What Is Magic?



 Magic, what is it?  

The answer depends on how, where, who, and when you ask.

There was a time when fire would be considered great magic because no one could understand what it was or how it happened.  Today, fire has lost all of its magical quality because we’ve gained an intricate understanding of it.  Now we know fire is something that happens when we are careless with matches or flammable products.  (With new knowledge comes great responsibility).

And so, we may safely assume magic is associated with the unknown, with things we do not yet understand, events that seem miraculous because we have yet to acquire the tools to explain them properly.

Before the advent of microscopes, many illnesses were considered mysterious.  People had no idea unseen viruses and bacteria created groups of germs capable of bringing entire civilizations to their knees, so they credited (or blamed) the gods for these events.  Once the microscope was invented, numerous types of illnesses lost their magical quality altogether.  “Oh,” we say, un-amazed, “it’s a virus.”

We attend magic shows in venues like Las Vegas and “wow” and “woohoo” the spectacles performed before our very own eyes and find these feats fantastic, even for those who understand what they’re witnessing is a skillful illusion.  We love magic, we love the idea that something can come from nothing, that a person can disappear in an instant and reappear a long distance away from where they began.  Magic awakens the curious child that lives within us all.

So, what is magic?  It is nothing more and nothing less than mankind’s quest for greater understanding.  For every mystery we solve, three more appear in its place, ad infinitum, in a cycle of learning and discovery that will never end.  For life itself is magic.


Author of Devil's Edge, The Future Queen, and J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street. I live in Rhode Island with the love of my life, two menopausal tomato plants, and several purse-snatching poltergeists. I love to read. I'm an archaeology buff, I poke around in science and physics, philosophy and art, and I enjoy gardening. My favorite movie is Fried Green Tomatoes, I listen to movie soundtracks while I write. Like Garfield, I will absolutely chase my own shadow for a pan of lasagna.

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