History of Magic in North America, Lesson Number 1: Native American Magic

Mar 08, 2016

Posted by: Catherine

J.K. Rowling, News, Pottermore

As we reported yesterday, J.K. Rowling will be releasing a series of stories throughout the week, starting today at 9:00 AM EST, 2:00 PM GMT.

Part one of a History of Magic in North America covers the “fourteenth century-seventeenth century.” Of course, wizards new about the “New World” of North America long before European explores discovered the continents. This is of course, due to Native American wizards being in contact with their indigenous brothers and sisters around the world.

For those of you longing for a first look at Native American tradition and how it fits into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, you’ve got it!  The legend of “skin-walkers” originates about Native American witches and wizards. J.K. Rowling writes:


“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.”


Of course, Native American’s are particularly gifted in plant and animal magic. They are also similar to African witches and wizards, in that they do not use wands. Wands are a very European method of making magic more precise. To read more about this first bit of American magical history, visit Pottermore, here.

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