I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the yesterday… Mostly because in the gap between Transformers and Ratatouille + The Simpsons Movie, there’s nothing else to see right now.
When Harry and ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ clash with the Death Eaters in the Departmet of Mystery’s prophecy storage room, most of the kids fire off little spells – stun blasts and the like. But Hermione lets off one nice, big boom of a spell, blasting the baddies away momentarily and starting all the racks of prophecy globes falling over.
Which got me thinking: What is the source of magic in the Harry Potter universe? After all, it’s not explained where the energy comes from. If it were out of nowhere, then logically Hermione and the rest ought to let off the tactical nuke spells every single time, instead of pinging away with finger pokes.
I guess it’s because I’m familiar with RPG games and their concept of magic points or mana. As a balancing factor, more powerful spells use up more magic points. So if you keep launching big spells, you’ll run out of magic energy reserves quickly.
And IMHO, magic can’t come out of nowhere. Energy cannot simply be created out of no energy (according to the First Law of Thermodynamics). Ergo, magical energy must have a source.
So what could the source of Hogwartsian magical energy be?
And remember that Harry Potter’s universe is one where flashy, fun-times-for-all magic exists in our own Muggle-run world of science and technology.
So let’s take the question further, and ask: What could the source of magic in our nonfiction reality be? Where do humans draw their magic from, since we don’t come equipped with nuclear-fusion-to-magic-energy-reactors in our guts?
As a fan of the fantasy genre, especially high fantasy, let me tackle this pertinent question by comparing several different continuities as I delve into the source of their magic.
In the Eragon universe, dragons can form a special bond with humans. The human becomes a Dragon Rider, sharing a special life-and-death link between them. This special link also gives the Dragon Rider access to magic – but using too much magic in one shot severely drains the caster.
Now, where the dragons get their magic is another thing, but suffice to say that Dragon Rider humans draw their magic power, or at least gain magic-usage, from their dragons.
Do dragons exist in the real world? No, Peter Dickinson aside. And especially not the spellcasting kind.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Ah, the great classic and grand-daddy of modern role playing gaming fun, Dungeons & Dragons in all its paper and electronic forms.
In the popular Forgotten Realms D&D setting, magic is drawn through something called the Weave. Spellcasters manipulate the Weave to alter its balance of energy, thus creating changes in reality that result in magical effects.
Does The Weave or a comparable magical energy barrier exist in the real world that we can manipulate to mess with the rules of physics? No, unless you count the freakiness of quantum theory.
MAGIC: THE GATHERING
In the multiple planes of existence that is the Magic universe, magical energy is called mana. Mana is drawn from the very land, and sometimes powerful artifacts. (But it can be argued that most mana-producing artifacts are merely storage devices for land-based mana.)
Anyway, magic-users draw mana from the lands they have formed a bond to, and use the accumulated mana to cast mighty spells and summon fantastic creatures to do battle!
The most gifted of these magic-users may actually have the in-born planeswalker spark, which makes them magnitudes more powerful. But it all still comes down to the magic of the land.
Do lands providing magical energy exist in the real world? No, ignoring the unproven claims of ley lines, geomancy and feng shui. Solar power as ‘energy cascading down onto the land’ doesn’t even come close! And definitely not in the channel-mana-cast-spell way.
You can also read my post about my tournament gaming experience, which has lots of links to card images that may give you a feel for how the game plays.
In the world of Warcraft, magic comes from several sources. Mortal or limitless-lifespan folk can use magic, sure, but they need a source to draw their magic from.
In the Frozen Throne storyline, the High Elves used to have their source of magic in the mystical geographic feature known as the Sunwell. It was created long ago by smuggling out a small portion of the original source of magic on the world, the Well of Eternity.
Unfortunately, the invasion of the Undead Scourge resulted in the defiling and destruction of the Sunwell. Their homeland destroyed, the High Elves renamed themselves as the Blood Elves and pledged revenge.
However, the Elves soon began to feel ill and apathetic. Having been exposed to the Sunwell’s magical energies for so long, they had become addicted to magic. Now with no source of magic to feed their addiction, they were suffering from magic withdrawal symptoms.
Fate played out its hand, for the leader of the serpentine Naga came to them with the revelation that the Elves could always turn to other sources for magic… Such as demons.
Thus the Elves pledged their allegiance to Illidan Stormrage, the Demon Hunter who himself became a demon.
Does the Well of Eternity exist in the real world? Nope. Does the Sunwell exist in the real world? No.
Do demons exist in the real world?
According to Christian beliefs, demons really do exist in our real world.
Did everyone read that right? Demons exist in the real world? What’s wrong with this blogger? Hasn’t he read The Demon-Haunted World and left his outdated superstitions behind yet?
But you forget. This particular nutter is a Bible-believing, fundamental Christian.
Of course you won’t see big, hulking, horned, hooved, flaming sword demons wandering around ripping people’s hearts out for snacks. In Christian doctrine, demons are always spiritual entities – non-corporeal beings who cannot take real physical form.
You can imagine how Hollywood would find itself hard-pressed to sell movies where the villians are all invisible, hence the popular portrayal of demons as physical-combat oriented warrior-beasts… Although Poltergeist and The Exorcist are good exceptions.
However, demons are no less real for all the Hollywood artistic license. Being spirits, they can’t be proven to exist through the usual scientific observation methods (although the reputed effect of spiritual phenomena on the electromagnetic spectrum may hold some promise).
So there you have it – if magic exists in this real world of ours, then demons are in all likelihood the source of it. And since Christian doctrine claims that demons do exist, then it is likely that practitioners of demonic magic also exist (knowing or unknowing of the demonic origin of their magic, see the mafia rackets bit at the Conclusion to this post).
But not fancy, flashy magic mind you… No area-damage fireballs and Patronus here.
In line with their spiritual traits, demons called upon by various practitioners (such as malignant bomohs) to attack the target by disturbing the mind, emotions and will. And through the psychosomatic process, to affect physical health as well.
That doesn’t mean that all mental disorders are necessarily the work of demonic influence, but simply that demons can sometimes meddle with normal mental health.
(By contrast, holy miracles are not limited to messing with the mind, as anyone familiar with the more spectacular scenes in the Bible knows. Nor are they ever invoked by humans, but always commanded and caused by God. And they are never for selfish reasons, but always to glorify God.)
This theory of demonic magic does have a Biblical basis, gleaned from the following passages (bolding is mine for emphasis):
They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to demons, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. – Deuteronomy 32:16-17
They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. – Psalms 106:36-38 (SHOCKING! Still happening in modern times!)
Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. – 1 Corinthians 10:19-20
While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. – Matthew 9:32-33
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. – Matthew 17:14-15,18
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. – 1 Timothy 4:1
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. – Matthew 24:23-25
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. – Revelation 13:13-14 (see whole of Revelation 13 for more ungodly magic)
Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. – Revelation 16:13-14
So what is the moral of this little exercise in high fantasy continuity? Well, if demons are the source of real ‘magic’ in our real world, then we shouldn’t risk having anything to do with them!
Like mafia rackets (see Virus/Anti-virus Scam on the Spiritual Plane for more), they will eventually demand a high price for their services.
It is the testimony of my Indigenous friend from Borneo that his uncle, a real life bomoh (tribal shaman), was full of deathly fear of something as he lay on his deathbed. We reckon that it was because he knew his magical patrons were coming (or already there) to collect their dues.
Perhaps you can see now why some Christian families do not want their children to become engrossed in the world of Harry Potter. Sure, it’s all make believe and rollicking good fun. And doubtless J.K. Rowling would not mould the Potter continuity to make his magic reliant on demons.
But those cute little don’t-know-better kids, who are so enamored of fly-on-broomsticks magic, might start experimenting with magic in real life… Hoping beyond hope to discover that elusive secret, the amazing gift of REAL MAGIC!
And God forbid, what they will find when they search long and hard enough… Or perhaps simply stumble onto the wrong names to utter in jest. It is never merely jesting to the demonic criminal syndicates of the spiritual realm.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. – 1 Samuel 15:23