Don’t you wish you had fantasy magic?
You could shoot fireballs out of your hands, teleport, summon powerful demons and ghosts, eat chocolate frogs, and make yourself fly. There would be so many ways to do powerful things. You’d be using “fantasy” magic, not this “true,” emergent, Terranic stuff. How powerful could magic be if you can’t cast Feather Fall and jump off a building?
As cool as casting Feather Fall would be, it is a weaker spell than the spells you can cast in real life.
Whether you’re summoning a god or flinging ice blasts, fantasy magic is always beholden to codes, money, laws, meaning, and history; the stuff of true magic.
When I first started discovering the foundations of magic, a friend of mine commented, “that’s cool and shit, but I wanna cast a fireball.”
Me too, obviously. But true magic grants far greater power than just a light show.
In fact, true magic is more powerful than anything fantasy has come up with. All fantasy magic is beholden to true magic.
Take any fictional magical universe; Harry Potter, Avatar: the Last Airbender (not magic, bending!), Lord of the Rings, etc., and consider the physical prowess of a magician. They can defy the laws of reality and do whatever they want, apparently. But look a little closer and you find this is not true. All these magicians are subject to something higher, be it law, ritual, code, money, or history.
If you could cast fireball, it doesn’t matter how powerful you became, you’d still be subject to something higher than your physical abilities. You wouldn’t be allowed to cast during the summer due to wildfire hazards. Public casting would be prosecuted so you would have to go to a casting range. Disciplining your child by casting might get you arrested or children taken away from you. There would be fees and taxes on public or recreational casting. Industrial casting would be heavily supervised by Human Resources and Magical Resources. You would have to get a license.
What would put these limitations on fantasy magic? True magic.
Without true magic, a mechanism of emergence, there would be no civilizations, gods, races, property, history, destiny, or even people to overcome with fantasy magic. There would be no higher purpose guiding the power of fantasy magic. A single individual with fantasy magic might scorch earth wherever they go, but without true magic, it would mean nothing to them. Such an individual would have their way in any situation, but they would feel nothing about it. There would be no story.
It is only when we look at true magic, with all of the study, technique, discipline, and community it requires, that we wish for shortcuts and yearn for fantasy magics. But even if we had it, we would, eventually, succumb to the power of true magic.
Eventually, we would seek myths to make our actions meaningful.
Eventually, we would be socially conscious to earn trust.
Eventually, we would want to be remembered in history.
Eventually, we would develop a code of conduct.
Eventually, the law would catch up with us.
And even, eventually, we would escape into fantasy yet again. Once we get used to the power we wield, escape from our problems would require an even greater change in our lives. We would turn to fantasy stories, yearning to be somewhere else, something else, someone else. If you want to find meaning in your life, you won’t find it by casting fireball. After all, does your life gain more meaning when you fire a gun, or ignite a flamethrower (as cool as that is)? It is easy to look at fantasy and imagine that the value and meaning that seems to drip out of every part of the world is due to the fantasy magic that flows through it. But this is inaccurate. The meaning comes from the author casting their spell over you. That power is real.
The problems, the ineptitude we feel right now, will not go away by avoiding the realities of true magic. We must face it head-on and accept the truth; we already live in a magical world, and our problems are our own.
We have the tools we need to change the world for the better. We have magic that works. It’s the mechanism that made us the most powerful species on the planet. It’s the mechanism that is causing Terra to emerge. It’s a mechanism you can use to make change.