J.K. Rowling announced that she is releasing a four-part series on her "Harry Potter" fan site, Pottermore, detailing the history of witches and wizards in North America.
The first story dropped on Tuesday and gives us insights into what magical life was like between the 14th and 17th centuries. From the origins of wizarding and No-Maj — American muggles — communities to a Native American legend with a magical twist, Rowling's story offers plenty of new information about what life was like hundreds of years before Harry Potter and his pals boarded the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
Here are seven things J.K. Rowling just revealed about the history of magic in America:
Wizards discovered America well before their muggle — or No-Maj, if you're an American — counterparts, thanks to magical transportation options like brooms and apparitions. Sorry, Columbus, but the wizards of the world arrived in the Americas long before 1492.
When European muggles began migrating to North America in the 17th century, the Native American wizarding tradition was already established. Check out Dudley Dursley — as muggle as they come.
The earliest Native American wizards practiced magic with their hands. Wands were a European invention introduced later. Garrick Ollivander of Ollivander's famous wand shop in Diagon Alley.
Today, only the most powerful wizards are able to conjure magic with their hands. When he's not yielding the Elder Wand, Albus Dumbledore is a powerful-enough wizard to do magic without a wand.
Wizards who can change themselves into an animal, or Animagi, have their earliest roots in Native American lore. Back then, these wizards were known as "skinwalkers." Professor Minerva McGonagall is an Animagus. She can turn into a cat.
Legend has it that wizards can become Animagi by murdering a family member. In reality, many Animagi developed their transformative powers as a way to hide from people who might harm them. That rat in Ron Weasley's hands is actually an Animagus named Peter Pettigrew. Though Pettigrew didn't murder Harry Potter's parents, he gave Voldemort the information that led to their deaths.
Finally, Native American wizards had some seriously impressive skills when it came to animal and plant magic. Their potions were much more advanced than those of European wizards of the time. While not an ancient Native American wizard, Neville Longbottom also showed quite an aptitude for plants.
Source: Business Insider