I woke up at 3:18 a.m. and felt an urge to share what I’ve been reading: The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference, by Writer’s Digest Books. It is a collection of information about fantasy cultures and races; dress, arms and armor; commerce and trade; the anatomy of a castle and practicing magic. (I’m writing fantasies and, of course, all good fantasies must include magic.) The chapter on magic, by Allan Maurer and Renee Wright, is quite interesting.
In the same way that I was surprised that greed means simply the desire for more than what we need, the definition of magic caught me by surprise. “Religion is an appeal to the gods. Magic is the attempt to force their aid.” This got me to thinking, “Is prayer magic?” Of late, I’ve been asking for what I believe I/we need because of a series of financial surprises that caught me off guard. My computer works now only when it wants to. (It overheats and shuts down randomly, teases me with electrical crackling and beeping, and won’t open jpegs.) My eldest called me recently and said, “I’ve just deposited some money into your account. You need a new computer.” That was a very nice financial surprise. It’s on its way. Yahoo!
Back to magic: Magic is neutral; the application of it makes it white or black magic. It is used for three reasons: to produce, to protect or to destroy.
The laws of magic are:
1) The human will is a galvanic current, a material force;
2) When accessing the ethereal world, one has access to the Akashic Records (the recording of our thoughts and actions from all our lifetimes)
3) The soul is a mirror of the universe, in that everything in the universe is in the soul
4) A trained imagination can direct the will.
There are two worlds, our mundane, physical world and the supernatural word that can be accessed by the use of magic. Dark magicians call on demons and the like to do harm. White magicians call on divine aid to heal and bless.
The use of magic requires arduous preparations such as fasting, meditating, enduring pain, intense sweating and inhaling smoke. Magicians speak, using spells, incantations, invocations, etc; and they take action, practicing rites, procedures, gestures, and using magical tools.
Two principles are used: If one thing resembles another, they are connected. There are secret connections between numbers and letters; and between Heaven and the elements of the earth: soil, air, fire and water. Strong things are called on to impart strength, fast things for speed. Stabbing a knife into the footprint of a person or animal can hobble them. (Jeez!) Similar colors, sounds, meanings, and physical resemblances are used for spell-casting or ritual practices. The second belief is that if two things have ever had contact, they retain a connection that can be used, no matter how long ago or far apart they may be.
Family or traditional magic is passed on and is the religion of hearth and home that preserves various domestic rites that include the worship of Mother Earth, use of kitchen implements as tools of magic, practice of agricultural magic to “work” the weather and simple divination to see future husbands and children.
In Earth magic, the air, earth, oceans and all living matter are a single biosphere. Practitioners work to “awaken Gaia’s planetary mind.” They study dowsing, ley lines, the use of stone circles and sacred sites. Rituals intend to correct energy imbalances caused by bad planning. The imbalances are believed to create a “black stream” of energy associated with illness, accidents and poltergeist activity. Thank you, Earth magicians.
Gothic witchcraft is the dark kind, which can include reversing the practices of the Church, such as saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards or desecrating the Eucharist or a crucifix. Wright and Maurer say that the gothic practices include orgies, child sacrifice, cannibalism, and at times, pornography. Gospels are reversed in the Church of Satan, such as, “Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the Earth.” Or, “If a man smite you on one cheek, smash him on the other.” (Double jeez!)
Gypsy magic includes fortune telling, divination using a crystal ball, palmistry, reading tea leaves, and the use of tarot cards. Apples are often used in the rituals.
The Wiccan creed is: “An it harm no one, do what you will.” If a spell to do harm is cast, it will return to the sender with three times the power. Practitioners use goddess-given creativity to create their own spells and rituals, often as poetry or song, dancing or chanting. Sacred spaces are created by the use of the four elements, circles and calling for protection from guardians like Mighty Ones or Lord or Lady of the Watchtower.
There is more to the chapter, but my fingers are complaining. Though some of these types of magic may not be common in our time, I’m sure some are. We can see the darkness of gothic magic in the world as we write and read. These were the old ways of magic when humankind struggled with desiring access to the power of the invisible world, and went at it from different directions.
Once Christ’s blood was dripped into the soil of Mother Earth (our mother) the old ways were no longer necessary to become one with God. God has given Himself, Love, to us. Though fundamental Christians would adamantly disagree with me, God, Christ, will always be Love to me.
But, as far as fantasy writing goes, the Writer’s Digest book has lots of great information.