[quote="Monica4316, post:18, topic:221595"]
In Harry Potter, Voldemort is basically a wizard who decided he wanted to conquer death.. and the way he wanted to conquer death is to find a way to always live on earth. He learned the dark arts and became a "dark", evil wizard, - and learned that he could split his soul into smaller parts if he killed another human being while doing some sort of complicated spell. This is all described as something very evil in the books. Then, using the complicated spell, he put a fragment of his soul into an object, and this is called a Horcrux. Voldemort made several Horcruxes. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, have to destroy the Horcruxes so that when Harry actually kills Voldemort, he won't come back to life through one of the objects.
[quote="curlycool89, post:20, topic:221595"]
Ok. horcruxes are basically pieces of Voldemort's soul hidden in an object (very dark and about as forbidden as you get by Rowling's in-world rules. Creating them involves murdering other people. Basically, everyone's completely horrified by it). He's got 7 (I think?) of them, and while they all still exist they can't kill him. So, Harry needs to destroy them all in order to make Voldemort "mortal".
The horcruxes are interesting because they do have a real world counterpart in Central Asian Shamanism. The belief is that a shaman or hero can place a portion of their soul into an object or animal, and they cannot be killed by magic unless that object or animal is killed first.
I don't know if this is Rowling's inspiration for the horcruxes. She may have come up with the idea independently. I know there's literature about this. It's in my Dictionary of Symbols book in several entries. The most obvious entry is the one entitled Soul.
Curly, the term applied to Merlin was Cambion. I just remembered.
[quote="curlycool89, post:20, topic:221595"]
I don't think I'd call that consistent. Saying "All magic is evil, except for Gandalf and elves because they're special" is more like a cop-out. If you wanted to create a world where all magic is evil, then the good guys wouldn't use magic at all. Otherwise, you've got yourself a situation where they're doing it for "The Greater Good".
Ok, so wizard and witches in HP are special. There, now we've given them the same explanation that Tolkien used.
How do we know that they're not some sort of God-given abilities (in the HP-verse)? Rowling established that it's not exactly consistent who's got magic powers and who doesn't (Hermione for example has muggle parents are no evidence of a witch or wizard in her ancestry, while some kids of 2 magical parents are non-magical ("squibs"), so we can't exactly just say "genetics" or even "mutation"). Rowling never established where the magic "came from", but it is clear that some people can and some people can't (Harry's aunt Petunia for example begged to go with her sister Lilly to Hogwarts, but couldn't because she's a muggle). There's a very bright line drawn between who can and who can't.
What we need then is a working definition of the term magic as it has traditionally been understood. Right now, magic is pretty much an ambiguous term, and I suspect that is the case with most children's literature.
The 1916 Catholic Enclyclopedia defines magic under the article Occult Art...
"...magic is understood to be an interference with the usual course of physical nature by apparently inadequate means (recitation of formularies, gestures, mixing of incongruous elements, and other mysterious actions), the knowledge of which is obtained through secret communication with the force underlying the universe (God, the Devil, the soul of the world, etc.); it is the attempt to work miracles not by the power of God, gratuitously communicated to man, but by the use of hidden forces beyond man's control. Its advocates, despairing to move the Deity by supplication, seek the desired result by evoking powers ordinarily reserved to the Deity."
I don't know if there is a definition for fairy tale magic as it applies to fictional stories. I know in much of the literature in the past the definitions have floated between an understanding of magic as mentioned above, and the harmless magic of fiction which has no context other than something happens out of thin air.
Using this definition, how does this apply to LOTR and Harry Potter?
If natural abilities are not magic, then perhaps the term is what has caused much of the confusion over it's place in both books. Nobody confuses comic book characters such as Superman or Spider-man of having magical powers in the traditional sense. The creators of the series define the origin of these two super hero's powers very well. This is not the case with all comic book heroes or stories. I just chose Superman and Spider-man because they are very popular.
[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:19, topic:221595"]
I think your analysis is a question of semantics. What is "magic" really? It's really just one of those arbitrary words in the English language that remain such unless a proper context is introduced.
This is very much like the arguments I hear in Art involving Form and Concept and how they affect meaning. What you have written would make an excellent topic for the philosophy section. I'm sure someone would bring up the term Essence.
Thanks for joining the conversation Monica! :)