Monday, June 8, 2009

Magical Monday Life Filled with Magic, Fantasy and Mythological Roots





When you think of the fantasy genre, a number of magical characters spring to mind. Classic images of kindly old wizards with long white beards, flowing robes and pointy hats; short burly dwarves after a hard day’s work in the mines; and evil witches stirring a cauldron of mystical brew are traditional characters that fill our imaginations.

Throughout history there have been many types of people said to have practiced magic. They have studied the mysterious arts of alchemy, astrology, occultism and herbology and been the inspiration for some of our best known fantastical characters.

Sometimes there is confusion between the characterizations of some of the magical folk, so for the sake of definition, in the fantasy realm wizards are described as practitioners of magic and lore masters of mystifying knowledge. Much of their magic is done through spells, hand motions and/or wand waving. Witches are female versions of the same. Sorcerers are similar but often associated with dark magic and the powers of all that is evil while a mage is defined as one who is one with the ways of nature and able to utilize its powers and bring about transformations. Occultists are those who study the occult and utilize supernatural knowledge.

The practice of magic has appeared in many cultures worldwide. It has been predominant in history from Africa to South America, through Asian shamans and through Greco-Roman times. It was practiced widely in the Mediterranean basin and even the Middle East in the first centuries BC. One of the most popular historical backdrops occurs in the Medieval and Renaissance eras as advisors to royalty such as the tales of Merlin and Arthurian legend. The Merlin whose legend survives today appears in 1135 AD is a mixture of a fatherless baby named Ambrosias and a tale of a “wildman of the woods” popular in British tales. As the child Ambrosias made a number of very accurate prophecies it was surmised his father was an unearthly entity and the character morphed into a wizard with druid roots throughout literature.

Many of us grew up hearing fairy tales of fantasy. As we have grown, so have the realms of magic and fantasy. Wizards remain popular today in literature, movies and in role playing games like Worlds of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons; these stories are filled with magic spells, potions and weaponry.

There are many authors who have created fantasy worlds we have come to know and love as classics – Frank Baum allows you to hitch a ride on a cyclone to enter his classic realm of Oz, CS Lewis keeps his world of Narnia tucked neatly into the back of a wardrobe, JRR Tolkien with his epic Middle Earth and, more recently you can take a train ride from the magical Platform 9-3/4 to enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter by JK Rowling. So many doors leading to fantasy worlds. What is it about these fantastical realms that capture our hearts? Is it the fictitious world? The characters? Or perhaps the mystery of the magic? Just a thought...
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10 comments:

Patricia Stoltey said...

I find fantasy more appealing (as a reader) now that I'm an older adult than I did when I was a kid (when I read mostly dog and horse stories and mysteries).

I think my new interest is fascination with each author's world-building techniques and imagination. I'm dipping into more and more fantasy and science-fiction novels these days.

Patricia

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Patricia,

I am happy to hear this - there are so many great stories out! A lot of fantasy stories are also flavored with elements from other genres - mystery, adventure, romanace even some have historical elements!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Karen Walker said...

So interesting,Nancy. I studied Wicca for awhile, so this is especially interesting to me.
Karen
http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

N A Sharpe said...

Really?!? Karen, I didn't know this. I'd love to hear more about it. That is a subject that intrigues me.

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

julielomoe said...

Where does shamanism fit into all this? I find myself drawn to Native American lore. Just finished a 15-month women's group, the Whirling Rainbow Lodge, based on the book "The 13 Original Clan Mothers" by Jamie Sams, which will probably be the subject of my next blog.

As a woman of Scandinavian heritage (3/4 Norwegian, 1/4 Swedish), I find myself drawn to the Nordic traditions too. I'm glad you're exploring this subject area - keep up the good work.

Julie Lomoe
Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso
http://julielomoe.wordpress.com

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Julie! Thanks! Native american lore is fascinating. Admittedly I don't know a lot about shamanism, but have been finding references to it in some works. I am interested in learning a lot more about it. I'll definitely be interested in reading about it in your blog!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Danyelle said...

I love those stories! I like to read them to enjoy and escape life for a while, but the really good ones also make me stop and think. And then I see the world a little differently than I did before.

Great post!

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Danyelle! What I like about fantasy is often there is a story within a story.


Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Helen Ginger said...

I think it's the new worlds with new beings and the idea that these worlds operate in a way similar to ours but they have developed in a fascinating way. We can leave our world behind for a few hours and enter theirs.

Helen
Straight From Hel

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Helen,
And therein lies the fun of fantasy - brave new worlds and characters, I agree!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

 
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