J.K. Rowling Shares American Wizarding School Ilvermorny’s Sorting Ceremony and History


Would you rather be a Thunderbird, a Horned Serpent, a Wampus, or a Pukwudgie? (The correct answer is Pukwudgie, because it’s just so silly.) In the continuing run-up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling has shared a new history of the American wizarding school Ilvermorny on Pottermore, alongside a whole sorting ceremony to help you figure out where you land in each of the previously leaked wizarding school houses. There’s also a short video to whet your appetite for more American adventures.

Ilvermorny’s sorting ceremony skips over all that hat business for a ceremony in which wooden carvings of the four house mascots select students themselves. If more than one mascot responds to a student, that student gets to chose a house for themselves, much in the great tradition of American democracy, or the slightly less great tradition of the American sorority system. (Seraphina Picquery, Carmen Ejogo’s character from Fantastic Beasts, was a rare student to be offered a place in all four houses.) All named for magical American magical creatures, the houses are:

• 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.


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 favors scholars; Wampus, warriors; Pukwudgie, healers; and Thunderbird, adventurers.

The houses are also named for the favorite creatures of Ilvermorny’s founding family, whose history is outlined in Rowling’s latest short story. That begins with Isolt, an Irish pure-blooded witch who is brought up by her evil aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt (a distant relative of Salazar Slytherin, like the Gaunts of the Harry Potter books). Isolt flees from her aunt to America on the Mayflower. In New England, she saves the life of a Pukwudgie, adopts two magical sons, Chadwick and Webster Boot, whose British parents were killed, and meets and falls in love with a muggle — sorry, No-Maj — named James Steward. Together, the makeshift family founds a school of magic named Ilvermorny, based on Isolt’s passing knowledge of Hogwarts, which she never got to attend, and named after the cottage where Isolt was born. As teased in the trailer, there’s also a confrontation with Gormlaith, and a few more tantalizing details about Slytherin’s family and the fate of Salazar’s wand.

Rowling has promised to continue adding to the Ilvermorny stories throughout the rest of the year. Not to be biased, but go, Pukwudgie!

J.K. Rowling Shares Ilvermorny Sorting Ceremony