The concept of magic is mythological, ancient, and has developed up into our contemporary times. No one really has an answer to the exact nature of magic or where the idea began in history. It may simply be an answer to explain what some people did not understand long ago. Human beings are quite creative with expansive imaginations, so someone, somewhere, came up with the idea at some point in the ancient past. Their motivations, reasons, and purposes are unknown, lost in time.
Historically, the use of the concept has taken on many iterations in human society for better or worse. In some cases to invoke fear in enemies (important to some in a brutal, dangerous world), to deceive (one reason for religious objections), gain prosperity (cha-ching!), to feel protected from the unknown/unseen, gain favor (or love!), or as a way for some people to feel empowered (I’m strong!). Others have a desire to feel important by gaining some secret knowledge or ability that others do not have. One example today driven by the prosperity motivation are illusionists. They use illusion and slight of hand to entertain a paying audience.
In the end, we know that magic is simply not real. Nope, not real at all.
In fiction, we see magic developed differently by authors over time. It changed just as the world changed with the introduction of technology and science. Magic transformed into other genres outside of fantasy to include technological explanations for the fantastic. Sci-fi and fantasy are often grouped together due to similarities and conceptual cross over. Super heroes are one example of how our ideas of the fantastic evolved. The genres of fantasy and science fiction are divided mostly by time frame (ancient/medieval vs modern/futuristic) and the source of the unexplained. One thing is true, many people enjoy entertainment that is not based in the mundane, explained reality we experience everyday.
As a fantasy writer, I’ve often thought about magic and how it fits into my fictional universe. My fantasy works do have a system of magic, and much of it is mysterious, unexplained. Though, I have tried to keep it simple and come up with a rational understanding to satisfy my own mental demand for an explanation.
Iron of the Innocent
There are four major areas of magic: arcane, clerical, nature, and psionic
The realm of wizardry is sourced within the fabric and energy of the created material universe. A wizard draws on the mystical energies for their spells. There are material, verbal, and somatic components to a spell. Practitioners are known as mages (males) and magistrix (females). The magisterial community are limited in their power due to wielding and channeling powerful energies and will tire with use requiring rest.
The realm of clerical magic is sourced within the powerful spiritual beings (deities) that inhabit the universe. Dedication and service to a chosen deity will often lead a cleric to receive favor and answers to their prayers. Though clerics are limited because they are not guaranteed an answer to their requests (will of the deity), nor are the limited deities able to focus on every follower at all times. Clerics are also known as priests (male) and priestess (female). Channeling the incredible power of a deity will take its toll.
The realm of natural magic is sourced within the energies of living things. Druids can draw on and shape this energy. Limitations include the impact of drawing on this energy to the environment as well as the druid’s own body’s response to wielding the power.
The realm of psionic magic is the shaping and use of internal energy of the living being. In so doing, the psionic practitioner expends their own strength and in the process will weaken requiring rest.
One of the major commonalities between all four areas as discussed is the cost magic has on a physical being to practice their arts. All are limited and must rest eventually.
Magic wielders act as a lense for the magic. In addition, the magic can be concentrated further by enchanted items that act as a secondary lense. Wands, staves, rings, necklaces, weapons, and other items can be prepared to do so.
Even wielding a magic item not related to concentrating magical energy can have an impact on the user. Such as using a magic sword or wearing magic armor. This has the same impact on wielders of magic as well as non magical people.
Being a magic user in any of the four areas of expertise is a natural ability that only a relative few have the aptitude to possess. Even fewer have the ability to master their art. The majority of the population are not magically gifted, but some may exhibit a talent spark from time to time.
There are side effects as well to being a user of magic in any of its forms. Some are physical, some may be mental or emotional, perhaps environmental, or even others may be impacted in some way. Which, as a writer, side effects are incredibly fun to explore.