Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I am Thunderbird, hear me roar

I've been a little on the outs with J.K. Rowling lately because she made The Cursed Child a play instead of a book. But her awesome sense of humor and continued dedication to the wizarding world make it hard to stay mad at her. And today she gave Potterheads a treat I wasn't expecting—a Sorting for Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!

First of all, go read the history of Ilvermorny. It's great. Some things I found especially interesting:
  • The school was founded by a descendent of Slytherin and a Muggle (okay, fine, No-Maj)
  • Students don't get a wand until they get to school, and they're not allowed to take wands home until they come of age (17, just like in the UK)
  • Ilvermorny has four houses, all named after magical creatures
  • Enchanted carvings representing each house select the students they want in their house. If more than one carving claims a student, the student decides which house to join.
  • Slytherin's wand was buried for reasons, and within a year a snakewood tree had grown in its place, which has powerful medicinal properties. I love this part: "This tree seemed testament to the fact that Slytherin's wand, like his scattered descendants, encompassed both noble and ignoble. The very best of him seemed to have migrated to America."

Seriously, read the whole thing. It's a delight.

Now, about the houses. I was a little worried they'd be copycats of the Hogwarts houses, especially since Isolt, one of the founders, based much of the school on what she had heard about Hogwarts while living in Ireland (she later escaped from her crazy-evil aunt aboard the Mayflower). But the houses don't match up—the best comparison I can come up with is that America has two Gryffindor houses, a Ravenclaw/Slytherin combo, and a sort-of Hufflepuff. Still, that's not really an accurate description, so just leave the Hogwarts houses in the UK and the Ilvermorny houses in the US.

A quick introduction to the magical creatures the houses are named after:
  • 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"

And there's also this tidbit:
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. 

I originally thought I would be a Horned Serpent; it sounds like a melding of Ravenclaw and Slytherin, which is what I've often considered myself to be. But at the end of my sorting, it was the Thunderbird that flapped its wings.

You don't need to convince me further—I love this house already. Sure, I love books and cleverness, but adventures? Those are essential to having an interesting existence. And while I value knowledge and learning above most other things, I think a person is truly defined by their individuality and beliefs rather than by what they know. I'm a proud Ravenclaw for life, but I'm liking more and more that Ilvermorny sees me as more of a soulful adventurer; I'd rather have that on my headstone than "intellectual."

Now, it's your turn! Where does the American Hogwarts sort you?

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