Welcome! My name is Professor Swithun, and I am your new professor of Divination here at Hogwarts is Here. Professor Cattercorn formerly led this course; therefore, you will find references to her in Years Two through Five. You may notice some minor edits here and there, but rest assured that you will not be held responsible for any of these small changes on your assignments and exams. I will strive to keep this transition as cohesive as possible. I have exciting plans for Years Six and Seven! I’m working hard to have Year Six prepared and published as soon as possible.
My lovely group of PAs and I are happy to answer any questions or concerns about the course. If you have a question about grading, please send an owl that includes the grade ID for that assignment and why you are appealing. Please be respectful (and remember that we are all volunteers!)
If you have any areas of interest related to Divination that you’d like to learn more about in the upcoming curriculum, now is your chance to voice your ideas! I love to hear from students, and questions, constructive comments, and suggestions are all welcome. My office door is always open to accept owls.
See you in class!
Lesson 1) Introduction to Divination
With the start of a new term, and the prospect of a new course, students slowly file into the Divination Tower and begin to chatter amongst themselves. With no professor in sight, they begin to wonder if they have come at the right time. Just before the top of the hour chimes, a woman strolls in, muttering about Peeves and glitter parties. She tosses a stack of papers on the desk and lays an ornate box next to it. Turning to the gathered students, she runs a hand through his hair and a shower of colorful sparkles drift to the floor. The students begin to laugh at the spectacle and she waits for them to die down with a bemused expression on her face.
Hello, all! Welcome to Divination! My name is Professor Cattercorn, and I’ll be your guide for all things divination for the foreseeable future. I look forward to leading you through this investigation into all manners of divination and fortune telling.
For its first year, Divination is an introductory course and therefore is intended to give you an exposure to what divination may feel like. While there are vast array of divinatory tools and processes that can be used to achieve the results that fall under the umbrella of divinatory practices, I do not wish to throw them all at you in a few, short weeks. Therefore, this course will take an approach to ease you into the methods of divination. We will discuss the layout and expectation in a moment. While this course is a Second Year course, I do not want you to become overwhelmed. By the end of the year, it is my sincerest hope that you will be familiar with one particular form of divination and will have achieved a level of familiarity with what divining may feel like. Before I dive into that, however, there are some preliminary administrative notices that I must address.
Assessments for the class are typically delivered as quizzes, which contain a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and true or false questions, as well as shorter essay prompts. Again, as Second Years, you will have a total of two mandatory essays. However, I may set additional extra credit assignments for selected lessons or topics. Please note these assignments are designed to provide a greater exposure to the process of the topics discussed. While some of these may be extra credit, they are worth considering if you intend on pursuing future years of this course. However, extra credit assignments are optional as they are not actually required in order to progress through the course. It is entirely your prerogative! However, do realise that extra credit assignments are typically intended to further investigate or possibly reinforce knowledge gained from the lesson and may be more challenging. Of course, some extra credit assignments may actually just be for fun... and in any case, extra house points never hurt anyone!
Whilst in this classroom, though the atmosphere seems relaxed, I do hope that you retain a respectful and mature demeanour. In my classroom, all opinions are valued and I believe each and every one of you has the right to participate in the lesson without fear of embarrassment or retribution for sharing your views.
With that, we segue nicely into the discussion of ground rules. These rules transcend beyond your first year of study with me, so please pay attention and file them away. They are not overly complicated and ensure that everyone has a positive learning environment.
- All general Hogwarts rules are upheld within this classroom, including, but not limited to, conduct and plagiarism.
- If you disagree with a grade that you have received, feel free to owl me about it. I will try to respond to you within 24 hours. You will need to explain why you think your answer merits a better grade than you already received, including being able to cross-reference the answer with the lesson material. I will read all appeals and review the assignment. However, the grade determined in the appeal process will be the definitive grade, even if it is lower than your original grade. Please do not submit an appeal unless you truly believe you were graded unfairly. Please also note that rude appeals will not be considered (A final note that appeals are not currently functioning on the site, but hopefully will be restored soon).
- Feel free to work together with your classmates. Do readings on each other, discuss what you think a particular card may mean. It’s always easier to learn a practical skill when you practice!
Additionally, if at any time you have questions about the content -- whether for an assignment or born of a general curiosity -- please do not hesitate to ask. My owl is always available to you! You may also feel free to contact my graders, also called “PAs” or “Professor Assistants”.
Now, the curriculum. I am quite aware that some of you have previous experience with divination, while, for others, this is your first foray into the practices of seers. Either way, I extend a warm welcome and hope you enjoy your studies. Divination at Hogwarts is structured in such a way that each year can ‘stand alone’ -- meaning you do not require prior knowledge in order to understand the material -- though it never hurts to be able to make connections and know more about your preferred field. But what exactly will we be studying? I draw your attention to the Divination syllabus, currently floating your way! For ease of reference, I have an enlarged version hovering above my desk…
Year Two: Tarot
Year Three: Natural Divination
Year Four: Body Divination
Year Five: Mental Divination
Year Six: Omens and Scrying
Year Seven: Alternative Divination
As you can see, this year we will be focusing on tarot, often considered the “entry level” form of divination. At its core, it is simple enough to do, though a good reading requires you to consider many variables. However, our focus will not begin until next week, as today I will be briefly introducing each form of divination we will cover over the next five years. Do not fear, this introduction will be quite brief and is delivered with the intention of attracting your interest. For some of you, this introduction will be all that you need to proclaim Divination as your favourite new elective while others will deem Divination a farce and run for the nearest ‘sensible’ course! Of course, Divination is a sensible course if you know how to use your knowledge...
Year Three will focus on forms of divination that utilize nature -- excluding those forms that simply use nature as a conveyer of omens - including astrology and runecasting. Astrology uses the heavens to tell the future. During Year Three, we will look at the twelve star signs you could have based on the day of your birth, the meanings of the planets, and important celestial events. As far as runecasting, we will be taking a more future-oriented focus than your Ancient Runes class and look at individual divinatory meanings of each of the runes, how they can combine to create a reading, and various spreads that can be used.
In Year Four, we will look at the various forms of divination which can be performed by assessing a body part, such as the palm of the hand (palmistry), the hand itself (chirognomy), the head (physiognomy), and moles upon the face (moleosophy). I can certainly say this is a very hands-on year of study with lots of poking and prodding of bodily appendages!
During the Fifth Year, our focus will be on more mental efforts: clairvoyance and dream interpretation. Clairvoyance allows an individual to see the past, experience the present occurring in a different physical location, and of course, foresee the future. Additionally, as we will discover, the forms of divination during this year get a bit harder, as you don't have anything to interpret other than your own mind!
After your O.W.L.s, should you choose to continue to Year Six, our focus will be omens and scrying -- some of the bread and butter of divination. It is for this reason that we are avoiding in-depth discussion of omens in our natural year. For those of you who have some background in divination already, you may know that this is an incredibly wide topic to cover, as omens can be read in a multitude of different ways.
Finally, Year Seven will describe the various alternative methods of divination, including some which may be considered controversial or even dangerous to a lesser-educated witch or wizard. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal too much of what we will be covering in Year Seven as I am still getting approval from Headmistress Oshiro to cover certain methods! So for now, I’m afraid, some air of mystery must remain.
What is Divination?
I hope that teaser has served to excite you rather than put you to sleep. I know it can get very comfortable in your overstuffed chairs. If you find yourself dozing, perhaps this topic will be of more interest to you. With so many different forms of divination -- and indeed, those mentioned only scratched the surface -- you may be wondering what ties all of these seemingly dissimilar fields together.
Divination is the art of seeing the future, possible outcomes, or threads of fate. It has long been used throughout the history of humankind to answer the questions we cannot address unaided. It contains many different methods, all of which require skill, study, and intuition. Without these three things, it is impossible to be proficient in any branch of divination. Divination calls you to look within yourself and allow your inherent magical abilities to guide you (though this can be difficult as we do not use wands to aid us) while simultaneously calling to your Inner Eye to lend guidance in the reading.
Skill can be inborn, but it can also be nurtured. It takes time and effort to become a skilled reader. There are those who may have a basic understanding of a particular branch of divination upon starting, but even this basic skill must be honed. It is important that you dedicate time to practicing, no matter what branch of divination you are studying, as practice is an integral part of your growth as a divining artist.
Study is the most important part of learning divination. Without study, it is impossible to be able to recognise the things that will allow you to give an accurate reading. No matter what form of divination you connect with, there are many things that will need to be memorised. While no one enjoys memorising things, it becomes easier with practice, and learning what you love makes it seem less like a task and more like a journey of discovery.
Intuition comes easier to some. It is the ability to sense the truth or know what is to be. It is the ability to trust your instincts without your mind getting in the way. You have to trust yourself and trust that there are forces around you working to your benefit. For instance, in a tarot reading, while a card may have a specific meaning, your intuition may see fit to alter that meaning slightly. This isn’t an intellectual altering, however, but rather a feeling that you know that the card is supposed to mean “x” instead of “y”.
When all those pieces are combined, true divination becomes possible, and is used for a variety of reasons: to reassure, to give hope, for revenge and sinister plans. Some use divination as a form of a guidance, asking a question and trusting that the outcome of their divining will give them the answer, while others obsess, trying to anticipate everything that is coming next, potentially even attempting to alter it. But this is a dangerous road to walk; the future is forever changing, and even a small ripple could alter the course of an entire life, and usually, not in the way that we suspect. When divining, the future that is shown is the future that will be if absolutely everything stays the way it is at the moment of the reading. Any slight change can alter the future drastically.
With that, we will end today’s lesson, as I feel it is the perfect place to break. That last portion of the class, though brief, is a weighty topic and will be something that you come to understand over many years of study. Next lesson, we will shake off heavier subjects and focus solely on one aspect of divination, rather than trying to understand all of it as a whole. For your assignments this week, you have a short, ten question quiz and an extra credit essay, which is rather quick and simple!
Same time next week. See you then!
Original lesson written by Professor Venita Wessex
Additional portions by Professor Jessica Marrow
Image credits here