Magic in North America: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
J. K. Rowling decided to give Harry Potter fans a taste of how the wizarding world operates in America. Four stories were released from March 8th to the 10th, and they all averaged to be about a page and half long. The main focus was to give readers a backstory to the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and give fans an idea on how magic works in the United States of America.
J. K. Rowling already informed us this year of other magical schools located around the world. Ilvermory, is the name of the American school that, according to the articles released, is one of the best schools out there and has gone through a few rough patches.
According to the story released, the magical world knew about the Americas since the middle Ages. With little to no boundaries in magical transportation apparently the wizarding world finds it easy to stay in touch with each other.
Native American’s are the main practitioners of magic in North America before European settlers come over in the 16 century. Native American witches and wizards rely on wandless magic, and can do most spells without any struggle except the more complicated categories of Charms and Transfiguration. Even animagus transformations are possible, and those people who can do such complicated magic star in legends and myths that are present in Native American culture today.
Readers also learned more about the population itself. As it turns out the ratio between magical people and non-magical people stays pretty constant through most populations, even when the societies are hidden.
Another story released covered the 17th century and the Salem Witch Trials. The New World, or North America created many obstacles for immigrating witches and wizards. Strife was caused by the non-magical people that moved with them. These “No-Maj” (Muggles) came with Puritan beliefs that did not allow any acceptance of magic, and the fighting they had with the Native Americans formed rifts that was felt by the magical side.
The Salem Witch Trials, according to J.K. Rowling were led by the Puritans and a lot of innocent witches, and No-Majwomen died. Their deaths led to the formation of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) in 1693(about one hundred years before the non-magical one).
Another important element to this section were the people who hunted down other witches and wizards. Scourers, or foreign magical mercenaries moved to North America, and they flourished. They hunted down anyone who might be profitable. These mercenaries brought witches to the No-Majto be burned at the stake. MACUSA’s first task was to bring law and order to these mercenaries.
In the end, they were casted out from the magical society, and would forever hold a grudge against their witch and wizard counterparts. Families of scourers would last for generations, and Rowling provides fans with the information that they will be around at least until the 1920’s.
The third short story focuses on a law that would separate the magical world from the non- magical side of North America. Rappaport’s Law, which is a sad tale, and closer to the story style that readers are familiar with from J. K. Rowling.
Rappaport’s Law was formed due to North America’s biggest breach of International Statute of Secrecy. All from one young witch who talked a lot and showed off to much in 1790. Dorcus Twelvetrees, a young socialite, was interested in a no maj (and in a very Merope Gaunt like fashion) and this young man would essentially ruin the rest of her life, and the rest of the magical community in North America.
Bartholomew Barebone, the man she was interested in came from a line of scourers and figured out Dorcus was a witch. He stole her wand and waved it around in front of a few other no maj people and even got pictures put into the newspapers. He also learned from Dorcus where MACUSA and Ilvermory were located, MACUSA even had to move.
Bartholomew, like his ancestors aimed to kill every witch and wizard, and tried to kill a group of witches and wizards leaving the old MACUSA location. This led to his downfall when it was revealed that he had tried to attack innocent no maj leaving the building instead. He lost all of his credibility after that.
This was the biggest leak that North America ever had, there was no way of confirming if everyone who needed to be was obliviated, and so the magical community went deep into hiding.
The last piece in the four part series, gives a bit more of an overview look of the United States in the 1920’s. Alcohol is illegal in the states for non- magical people only, witches and wizards do in fact drink the “giggle water” and the president of MACUSA, Madam Seraphina Picquery has no interest in stopping that anytime soon.
Readers also get a bit more history about wands and their creators all of whom seem to use different wand cores and woods compared to the United Kingdom equivalent Olivanders. However, wand laws are stricter, witches and wizards do have to carry licenses for their wands. Rappaport’s law is also still in effect, and magical beings are still not allowed to fraternize with non-magical people.
J. K. Rowling’s stories all seem to lead up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which comes out this November. All of this history will probably be reviewed in the movie, especially Rappaport’s Law which seems to be something vital to a society that separates itself from everyone around it physically.
It should be exciting to see what other sneak peaks, and tidbits that Rowling will give us in the upcoming months as fans and readers see what is up next for the upcoming movie.