Not well known to outsiders, Ilvermorny provides their students with mastery and graduate programs, and even opens itself up to non-wizarding students with the right credentials. Written here are excerpts from chapters in New World Crafting: A First hand account of wand crafting in North America by Catalina Calderon-Boot. This book starts with the Accounts of Isolt and James, the world's only known no-maj wandmaker.
Isolt has promised the boys wands when they become eleven. She has no idea of how to procure one though. Her need for secrecy, and the puritans ways make searching out other witches and wizards from england a risk we cannot take. I've studied the boys' birth parents wands, and I'm certain I could make new wood casings, but Isolt seems adamant that they will not work.
Isolt and I have collected many wooden sticks, some which have found their way into the fireplace. She seems to test them each night for what I don't know. I thought first she was weighing them against her own wand, but now I see its something different. Some whistle through the air, like a switch. Others make nary a sound and are like a teachers pointer. I wish I knew what she was looking for, it's disheartening to see perfectly good straight sticks that could be used to be turned away with nary a word as to why. It's a feeling she says. It's times like this I wish I had magic, I wish I could do more for her and the boys.
Isolt woke me in the middle of the night, I didn't even know she had left the home. She says she found the perfect core for the boys, before producing several small horns and long shaves of what looks to be much larger horns. She said the horned serpent gave her these. I know she goes to the magical creature to spy on it, but from what I understand its still an animal. They can't give you anything.
Either way I don't have long before Chadwick wakes up.
The first few wands were disasters. I split the wood and hollowed out a spot for the horn, but the sealant wouldn't stand through Isolt giving a practice wave. Thank god for a muffleing spell, the explosions of wands breaking would be enough to wake the dead. I need another method.
It's a long shot but I think I figured out something. Isolt is tending a pot of powdered horn and fat over the fire. I've drilled a hole through a few more branches and inserted pieces of the bigger horn shavings just in case something goes wrong. Once the glue is done I'll stopper up the wands and file them to a point. I've left the shavings in bowls, I don't think mixing the woods is a good idea. Obviously wands are more temperamental than stone. I'd rather remove variables then add them.
There seems to be more to a wand then wood, core and glue. Chadwick tried a few of the wands I made, but seemed really taken with the prickly ash wand. His mother tried to get him to consider the rather handsome aspen wand, but the loud bang and chunk out of the mantle put a stop to that rather quick.
I'm still struggling to find a core for the boys. There seems to be a tingle when I find a wood that seems good for wand work, its just something I seem to know, but cores are another matter. I don't know how to gage them, but the heartstring and hair within the wands of Chadwicks and Webster's birth parents seem shriveled and lackluster. I don't even know what a core should look like, and I don't think breaking my wand open to gain more insight would be helpful, as it will leave me without a way to perform and teach magic myself.
James seems frustrated at how I separate the wood. I've tried to explain what I'm looking for, what I'm sensing, but the tickle, the sense of purpose. He senses none of it. I don't know how to describe it to one who has no magic.
I think I've finally figured out what the horned serpent has been telling me. I shared with it my frustration of trying to find a good core for the wands for the boys. The serpent once more repeated about needing to be part of my family in order for me to be safe but did something strange as it did so. It's been blind for the past few days, though its eyes were clear today. It raised its head up and in the moonlight began scraping its face and horns against the rock. Slowly its skin began to separate from itself, the larger horns shed outer casings and some of the smaller horns came off completely, revealing soft larger horns along its body, glistening as it continued its shed. 'Take the horns,' it told me, 'Use them for your family and remain safe.' The snake moved back into its cave, leaving the skin and horn remnants.
James' first experiments have failed. He's gathered up the other woods and has begun what he says is a hail mary effort. He's having me make glue from the leftover snakeskin, small horns and deer fat. Hes hollowed out several sticks and has had me pick some out of the ones he's done. He's skill fully cut the larger horn sheds and inserted them into a few woods, and down right refusing to put them in a few, saying something doesn't feel right about the horn and those woods.
We've done it, we've made a few wands that actually work and don't explode at a simple wave. Chadwick should be up in a bit to choose his wand.
Chadwick has really taken to the prickly ash wand James has made. I'm disappointed, the aspen wand seemed so beautiful in his hand, but the chunk missing from the mantle seems to differ. Perhaps I'll have James make me a wand later when we have a better idea of what influences a wand. It seems my aunt kept more from me then I thought.
Isolt's school has really taken off. Those who can work magic nearby seem to be willing not only to allow Isolt to teach their children, but to teach us as well. Many seem wary of me until they learn how we are able to acquire wands. Some of the children find time between their chores to bring me sticks or bits and pieces of animals to make wands with. William has even gotten into the spirit of it sometimes.
Considering the risk of hide-behinds Isolt has been trying to find ways to locate and get rid of them. Isolt has also been messing with the fur, it seems she can make a thread that can turn invisible, though we have no known trigger for it. I've taken a few of the longer strands to fashion into wands, and they seem to work decently well. Nothing as volatile as the horned snake wand Chadwick has, but they seem to take well to attack and defensive magic.
There are other creatures I've used as well. There is a feathered dragon (a note next to the original text notes that the creature was most likely a snallygaster) that we had to kill to open up a forest path where it had taken refuge. I've tried both the feathers and parts of the heart, and the heart seems to be the more magical.
We've found the source of the storms. There is a large bird, called a bedagisips* (There is a note that this is the first name for the Thunderbird, which is the name used on official documents today). We are going to have to calm it down if we are going to survive the winter. The crops cannot take much more of this heavy rain and hail.
The feathers from the nest have been the focus of several of the students. They are typically gold, or as Isolt has said 'like sunlight', except when a storm seems to roll in. They shift to silver, gray and bright blue. I have taken a few for my own study. I've had Isolt separate some wood out, and I've taken some of the downy feathers and ground them down. I think I've found a new core to be possibly used for wands. Hopefully the feathers won't be as temperamental as the horned serpents horns when attaching them.
With a rough outline of magical education I've decided to turn my attention back to wands and other magical artifacts. When he has finished with his chores James sits with the wand wood, even the finished sticks he hasn't matched yet. He treats them with skill and tenderness. He's approached me several times asking questions I still don't know the answer to. What makes a wand core a good wand core? What causes a wand to choose a wizard or witch? Is it really talent that causes the different reactions to new spells or is it the wand and core? And what about those children who can perform some of the magic spells the indians have shown us but our wands go dead and refuse to work? I have no answers for him. Perhaps its time to dig deep into what really makes a wand work.
The story shared by one of the medicine men who came to see the storms seems to hint at a beast called bedagisips may be causing the disturbance. He insists that we must have done something to anger it, and that it is an angry spirit bringing the storms. Now that we know what to look for I'm heading out into the forest with a few volunteers. Hopefully we'll be able to soothe the spirit.
James has separated out several of the feathers we used for general study. He seems to be trying to see how to use them as a core. The issue with using them really stems from how we have been binding most cores into wands. The feathers seem to crackle with the promise of energy when messed with too much. Inserting them into a wand could spell disaster.
Persimmon and bedagisips feather. It took some thinking but the fussy wood seemed a good match for the equally fussy feather. The irritation from the sap was worth it, this wand is probably the most intricate and beautiful one I've made to date. I've had to varnish more then usual, to prevent the sap from damaging others' hands. I'll have to present it to Isolt and see what she makes of it. She should be happy to have another core to aid her studies.
It seems we've made a friend with the bedagisips. It arrived a few days ago to bring the first rains of spring. The boys have approached their mother the with idea of adding houses to the school, similar to the 'mythical' hogwarts. Chadwick is adamant that one be named after the bedagisips, but under the name thunderbird. One of his friends helped him work out the translation. With the other houses being things like Horned Serpent and Wampus he insisted and easier said name for the other english students to say. I've gone with the Pukwudgie for the name of my house that Isolt and the boys have insisted on. Not only for my wife's stories of William, the Pukwudgie who saved her life, but because they are crafters. They use poison arrows and their wits to survive. I crafted in stone, and now wood.
James presented me with another wand to let them try. Made from the small persimmon tree, its the first one of this wood he's asked that I try. With the bedagisips feather it already feels slightly charged on my fingers. Angry even. I'll study it, but I don't think I'll let others try it out. Not yet any ways. Between the hidebehind cores, the spare horned serpent wands, the wampus fur and and the jackalope antlers I'm still behind on figuring out why these things work and why feathers of the feathered dragon did not.
We've officially decided to name houses for Ilvermorny as we've been working on plans to build out more. James has suggested the name Pukwudgie for his house, and Chadwick has renamed the bedagisips to thunderbirds for ease of speaking. I believe I've started to crack some of the code, if only with the help of the horned serpent. He gave me the horns for my family, for I could speak to him. Connection to the ability to speak to snakes may be one, but I don't know how close it needs to be, since I don't know the history of Chadwick and Webster's parents.
Authors Follow Up
James Steward is known to be the only No-Maj to successfully craft a wand. It is theorized, based on the amount of Maya users that have sprung from his and Isolts 'squib' daughter, Martha that James may have perhaps been a dormant Maya user, as wands he created did not react negatively to his touch.
After these notes in their diary are decoded notes from their actual research. James being the first to use native woods to the states shows in differences on how wand wood works. Persimmon wood, better known in its wood form as white ebony is more temperamental than true ebony wands. It likes those who are movers-and-shakers who break away from the crowd and push through new paths. The combination of the thunderbirds feather strengthens the defensive and attacking capabilities of the wood, and offers help with transfiguration spells. James' method of making wands, known as the insertion method, is still popular today, though there are plenty of wand makers who also make use of the old split-wand method. However, the filied point that James pioneered has made its way into the split-wand method here in the states as well. New testing spells had to be made for wands made in such a way that cores became unable to bee seen through the new types of tips, which in the old world had been slightly open to allow the magic to flow out in theory. With the right type of wood glue however you can prevent the wood from insulating magic and allow the magic to even be bolstered.