MAGIC and the spiritual dimension.
Magic in my universe is rooted in the spiritual world. It begins with the Biblical witness where God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. It occurred to me that the Spirit has power over matter and energy in this way, not only to manipulate the material universe, but even to create “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing). And what is magic as commonly understood but the exercise of some power to affect this material universe?
I have no doubt that someone from the first century would find electric lights magical. That sense of awe might be diminished on learning to turn the light on and off by themselves, but even if they learned to use the remote, I am still sure they would count as magic how I managed to fit all of those people into a flat television screen. I have seen enough of the science to imagine a teleportation device (like on Star Trek). But what first century person would see that as anything but magic?
In these examples, we see how science and technology have taken various “energies” found within this material universe and used them to manipulate matter and affect life. You might imagine cooking in a microwave oven.
In my universe, spiritual power takes precedent over both matter and energy. You might then imagine a wizard calling or commanding microwaves to gather around your person and frying you where you stand without needing the oven. You could also imagine a wizard commanding you to change, and the matter (as in “Let there be light”) would be unable to resist changing. Thus, POOF! You are a frog.
Of course, while the human spirit has the promise of being made greater than the angels, at the present time the human spirit is so diminished we cannot normally touch the world “magically.” That is reality. Even the wizard, opened to the power inherent in the spirit, would likely need something – a wand, a potion, gold dust perhaps – to bring their spiritual power into focus and to manage it.
But, you may ask, if the human spirit is so diminished, how is it that any human being might gain the power of magic? That will have to wait until the next post: MAGIC and the fallen world.
MAGIC and the fallen world.
The Celts (Irish) have a legend about the fall of Satan from Heaven. They say when God created the universe, he created three groups of angelic beings. Satan and his angels were charged with testing creation. Michael and his were to defend, support or uphold creation. Gabriel and his were the heralds, to announce the goodness of creation to all.
When Satan rebelled and was cast from Heaven, he took his third of the heavenly host with him. As they passed through the realm of the earth, however, some of Satan’s followers had a thought, perhaps their first independent thought. “Why should we blindly follow Lucifer into Hell?”
Those spirits stopped where they were, no longer fit for heaven, but not fully rebellious. They were stuck, but by the grace of God, they were allowed to take on form. Why? Because a spirit has neither eyes nor ears nor any other apparatus to apprehend this universe. By itself, a spirit is little more than the blind force as it is often understood to be. By taking on form, these spirits could perceive the world and know what they were doing. And why was that important? Because they still had a job to do: to test and try creation.
Though there is a continuum of spiritual beings from the greatest to the least, it is possible to crudely divide these earth-bound spirits into four types which initially would include the Titans, the greater spirits, the lesser spirits and the little spirits.
The Titans were nature spirits in the largest sense of the word. It was the children of the Titans who became the Gods of old that were turned in their task from testing creation to testing and trying men’s souls.
The greater and lesser spirits were rarely found in human form, though the cold north wind might be found by sailors as a giant with an evil eye. The Djinn, the various types of which run the scale from greater to lesser spirits, sometimes took on humanish (or ghoulish) form. The spirits of purity were generally seen in the guise of the unicorn. Greater Spirits in China often wore the form of the dragon. The howling spirits of war and blood lust did appear in Celtic lands as women, but then, they had a touch of the blood of the Gods in them.
The little spirits or sprites are too numerous in their kinds to name. There were once sprites in the air, the waters, the fire and the earth, but the sprites of the earth are the ones that are best known to most people. In describing these, I often simplify matters by using the descriptions given in the Eddas: There are dark elves, including goblins and trolls, and light elves, including fairies and brownies, and there are dwarfs in between, including ogres, imps and the like. Curiously, these little ones are not immortal like their bigger, “cousins.” Though very long lived, they nevertheless die after a time and await judgment even as mortals do.
In my universe, these little spirits often need help themselves to focus and concentrate their own spiritual power. Thus we see wands and fairy dust and such depicted in many “fairy tales.”
Most greater and lesser spirits need no such helps, and for the most part they are immortal, though many can be killed; but then many of these spirits are nature spirits and in their area of watch they need only a word of command like “let there be light” to affect this world.
The Gods, of course, are also limited, but it is a limit in their authority, not in their power. As the saying goes in my time travel fantasy, “there is almost nothing the Gods cannot do.” They can bend, shrink or expand space and time and change the course of the world simply by deciding how it must be. To be able to do almost anything, though, does not mean they are so authorized or that it would be wise. For one, competing Gods cancel each other out and that makes them vulnerable, even like Baldur, to die. For two, these spirits also wish to regain Heaven (and who can blame them). Most want to do their job well. Some…
Exactly what wickedness in magic is will be covered two posts from now. For the next post, I will say something about how magic came into the human race.
MAGIC and the human race
Following the days of humanity’s fall from grace, the human race remained rudderless. Cain killed Abel, Enoch did something right, Noah saved a few people in a gopher wood boat, and Nimrod built a tower to his own glory. The Titans and spirits on the earth were still charged with watching over creation, and the human race was still off limits. It was after Babel that the Gods came into their own, some by violence on their own fathers and mothers, and were given the charge of testing and trying the souls of people and, in a real sense, bearing witness to creation and the Most High God (the One True God) so that no one would have an excuse.
Unfortunately, even in those early days before Babel, the “Sons of God found the daughters of men fair…” All the more so after the tower fell. Spiritual power, the source of the magic, passed into the human race through the children born out of the union of God (or spirit) and mortal. Heracles (Hercules), Achilles and Aneas are three very good examples. Over generations, that blood and power would diminish, but it was one good way in which magic came to people. Merlin, they say, had an incubus for a father.
THE other way magic could come into people was by gift. The Princess, the life of my time traveler born in 228 BC was gifted by Artemis to hunt and track and was considered the best archer in her generation. The fact that she used her skills to hunt and track down certain men is a bit of a story, but the power she had came by way of a gift, and it was found over time that such gifts often, though not always, also passed down through the generations, always diminishing, until disappearing in the general population
Even the littlest spirits could gift people in small ways. Think of the three fairies who spoke blessings over the cradle of sleeping beauty.
Now, in all cases, the gift or blood would eventually breed out over the generations, unless people of magic married only those who also had magic. This occurred in my stories of the Other Earth. It is the place where many people, in particular people of magic went when the great persecutions came with the rise of the last and greatest of the ancient empires (and their collapse into dark ages) and the rise of the world’s great religions. Of course, when a small population inbreeds, there are other dangers, like a very powerful wizard with the mind of an idiot… but that is another story.
On our earth, in our day, there isn’t much magic left – though I won’t say there is none. Even though when Christ came the whole configuration of spiritual life, the source of the magic on earth changed. The Gods gave up their little bit of flesh and blood and “went over to the other side.” Most of the greater and lesser spirits did this also, and though their spiritual forces, the spirits of the Gods, still function on the earth, they are once again deaf, dumb and blind.
Into this place, the Most High (God, himself) has come to “gift” people, his own Holy Spirit coming upon them to do, not what we call magic, but miracles. At the same time, the angels of God are able to empower and defend his people, and good thing, because the demons are presently able to both empower some for use and attack many. Steal, kill and destroy is what demons do best, but wickedness in magic will have to wait for the next post.
MAGIC: Wicked magic
Since all magic is sourced in the exercise of spiritual power over this universe of matter and energy, it is not appropriate to say all such magic is intrinsically wrong. Such thinking led to the death of many an innocent person in the days of the witch hunts. But simply having the power or ability to do something is not wrong anymore than to suggest that a basketball player is wrong for being able to sink baskets or a singer is wrong for singing. Just because there was a Doctor Mengele, that does not mean we should now condemn all doctors.
The right and wrong of any situation is not in the ability, but in the use of that ability. In short, wickedness in magic, like anywhere else, is when a person uses their ability in an inappropriate or twisted way. In other words, it isn’t a question of talent, but one of authority.
You can read for yourself how the prophets of old were reluctant to exercise any power, even God given power, and even when God told them to do it. God had to say, in effect, this is what I am authorizing you to do: raise the widow’s son, speak to the people of Israel, call down plagues upon Egypt.
It is no different in the New Testament and the early church. First they prayed for authority and then they spoke boldly. The reason the Witch of Endor is condemned is not because of what she did – she certainly had the power to do it – but because she had no authority to do it!
Authorization is a nebulous thing when the ancient Gods themselves are presumably under the guidance of the Most High God (the source) and yet exercise considerable independence in both thought and action. The God’s, of course, could do almost anything, but they at least knew that not everything was expedient. Most knew not to cross the line, but then the line often appeared as a large gray area.
All the more when it comes to humans with magic; humans who have a history of not listening to God. The temptation is to do everything a person can do, and to seek ways to increase their power and abilities so they can do even more. Wisdom speaks of restraint and seeking out the purpose for the gift.
One way to tell wicked magic is when the one with magic attempts to control events and the environment around them for their own personal benefit. You can be sure that other people will be hurt in that process, and God is not likely to authorize damaging others for personal gain. A good lesson for non-magical life.
Another obvious wicked use of magic is the attempt to take power over others and shape (even possess) their minds and hearts. Freedom of conscience is a God given liberty and it ought not to be abused. Even non-magical tyrants should learn this.
Now, I am not going to list all the ways magic can be turned wicked. I could not possibly list them all, so let me just reiterate that wickedness (evil) in magic is seen, not in the magic itself, but when the magic is used in inappropriate, twisted and unauthorized ways.
This is how I have conceived magic in my universe.
2 thoughts on “Magic”
I really like your blog. That sounds incredibly trite after reading the depth of what you just said above, but perhaps it’s the simplest way for me to say it. I enjoyed this. I double majored in psychology and theology, so I found this page in particular quite insightful. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thank you for reading. Nothing trite about it. I did behavioral sciences and religion at the university, a double major with a writing minor, and then subjected myself to three more years of theology in graduate school. It just means I was educated way beyond my intelligence… Glad you enjoyed it.