Transcript – Episode 212

[Show music begins]

Caleb Graves: This is Episode 212 of Alohomora! for February 4, 2017.

[Show music continues]

Caleb: Hey, everyone! Welcome to another wonderful and great episode of Alohomora! where we are discussing still the wonderful Harry Potter series. I am Caleb Graves.

Michael Harle: I’m Michael Harle.

Alison Siggard: And I’m Alison Siggard. And our guest this week is Nicole Rohrer. Welcome, Nicole!

Nicole Rohrer: Hi!

Michael: Yay!

Alison: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nicole: Oh yeah. First off, I am a Hufflepuff, and I am wearing my Hufflepuff staff robes that I got for Christmas last year…

Alison: [laughs] Nice!

Nicole: I was Sorted into Thunderbird, which is appropriate today because of our topic. And let’s see, I work at a cupcake shop…

Michael: Ooh!

Nicole: … where the first cupcake I ate there was called a Hufflepuff.

Alison: [laughs] Nice!

Nicole: It had popcorn on top, and it was great. Actually, it was a random cupcake. And we actually have a butterbeer cupcake that we feature on the seventh of every month…

Michael: Oh!

Nicole: … because it was so popular. Butterbeer just exploded everywhere at our store.

Alison: That’s amazing.

Caleb: I would love to try a butterbeer cupcake.

Nicole: It’s like cream soda and butterscotch, and it’s really great.

Michael: Oh man, I can just feel my teeth rotting out.

Alison: That sounds awesome.

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Michael: That sounds delicious. Nicole, what is your background with Harry Potter? How did you get into it?

Nicole: I started reading Harry Potter probably when I was about seven or eight. I got the first book for my birthday, I think, and then I don’t remember reading the next book, but all of a sudden, I was in love with them. My cousin and I were reading them all the time. The only midnight premiere – well, midnight book release – I got to go to was for the seventh. We stayed up all night reading chapter by chapter, loaded with all kinds of chocolate, and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish it. And then I got to go to the midnight showings of the last two movies while I was in college, and in college, I actually started a Harry Potter group with my friends.

Michael: Oh, awesome.

Nicole: It’s still going; it’s a lot different from the one we started, but it’s still going at the University of Minnesota out here, so yeah.

Michael: Oh, that’s awesome [that] you’re up in Minnesota. My family is from up that way. How cool! That’s awesome. And you started the group there for Harry Potter[laughs]

Nicole: Yeah, we named it the Minnesota School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but it’s now called the Harry Potter Literature Club.

Michael: Oh, I liked your first name better.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Nicole: Yeah. Well, we got some weird emails about wanting to do a cultural study on us as a Wiccan group, but I had to [say], “No, no! We’re actually a Harry Potter group. Sorry, not a Wiccan group!”

Alison: Whoops!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That’s awesome. Well, with all of this talk of Harry Potter, forget that, listeners. Because we’re jumping away from the good old Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and we’re actually getting a little closer to the Minnesota School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – if there is one – because we are headed to Ilvermorny for this week’s episode. We’ve talked a little bit about Ilvermorny’s history and its founding, especially with that new piece that came through on Pottermore, but we wanted to go a little more in-depth, and we know you listeners have been craving another Ilvermorny episode. So that’ll be our focus today. And actually, it was perfect with all these – with our topic – because recently, with all this stuff going on with American wizardry, we got a recent announcement that with the new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, there’s going to be an audiobook. And Alison, I know you’re just madly in love with him.

Alison: Yes! [laughs]

Michael: Tell everybody who’s going to read it.

Alison: Eddie Redmayne is going to read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Newt Scamander, and it’s going to be amazing. Because if you ever wanted to hear him read the dictionary, that’s basically what he’s going to do.

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Alison: So all our dreams will come true.

Nicole: I heard he’s going to add his own commentary as Newt.

Alison: Oh! I didn’t hear that bit, but that’s amazing.

Nicole: That’s what I’ve heard.

Michael: I’m assuming that’s going to be the current up-to-date new edition with the six new beasts.

Nicole: I thought so.

Alison: I thought it’s supposed to come out in March, when that comes out as well. So lots of exciting announcements they made there – [at A] Celebration of Harry Potter – including that video, and I think it’s on Pottermore now. You can see the whole video, listeners, of… The whole announcement is there.

Michael: And listeners, if you are excited about the audiobook version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we want to let you know that you can get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial today by signing up at (that’s A-U-D-I-B-L-E-dot-com-slash-A-L-O-H-O-M-O-R-A). That’s a lot of O’s.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: We took all the vowels in the alphabet for that special link for you guys to get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial through We hope you guys use that to maybe listen to the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Eddie Redmayne. How cool is that?

Alison: Yay! And before we get started too – we’re getting there, we’re getting there…

[Michael laughs]

Alison: … we also want to thank our sponsor for this episode, Chancellor Palpatine.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

[Michael sings “The Imperial March” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back]

Caleb: So we have to support him or her, name or not.

Alison: That’s true. That’s a little scary, but that’s all right. We are still grateful.

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: Yes, thank you.

Alison: [laughs] He has supported us. And listeners, you too can become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month, and we are so grateful to each and every one of you [who] has sponsored us so far. Remember, we continue to release exclusive tidbits for our sponsors. I actually just have a little one I thought of today that… We’ll see if that pans out. But we will continue to do that, and remember to just go to or to our website,, and click on the Patreon tab.

Michael: Thank you again, of all people, Chancellor Palpatine.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Please do not aim the Death Star in our direction. We appreciate it. [laughs] Now, before we jump into Ilvermorny – because there is quite a bit to talk about with the American school of magic – we wanted to make sure [to] go a little bit into some deeper questions – focus questions that each of us had. Big twist, I’m going to change up my focus question a little bit because I was certain one of you was going to take it. [laughs] So I left it for you! But oddly enough, none of you took the one I was thinking of. So Caleb, your question is actually a lot like mine, so I’m going to feed that one over to you. Because what I’m going to go ahead and do for my question is compare and talk about and get more specific into the comparisons between the Hogwarts Houses and the Ilvermorny Houses. Because the big question that everybody was asking is, “Do they match up?” and “Should they match up?” That was the big question that was hotly debated for a long time after the quiz came out. So maybe we can dive a little deeper into those four Houses and check them against Hogwarts Houses.

Alison: And speaking of Hogwarts, that ties into what I want to look at. I want to look at some differences, especially at what student life is like, considering that there seems to be a lot of differences in population. So especially with things like Rappaport’s Law – and the US is obviously a lot bigger than the UK – where does the student population come from? Has it always included all of North America, the US, whatever we’re deciding is going to be in there? Or did it expand as the US expanded over time? And things like that.

Caleb: All right, so for my question, and actually, before I do this, I should front this out there. I should have done this at the beginning, but it seemed a little too heavy. But I don’t want to throw it in at the end and everyone have to reel from it at the end.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Caleb: So Alohomora! listeners, this is… As you may know, […] I have not been on the show for a while.

Michael: Yeah, where have you been?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Yeah, so [my] last year of law school has been pretty busy, and life is sort of going to take off after that, and I’m sure you can see where this is going, but sadly, this is going to be my last episode as a permanent host of Alohomora! It’s a decision I’ve been struggling with for a long time, and I don’t want to take all the time to talk about it now, but I’ll talk more about that at the end of the show, but just so no one is surprised at the end of the show when I talk about it. But on that note, the thing that I want to really think about as we do this discussion is what makes Ilvermorny “American.” So thinking of how America set out a new tradition after it gained its independence from Britain. Similarly, I want to see if Ilvermorny does or does not fit that distinctly American quality or if we decide something else.

Nicole: Yeah, and then my question goes back to Michael’s [unintelligible] with the whole Hogwarts and Ilvermorny with how the Houses compare. I wonder if the trio… where they would be Sorted and if they would have even ended up in the same Houses and become friends if they had gone to Ilvermorny versus Hogwarts.

Michael: Ooh, that’s a good question. I like that. Well, we’ve got a lot to ponder here about Ilvermorny!

[Alison laughs]

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Michael: So let’s jump in with just a recap of a little history. As you know, listeners, we previously covered Ilvermorny and its history in-depth with the piece from Pottermore, but we wanted to make sure [to] highlight a few of the major sections. So as a little reminder – because, while the Ilvermorny story is probably one of the best-received pieces that’s come out of Pottermore, it is still also not… The details still get foggy for a lot of us. So just as a reminder, Ilvermorny’s name comes from the childhood cottage home of Isolt Sayre, who is the founder of Ilvermorny who escaped from her crazy aunt who killed her parents in Ireland and kidnapped her. I actually tried to find out what the name “Ilvermorny” means. I actually saw one page that said, “Define Ilvermorny: a fictional school in America,” and I was like, “That’s not…”

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Michael: “… what I was looking for.” So maybe some of you folks up in Ireland can help us out with that one because that seems to be the root of the name. Couldn’t really find any information on that myself. The Houses are inspired by the four-House structure of Hogwarts. Inter-House competitions began circa 1634. The school started somewhere between 1620 and 1630, but they finally got enough students in their population to start doing inter-House competitions by 1634. They achieved a world-renowned reputation by the 1800s. They are currently known as the most democratic and least elitist school of magic in the world. Their current Headmaster is Agilbert Fontaine. That’s all we know about Agilbert, is the name. Agilbert is a descendant of first-generation American Auror Theodard Fontaine. Now, an important thing here that we learned…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Ilvermorny is not to be confused with the Salem Witches Institute.

Alison: Which we all thought.

Michael: Was I the only one who was confused by that for the longest time?

Nicole: Yep! Me.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: I think it was a big thing because I mean, we first hear the name “Salem Witches Institute” in Goblet of Fire, and so I think a lot of people just assumed, “Oh, that’s the American school,” for a long time because we had nothing to the contrary! Or that maybe it was one of the schools in America, and then Jo was like, “No, just kidding.” And we were all like, “Oh.”

Nicole: [unintelligible] Goblet of Fire when Rowling brings that up, it’s more of a way to introduce the fact that there are other wizarding schools? Because that’s half the point of Goblet of Fire is that “Oh, now there'[re] two other schools we’re talking about [unintelligible].” I feel like at that point she probably just threw out this random school name and then… maybe no plans for Ilvermorny at that point.

Michael: See, that’s what I was curious about, because I had wondered if originally that was the intended school because she actually said in a chat or a questionnaire or interview, that we would find out the name of the American school in Book 4. Because somebody asked her about the other schools. And so I think that also was partially what led to people thinking that Salem Witches Institute was the school. But then, post-Ilvermorny announcement, she said, “Oh, no, that’s a joke on the UK Women’s Institute! It’s meant to be a reference to that.” So that the Salem Witches Institute is actually like a women’s organization that promotes women’s causes. And it’s like, “Oh, yeah. No, nobody got that joke.”

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Nicole: Oh. I do like that the Salem Witches Institute isn’t the name of the wizarding school here because that would just be too obvious. I like that she came up with something new.

Caleb: Yeah, I agree.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, no. But I think that definitely shattered a lot of our perceptions…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: … of what the school was. And I think a lot of people were intrigued, too, because the girls [whom] Harry sees at the Quidditch World Cup are implied to be in their late teens into their 20s. They’re like college-aged girls on a trip, which would suggest that they’re out of wizarding school, so… And as far as we know, there aren’t wizarding colleges, but of course, in the US, that could be different. We also know, too, from the pieces on all of the world’s schools that there are lesser-known schools or schools that aren’t as populated or don’t really run on the same kind of structure as a Hogwarts or a Beauxbatons or an Ilvermorny. So it’s possible that the Salem Witches Institute is partially that as well. I really like the idea that it’s like a women’s college for magic. That sounds really awesome.

Alison: Yeah. I think that’d be really awesome.

Michael: Yeah! And the interesting thing about Ilvermony is that it actually represents a little bit of all the Hogwarts influences. A lot of Slytherin is woven into Ilvermorny, but as the Ilvermorny piece says, it would seem to be the very best of Slytherin that made its way into Ilvermorny, and we’ll discuss that a little bit down the line with some of the features of Ilvermorny. [It’s] also worth noting that Terry Boot, who[m] we know from Harry’s year, [is] a descendant of Webster Boot, son of Isolt Sayre. And actually, if you’ve read a lot of the Pottermore pieces, it seems like a lot of major wizarding families from the UK ended up involved in the US’ politics to some degree. Even the Potters were involved in US politics. Distantly.

Alison: That always makes me laugh, that the wizarding community seems so tight-knit that everyone’s related to someone somehow. Because I mean, it just reminds me of a lot of, for example, my own religious community. You pretty much have a shorter degree of separation than you would from normal people, I feel like, just because it’s a smaller community, so everyone somehow knows everyone everywhere to some degree, so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: It always makes me laugh that the wizarding families are all everywhere. [laughs]

Michael: Well, and it works with the idea, too, of America being, especially at the time that Isolt came over, a country of immigrants, as America hopefully will continue to be. [laughs] Sorry, listeners, we can’t help but get political!

[Alison and Nicole laugh]

Michael: It’s going to probably happen a lot on this episode, actually, because there’s a lot of that subtext in the Ilvermorny piece. But I mean, it makes sense with that because as we already know the wizarding community is, like you said, Alison, so tight-knit that it’s unavoidable that there would be a lot of families connected between the countries and the continents. So it makes sense. It’s another one of those fun little Easter eggs that Rowling seems to love dropping in. Especially with Boot, of all of the not major characters to reference.

[Alison laughs]

Caleb: Can we quick…? Before we move on too far, it’s somewhat similar. So one of the earlier bullet points you mentioned was that it was known as the most democratic and least elitist school of magic. I wish we knew more about why it gets that qualification.

Michael: Yeah, which is interesting [because] that goes a little bit into Alison’s question about how politics would have affected Ilvermorny, because I found that to be an interesting statement because Rappaport’s Law would seem to complicate that or at least have complicated that for a good century because… Was Rappaport’s Law enacted in 1790? Is that…? Am I correct with that year?

Nicole: I am looking on the [wiki]. It says 1790.

Michael: Hey!

Alison: Good job, Michael. [laughs]

Michael: Thank you. I did my research today.

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Michael: I did my homework. Yeah, so 1790. Now, I know that it wasn’t repealed until 1965. So that’s a long time for that to be in place. And Alison, can you summarize a little more about Rappaport’s Law?

Alison: Yeah, so basically what happened was… Sorry, as I’m reviewing it right now. There was a breach of the Statute of Secrecy. The Keeper of Treasure and Dragots – so American wizarding money – his daughter Dorcas [laughs] was at a picnic. She found this nice, handsome No-Maj called Bartholomew Barebone.

Michael: Oops.

Alison: He was a Scourer descendant, and he found out she was a witch – she wasn’t a very good witch but found out [she] was a witch nonetheless – got some information from her, stole her wand, showed it to the press, and then went out to go kill and persecute any witches and wizards they could find. He was basically just trying to expose the wizarding community in America.

Michael: And I believe it led to one of the largest Memory Charm operations in the US up to that time. So it was a bit of a problem. And of course, listeners…

Nicole: Besides the big one in Fantastic Beasts?

Michael: Yes.

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Alison: Besides that.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Which, again, all of that would heretofore appear to be off[-the-]record since Newt doesn’t bother to write about it.

Alison: Yeah. He’s trying to sweep that under the carpet.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Basically, it introduced the laws that, actually, Newt talks about to Tina in Fantastic Beasts where you can’t befriend or marry No-Majs. Harsh penalties for doing so. And basically, there was a huge split between the No-Maj community and the wizarding community, which is different from the European one, where they are a little bit more integrated together. Wizards are working in and among Muggles, so…

Michael: So that prejudice that’s seen over in Europe in Harry Potter actually ended up being ingrained into the law in the US, which is interesting. But at the same time, it would initially seem so flipped because the big piece with Ilvermorny is that it was cofounded by a No-Maj. And it seemed for quite a time it was acceptable to have No-Majs in the area because not only is James, Isolt Sayre’s husband, a No-Maj, but one of their children was a No-Maj as well. So there were a lot of…

Alison: Yeah, she was a Squib who…

Michael: Yeah. So there were a lot of nonmagical folk.

Nicole: Yeah. I was thinking about that earlier. All the enchantments couldn’t have been put up until after James was dead and their child… Because how could they have been at Ilvermorny and [unintelligible] that?

Michael: I wonder, do you think there was a way to make them immune to those charms?

Alison: I feel like there must be a way to include loopholes.

Michael: Can you make an exception?

Alison: Yeah, like, “Okay, this is against all nonmagical people, except for these two. They’re fine.”

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Alison: Or maybe it’s like the Grangers, Hermione’s parents, where, if they’re led by someone magical, they can access those places the way the Grangers can come into Diagon Alley.

Caleb: That would make sense.

Alison: So I would assume it’s something like that. So maybe they just had to have Isolt or Chadwick or Webster or… What’s the other one? Rionach.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Just make sure someone was there to help them. Or maybe they were assigned one of the Pukwudgies to help them out. [laughs]

Michael: Oh, there you go. Yes. Yes, there is a whole staff of Pukwudgies at Ilvermorny thanks to William, the first Pukwudgie there and tone of Isolt’s first friends in the US. He begrudgingly decided to stick around the campus and has led a whole group of Pukwudgies there ever since, and it is implied that he is still there to this day, over 300 years old, taking care of the grounds.

Caleb: That’s a long time at school. That’s how long I feel like I’ve been in school.

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Nicole: Sounds about right.

Michael: But yeah, some other notable features about Ilvermorny: It’s located at the peak of Mount Greylock in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, so actually, Kat out of all of us [laughs] is the closest to it.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I believe she actually went there to look for it recently. And again, as a reminder, it was created by James and Isolt Sayre, and they were actually… This brings up another thing, you guys: what we were just talking about – about Muggle involvement – because James helped make the wands.

Alison: Yeah!

Michael: He carved them. That goes into some stuff we were talking about last week about Muggles and handling wands. Apparently, they can at least carve them.

Alison: Well, and it’s interesting to think because it says, too, that he designed the original cottage, and Isolt was able to create it. So it’s interesting to… I mean, I’m sure they worked together, but I wonder if he was more on the design end of “here’s how this should look, maybe this is how we can make it work,” and then she did the magic part of it, which I think is really cool, cool little team there to get everything… I feel like, then, the castle might be less magical than Hogwarts Castle is? I mean, if James designed it, maybe there'[re fewer] trick staircases and hidden doors and it’s a lot more straightforward to get around in.

Nicole: [laughs] We can actually get to our classes on time or at all.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs] Why would you have staircases that change? That doesn’t make sense.

Michael: Well, on the flip side of that, though, James is known for having had a pretty ripe sense of humor, so it’s possible that once he got accustomed to magic – because he seemed to take great joy in it once he understood more about it – he probably was just showing her plans and being like, “Yes, yes, we must build an upside-down room right here!”

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Michael: And Isolt is like, “Why?”

Caleb: I hope so, because I feel it’s really important to have those eccentricities about a magic school, so I hope those things show up somewhere.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: I wonder, though, if they’re less magical and more like trick rooms and stuff, where there'[re] secret trap doors and more things that you don’t need magic for. That would be really funny to me, I think, and I can see him being like, “All these wizard kids… We’re going to throw in some tricks that they’re not going to get because they’re Muggles.”

Nicole: I wonder what Ollivander would think of these different cores that they decided to use? Because they seem so random.

Caleb: I think he’d scoff at them.

Nicole: Yeah, I had to look up what a snallygaster even was today. I don’t know that I know.

Michael: What is a snallygaster?

Nicole: I can’t even remember. Or a jackalope was the most normal of them. Even then I was like, “Why are we using jackalopes? Are there jackalopes in Massachusetts?”

Alison: That is so funny to me that they would use jackalopes. That’s one of the things that I’m like, “That is Americana as heck!” [laughs]

Nicole: Snallygasters are legendary dragon-like beasts said to inhabit the hills surrounding DC and Maryland.

Michael: Oh! That’s cool.

Nicole: So this picture is terrifying.

Michael: So our own weird dragon in the US.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I love the jackalope because jackalopes are really prominent in the Southwest and New Mexico, and we literally have a store there called Jackalope.

[Nicole laughs]

Caleb: Which is interesting – right? – that that would be a prominent… because I don’t know… I was also familiar that jackalopes are prominent in the Southwest, but I don’t know enough about them being very present in the Northeast.

Alison: Yeah, I’ve always thought of them more as a Western thing, a more frontier thing.

Michael: Well, see, okay, so this bleeds into a little of what makes the Ilvermorny story and some of the other pieces on Pottermore a little problematic because the jackalope and a lot of the other creatures referenced in the Ilvermorny story actually come from Native American legend. And that’s where this gets really shaky. Because the other big thing is that, as much as we love William the Pukwudgie, that’s not what a Pukwudgie is in Native American legend. [laughs] And a lot of people who complained about that were very disappointed in how William was portrayed as this subservient little road-trip buddy kind of character, which is not what a Pukwudgie is. It’s hard for me to speak to all of these issues because I don’t have as much knowledge on Native American culture and legend as I would perhaps like to have for this kind of discussion. And it varies from tribe to tribe depending on who you ask because they all traveled all around the US, of course, and shared different cultural aspects with each other before everybody else showed up. So there’s a rich history there that a lot of us unfortunately haven’t learned.

Alison: At the same time, though, it’s not the first time she has done something like this where she’s taken the name of something in a mythology and totally changed what it actually is. Because basilisks in Greek mythology, they’re more like birds than snakes, if I’m remembering correctly. So I mean, guess it’s not the first time. I mean, there’s still some problems with that, but…

Michael: I think the problematic issue comes with that when we who are not Native American compare these cultural aspects to mythology when in their culture it’s not necessarily mythology the way that we define it. It’s actually more of a belief. It’s a part of the real world. So yeah, that’s…

Alison: I mean, I guess it depends on how you’re defining “mythology” because if you’re defining “mythology” in more of an academic sense, a lot of times it includes any kind of cultural story. So there’s biblical mythology too. So I guess it just depends on how you’re defining “mythology.” If you’re using it in the way a lot of people use it, where it’s made-up stories or if, I mean, there’s more in the folkloric sense of mythology as cultural stories and beliefs that are told, passed down…

Caleb: Yeah, and I think, on that note… This is an aside, but I think it’s something to think about because, Michael, you mentioned you don’t know as much as you would perhaps like, and I would definitely put myself in that camp too. I think this is a really… I think it was problematic the way it was rolled out and probably the way it was responded to when this first came out, and I think this really should be an opportunity for us, particularly Americans who are living on Native American lands, to take this as a chance to learn about the culture that preceded us, and that is something that J.K. Rowling drew from, and – I’m saying this as myself too – I definitely need to learn and know more. I think that’s a thing we should all really strive to do. And it’s a good way to connect how something that’s very important culturally can inspire imagination later on.

Michael: Yeah. I was actually thinking of that in terms of… I recently got to see Disney’s Moana, which was fantastic, listeners, if you haven’t seen it, by the way. A lot of people just passed it by, but it’s probably one of Disney’s best recent films, and I say that as somebody who saw Zootopia six times.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: So good!

Michael: But the neat thing about Moana is that there was a lot of deep research that went into it and a lot of cultural advisors [who] took part in the film, and there was also an effort to cast people from the culture portrayed in the film. And what’s neat about it is that, a long time ago, somewhere in the mid- to late ’90s, somebody wrote to Disney, asking them why they didn’t do any African fairy tales. And some idiot representative wrote back from Disney and said, “Because there are no African fairy tales.”

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Michael: [laughs] So look how far we’ve come. It’s an issue of ignorance and just playing with the little you have. I think you can even see that difference going from a film like Pocahontas to a film like Moana. Moana, in my opinion, is the apology for Pocahontas in a lot of ways.

Nicole: [laughs] I can see that.

Michael: And Pocahontas suffers from the same issues that the Ilvermorny piece does, where there is clearly not really an interest in an accurate portrayal so much as a “How can I take this to fit my own ends or my world?”

Alison: I do wonder, though, how much of that was just not having information available because it’s not… I mean, it’s an unfortunate thing that this hasn’t been shared more, and I know there are a lot of reasons for it, but I wonder, too, how much…? I feel like it might be a mix of both things, of trying to make it to fit her world and also just… especially not being in America and being steeped in culture and things that could be a part of it as well.

Michael: Well, and she’s been quite mum on this topic, but I have been curious if she did attempt to reach out for information or what did she, perhaps, attempt to do, because I think what we do know about Rowling is that she is very knowledgeable about cultures and myths and that kind of information. I think, like Hermione, she very much soaks up a lot of book knowledge. She seems to just have a lot of that in her head. And I’m curious if she just depended on herself to get this information or if she actually went to somebody else for it because, based on the response that this got from the Native American community, she didn’t ask anybody. So I’m just curious to know more about that because, of course, Pottermore itself also got a lot of backlash for the way that they designed the House logos and [the] lifting of Native American imagery. They got in[to] a lot of trouble for that too. So there’s a fine line that’s being toed here. And I think the part that is a little frustrating is that this is a good story. Again, this is one of the better stories that came out of Pottermore. It’s got a full beginning/middle/end narrative, and it works within the world of Harry Potter, but when it gets into that issue, it… And I think the other thing… This goes to your question a little bit, Caleb, but really, when you look at it, too, using all of this Native American imagery, Native Americans really don’t have a lot to do with Ilvermorny itself. They didn’t found it. They went to it, as the story says. It mentions a few Native American tribe members who actually went, and in the story, it said that they attended because they wanted to trade knowledge. Because, as Rowling has defined in her world, Native American magic works a little differently than European magic.

Alison: I wonder if that’s part of the “democratic and least elitist schools.” I wonder if that’s part of that bit, if she’s hinting at, well, maybe they accept different kinds of magic more than some of the European schools do, where they’re taught only how to use a wand. Maybe students here are taught wandless magic more and more of the – in her world – Native American magical traditions more than just one way [of] how to do things.

Nicole: Yeah. It does make me wonder if there is a Native American school of magic somewhere too and we just don’t get to know about it as much. But if they’ve got their own type of magic, I wonder if they’ve got a school set up or if it’s just traditions.

Alison: I think there’s got to be.

Michael: That’s a great question, Nicole, because I was just surprised at how much of a carbon copy of Hogwarts Ilvermorny is. I was expecting it to be a little more different than… I mean, it literally has Slytherin’s wand on the grounds that grew into a tree, [laughs] so…

Nicole: And four Houses.

Michael: And I get the concept that… Yeah, the four Houses. Yeah, and it makes sense. It makes sense the way that she framed the story that it would be the way it is. I mean, the Sorting Ceremony is even a leftover concept that Rowling was going to use for Hogwarts, so it didn’t end up, I guess, being as, perhaps…

Alison: But I think that’s interesting to think about, because that’s very early American. I mean, we formed a lot of our political and sociological systems off of British systems because that’s what the people who were setting up the government knew. So I mean, the way that there'[re] two houses in Congress mirrors two houses [of] Parliament because that’s what the founders knew. So I mean, that makes sense to me in a lot of ways, that taking [of] the basic structure and then making it into something a little bit different and it evolving into something different as time went on in a new location.

Michael: I think maybe potential disappointment and confusion about it comes from back when we first got the announcement that we were going to get these pieces about the school. And another major piece that came out about America was the first piece about the Native Americans, which was not a very good piece, unfortunately.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: But in that, Rowling defined that there wasn’t really as much of a separation between the European magical settlers and the Native American wizards because they had already known about each other, thanks to Apparition and faster travel and abilities to see each other, more efficient ways to do that. And with that said, I saw the opportunity there for more Native American involvement, I guess, for an opportunity to break away from just the wizards constantly mirroring the Muggle/No-Maj society. Because in every other way, Rowling goes to the effort to be like, “No, it’s not the same! Look how different it is and how their society developed differently.” And then with this, she was just like, “Yeah, just kidding. This is just Hogwarts again.” So that was the only part that put me off, I guess, was that she set up the potential, and then she didn’t end up going through with it.

Alison: Which is why I’m curious about coursework, then, especially knowing that they were trying to exchange some knowledge. I wonder if the coursework, then, is vastly different than what Hogwarts does.

Michael: That would make sense because Isolt is self-taught, and most of her knowledge came from what she figured out and probably a little bit of what she might have gotten from Chadwick and Webster. They might’ve known a tiny amount before they came to her because they were both in a magical family that allowed them to use magic, so there might’ve been a little bit of trade-off there. But yeah, with Native American families coming to Ilvermorny – as is mentioned in the piece, both adults and children at the time – there definitely would have been an introduction to things like – like you mentioned, Alison – wandless magic and other forms of magic that we’re not as familiar with in the Potter universe.

Nicole: We know at least their Charms class is different too.

Michael: Yeah, yeah!

Nicole: Chadwick wrote the books for the classes, so we know they’re not studying necessarily the same exact charms as Hogwarts either.

Alison: So they’re not doing Standard Book of Spells. So I would think, then, that they’ve got lots of different things in there than they would’ve gotten at…

Michael: Yeah, Chadwick wrote the Charms book.

Alison: Yeah, yeah. So they’re not using The Standard Book of Spells, so I would assume they’re getting something different than what’s in that one.

Michael: Probably. And their Defense Against the Dark Arts was initially taught by Isolt’s daughter, so that would’ve been different as well. And the one thing I realized, and there’s no definitive statement about this, so I don’t know what’s going on as far as this goes, but do they play Quidditch or do they play Quodpot?

Alison: I would say, aren’t they more Quodpot? Doesn’t it say that in Quidditch Through the Ages, at the school they play it?

Michael: So yeah, that’s why I asked. Because in America Quodpot is more popular, but Quodpot wasn’t introduced in the US until the 1800s, and Quidditch was going strong before that.

Alison: Did Isolt know about Quidditch?

Michael: She wouldn’t have.

Nicole: She’s pretty sheltered.

Michael: She would have maybe known what it was generally, but she probably would never have played it.

Alison: And I think Chadwick and Webster would’ve been too young, so they probably wouldn’t know much either.

Michael: So maybe they play Quodpot. Listeners, if you don’t know what Quodpot is, make sure [to] crack open your copy of Quidditch Through the Ages because Quodpot is lame.

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Caleb: What would they do in the interim before Quodpot got invented or whatever?

Alison: Maybe they played a wizard version of lacrosse or something. That would be sweet.

Caleb: That’s so Northeast too. That’s so right.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Well, and that’s passed down from Native American games too.

Nicole: I was just going to say that.

Alison: So that would be awesome, actually! [laughs] What if it’s a mix of Quodpot and lacrosse, where instead it’s an exploding lacrosse ball and they have to throw it on brooms? [laughs]

Caleb: That would be interesting.

Alison: That would be cool. I did think of something, though, that might support Ilvermorny learning different kinds of spells and stuff. In Fantastic Beasts, when Queenie and Jacob are trying to break into Graves’s office, she uses Alohomora, but she also uses another Unlocking [Charm incantation], like Aberto or something?

Michael: Yeah, that’s what it always sounded like to me.

Alison: I don’t remember; I should look it up. But [those are] the only other spells that are in that whole movie. Because I think most of the rest of the time everybody uses nonverbal magic. So I guess that could support that idea [that] they’re learning different things than just “the [incantation for the] Unlocking [Charm] is just Alohomora.”

Caleb: Yeah, that’s interesting. I didn’t think too much about the fact that it’s predominantly nonverbal magic in Fantastic Beasts, so I wonder if that is… Because on the one hand that could just easily be a production choice or directing choice – script choice, whatever. But I wonder if that’s representative of the focus of the magic in Ilvermorny, if there’s just more of a focus on it there.

Michael: That’s interesting. I wanted to check and make sure. I had to go to the Harry Potter wiki to check because I’m moving to a new apartment, so I’ve packed up all my Harry Potter books, but the Fitchburg Finches [is] a US Quidditch team that come[s] out of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. So there is a Quidditch team in Massachusetts. There’s also… Caleb, as a fellow Texan, you’ll appreciate this. There’s a Texas team.

Caleb: The San Antonio All-Stars? No.

Michael: Close. It’s the Sweetwater All-Stars.

Caleb: Sweetwater All-Stars, yeah. For some reason, I was thinking it was in San Antonio. Maybe it’s because I’m selfishly putting them there because I’m about to move there.

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Michael: They are based out of Sweetwater, Texas.

Alison: So maybe they play all sorts of sports. Maybe it’s more like American high schools, where there'[re] 20 different sports you can choose to play. I would assume they do that in Britain too, but it’s a bigger deal in America. There’s baseball season and football season and basketball season for high school sports. And so maybe there’s Quodpot season and Quidditch season and This-Cool-Lacrosse-Game-I’ve-Now-Launched season.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: It doesn’t have a name yet.

Alison: No. It’s got to start with a Q, though.

Michael: Yeah. Listeners, you’ll have to think of a name for us for this cool magical lacrosse that they play at that Ilvermorny in our fan version. A few other notable things about the campus: As mentioned before, there is a snakewood tree that has grown on campus, bearing medicinal leaves because it was grown from Slytherin’s wand, as the story goes. Gormlaith Gaunt, Isolt’s evil aunt, put the wand to sleep so that Isolt could no longer use it by speaking Parseltongue to it. It had a basilisk horn in its core, and it was buried on the grounds because Isolt didn’t want to use it anymore, and it was inactive anyway, and it sprouted the tree. So again, a little bit of a leftover of Slytherin – but Slytherin’s nice half, apparently – on the grounds there, leaving medicinal healing leaves. There are also now marble statues of Isolt and James at the front doors. The Gordian Knot is everywhere in tribute to Isolt’s parents. I didn’t have time to look it up. Does anybody recall what the symbol of the Gordian Knot is, what it symbolizes?

“[It is] often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem.”

Alison: So Alexander the Great was told there was this kingdom, that there was an impossible knot to untie, and whoever untied it got to rule the kingdom. Being too lazy to actually try [to] untie the knot, he just took out his sword and cut through it. So yeah, it’s basically coming up with a clever solution to an impossible problem.

Caleb: Sounds like a Google interview question.

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Caleb: I don’t know if you guys are familiar with this, but… Well, I won’t go on a tangent, but if you interview at Google, they ask you really random questions that are seemingly impossible to answer in a short amount of time, but they just want to see how you process the question and get to a creative solution. Like, “How many pencils will it take to fill this room?”

Alison: Oh my gosh.

[Michael laughs]

Nicole: Wow.

Alison: So Google just wants Ravenclaws and… [laughs]

Michael: I have no answer. I have no clever answer for that. Dang.

[Nicole laughs]

Michael: I won’t be working at Google. Well, how do you guys think the Gordian Knot then relates to the story of Ilvermorny or what Ilvermorny represents within Harry Potter?

Caleb: Yeah, that’s a good question.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: It has nothing to do with it. [laughs]

Alison: Doesn’t it have some…? Because she brought it… It was her mother’s, right?

Michael: Yeah, as far as the meaning in the story, it was the last thing that survived the fire of the cottage. I mean, the only thing I can think [of] is that Isolt was basically… Her life was an impossible situation that she found a way out of. She did the simplest thing you could do: She just left. That’s really the only thing I can think of that fits it.

Alison: Maybe JKR was thinking about Native American mythology [laughs] and how [was] she going to get this [whole] world together, and it felt like a Gordian Knot.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: It felt impossible. Yeah, there you go.

Alison: I don’t know. [laughs]

Michael: Because she was like, “I’ll just choose a symbol from Ireland instead.”

Alison: “Throw it in there!”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: “Throw it in there.” Just letting them all know, “This is how I was feeling.”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Yeah, I don’t know.

Michael: And if you’ve watched, listeners, the promotional video that came before the release of the Ilvermorny piece, they definitely ran with that Gordian Knot imagery because you can see it in pretty much every shot of the video. In their vision, it’s covering the school. And there is a giant Gordian Knot right in the center of the main hall where people get Sorted. It’s a little different, but it makes me think of the principle of Occam’s razor, where, when presented with a seemingly outlandish problem or situation, the best solution is usually the simplest one, so it’s similar to that. I was just curious, too, if that may be a guiding philosophy at Ilvermorny, to not overthink or to maybe not overcomplicate things? Which would be interesting for a school philosophy, I guess.

Alison: It’s also a knot, so it could be something about unity and people coming together and forming this really strong, impossible-to-break-apart knot or untie the knot.

Michael: So the thing that Hogwarts was never able to figure out how to do?

[Alison, Michael, and Nicole laugh]

Alison: Yeah! So maybe Ilvermorny is more united. I mean, maybe they don’t have as much separation or discrimination about things like Houses and…

Michael: That would go along with “most democratic and least elitist” if they were. Okay, so maybe we found out where that comes from. If that’s embedded in the school’s philosophy, I suppose that would make sense. And [laughs] just before this episode, actually, listeners….

Alison: [laughs] Last night!

Michael: How fortunate! Thanks to all of the business that’s going on at [A] Celebration of Harry Potter, at the Wizarding World park, we got the full school song!

Alison: [gasps] I love it!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: The funny thing to note about this is that the song was mainly written by Alison Sudol, who played Queenie. It was cowritten and approved by Rowling, so it is the official Ilvermorny song.

[Deleted scene of Queenie and Tina singing the Ilvermorny school song from Fantastic Beasts plays]

Queenie: Caw-caw, caw-caw!

Tina: Purr-purr!

Queenie and Tina: [sing]

“We stand as one united

“Against the Puritan

“We draw our inspiration

“From good witch Morrigan

“For she was persecuted

“By common wandless men

“So she fled from distant Ireland

“And so our school began

“Oh! Ilvermorny-Massachusetts.”

Queenie: [sings] “We choo-choose it.”

Tina: [sings] “We choo-choose it.”

Queenie and Tina: [sing]

“The wizard school supreme

“Your castle walls, they kept us safe

“The days with you, a dream

“You taught us all our magic

“And now one thing’s quite clear.”

Queenie: [sings] “Where’er we roam.”

Tina: [sings] “Where’er we roam.”

Queenie: [sings] “Our one true home.”

Tina: [sings] “Our one and own.”

Queenie and Tina: [sing] “Is Ilvermorny dear.”

[Deleted scene of Queenie and Tina singing the Ilvermorny school song from Fantastic Beasts ends]

Alison: It’s so Americana. I love it!

Michael: The one interesting piece in it is that it actually misstates why Isolt left Europe.

Alison: Yeah, which is interesting.

Michael: Yeah, it says she was persecuted by Muggles! And that’s why she left, which is somewhat correct. That is why she left the Puritan community once she got to the US, was because she felt uncomfortable, not because she was persecuted, but she knew she would be if she stayed. Because she did go over on the Mayflower, and she knew that it wasn’t going to be good if she hung around with Muggles at the time. So that was interesting that they ended up switching that up. Not sure if that was just because it worked better for the rhyming scheme of the song?

[Nicole laughs]

Alison: Or maybe it’s [that] the kids don’t know? Maybe that’s not common knowledge. I wonder who wrote this. [laughs]

Michael: It was Alison. It was Alison Sudol.

Alison: No! Sorry, I meant in the world. Who wrote it? Because it’s funny because, if you listen to it, it’s a ukulele that’s accompanying them, [laughs] which is not what you would think would show up in a song written in Massachusetts, necessarily.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Which makes me wonder when were there kids from the Hawaiian islands and Pacific islands coming to Ilvermorny, and did that change later? Was that the original way it was written with this ukulele in the background? [laughs]

Nicole: I want it to be one of the Pukwudgies, and then they’ll never admit it, but I want it to be one of the Pukwudgies.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Caleb: As a Pukwudgie, I would support that.

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Michael: Otherwise, though, other than that little discrepancy, it pretty much summarizes it correctly and has a very affectionate tone about Ilvermorny. And it’s just as prideful, though, as Hogwarts in many ways.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: But a little less focused on the actual education and more on the comfortable aspect of Ilvermorny, so it’s a very cozy little song too.

Alison: Yeah! The Hogwarts school song is more like, “Education! Teach us!” This one is more like, “This is our little sanctuary, yay!”

[Caleb and Michael laugh]

Alison: Which I think is cute.

Michael: And listeners, while Sorcerer’s Stone clarifies that there is no other fixed tune for the Hogwarts school song, if you pull out your bonus CD or your second disc on your Goblet of Fire DVD, you can hear the tune they chose for the Hogwarts school theme, and it has a little coordinated, syncopated hand dance [laughs] that goes along with it.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: So it’s adorable and kind of sad but very funny.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Now, another interesting thing, too, about the culture and education at Ilvermorny is that, actually, wands are… We already touched on the fact that they have very different cores, but the way wands are even handled at the school is very different: You get your wand after you get Sorted. You are led into a very large room with a selection of wands to choose from, and it doesn’t say, too, whether the selection process goes like Ollivander’s process where you get a wand placed in your hand until you get the right one. That seems exhausting, because I’m assuming there'[re] a lot of students going to this school.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: And the other interesting thing is that the students don’t get to take their wands home with them, thanks to Rappaport’s Law. That’s not the case anymore, but up until 1965, they had to leave their wands at Ilvermorny over the summer, and they wouldn’t get full ownership of their wand until they turned 17.

Alison: I think that’s fascinating. That would totally change the wizarding school culture because you wouldn’t have the thing of wizard-born kids like you do at Hogwarts where wizard-born kids… They can’t tell who’s doing magic, so those kids could be doing it, but Harry gets in trouble for doing magic in front of a Muggle. There wouldn’t be any of that happening. There wouldn’t be the taboo; all those sorts of things wouldn’t happen. So it’s almost like these kids go to school, and it’s a sanctuary, and then they have to go back, in a lot of ways, to living No-Maj lives when they go home for the summer.

Michael: See, now this brings into question, Alison, what you had brought up: the possibility that they were sharing magical knowledge with Native Americans. Because if Native Americans practice wandless magic… [laughs]

Caleb: Yeah, I was about to say, “What if at home they aren’t…?” Well, obviously, they’re doing wandless magic, but what if they’re doing something else at home exclusively?

Michael: That’s really interesting because that also suggests…

Alison: That’s cool.

Michael: Well, and that also opens up, too, a possibility of… Because it would seem that the ban on bringing wands home until they turn 17… If that is a consequence of Rappaport’s Law – which it’s suggested that it is – then that would suggest the idea is that [if] you use magic over the summer, you get in trouble, very similar to the ways that Harry did. That would seem to have had an effect on the Native American community if their primary way of using magic was wandless magic.

Alison: Yeah. Maybe, then, it’s more serious if they get caught using it at home. Maybe instead of how Harry gets warnings and expelled, maybe you get adult repercussions. You’ll go to jail if kids use [magic] at home.

Nicole: I feel like American wizards would be really good at using wandless magic because you’ve got to have a lot of determined kids who are like, “No, I want to use magic right now!”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Yeah. And I feel like the thing, it seems, in Rappaport’s Law and in the Scourers and stuff, is wands. That’s how they know that someone’s using magic, so I feel like maybe wandless magic would be easier to slide past them. It could just be coincidence or something like that. It could be explained away more.

Michael: That’s interesting because that references back to Chamber of Secrets when Harry gets in trouble for something that Dobby does, and the magic isn’t necessarily tracked on Harry individually in his magic with his wand. It’s tracked with magic just in his vicinity that wasn’t even used by him. So that brings up a lot of complications about how the American system works with dealing with underage magic.

Alison: What do they do with kids and accidental magic, I wonder.

Michael: How do they control that? Because this seems… Especially Fantastic Beasts building on the pieces from Pottermore suggests that there are really strict consequences for it. Maybe that’s grounds for immediate expulsion or something of the sort, which would be awful, but it’s possible; I don’t know. I know the only other school that I can think of that has really extreme punishments like that is the Japanese wizarding school, Mahoutokoro. Yeah, and Mahoutokoro… Robes turn a different color if they’ve used Dark magic, and they get expelled from school. So I guess that’s specifically Dark magic, but it seems to suggest… I guess the robes are pure white, and they change color if they deviate from the ways of the school. So that’s the Japanese school, as far as their punishments go. I don’t know what they do in America. So as we saw in Fantastic Beasts, Seraphina Picquery seems to be upholding a long line of rules, and she does not budge on them, so [I’m] not sure about that.

Caleb: Which honestly, to me… To draw on my bigger question, I think it certainly fits with the American magical narrative, at least to what we have been exposed so far, particularly what we saw in Fantastic Beasts. But the question I asked at the beginning – what makes it American, as far as thinking “Muggle/No-Maj” Americans splitting from Britain? – I don’t think that’s the same narrative. I guess in some ways, but I just see America creating a somewhat more liberal society. We won’t get into the details of how that is certainly not true in a lot of cases, but comparing it against the rigid formality and rules of what they were trying to escape in England, it almost seems [to] flip in some ways here.

Michael: Yeah, that by escaping from England to the US they ended up backtracking and making things worse for themselves. And that’s all introduced with the whole concept of the Scourers, which I still think is one of the worst things that was introduced in Harry Potter because it doesn’t make sense to me still. Because the Scourers… And I feel like there is probably some historical thing that lines up with the Scourers, because the Scourers are like mercenaries – they are sent out by the UK government to capture troublemakers in the US. But then they ended up becoming troublemakers themselves and going rogue and then taking revenge out by…

Alison: Why don’t I remember any of that?

Michael: Oh, that’s what they are. And then their revenge is that they… Because then once the law is properly established in the US, they go after the Scourers.

Alison: I thought… Wow, why did I think they were like Squibs?

Michael: And that comes farther down the line because their revenge against the wizarding community is that they went into hiding and they married No-Majs, and they cut wizards out of their family lines. They weeded out their wizarding children until they had Muggle children. But they told their Muggle children that wizards existed so that they would go kill them. [laughs] So it’s a really roundabout way to set up that there were Muggles who had knowledge of wizards who were involved in the Salem Witch Trials, was basically the really long way of doing that. So it gets a little muddled on that part. But to go back to your question, Caleb, based on what we’ve said so far, especially with what we were talking about with the Gordian Knot, Ilvermorny in its own little bubble is almost like a perfect, conflict-free, idealized version of what America is supposed to be, I guess. Because other than Isolt’s conflict with her aunt – which she wins – Ilvermorny doesn’t seem to have much turmoil surrounding it and welcomes all, as we’ve established, and all the Houses work in harmony to make the school stronger, and everybody comes from all over North America, so Ilvermorny represents the idyllic American visionm a very simplified version of it, I suppose. And that gets a little more into the big stuff with the Houses. So before we get into the Houses, the way that you are chosen for your House is… The Sorting Ceremony at Ilvermorny, like I mentioned, is a leftover of what Rowling thought would be a concept for Hogwarts. Initially, she had planned that the four House founders from Hogwarts would be statues, and they would come to life and select the student. That ended up being imported over to Ilvermorny instead. And the four House creatures are made into statues, and they come to life. The interesting thing, though, and another piece about, I guess, a democratic aspect is that more than one House can pick a student, and the student, if that happens to them, gets the option of which House they want. Did any of you get an option when you did it on Pottermore or did you just get a House?

Nicole: I just got a House.

Alison: No, I just got a House.

Caleb: Got a House. Yeah, I was thinking about that because we know, first off, that the Ilvermorny Sorting is like the magical version of The Voice, and the chairs [unintelligible].

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Caleb: So let’s just be clear about that. But no, so pretty quickly we knew that Hatstalls were happening on the Pottermore Sorting quiz for Hogwarts when that started. I have heard of no one choosing for Ilvermorny.

Michael: Yeah, that’s interesting, especially because the choice aspect is way more stressed [at] Ilvermorny than it is at Hogwarts.

Caleb: Right. So listeners, please let us know, first off, because that seems strange.

Nicole: And we know that it’s also possible to be selected by all four Houses, which is crazy. I don’t know how you would choose. I don’t know what that says to be a four-way stall, I guess.

Michael: Yes, bringing her up again, Seraphina Picquery – the President of MACUSA at the time of Newt Scamander’s little adventure – was chosen by all four Houses, and she chose Horned Serpent. And it is mentioned in the piece that that is a very rare occurrence that happens – What was it? – once a decade or something like that?

Alison: Yeah. “It’s very rare,” it says.

Michael: Yeah, so… But I mean, that’s about all four Houses. There’s still a more likely chance that you’ll get chosen by at least two Houses.

Alison: I feel like you would have to, then, be told a little bit about the Houses before you went. Because what if you were a No-Maj-born kid, and they were just like, “Look! These Houses have picked you. What are you going to pick?” And you’re just like, “I don’t know.”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: What would you do? Would you just be like, “I like birds”?

[Caleb and Michael laugh]

Alison: “I have no idea what that means, but birds are cool. That looks cool.” I don’t know. [laughs]

Michael: Well, yeah, because that is the anxiety that Harry has before he gets to Hogwarts. But his ends up not being merited because the Hat does all the work for him. He has very little input into that. More so than maybe most students based on the plot, but yeah, no, you definitely have to have some kind of foreknowledge of the basic representation of each House, I suppose, before you… Well, maybe that is part of the process, because we know in Hogwarts that a representative from the school comes to tell the family what’s happened. So maybe that’s part of that orientation process. Maybe the orientation process in the US is a little better than the UK one. [laughs]

Alison: Maybe they give them more of an orientation. [laughs] Instead of being like, “Here’s a deadly school. Find your classes,” they’re like, “All right, so here’s a map, and here’s what’s happening.”

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Instead of “Be there at 11 sharp.”

[Alison laughs]

Michael: “Guess what! You’re magical!”

Alison: “Not going to tell you where that is.”

Michael: “Yeah. Walk through this wall. Go get your stuff. This is a culture you’re not at all familiar with. Good luck.” [laughs] Yeah, maybe that’s the difference. But the Houses… Of course, we should probably summarize what they are. I think by now, hopefully, the listeners would know. We have Horned Serpent, which is actually… I’ll let you know, too, listeners, who chose it in the original founding and what it represents. Horned Serpent was selected by Isolt [and] is meant to represent the mind and scholars. And as mentioned before, one of the known students from that house is Seraphina Picquery. Wampus, which was chosen by Webster, one of Isolt’s sons, […] is meant to represent the body or warriors. There is no known student in this House, but Rowling said, theoretically, if he had gone to Ilvermorny, Jacob Kowalski, Newt’s No-Maj friend, would have been in Wampus. Pukwudgie was chosen by Isolt’s husband, James, and is the home of hearts and healers. And one of the known students… I was very happy we guessed this one correctly. Queenie Goldstein was a Pukwudgie. And finally, Thunderbird, chosen by Chadwick for the soul and adventurers. And again, another correct choice on our part, one of the known students for that House: Porpentina Goldstein resided in Thunderbird. Now, I’ll say for myself, as a reminder, I’m a Thunderbird. What were all of our Ilvermorny Houses again?

Caleb: I’m Pukwudgie.

Alison: Pukwudgie.

Nicole: Thunderbird.

Michael: So we’re split between… Okay, so… Okay, okay, okay, okay.

[Nicole laughs]

Michael: So this is going to be very interesting now. Here we go.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: So we’ve got two Thunderbirds and two Pukwudgies. We’ve also got one definitive Gryffindor, two definitive Hufflepuffs, and one kind of in the middle dancing between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: How interesting. Because Caleb, you and Alison [are] both Pukwudgies.

Alison: Yeah, and I’m very firmly a Pukwudgie. I mean, I took it on both my accounts, and both times it was like, “Pukwudgie.” I was like, “Oh.” [laughs]

Caleb: Yeah, so that’s interesting because when I took the quiz I thought I was going to be Horned Serpent. I don’t know what that says related to Gryffindor or not. I was pretty surprised when I got Sorted into Pukwudgie, but I fully think that’s the right one for me. And I think the reason why I was not so sure about it in the beginning is because I was stuck in this Hogwarts framework. And for me – and I know this is something you want to discuss a little further – when I thought about it more, I thought, “These Houses aren’t the same Houses.” I think it’s fascinating because I think it’s so much more complex than that but that they just don’t line up exactly.

Michael: So this is something we have to… Because it’s… I’m already seeing this here, and it’d be… Listeners, I call upon you to, in the comments this week, list your Hogwarts House and your Ilvermorny House, and let’s see if we can do some research about this. [laughs] Because a lot of people… See, the hard thing is, a lot of people just whom I know casually haven’t Sorted themselves into Ilvermorny yet because a lot of people who are casual Harry Potter fans or not Harry Potter fans don’t care, sadly.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: They’re like, “Ilvermorny? What’s Ilvermorny?” Well, now you know because you’ve listened to Alohomora! But I do know, too, what was funny, was my roommate, Liandra, who is also a Hufflepuff like me – a very strong, proud Hufflepuff like myself – also got Sorted into Thunderbird like me, and the interesting thing about that, too, is that the Ilvermorny quiz, like the Sorting quiz, has a chain of questions that, depending on what you answer on certain questions, will lead you to other questions, and you’ll get some random ones in between, and you’ll never really get the same quiz each time.

Alison: And these are crazy questions.

Michael: Yes, they are.

Alison: I remember taking it, and I was like, “What the heck?” They were hard. The Hogwarts House ones, I feel like, are a little bit easier to make a decision between. But there were a couple of these [where] I was like, [laughs] “Are you joking? How am I supposed to answer this question?” [laughs] But we’ll get there.

Michael: I’m looking at some of these, because I took it once, because I don’t think I’ve Sorted myself on my second account into Ilvermorny. And some of these questions I’m looking at… [laughs] One of the last questions you could get is “You can rescue a baby or the only bottle of a potion that could save 1,000 lives. Which do you save?” The baby?

Alison: Yeah. That one, I was like, “What?”

Michael: Or the bottle? “The baby. The bottle only MIGHT save 1,000 lives. The bottle. The chance of saving 1,000 lives is too important to miss.”

“Which is the better motto? It is nobler to be deceived than to be mistrustful. Friends should not demand blind faith.”

“No curse can work without the victim’s secret consent.”

True or false. That was the question I got.

Alison: Yeah, I got that one too.

Michael: And I thought that was a really interesting one, because I was like, “Ooh, is that something that’s taught? Is that a known thing in the wizarding world? A curse can’t work without your consent?” I actually remember sitting, thinking about it for a really long time. Because these were good questions.

Alison: The next one’s the one that throws me every time.

Michael: Which one’s that?

Alison: I take so long.

“Think of the question you would most like answered, by a person or an all-knowing being or device. Which of the following most closely resembles the answer you’d like to hear?”

And I remember this all came out when I was in London.

Caleb: That was the weirdest question.

Alison: It was! And I’m sitting there… I think I was on my phone taking this. I was just like, “Are you kidding me right now? I have to think of a question and the answer I want? What are you talking about?” [laughs]

Nicole: Honestly, that’s how I felt during the Patronus quiz. I was just like, “What?” I don’t remember the question or what it was, but it was like, “Think of this thing,” and then it was all of the sudden gone, and it was like, “What thing did I think of?” Having to think of things and come up with answers based on that was just…

Michael: Yeah, that was one of the strangest ones for me too because I really thought about the question. I actually think the first question that I thought of, I looked through all the options, and I was like, “None of these answer[s] my question.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: None of these actually fit the tense for what should be the answer to my question. Yeah, there are some really crazy questions. And these questions are pretty distinctly different from the Hogwarts questions. I don’t really know what it is about them that makes them so different.

“What jinx would you least like to experience? A jinx that meant nothing was funny. A jinx that made all food taste straw. A jinx that kept you constantly awake. [A jinx] that played music constantly in your head. [A jinx that] struck you dumb. [A jinx that] forced you to tell the truth.”

[laughs] That’s… ugh! I know Leandra chose the straw one because she was like, “Oh, Michael, food is delicious, and I can’t even think about a world where food tastes like straw.” [laughs] Which I thought was hilarious.

Alison: Well, and then “My greatest weakness is… nobody’s business but mine. … what makes me, me. … the source of my greatest strength. … something I must change.” That’s getting existential there, almost.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That’s some pretty deep stuff, but with…

Alison: Whereas the Hogwarts questions were more concrete. If they had asked that question in the Hogwarts one, it would have been “My greatest weakness is…” To really simplify – the Pottermore test isn’t like that – “Being evil. Being too nice.” I don’t know. Something like that, I feel like, would’ve… is more what the Hogwarts questions were like.

Michael: Well, yeah, we went through it when we went through the wand quiz. And I think we were thinking, too, about some of the things that… I think the Sorting Hat quiz asks things like… It does ask things like, “What do you fear the most?” or more straightforward things like that. It doesn’t get quite as… And then by the end of it, doesn’t it ask things like, “Left or right?” “Day or night?” “Black or white?” stuff? So that comes up too. So yeah, it’s definitely a little bit of a different structure. And so with that said, what are everybody’s opinions about comparing Ilvermorny to Hogwarts? And Nicole, I’ll let you weigh in on that first as our guest.

Nicole: I think at first I was trying to compare them a lot, and I’m looking at the description for Thunderbird and seeing if it fits me and how that compares to me being a Hufflepuff, and I just don’t know if they do compare because the animals are picked so random[ly] by the kids and by Isolt, and I don’t know if there is much of a comparison except that there'[re] four, but then, also, I look at them, and I try to like, “Oh, Horned Serpent seems like Ravenclaw,” and then, to me, Wampus feels more like Gryffindor than Horned Serpent, based on the simple descriptions we have, but I feel like we need more. We don’t have enough.

Michael: Caleb, what are your thoughts?

Caleb: Yeah, so I mean, I… It’s impossible for me to try to line them up with the Hogwarts Houses, and I wonder if part of that is us thinking about it in a different age frame, right? So many of us read the Harry Potter books when we were close in age to the characters. Not all of us. I know a lot of people started them at a later age or just weren’t around that age. But I imagine if you’re in that group – certainly correct me by responding on the site – you probably imagined the Houses yourself at that age, at least that’s what I’ve heard people talk about. And so for me, I realize this is a privileged situation, but I started reading Harry Potter when I was 10 and 11. So I was at that age, and I thought of myself as a Gryffindor based on those qualities then in my life. And now I think [of] Sorting [at] Ilvermorny when I’m… What was this? Last year? So I would’ve been, like, 27 years old. I am obviously a very different person. I’m not just more mature, but I [also] have different values, different mindset, everything else. So maybe that’s why I thought when I was taking the quiz that I would be Horned Serpent because I reverted back to that mindset of me [at] 11 or 12, what I would be or want to be, etc. But I think Pukwudgie, for me, is certainly very distinctly what I am right now. And that’s why it’s impossible for me to line up these Houses with the Hogwarts Houses because maybe it’s my mindset of what I think of those Hogwarts Houses as [a] preteen, teenager, whatever. But also, these Houses just capture something. I know one of them is distinctly about the soul, but it just seems like these Houses really are grasping at what leads you in life, whereas the Hogwarts Houses to me seem more how you show yourself to be. And I know those are super abstract concepts, and I’m not articulating that super well.

[Caleb and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Those seem similar. But for me, there’s just a difference. It comes with just the words used for these four Houses.

Michael: Yeah, that’s interesting that you factor in the age thing because I think that’s something a lot of us don’t consider, having been Harry Potter fans for a good how many years now? 20? Oh, God. 20.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: It is 20.

Michael: Yeah, from Sorcerer’s Stone. Ahh! That’s insane. But yeah, no, that leads perfectly to you, Alison, because we’ve come into this culture now, too, where a lot of the longtime Harry Potter fans find themselves dancing between Houses, possibly because the House that they were linked to earlier in life was deemed not their official House by Pottermore or they [were] Sorted a while ago on Pottermore and then they re-Sorted. I mean, I know an extreme example on our show would be Eric, who has owned those Gryffindor robes for a long time.

[Alison, Caleb, and Michael laugh]

Alison: Forever and a day.

Michael: And he just cannot give them up. But he is a Hufflepuff. And he acknowledges that. But he loves those Gryffindor robes so much. And I mean, I know, too, a lot of our generation just automatically wanted to be in Gryffindor because it was the House to be in, based on the stories, and there was a bias tilt toward Gryffindor. So yeah, Alison, as somebody who dances between Houses, how do you feel about comparing?

Alison: Yeah, it’s interesting because [with] my Hogwarts Houses, I do feel very split between Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, but as much as I want to be a Thunderbird, and as much as I think I value things that are Thunderbird[-related], I think I am very much a Pukwudgie, very firm there. And so it’s interesting to think about that because I’m so split with my Hogwarts House. But it’s almost like, in some ways, the Ilvermorny Houses feel more ethereal. The best word I can think of [is], the Ilvermorny Houses feel more “spiritual.”

Caleb: Yeah. See, that’s what I was trying to get at.

Alison: Yeah. That’s not the right word, but…

Caleb: I wanted to say “soul,” but that’s Thunderbird exclusively. But I think “spiritual” is what I was aiming for.

Alison: Yeah. I’m not sure if that’s exactly the right word, but it feels more like that than the Hogwarts Houses are. [laughs] It feels more internalized, in a lot of ways, than… The Hogwarts Houses, I feel like, are more of how you act and interact with the world, whereas… I don’t know. It’s weird. And so I see connections between them, and I think knowing both is like getting a better picture of one person. Does that make sense? I don’t know. It’s kind of weird. Because it is so interesting to see [how] none of them really match up. You can say they match up to different ones, but then they can’t because it matches up better to this House or it matches up better to this House [instead]. Thunderbird… A lot of people are like, “Oh, that’s the Gryffindor House,” but in a lot of ways, it’s not. And people are like, “Oh, Horned Serpent is Ravenclaw,” but in a lot of ways, it’s not Ravenclaw, and in a lot of ways, it has a lot of Slytherin tendencies or Hufflepuff tendencies and Gryffindor tendencies. And I like that they don’t match up, though, because I like that they’re two different aspects and that you get more of a complete, well-rounded idea when you have both. That was weird, but…

Michael: No, no, I think that’s hitting on the right idea that, actually, you get a more complete picture of somebody if you know both of the Houses they were Sorted into. The interesting thing – I think, for me – was, the first impression I got when I had learned more about them was, “Oh, okay. Pukwudgie is Hufflepuff, Horned Serpent is Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor got split into Wampus and Thunderbird and they don’t have a Slytherin.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Because Wampus and Thunderbird both speak to familiar Gryffindor aspects to me, like warriors, adventurers… That’s the Gryffindor thing we’ve come to know them for. I think we associate Hufflepuff with gentle qualities, and healers fit that. And then, of course, Ravenclaw is scholars. And then because Slytherin, unfortunately, got so defined by their ambition and power-hungry nature – which is not necessarily what they are, but because that became their thing – I was like, “There isn’t really a Slytherin here.” And part of me – based on the story of Isolt – thought that made sense not to have a Slytherin representation because that’s [the] antithesis to everything she believes in. She doesn’t really… Having lived under her aunt’s approach, I just thought, “Oh, well, that makes sense that she wouldn’t really want Slytherin to be present in her setup.” But in that way, too, I’m like, “Well, does that work?” because she didn’t choose all four Houses. She did have influence, but she didn’t choose them in the end. And I think a lot of people got a little confused too because Horned Serpent everybody was comparing to Ravenclaw in terms of the scholarly aspect, but everybody was like, “Oh, Slytherin! Because snakes!”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But that wasn’t right either. And I thought it was fine because this is not the first time that I’ve heard yet another comparison of a Hufflepuff/Thunderbird, which I always think is a fascinating one, as far as the idea that the gentle people are still the adventurers, but it also connects to the soul, which I could totally see working, and in the end… And I wish I could pull it up, but it’s probably backlogged in his Facebook archives, but maybe I can see if he can share it with us. But Eric actually came up with a pretty good diagram of how they matched up, which had a lot of overlapping circles.

Alison: Yeah, I think there'[re] some flaws in it.

Michael: A lot of overlapping circle. Which, actually, was the closest – I thought – that anybody got. But the thing, too, is, I’m okay with separating them too because the thing I try to think of it as canonically is that Isolt, James, Webster, and Chadwick did not have the same four core guiding values as Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. So why would they line up? What would be the reason? Other than the fact that Isolt based the school [on] Hogwarts. But the thing, too, is, she had a very limited knowledge and a very skewered knowledge of what Hogwarts was, based on what her aunt told her. So she wouldn’t necessarily have a knowledge of the finer points of what make the Houses what they are. So in that sense, she did build it from the ground up.

Caleb: I just like that it… So the good thing is, there is obviously no right answer, but it has made us think, I think, even about the Hogwarts Houses in new and interesting ways [that] we would have never really done before. And I think it was Alison [who] said this – correct me if someone else said it – but it sort of gives you a new aspect of understanding a person and what embodies them and what characteristics represent them. Because before, we just had this Hogwarts dynamic, and maybe if you were split between two Houses, that gave you a more nuanced idea, but this really adds a completely new layer, which is super interesting.

Alison: And I like, too… One of my favorite things about it is that we had no preconceived notions about it. I mean, when we had Hogwarts Sorting, people were like, “I got this House? What the heck?”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: But nobody knew anything, and at the point that this quiz came out, we didn’t even know any of these characters, and so there [were] no preconceived notions. The only thing I heard people saying was like, “Pukwudgie is kind of a dumb name.” [laughs]

Nicole: The quiz… You can’t even try to take it based on “Oh, what House do I think this is?” because there’s not enough information, really, about the Houses, where with the Hogwarts quizzes, you could be like, “Well, does this apply to Gryffindor? Is this more Slytherin? What is this?”

Michael: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what makes, I think, the Ilvermorny quiz even more enjoyable and even harder and perhaps why we were all saying we sat there for a while really thinking about our answers, because you don’t automatically associate any of the answers to those questions with a House. Which definitely goes along with… I think the way we were saying that those questions are so large and philosophical definitely goes along with what, Caleb, you and Alison were saying about Ilvermorny’s Houses being more spiritual, that you’ve got to dig a little deeper to really focus on what you want from these Houses. And again, [it] definitely presents the quandary like you said, Alison, of what do you do when you stand there and more than one House chooses you?

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Instead of eleven or nine o’clock at night, they must arrive at 10 a.m. so that they can Sort all these students. Because that’s just… [laughs]

Alison: Or I wonder if it’s more like instead of doing it… They have the big welcome feast at night, and then all the kids who have already been Sorted go to their Houses, but the first years have the first-year room that they go to, and then they do all this the next morning. And then it’s a big deal. Instead of it being a part of the welcome feast, it’s like, “Oh, it’s Sorting Day! Here we go!” First day of classes or something, and that’s how that all… because, I mean, it takes them forever to get their wands too, I’m sure, so…

Michael: Well, and because we know the whole school watches because the whole balcony that surrounds the hall on the second floor is devoted to the students who are upper-level who get to watch. So yeah, that must be quite a sight to see. Here, a little special treat for you all. And this is way more effective, by the way, on your phones, and hopefully, listeners, I can share this with you guys. I’ll try [to] link it in the notes for the show so you all can experience it too. I’m dropping it for you guys here in the chat if you haven’t seen this yet. If you want to go to Ilvermorny for just a moment and experience it. This little piece of art that was done by… I’m not actually sure. Let me see if I can credit this person. On YouTube, it’s Tiana Maros.

Caleb: This is stunning.

Michael: Isn’t it beautiful?

Alison: Oh, nothing’s loading for me.

Michael: Alison, I’ll give you the YouTube link because sometimes with the 360s it’s hard to see. Here’s the YouTube link.

Caleb: Oh, this is amazing.

Nicole: This is so cool.

Caleb: The 360 view is just remarkable. Oh my God. I want to go now!

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Alison: [gasps] Whoa!

Nicole: I honestly say, though, if I [were] 11, this would be more intimidating to me than the Hat.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Oh yeah, for sure. Holy cow!

Michael: Right? Super intimidating, yeah. This would be terrifying.

Caleb: It’s amazing.

Michael: Especially with the perspective that Tiana used in her artwork. Yeah, it’s pretty terrifying. I like that maybe she’s going along with what she said because this is either set at sunrise or sunset. I’d say sunrise because it’s going to take that long.

Alison: Okay, that Wampus is terrifying. That Wampus looks like it’s going to eat you. That’s so scary.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: You can see the Gordian Knot everywhere, all over the place. This artwork, listeners… Make sure [to] click on the link. I’m definitely going to put this in the show notes so you can experience this too, listeners. But the way that she did the perspective, you are standing in the middle of the hall, at your Sorting. Tiana definitely took great care in reading the details that were provided by Rowling on Pottermore because this is just absolutely a beautiful piece of art that I think some of the SpeakBeasty staff came across and showed to me. I was like, “Oh, God, I[‘ve] got to show them this.”

Caleb: Amazing.

Alison: That was way cool. And that would be way intimidating.

Michael: [laughs] And to wrap up, I think it would be fun to examine Nicole’s question here. Nicole, you want to go into your main focus a little bit?

Nicole: Yeah, so I was just wondering where the trio would be if they were Sorted into Ilvermorny and how that would work, going back to the descriptions.

Michael: So you’re standing here in this piece of art and you’re Hermione. What happens?

Alison: Horned Serpent.

Michael: Now, this is the other interesting question about all three of them, but we’ll start, I guess, with Hermione. Would they have been chosen by more than one House?

Nicole: Because Hermione was a Hatstall, right? Almost?

Michael: Yeah, she was almost a Hatstall. The choice was between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor for her.

Alison: I would say Hermione is being chosen by Horned Serpent and Pukwudgie.

Nicole: I was thinking the same thing.

Alison: And I think she might go with… Oh, that’s so hard.

Nicole: Eleven-year-old Hermione may have gone with Horned Serpent.

Caleb: I think she goes with Horned Serpent.

Alison: Yeah, I think if you think… yeah. If it’s that first day, I think you’re right. If it’s later that year, I think she goes more with Pukwudgie because she learned so much about that she needs to trust her, not just her books, that there are more important things.

Michael: That’s really interesting, because I remember [in] a previous discussion about Hermione, we had brought up that… because we pondered why Hermione chose Gryffindor in the moment, that she chose it over Ravenclaw. And I know… I think, Alison, it was you who had put forth the idea that Hermione knew that she was already scholarly and that that wasn’t… By choosing Gryffindor, she was selecting something that she felt might have been a need to fulfill within herself.

Alison: So maybe, then, she would have gone with Pukwudgie. But it depends, because one of the reasons she says she wants to be in Gryffindor, at least that she says out loud, is that she heard Dumbledore was in it. So I wonder if she had heard that there were so many people like Seraphina Picquery [who] were in Horned Serpent, she might have leaned toward that.

Nicole: Oh yeah, and with Isolt there too?

Michael: Yeah, Isolt’s House is Horned Serpent.

Nicole: Although maybe she would have gone with Pukwudgie because James was a No-Maj and she’s a Muggle-born.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That’s a tough one. I like that idea, though. I like that split that you guys put forth of Horned Serpent versus Pukwudgie because it’s the battle between the mind and the heart. Which, I mean, is already an interesting thing to bring up because the heart in the poetic sense is really a stand-in for the soul in many ways, but the heart and the soul are split at Ilvermorny, and they do represent, apparently, different things. So that’s worth noting too. So I don’t know what that would mean in terms of Hermione, if it would be between Horned Serpent and Pukwudgie or Horned Serpent and Thunderbird. So far, it would seem that Pukwudgie somewhat seems to have an equivalence with Gryffindor, [laughs] so I don’t know. Because then at the same time, though, I don’t know. Personally, I can’t picture Harry gunning to be in Pukwudgie.

Alison: I think he might be, though.

Michael: You think so?

Alison: Yeah! Because, I mean, he’s not scholarly. He might be Wampus, the warrior aspect, but I don’t see him going to Thunderbird because he doesn’t go looking for trouble. That’s a big deal with Harry, is that he doesn’t want…

Michael: Trouble usually finds him. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah. So I think he might be between Wampus and Pukwudgie just because… And there’s also the whole thing of love [being] his greatest strength. So his heart is his greatest strength. But he also is quick to action, which seems like a very Wampus/warrior trait.

Michael: So one thing to keep in mind, too, is that Harry is… Just like we mentioned with Hermione – in her choice based partially on knowing Dumbledore was in the House – Harry is heavily influenced by the people he talks to before he goes to Hogwarts. And the main people who influence his choice are Hagrid, Malfoy, and Ron. And with that in mind, that makes it hard for me to think where Harry would want to go. Are we transposing Harry just as a person or are we transposing Harry with the choices up to that point and his story up to that point? Because that’s hard. Because Harry’s choices are who he is in many ways, as Dumbledore would probably say. So I like the idea of the heart and the healer being the House Harry would associate with, but for some reason, I don’t know if that’s necessarily what he would choose. The other thing is, I don’t know which House has the reputation at Ilvermorny for being “the Gryffindor House.” [laughs]

Alison: Do they, though?

Michael: Yeah, do they? They don’t seem to have that hierarchy of Houses like Hogwarts does. There seems to be somewhat of an equal appreciation for all four Houses, which is hard again, too, because then you add in – like Nicole was saying how you couldn’t really figure out [which] House you were going to get into when you took the quiz – the impression of the four Houses purely comes at this point from how the readers of Harry Potter are digesting the four Houses. Because we have nothing from the story to really influence us to one House or the other. Okay, so putting that aside for a moment, what’s Ron?

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Alison: Wampus or Thunderbird because…

Caleb: For me, Ron is more of a Thunderbird. Because you were describing the House really well earlier, Alison, about seeking out, being adventurers, and yeah, I see him more there.

Alison: But also, he’s got that… I see him in Wampus because of… mostly I would base that [on] becoming the knight. I would base that [on] the chess game, and he’ll be the knight. He’ll be the one who sacrifices himself. But I think he’d go to Thunderbird because he is the one who’s always saying, “When’s our next adventure? When are we going to do these different things? Where are we going next?”

Michael: Yeah. I think Ron would be a Thunderbird because, unlike Harry, Ron wants to be in those situations. In his situation, he’s actively seeking that out because he wants something that will set him apart from his siblings. And I could see him thinking that the House of adventurers is going to get him there fastest. That’s…

Nicole: That’s interesting, then, because… So Harry and Ron could have been in the same House, and Harry and Hermione could have been, based on what we were saying, but Hermione and Ron would not have been anywhere near each other.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: Which I think fits.

Alison: Opposites. They’re opposites. And that’s why they work so well together.

Michael: Yes. Well, and hopefully in this weird alternative Cursed Child-esqe universe, maybe despite the fact they are in separate Houses, at least Ilvermorny seems to be very much about House unity. So there’s probably a lot more inter-House hangout opportunities. So they’d still meet. It’d still happen. Destiny is on their side.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: So boy, that’s really interesting. Listeners, too – because we don’t have the time to go through all of them, but listeners – please, in the comments, we’d love to hear […] where you think [not only] the main trio would be but [also] a variety of other characters. And maybe just for fun, try it the other way. Because now that we know a few American folks who definitely went to Ilvermorny, maybe try Sorting them backward [laughs] and see where they would go over at Hogwarts. But yeah, I don’t think there is a definitive way to answer the question about how those Houses line up. I think it’s more fun to just leave that one open, actually. But I think with that, I mean, the only other thing to mention is that, if you want to go to Ilvermorny, go get your blue and cranberry dress robes…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … with that Gordian Knot clip. Yeah, I did think that was funny that… So I guess you have a prominent representation of… If you do have Hogwarts Houses present, the prominent ones there are Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Because Isolt wanted to be a Ravenclaw. She had the roots and an object from Slytherin. I guess she had the bravery of a Gryffindor, and she had the kindness and welcoming of a Hufflepuff. So in all of that way, she was a perfect example of all four Houses who went on to make her own school that had all of those and none of them. [laughs] But with that, I think, for now, we shut the doors on Ilvermorny. But I am sure we will be visiting again before we know it. [laughs] Because, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Ilvermorny in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The closest we have is this beautiful artwork from Tiana Maros, which, again, I will make sure [to] share with you, listeners. But we’ll come back to Ilvermorny again soon, I’m sure. Hopefully, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will give us a reason to.

Caleb: All right, well, on that note, we want to thank Nicole for joining us for this discussion. We really appreciate you jumping in there with some really great thoughts, and thanks for being on the episode.

Nicole: Yeah, thank you guys for having me. I’m really excited that this worked out.

Michael: Yes, thank you, Nicole. You were an excellent guest. And it was great to have a fellow Hufflepuff-Thunderbird on.

[Michael and Nicole laugh]

Michael: So thank you again.

Alison: And listeners, if you want to be on the show, and you want to know what we’re talking about next time so you can get your audition in, our next topic is going to be the 800-word prequel, where Sirius Black and James Potter get up to a little bit of trouble. So we’re going to discuss…

Michael: Remember that, listeners? That was a thing.

Alison: [laughs] That was a long time ago.

Michael: That was a long time ago thing that’s canon. What is even happening? Yes, 800 words. We’ll find a way to talk a lot about it. [laughs]Alohomora! episodes – check out, and up at the top of the page, you’ll see a “Be on the Show!” tab on the main site. You can click that, and that’ll give you all the details for submitting. You’ll see a drop-down menu with specific topics. You can also submit a topic on the topic submit page, also on the main site, where you can suggest what you want us to be talking about next. And if you want to join us for that specific topic, let us know because we’re always looking for guests who want to join for specific topics. If you have a set of headphones and [either a] built-in mic on your computer or an external mic, and a recording program on your computer, you’re all set. We do not require any fancy equipment. And as a lot of our listeners have been asking this week in our comments… And I appreciate that, listeners. You’re all working together to gear each other up to get the courage to come on the show, which is awesome. In answer to your questions, average recording time goes somewhere between two [and] two and a half hours, so just be ready to settle in. [laughs] We do try to record on Sundays, but that does fluctuate, and we can work based on your personal schedule to accommodate you. We really want to do everything we can to make sure you can get on the show and join us.

Alison: And if you just want to chat with us [and] keep up with us, you can contact us [in] several different ways: on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, on Facebook at, [or] through our wonderful website,, and you can send us an owl with audioBoom at Just keep them under 60 seconds so we can play them on the show.

Michael: And one more time, we want to remind you that you can get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial today by signing up at That’s, A-U-D-I-B-L-E-dot-com-slash-A-L-O-H-O-M-O-R-A. As we mentioned at the top of the show, that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them audiobook… You will not want to miss that, with Eddie Redmayne reading that, and Audible is place where you can get it.

Caleb: And we want to give you one more reminder to check out our Patreon page. You can find us at And there are options aplenty there, and you can sponsor us for as low as $1 a month. All right, so I’m going to keep this brief because I don’t want to take up a lot of the listeners’ time – we have already done a pretty lengthy episode – but this is my, I guess, official goodbye to being a permanent host for Alohomora! Yeah, this is really strange. I guess, when Noah, Kat, Rosie, and [I] started this show – quite a few years ago now – we never really thought of what the end would look like. We just knew we wanted to reread the series, and we did that. So it’s been cool to accomplish that, to be the only podcast out there that reread the entire Harry Potter series and getting to add other people along the way. Laura was with us for quite a while, and getting Michael and Alison and Kristen… [It] has been such a joy, to have new voices on the show. Through my time at MuggleNet and other things, I’ve gotten to do so many cool things in the Harry Potter world that I know a lot of people do not or will not get to do. It’s been a really privileged experience through the years, especially when it’s something you love so much. But doing this podcast has, without a question, been the coolest, the best, the most special thing that I’ve done along that route. It’s because every week – or every other week – we talked about something that we love so much, and we did it with… I don’t even know how many people now. This is Episode 212, so 212 – give or take a couple of duplicates, maybe – people around the world, literally. And that’s what we wanted to do from the beginning. We accomplished that. And it was just always so cool to be able to talk with people about something we love, and almost always we were able to connect it to some bigger story or something bigger in our lives, and that’s going to be weird to not have anymore, even though I’ve been off for so long [laughs] because I’ve been so busy. The thing I was thinking about today as I was getting ready for this episode is, when we finished the reread of the Harry Potter series – which wasn’t that long ago – and we were like, “Oh, I don’t know what we should do. We don’t have any more chapters to talk about anymore.” And I won’t get into a lot of what we discussed, but there was like, “Should we even keep going?” And at first, I was like, “God, I don’t know.” I mean, we sort of fulfilled our purpose, but then I thought back to all of these experiences that I’ve had with people at live shows that we’ve done at conventions or other events and just talking to people through sound waves on a computer through the Internet and reading your comments on the website and how much the discussion means to so many of you, and not because the six or seven of us are special, but because collectively we’ve created this really neat community. And that was something that I did not ever want to see go, regardless of whether I was going to be a part of it long term or not. And that’s what I’m always going to remember about this show being so special, is meeting people who’ve come up and said, “This has given me a place to talk about something that I love that I don’t have in my daily life.” And I know that’s true for a lot of you, and I’m just really happy we created that. And thank you for helping us create that. Because we kept Harry Potter going for us when there [wasn’t] Fantastic Beasts on the horizon. We didn’t know that was coming. And it’s a really important fandom for a lot of reasons, for a lot of people to keep alive, and I think we did that. And we’re still doing that, and these guys are going to keep doing that. So yeah, that is my spiel, and it’s a little sappy, but I just have a lot of feelings about this show. So thanks for bearing with me and for challenging us on our ideas, calling us out when we needed to be, giving us really thought-provoking things, [and] helping us to think about things in new ways. That’s one of the greatest experiences of talking about something you love, is how it makes you grow.

Michael: Before you summarize what you’re up to, Caleb, I wanted to say – on your behalf and I’m sure, representing the whole Alohomora! team – we appreciate everything you’ve done for this show. We’ve only had to lose one original host so far with Noah, and we’re all very sad to see you go. But I think the really admirable thing about your decision is that you decided to leave because the work that you’re doing right now is really important. Your education is really important, and I think… Listeners, if you don’t know what Caleb gets up to in his personal life, he is in the center of things right now over in Washington, DC. And I think it’s really important, the work you’re doing, Caleb, and you exemplify, I think, one of the most important qualities about a lot of Harry Potter readers from our generation. I think there'[ve] even been studies done on this, that Harry Potter readers, actually, from our generation tend to be more aware and empathetic of things that are going on around them. And I think the fact that you have been very much aware and empathetic and participating in the choices we make in moving our country forward and the world forward… I think you’ve been playing a big part in that, and so I think you should just feel really proud, and we at Alohomora! congratulate you for your choice and for your continued success and what you’re continuing to do by exemplifying the ideals of Harry Potter.

[Caleb laughs]

Alison: Basically a prominent member of a real-life Dumbledore’s Army, and I so admire that, and I so admire how you do that and that that’s the work you’re going to do to make the world better and put the lessons we learned from Harry Potter into action in real life.

Caleb: Thank you, guys. That means a lot. Yeah, I think you’re right Alison. I don’t want to get too political here, but I just think we have to think about what Jo has taught us, what the importance of Dumbledore’s Army always was… Hold on to that. And I won’t get into too much of it here, because if you want to hit me up in the real world, you can catch me on Twitter – my name, Caleb Graves – and I’m happy to talk. But with that, please stay in touch. I hopefully will be back maybe someday as a guest host because I will definitely be listening as a listener like all of you now. And thank you so much for listening and for just joining this conversation with me over these many years. That will do it for this week’s episode of Alohomora!

[Show music begins]

Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Alison: And I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 212 of Alohomora!

Caleb: Open the Dumbledore!

[Show music continues]