Magic in Fiction


#1

Although I have never watched/read Harry Potter or anything with very much magic and ‘reality’ in it, I am a writer and a loose idea is forming in my head with a magical world. I know ‘Harry Potter’ etc is not sinful. However.

I know any real magic is actually demons/satan, is evil, and a sin. Obviously in my written world that is not the case; magic is a natural force similar to gravity or magnetism that exudes, imperceptibly, from all things. It’s fiction, so nothing sinful there that I can see.
But to actually work magic in my world, one needs to be born with the ability, or at least the capacity. In my world, magical ability is a power of the rational soul, like free will.
Is writing about the soul in this way a sin? It makes logical sense to me. A witch in my universe would have the form witchness the same way a normal human has humanness, and the form of a human is the soul.

This might not make much sense. It’s hard coming up with logical explanations for things that don’t exist!

Also, God (obviously) exists in this story, because other then magic it’s just like real life. And magic isn’t a sin because in this world magic does not come from the devil. Is that also alright?

Thanks. :slight_smile:


#2

I dont think this is something a person needs to be born with, It is something that can be learned, but for the most part, it is a knowledge that has been lost to the ages. It was an art taught to mankind by the fallen angels, and mankind was not supposed to learn of such things.

I think using REAL magic was done by utilizing parts of our brain and ‘inner selves’ that people today do not know how to do, and probably was no accident this art was lost to the ages!

However there are some books that get pretty close, such as Solomonic magic, Ive read a few articles about this and while it seems impossible to even practice, it would be possible if someone was dedicated enough. There are some other types of magic that people use today, but it is nothing compared to what could be done in ancient times imo.

I think if alot of people had this knowledge today, our world would be in worse shape than it is…there would be alot more people committing crimes using magic, and doing violence against others using it, so imo, probably best we leave it to the ages.


#3

Harry Potter is pretty much He-Who-Ought-Not-Be-Named in these parts of the Web; I won’t elaborate, but you might want to look up some older threads. Moving on! :smiley:

I know any real magic is actually demons/satan, is evil, and a sin. Obviously in my written world that is not the case; magic is a natural force similar to gravity or magnetism that exudes, imperceptibly, from all things. It’s fiction, so nothing sinful there that I can see.

Exactly.

In the real world, “magic” is the work of evil angels (“demons”).

In a fictional world, it is entirely possible that some sort of magical ability could be built into the physical or biological “brute facts” of that world. In that case, there would be no question of sin, just as having a good memory or a skill for writing would not be sinful in our world.

But to actually work magic in my world, one needs to be born with the ability, or at least the capacity. In my world, magical ability is a power of the rational soul, like free will.

Again, it’s quite possible to come up with an ontological / scientific reason for this, without invoking anything sinful or demonic.

Is writing about the soul in this way a sin? It makes logical sense to me. A witch in my universe would have the form witchness the same way a normal human has humanness, and the form of a human is the soul.

You may want to avoid the word “witch” in this context, as it is a loaded and emotionally charged word (witchy, witch-hunt, witchcraft, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”). I personally use the old RPG term “mage” when I want to write about it. :slight_smile:

And no, it isn’t sinful, any more than C.S. Lewis portraying God as a literal lion in Narnia is sinful. Fiction speaks to the real world, but not necessarily of it.

This might not make much sense. It’s hard coming up with logical explanations for things that don’t exist!

Well, I’m sure you can work something out.

Also, God (obviously) exists in this story, because other then magic it’s just like real life. And magic isn’t a sin because in this world magic does not come from the devil. Is that also alright?

Of course, Tolkien would certainly agree with you. :slight_smile:

Good luck with your story! :thumbsup:


#4

It depends on how it is done. The ability to create a fictionalized world is a gift therefore without seeing a sample, it is difficult to provide guidance. I have read books where it was done well ie Narnia books or Harry Potter books, (despite what anyone has to say about them, they are brilliant works of fiction) to books where it was terrible. You have to follow the spirit of writing and see how the story plays out. Then try to get it published. These days, it generally takes at least a year, several drafts and luck before a book of fiction is published.

To judge properly you would have to give us an example.


#5

In The Lord of the Rings the Elves and Gandalf use magic and so, in a different way does the Enemy. I think the idea of Tolkien was that, in Middle Earth, magic was a natural power like gravity which could be used in line with its natural properties or by perverting them to unnatural uses. Wizards and Elves had a natural aptitude for magic like some people have a natural aptitude for maths or music but how they used that aptitude depended upon the personal choices and acts of the will which they made. Thus Saruman was corrupted by illicit desire and used his aptitude for perverse purposes.

In creating a fictional world which is also true to Catholic teaching it is always important to bear in mind for your characters that why we do what we do is at least as important as what we do. If they do magic or fly or morph from one sort of creature to another as long as they retain moral agency and have the freedom to choose the good and reject the bad then we can admire them for choosing the good as they perform their various more or less improbable actions.


#6

I “watched” one by accident once and found it very boring, I think it is aimed at very young children.

The problem that could arise is that magic is made fun for children and may want to experiment further, although I think with most films these days you have to explain stuff to children rather than just let them watch anything. Some move onto the Ouija board afterwards.


#7

I think the same could be true with our world, magic MAY be something akin to gravity or other natural forces, its just mankind has forgotten how to use this force.If it existed at one time, it is still there, its only up to us to unlock it and use it again.


#8

Speaking as an editor and writer, it’s tricky. In the past, magic was presented as an integral part of an alternate Earth setting or something strange but not to be taken seriously. Magic was even portrayed in old Disney cartoons. The original Star Wars movies repackaged magic as “The Force.” Prior to 1980, magic could still be portrayed in fiction, for the most part, as a kind of metaphor for power and abusing power in general.

All cultures have mythology and folktales involving magic and spirits. In the past, Christians knew to be careful about the occult and magic. Having any sort of magic items or things that involved divination were to be avoided by us. However, starting in the late 1960s, cults and other things began to spring up. Today, the occult has been repackaged as New Age. There’s nothing new about it.

So as long as “magic” is presented in a negative way or in such a way that it appears to be real only in the world you’ve created then it may be OK. I mean no real person can control or use The Force or be a Jedi - that was clear. Again, magic is presented as a power unique to a world but it should not be presented as something actual human beings can do. And trust me, there are people who imagine they can perform magic out there. For example, I saw a car with a sticker that read: “I’m a witch. Get over it.” Get over what?

I would not connect magic to the actual soul. It should be more like a superpower that comes from a source other than the devil or the soul. Some fictional beings, for example, can do things like magic because they have acquired a mythical magic item or their race can naturally use magic-like powers.

Peace,
Ed


#9

Well said, that’s a point of view I hadn’t considered. :thumbsup:


#10

Speaking of which…

You almost never see anyone using “Christianity” as a reason to complain about superheroes or supervillains. Johnny Torch shoots a fireball, no problem. But if Harry Potter does, suddenly that’s the devil.

If we just taught our children to be rational beings instead of filling their heads with “Christian” or New Age gobbledygook then maybe would understand that, in the real world, no one can will fire into existence.


#11

Another very good set of points. :thumbsup:

“Popular Christianity” can’t seem to make its minds up. Thus we have some of them shilling Harry Potter and Twilight, while others condemn those books as Satan’s spawn.

As for the New Age, don’t get me started on the topic. :stuck_out_tongue:


#12

Thanks.

Ed


#13

In the real world, there are cults, there are satanists and there are books claiming to contain ‘real’ spells. Is the New Age rational? Is it harmful?

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3223

We have souls. Demonic possession is real. The New Age has demonic elements disguised under new labeling: spirit guides, being one. Or claiming that you are God.

Peace,
Ed


#14

I wrote a TV script about the Antichrist.

He’s a kid in High School. He’s plagued by demons pushing him to embrace his destiny. He says he doesn’t want to be the Anti-Christ.

It’s about his struggles against all these forces pushing him to be something.

He joins a teen help board to give advice to his classmates. All his advice sounds very, very good. But the advice always leads to disaster.

I leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not he’s giving bad advice on purpose.

But it does beg the question: What if someone doesn’t want to be what they are destined to be?


#15

SybilMolly,
You should read J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories” found here public.callutheran.edu/~brint/Arts/Tolkien.pdf

It is a brilliant work by the Catholic fantasy master. As a writer myself, I would say that it is a must read for all who which to enter “the perilous realm”.

The first part is a little technical, but focus on page five and after.

Thanks!


#16

That would not be possible with the antichrist, he will most definitely want all that he has, and probably will even want more than that! Remember the antichrist will be possessed by satan himself, plus the persons body that is the antichrist will know what they are once they are born, its not something that comes their way, they will be born the antichrist.


#17

If anyone could do it, anyone could be a writer. :wink:


#18

JRR Tolkien has a great essay on this entitled “On Fairy Stories”. You should give it a read.


#19

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