Witchy Eye: Clerics and Magic-Users

Here’s another follow-up note from that Salt Lake Comic Con panel on writing and roleplaying authentic magicians.

Games tend to put spellcasters whose abilities derive from gods into one bucket, and other spellcasters into a different bucket. Clerics vs. magic-users (D&D etc); channeling vs. essence vs. mentalism casters (Rolemaster); rune magic vs. spirit magic vs. sorcery (RuneQuest III); etc. What a spellcaster can do depends on how he gets his magic, as does its effectiveness against spellcasters of other types.

Real-world magic tends to be bucketed differently. Frequently, the distinction is between initiates / insiders on the one hand, and non-initiates / outsiders on the other, even when the two groups do exactly the same thing attempting to achieve exactly the same result. In other words, the difference is often social.

Examples: the village priest vs. the cunning man in medieval and early modern England; an initiated mambo (woman) or houngan (man) vs. the non-initiated Voduisant attempting to work travay in Haitian Vodou; the initiated member of the Ojibwe Midewiwin medicine society vs. the merely professional “juggler” in command of some of the same lore; and the believing braucher or hex doctor practicing in the community vs. the liminal or outsider witch.

WITCHY EYE: coming out in March.

About David

I'm a writer. This is my blog.
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