Understanding the Prophecy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

05.25.2023 // By Tome Tailor

In J.K. Rowling’s fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a prophecy emerges as a central theme. This prophecy has major implications on the plot of the novel and drives much of the action as Harry and his friends work to comprehend its meaning and protect it from falling into the hands of the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the prophecy, it’s meaning, and its consequences for the characters in the novel.

The Prophecy Itself

The prophecy in question is held within a small glass sphere at the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic. Encased in this sphere is a recorded message by Sybill Trelawney, the Divination professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The prophecy, delivered during an interview between Trelawney and then Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, states:

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…

This cryptic message, when deciphered, becomes the focal point for Harry’s internal and external struggles throughout the novel, and acts as an omen for the remainder of the series.

The Meaning of the Prophecy

The prophecy foretells the coming of a child who would have the power to defeat Lord Voldemort. The child would be born at the end of July, to parents who have defied Voldemort three times. This child would be marked as an equal to Voldemort, possessing a power that the Dark Lord is unaware of. In the end, one must die at the hands of the other, as both cannot survive while the other lives.

There were two possible candidates who fit the prophecy’s criteria: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Both boys were born at the end of July to parents who had defied Voldemort three times. However, Voldemort chose to attack the Potters, inadvertently marking Harry as his equal by imparting a fragment of his own soul onto Harry when the killing curse backfired. This decision ultimately confirmed Harry as the subject of the prophecy.

The power that Harry has that Voldemort does not is the ability to feel and understand love. This idea of love as a powerful force in the Harry Potter series is a recurring theme and ultimately proves to be the key to Harry’s strength against the dark wizard.

The Implications of the Prophecy

Understanding the meaning of the prophecy has significant implications for Harry and his friends throughout the novel and the remainder of the series. The knowledge of this prophetic claim puts immense weight on Harry’s shoulders, as he fully comprehends the depth of his destined battle with Voldemort. This knowledge also serves to motivate Harry and his friends in their continued fight against the dark forces at play in their world.

In addition, the prophecy provides a glimpse into Voldemort’s motivations, revealing that his pursuit of Harry is driven by his belief in the prophecy’s validity. This understanding causes Harry to prioritize the protection of the prophecy, doing whatever necessary to keep it out of Voldemort’s hands.


The prophecy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, while cryptic, provides essential insight into the motivations of both the protagonist and antagonist throughout the novel. As the story unfolds, the prophecy’s implications drive characters like Harry, Neville, and their allies to confront their roles in this magical struggle against the darkness. Overall, the prophecy serves as a crucial element in the development of the story’s narrative and character arcs.

To explore the prophecy and its significance further, read or listen to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. To understand how prophecies play out in other books in the series, consider reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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