Read J.K. Rowling’s History of Ilvermorny, the School of Magic Somewhere in Massachusetts


The Harry Potter universe continues to expand with online addenda to the world we once thought we thoroughly knew. J.K. Rowling, benevolent Creator of places with odd jelly bean flavors, beautiful companionships and villains that sound like scientific names of rare warts, has today provided North Americans who wondered what exactly their magical education would have looked like with some answers.

Today on, she’s provided a new piece of writing on the history of the school where the characters in the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — which takes place in New York — would have gone. It’s the second installment of Magic in North America, and it follows the story of a young girl named Isolt Sayre who’s an orphaned Irish descendent of Salazar Slytherin, comes to America on the Mayflower, and ultimately founds Ilvermorny — aforementioned magic school servicing all of North America.

It’s a long story that all begins when Sayre’s parents die in a fire — which it turns out was started by Sayre’s cruel, pureblood-supremacist aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt. (Aunt’s in the name!) She escapes her aunt’s clutches on the Famous Boat, pretending to be a Muggle boy…and you can read the rest at Pottermore to find out exactly how the school you would’ve attended came to be… somewhere in Massachusetts. According to the site, it “has the reputation of being one of the most democratic, least elitist of all the great wizarding schools.”

Perhaps of greater (or less time-consuming) interest are the houses — into which users of Pottermore can now be sorted, following a series of questions written by Rowling. Because four seems to be the magic number in Rowling’s Categories Humans Can Be Split Into, here are the four houses — and the creatures they’re named after — at Ilvermorny, per a press release (unfortunately not sent from Ilvermorny, at least as far as the email address suggests):

· Horned Serpent; a ‘great horned river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead’ · Pukwudgie; ‘a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature’ · Thunderbird; a creature that ‘can create storms as it flies’ · Wampus; ‘a magical, panther-like creature that is fast, strong and almost impossible to kill’

And according the Magic in North America piece, here’s what that all means:

It is sometimes said of the Ilvermorny houses that they represent the whole witch or wizard: the mind is represented by Horned Serpent; the body, Wampus; the heart, Pukwudgie and the soul, Thunderbird. Others say that Horned Serpent favours scholars, Wampus, warriors, Pukwudgie, healers and Thunderbird, adventurers.