Our Opinion: Obscured by mountain mists is Berkshires' oldest school


If anyone was capable of spotting a mist-shrouded wizardry school atop Mount Greylock it would been Henry David Thoreau, who famously visited in July of 1844.

He didn't write of it — but could the Renaissance man have been a wizard himself and sworn to secrecy?

The revelation Tuesday by J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, that the first North American wizardry school was started atop the state's highest peak invites such speculation. The Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, writes Ms. Rowling on her online series "Magic in North America," is hidden from "non-magic" gaze by a number of powerful enchantments that "sometimes manifest in a wreath of misty cloud." In words contained in an inscription on a stone atop Mount Greylock, Thoreau wrote "As the light increased I discovered around me an ocean of mist."

The Ilvermorny origin story begins with Isolt Sayre, an Irish lass born circa 1600 of wizarding parents. Their death leaves young Isolt in the care of cruel Aunt Gormlaith, who refuses to allow her to take her place at Hogwarts, the legendary wizarding school from the Potter series.

To further reduce a beautifully written tale to its bare bones, Isolt flees to the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620. There she befriends two young wizards, William and Chadwick, and meets a young stonemason named James who came from the Plymouth settlement.

The three young wizards resolve to build a school based on Hogwarts, and egalitarian Berkshire readers will be glad to know that the contribution of James, a "No-Maj" (not possessed of magic), means the school earned a reputation as "one of the most democratic, least elitist of all the great wizarding schools." Gormlaith shows up, but there will be no spoilers here. Read the story atpottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/ilvermorny.

Is there a way for the Berkshires to tie into the monetary magic of the book and movie series woven by Ms. Rowling? Building a Quidditch pitch atop Mount Greylock is problematic as Quaffles and Bludgers would be regularly rolling off the east side of the mountain and down to Adams. Perhaps the story could be tied into the long-awaited Greylock Glen Resort. Whatever happens or doesn't, it is pleasant to consider the presence of a wizardry school going back to the earliest American settlers locked in the mists of Mount Greylock.


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