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- "The study of magic is not a science, it is not an art, and it is not a religion. Magic is a craft. When we do magic, we do not wish and we do not pray. We rely upon our will and our knowledge and our skill to make a specific change to the world. This is not to say we understand magic, in the sense that physicists understand why subatomic particles do whatever it is that they do. [...] In any case, we do not and cannot understand what magic is, or where it comes from, any more than a carpenter understands why a tree grows. He doesn't have to. He works with what he has."
- —Professor March[src]
Magic is the practice of harnessing the mysterious energy that exists and flows through the universe which allows practitioners known as Magicians to manipulate fundamental aspects of reality through the application of spells. Magic encompasses many different activities including astral projection, telekinesis, teleportation and spell casting. It includes the practices of many cultures, nations, and religions, as well as many books and writings from ancient times.
However, most cannot do magic for several reasons, the most primary being that casting spells are very difficult and most are not intelligent, obsessive, or unfortunate enough to dedicate themselves entirely to perfecting their craft. Magicians not admitted to magical institutions usually lack the proper guidance offered by them, which leads to them becoming Hedge Witches.
It is also implied that those with a high moral firmness cannot access the tools necessary to manipulate magical energies. However, some can have all the necessary requirements, say the right words, move their hands the right way, and still, nothing will happen.
The God of the underworld, Hades, stated that Magic itself is a tool gods use to keep humans in check. A carrot offered to humans that is rescinded when humans step out of line. Hades stated that In the past humans have been punished by having magic taken from them but inevitably magic always returns, even if it takes a thousand years. As explained by Alice Quinn, the Old Gods look upon humans as cells in a body and, for the most part, do not interfere with human affairs. However, if a human proves a danger to deities, they will take action. When Quentin Coldwater killed the Fillorian god Ember, the Old Gods sent The Plumber to cut off access to magic from the universe, leaving only beings who were inherently magical, like Deities and Demigods, Travelers, Questing Creatures, Vampires, Werewolves, Bunnies, and other magical creatures with any magical abilities. They are able to use many aspects of magic while every other magic user was left powerless with previous spells and enchantments slowly fading away. A Magician that held Penny hostage stated that these creatures still have magic because it is part of their DNA.
- "So "be a magician"? Is that illegal or...? Are you guys trying to take over the world?"
"This school exists for a single and timeless purpose– to reveal your innate abilities and hone them to the highest degree. Now, what you do with it after that is entirely up to you. If you want to take over the world, we don't teach that, but give it a go."
- —Quentin Coldwater and Dean Fogg[src]
Practitioners of magic are known as Magicians, regardless of gender, race, or species. They are ordinary individuals that, with proper guidance, can accomplish extraordinary feats. Potential Magicians are chosen after careful analysis and are given the opportunity to enroll in a school of magic such as Brakebills University.
Every Magician's magic is unique to others, but each will be drawn to particular strains of magic, known as Disciplines. Depending on the Magician, they will be categorized into one of six disciplines: Natural, Illusion, Knowledge, Physical, Psychic, or Healing.
The magical community has its own rules, which are taught to the Magicians at the time of enrollment. In most cases, the rules of the mundane world are equally respected. In regards to their education, it is up to the faculty of their schools to teach the young Magicians how to best utilize their abilities. When they fail in this, generally the Magicians are deprived of their memories of the magical world and returned to their ordinary life. However, some manage to find magic in other sources, such as books or websites, which leads them to practice magic in unorthodox ways. These type of practitioners are called Hedge Witches, and are considered second-class Magicians to those who receive more refined education, such as the students of Brakebills University.
The more a Magician gains power and knowledge, the more significant a Magician's name becomes, both to the individual and to those who would go against them. How their name is written, down to every curve of every letter, connects to the Magician's will, and make the individual's unique magical abilities all the more prominent and powerful.
Quotes on MagicEdit
- "Great mages have wasted their lives trying to get at the root of magic. It is a futile pursuit, not much fun and occasionally quite hazardous. Because the farther down you go, the bigger and scalier the turtles get, with sharper and sharper beaks. Until eventually they start looking less like turtles and more like dragons."
- —Professor March[src]
- "Not much can be said about what magic is and what magic is not. It is real and it is not for everyone. It is not the answer to all of your problems, although it could very well transform them into opportunities. It is one thing to know of magic, it is another thing to be a Magician. Magic is born of the notion that our world, governed by its laws of physics, which keep us trapped on this isolated rock, is limited; incomplete. At Brakebills we take students who have that notion and teach them to transform it into something tangible, hopefully without blowing themselves up in the process. Because magic is not something to be dicked around with!"
- —Dean Fogg[src]
- "Being a magician has always been, in part, about accruing power. Power over yourself, the elements. Power over the future; the very world that exists around you. But power, as you all know, does not come cheaply. There are reasons we teach this curriculum precisely the way that we do. Skipping around, focusing on all the wrong things, lack of guidance... These are all extremely dangerous. There are certain energies, certain spells, which are far too powerful for one magician alone. If you lose control, it will turn against you. It will kill you. It will consume you. Change you into something else."
- —Dean Fogg[src]