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!



(updated 01/18/2022)

Lesson 2) Intro to Tarot and Ethics

Professor Cattercorn was in the tower when the students arrived.  As they began to settle into their seats, she looked up from an ornate box that was on her desk.  Giving one final cursory nod to the box, as though doing a mental check-off, she turned her attention to the class.  As her eyes quickly surveyed the room, and she had the attention of the students, she jumped right into this week’s discussion

Welcome back to Divination! I see you survived your first lesson and assignment. It wasn’t too terrible, I hope. I’m sure you all did well, and please feel free to come to me if you have any questions at all. I want to help you make sure that you have a solid understanding of the material covered in this course and I am more than happy to assist anyone. Starting today, each lesson will build off of one another in order to allow you to be able to complete a full reading by the end of the term. It is important that you pay attention to everything that is discussed, and remember what we study from lesson to lesson.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of tarot, I would like to get one last piece of business out of the way: our lesson topics for this year, which you can see on the board.

Year Two Syllabus

Lesson One

Intro to Divination

Quiz, Essay (EC)

Lesson Two

Intro to Tarot and Ethics


Lesson Three

The Tarot Deck: First Steps


Lesson Four

The Tarot Deck: Storing Your Deck


Lesson Five

The Major Arcana


Lesson Six

The Minor Arcana

Quiz, Essay (EC)

Lesson Seven

Altars and Other Spaces


Lesson Eight



Lesson Nine

Putting it All Together


What is Tarot?
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get started with the tarot! Tarot is a style of divining the future through use of a tarot deck. A traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into the Major and Minor Arcana. We will discuss those in detail in future lessons, so don’t be alarmed if you are not familiar with these terms. Each deck is different in not only artwork, but in some cases, interpretations can change as well.

The tarot is used for a variety of things. Some people use it as a way to get a general idea of what is going on in their life and what may occur in the future. Others use it as a way to find an answer to a question that has been bothering them. Tarot, at its core, is a guide. Please keep in mind that no matter the outcome of a reading, it is not set in stone. The future is always changing. Each decision that you make can affect and change the outcome of something. For instance, if you get a reading saying that you will soon experience a break up with your significant other, even though you don’t see any problems in your relationship at the time, it might be the cause of your doubt that will eventually lead to problems and the end of the relationship. The decisions that you make and whether or not you decide to alter your decisions due to a tarot reading will have an impact on the future. It is because of this paradox that you should never do a reading about a question you are not 100% certain you want to know the answer to.

When and Where Did Tarot Originate?
Scholars originally believed that different parts of the tarot deck were invented at different points in history. It has been proven, however, that the entire deck was invented all at one time, though its exact point of origin is unclear. While we cannot narrow it down to one particular town, the tarot deck originated in various cities across Italy, namely Milan, Ferrara, and Bologna at some point in the early 1400s. However, these decks were mostly used for card games, as the secrets of divining with the tarot were not passed on partly for the (unfounded) fear that the non-magical population would be able to have the same control over it as the magical community, but mostly because of the growing turmoil between magical and non-magical people. During this period, witches and wizards came under increasing persecution and suspicion from many parties, including the Catholic Church. As a result, many magical practices died out or were covered up, and many wizarding families separated themselves from Muggles, preferring to live with their own kind, in a gradual trend we now know as the Great Clustering -- which will be covered in your History of Magic class, I am sure.

Because of the separation from the Muggle world, tarot as we know it stalled in popularity for quite some time after the cards first came into circulation. Its rise to fame finally occurred when a young witch named Melina Renard bucked tradition and boldly began performing readings all across France. People quickly realized that these predictions were coming true, but at this time -- the height of her readings occurring from 1783 to 1792 -- the unwelcome spotlight on and executions of magical folk had calmed significantly, in part due to the passing of the International Statute of Secrecy roughly one hundred years prior. Under the guise of the Muggle occult, she was able to practice her art without raising overdue suspicion and paved the way for others (later and often with different divinatory professions) to follow in her footsteps. While Muggles were obviously never able to replicate her success, the accuracy of her readings sparked a significant amount of interest in the art, and thus fueled its popularity in Europe following the turn of the century.

How Does Tarot Work?
As with many fields of magic, what we do not know could fill books. The intricacies of  exactly how and why tarot works often still escape us. However, there are some general principles of tarot theory that are clear enough.

As you well know, wands are a tool through which many witches and wizards focus their magic though they do not need it. That is, in history and in other geographical areas, other foci are used, or even no foci at all. While calling a tarot deck simply another form of foci may be overly simplistic, it is not far from the truth. As witches and wizards, you have magical energy within you. When you cast a spell, you use incantations and concentration to properly hone your intentions, often aided by a tool like a wand. A deck of tarot cards functions similarly. It is a tool to help you focus your divinatory magic. Similarly, like most items that have been used as foci, this means that tarot cards inherently have the ability to absorb and retain magic, though not nearly to the degree that wands can, nor even some of the other methods of divination we will discuss in later years.

Because of this, like wands and other magical devices that have been subjected to repeated magical exposure, the cards can develop what approximates a “personality”, though there is little they can outwardly do to show it. The way this personality manifests can come in a few different forms, such as “calling” to you when choosing a deck, becoming less responsive to you when your magic or intentions are not in tune with them, and even becoming “disloyal” -- that is, attuned to someone else’s magic. They are much more fickle than your average wand, to be sure!

As with your magical abilities in general, your ability to focus on the cards and their meanings will improve with practice and can be aided through techniques and with tools, which we will be covering throughout the year. To give you a general idea for now, channelling your magic through tarot cards is not so different from casting a spell. You need willpower (or faith in the cards and your own divinatory abilities), you need concentration or focus (which you provide, but can be helped in various ways) and you need an “incantation” (though not literally) to indicate the specific goal of your reading, which we will touch on more in our discussion of spreads in Lesson Eight.

“What men do matters more than what they know.”  - John Christopher, The Sword of the Spirits

However, with great power and importance comes great responsibility. Before we go any further in learning the tricks of the trade, we will also be discussing ethics as they apply to tarot. Ethics are defined as the moral principles a person follows and can apply to everything in life. They are a set group of rules that divide the line between what is right and what is wrong. For instance, in the field of healing or potions, you cannot give away someone's private information, treat them without their consent, or provide a treatment without explaining what it is. These are part of the ethical codes of the medical world.

Ethics are what hold a community together and bind them with a knowledge of what is and is not appropriate. This set of rules allows the community to better function and communicate as a whole. It helps avoid disputes, as well as to protect those who are on the receiving end of the conflict know that they are safe and allow them to be comfortable. Upholding good ethics not only shows respect for yourself but respect for others and for doing the right thing. If you are unethical in your divinatory practices, people will not want to continue having you read for them, as they will wonder how much they can trust you and your practice.

Though opinions may differ, there is a set of rules that can be generally agreed upon which consist not only of the things that you should do, but also the things that you should not do.


  1. Decide which questions that you are uncomfortable answering. Personally, I refuse to answer questions about death or extremely traumatic situations, such as “When will I die?” or “How will I die?” I refuse for the reason that this reading may cause distress, despite their wish to know the answer. Everyone has a different set of questions that they are uncomfortable doing a reading on which is absolutely fine. If you are unsure as to why you don’t want to do a reading on that question, it may be your intuition’s way of telling you that you aren’t ready. If you ever get a gut feeling about something when it comes to tarot, trust yourself. Your intuition is one of your best assets as a reader.
  1. Respect the art and respect your deck. Tarot is sacred: a guide, a companion, a very special skill. Do not flaunt that you are a tarot reader. Do not use your skill as a parlor trick. If you do not respect your deck or your ability, you may find that it no longer gives you accurate or thorough readings, much like a wand that is no longer loyal to you. You have to have faith, trust, and respect for your deck to get the readings at the level that you want. Additionally, in a more mundane sense, make sure that your cards are protected. Allowing them to get bent and damaged will lead to less reliable readings.
  1. Support the other seers in your community. Tarot readers and, by extension, seers, need to stick together. There is so much to learn and it is important to share your knowledge with others. Remember to respect seers no matter their knowledge level. Everyone starts as a beginner and you should encourage new readers to further their skills and help them learn. This is how we keep the community of tarot readers a thriving one.

Do Not’s

  1. Don’t do a reading if you don’t have the time. If you are sitting down to do a reading and you know that you do not have ample time to complete it, do not do it. You don’t want to sit down with someone and start a reading only to have to stop midway through or rush to finish. Rushing through a reading is a big injustice to your querent. Leaving someone with only half a reading can cause them significant stress. You don’t want to give someone half of the answers they’ve come for or only be able to explain half of the cards in a spread.
  1. Don’t force someone into receiving a reading. When first starting out, it’s tempting to ask people to let you read for them. However, searching for people rather than taking volunteers is not always wise. Forcing a reading on someone who is unwilling is disrespectful not only to your artform, but to the person who has asked that they be excluded from your practice. More, people need to be interested in the tarot; they need to have some sort of faith in it. It is okay to make it known that you have cards and are willing to do readings for people, but let them come to you. A querent that comes to you is drawn to the cards for a reason.
  1. Do not, under any circumstances, release names or results of a prior reading without permission. Readings are personal and very private things. The people I have mentioned in my lessons have all agreed to allow me to mention what questions were asked and what spread was done, but I will not reveal the results of their reading. You also should not do a reading in a public place unless expressed specifically by the querent that it is alright. The lack of privacy could cause your querent to become nervous and, if a magical person, disrupt the flow of the magical energy to your deck. Generally, even if the person is non-magical, this can cause a negative outcome in tainting the practice of tarot in outsiders’ eyes due to their obvious discomfort.
  1. Similarly, do not do a reading around someone who is uncomfortable with the art. If you are out with a group of friends and someone asks you to do a reading, make sure that it is alright with everyone else in the group. Never do a reading around someone who is at all uncomfortable with the idea of tarot. Just like doing a reading in an uncomfortably public place, this can interfere with your flow of magic through the deck and is also disrespectful to the person who wishes to abstain.
  1. Likewise, do not do a reading on someone who is a non-believer in the spirit and legitimacy of tarot, or with a non-believer in the general area. Tarot cards have their own heart or spirit, and are inclined to help those only truly seeking its wisdom. The negative intentions (consciously or subconsciously) of a non-believer can flow into the cards through their magical signature and cause the reading to be invalid. In a more practical sense, doing a reading on a non-believer and getting an inaccurate reading may cause you to doubt your own intuition or abilities. While it is perfectly normal to have inaccurate readings as a beginner, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation with people who will not only point it out, but likely be rude about it. This same rule applies for a person who wants a reading only to “test” your ability.
  1. Do not judge any client no matter their sex, religion, nationality, et cetera. You need to remain completely unbiased in all situations, regardless of any opinions you hold. If a woman comes to you and asks for a reading giving you the background knowledge that she is cheating on her husband, you must remain neutral and unaffected. You are not to have a personal view or opinion on a reading, but rather you are there to be a vessel through which the cards speak. You are their “translator,” so to speak.
  1. Don’t do a reading if someone involved in the question has not consented to the reading or not aware of it. For example, if a querent asks you to do a reading on her sister, unless you can prove that the sister is in agreement, do not do the reading. In truth, it is best not to do it unless the sister herself is present. Having a reading done without that person’s consent and presence raises a lot of issues, particularly if the contents of an unasked-for reading are relayed to the person in question, an outcome which is likely.

 A Final Note on Personal Preference
Some people find that charging for tarot readings is unethical. You have a gift and thus should not exploit it for monetary gain. Others believe that tarot is a way of life and that, after putting in years of study and practice, it is okay to charge, as it is their livelihood. While I personally do not charge for readings, it is something that is strictly up to the reader. If you do decide to charge, make sure that your prices are fair for your experience level and the type of reading that you are giving. Do not exploit people for their money; do not use tarot as a way of scamming people. Many choose to donate a portion of their profits to an educational institution, such as Hogwarts or Beauxbatons, where young seers are trained in the ways of tarot, astrology, and other forms of divination.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to help you in any way I can to make sure that you understand the material. If you find another point that you think may be an unethical part of tarot or if you disagree with one of the points above, I would love to talk about the what and why with you. Please remember that you are an active member of the classroom and discussion is more than welcome. In fact, it’s highly encouraged! Ethics are things that tend to vary from person to person, depending upon where and how you grew up. The ethics above, however, should be exercised by all persons at all times. This is the basic “code” of tarot.

Querent: The person for which the reading is done, or the person asking the question.
Spread: A spread is an arrangement of cards for a specific purpose or reading.
Foci (singular: focus): This focus is not the same meaning as is used in spell-casting components (and is not the equivalent to concentration). Instead, a focus, or when dealing with a set of many cards, foci, are tools through which magic is channeled. The European tradition typically uses wands as their preferred foci, though staffs, amulets, and other similar tools have been used. Some civilizations have eschewed the use of foci all together.

Until next week!

Original lesson written by Professor Jessica Marrow
Additional portions written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits here and here

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