Castlewizard, Magicplace, and Witchcraftpalace – Wizarding Schools Around the World

Although Hogwarts is located in the Scottish Highlands and accepts students from Ireland and the United Kingdom only, children around the world dreamed of receiving their Hogwarts letter, a dream made easier by the incredible translators who brought Harry and his world to 74 other languages. The inspiration behind the name is unclear (a compound formed from the words hog and warts? A spoonerism of warthog? Subconsciously inspired by the weed Croton capitatus, more commonly known as hogwort?), but it’s a fun name that doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, the same can’t be said for other schools around the world.

Along with the Triwizard Tournament came Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Durmstrang (DOORM-strahng) is a cultural amalgamation. The name itself is a spoonerism of the German Sturm und Drang (literally “storm and urge” but colloquially translated as “storm and stress”), the name of a late 18th-century literary movement encouraging the use of extreme emotion and subjectivity. However, it was founded by Bulgarian witch Nerida Vulchanova. Yet another contradiction is that it is located in northern Scandinavia. It must accept students from a wide geographical area since there are about 20 countries within the Bulgaria–Germany–Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) area. As to which language it would conduct classes in, your guess is as good as mine.

Beauxbatons (BOH-buh-tawn, contrary to what Sir Michael Gambon might tell you) is derived from the French beaux bâtons (beautiful wands), carrying less mystery than either Hogwarts or Durmstrang since it’s clear that it has to do with magic. This school is located in the Pyrenees, the mountain range dividing France and Spain, and accepts students from these two countries as well as Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal. I’m inclined to think that Beauxbatons classes are taught in French since its name is in French, the students were portrayed to speak English with French accents, and half of the countries it takes students from are French-speaking.

 

As with so many other things, Pottermore is where it starts to go downhill…

Nearly two years ago, we were given a whole host of other names: Castelobruxo, Ilvermorny (etymology unknown), Mahoutokoro, and Uagadou. To English speakers, these are all just fun names, something to add to our collection of Harry Potter trivia. But to those who speak other languages, the meaning behind most of those names is clear as day – and pretty disappointing.

Castelobruxo (kass-tell-oh-BROO-shoo), located in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and accepting students from all over South America, is a compound formed from the Portuguese words castelo (castle) and bruxo (wizard). Unlike Beauxbatons, there’s nothing magical or silly behind the name “castlewizard.” Uninspiring? You betcha. Unfortunately for its host country, it’s more likely that Castelobruxo conducts lessons in Spanish than Portuguese since out of the 12 countries in South America, nine are Spanish-speaking.

Koldovstoretz (kohl-DOHV-stuh-retz), the Russian wizarding school mentioned only in the 2013 Wonderbook: Book of Potions augmented reality video game, is a portmanteau of the Russian words koldovstvo (witchcraft) and dvoretz (palace). “Witchcraftpalace” follows the same line of thinking as “castlewizard,” although at least the order makes sense.

Just as bad as the first two, if not worse, is Mahoutokoro (Mah-hoo-TOH-koh-roh), located on the Japanese island of South Iwo Jima. Although it’s the only school we’ve heard of in Asia and Oceania, it’s the smallest of the 11 major wizarding schools, and I’m inclined to believe it takes students from Japan only and thus conducts classes in Japanese. Mahoutokoro is another compound, from the Japanese words mahō (magic) and tokoro (place). Magicplace. Yeah.

Uagadou (wag-uh-DOO), the most prominent of a number of wizarding schools in Africa, is located in Uganda but accepts students from all over the continent. Like Hogwarts, the etymology is unclear. Theories include inspiration from Ouagadou, a commune in Mali; Wagadu, the name of an ancient Ghanaian empire meaning “place of the Wago,” the name of the local nobility; or Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso Frenchified from “head war chief’s village.” However, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali are all located in West Africa, while Uganda is located in East Africa. While Africa boasts over a thousand languages from at least six different language families, magic itself originated here, and I like to think that the school has developed a translation charm akin to Star Trek‘s universal translator.

What are your thoughts on the names of wizarding schools around the world?

  • Yep, that’s why I didn’t bother analyzing outside of Europe when writing about wizard geopolitics – Jo gives zero fucks about developing the wizarding world on other continents. I think this is one of those areas where the fanon should just keep doing what it’s doing and ignore the Pottermore stuff. Salem Institute for the win!

    • With each and every update, I get closer to ignoring Pottermore altogether. I came across the good ol’ Salem Witches Institute in my research for this article. Apparently, in a tweet on June 6, 2015, J.K. stated, “The Salem Witches’ Institute isn’t a school, but a joke on the Women’s Institute in the UK.” Definitely a joke that went over my head. I always thought it was a school!

      • I finally got to the “ignore altogether” stage with the History of Magic in North America. If Jo can’t be bothered to open the Wikipedia article for USA, why should we humor her?

        • I’m torn between my desire to know more about the wizarding world and my distaste for the contradictions that information sometimes brings.