J.K. Rowling, reigning queen of giving cryptic clues on Twitter, revealed a few more details this weekend about the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Specifically, she confirmed the existence of an American school of witchcraft and wizardry, dropping a few hints about where it might be located.
It’s no secret that Rowling loves puzzles, and back in October, she gave us a few Fantastic plot details via anagram. (The solution? “Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours…”) So we, of course, took it upon ourselves to come up with a few theories as to where this mysterious school may be.
Here’s what we know so far: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will take place in New York, where magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) will meet people who were educated at an American school. The school itself is not in New York, but the name is of “immigrant origin.” Rowling also tweeted: “Indigenous magic was important in the founding of the school. If I say which tribes, location is revealed.” (You can read Rowling’s entire string of tweets here.)
According to Pottermore, there are 11 wizarding schools in the world, including Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France, and Durmstrang Institute, which is “believed to be situated in the far north of Europe.” In a 2000 interview, J.K. Rowling said there is an American school, the details of which would be revealed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Most fans believed this to be the Salem Witches’ Institute, as Harry encounters a group of American witches with a Salem banner at the Quidditch World Cup, but Rowling tweeted recently that this isn’t actually a school.
.@jgrahamhutch The Salem Witches’ Institute isn’t a school, but a joke on the Women’s Institute in the UK.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2015
(This isn’t the first time Rowling’s contradicted herself, but we won’t hold her to this. Maybe things changed between the interview and the actual publication of Goblet of Fire.)
Got all that? All right. Here are some of our theories for where this mysterious American school might be located:
New Orleans seems to check all the boxes. French settlers founded the city, and the area has a rich and diverse history, with a significant Native American population. Plus, NOLA has cultivated an association with witchcraft, voodoo, and spells, which makes it the perfect setting for an American wizarding school. (It’s probably not Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies, but we can still dream about a Harry Potter-American Horror Story crossover.)
What better place for the American Hogwarts than one of the most mysterious locations in American history? The lost colony of Roanoke was founded off the coast of North Carolina by English settlers in the late 16th century, but when other colonists returned several years later, the entire settlement had disappeared. The only remnant of the colony was the word “CROATOAN” carved into a tree, which was the name of a small group of Native Americans who lived nearby. Historians have never found a definitive answer as to what happened to the English settlers, so who’s to say they didn’t team up with the Native Americans to found the Roanoke School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
Sure, Rowling tweeted that the Salem Witches’ Institute was not a school, but that doesn’t mean the actual school isn’t located in or around New England. Few places in the United States have as much of a history of witchcraft paranoia as early New England, and the English settlements in the area were often in conflict with Native Americans.
Okay, maybe we sound a little bit too much like Fox Mulder, but wouldn’t Area 51 be the perfect location for a wizarding school? Supposed UFO activity could be chalked up to wizards violating the International Statute of Secrecy, and the rich Native American history in the Southwest could easily influence a wizarding school in the area.
Of course, Rowling is known for being cryptic and clever with her hints, so it could be none of these. Besides, she only confirmed that Scamander will meet witches and wizards who attended the school, and the school itself may not even play that much of a role in Fantastic Beasts. Still, it’s always exciting to learn more about the wizarding world beyond Hogwarts, and coming up with crazy theories is the best way to past the time until Fantastic Beasts hits theaters Nov. 18, 2016.