Friday, March 22, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Sixteen - Secret Languages and Mysterious Books

Magical objects of course are not the only means by which powers can be exercised. We also see the specific use of archaic or secret languages and names in ways to practice magic. Spell books may be written in a long forgotten language or enchantments and verses inscribed on ancient stone tablets or written on the walls of tombs buried for centuries. In Earthsea, magic can only be used when speaking a certain language. In the Harry Potter novels, Rowling employs the use of Latinized words, many of her own invention, to give the spells performed by Harry and the other characters a more dramatic aura.

Sometimes too an evil character can be defeated or at least weakened by the use of his real name, as in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltzkin, which he always keeps secret as a result. Similarly, the way in which powers are obtained varies from one story to another. Some feature dusty volumes of forbidden texts from antiquity that anyone can read or at least translate. They are then able to use the magic themselves without having any innate magical ability. Sometimes a benevolent being chooses to bestow powers on an individual, perhaps when he or she is dying and needs a successor.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

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