With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming up, J.K. Rowling has revealed the origins of the American wizarding school Ilvermorny.

Pottermore has released a new installment of the ‘Magic in North America’ series, which introduces the new story by J.K. Rowling all about Ilvermorny:


In the video, we learn that Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by a young Irish girl named Isolt Sayre, with a unique stolen wand.

And there’s much more on Pottermore! Not only is there an Ilvermorny sorting quiz, but a lengthy story by J.K. Rowling reveals that the American school was founded in the seventeenth century, and that it’s located on top of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.

As a young girl, Isolt was kidnapped by her aunt Gormlaith Gaunt (yes, that Gaunt!), a “fanatical pure-blood” who was revealed to have killed Isolt’s parents.

Isolt, a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, wasn’t allowed to go to Hogwarts. Once an adult, Isolt disguised herself as a man and escaped to America. From there, the tale really begins to take shape; we learn about how she came up with the four house symbols (particularly the Horned Serpent), and how she eventually fell in love.

ilvermorny crest
The tale also reveals how new students are sorted! Rowling explains how they’re taken to the entrance hall and one-by-one called to stand by the ‘Gordian Knot,’ to wait for one of the four house symbols to claim them.

“If the Horned Serpent wants the student, the crystal set into its forehead will light up. If the Wampus wants the student, it roars. The Thunderbird signifies its approval by beating its wings, and the Pukwudgie will raise its arrow into the air,” Rowling writes.

Further, we learn more about what the four Houses represent: “It is sometimes said of the Ilvermorny houses that they represent the whole witch or wizard: the mind is represented by Horned Serpent; the body, Wampus; the heart, Pukwudgie and the soul, Thunderbird. Others say that Horned Serpent favours scholars, Wampus, warriors, Pukwudgie, healers and Thunderbird, adventurers.”

While it’s not totally the same as Hogwarts, we can definitely see the similarities (Horned Serpent = Ravenclaw, Wampus = Gryffindor, Pukwudgie = Hufflepuff and Thunderbird = Slytherin), though the correlation isn’t absolute. It makes sense for them to be so similar though, considering that Isolt grew up hearing stories about Hogwarts, and always wished to go there herself.

Most excitingly, you’re also able to get sorted into a House! Take the quiz and tell us what you got!

Pottermore releases Ilvermorny sorting quiz, J.K. Rowling writes detailed backstory