Lesson 6) South American Wizarding Locales
The peaceful water of the Black Lake was disturbed when a whirlpool suddenly formed and spit out a figure with a briefcase onto the shore. As the figure stood up, students recognized it as their professor who had made her way to her feet, muttering something about meddling creatures as he picked up her bag and looked at her watch. “I’m going to be late!” Grabbing her things, he made a dripping beeline to the castle, shouting greetings to students and flinging water with every wave. Pushing the door open to the classroom, the professor slung his wet briefcase onto the desk and began to spin his hand above her head and briefcase to dry quickly before stepping forward with a large exhale.
Apologies for being late, students! It couldn’t have fallen during a worse lesson, either. We have so much to cover, and each topic is more fascinating than the last. South America has an incredibly rich magical history, and I can’t wait to share even a small portion with you. Yes, sadly, we are only going to focus on a few civilizations that are the best or most important highlights of the continent, but trust me when I say that these are only the tip of the iceberg!
Calvanita - The Green Jewel of the Amazon
Though No-Maj historians are still under the impression that the Amazon Rainforest remained uninhabited (at least by properly developed civilisations) for thousands of years before its discovery, there is a large amount of magical evidence that suggests otherwise. In fact, magihistorians believe the contrary, that the rainforest was home to advanced pre-Columbian civilizations ranging anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 individuals from 100 to 1250 B.C.E. Now, when I say advanced pre-Columbian, your mind may travel to large structures similar to the Great Pyramid, but advanced does not necessarily mean grand or large. Rather, in the case of the Amazon, it also means sophisticated and elegant. Some ancient Amazon civilizations were a series of smaller cities that were connected via underground tunnels hundreds of miles apart. That is not to say, however, that they did not have a main city that connected all of the others.
An example of this is Calvanita, whose major city was located where the Xingu River branches off of the Amazon River - near present day Porto de Moz. Would anyone like to take a stab at why this was the chosen location? Yes, establishing a civilization between two large rivers allowed for abundant food and water resources. Not only this, but it also provided an excellent natural irrigation system for the community.
Magihistorians have named the network of cities that made up Calvanita the “Garden Cities of South America” or the “Green Jewel” for good reason -- specifically because their knowledge of herbology and potions was astounding. Remember those underground tunnels I spoke about earlier? They were not only used for transport of natural goods and passageways for people, but also to grow plants with different needs in the same place. For instance, a main tunnel would be carved from one city to another. Half of that main tunnel was used to grow plants -- of course, the “half” here is the lengthwise half, which allowed people to travel down one side (for example, the right half), while plants were growing to their left. This was an ingenious solution, as it was a safe environment in which to grow plants (no one encountered predators while harvesting or planting), saved space, and allowed for many plants with very different growing requirements to flourish in the same areas.
For example, plants that require little-to-no sunlight and lots of water would grow at the bottom while plants that required less water, but needed more sun, would be grown along the gradually sloped sides. For this reason, there were often terraces on the upper heights of the tunnel walls to allow for some flat surfaces (though some plants were also able to grow on the curved vertical surface. How the Amazon people were able to manage this while also preventing soil erosion and keeping the tunnels from collapsing is still unknown. However, many researchers believe that the spells used -- and they do believe there were many -- were not permanent. Many of these tunnels have collapsed after centuries of disuse, though fortunately a few still exist to be examined.
Moving on from these tunnels, While quite a lot of cultivation in Calvanita was done in these tunnels, even more was done in normal soil above ground. This made other systems of natural irrigation crucial, and the civilization had quite a few of these, or so we think. The most important of these is known among magihistorians as the “Amazon lines” (as a direct reference to the Nazca lines, though the latter are in a desert and the former are in a rainforest and serve entirely different purposes, but they didn’t, unfortunately, consult me on the name). The evidence for this natural irrigation system can be found all over the Amazon Basin, but the lines are often found in clusters surrounding small plains or deltas, which has led many magihistorians to conclude that each cluster surrounded a smaller city. There are quite a few of these, which means they’ve been quite the headache for the various South American ministries to conceal, and every now and again, more still turn up and must be swiftly hidden.
These are not the only interesting geographic features that Calvanita boasted, though the next one we will cover is even less understood. Recently, Dr. Andrew Baquace, a magihistorian who has devoted much of his study to ancient Amazonian magical civilizations and found ruins believed to be linked with Calvanita sites. These ruins featured multiple large structures that all followed a similar construction. Each “building” was a small mound or earthen pyramid featuring a downward spiral that ended in a hole. This hole didn’t penetrate the entire pyramid, just a few feet or so.
Originally, this was believed to be another method of irrigation, but more recent evidence has shown that it may have served a different person which could provide even more insight into the civilization.. Residue found within the hole was analyzed and determined to be a type of psychoactive plant. Due to its origin and where it was found, magihistorians believe that the Calvanita people living in the Amazon were skilled in divination and perhaps used plants some of the plants grown in their various irrigation systems for hallucinogen or psychoactive properties to increase the strength of their magic, the accuracy of the visions they had, or as potion ingredients.
El Dorado - The Lost City of Gold!
Let us move on to magical cities that exist today - though many non-magical folk consider the next place something that only exists in legends. However, if you’ve learned anything from Mythology, you’ll know that most legends have a fair bit of truth to them. For hundreds of years, treasure hunters and historians alike have searched for El Dorado - a city of splendor filled with incredible wealth. Naturally, such a story drew the attention of many across the world, though it was the Spaniards who took the most interest. If you recall, Columbus was allowed to set sail to the Americas in order to obtain wealth, so it goes without saying that his fellow Spaniards would jump on a similar opportunity. However, despite the numerous expeditions around Latin America, the city of gold remained a legend with no evidence to support its existence.
Originally, the myth of El Dorado comes from the Muisca tribe who occupy the Boyaca and Cundinamarca areas of Columbia. The Muisca practiced a ritual for newly appointed kings that involved gold dust and other precious treasures. Though an extensive number of rituals were performed before the king began his rule, this ritual involved the king being stripped naked, covered in gold dust, and placed upon a raft adorned with precious jewels and piles of gold. The raft would float to the middle of Lake Guatavita where the king would then wash the gold from his body and the priceless artifacts would be thrown into the lake as a blessing to their gods.
You may be thinking there is no such place in South America, maybe a society with less grandeur, but certainly nothing like the stories. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that is not the case! El Dorado is a magical community found in Columbia and consists of three different cities connected through a network similar to our Floo Network. Lake Guatavita - yes, the same one from the legend - is very real and is used for the same ritual I explained above, for the Muisca people have magical origins. In order to protect themselves, though, they have passed down the non-magical legend through generations in order to protect their secrets. Lake Guatavita lies on a large hill and its waters flow over a cliffside in an enormous waterfall. It is behind the Guatavita waterfall that the first city of El Dorado can be found. In the image, you can just see where the waterfall appears on the far side.
Zanetti, the first and most populated of the three cities has a population upwards of 300,000 witches and wizards, and is found behind this waterfall. While there is little space between the waterfall and the rock face, the tiny crevice boasts a door that is easy to miss. Even easier to miss is a partial inscription above the door. This inscription is actually the revered symbol of Zanetti, but is unfinished. To be granted access, one must finish inscribing the last lines of the symbol with a wand or other magical implement. one to inscribe the final lines into it before the door will raise and grant you access before disappearing as you enter. What a way to make an entrance!
Now, I did mention this was the city of gold (or one of them at least), and I promise I did not mislead you. Zanetti is indeed made of gold, though gold that has been transmuted, rather than naturally occurring gold. More often than not, it is usually just the surface that undergoes the transmutation process rather than the entire original element, which provides these cities with the grand look described in the legends without causing magical exhaustion for those doing the transmuting. As you might imagine, the people of Zanetti are known for their skill in alchemy because of this.
In fact, it was the late King Canto, who chose Zanetti to be the first capital of El Dorado in 1574 B.C.E. and trained architects within on the process of gold transmutation through the use of what many ancient techniques, which explains their success before modern transmutation processes came along. While these processes appear to have been lost to time, even among the citizens of Zanetti, their prowess in alchemy is still legendary.
Although the city’s advancements in alchemy were centuries ahead of their time, a woman by the name of Liana Vila, a descendent of King Canto, believed that there were more advances to be made that could change the lives of her people. Thus, the city of Quintana was built in 1185 B.C.E. behind the highest waterfall in Colombia (La Chorrera) and governed by Vila until her death.
Differentiating itself from Zanetti, Quintana is a city focused upon innovation more than anything else. It is this focus that makes the city the most diverse of the three, as experts from many different fields reside here including some famous inventors such as Alberto Vazquez, a natural engineer who used the powerful flow and pressure from the waterfall to create an automatic irrigation system. It runs on the pulsation of the waterfall’s water pressure and irrigates nearly 90% of the crops grown in Quintana. Another internationally recognized invention from Quintana is Peruvian Darkness Powder, which is sold in many shops all over the world.
Back to Vazquez, however, his invention was a milestone even in Quintana as he understood the mechanics behind the changing seasons as well, creating reservoirs of water during the summer months when the waterfall crashed with tons of water that could be used during the cooler months when the waterfall was not as forceful. Vazquez’s positive manipulation of the natural world to produce advancement created a revolution in Quintana, leading them to produce hundreds of world-changing technologies that earned them the nickname “ the Realm of Quintessence” - roughly meaning the “realm of perfection.”
As far as further innovations, according to the La Voz Magica -- a major magical news outlet in South America -- their newest advancements include the testing of self-task charms...something about charming a charm to perform its task for a given amount of time, I believe...though I couldn’t tell you the details. As you can see, Quintana is still quite the booming place. Speaking of, the population of Quintana currently rests around 100,000 and, despite frequent turnover, remains fairly constant due to a continuous tide of scholars and innovators who only stay for a few years to learn before taking their knowledge to the rest of the world.
As if the two cities already established as parts of El Dorado were not enough, Gabriel Aves, a descendent of Vila and Corto’s lineage decided to build a third and final city in honor of the success of El Dorado in 750 B.C.E. This third city, Cordeiro, is located behind the Cuarzo waterfall which is fed into by the River of Five Colors.
Also known as the Cano Cristales, this river can be anywhere from one to five different colors depending upon the season throughout the year (hence its name). Why was that important to Aves? At the time of Cordeiro’s founding, it was believed that the colors were physical manifestations of the blessings of the gods. Therefore, to be hidden by a river with a god’s blessing would mean wealth and prosperity to all who lived in Cordeiro. We now understand that the river's colors come from different types of algae that grow between seasons, but regardless, it has proven to be extremely useful when it comes to potion making, healing, and herbology: all subjects that are highly developed in Cordeiro.
Now that you know more about the three cities, let’s dive into how they are connected. When introducing Zanetti, I mentioned that there is a passageway behind the waterfall that could be accessed and opened by magic. While this is true for every city (though the symbols of each differ), this is not the primary mode of transportation taken by the Doradians. Their location by bodies of water offers the cities of El Dorado a unique opportunity for transportation that mirrors the Floo Network used in Europe and North America. However, rather than throwing silver powder into a fireplace and speaking your destination, the Doradians use a specific gold powder mixture and throw it into the lakes that have formed at the base of the cities from the waterfalls.
The gold powder interacts with the water and once the user speaks their destination, it will spit them out in the body of water nearest to their destination, which could be a lake, river, or creek. The biggest difference between our Floo Network and their network (often fondly referred to as the Lagoo Network) is that one must visualize the appropriate lake and/or surrounding area while speaking its name (meaning that they must have been there before, or at least have seen a memory or image of it). It is best to study where you are going, as there have been a number of accidents where visiting wizards and witches were unable to visualize their destination and ended up transporting themselves directly into a waterfall!
You may be wondering how such a place is secure if anyone can get in through this “Lagoo Network.” The answer is that the main bodies of water near each of the three cities are heavily guarded at each city and the only lake that operates within the Lagoo System outside of the three lakes near the El Doradian cities is Lake Guatavita. As you can imagine, Lake Guatavita, is also guarded by the Muisca tribe - a group of magical Colombian natives made up of primarily seers with impeccable memory. Therefore, the only way into any of the cities of El Dorado is to be escorted by a guest and permitted to use the system, or else shown how to enter the door. After, however, you can travel back and the members of the Muisca tribe will remember who you are and determine whether you are worthy to revisit their majestic cities.
Tarapoto - A City of Fire
Finally, we are leaving Colombia. While it’s a very magical place, there are so many other places in the world to see. For our last section of class we will be discussing modern Peru. .As much as I would love to discuss some of the fascinating ancient civilizations there, I do not want to step on Professor Morgan’s toes! So, if interested in that, hop on over to Ancient Studies (Year Five in particular) on the Inca Empire, Vilcabamba, and Machu Picchu. Instead of repeating information that is truly more in her area of expertise, I will focus on a trio of fascinating villages that still exist today.
Considered one of the five oldest wizarding communities in Peru, Tarapoto has been around since the 1700s and is the most popular destination for dragonologists in South America. Of course, this is quite the feat to conceal, as Tarapoto is a rather large city with far more Muggle distrcits than magical ones. As such, its three main magical villages are on the outskirts.
In the beginning, Tarapoto was home to one small village in northern Peru consisting of a few magizoologists and their families who wished to study the Peruvian Vipertooth in its natural habitat. Where better to do so than where the largest collection of the dragons are found? Interestingly enough, it was one of the children of a dragonologist who ultimately helped create a safe haven for the wizarding community in Tarapoto.
Said child, Miguel Morillo, was a young boy when he first wandered off through the forest while his parents were out looking for Peruvian Vipertooth nests. Stumbling upon a collection of rocks Miguel began to play in the surrounding area, including caves, which contained the very nests of Peruvian Vipertooths that his parents were searching for. As the story goes, the boy fell asleep in one such cave and was woken up by the arrival of the Vipertooth who was confused at the creature in front of it. Luckily for Miguel, the Vipertooth took care of him and the next day, he returned to his home to tell his parents the story. Naturally, his parents thought it was a child's tale and did not believe him, which led the boy to continue his adventures with the Vipertooth. The story follows the child to his adult years, where he allegedly formed a bond with the Vipertooth to leave their village alone so long as a descendent of his remained. This legend still circulates around Tarapoto today, but your guess is as good as mine as to whether it’s true or not. If it were true, it would certainly account for the significant lack of attacks Tarapoto has seen from Peruvian Vipertooth and why the descendents of the Morillos seem to have an uncanny ability to communicate with them.
Throughout the years, Tarapoto has grown and currently consists of three wizarding villages which I alluded to earlier: Morillo, Obregon, and Elika. The original village was given the name Morillo in 1801 in honor of Miguel and the legend of his protection. To this day, it is still the most visited village for any dragonologist to gain practical experience. Many students in Castelobruxo’s foreign exchange program intern in Morillo. Due to its popularity, Morillo has a fairly steady population of one to three hundred individuals that study there throughout the year, though the number was much larger before the Peruvian Vipertooth crisis in 1832.
Obregon was created as an accompanying village to Morillo in 1813, giving the families a safe and protected place to stay as Morillo became more of a trade school and training ground than an actual village. Obregon is the largest of all three with roughly 800 residents. With the influx of families, Obregon has turned into a collection of healers and magiarchitects due to many children studying at Castelobruxo during their time in South America. Many of these architects assist in the creation of traps and safe containment devices for the Vipertooths.
Finally, we have Elika, which was destroyed in 1835 (though later rebuilt) during the aforementioned Peruvian Vipertooth attacks that occured from 1832 to 1836. In the 19th century, the Peruvian Vipertooth population underwent an exponential increase, nearly tripling in size. It was during this time that a series of attacks by the Vipertooths targeted Tarapoto, but not all of the villages, only Elika. To this day, we don’t understand why that was the case, but the worst was on June 27th, 1835 during the night. Residents in Morillo and Obregon woke up to the cries of the Vipertooths and flames off in the distance consuming Elika village. While many rushed to help their fellow witches and wizards, others stayed behind to put up protective enchantments that would protect them from the fire of the Peruvian Vipertooth. Unfortunately, help arrived too late for Elika and the flames were too intense for anyone to get close enough to help. Those who had rushed to aid also faced the rage of the Vipertooth and many were killed. News of the destruction from those attacks was brought to the International Confederation of Wizards who worked closely with the Peruvan Ministry of Magic to contain the threat and decrease the population of the Peruvian Vipertooths. To this day, the population has not returned to its original numbers, but it has been significantly reduced and the Tarapoto community continues to strengthen its protective enchantments.
There is so much more to tell you about the magical communities of South America as this continent is truly a magical marvel, but unfortunately, as always, the rest will have to be something you discover on your own. I know we did not have time to cover everything in detail, but if you have questions, please send me an owl or come visit my office and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you. For your assignments today, you will have a mandatory quiz and essay to complete before next week. Have a great week!