth year is being taken by Professor Trelawney.

McGonagall talking to Parvati Patil., Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

During the 1996–1997 school year, Professor Trelawney attended the Start-of-Term Feast, and sat next to Professor Rubeus Hagrid, who taught Care of Magical Creatures. That year, Trelawney and Firenze divided the students between them by year. Trelawney taught the fifth[12] and sixth years.

She continued to drink due to her humiliation of working with a "horse". She hid her cooking sherry in the Room of Requirement. At Horace Slughorn's Christmas party, Trelawney was morosely drunk. She spent the night listening to Luna Lovegood's speeches on the "Rotfang Conspiracy" and that Rufus Scrimgeour was a vampire. She seemed rather interested.

In mid-March, Professor Trelawney demanded, quite unsuccessfully, that Professor Dumbledore fire Firenze. Their meeting was cut short when Harry Potter arrived for one of his private lessons with the Headmaster.

Later, Trelawney attempted to enter the Room of Requirement, but was thrown out by Draco Malfoy, who apparently used Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder to conceal his identity. Harry Potter found her sprawled on the floor and helped her up. He encouraged her to accompany him to Dumbledore's office to tell the Headmaster what had happened to her. On the way, she started talking about the day she was hired. When Trelawney mentioned that the eavesdropper had been Severus Snape, Harry left her standing in the corridor and ran off to confront Dumbledore with this information.

She stated that she missed having Harry in her classes, and though he was never much of a Seer, he was a "wonderful Object."[13]

1997-1998 school year[edit]

During the 1997–1998 school year, Voldemort had taken over Hogwarts and made Snape headmaster. Alecto Carrow replaced the murdered Muggle Studies teacher, Charity Burbage, and Amycus Carrow took Snape's position as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, which became simply the Dark Arts. It is possible that she, like all of the other staff members, tried to protect the students from the Death Eaters. Professor Trelawney, being either half-blood or pure-blood, was permitted to remain teaching at the school. It is unknown why Voldemort did not attempt to capture her. It is possible that since Voldemort had since turned his attention to finding the Elder Wand, he believed that any prophecy concerning him and Harry would be rendered irrelevant upon its retrieval.

Like the rest of the school, Professor Trelawney participated in the Battle of Hogwarts. She fought by dropping crystal balls on enemies' heads, successfully knocking out Fenrir Greyback as he attacked Lavender Brown. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful in saving Lavender, who died from injuries caused by the werewolf. Trelawney continued using her wand to throw crystal balls onto the heads of Death Eaters with a "tennis-like serve." Eventually, the Death Eaters were all defeated, along with Voldemort who was defeated once and for all by Harry Potter.

Later life[edit]

Professor Trelawney survived the Second Wizarding War and continued to teach well into the 2010s, continuing her tradition of predicting the deaths of her students. Since Firenze was welcomed back to his herd, it is possible that she taught Divination on her own again.

Physical description[edit]

Harry's immediate impression was of a large, glittering insect. Professor Trelawney moved into the firelight, and they saw that she was very thin; her large glasses magnified her eyes to several times their natural size, and she was draped in gauzy, spangled shawl. Innumerable chains and beads hung around her spindly neck, and her arms and hands were encrusted with bangles and rings

–Harry's impression of Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Professor Trelawney is described as being a thin woman, usually draped gauzy shawls, and cloaks and bangles all covered with shining sequins and glittering strings of beads.

She had thick glasses, which hugely magnified her eyes and caused them to appear about ten times their normal size. She spoke in a soft, misty, ethereal voice, though she would become brisk and snappy when she was angry or upset.

She had frizzled brown hair, dark green eyes, and somewhat pale skin. She is said to resemble some sort of large, glittery insect.

Personality and traits[edit]

Welcome. How nice to see you in the physical world at last. Welcome to Divination. My name is Professor Trelawney. You may not have seen me before. I find that descending too often into the hustle and bustle of the main school clouds my Inner Eye

–Professor Trelawney greets her third-year students, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Trelawney was extremely eccentric; she had a theatrical presence and frequently spoke in misty, ethereal tones. She saw herself as being a great Seer, although her predictions rarely came true. Much like Gilderoy Lockhart, Trelawney was sometimes unable to understand who liked and who disliked her. She was, however, conscious of her low status on the staff, which led to her spending most of her time apart from her colleagues in her office.

According to Professor McGonagall, seeing death omens is a favourite way for Trelawney to greet her class, something that greatly annoyed Harry as he was her frequent target. One of her hobbies was practicing doom-laden prophecies in front of the mirror. She became angered when she believed that students were not impressed by nor interested in her subject, such as Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger.

She took her appearance as a Seer seriously, putting on showy airs of mysticism and veiling her classroom in scented vapors. She could be very defensive in the face of those disbelieving in her abilities, attempting to impress them with false predictions of impending danger. She would claim that those unbelievers had "lack of Sight" or that they were simply scared of Seers.

Trelawney was implied to have had a mild drinking problem; a number of times Harry detected the smell of old sherry on her, and at one point, she was seen stowing away empty alcohol bottles in the Room of Requirement. She was especially fond of sherry.

She was very sensitive, crying when Dolores Umbridge sacked her and sobbing angrily when she was put on probation. Trelawney was, however, loyal to the school and defended it during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Magical abilities and skills[edit]

Professor Trelawney: "I was saying that Saturn was surely in a position of power in the heavens at the moment of your birth...your dark hair...your mean stature...tragic losses so young in life...I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?"
Harry Potter: "No, I was born in July"
— Harry and Trelawney. Please notice that Voldemort was born in December 31.[src]

  • Divination: Professor Trelawney is generally thought of as a fraud, but there is evidence that this is not true. Almost every prediction she made throughout the series (including the ones not made under the influence of Second Sight) came to pass. The only possible exceptions to this, were the ones where she foreshadowed Harry's death (though he did technically die in 1998) and the ones she blatantly fabricated for the Quibbler interview simply to annoy Umbridge. Her most notable non-second sight prediction was probably the foretelling of the death of Albus Dumbledore and the Battle of the Astronomy Tower via Tarot cards. As noted prior, she did also possess the Second Sight like her ancestor, Cassandra. This caused her to go into trances, where she would speak true prophecies before returning to normal. She would have no memory of making the prediction. All things considered, Professor Trelawney could be said to be a rather accurate Seer in spite of her reputation.
  • Non-verbal spellcasting: Trelawney was able to cast spells and charms without incantations. She showed this during the Battle of Hogwarts, when she launched crystal balls at enemies using her wand.
There's more to me than incense and tea leaves, Mr Finnigan.

–Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

  • Duelling: Professor Trelawney is known to have a fair amount of skill in duelling since she fought and survived the Battle of Hogwarts. For example, she blasts a Death Eater off a tower with significant force, to which members of Dumbledore's Army regard her with utter amazement.

The Chosen One[edit]

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 first Prophecy, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Her first prediction was made in the presence of Albus Dumbledore at the Hog's Head inn[14]. Trelawney was in the middle of an interview for a teaching job at Hogwarts when it was made. Dumbledore reported that he had decided not to give Trelawney the job, but changed his mind when he heard the prophecy. Trelawney herself is not aware that she made the prophecy, merely remembering that she came over faint, which she attributed to not having eaten that day.

This prediction is believed to refer to Voldemort ("The Dark Lord") and Harry Potter, who was born on 31 July. At the time of its prophecying, the identity of the child was not known as he had not been born yet. The time of year the prophecy was made is unknown, but it was described as 'dark and stormy', so it is possible that the prediction was made at the time of conception of the child foretold, at around Halloween.

It later became apparent that the prophecy could have applied either to Harry, or to Neville Longbottom, who was also born at the end of the seventh month on 30 July. Part of the prediction came to pass on the night of 31 October, 1981, when Lord Voldemort's body was destroyed after Harry survived an attack from him, reputedly using the killing curse, Avada Kedavra. The attack left Harry with an ability to speak Parseltongue, a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, and a mental connection to Voldemort. It was Dumbledore's view that it was Voldemort's choice of Harry as his target from the two possible boys, that caused Harry to have the power to vanquish the Dark Lord. In other words, the only reason Harry had the power to defeat Voldemort, is that Voldemort believed he did. By attacking Harry, Voldemort caused the prophecy to become true.

The prophecy as interpreted by Dumbledore to Harry in June 1996 read: "Someone (Harry or Neville) with the power to vanquish Voldemort is coming...born to those who have defied Voldemort three times (the Potters or the Longbottoms), born at the end of July...and Voldemort will attempt to kill Harry, but Harry will unexpectedly survive...either Harry or Voldemort must be killed by the other because one of them must die...Harry will be born at the end of July..."

When Harry and the others arrive in the Hall of Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries, Ron found a record of the prophecy that had a tag which read:

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

S.P.T. stands for Sybill Patricia Trelawney and A.P.W.B.D. stands for Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. The question mark before the Harry Potter is because at the time it was unclear who the prophecy was written about, but when Voldemort sought to murder Harry, the prophecy record was changed to include his name.

The Servant Rejoins His Master[edit]

It will happen tonight. The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight... the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight... before midnight...the servant...will set rejoin...his master....

–Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Professor Trelawney prophecised this occurrence subconsciously to Harry Potter in 1994 in her classroom. This prophecy came to pass when Peter Pettigrew's true identity was revealed and he escaped to help bring Lord Voldemort back to health.

Other predictions[edit]

Professor Trelawney has made other minor predictions, too, some of which came true, though it may be a coincidence.

  • She told Neville Longbottom to take a blue cup after breaking his first one, because she likes the pink ones. Neville immediately took a cup, broke it, and then later broke his second cup as well.
  • She also asked Neville about his grandmother, saying she may not be as well as he thought.
  • She predicted Neville would be late for his next divination class.
  • She told Parvati Patil to beware of a red-headed man. Parvati immediately suspected Ron, who sat behind her. At the Yule Ball, Harry and Ron, Parvati's and her sister Padma's dates, ignored them both. Two years later, Ron started going out with Parvati's best friend Lavender Brown, who consequently started to ignore Parvati.
  • She predicted a bout of flu in February, and that she herself would lose her voice.
  • She predicted that the thing Lavender was dreading would happen on 16 October. On that day, Lavender got a letter that her pet rabbit, Binky, had been killed by a fox. Hermione was skeptical, indicating that Lavender could hardly have dreaded her new rabbit dying, and that the death could not have happened on the day the news arrived. (Though this can be argued, as Lavender was dreading something horrible on that day.)
  • On the beginning of 1993–1994 school year, she told in the whole class that, near Easter, one of their number will leave them forever. It seems that her prediction was fulfilled when Hermione quit the class in disgust near Easter holidays.
  • At the Christmas lunch, Trelawney at first refused to join the table, since when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley got up from the table first together, but Albus Dumbledore was the first among those at the table to die. Also, she did not take into account of Peter Pettigrew (who was at the time disguised as Scabbers) which would in fact count as fourteen people. However before she was seated, there were thirteen people at the table, counting Scabbers. Albus Dumbledore was the first to rise and greet her, and he was the first person to die.
    • In 1995, thirteen members of the order dined together, and the first to rise was Sirius, who was the first to die.
    • Also, after the Battle of the Seven Potters, thirteen people (Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Fleur, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks and Hagrid) gathered in The Burrow to mourn the death of Alastor Moody. Afterwards, Lupin stood up and offered to look for Moody's dead body. Later in the Battle of Hogwarts, Lupin was killed by Antonin Dolohov. Fred and Tonks were also killed, but as the time of Lupin's death is unknown, it is possible he was first.
  • When Dolores Umbridge was appointed Hogwarts High Inquisitor during Harry's fifth year, she insisted that Trelawney demonstrate her abilities by prophecying something. Trelawney claimed that she saw dark events ahead for Umbridge, which Umbridge immediately dismissed as nonsense. Later, Umbridge was dragged off and imprisoned by centaurs in the Forbidden Forest.
  • In Harry's fourth year Trelawney, while discussing star charts, commented that given his "dark hair, mean stature, [and] tragic losses so young in life..." Saturn was likely in a position of power when he was born, and suggested that he was born in mid-winter. Interestingly (and unknown to both at that time), Harry was a Horcrux of Lord Voldemort, who was born on New Years Eve.
  • In Harry's sixth year he saw Trelawney coming and hid from her. As she passed, he saw that she was examining a pack of cards and muttered, "A dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner." She dismissed her own words as nonsense, unaware of Harry's presence or his dislike of her. Later in the year, Harry saw Draco arguing with Snape as he questioned Draco on the progress of his mission for Voldemort. Later Trelawney again met Harry in the corridors, and this time complained that Dumbledore had been repeatedly dismissing her warnings of impending disaster. She looked at some Tarot cards and saw, "... the lightning-struck tower... Calamity. Disaster. Coming nearer all the time...". This seems to predict the events of Dumbledore's death on the Astronomy Tower. The Lightning-Struck Tower tarot card (The Tower) is generally considered representative of disaster or life-altering change.
  • According to Professor McGonagall, Trelawney had predicted the death of one student each year since her arrival at Hogwarts (which was in 1980). As of 1993, not a single one of those had yet died.[15] In 1996, however, she retracted her prediction regarding Harry Potter as a means of attempting to annoy Dolores Umbridge, stating that he would live to a ripe, old age, become Minister for Magic and have twelve children. A prediction that also, as of now, has not come to pass in canon.[16]



Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil[edit]

She says I've got all the makings of a true Seer. I saw loads of stuff...

Parvati Patil on Professor Trelawney., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil seemed to have an exceptionally close relationship with Sybill Trelawney; they had an unwavering faith in the reliability of Trelawney's predictions, and were often seen comforting her and seeking out her company. The two girls often spent lunch periods in the North Tower with Trelawney, returning to the other Gryffindors with smug looks as though they knew something the others did not. Both of them even became offended on the Professor's behalf when Hermione made clear her disdain for Trelawney and the subject she taught in 1993. When she was temporarily sacked by Dolores Umbridge, Lavender and Parvati brought Trelawney some nice daffodils to cheer her up.

For her part, Trelawney seemed to return their genuine affection for her. For example, she told Parvati that she had the makings of a true Seer[6], and tried in vain to save Lavender from Fenrir Greyback by dropping a crystal ball on his head during the Battle of Hogwarts. Sadly, Lavender died from her injuries caused by the werewolf.

Dolores Umbridge[edit]

Sybill Trelawney strongly disliked Dolores Umbridge, the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and later Hogwarts High Inquisitor because of the way the pink nightmare treated her during her insulting inspections of Sybill's Divination classes as well as being asked to predict on command. It was during Umbridge's reign at Hogwarts when Harry, who did not like Trelawney very much, felt pity for her.

Umbridge interfered in Trelawney's lessons and soon put the Divination teacher on probation. After receiving this news, Trelawney sobbed and furiously proclaimed dramatically that she had been insulted by the establishment, those whose eyes were clouded by the Mundane, and did not possess the Inner Eye, and that it was, alas, the fate of all Seers to be feared by society and persecuted. Trelawney, very distressed, then began to drink copious amounts of cooking sherry. She became somewhat brisk in her lessons, looking very bedraggled and harassed much of the time, and would sob uncontrollably while teaching.

Umbridge believed that Trelawney was an old fraud and, true to her duties of High Inquisitor to weed out any unsatisfactory teachers, eventually sacked her in a rather unceremonious - and even cruel - way. When Dumbledore defended Trelawney and let her stay at Hogwarts, Umbridge was furious with Dumbledore because he had already picked out a replacement teacher, Firenze. Firenze was a centaur, a creature Umbridge was prejudiced against because of her hatred of "half-breeds". Umbridge left Hogwarts in 1996 after the Skirmish in the Forbidden Forest at the end of the school year, and Trelawney resumed teaching Divination along with Firenze, who could not go back to his herd in the Forest as they had banished him for working with humans. Trelawney viewed this as a great insult.

Minerva McGonagall[edit]

Professor Trelawney: "I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!"
Minerva McGonagall: "We'll risk it, Sybill. Do sit down, the turkey's getting stone cold."
— Trelawney and McGonagall at Christmas.[src]

Professor Trelawney and Minerva McGonagall were colleagues as professors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. McGonagall had no use for Trelawney's subject, Divination, politely describing it as an 'imprecise' branch of magic. She also, like many others, believed that Trelawney was a fraud.[6]

Despite her distaste for Trelawney and her teachings, the professors would grow to understand one another through their shared hatred of Dolores Umbridge during the woman's tenure as the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. When Dolores sacked Trelawney, McGonagall comforted her and spoke out against Umbridge's behaviour.[5]

In many ways, McGonagall's relationship with Trelawney was similar to Hermione Granger's relationship with Luna Lovegood.

Albus Dumbledore[edit]

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.

–Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter on Professor Trelawney., Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Upon their first meeting, Albus Dumbledore initially believed that she did not have the gifts of second sight, but when he heard her prophecy about Harry Potter and Voldemort, he hired her in order to protect her from the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters.

During 1997, Trelawney predicted Dumbledore's death at the Astronomy Tower several times without realising it.

In 1996, Trelawney was angry with Dumbledore, as he allowed Firenze to continue teaching Divination alongside her. This made Trelawney think that Dumbledore disliked and insulted her, and she asked him several times to fire her.


Or Dobbin, as I prefer to think of him. You would have thought, would you not, that now I am returned to the school Professor Dumbledore might have got rid of the horse? But no... we share classes... it's an insult, frankly, an insult.

–Trelawney speaking about Firenze, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

After Professor Trelawney was dismissed, Dumbledore hired the centaur Firenze to replace the vacant spot of Divination teacher. After Umbridge left Hogwarts and Trelawney was reinstated, Dumbledore refused to fire Firenze, as his herd would not take him back. This greatly angered Trelawney.

Co-teaching with him, she called him names, such as "the Nag," and "Dobbin", among others. She believed that the headmaster preferred Firenze to herself. However, after the Second Wizarding War, she might have changed her opinion.

Hogwarts staff[edit]

Charms Master Filius Flitwick and Herbology teacher Pomona Sprout were kind enough to escort Professor Trelawney back to the North Tower after her dismissal, with Flitwick magically carrying her trunks and possessions.

She disliked the Potions master and former-Death Eater Severus Snape, most likely because he rudely eavesdropped on her job interview with Albus Dumbledore in the Hog's Head.

Professor Trelawney appeared to be friendly with a colleague of hers, who taught either Study of Ancient Runes, Earth Magic, Ghoul Studies, Music, Muggle Music, Art, Muggle Art, Ancient Studies, Advanced Arithmancy Studies, or some other elective subject. She tended to her during the Battle of Hogwarts, but unfortunately, she did not survive the battle. Just before Voldemort summoned his troops back to the Forbidden Forest, the Professor's body was brought to the Great Hall. There were no signs of external damage so they believed she was taken by the Killing Curse.


Both her name and her surname are related to her future telling ability. "Sibyl" was a priestess in ancient Greek mythology. A sibyl (one "l") is a woman who could look into the future. A sibyl also can be any female prophet. The name is from the Latin sibylla, seer. Rowling chose to spell it "Sybill", because she did not feel Trelawney really qualified as a "Sibyl".

"Sybil" could also originate from the Sybilline Books, a Greek collection of oracular occurences.

"Trelawney" is derived from a famous cry of defiance from the south-west of England, where Rowling grew up, often shouted at football matches:

"And shall Trelawney live? And shall Trelawney die? Here's ten thousand Cornishmen who ask the reason why!"

The cry is a line from The Song of the Western Men, written in 1833 by the poet and parson Robert Stephens Hawker and the unofficial Cornish national anthem. It concerns the march to London in 1688 in protest at the incarceration in the Tower of Jonathan Trelawney, Bishop of Bristol. This could be a reference to Trelawney predicting the death of one of her students every year. It is also interesting to note that Bishop Trelawney also was released and went on to live for another thirty-three years, just as Professor Trelawney's famous death predictions rarely came true.

The name "Trelawney" comes from the Cornish phrase tre-lonow, homestead of groves, or tre-launow, farm in clearing. J. K. Rowling claimed that she picked the name because of her love of Cornish surnames, which she had not used in her books before. The age of the name also made it suitable, because of Trelawney's over-reliance on her ancestry when seeking to impress.

Author's comments[edit]

J. K. Rowling has stated that she does not believe in magic, and does not intend that her readers should believe in it either. She has hinted that the portrayal of Trelawney (a mystic and fortune-teller, perhaps the kind of "magic" that children are most likely to come across) as something of an ineffectual old fraud may be related to this. However, her name and the reference to a grandmother named Cassandra is somewhat contradicting. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a Trojan seer who received the gift of prophecy from Apollo, but when she spurned his romantic advances, the god in his wrath cursed her that she would be ever correct but never believed. This suggests that perhaps some of Trelawney's pronouncements may be more accurate than is often believed.

She said that she imagined that Trelawney's pre-Hogwarts existence consisted of drifting through the wizarding world, trying to trade on her ancestry to secure employment, and scorning those who did not offer her what she felt was the status due to a Seer.

Behind the scenes[edit]

  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Trelawney's first name is misspelled as Sybil.
  • Sybill could possibly be derived from the name of a group ancient Roman oracles known as the Sybilline oracles, which is appropriate considering her ability to tell the future and make accurate prophecies.
  • Trelawney is portrayed by Emma Thompson in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Thompson does not appear in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because she was filming for Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, despite the fact that Harry Potter co-star Maggie Smith also appears in the film (although, as supporting cast, so they do not have as many scenes as Thompson did).
  • Emma Thompson was married for several years to Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart) who directed and starred alongside her in Henry V, Dead Again, Peter's Friends, and Much Ado About Nothing. Interestingly enough, Branagh was offered the chance to direct Prisoner of Azkaban, which marks the first appearance of Professor Trelawney in the series, before Alfonso Cuaron got the job.
  • Branagh broke up with Thompson after falling for Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), whom he had met while directing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
  • Trelawney predicting the prophecy and Snape overhearing it are not included in the films. Indeed, Trelawney plays a far smaller part in Harry's destiny in the films than in the books.
  • Trelawney told Lavender Brown that the worst thing for her would come true on Friday, 16 October. However, 16 October, 1993 was actually a Saturday.
  • Emma Thompson had originally stated that she would not return as Trelawney in the last films. However, she later confirmed that she would reprise her role as Trelawney and had already filmed her scenes.
  • Emma Thompson has appeared in several films with Imelda Staunton; Much Ado About Nothing, Peters Friends, Sense and Sensibility and Nanny McPhee. Alan Rickman, Robert Hardy, Gemma Jones and Elizabeth Spriggs also starred in Sense and Sensibility. Maggie Smith and Ralph Fiennes also appear in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.
  • Professor Trelawney was also referenced in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by a locked door on the seventh floor that states if Harry tries to open it "Do not disturb, crystal gazing".
  • Oddly enough, many of the predictions made by Trelawney and others during the third year come true. Ron does in fact go through trials and suffering during the hunt for the Horcruxes, and ends up happy from the experience since he becomes closer to Hermione. Harry does come into a great sum of unexpected gold; his prize money for winning the Triwizard Tournament (though later it was transferred to the Weasley twins), and his inheritance from Sirius after his death. Harry also ends up working for the Ministry of Magic, although it is unknown if he ever became Minister. Though Trelawney seems to have been making it up at the time, seeing a death omen in Harry's cup, Harry did face his own death in 1998, although he did not actually die. However, the fact the death omen was in the shape of a dog may have been misinterpreted and may have truly been symbolising Sirius entering his life as an animagus.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Trelawney appears for only a fleeting moment, respectfully covering one of the fallen battle casualties. She can also be seen from behind battling Death Eaters in the courtyard; look for her curly hair and distinctive green sparkling coat right after Hermione runs between the legs of the troll on the way to the boathouse. You can also hear a Crucio said in her voice.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sybill incorrectly states Harry Potter's birthday of as being during the winter. Interestingly enough, Voldemort's birthday is 31 December and Harry was later revealed to be one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. In addition, the other descriptions in Sybill's statement ("your dark hair...your mean stature...tragic losses so young in life...") could apply to Voldemort as well. So she may have made the prediction based on the piece of Voldemort's soul within Harry.
  • In book's Finnish edition Sybill's name is Sibylla Punurmio.
  • In the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, there is a deleted scene that portrays Trelawney dinning in the Great Hall at the opening feast of 1995, where she clumsily eats and makes a mess of her food.
  • A collector character wand has been made for Trelawney. However, her name is misspelled as Sybil on the box.
  • In the Harry Potter Glossary on the Bloomsbury Harry Potter website, her middle name is incorrectly given as "Phyllis."
  • It is somewhat notable that Dolores Umbridge did not attempt to oust Professor Trelawney from Hogwarts when Professor Dumbledore was temporarily removed from his post as Headmaster. It is possible that Umbridge was so overwhelmed with the chaotic status of the school during her brief spell as Headmistress that she simply forgot. Another possibility is that Trelawney was either forcibly removed from the school or helped into hiding by Dumbledore, and J.K. Rowling merely did not mention this in the story.
  • Trelawney bears a resemblance in both apperance and personality to the American Horror Story: Coven character Myrtle Snow, who is also a witch. Ironically, the show also focuses on a school for witches.


Notes and references[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Trelawney was hired in 1980 and was at least 17. Thus, she had to be sorted in 1973 (at the latest to have gradauated for 1980 - graduating that June/July) and be born at least 1962 (to be old enough) to be sorted in 1973.
  2. 2.0 2.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  3. 3.0 3.1 Trelawney attended the Slug Club Christmas party, implying she may have been a member. Being descended from Cassandra Trelawney, Horace Slughorn would have presumably liked to "collect" her as well.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
  12. Luna Lovegood mentioned to Trelawney that she had Firenze instead of her during the Slug Club Christmas party.
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 - (The Seer Overheard)
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter, "The Lost Prophecy".
  15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 6 - (Talons and Tea Leaves)
  16. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 - (Seen and Unforeseen)
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