It’s a tough time for you, being a Harry Potter fan and all. You want to believe that the world you read about in the books and watch in the films exists.
It doesn’t. At least not the way that you’ve been taught, and not what most people think of when they hear the word magic.
I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter as you know, but the one thing I find valuable in it, is that it makes a distinction between magic and witchcraft.
What is consistent between Harry’s world and in most stories like this? Nearly all of the magic is based on following nature’s laws. Take Harry’s wand for example …the materials come from nature, and have powers that they posses naturally. It’s sympathetic magic, where something you find in nature has a similar (or opposite effect) on us.
You’re walking through the woods and you’re bitten by a rattlesnake. You’re taken to the doctor and they inject you with what? Rattlesnake venom, which saves your life.
The concept that what could kill you could also cure you is an old one. Now it’s the 17th century, instead of a hospital, you’re taken to an old woman who produces a rattlesnake, milks the venom, mixes it up in a potion and gives it to you. If it had been an old man with a long beard and a pointy hat, he would have been thought a wizard. But the old woman? A witch.
Icarus strapped on wings made of feathers and wax, leapt off a cliff and flew. The wax in Icarus’ wings melted and he fell to into the sea. Witches were alleged to fly by smearing bella donna on their naked bodies. Today we can climb to the top of a cliff and leap from the edge, wearing wings like Icarus and fly. People figured out the laws of nature and by doing so gave us flight.
Love spells? Hunters spray dear urine on their clothes and deer come running. It’s a love spell. People wear cologne. Does it work? Absolutely.
Healing? The Eqyptians used myrtle leaves. The leaves of willows was popular in European countries, and here in America, birch bark. All helped alleviate pain. A woman who took away your pain in let’s say, England in the middle ages could easily be considered a witch. But an English gentleman who finds more interest in the hidden laws of nature than healing looks at these leaves and bark, and uses them to isolate Salicylic acid, and invents the aspirin. Now it’s no longer called witchcraft or magic, but science.
Because magic isn’t stuck in an alternate world, it’s right here around us, everywhere you look. You have encounters every day where the laws of nature are used by people to achieve a result. That’s magic. You don’t have to go to a special school for magic to learn it, because every school is Hogwarts in a way. There are those who believe that the world was created by Jehovah using arithmatic, and that the secret can be found in numbers. Think about that next time you wonder what good math class is.
And music class? There are men out there who have powers that the average man does not, who can make people move in crazy ways, give them your money and make women swoon. These men are better than the rest of us. These men are called musicians.
Don’t forget. A big component of music, rhythm, is little more than dividing time up into repeating patterns. Which is once again, the laws of arithmatic.
One side of our brain looks at the world and sees chaos. The other side of our brain puts the pieces of the world in an order that makes sense to us. It might not be, and often isn’t, reality. Sometimes the interesting bits are right in front of us, but our minds won’t let us see. Which is why it’s so important to keep an open mind. When you think you have things figured out, you don’t. There’s always something else to see when you change your point of view. The artist stops seeing the world with this filter turned on. A chair becomes planes of light and shadow. A tree becomes color, light and dark and often motion. Look at a forest in the distance and you probably see green leaves. Now look again, into the shadows, and you’ll see further in, more details, and a whole other world living there in the darkness.
The dark isn’t necessarily evil, just unknown. Magicians, wizards and witches were who they were because the laws of nature that they manipulate are unknown to the average person. Since these laws weren’t proven yet, not always consistently effective, they often found themselves in trouble. But once the laws began to be understood, they were no longer secret. And what was magic became science. Which is nothing but magic technique which has been proven to work.
Your Granny Bert taught me magic. She taught me to plant potatoes by a certain moon, to only have a teeth pulled when the signs were right, and countless other bits of folk magic, most of which I’ve long forgotten. Five hundred years ago it would have been witchcraft, and she’d have been a witch. Today we do many of the same things she did, but they aren’t passed down from person to person. We learn them in school.
If you choose to see magic, you’ll find it. If you want mysteries to solve, you’ll find them. If you want to know things which most people don’t know, you can. It’s all out there. You just have to look.
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