Pottermore Releases First Piece on North American Magic

Today, Pottermore released the first piece of writing on the North American wizarding world. Titled “Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century,” the writing by J.K. Rowling is the first piece of four in a series called “The History of Magic in North America,” which, according to Pottermore,

[…] will bring to light the history of this previously unexplored corner of the wizarding world in the run[-]up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In the piece, the Native American origins of the magical community of North America are discussed in detail for the first time. It says,

The Native American magical community and those of Europe and Africa had known about each other long before the immigration of European No-Majs in the seventeenth century. They were already aware of the many similarities between their communities.

Additionally, the existence of “skin walkers,” mentioned in our original post on the new Pottermore information, developed from Native American Animagi:

The legend of the Native American ‘skin walker’ – an evil witch or wizard [who] can transform into an animal at will – has its basis in fact. A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.

Finally, the piece explains that the use of magic wands originated in Europe, and “the most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.”

You can find the text of “Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century” in full on Pottermore.

More of “The History of Magic in North America” is still to come, with new information set to be “revealed each day at 2pm [GMT] until Friday 11 March.”

Are you excited to know more about magic in North America? What do you think of our first glimpse into this part of the wizarding world? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

  • I feel like Jo skimmed over a very important point: how the wizards of different continents found out about each other. We know you can’t Apparate across oceans, and per Quidditch Thru the Ages, the first transatlantic broom crossing didn’t happen until 1935, so the whole “Apparition and broomsticks” thing she says makes no sense. Unless a random wizard in the 1300s decided it would be a good idea to portkey 4000 miles away on the off chance there’s land there, I fail to see how the two continents would have come into contact.

    Given all the hoopla, I expected something less… sloppy. Then again, that’s been the case for Pottermore in general.

    • Anon

      She mentions visions and premonitions in the writing. There is also possibilities or birds with messages ala message in a bottle kind of thing, or amagi could have flown or swam across the seas. Not to mention magic would have helped sailors get further.

    • Casey L.

      When we first learned of Ilvermorny, for it to have attained the age of the great wizarding schools, my first thought was that its origins must have been connected with Viking exploration or other rumored early European/Asian/Middle Eastern voyages. That would have offered a logical explanation for the early knowledge of Native American witches and wizards as well, but apparently, that’s not the way J.K. Rowling has chosen to go. I’m curious to see what comes out next.

  • Bob

    So, Jo Rowling is setting up the context of her new story in the Wizarding World. Jo being a perfectionist, it’s only natural that she would set up some history of the wizarding world of North America. She has written the screenplay, not a book, and I think the history of North American wizardry might not have settled well with the plot arc of Fantastic Beasts. So she is releasing more content like this. The witch burning background is actually important to the plot of Fantastic Beasts. There’s a group of No-majs called “Second Salemers”.

    One thing is for sure – we will see more of Wandless magic. I am very interested in seeing that as we barely got a glimpse of it in the Potter books. Shifting to Animagi form and back is actually wandless magic. Legimency and Occulmency can also go in that direction. Jo already told us that students at Uagadou, the African Wizarding School, only started using wands in the last century. So she is repeatedly stressing that Wandless magic is very much part of the universe. Don’t be surprised if you see that in Fantastic Beasts.

  • Shawna

    I’m just glad that this whole series shows us that the North American magical community has flaws and problems of it’s own. The fandom has had a tendency to glorify the possible US magical community as this utopia of magical acceptance and ultimate tolerance of all things magical and not. I am happy to see that the world the creator has seen is so much more interesting and realistic.

    • Iain Walker

      Oh, so much. Although you could have specified that the main offenders are usually to be found within the American fandom. British fans in particular are in a position to appreciate Rowling’s satirical intent in her depiction of magical Britain, and so can see that utopian fanon versions of magical America owe more to American exceptionalism than to the spirit of the books.

      That said, there are American fans who have created complex and realistically messed-up versions of magical America, e.g., Inverarity’s Alexandra Quick series.