Home » Culture » Move over Hogwarts, make way for Ilvermorny!

Move over Hogwarts, make way for Ilvermorny!

Jhinuk Sen | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST
What\'s Ilvermorny
  • The school of wizcraft and wizardry in North America
  • It was founded by Isolt Sayre and James Steward
How the story goes
  • Ilvermorny was created because two young wizards could not go to Hogwarts
  • It is also created by a girl who dreamed of attending Hogwarts
More in the story
  • The history of Isolt and James
  • The Slytherin connection

For the longest time Potterheads knew only about three schools of magic - Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.

While Hogwarts took in students from England, Scotland and Ireland, Durmstrang was described as 'willing to accept international students, but presumably mainly from northern Europe' and Beauxbatons covered France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

So effectively Europe and England were taken care of, which had the rest of us wondering where exactly the rest of the world went to attain academic credibility in magic.

Evidently, JK Rowling heard us.

And, since Rowling likes keeping Potterheads happy, like she has been doing with Pottermore, she brought in four cool new schools. Ilvermorny (pronounced Ill - ver - morn - ee) in North America, Castelobruxo (Cass - tell - o - broo - shoo) in South America, Mahoutokoro (Mah - hoot - o - koh - ro) in Japan and Uagadou (Wag-a-doo) in Africa.

Also read - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child preview: Fans 'keep the secrets' but can't hide joy

Pottermore has basic descriptions of the four new schools Rowling introduced, but now she has upped the magic and gone into the details of Ilvermorny for a start.

The in-depth introduction to the school of magic in North America is a build up to the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

It's only fair that Rowling starts off with America for now because the movie is about 'the adventures of Newt Scamander in 1926 New York City'.

Here's the introductory video for Ilvermorny, which gave us massive Tim Burton-esque vibes -

The story of Ilvermorny has its roots in Ireland and begins with a young witch called Isolt Sayre. After the death of her parents, she was taken in by her mother's estranged sister Gormlaith Gaunt. It takes Isolt a few years to realise that Gormlaith was the one responsible for her parents' death and had actually kidnapped her to raise her 'right' - in other words - as a muggle hater.

Isolt was not allowed to go to Hogwarts when her letter arrived, nor was she allowed a wand.

As the story goes, Isolt steals her aunt's wand and flees to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620. She leaves the colony because she doesn't want to risk people knowing of her powers and word getting back to Gormlaith.

Isolt's adventures and a rather uncanny nag of wanting to nurse creatures and people alike, lead her to No Maj James Steward and two young wizards, the Boot boys - Webster and Chadwick. All three came to America from England and lived in the Plymouth settlement.

FYI - Magic folk in the New World called the non-magic ones No Maj (from no magic).

The short story of Ilvermorny is this: It was created by Isolt and James, who she marries, for Chadwick and Webster couldn't attend Hogwarts. From a humble cottage, it soon grows into a full-fledged school located on the highest peak of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts - hidden from No Maj-eyes by charms and enchantments.

The school robes are blue (Isolt's favourite colour and also because she wanted to be in Ravenclaw) and cranberry (for James' love of cranberry pie) and held together by the golden Gordian knot (the only thing Isolt managed to save from her burned-down house was her mother's golden brooch shaped like the Gordian knot). The Gordian knot also finds its place in the school crest.

Like Hogwarts, Ilvermorny has four houses named after magical creatures. Isolt, James, Chadwick and Webster picked their favourite animals and named the houses after them instead of naming it on themselves. Thankfully. A house named Webster Boot? Naah!

Thunderbird (a creature that creates storms as it flies), Wampus (a magical panther-like creature that was fast, strong and almost impossible to kill), Horned Serpent (a river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead) and Pukwudgie (a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature distantly related to the European goblin) - became the four houses at Ilvermorny.

Rowling writes, "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."

However, the similarity with Hogwarts houses ends with the fact that Ilvermorny too has four houses. Ilvermorny does not use a hat to sort the students.

"While the rest of the school watches from the circular balcony overhead, new students file into the round entrance hall. They stand around the walls and, one by one, are called to stand on the symbol of the Gordian Knot set into the middle of the stone floor. In silence the school then waits for the enchanted carvings to react. If the Horned Serpent wants the student, the crystal set into its forehead will light up. If the Wampus wants the student, it roars. The Thunderbird signifies its approval by beating its wings, and the Pukwudgie will raise its arrow into the air," describes Rowling.

You can sort yourself here.

Students also get a wand only after the sorting ceremony is over - and they have to leave their wands at school during vacations. We just wish the rest of America had a similar attitude toward gun-regulation. Only upon turning seventeen is a witch or wizard legally allowed to carry a wand outside school.

Also, with no Ollivanders, Isolt and James made all the wands for the students - which is a very cool twist to the wand tale. Rowling did tell us in the introduction to Uagadou that wands were European inventions.

Ilvermorny counts on the help of Pukwudgies to run the school similar to how Hogwarts has house elves. However, Rowling informs us, "A number of Pukwudgies continue to work at the school into the present day, all grumbling, all of them insisting that they have no wish to remain there and yet all of them mysteriously present year after year."

Lets admit it, the Hogwarts obsession is not entirely over. Now we have Ilvermorny and to be honest, I can't wait to delve into Castelobruxo, Mahoutokoro and Uagadou.

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First published: 1 July 2016, 4:31 IST