Harry Potter and the Origin Story – The riddle of the American Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

A guide for hapless Muggles to the Harry Potter magical universe in America

Video of new school

There are 11 magical schools


There are actually eleven long-established and prestigious wizarding schools worldwide, all of which are registered with the International Confederation of Wizards.

Magical schools tend to be situated in landlocked, mountainous areas, as such regions are difficult for Muggles to access, and easier to defend from Dark wizards.

The new schools revealed recently include Ilvermorny in the American East Coast; Mahoutokoro on the volcanic island of Minami Iwo Jima in Japan; Uagadou in an unspecified location in Africa; and Castelobruxo located in a golden temple in the Brazilian rainforest.

Ilvermorny is located located deep in the forests of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.

Anyone wishing to know whether there is an approved magical school in their region should address an owl enquiry to the International Confederation of Wizards, Educational Office.

Magic came to America on the Mayflower

A runaway Irish witch called Isolt Sayre cut off her hair and fled to America on the Mayflower, pretending to be a Muggle boy named Elias Story.

Her father is a direct descendent of “the famous Irish witch Morrigan.”


This is where she came from. Coomloughra, meaning “Hollow of the Rushes”. You can see where the magic came from, can’t you?

Founder of the American Hogwarts

Like Harry Potter, Isolt Sayre had a tragic background. Her parents were attacked and killed when she was five, but she was rescued by her mother’s estranged sister Gormlaith Gaunt…

Who turns out to be the real killer, as well as a fanatic pure-blood. Using dark magic, she forced Sayre to live with her for 12 years, until the girl finally escaped, stealing her aunt’s wand because she was never allowed one. She dreamed of going to Hogwarts growing up, much like we muggles did as teenagers.

He who must not be named

If the name Gaunt sounds familiar, that’s because “Gaunt” was also the name of Voldemort’s relatives, the ones that made him a descendant of Slytherin.

Yes, Ilvermorny was founded by relatives of Valdemort!

New fabulous magical creatures

There are new awesome magical creatures to look forward to in the U.S. The Horned Serpent is a “great horned river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead;”. The Pukwudgie is a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature similar to the European goblin.

The Thunderbird “can create storms as it flies” and the Wampus is a “magical, panther-like creature that is fast, strong and almost impossible to kill.”

The well-named Hidebehind is a “nocturnal, forest-dwelling spectre” that can hide behind almost any object.

The Wampus kittens, incidentally, are adorable.

Four Houses


Isolt Sayre so loved Hogwarts stories that she formed Ilverney based on the four Hogwarts Houses. These are Pukwudgie, Thunderbird, Wampus and Horned Serpent.

The mind is represented by the horned Serpent; the body, Wampus; the heart, Pukwudgie and the soul, Thunderbird.

Or you could say that Horned Serpent favours scholars, Wampus, warriors, Pukwudgie, healers and Thunderbird, adventurers.

According to J.K. Rowling, who should know.

With a Pottermore account, you can sort yourslf into the new houses here.


Instead of placing a hat on students’ heads, teachers at Ilvermorny bring the students to a hall with four carvings representing the houses. Whichever one reacts is the one the student is sorted into.

Unlike Hogwarts, however, wands are distributed to students after the sorting ceremony. (The wands tend to choose their owners.) And it’s also possible for a student to be chosen by more than one house. If that happens, the student gets to decide which house to join.

Why we are hearing about this now

The Ilvermorny story is preparing us for the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which features Newton Artemis Fido “Newt” Scamander -the famous wizarding naturalist and magizoologist.

You may remember him as the author of a textbook which Harry Potter later studies.

The supernatural setting is 1920s-era New York with Scamander chasing down creatures that accidentally escape his briefcase.

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for the movie, and veteran Potter movie director David Yates returns to helm. “It’s her magical universe but transposed to New York in 1926,” Yates says in the video. “It’s incredibly exciting.”

It’s J.K. Rowling’s first screenplay.


According to Rowling, Ilvermorny is the “least-elitist” of the big wizarding schools, which makes sense, since it was run jointly by Isolt and her Muggle husband James Steward.

Good for you, muggles.



The last may be cancelled out by the fact that there is NO QUIDDITCH. OMG, no Quidditch.

The whole story of the founding of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can be found on Pottermore, and is worth a read.

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.