Unfogging the Future: An interview with the author of a Harry Potter and Divination essay, from the Tarot in Culture Anthology

The Tarot in Culture anthology began as a call for papers in 2008, and includes my reflections on creativity and identity as a poet who wrote using Tarot for inspiration during my time earning an MFA from Colorado State University.The anthology also features a delightfully composed look at J. K. Rowling‘s use of divination in her Harry Potter series, particularly with Professor Trelawney


Leslie Stratyner wrote “Harry Potter and Tarot: Divining the Half-Blood Prince” for the anthology, which is available on Kobo and will come out in print through Lulu this July or earlier. She said in our interview that she had been interested in Tarot since she was a teen.  She has read for herself, and had readings done for her.
Though Leslie doesn’t approve of her teaching methods, she recognizes Professor Trelawney’s “very particular talent.  If you examine her predictions, she never, ever gets one wrong.  But she’s not a very good teacher, and I share Harry’s annoyance with her.” Rowling described Trelawney as a large, glittering insect in the eyes of her protagonist, Harry.
Leslie makes it a point in her essay to recognize how Tarot is used to define the personalities of the characters. I think this trait of divination is often overlooked.
Did Leslie have any thoughts on this, or wish to expand on what J.K. Rowling did with divination as a literary device?
“I guess what strikes me is her attention to detail,” Leslie wrote back. “I find it very hard to believe she didn’t think very carefully about Trelawney’s predictions, most especially the Tarot reading. It’s really just a tiny bit of the book but she obviously went over the deck and really thought about which cards should be used.  It’s like a little Easter egg, that reading.  And it perfectly lays out the nature of Snape, and his situation, and Harry’s.”Here is the reading itself, and I highly encourage readers interested in Leslie’s wonderful research on this and other moments featuring divination in Harry Potter’s world to purchase at least volume one of the Tarot in Culture anthology (yours truly is in volume two).

“Harry proceeded through deserted corridors, though he had to step hastily behind a statue when Professor Trelawney appeared round a corner, muttering to herself as she shuffled a pack of dirty-looking playing cards, reading them as she walked.
‘Two of spades: conflict,’ she murmured, as she passed the place where Harry crouched, hidden. ‘Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner –‘.
She stopped dead, right on the other side of Harry’s statue.
‘Well, that can’t be right,’ she said, annoyed, and Harry heard her reshuffling vigorously as she set off again, leaving nothing but a whiff of cooking sherry behind her.”

Should you be interested in a Tarot and/or tea leaf reading, or want to share a love of Harry Potter, I hope to hear from you, Details on my services are at my facebook page.

Thanks for the read.



Leslie has published many other works that may be of interest.

Conference papers:  

“Faery Silver:  Tolkien, Coin, and ‘Smith of Wootton Major’.”  Delivered at the “Fairy Tale Economies” conference at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Hattiesburg, October 2009.

“The Self-hating Human: Spock’s Search for Psychic Unity.”  Delivered at the       International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.  Orlando, March 2010.

“Susanna Clarke and Subcreation” Delivered at the Mythopoeic Society Conference XXXXII, Albuquerque, July 2011.

“Lost “Cause”: Vengeance, Justice, and the Legacy of the Civil War in Portis’ True Grit.” 

Delivered at The AUM Liberal Arts Conference 2013. Montgomery, Alabama, February 2013.

“Medieval English Oral Tradition” Delivered at the Forty-Seventh International Congresson Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, May, 2012.   

“Watson Has a Vagina: Elementary’s Feminist Sherlock Holmes.”  Delivered at the Popular Culture Association of the South Conference.  Savannah, October 2013.

“Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and the Righteous Rage of the Engineers.” To be delivered at the national PCA/ACA conference.  Chicago, April 2014.


“Tolkien and Apposition.” Author of the New Century: T. A. Shippey and the Creation of the Next Canon. John W. Houghton, ed.  McFarland.  Forthcoming 2014.        

 “Teaching Oral Tradition in The Lord of the Rings.”  MLA Approaches to Teaching Tolkien and Other Works Leslie Donovan, ed.  Modern Language Association of America. Forthcoming 2014


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