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Magic is all around you. It is woven into the very fabric of the world.
Merlin (as Dragoon) to Arthur[src]

Magic (also called Sorcery) is a powerful supernatural force in the land of Albion. It is limitless in potential and can manifest in a variety of ways, but is generally used to override the existing laws of physics and nature.

Though some of its applications can cause great harm, magic itself is basically neutral; its morality is determined by how it is used and the motives of the person using it.

Nature of Magic

There is no evil in sorcery, only in the hearts of men.
Merlin (as the Dolma) to Arthur[src]

As a neutral force, magic can be used with both good and evil intentions.

Magic is a powerful supernatural force woven into the very fabric of the world. Its morality is basically neutral, and as such it may be used however the user sees fit (The Mark of Nimueh, The Wicked Day, The Diamond of the Day).

However, magic is more than just a tool. It has rules and laws that dictate its use, most of which are tied to the Old Religion. One of the strictest laws of magic concerns the power over life and death (Le Morte d'Arthur).

Like most forms of power, magic has been known to corrupt those who view it only as a means to an end. This trend is particularly noticeable in sorcerers who use it for revenge, self-serving desires, or other dark motives. Because of this, many sorcerers (most notably the Druids) strive to use their magic as a force for good rather than their own personal gain (The Mark of Nimueh, The Sorcerer's Shadow, With All My Heart).

Practicing Magic

Magic requires incantations, spells. It takes years of study.
Gaius to Merlin[src]

Morgana casts a powerful stunning spell.

Magic appears to be limitless in potential and can be used to achieve a wide range of effects, including telepathy, telekinesis, shape-shifting, generating energy blasts, slowing down time, and summoning creatures and the undead. In most cases, the effects of magic can only be undone by the use of further magic.

Humans who practice magic are known as sorcerers. Some, such as Morgana, appear to be born with a natural aptitude for magic while others, such as Gaius, can learn to utilize it through years of study. Merlin appears to be an anomaly in that he was born with magic and could use it instinctively from birth (The Dragon's Call).

Most sorcerers invoke their magic voluntarily through spells and enchantments, though some innate magical abilities, such as Merlin's telepathy or Morgana's prophetic dreams, can manifest themselves in involuntary or uncontrolled manners. Experienced or naturally talented sorcerers can also learn to direct their powers non-verbally (The Dragon's Call, The Gates of Avalon).

The implementation of spells appears to vary hugely. Some take effect immediately after being cast, while others required the use of specific objects such as crystals, poppets, herbs, or potions. There are also some spells and rituals that must be performed at specific times or places. Blood sacrifices, for example, must be performed at the stroke of midnight on Samhain's Eve (The Darkest Hour).

Powerful sorcerers can sometimes lose control of their magic during times of emotional upheaval. Mordred, for example, broke a mirror with a telepathic scream when Cerdan was executed, and Morgana's anguished cries over the loss of her sister and immortal army caused the throne room to collapse around her (The Beginning of the End, The Coming of Arthur).

There are often physical signs that accompany the use of magic. The irises of human sorcerers, for example, briefly glow gold while their magic is being channeled. Similarly, the outcast Sidhe Aulfric and Sophia's eyes turned red when they used their magic, and the Lamia's eyes glowed green (The Gates of Avalon, Lamia).

Types of Magic

Type of Magic Description Photo
Alchemy A form of magic used to change the nature of one thing to another, such as turning lead to gold.
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Dark Magic A subcategory of magic used primarily for evil or sinister purposes, such as killing, torturing, or controlling other people.
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Dragonlord Magic A subcategory of magic used by Dragonlords to talk to and control Dragons.
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Elemental Magic A subcategory of magic used to control the four base elements of the world: fire, water, earth, and air.
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Goblin Magic A branch of magic practiced by Goblins to play tricks and pull pranks, usually in pursuit of gold.
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Magic of the Old Religion The branch of magic practiced by most human sorcerers and creatures of magic, it draws its power from the Old Religion itself.
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Necromancy A subcategory of magic primarily used to summon spirits and other undead creatures.
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Possession A form of magic used to take control of another person's body.
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Power Over Life and Death A subcategory of magic that can be used to revive the dead or create entirely new life, as long as another life is given in return.
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Seer Magic A subcategory of magic that allows Seers to view future events.
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Sidhe Magic A branch of magic practiced by the Sidhe, who are known as masters of enchantment.
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Telepathy A form of magic used to transmit speech into another person's mind.
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Time Magic A subcategory of magic used to manipulate time itself.
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Troll Magic A branch of magic practiced by Trolls.
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Persecution of Magic

I have been shunned, persecuted, and sometimes even hunted in every corner of the Five Kingdoms.
Alator to Merlin[src]

In Camelot, the practice of magic was punishable by death.

Though most of Albion seemed to be at least tolerant of magic, allowing Druids and sorcerers to roam freely and sometimes even employing them, those who practiced magic were often treated with hatred and distrust. Sorcerers were shunned and persecuted in every corner of the Five Kingdoms, and at times even hunted by mercenaries such as bounty hunters and witchfinders (The Witchfinder, Sweet Dreams, The Secret Sharer).

The reason for this hatred is unknown, but it has been implied that people without magic once suffered greatly under the Old Religion's rule. High Priests such as the Catha were highly skilled in the art of torture, and High Priestesses were known to have experimented with dark practices such as human sacrifice and necromancy. They also practiced a number of traditions that had the potential to cause widespread death or destruction, such as releasing the Dorocha on Samhain's Eve (The Darkest Hour, The Secret Sharer).

The kingdom of Camelot was particularly extreme in its hatred of magic. When Uther Pendragon first took the throne, misuse of magic had thrown the natural order into chaos. After his wife Ygraine died as a result of Nimueh's magical malpractice, he vowed to rid the realm of sorcery and instigated the Great Purge. The use of magic was outlawed and made punishable by death, which resulted in the execution and displacement of hundreds of sorcerers (The Dragon's Call, Excalibur).

Uther also laid siege to sites sacred to the Old Religion such as the Isle of the Blessed, destroyed or confiscated important magical artifacts such as the Crystal of Neahtid, and hunted creatures of magic such as Dragons and Dragonlords to extinction (The Witch's Quickening, The Last Dragonlord, The Coming of Arthur).

After Uther's death, his son Arthur ascended the throne. As he had already considered the idea that not all magic was evil, for many sorcerers Arthur represented hope for change in Camelot's treatment of magic and its practitioners. However, due to the nature of Uther's death, Arthur remained conflicted over the issue and did not alter the law, though his hatred of magic eventually diminished after Gaius explained that the old sorcerer hadn't been responsible for his father's death (The Wicked Day, The Secret Sharer).

After Elyan was possessed by the spirit of a Druid boy, Arthur confessed that he'd been responsible for the boy's death and profusely apologized for his misdeed. When he tearfully vowed to treat the Druid people with the respect that they deserved, he allowed the spirit to move peacefully into the afterlife (A Herald of the New Age).

Trivia

See Also

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