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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thaumaturgy and Magic Circles

I loved magic. My interest in it came mostly from Enid Blyton’s faerie tales, Greek and Roman mythology and TV episodes of David Copperfield’s illusions. Thankfully, those childhood days didn’t corrupt me from looking for other magic-potential events. Like voodoo practices or witches haunts or exorcism or the Heroes of Might and Magic game series.

Magic may be all in the mind but it never stops there. Since the mystique of magic is older than Lord of the Rings, so are its variations. I’m referring to a category of magic that I’ve read Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series; thaumaturgy.

Thaumaturgy needs strong concentration and a lot of time to prepare for it, making it opposite of evocation (the latter refers to fireballs and lighting bolts).

In my Webster’s dictionary (which is almost 20 years old, so take it with a raised eyebrow), thaumaturgy means that it is the study of miracles or the effects of miracles. In most fiction novels, thaumaturgy refers to the type of magic when a practitioner or a caster designs, enchants and creates a network of magic, either upon a medium or to achieve a purpose.

For example; a wizard uses a network of small mirrors to channel sunlight into an enclosed circle, thus trapping a dark spirit. He may augment the sunlight circle using various crystals and gemstones. Maybe he uses sapphire for protection or ruby for fire or opal for absorption or rose-quartz for healing.

The making of the sunlight circle is a form of thaumaturgy. Other forms of thaumaturgy are like enchanting a ring, or dispelling a cursed figurine or building a safehouse or making a puzzle trap. Lost, centuries-old tombs, maintained their deadly magical traps using thaumaturgy.

Thaumaturgy, if you do it right, is a whole lot cooler any fireball. Gandalf got nothing on this Chicago wizard and his zombie dinosaur.

Thaumaturgy is like the Engineering Major in a Magic Degree. Just as bank alarms needed electricity to work, an object of thaumaturgy needs energy to maintain its enchanted state, otherwise it’ll fade and dry out.

That factor is probably one of the reasons why magic circles are so popular in thaumaturgy. In real-world physics, a sphere is the shape of which matter can pack the most mass in the smallest space. The wizards of the past ages probably knew about this and utilize the circle shape as a preliminary to the sphere structure (or maybe they have a drugged-induced fascination for bubbles).

A simple circle is enough protection against most imagined evils. Just because you’ve only imagined it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Nonsensical I may sound, but I’m trying to extrapolate on what a magic circle can be made use of.

When a child creates a section of the bedroom he shared with his brother, he is already creating a mental security sphere against whatever his brother might throw at him. If the child uses duct tape to the floor to denote a borderline, this mental security sphere is now visible to his brother.

In magic, that example is one of many what magic circles are mostly used for; a protective barrier. In many structures of thaumaturgy, a magic circle can also be used as a portal, a prison or even a re-channeling of energies. This example had been played around in many popular media, from Charmed series to Marvel comics.

People becomes awed at an illusionist’s magic but hardly anyone would notice that his real workings are in his magic circle, below his feet. Note that none of his ‘objects’ ever stray far from the barriers of the magic circle.

Just as the network of energies in a hurricane or a whirlpool revolves around a circle, every line in a magic circle explains the flow of an accorded energy. Steady pressure energy to create stability or kinetic energy represented by a spinning top or the falling sand in an hourglass. That sort of thing.

Essentially, magic is in the mind of the caster. What you believe and what you concentrate on will affect more than just your actions. Like Disney’s Dumbo and his so-called magic feather, it is the strength of the caster that evokes the magic circles and channels the thaumaturgic energies.

Here’s a magic circle I’ve made.

I made this and others like it years ago.

Here’s my set of magic circles, all lined on my wall. The thaumaturgic energy I pry from them is Creativity. By themselves, these circles don’t flash fireballs or trap midnight monsters (though it’ll be cool if they did). They’re catalyst for my imagination; whenever I feel like I need to do work but no idea how to start, I draw energy to them and the beautiful lines work their magic to me.

I got them all lined up on my bedroom wall, along with other pictures.

Fanciful I maybe, but hey! Of all the magic theories and magic stories I’ve feed myself throughout the years with, this magic is mine.

1 Minds bloomed here too...:

kyels said...

Interesting symbols; seriously!


Anyway, do you play Magic the Gathering trading card game?

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