In order to set the scene for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Harry Potter prequel film set in 1920s New York City, author J.K. Rowling is gifting fans with four new stories. Titled The History of Magic in North America, the online tales will detail the evolution of the previously unexplored North American wizarding world.
The first installment of the series, “Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century,” was published on Rowling’s interactive website Pottermore Tuesday and explores the origins of the magical community in “the New World.” Rowling begins by clarifying that European and African witches and wizards were in contact with their North American brethren long before the country was colonized by European No-Majs (the American term for Muggles) in the 1600s. She goes on to discuss Native American magic, explaining that many witches and wizards were revered by their tribes for their healing and hunting abilities. Some Native American legends — such as that of ‘skin walkers’ — were even borne from wizarding lore.
Rowling ends by stating that the biggest difference between new and old world magic was that Native Americans were masters of wandless magic. “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,” she writes. “As the Native American Animagi and potion-makers demonstrated, wandless magic can attain great complexity, but Charms and Transfiguration are very difficult without one.”
The second part of the series will go live at 2 p.m. GMT on Wednesday.