Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

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The Many Colors of Magic

I'm not exactly sure how the terms for black and white magic arose, but they're associated with morality, and I'm not entirely clear on how magic itself can be good or evil. Isn't it the magicians themselves who fall into those categories? But I can see the idea of black magic being offensive, and white helpful. This is how they're used in the Final Fantasy games, for instance, although white mages can use Holy spells to hurt enemies. (After all, violence is acceptable when done in the name of a god, right?) The series also has red mages, who can use both black and white spells; and blue mages, who use special Lore spells learned from monsters. I know that FF6 has gray used to indicate Effect magic, but I'm not sure whether this is official color-coded magic.

But this isn't my weekly video game post, but rather my weekly Oz post, so let me turn to that magical land. While L. Frank Baum's books don't use color-coded magic (at least as far as I can remember), Ruth Plumly Thompson employed it fairly frequently. I don't believe the term "white magic" ever appears, but there is a witch who uses black magic. Many of her spells do seem to be offensive or deceptive in nature, but she's not evil, just a little paranoid. Other colors that appear in the books are:

Blue Magic - In Cowardly Lion, King Mustafa has a ring that he identifies as blue magic. Whenever a messenger disobeys him, the ring turns from blue to black (perhaps a precursor to the mood rings of the sixties?), and taking it off his finger results in the disobedient messenger turning blue and being unable to move.

Green Magic - This is the kind of magic that Mombi used to enchant King Pastoria, that the wizard Wam used in creating wishing necklaces, and that the Wizard of Oz seems to use pretty regularly. Mombi claims in Lost King that it only works in the green area surrounding the Emerald City, but this doesn't appear to be true in later books. Maybe it's at its strongest there, or it has to originate in that area.

Yellow Magic - The Sultan of Samandra confesses to using "yellow and forbidden magic" to enchant Corum and Marygolden.

Red Magic - This is the Red Jinn's specialty, and a lot of it is based on jars, incense, and powders. Some of these items only work at certain times of the day.

I don't recall purple magic ever being mentioned, but I wouldn't be surprised if some Gillikins were using it. The thing about these colors of magic is that we never find out enough about any of them to really tell the difference. I guess that's pretty typical of magic in the Oz series, though.
Tags: books, final fantasy, oz, video games
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