What Do The Ilvermorny Sorting Quiz Houses Mean? Here's An In Depth Explanation

This morning, you were either a Hufflepuff, a Ravenclaw, a Gryffindor, a Slytherin, or some existentially fraught combination of Hogwarts Houses. But today, thanks to the Ilvermorny Sorting Quiz, it turns out you are so much more than that. J.K. Rowling did what she does best, publishing the origins of the North American school of magic, Ilvermorny, on Pottermore this morning. It details in length the journey of its founder Isolt Sayre, an young Irish girl descended from Salazar Slytherin who fled from her wicked aunt on the Mayflower and, through a series of misadventures, eventually established the first formal magical school in North America. Of more importance to the majority of the internet in the present day, however, is her establishment of the four Houses of Ilvermorny, described in Pottermore as such:

  1. Horned Serpent – representative of the mind; a "great horned river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead."
  2. Pukwudgie – representative of the heart; a "short, grey-faced, large-eared creature."
  3. Thunderbird – representative of the soul; a creature that "can create storms as it flies."
  4. Wampus – representative of the body; "a magical, panther-like creature that is fast, strong and almost impossible to kill."

Now you can take a quiz on Pottermore which establishes where you'd be sorted in Ilvermorny. Unfortunately, beyond describing the physical attributes of the creature that the House is named for, it doesn't say much about its occupants. Once you take the quiz, double back here, because I did some sleuthing a few months back and feel relatively confident of my guesses. Here they are, coupled with new knowledge from today.

Horned Serpent

In Native American mythology, the horned serpent is mystical figure often associated with rain, thunder and lightning, and water. Unlike snakes as we associate them in the modern day or with their Slytherin mascot counterpart, in some folklore, their scales were used for divination and their horns for healing. Since water is the element most closely aligned with compassion, love, healing, and psychic ability, and the Horned Serpent is representative of the mind and favors scholars, this might be the Ravenclaw equivalent. The Horned Serpent in the tale of Ilvermorny is also responsible for helping Isolt create the first wands in North America by providing their cores, and for helping her establish the school. Isolt often fantasized that had she been allowed to attend Hogwarts in England, she would have been sorted into Ravenclaw, which seems to enforce this theory.

Pukwudgie

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Pukwudgies originate from Wampanoag folklore, and are said to be two to three feet tall and have features that resemble humans, except larger and more exaggerated. Among its many powers is the ability to create fire at will. Seeing as fire is associated with passion, desire, energy, and protection, and that Pukwudgie, according to Rowling, is a house of the heart, it might be safe to say that its equivalent Hogwarts House is Hufflepuff. William the Pukwudgie who alternatively is saved by Isolt and goes on to save her is a key character in the creation of Ilvermorny. The fact that it is rumored that William the Pukwudgie is still loyally looking over Ilvermorny long after Isolt's death seems to be a testament to this House association.

Thunderbird

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The thunderbird appears in a lot of Native American mythology, a large bird of great power and strength. While it has many different names in mythology, it is thought that its name originates from the beat of its wings causing thunder in the air. The element of air is most aligned with communication, travel, intelligence, and freedom, and Rowling indicates that Thunderbirds are representative of the soul. Indeed, the character who created this house is described as "intelligent and temperamental," and Rowling writes that Thunderbird House favors adventurers. I would argue that the Thunderbird in this case is meant to be most closely aligned with Slytherin, based on the thirst for knowledge coupled with ambition.

Wampus

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The Wampus cat, in Cherokee mythology, is a "fearsome variation of a cougar." In East Tennessee, legend posits the Wampus as a spirit of death and earth, and J.K. Rowling mentioned in a Pottermore post that its hair is used in wand cores. As the element of earth is associated with prosperity, wealth, strength, and death, and the character who created it is described as "argumentative but fiercely loyal," this might be the house most closely aligned with Gryffindor. The fact that it attracts warriors and is a house representative of the body seems to reinforce this notion.

Images: Warner Bros; Giphy