Today’s final entry in the “History of Magic in North America” series from J.K. Rowling brings us right up to the time period of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the 1920s, with some interesting historical nuggets and a focus on four famous wandmakers.
Following the passage of Rappaport’s Law in 1790, the American wizarding community remained in total segregation from the No-Maj world, even though wizards fought (independently) in World War I against magical enemies. American witches and wizards just did not interact with their No-Maj counterparts.
“MACUSA continued to impose severe penalties on those who flouted the International Statute of Secrecy. MACUSA was also more intolerant of such magical phenomena as ghosts, poltergeists and fantastic creatures than its European equivalents, because of the risk such beasts and spirits posed of alerting No-Majs to the existence of magic.”
MACUSA moved its headquarters for the fifth time “after the Great Sasquatch Rebellion of 1892,” going from Washington D.C. to New York City. During the 1920s it was led by Madam Seraphina Picquery, “a famously gifted witch from Savannah,” who will be played in Fantastic Beasts by Carmen Ejogo.
Considering the premise of Fantastic Beasts revolves around an English wizard coming to America and losing a large number of dangerous, magical animals in New York City, it certainly seems like it will be a very large problem for America’s magical community, with the potential to have long lasting ramifications.
Rowling also gave a little bit more insight into the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which by the 1920s “had been flourishing for more than two centuries and was widely considered to be one of the greatest magical education establishments in the world.” Although wands had originally been a European invention, the common education shared by all American wizards and witches at Ilvermorny meant the entire wizarding world in America was adept in using a wand.
In a move that is might be familiar to current No-Maj political debates, all magic users were required to carry a “wand permit” to help regulate and keep tabs on the use of magic.
There were four great American wandmakers:
- Shikoba Wolfe, known for intricately carved wands containing Thunderbird tail feathers that were very powerful but not easy to master
- Johannes Jonker, son of a No-Maj whose wands were “highly sought after and instantly recognisable” because they were inlaid with mother-of-pearl
- Thiago Quintan, whose “sleek and lengthy wands” were known for their “force and elegance”; he took his method to the grave because no one else knew how to lure the White River Monsters of Arkansa, whose spine he used in his wands
- Violetta Beauvais, a New Orleans wandmaker whose wands were said to take to “Dark magic like vampires to blood,” though many American wizarding heroes of the 1920s used her wands, including President Picquery
Of all of the information shared thus far by Rowling, the focus on wandmakers is the one that raises the most questions about what it could mean for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We know how important wands became in the Harry Potter series, especially at the end, and Rowling obviously wouldn’t spend time discussing four separate wandmakers if wands weren’t going to play an important role in the movie.
So while we have a glass of American wizard liquor (Gigglewater), you tell us what you think this final entry could tell us about the film, right here in our comments section.
Featured Image: Pottermore
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Image: Warner Bros.