9:00 am EST, March 8, 2016

J.K. Rowling reveals magical Native American community, the legend of the ‘skin walkers’

The North American Wizarding World reveals begin!

In the first of four pieces discussing the “History of Magic in North America,” J.K. Rowling reveals the earliest days of magic on the continent.

It’s hard to believe, but the author of the Harry Potter series has never discussed America’s Wizarding World at length. For years fans have been wondering what it was like, and finally — finally — we’re getting answers.

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The first feature in this new Pottermore series discusses magic between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries when Native Americans ruled North America. Magic was very present amongst Native Americans, according to J.K. Rowling, and the powers were largely respected by non-magical folk thanks to the medicinal powers and hunting skills it gave the magical people. “However, other[ magical people] were stigmatised for their beliefs, often on the basis that they were possessed by malevolent spirits,” writes the Harry Potter author.

Magical people in North America were aware of their brothers and sisters overseas, and vice versa. All of them had similar communities. “Certain families were clearly ‘magical’, and magic also appeared unexpectedly in families where hitherto there had been no known witch or wizard,” Rowling says. “The overall ratio of wizards to non-wizards seemed consistent across populations, as did the attitudes of No-Majs, wherever they were born.” Magical beings existed in North America before European Muggles immigrated to the country in the seventeenth century.

Rowling also discusses the purportedly evil wizards amongst the magical Native Americans, called skin walkers:

The legend of the Native American ‘skin walker’ – an evil witch or wizard that can transform into an animal at will – has its basis in fact. A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.

The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe. The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.


Three more brand new features looking at the North American Wizarding World will be debuting Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Yeah… Pottermore is making a weeklong extravaganza out of this (and we love it). Check out what we’ll be learning about later in the week!

The four big info drops are happening now to get everyone ready for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them starring Eddie Redmayne. The film will be set in 1920s New York when Newt accidentally lets a few beasts out of his suitcase.

It’s an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan, but not everyone in the fandom is thrilled about these reveals on Pottermore…

No more Potter: Why I’m ignoring J.K. Rowling’s new Harry Potter canon

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