Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Four - The Roots of Magic

A belief in the ability to influence supernatural powers by prayer, sacrifice or invocation dates back to prehistoric religions and may have originated in the need to explain aspects of the weather such as the wind, rain or thunderstorms. Magic in one form or another appears in ancient cultures around world in Egypt, Greece, India, the Middle East and elsewhere. Early texts of ceremonial magic include the use of mysterious symbols, the speaking of magic words to command spirits, the use of wands and other ritual tools, and the benign or destructive influence of spirits. A magic circle is often utilized as the means by which the magician defends himself against the spirits he is summoning and sometimes a child has to be brought into the circle to act as a conduit with those spirits. 

The world of magic is a breathtakingly complex one and in literature can be incredibly detailed. Tolkien’s masterful depiction of the magical realm of Middle Earth and all the creatures and beings that inhabit it in Lord of the Rings is a prime example of this. From all parts of the globe, the magic appears in traditions, legends, myths, folklore and literature and takes many forms, from areas more correctly defined as the occult to things we are more familiar with. Common themes in stories involving magic include natural forces that are not detectable by science or the interconnection of the cosmos through which all things are bound together.

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