We did the Ilvermorny sorting and immediately started researching what these new house names mean. Did you know that each of the house names is actually a creature from different North American folklores? These creatures have a rich history and we’ve decided the best way to celebrate our new Ilvermorny houses is to honor that history. Strap in and get ready to learn the real meaning of your Ilvermorny house!
Origin: Multiple tribes — primarily Southeastern North America and the Great Lakes
Ilvermorny House Traits: Mind, Scholarly
The details of the Horned Serpent vary depending on the tribe, but most associate it with water or lightning/thunder. To the Muscogee Creek people, the Horned Serpent is an underwater serpent covered in crystal scales with a large crystal set in its forehead. The scales and crystals are thought to have powers of divination while the horns were used in medicine.
The Yuchi people performed the Big Turtle Dance, honoring the Horned Serpent’s spirit. In this tradition, the Horned Serpent was attached to disease and rainbows, as well as the usual lightning and thunder. The Cherokee people called the Horned Serpent “uktena” and described it as having a large diamond-like crest on its forehead. In Sioux tradition, there were large water monsters that were destroyed by the Thunderbirds, only survived by small lizards and snakes.
Ilvermorny House Traits: Independence, Heart, Healing
The Pukwudgie is a humanoid creature with grey skin, roughly 2-3 feet tall. According to legend, the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Wampanoag had for Maushop, the giant who created Cape Cod. Though the Pukwudgie tried to help the Wampanoag, their effort always backfired. As a result, the Pukwudgie decided to become mischievous and aggravate the Wampanoag until Maushop intervened. Maushop collected as many Pukwudgies as he could and tossed them around New England. The Pukwudgies that survived eventually made their way back to New England.
After the Pukwudgie returned they began kidnapping children and killing the Wampanoag. After killing Maushop’s five sons and being attacked by him again, the Pukwudgie returned and tricked Maushop into a body of water. Depending on the version, the Pukwudgie either killed Maushop or he left the area after becoming depressed from the loss of his sons.
Although Pukwudgie represent heart and healing at Ilvermorny, they were known in Wampanoag culture to appear and disappear at will, turn into a walking porcupine, attack people and lure them to their deaths, carry poison arrows, can create fire, use magic, and control the souls of the people they kill.
Origin: Multiple tribes
Ilvermorny House Traits: Soul, Adventure
As mentioned before, the Thunderbirds were thought by some to destroy the Horned Serpent. The Thunderbird is considered a being of supernatural power and strength. It is often depicted in oral histories, songs, and art by various cultures from all over Northern America, including the Pacific Northwest Coast, Southwest, East Coast, Great Lakes, and Great Plains.
According to the Algonquians, the Thunderbird controls the upper world. It can throw lightning and creates thunder when it flaps its wings. They’re often depicted as having an X-shaped appearance. In Menominee culture, the Thunderbirds dwell in a floating mountain and control rain and hail. They love to fight, delight in great deeds, and are the messengers of the Great Sun. Again, they are the enemies of the Great Horned Snakes, and prevent them from devouring mankind and taking over the earth.
Origin: Multiple tribes, said to primarily roam Eastern Tennessee and the Carolinas
Ilvermorny House Traits: Body, Warrior
The Wampus or Wampas Cat has a couple different origins. The Wampus Cat is similar to the Ewah of the Cherokee nation. This is a woman who used the skin of a cougar to disguise herself and spy on men of the tribe. When she was discovered, the medicine man punished her by transforming her into a half-woman, half-cat.
In some areas, the Wampus Cat is considered a spirit of death and the earth. When the Wampus Cat’s cry is heard, it means someone is going to die. That person will be buried within three days of the cry. Other origin myths have the Wampus as a half-dog, half-cat creature, but don’t agree on whether the Wampus is good or evil. Although representative of warriors at Ilvermorny, I have yet to find a Wampus myth which describes them as such.
And that’s what we’ve found out about the houses of Ilvermorny and their namesakes. Was there anything that surprised you? Let us know in the comments!
All Images Credited To: Pottermore