25 Jul 2009

Magic

Tonight I went to watch Half-Blood Prince(finally!): it was quite thrilling and sometimes humorous too. Now The Illusionist is showing on TV. Which is why I decided that as the topic.

Definition of magic: any art that invokes supernatural powers. Or as I prefer to think, any kind of phenomena that currently cannot be explained logically. We see it almost everywhere: children's birthday parties, witchcraft, etc, and became a subject in stories like Harry Potter. However, how did magic first come about?

(Source, but looks quite amateurish)

Obviously the concept of magic is probably very ancient, about the time when humans could think rationally and declare unexplainable events as magic, but the practice of it(or at least recorded practices) was in the form of sorcery. Sorcerers would get what they want by mixing items into a concoction, chanting spells, and other means which probably also ended up in "the magical world of Harry Potter".

Magicians were considered very useful then: since they could "create miracles", kings employed them to help them win battles or defend the country, villagers depended on them to summon rain for their crops, and many other errands.

The supernatural magic used then belonged to three categories: homeopathic, sympathetic and contagious magic. Homeopathic magic involves reproducing the desired outcome on a smaller scale, hoping that the real thing would happen. For the Chinese, a small model of the abacus may help to improve a student's grades.

Sympathetic magic has nothing to do with having pity; an object is used to represent the person/object whose destiny/future you want to control - this object is in sympathy with the person/object.

Contagious magic "takes control of an object thought to be magically charged or empowered by its owner, in order to get control over him." So if you steal a lucky charm empowered by a person, you might be able to control him too!

Alchemy was also widely practised, but mainly to find out how to create gold. It's very similar to chemistry today; in fact, it is the stem of chemistry.

Hmm, maybe next post I'll describe more on modern magic...