Everything You Need to Know About Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Located on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a magical wizarding school in North America. In 2016, J.K. Rowling confirmed Ilvermorny’s Houses, traditions, differences from Hogwarts, and the backstory of founder Isolt Sayre. Read below for everything you need to know about IIlvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!



The Story of Isolt Sayre


Born in Ireland in the early 1600s, Isolt Sayre was a pure-blood descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Her parents were kind to Muggles and often gave them magical cures. When they died, Isolt was taken in by her aunt Gormlaith Gaunt. A fanatical pure-blood, Gormlaith forbade Isolt from attending Hogwarts and forced her to learn dark magic. Once Isolt gained enough skill, she stole Gormlaith’s wand and her mother’s Gordian knot brooch and fled the country.

Isolt traveled to the New World and settled in Massachusetts. She befriended two magical creatures: a horned river serpent and a Pukwudgie she named ‘William’ after her father. One day, Isolt came across two injured brothers, Chadwick and Webster Boot, who had just become orphans. She was nursing them back to health when she met a Muggle named James Steward. Isolt planned to Obliviate his memory of magic, but with every passing day, they fell more in love and ended up getting married and adopting the two boys.

Isolt told Chadwick and Webster about Hogwarts but feared Gormlaith would find them if they attended, so she and James created a new school. They built a stone house on Mount Greylock and named it ‘Ilvermorny’ after Isolt’s childhood cottage. Ilvermorny quickly grew into a castle with dormitories and teachers. News of the school reached Gormlaith, who traveled to America to act on her revenge. The family attempted to ward her off and, when all seemed lost, William the Pukwudgie came to the rescue by killing Gormlaith with a poisoned arrow.

Isolt and James remained Headmistress and Headmaster at Ilvermorny for many years. The full, in-depth history of Isolt and Ilvermorny can be found on the Wizarding World website.



Ilvermorny Houses


Isolt, James, and their two boys chose the four Houses of Ilvermorny.


Horned Serpent


Horned Serpents are horned river serpents with a jewel on their forehead. They represent the mind and are known to favor scholars, philosophers, and truth-seekers. Students in this House use their knowledge to problem-solve and stay motivated toward their goals.




Pukwudgies are short, grey-faced, large-eared creatures. They represent the heart and are known to favor healers, guardians, and loyal friends. Students in this House feel deeply and form strong relationships with others. 




Thunderbirds can create storms as they fly. They represent the soul and are known to favor adventurers, travelers, and soul-searchers. The students sorted into this House break boundaries as trailblazers and are defined by their experiences. 




Wampuses are panther-like creatures that are fast and strong. They represent the body and are known to favor warriors and experimenters. Students in this House are defined by their actions and lead by example. 



How Ilvermorny Differs From Hogwarts


Hogwarts and Ilvermorny are similar in that the students are sorted into four Houses, wear uniforms, and own wands. This is also where the two schools differ.


The Four Houses


Hogwarts Houses are named after the school’s founders whereas Ilvermorny Houses are named after magical creatures. Hogwarts Houses represent personalities. Ilvermorny Houses represent the mind, body, heart, and soul. 


Sorting Ceremony


At Hogwarts, the sorting hat looks into a student’s mind and shouts out the result. At Ilvermorny, the student steps onto a Gordian knot in front of four enchanted carvings. A carving will react if they are the House meant for the student. The jewel on the Horned Serpent’s forehead will glow, the Wampus will roar, the Thunderbird will beat its wings, or the Pukwudgie will raise its arrow in the air. Rarely, a student will receive more than one reaction in which case they can choose their House themselves.


The Uniforms


Hogwarts students wear black robes. Ilvermorny students wear red and blue robes fastened by a gold Gordian belt. Isolt chose blue because of her childhood longing to be in Ravenclaw at Hogwarts and the Gordian belt in honor of her late mother’s brooch. James chose the color red because of his love for cranberry pie.


The Wands


While students at Hogwarts purchase their wands before arriving at school, students at Ilvermorny do not receive their wands until after they are sorted into their Houses. It is tradition for the first wave of their wand to happen in the school hall. Until they turn seventeen, Ilvermorny students must also leave their wands at school when they go on vacation.





Ilvermorny is briefly mentioned in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when Tina and Queenie proudly reminisce about their time as students and sing the catchy school song. There is still much to learn about other schools of witchcraft and wizardry, like Beauxbatons and  Durmstrang featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Which Ilvermorny House would you be sorted into? Let us know in the comments!

Alyssa McHugh

Harry Potter has been a big part of my life since the age of nine. The stories and characters have helped me fight my own personal dementors. In my Muggle time, I enjoy blogging, reading fantasy novels, attending festivals, listening to music, and hanging out with my two cats!