As you may know, the upcoming Harry Potter-related film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will include the North American wizards and their school, called Ilvermorny. A redditor recently noticed a bit of code in the Pottermore website implying the existence of not only a sorting ceremony for Ilvermorny, but the names of the Houses. They appear to be: Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Pukwudgie. World shattering news. Wizarding World shattering.
Each of these Houses could be named after each of these animals or these could be just the mascots for each of the houses. Let’s drill down into what each of them means and see if we can piece together how the American school might work. What’s going to be immediately evident is that each of the four appears to be associated with one of the cardinal European elements: fire, earth, air, and water. They’re also each associated with an animal, making it easy to give them House crests.
Appearing in many of the mythologies of the Native Americans, the massive Horned Serpent is generally associated with water, rain, lighting, and thunder. According to the Sioux, a group of dangerous reptilian water monsters once existed which were destroyed by the Thunderbirds, which happens to be another House at the school. Maybe there’s going to be some history to the legend, a conflict or rivalry between the two Houses, similar to Gryffendor and Slytherin. Maybe Horned Serpent students sometimes speak parseltongue. Who knows.
Another element of the legend which might point us towards a magical specialty is the fact that in legend the Horned Serpent had crystalline scales and a single, large crystal in its forehead, both of which were prized for use in divination.
The Wampus Cat is a fearsome cougar in Native American myths. In Cherokee legend, she is a woman who disguises herself as a cougar in order to spy on the men of the tribe, which sounds a lot like an animagus. In East Tennessee, the Wampus Cat is considered a spirit of death and the earth, continuing the trend of creatures associated with the earth, air, fire, and water. Importantly, the Pottermore section on the History of Magic in North America lists Wampus Cat as a source of hair for magic wands, saying of the wandmaker Johannes Janker:
“His wands were highly sought after and instantly recognisable, as they were usually inlaid with mother-of-pearl. After experimenting with many cores, Jonker’s preferred magical material was hair of the Wampus cat.”
Thunderbird is a supernatural bird of tremendous size, power, and strength in the legends of the Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes. Thunderbird is generally believed to have been inspired by the bald eagle, common to the northwest coast. It’s name comes from the idea that the large bird’s flapping causes thunder and stirs the wind. Pottermore also talks about the use of Thunderbird in wand making:
“Shikoba Wolfe, who was of Choctaw descent, was primarily famous for intricately carved wands containing Thunderbird tail feathers (the Thunderbird is a magical American bird closely related to the phoenix).”
The Pukwudgie is a short, troll-like being from Wampanoag folklore, with enlarged noses, fingers, and ears. Though they sound pretty much physically identical to Goblins in the Wizarding World, they act a bit more like a Red Cap or Grindylow, luring people to their deaths. They are able to disappear at will, turn into a porcupine, use magic, shoot poison arrows, and create fire.
So, that’s what we know so far. Any theories as to what kinds of people get sorted into which Houses? Where do these elements fit in, if at all? And are the Horned Serpents really just a branch of House Slytherin? Let us know what you think below.
Featured Image Credit: pottermore.com