Magic, or sorcery, is a powerful force in the land of Albion and is limitless in potential. Embed directly, magic is the ability to affect and change the world around the user. Similar to any power, its morality is reliant on that of the user - just as there are those who use it for their own ends or to harm others, there are benevolent users of magic who wish to channel it for good.
Nature of MagicEdit
Magic is a natural force, albeit a very powerful one. As such, it is neither good nor bad, but simply a force that exists and may be used however the user sees fit. Magic can be evoked voluntarily through spells, though also appears to manifest itself in uncontrolled manners such as Morgana's prophetic dreams.
Magic also has its own set of laws, specifically when dealing with power over life and death. Most magic is tied to the Old Religion so the High Priestesses have a greater understanding of it through their deeper practice and study, though others may possess any level of power as well. Some individuals demonstrate great magical ability and are tied to a foretold destiny, among them being Merlin, Morgana and Mordred. Unlike other magic users, Merlin is one of rare users of magic who learns the power rapidly and powerfully.
Magic can achieve very wide range of results, among them shape-shifting, telekinesis, telepathy, slowing down time, energy blasts and summoning creatures or ancient forces. In many cases, the effects of magic can only be undone by the use of further magic. Magic is not just a tool to be used, and it is often stated that magic has rules, to the extent that in some cases, it takes on a will of its own.
Some people, such as Merlin, can use magic intuitively and require little or no training to be able to manipulate their powers. For others, such as Gaius, magical power can be developed through years of study, but is ultimately limited to magical aptitude. Many initially unlock their powers when experiencing extreme emotional upheaval, which can in turn produce a loss of control over these powers, potentially causing massive damage. If the person in question lives among a magical race or is trained, it is likely they will come to understand and control their abilities earlier and more safely than isolated magical individuals.
Though many magical abilities involve the manipulation of real-world elements, some are more abstract concepts such as prophecy, telepathy and mind control. Wielding magic, particularly for those without innate magic, generally requires incantations, spoken words of power of the Old Religion. It seems many prefer to pronounce a spell as it gives a focus for the magic to be channeled. However, more experienced or naturally gifted magical individuals like Merlin, Morgause, Morgana and Edwin Muirden have been seen to use non-verbal magic, a practice which appears to be linked to overall magical aptitude since Merlin, for example, can produce a wide array of effects without speaking while others are far more limited.For the majority of magical acts there is physical sign accompanying its use. In the case of human sorcerers, the irises of the user glow briefly gold as the magic is channeled. However this is not the case for all magical abilities as Balinor's healing spell, Mordred's telepathy and some of Morgana's visions, for example, do not produce this effect.
The spells themselves vary hugely. Some may require the use of specific objects such as magical crystals, poppets, potions, herbs, or runes while others may have a direct effect without involving external objects. The complexity of a spell's preparation relies entirely on the difficulty of the spell cast and the power of the sorcerer. Longer incantations are generally shown to be more powerful, though this is not always the case. For some areas of magic there are several different spells which provide the same or a similar effect, such as healing spells and stunning spells. Additionally, among other creatures the change in eye colour may be of a different hue as seen in the case of the Lamia, whose eyes morphed green when its magical power was activated, and of Aulfric and Sophia, two outcast Sidhe, whose eyes turned red when they performed magic.
Abilities and PowersEdit
Magic is capable of changing and controlling the natural world (including events, objects, people and physical phenomena) through mystical, paranormal and supernatural means. One who practices magic that derives from occult sources is usually called a "sorcerer". However, aside from warlocks and witches there are many other supernatural beings that exist - such as dragons.
Types of MagicEdit
As an ancient art that has been practiced for countless centuries and with many lifeforms gifted with it, magic has varying branches that have developed to suit the different practitioners. Among these are Sidhe magic, Troll magic, the magic of the Old Religion (used by most human sorcerers), Dragonlords magic and elemental magic.
The magic of the Sidhe (and apparently of the Pixies as well) is a very powerful and rich one. The spells of the Sidhe are spoken in Old Irish and their spells produce a red iris colour. Sidhe Magic can control and posses humans, open portals to Avalon and channel its powers through enchanted staves. Humans who are naturally gifted with magic can master some aspects of this kind of magic, as Merlin was able to wield a Sidhe staff against its owner.
Despite the unpleasant appearance and culture of trolls, troll magic is very powerful to the point where dragons were allies of trolls. Trolls appear to use their magic for devious ends, involving emotional manipulation, mind control and creating general disorder. Trolls appear to be resistant to human magical spells and have some control over the elements.
The magic of the Old Religion is spoken in Old English. It is the most frequently seen among human sorcerers, being the root of all human magic. It is also the source of magical power for the dragons, the Dorocha, the Cailleach, the Dochraid and the Dragonlords. Balance is a key principle in the Old Religion, and in order for something to be created, something else must usually be destroyed. The most potent example of this is the circumstances of Arthur Pendragon's birth, where in order for a life to be created in a barren woman, a life must be taken in exchange, resulting in the death of Ygraine Pendragon for the birth of her son.
The magic used by Dragons and Dragonlords is a subcategory of the magic of the Old Religon, but is based around a deep and potent bond between a Dragonlord and a Dragon which ties them together. In this way, a Dragonlord may bring forth an unborn dragon from its egg. The magic of the Dragonlords is spoken in Homeric Greek. Dragonlords are able to talk to and control dragons. The gift is passed from father to son, but the son only truly inherits his father's powers after the father has died (unconfirmed). All dragonlords were wiped out during the Great Purge except Balinor, who was later killed in battle, and with his last breaths told his son, Merlin, how to use his powers.
Seers are able to see the future. Some are unaware that they see the future, as they see it in their dreams. This gift is very rare and is an innate ability, meaning that those who have it are born that way and cannot change it, though their powers may be inhibited to a limited extent by magical objects, such as Morgana's bracelet. Similarly, a glance into a crystal from the Crystal Cave, such as the Crystal of Neahtid, can give somebody with magic a brief glimpse at the future. Taliesin credited his powers of prophecy to the cave. Morgana and Kilgharrah each demonstrated a certain innate prophetic ability, though Morgana's visions were of specific incidents which were about to happen while Kilgharrah appeared to have a knowledge of whole destinies relating to the future of Albion.
Elemental magic is something of an umbrella term for a wide range of magical effects. It relates to the manipulation of the four base elements making up the world - Water, Air, Earth and Fire. These may be manipulated by any species of sorcerer and produce a vast array of results.
This form of magic involves time itself and is mostly used by gifted magical creatures. It can slow down time around objects or certain places, and has not required any verbal spell in the entire show. It is though unknown whether this magic requires a non-verbal spell to be cast in the sorcerer's mind, or it is a power used instinctively.
Goblin Magic is a lesser form of magic practised by Goblins. This magic is performed non-verbally, without an incantation, and the Goblins mostly uses their magic to play tricks and pranks on innocent people, in order to gain gold, which is what they desire most. The wielders of Goblin Magic are able to possess other peoples mind, use telekinesis, change the effects of potions and much more.
Dark Magic is a form of magic used by sorcerers with evil intentions, for sinister purposes. It is normally connected to what is called "the left-hand path", and is mostly used only for personal gain. Although magic itself is basically neutral, its morality is determined by how it is used and what are the motives behind the actions of a sorcerer. Dark Magic is mainly used to cause harm, like causing destruction and misfortune, and to injure or kill.
Necromancy is one of the darkest forms of magic. It deals with summoning and revealing shades, Wraith, spirits, and the undead. The Knights of Medhir, Morgan's immortal army, and the army of the undead are the product of necromancy.
Attitudes towards MagicEditIn the kingdom of Camelot, the use of magic and enchantments was forbidden. Grief-stricken over his beloved wife's death due to malpractice of magic by Nimueh, Uther vowed to destroy all things magical in a tyrannical and brutal programme against its users, though not everyone in the kingdom followed Uther's beliefs. Since magic users formed a large population in the kingdom, a great deal of people retained connections with druids and sorcerers while others still continue to follow the ways of the Old Religion.
Due to the specific reason for the outlawing of magic, presumably Camelot was unique in its ferocious persecution of magical beings and some rulers appeared to regard Uther's tyranny negatively, among them Queen Annis of Caerleon. In other kingdoms, druids and sorcerers still roam, some even working for their rulers. However, Gaius claimed that Uther would declare war to any king that's sympathetic to magic users, implying that no ruler attempted to (openly) disagree with Uther out of fear (Sweet Dreams) due to Camelot's renown military force. This is supported by the fact that Uther sent his men to chase Balinor in Ealdor, even though this village was part of Cenred's kingdom (The Last Dragonlord), and Uther himself acknowledges that such acts may cause war (The Moment of Truth). However, it's implied in some episodes that Uther wasn't the first or the only one to mistrust and dislike magic. For example Sarrum of Amata was even more brutal and sadistic towards magic users and even worse than Uther as he pursued a zero tolerance policy towards magic, in The Witchfinder, the woman that witnessed Merlin using magic (but not aware that Merlin himself was the one practicing magic), became terrified and promptly reported to King Uther what she saw. Also in The Secret Sharer, Alator claimed that he was persecuted in all the Five Kingdoms for having magic for his whole life, meaning that the Great Purge didn't make much of a difference in his life, aside from making it a bit harder than it already was.
After Uther's death, his more moderate son, Arthur, succeeded the throne and therefore represented hope for change in attitudes towards magic in Camelot as he had already considered the idea that not all magic was evil, despite his father's insistence. He was even prepared to use magic to try and save his father, demonstrating his hope that it could be a force for good. However, due to Uther's magical death Arthur remained conflicted over the contentious issue of magic and did not alter the law (The Wicked Day). His hatred of magic eventually diminished, though, after Gaius reassured him that the warlock who had cast the spell (Merlin in his "Dragoon the Great" persona) wasn't responsible for Uther's death (The Secret Sharer).
After Elyan was possessed by the spirit of a druid boy, Arthur confessed to be responsible for his death, profusely apologised for his misdeed and tearfully vowed to treat the druid people with the respect that they deserved, allowing the spirit to move peacefully into the afterlife. This last event ultimately rekindled hopes of the end of magic's persecution and, although Arthur claimed that he only said what he had said to appease the spirit, Arthur's noble nature and genuine remorse over the druid boy's death made clear that the restoration of magic in Camelot is a simply matter of time (A Herald of the New Age).