I love anything and everything about fantasy and magic. It has always excited me. I end up watching badly made movies and series and reading horribly written books just because they have something more than the natural world in them.
As a kid I always wanted to see more magic in the real world but only ever saw small things that one might discount as being a trick, a coincidence or could just be attributed to fear of the dark. Sometimes I would experience things that I couldn’t explain through any natural means. That was scary sometimes. It also gave me hope that there was more to the world. That maybe magic was real. As an adult, I am convinced it is. Not because I read some book or watched some Youtube video. Not because I wanted it to be real so badly that I am seeing things. Because I have personally both witnessed magic in others and seen magic come from my own hands and from my own mouth.
There are so many examples of magic in our entertainment and in our myths and legends. In The Lord of the Rings movies Gandalf fights with magic as his weapon while Frodo is slowly consumed by a magical ring. Gandalf is beaten by Saruman who also uses magic and later Gandalf uses magic to defeat the balrog and take on the nazgul and in the end, strip Saruman of his power. The Harry Potter books/movies are all about magic. The recent Marvel movies are full of magic. Even Superman has a kind of magic. Most role playing games have a magical element to them with players being able to play magic wielding characters, dealing damage, warding, healing, travelling, all with magic. Our legends have magic in them: Merlin, King Arthur and Excalibur. Hansel and Gretel. Norse mythology, Greek mythology. All of human history is littered with references to magic, magical beings and magical objects.
In many stories about magic, the magic users or mages are born with the ability to use magic. In other stories people have to perform a ritual, complete a quest or enter into a contract with some kind of spirit being to empower them to become a mage. Both kinds of magic user often have something called mana, which is used to cast magic. More powerful mages have more mana and are able to cast more powerful spells. Power can also come from the relationship between a mage and the spirit that empowers them. As the relationship grows and more trust is developed between the mage and the spirit the mage might be able to cast more powerful spells and cast them more often in a wider variety of circumstances. Or perhaps the goals of the spirit and the mage start to align or their temperaments become more similar.
Many mages have some kind of moral or political leaning to their power, often related to the source of their power. A mage empowered by an earth spirit would be given power over the earth and might be politically or culturally opposed to a mage empowered by an air or fire spirit, depending on the relationships between the spirits. Some stories about magic have morally neutral spirits such as earth and air spirits, but other stories instead have morally aligned spirits, such as a peace spirit or a spirit of love/desire such as the Greek Aphrodite or perhaps a spirit of rage. Mages are sometimes limited in when or where or why they are able to cast spells, depending on the source of their power. Let’s imagine that we have a world where magic is powered by emotions. In such a world it would be normal that it would be hard for a mage feeling hatred or rage to heal someone, because healing and hatred are not found too close together on the spectrum of actions and emotions. We would imagine however, that a mage feeling hatred would be well able to hurl a fireball. What motivates a mage and a spirit will also have an effect on how things play out. If either has the desire to dominate or control, it will often lead to events that are generally considered to be bad, either for one of them or for others.
So what does magic look like in the real world?
Many of our stories, games, myths and legends draw on reality to fill their In the real world, the world where people live and dream and love and eventually die, magic is an extension into the physical world of the spiritual world. The physical world and the spiritual world exist side by side and affect each other in a mutual fashion. We live in both worlds and affect and are affected by both worlds. We are able to do this because we are part spirit and part body. If you don’t believe in the spirit world or that you have a spirit then magic is probably not for you. You’ll struggle to find any story or framework that has magic in it that does not acknowledge both. The way that we are able to use magic is to enter into some sort of contract with a spirit and for that spirit to empower us to be able to bring the spirit world into the physical world. This does not always look quite like a contract, and some people are unaware of what it is that gives them power, but when you get down to the root of things, you will always find a spirit behind any magic.
Now, spirits are not nearly as complicated as one might imagine. There are no special arcane means by which we can understand them better. They are different from us, but not wholly so. They are conscious beings with personalities and everything that goes along with that. They exist in the spirit world but are able to appear in the physical world and interact with it. They are able to communicate with us both through audible speech and through your spirit, where your spirit hears them and presents what they are saying to your mind. Sometimes this arrives as complete sentences with grammar and everything, other times simply an impression or a single word. Sometimes we can even see pictures or visions.
There are many different kinds of spirits, just as there are many different kinds of people: powerful spirits, weaker spirits, regional spirits, personal spirits, morally good spirits and morally bad spirits. Lots of different kinds with lots of different ways of describing them! In common language we often make a simple separation between the different spirits, we often just call them angels and demons. This distinction is based entirely on the allegiance of the spirits. Demons serve the most powerful and most evil of all the spirits. Angels serve the most powerful and most good of all the spirits.
I am going to wrap up there. I tend to ramble if I let things get too long. In my next post I’ll get to interacting with spirits, the first step in being able to use magic.