The next movie in the Harry Potter cinematic universe, the start of a new prequel trilogy titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is set 70 years before the events of the Harry Potter stories and in America.
That movie doesn’t arrive until later this year in November, so to help pass the time a new series of short stories from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling titled “History of Magic in North America” has been announced. A trailer and the first of these stories was released today, and basically the stories will act a quick history lesson on the some of the witchcraft and wizardry found over the years here in North America while also adding some layers to the universe as a whole.
You can check out the trailer and part one below.
Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century
By J.K. Rowling
Though European explorers called it “˜the New World’ when they first reached the continent, wizards had known about America long before Muggles (Note: while every nationality has its own term for “˜Muggle,’ the American community uses the slang term No-Maj, short for “˜No Magic’). Various modes of magical travel – brooms and Apparition among them – not to mention visions and premonitions, meant that even far-flung wizarding communities were in contact with each other from the Middle Ages onwards.
The Native American magical community and those of Europe and Africa had known about each other long before the immigration of European No-Majs in the seventeenth century. They were already aware of the many similarities between their communities. Certain families were clearly “˜magical’, and magic also appeared unexpectedly in families where hitherto there had been no known witch or wizard. The overall ratio of wizards to non-wizards seemed consistent across populations, as did the attitudes of No-Majs, wherever they were born. In the Native American community, some witches and wizards were accepted and even lauded within their tribes, gaining reputations for healing as medicine men, or outstanding hunters. However, others were stigmatised for their beliefs, often on the basis that they were possessed by malevolent spirits.
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.
The magic wand originated in Europe. Wands channel magic so as to make its effects both more precise and more powerful, although it is generally held to be a mark of the very greatest witches and wizards that they have also been able to produce wandless magic of a very high quality. As the Native American Animagi and potion-makers demonstrated, wandless magic can attain great complexity, but Charms and Transfiguration are very difficult without one.
This is part one of four that will be released this week. You can visit the Pottermore website tomorrow and the next two days for the next few entries.
You can find more on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them including a trailer right here.