What Makes You, You?

“...In theory, the gates of magic were open to everyone..."

In the past, people generally believed they could acquire magic in two ways: through learning the craft, either from another practitioner or from books; or through obtaining magic from a powerful being-think Faust or the classic, demonized witch, both of whom get their mojo from Satan. Anyone could learn magic as long as he or she had access to the knowledge or could make a connection with the right supernatural entity. The important point is that in theory, the gates of magic were open to everyone, and what I find most interesting is how that has changed in popular culture.

Liss, 2011, para. 5

Lilly Was Special

“…taught how to harness these powers of suggestion…”

Even from birth, everyone thought Lilly was special. There was something unique about her. As a child, her mother often received smiles and compliments about how beautiful Lilly was in this or that outfit. “She has such a beautiful smile,” was a phrase her mother heard often. In response, her mother always gave a humble thank you. As she grew older, Lilly found making friends rather easy. In fact, many things in life that often came with trial and error, Lilly seemed to understand without much effort. Despite her mother insisting that she call herself by her birth name, Lilith Anne Montgomery, Lilly continued to demonstrate a uniqueness that few could identify. In her tweens, the idea that she was both special and unique was not foreign to her thoughts. She learned to use her charm, whit, and intellect to subtly manipulate her environment and the people in it. Through her teens and young adult life, Lilly’s mother taught how to harness these powers of suggestion so no one would be the wiser.

-Dr. Keith McNally (Original)

Image by Mustafa Alpaslan from Pixabay
Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Carrie's Powers

“Eventually Carrie learned how to move objects with just her thoughts.”

Carrie’s parents died when she was ten. The loss was both sudden and tragic, throwing Carrie into periods of deep depression. Being without her natural parents at such a young age, Carrie was adopted by her mother’s sister. Although she did not know it at the time, this adoption was prearranged many years ago. Unfortunately, Carrie’s Aunt was not her biggest fan. The older woman always seemed jealous of Carrie, for reasons that confused her. Carrie never felt loved or accepted, and that added to her depression. As her depression worsened, some strange power inside of her grew stronger. With this power, she learned how to manipulate her world. She caused things to disappear, then reappear. Eventually Carrie learned how to move objects with just her thoughts. Given her depression and the influx of these strange powers, she found it difficult to make friends. Over time, this fact did not seem to bother her at all.

-Dr. Keith McNally (Original)

Nature v. Nurture

“…my mother taught me this prayer and it goes like this…”

In this article, I talk about inheritance. Are we a product of nature? Or should we insist that who we are, how we think, and what we do is a result of our surroundings? There has been a longstanding debate on this topic; I can neither add to it nor take away from it in the confines here. I suggest that each of us is a result of both. By combining genetic predispositions with upbringing and environmental influences, we become who we are. Over time, and at some point, we assume the responsibility to direct our own course – we make choices that both effect and affect our life. We integrate our genetic predispositions with the environment that surrounds us.

I will get back to the nature versus nurture discussion in a little while. Now, I want to turn your attention to a Catholic – or my mother’s – prayer that I was taught as young boy. Truthfully, I am not sure if this is a “prayer” as Catholics understand prayer. Also, I am not sure if this is something that was taught by the Catholic Church. Truthfully, all I know is that my mother taught me this prayer and it goes like this: “Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around. I have lost my <fill in the name of something>, and it can’t be found”.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Understand that I was not an absent-minded child. I did not call upon the name of Saint Anthony often. Still, I used the “prayer” every once in a while, years ago. Then I learned to keep a mental record of where I left things. Over time, I stopped using the prayer. As I grew up, I learned a few things about that prayer that make me wonder how it all came about. What was it that I was saying? Was this something that was taught by the Catholic Church? Was my mom trying to teach me something that was not religious? This is the time for that conversation.

First, according to Wikipedia, Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost things.

Second, Catholicism is one of many religions that practice praying to the dead. This practice is forbidden by Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament.

Third, the mantra that my mother taught me when I was younger closely resembles the words associated with witchcraft.

Image by pendleburyannette from Pixabay

The Sorcerer Archetype

“We are no longer in the days where witches are burned at the stake.”

In Dungeons and Dragons, the Sorcerer Archetype is a person who possesses the power to use magic as an inherited – or innate – skill. Put simply, for some, magic is an inherited trait. In truth, I do not know much about – nor do I practice – magic. However, our culture is spellbound by it (pun intended). We are no longer in the days where witches are burned at the stake. We are now embracing these weird, and often wondrous, powers in books, television, and movies. Magic, for better or worse, is part of our culture.

My mother was a good woman. I do not believe that she was trying to teach me anything wrong, viscous, or otherworldly. At times, I think that the practice of magic is often so inherent in our culture that we do not know it. Where do we learn how to do things? What does our culture, family lineage, and religious beliefs tell us? To answer these questions, we need to dig deep and far into the past – into ancient texts and historical documents – to find the answers.


How can teachers and educators use this information productively in the classroom? First, I am not suggesting that we teach magic or the use of magic in schools. Should we leave the Sorcerer archetype alone and move on to another Dungeons and Dragons character class? It depends on your perspective. Still, a discussion of the Sorcerer archetype forces us to consider how things came to be – i.e., our history. This history is both personal and social.

More importantly, teachers can have discussions about inheritance. This discussion does not need to be confined to the science classroom. Inheritance is a part of life. We inherit physical traits from our biological parents. But do we also inherit mannerisms, behaviors, and beliefs? What do we learn from our family? How do we use this information to understand our world and the people in it?

References

Liss, D. (2011). When did magic become elitist? Retrieved from https://io9.gizmodo.com/when-did-magic-become-elitist-5831053

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