Ilvermorny, the North American wizarding school, has just gotten an expanded universe thanks to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. And as is her tradition, the magic is in the details. Her official fan site Pottermore has debuted a new sorting quiz, the four houses of Ilvermorny, and lots more.
You may recall initial details about the North American wizard history caused some very warranted controversy for Rowling. The background could not ignore Native culture, but it also could have done a much better job at including it.
The new writing reveals the wizarding school based in North America (one of 11 schools worldwide) has Irish origins (its founder is Isolt Sayre) as well as a connection to Lord Voldemort.
In a new section titled “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” Rowling herself writes:
Isolt Sayre was born around 1603 and spent her earliest childhood in the valley of Coomloughra, County Kerry, in Ireland. She was the offspring of two pure-blood wizarding families.
Her father, William Sayre, was a direct descendant of the famous Irish witch Morrigan, an Animagus whose creature form was a crow. William nicknamed his daughter ‘Morrigan” for her affinity for all natural things when she was young. Her early childhood was idyllic, with parents who loved her and were quietly helpful to their Muggle neighbours, producing magical cures for humans and livestock alike.
However, at five years old, an attack upon the family home resulted in the death of both of her parents. Isolt was ‘rescued” from the fire by her mother”s estranged sister, Gormlaith Gaunt, who took her to the neighbouring valley of Coomcallee, or ‘Hag”s Glen,” and raised her there.
As Isolt grew older she came to realise that her saviour was in reality her kidnapper and the murderer of her parents.
After a brutal childhood, Isolt was able to escape. “Determined to hide in such a way that her adoptive mother would never find her, Isolt cut off her hair,” writes Rowling. “Masquerading as a Muggle boy called Elias Story, she set sail for the New World on the Mayflower in 1620.” They've also debuted a gorgeous video to summarize some of the story.
There's tons more background on there (including another terribly-named magical creature, Hidebehind – something that literally hides behind things) but let's skip ahead a bit. Just like Hogwarts (and based on the design of Hogwarts), Ilvermorny has four houses: Horned Serpent, Pukwudgie, Thunderbird, and Wampus. Also just like Hogwarts, Pottermore now has the option of taking a sorting quiz (you must sign up for an account first if you don't already have one) for Ilvermorny and fans who've taken both will notice they're very different. Questions like “Where would you least like to find yourself?” really made me stop and think about some personal fears.