People ask me about my beliefs on magic fairly often. Usually right after I say I don’t read Harry Potter. Oh, but it gets better. “You read the lord of the rings. That has magic.” Indeed it does. Don’t shoot me for it please.
I love to read, and one of my favorite authors happens to be J.R.R.Tolkien. I also have what seems like an uncommon view on magic. I’ve had so many conversations now that I would like to explain my opinion once and for all within a series of blog posts covering the different aspects of magic I have discussed. I must begin with a caution. Naturally I am no expert, theologian, professor or anything else of the sort. I happen to be a young writer with an opinion, and the wisdom of my elders and betters to guide me.
So let’s start this series with the basics. The definitions of magic and witchcraft. First, the literal definitions. Second, the true definitions. For the purposes of this argument I am not getting into things like magic tricks and carnival magicians. What I am discussing here is much more serious than pulling rabbits out of hats. The literal definitions are taken almost word for word from the Merriam Webster dictionary.
By definition magic is the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. It also means an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source. Witchcraft is the use of sorcery or magic, or communication with the devil and/or demons. The biblical definition includes such things as calling up spirits of the dead and other forms of wizardry.(1 Samuel 28:8-19)
The soul of magic does not always take such obvious forms as teenagers huddled in a basement offering their blood to demons in exchange for power, or witches and wizards casting spells during the winter solstice and other pagan practices. Those things are real, but magic can be subtle. On the outside it can seem innocent and good. But when it’s boiled down to the core, magic is the attempt to gain power and/or authority that isn’t yours through unnatural means.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous assumptions to make is that magic is all make believe. Christians say that demons are real and angels are real, yet they want to write off magic as a thing of fairy tales. Regardless of what you want to believe, the evidence of its existence is all around us. Even though they are nothing in eternity, demons can grant people power in limited ways.
As Christians we know that such power is like trying to use a three dimensional hologram instead of a real sword. Christ is our Lord, and nothing can hold victory over Him. The power of this world crumbles in the end, and it will never satisfy the hunger within people’s souls. But for those who don’t believe in God, it can seem like an attractive deal.
Witchcraft is a form of rebellion against God, even if some who wield its powers may not realize that, or even acknowledge that there is a God. Before sin entered the world, Satan rebelled against God and tried to gain all of the power and authority that belongs to the Creator. People are often the same way. It’s not pleasant to realize just how weak and powerless an individual is. In this world it’s nearly impossible to overcome one’s enemies, let alone anything else. This knowledge often drives people to seek power and strength. Having been foiled once, lucifer takes any chance he gets to manipulate people and even give them what little power he can. This means that temporarily people can wield supernatural power. Spells and incantations occasionally even perform whatever they claim to do. The catch is that this power doesn’t last forever. Like the one ring to rule them all, the strength of magic will only betray its wielder in the end.
Because of the nature of magic, there is no “white” magic. The end does not justify the means. Regardless of how noble your cause is, you have to complete your goal the right way. As a Christian, I believe in trusting the Lord, and leaning not on your own understanding. (look up Proverbs 3:5) Communicating with the devil and trying to gain power your own way, seemingly free from authority to any higher power, clearly contradicts that statement.
Before we can begin discussing the use of magic within stories, it must be understood that we are dealing with something real, not just a theoretical concept. The difficulty is in knowing the difference between what I will from henceforth refer to as witchcraft, which is magic according to the dictionary definition, and the things that I will refer to as “magic” such as unicorns and fairies. I will be discussing this difference in more detail in my next post.