Ilvermorny, the Newest School in the World of “Harry Potter”
As Rowling herself has said, the school is nothing like its English counterpart.
By Katie Sanchez, University of Texas at San Antonio
Aside from the school being fictional, the main problem is that only residents of the United Kingdom can attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary, which leaves everyone else wondering: What about us?
The good news is that, over time, J.K. Rowling wrote about wizarding schools from all over the world. From South America to Japan, the Harry Potter author created magical schools in various areas so everyone could receive a magical education. But perhaps the most long awaited institution was the one that would be located in North America: Ilvermorny.
On June 28th, Rowling released information on Pottermore (such as an imaginative, detailed story about how it came to be and a sorting quiz) about Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardary. Though Ilvermorny is a wizarding school based off of Hogwarts, the two are very different from each other with distinctive characteristics. Nevertheless, Ilvermorny is a unique, impressive and well thought out institution. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I couldn’t wait to jump into the North American school that Rowling crafted—especially since it would be the place I’d study at to develop my magical powers.
First, the story of how Ilvermorny was founded is extensive and filled with creativity. When I initially saw how long the story was, I didn’t want to read it because I thought it was too much. Luckily, the little voice in my head said, “You must read about this school to learn more about it. Don’t you want to be back in the world of Harry Potter?” At that moment, my eyes wandered about the words on my screen and stuck there for a good thirty minutes or so.
Every now and then, a gasp would escape my lip or a giggle would shake my body. Rowling really thought this story through and weaved a good amount of urgency, love and magic all around. The way she structured the tale was in chronological order, with each paragraph flowing into the next, and each chapter placed with precision. I won’t give you too many details about the content because you should definitely read it, but I will say that once you start reading, you won’t stop until you reach the end. Therefore, do not let the length of the writing intimidate you. Rowling’s short story is worth every second.
Perhaps, though, one of the most exciting sections was on how the houses came to be.
The houses of Ilvermorny are Thunderbird, Wampus, Horned Serpent and Pukwudgie, the names of which are the favorite animals of the founder, her husband and children. Though much isn’t known about the characteristics of the houses, one thing is for sure: They have no correlation with the Hogwarts houses. Yes, for a huge Harry Potter fan, one can find similarities with the houses, but Rowling herself tweeted that they are nothing like the famous Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. However, if you really wanted to compare them, you can argue that Horned Serpent is Ravenclaw, Thunderbird is Slytherin or Gryffindor, Pukwudgie is Hufflepuff, and Wampus could be Gryffindor.
But, let’s face it, if the author herself said that they do not have any relation, then they don’t.
The little that we do know about the houses is quite fascinating, for they reflect the core values that a wizard has. Thunderbird represents the soul and favors adventures. Similarly, Wampus symbolizes the body and prefers warriors, while the Horned Serpent depicts the mind and praises scholars. Last, Pukwudgie showcases a wizard’s heart and endorses healers. Upon further inspection, the favorable traits that these houses have help make an ideal tribe, which could symbolize family. After all, Ilvermonry was essentially founded with love, so it’s no surprise that the houses reflect that emotion.
As I said earlier, the American school is different than the UK one. Though both have four houses, their sorting ceremonies are very distinctive. In the world of Hogwarts, students gather in the Great Hall, where a sorting hat awaits them. Once their name is called, the young wizard will sit on a stool as the hat is placed upon their head, searches their mind and sorts them into their house base on what the hat finds.
Ilvermorny’s sorting ceremony is nothing like Hogwart’s.
At Ilvermorny, students gather in a round entrance hall where wood carvings that represent each one of the houses surround them. One by one, the new wizards are called to stand on a symbol which is located in the middle of the hall. Afterwards, it is up to the carvings to pick whether they would like to have that particular wizard in their house. The way that the carvings allow the wizard to know whether they want them in their house varies. Either a crystal will light up on the Horned Serpent’s forehead, the Wampus will roar, the Thunderbird will move its wings or the Pukwudgie will move its arrow up.
This method of sorting, in my humble opinion, is wickedly cool.
According to the Pottermore website, the writing of Ilvermorny is the second installment of Rowling’s “Magic in North America,” which is to help people gain knowledge about magic in America. After all, Rowling’s upcoming movie, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” coming out this November, takes place in the United States, so it’s nice to know that Rowling wants us have some back story before watching the film.
Essentially, Ilvermorny sounds like a fantastic wizarding school with its amazing story and unique houses. Though we do not know much about what the houses entail, I’m pretty sure we’ll acquire more information as we approach the release of Fantastic Beasts. Rowling did an excellent job on delivering a long-awaited institution, and I can’t wait until she releases more writing. If you are just as excited as I am to find out more about Ilvermorny, make sure you read about Ilvermorny in its entirety, take the sorting quiz and look out for any more updates that Rowling will be releasing.