What is Magic?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2019
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Magic means different things to different people. For believers in the paranormal, for example, it refers to the manipulation of events, people, and objects through supernatural means to create a desired outcome. This type of magic may involve spells, rituals, charms, and other tools to alter the practitioner's environment. The word is also used to refer to tricks and sleight of hand that make it seem like things are appearing and disappearing, as though supernaturally.

The concept of magic has been present in human culture for thousands of years. Many cultures had versions of witches, wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, witch doctors, shamans, and other people who could supposedly harness supernatural powers for various tasks. Some religions incorporate a belief in magic, while other religions reject it as the work of the devil, perhaps because these religions arose in opposition to the traditional practice.

Most cultures assume that in order to practice magic in the supernatural sense, someone must have magical powers. These powers may allow the practitioner to talk to inanimate objects, communicate with the spirits, or harness energy in the spiritual world; beliefs vary, depending on the culture. Practitioners of magic also undergo extensive training to learn how to use their skills, and to learn when its use is appropriate; some cultures also differentiate between white or good magic and black or bad magic.


Historically, people who practiced magic often offered a variety of services to their community including health care, the removal of bad spells, the manipulation of weather for good crops, and so forth. These people became figures of veneration and respect because of their perceived abilities. They were also associated with less practical things like enchantments; many folk tales incorporate enchantments in which people are bewitched or tricked into doing things, for example.

While practitioners of magic were historically sometimes venerated, they were also feared. Many cultures experienced periods in which witches and other practitioners were hunted down and punished, tortured, or killed. People believed in the power of magic, feeling that the spells cast by someone could have a real-world effect, and sometimes blaming events like famines, plagues, and crop failure on witches and others.

Modern practitioners of magic can be found in many regions of the world. Some are traditional shamans and wisepeople who serve tribes and communities as their antecedents have for centuries, while others incorporate magic into the practice of their faith, like Wiccans. The practice of magic for these people may include spells, rituals, medication, the creation of magical objects, charms, and similar tools.

In the less mystical sense, magic is a discipline in which people learn to physically manipulate their environment to create illusions. Skilled magicians can appear to make flowers bloom in mid-air, cut women in half, conjure rabbits from top hats, escape from sealed tanks, and perform other feats. This practice does not involve the harnessing of supernatural forces; it requires hard, focused work and years of study to be successful.


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Post 8

I have a question? Like many things good or not so good, doesn't magic have a flip side to it? Like a Karmic retribution, whether good or bad regardless of intent?

Post 7

Magic, no doubt is considered as a performing art. It should be understood that it is not a reality but an illusion. It is just the science of controlling the mind. Magic entertains us and takes us to the land of fantasy.

All of you must have heard of the incredible Indian magician P.C. Sorkar. He himself said, "I don't possess any supernatural powers... this is...the science of controlling the mind and will power to create a psychic balance with the environment."

Post 6

What is magic? Well i'd say something beyond human comprehension would be magic indeed. If I were to show a pencil to someone in the middle ages, they would believe that I'm causing magic. Yet again, if an extraterrestrial were to show me telepathy, I'd believe it would be magic. You may believe that magic is unseen or mystical but the very fact that we feel there's a stronger force beyond us is proof that magic exist.

Fairies, unicorns, elves, dragons. They could be true -- maybe not because of magic itself nor in imagination -- but a formation of nature which decided that a living being were to transform into a fictional character. The fact is, the mind is an extraordinary gift and I do believe that maybe someday, somehow we can manipulate objects just by thinking it or control wind or fire.

Post 5

Magic is not always bad. And actually there are a great deal of religions that look to magic to help people. And magic can bring good into the user's life and other lives they would be helping. There is a difference between good (white magic) and black magic (bad magic). It's all in the intent. But no one should just clump all magic to being bad because it does a lot of good too.

Post 4

@StormyKnight: Actually some believe there is no difference between black and white magic. A lot of people believe magic is magic and that all forms of it are bad. Most religions do not condone the practice of any form of magic. They consider it evil and that it’s used to gain power and control over others.

Black magic often involves personal items from their victims such as hair or blood in order to make sure it’s directed towards certain individuals. Most spells are cast at night and they ask for the aide of demons to carry out the spell. It is crucial that you have a personal item from your victim, so others are not harmed.

White magic

is used with the intent of bringing good to people. White magic is used to protect oneself and to heal. Some use it to right a wrong. It can also be used to attract love. However, many practitioners will not cast love spells because it affects others without their permission.

Post 3

@DinoLeash: Thanks for the response, but does anyone have anymore information that might explain it better?

Post 2

@StormyKnight: Black magic is considered evil and is used for the intent of harming others. White magic is considered good and is used to enhance one’s life. I would recommend that people personally stay away from magic. It can only bring bad things into your life.

Post 1

What is the difference in black and white magic?

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