The Reality of Magic
I'm sure there are many who just have no patience or interest in
"magical stories"-- for them, magic is just simply a ridiculous notion. What
about the rest of the folks out there? There are various answers to the
success of magical fiction, but what accounts for the widespread and almost
legendary appeal of the major magical works of the last 30 years or so?
Is "magic" a concept that is so far out of the realm of our reality that there is nothing to relate to it?
Star Wars, The Matrix, and Harry Potter all share one element that I
think is partly responsible for their success and widespread appeal. It isn't that they can just irreverently and naturally toss magic around. There are
rules and reasons, and they must first learn what those are. But most of
all, they must believe. Luke needs to, Neo needs to, and Harry needs to.
With regard to Harry, his explanation for why he was able to conjure a
patronus certainly qualifies, but we may have only scratched the surface of
how much he needs to believe in himself and his abilities. Also, to conjure
a patronus, he needs a particularly strong emotion.
These elements of belief and emotion can strongly be compared to prayer.
Belief, emotion, and focus are all elements that are attributed to give prayer power in many faiths. How different is prayer from casting a spell? One definition of "magic" is: "supposed art of influencing or controlling events supernaturally." Sounds like the objective of many prayers out there. Experiments have been conducted to try and show "scientifically" whether or not prayer works, and many of these experiments have seemed to show that yes indeed, prayer does work. If it isn't the specific "God" that helps a prayer to fly, then what? It can all be attributed to astounding coincidences, but it still gives a good portion of people out there a frame of reference to magic when a seemingly impossible request in a prayer is answered in sometimes mysterious or even magical ways.
How about just believing in yourself, period? Anyone who has had a lot of success in sports or other areas of life will often tell you how much they feel confidence, believing that it must happen and will happen, and visualizing it happening plays a role. How magical was Kirk Gibson's '88 World Series home run? You don't have to be a sports fan to appreciate a wounded man overcoming seemingly impossible odds. Another definition of magic is: "any mysterious, seemingly inexplicable, or extraordinary power or quality; producing extraordinary results." Gibson himself
attributes his success, not only in that moment, but in his career and life, to receiving treatment at a place called the "Pacific Institute"--- a Seattle based
clinic for the mind and soul. The basic Pacific Institute formula is: image
times vividness equals reality. By visualizing it happening, by truly believing it will happen-- it will happen.
I watched Gibson for a good part of his career, and I have never seen an
athlete that was as "clutch" as he was. In the bottom of the ninth, with 2
outs and his team facing defeat, he was a great magician. When he had to do
it, when he must, when his emotions called for there being no acceptance of
failure, he always seemed to come through--- even though in baseball failing
7 out of 10 times is considered very successful. Magic?
Stories of amazing physical feats when the pressure is on are abundant in
our society. People sometimes seem capable of doing seemingly impossible
things when the moment-- often correlating to their emotions or desperation---calls for it. It MUST happen, and now. There is no room for doubt. Adrenaline may be the scientific explanation, but then, does that not make adrenaline "magical"---at least on some level? Rowling's explanation that even "muggles" can perform magic in emergencies relates well to these scenarios.
Placebos are a mystery in medicine. It is medicine that is administered
that is not known to have any physiological effect on an illness, such as a
sugar capsule. It is intended only to make the person believe they will get
better. There are many studies out there that show the success placebos
have, and research is being done to try and show exactly why. There is
often no medical explanation for how a person is able to overcome what is a
clearly recognizable and diagnosed illness. People who have been diagnosed
as paralyzed for life, with no chance of recovery, often completely overcome
it. And almost always, they attribute their success to "belief". Cancer
has been seen to disappear with no conventional medical explanation. There
is even debate on whether HIV has been seemingly overcome all these years by
former basketball star "Magic" ( :D ) Johnson through treatment, or by his "attitude". Magic?
The mysteries of civilizations past may also lend a hand to an acceptance of
stories of "magic". Stories of miracle workers, prophets, witches, and wizards make up today’s myths and legends and sometimes religions. Also, there exist many astounding monuments that cannot be sufficiently explained by modern science. The pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, and the trilithon as
well as many others--- when you really look into them the notion of
"wizards" seem to be a more logical explanation of "how" then what current theories have to offer regarding these supposedly primitive past societies.
There are many mysteries to our past, and while the ancient monuments,
miracle workers, and prophets may be easily written off by many, they are still a root to acceptance of magical stories in our time.
How about those prophets? Even today, many claim the ability to divine the
future and the debate rages on. Sometimes the debate centers on the
reality or not of psychic ability, and sometimes the debate focuses on "how".
Detectives have been known to ask psychics for help in solving crimes, and
the CIA and "Remote Viewing" experiments are verifiable fact. With regard
to the latter, how about Uri Geller of spoon-bending/telekinetic fame? He
made it as far into the mainstream in the 70's as to appear on popular shows with Merv Griffin, Jack Paar, and Barbara Walters, among others, to demonstrate his ability and was apparently successful. Geller was written off by many when he appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and failed.
What about twins and studies and stories of their connections? Mothers who
seem to "divine" when their children are in trouble? Was Nostradamus a great prophet or ingenious con man who came up with a bunch of generalities
that can apply to many things? Is it all just a bunch of hogwash, or is there some type of psychic/paranormal abilities that are a reality? If so--Magic?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them? Perhaps in your own backyard.
A sheep and a goat cannot naturally mate, but because of their genetic
similarities a "geep' was created in 1983 through a process called "cell
fusion". The product was a sheep with its wooly coat but a goat's horns.
Advances in the late 20th century to the present in genetic engineering/biotechnology are astonishing. The legends of Chimeras, Minotaurs, Centaurs and Sphinxes can today be seen in a light like never before. What exactly isn't possible? Were these myths--- just myths? Asking that question today isn't as crazy as it was 20-some years ago.
"Magic" may not be such nonsense after all. Perhaps this is part of the draw that these magical stories have, that these mysteries, coincidences, and accomplishments may have an explanation that isn't so tidy and logical. That the real world has some magic in it after all, and stories of people being able to call forth that power regularly intrigue many. Maybe muggles "never notice nuffink, they don'..." and the examples of the reality of magic are all around, sometimes just waiting to be defined as such. Could we all be Lukes pre OB-Wan, Neo's pre Morpheus, Harry pre Hogwarts? Just needing a bit of training--- and a stronger belief that it is possible?
No, the wind didn't carry you onto the roof of the school to escape Dudley's
gang, Harry. Perfect muggle attempt at ascribing logic or chance to magic
though. Those muggles did have him trained well.
www.placebo.UCLA.edu/ (placebo info)
(perspective concerning the Carson incident from Gellers web site)
(another look at Geller)
(Remote viewing info)
(prayer experiment info)
(info on ancient monuments)
(another perspective on ancient monuments)
"Bottom Of The Ninth" by Kirk Gibson with Lynn Henning (Pacific Institute source)
"The American Century Dictionary"---1995 (magic definition)
"Webster's New World College Dictionary"---Fourth Edition, 2001 (magic definition)
"Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling---chapter 3 pg. 36, U.S. edition (partial quote from Ern to Harry on the Knight Bus)
Dr. Masaru Emoto performed some experiments with water which seems to show that our thoughts and feelings can affect water. The web address can explain it better then I can, and "What the 'Bleep' Do we Know?" is a movie out in video stores now which mentions Emoto's experiments. (Friggin fantastic movie)
If our thoughts can affect water, how do they affect something that is 90% water?
In 1993 in Washington DC, the violent crime capital of the world, an experiment was conducted in which 4,000 participants were called together to meditate to reduce violent crime. The results were significant.
"The maximum decrease was 23.3% when the size of the group was largest during the final week of the project. The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion."
The above quote taken from the "Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy" website in which a more detailed explanation of the experiment can be read at-- http://www.istpp.org/crime_prevention/
This was also briefly discussed in the what the bleep movie. http://www.whatthebleep.com/dcstudy/
"....in 1987, physicist Robert G. Jahn and clinical psychologist Brenda J. Dunne, both at Princeton University, announced that after a decade of rigorous experimentation by their Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory, they had accumulated unequivocal evidence that the mind can psychically interact with physical reality. More specifically, Jahn and Dunne found that through mental concentration alone, human beings are able to affect the way certain kinds of machines operate. This is an astounding finding and one that cannot be accounted for in terms of our standard picture of reality."-----"The Holographic Universe" by Michael Talbothttp://www.princeton.edu/~pear/
And Jung, talking about the function of the archetype of the old man in the life of a young person:
"By forcing him to face the issue, the old man saves him the trouble of making up his mind. Indeed the old man is himself this purposeful reflection and concentration of moral and physical forces that come about spontaneously in the psychic space outside consciousness when consciousness is not yet -- or is no longer -- possible. The concentration and tension of psychic forces have something about them that always looks like magic: they develop an unexpected power of endurance which is often superior to the conscious effort of will."
The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales