Things We’ve Learnt About the Harry Potter World in 2016

Things We’ve Learnt About the Harry Potter World in 2016

1. There are 11 different magic schools around the world

Earlier this year Rowling revealed that there are in fact 11 great wizarding schools across the globe, and has begun publishing information about them on the Pottermore website. So far, they include: Mahoutokoro (Japan), Uagadou (Africa), Castelobruxo (Brazil), Beauxbatons Academy of Magic (the Pyrenees mountains), Durmstrang (somewhere in the far north of Europe), Ilvermorny (East Coast USA), and of course Hogwarts! She also explained that there are some smaller, unregulated institutions and that many wizarding populations choose to home school their children.

2. Japanese students wear magical robes

Students at Mahoutokoro start their education aged seven and wear enchanted robes that grow in size with them, changing colour as their learning progresses – but if they break the law or betray the Japanese wizard’s code, their robes turn white and they are instantly expelled.

3. Some schools offer student exchange trips!

Set in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest, Castelobruxo specialises in Herbology and Magizoology; students from European schools can visit here on an exchange programme to study the magical flora and fauna of the area. It was this trip that Arthur and Molly Weasley couldn’t afford to send their son Bill on.

4. African wizards don’t use wands

A lot of magic originated in Africa, and many African witches and wizards cast spells using only their finger or hand gestures. The wand is a European invention, although it has been increasingly adopted in Africa in the last century or so.

5. In fact, great witches and wizards don’t need wands…

As Rowling recently explained on her Twitter account, wands are used to channel magic in order to increase its strength and precision, making it easier to control. This means that “Wandless magic is sophisticated and takes more talent,” although even great wizards “produce more precise magic by using the correct wand, which is why they’ve been widely adopted.”

6. …and they can fly without brooms

She also told one fan that “Wands and brooms (and flying cars) are tools that channel magic. The most gifted can dispense with them.” We bet Hermione could fly if she put her mind to it!

7. There was a Native American magical community

Rowling recently released a four-part series on the Pottermore website entitled the ‘History of Magic in North America.’ One of the most interesting revelations to come from these essays was the existence of a Native American magical community, whose witches and wizards were particularly advanced in animal and plant magic and, like those in Africa, performed magic without a wand.

8. Non-wizarding folk aren’t called Muggles in America

We know, this one’s quite a shocker! In America, the term for a non-wizarding person is not Muggle, but ‘No-Maj’, which stands for ‘No-Magic.’ Does this mean that every country has its own term, we wonder…?

9. Global wizarding communities have been in contact since the Middle Ages

Through the use of brooms, Apparition, visions and premonitions, even the most remote wizarding communities have been in contact with each other as far back as the Middle Ages. The Native American magical community connected with those in Europe and Africa long before non-magic Europeans started to emigrate here in the 17th century, meaning that wizards knew about America long before we did.

10. European witches and wizards also came to settle in America…

When No-Maj Europeans began emigrating to the New World in the 17th century, European witches and wizards came with them too – some just fancied the adventure, but others were fleeing persecution or the wizarding authorities. This latter group hoped to blend in with the No-Majes or seek refuge with the Native American community.

11. …but the New World wasn’t easy

European witches and wizards struggled in the New World – there were no established wandmakers; they had to try and make potions from unfamiliar plants; and the only wizarding school – Ilvermorny – was in its very early stages. There were also tensions between the European immigrants and the Native Americans, while the religious beliefs of the Puritans made them intolerant of magic of any kind.

12. The Scouters were a brutal law enforcement agency

The early American wizarding community had no law enforcement agency yet, which saw the formation of a corrupt group of wizarding mercenaries called the Scourers. This feared taskforce hunted criminals and anybody they thought might be worth some gold – they even trafficked wizards and enjoyed torture and bloodshed.

13. The Salem Witch Trials had a huge impact on the American magical community

Some of the people killed during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 were indeed witches, but others were No-Majes who got caught up in the hysteria. Following the events, many witches and wizards fled America – meaning that until the 20th century, there were fewer witches and wizards in the overall population than anywhere else. It also meant there was a higher percentage of witches and wizards born to No-Maj families, and Pure-bloods chose not to move to America; as a result, the country has less of an obsession with pure-blood ideology.

14. The Magical Congress of the United States of America was formed in 1693

The witch trials brought the North American wizarding community together with the creation the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), almost a century before the No-Maj version. Its first undertaking was putting the Scourers on trial and executing those convicted of the cruellest crimes; those who escaped justice disappeared into the No-Maj community, passing on a hatred of magic to their families.

15. American wizards and No-Majes are completely segregated by law

Following a breach of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1790, a law was established to separate wizards from the No-Maj community. Dorcus Twelvetress, the daughter of a high-ranking MACUSA official, fell for a No-Maj Scourer descendant called Bartholomew Barebone, who tricked her into revealing secrets about the MACUSA, Ilvermorny, and the International Confederation of Wizards. After taking her wand, he exposed the magical community to the press and tried to kill as many of them as possible, but was imprisoned by the No-Maj authorities when he accidentally killed a group of No-Majes. This led to the creation of Rappaport’s Law, banning wizards from marrying No-Majes or even being friends with them – and being ‘a Dorcus’ became slang for being an idiot.

16. There was a Great Sasquatch Rebellion in 1892

After which, the MACUSA headquarters moved from Washington to New York. There’s not much else to say about the Sasquatch Rebellion, but we love that it happened.

17. American wizards fought in World War I

Both sides of the Great War of 1914-18 had wizards fighting on their side, but most of the No-Maj communities had no idea. They “won many victories in preventing additional loss of life, and in defeating their magical enemies.”

18. Rappaport’s Law remained in place

By the 1920s, American witches and wizards were used to only starting families with fellow magical people, and living under greater secrecy than their European counterparts. Because of the threat of exposure, the American wizarding society is less tolerant of things like ghosts, giants and other magical creatures.

19. American witches and wizards have to carry a wand permit

Also by the 1920s, Ilvermorny had become one of the most respected wizarding schools in the world. Students there are all taught wand magic, and all witches and wizards are required to carry a wand permit.

20. America has four prestigious wandmakers

While Britain only has good old Ollivander, North America has four great wandmakers: Chocktaw wizard Shikoba Wolfe; the No-Maj-born Johannes Jonker; Thiago Quintana, who used White River Monsterspine to create sleek, lengthy wands; and famous New Orleans wandmaker Violetta Beauvais, whose powerful wands took well to Dark Magic.

21. Prohibition rules didn’t apply to wizards

One perk of the segregation meant that witches and wizards were unaffected by Prohibition rules banning alcohol in the 1920s. Although this put a few drunk wizards at risk of exposing the wizarding community, President Picquery said at the time that the ‘Gigglewater’ was ‘non-negotiable.’

*UPDATE 01/07/2016*

22. Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded in the seventeenth century

It stands on the highest peak of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts and, like Hogwarts, it has magical spells and enchantments to disguise the school from the non-magical community.

23. Ilvermorny was set up by a descendant of Salazar Slytherin

Irish-born Isolt Sayre, founder of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is a descendant of Salazar Slytherin and the famous witch Morrigan, an Animagus whose creature form was a crow.

24. Ilvermorny was co-founded by a Muggle

Although Isolt descended from Salazar Slytherin through the Gaunt family lineage, she didn’t possess the same hatred for Muggles that her ancestors did. She set up Ilvermorny with a Muggle, James Steward, and even ended up marrying him.

25. We’ve had some insight into magical creatures native to America

First of all, there are the Pukwudgies, which are small, large-eared creatures similar to the Goblin. Isolt befriends a Pukwudgie, who she names William, after he saves her life from an attack by a Hidebehind. A Hidebehind is a nocturnal creature, which dwells in the forest, preying on humans by contorting itself to hide behind any object before attacking. William then introduces Isolt to other creatives, such as the frog-headed Hodags, the dragon-like Snallygaster, the panther-like Wampus, the Horned Serpent and the Thunderbird.

26. These new magical creatures were the inspiration for the four Ilvermorny houses

The four houses are:
The Horned Serpent: a ‘great horned river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead’
Pukwudgie: ‘a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature’
Thunderbird: a creature that ‘can create storms as it flies’
Wampus: ‘a magical panther-like creature that is fast, strong and almost impossible to kill’

27. The house chooses the student at Ilvermorny

At Ilvermorny, the sorting ceremony is quite different to that of Hogwarts. New students file into the circular entrance hall, where they surround the symbol of the Gordian Knot on the floor, engraved with the symbols of the four houses. Each student is invited to stand on the symbol in turn and wait for the engravings to react. Whichever house wants the student, the corresponding engraving will react; the Thunderbird beats its wings, the Wampus roars, the Pukwudgie raises its arrow into the air and the Horned Serpents jewel will light up.

28. There was no summertime magic for the students at Ilvermorny

Up until the 1965 repeal of Rappaport’s Law, children were not permitted to own a wand until they arrived at Ilvermorny. During the holidays, children were to leave their wands at school until the start of the next term. It was only until a child reached the age of seventeen that they were they allowed to carry a wand outside of the school.

29. Slytherin’s wand was not completely evil

Isolt stole Slytherin’s wand, which belonged to her evil aunt Gormlaith, and took it to America with her. Her aunt came to America to try and destroy Isolt and the school, and made the wand ‘sleep’ so that it could not be used. Gormlaith’s plan failed, and Isolt buried the wand, frightened to awaken such a powerful relic. However, in the very spot that Isolt buried the wand, a tree with powerful medicinal qualities grows, proving that the wand embodied both good and evil qualities.

30. Newt Scamander was expelled from Hogwarts!

According to the trailer for the film ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, which comes to UK cinemas this November, Newt Scamander was expelled from Hogwarts for ‘endangering human life with a beast’. We also find out that Albus Dumbledore ‘argued strongly’ against his expulsion. We can’t wait to find out more about Newt in the upcoming film and book of the screenplay.


Don’t forget you can find the latest editions of the Harry Potter series online and in stores while stock lasts.

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