The primary differences between the traditional wizard and the progressive wizard are that the progressive wizard will be more flawed, subtle, and diverse. So flawed they may actually make mistakes. Yes, even the old wise ones. So subtle they might not even have magical superpowers. Wizardry is a state of mind. So diverse they don't actually have to be entirely alike. The ability to make teacups dance does not a wizard make. Modern day wizards are far more varied then the wizards of yesteryear and to qualify as wizards are expected only to think as wizards think, and no more.
Wizards Outstanding (New Age Variety)
You remember him. He's the short green one from the Star Wars films. When George Lucas made the painful decision to let the Obi-wan die in the first Star Wars film for (mis)understood plot purposes, Luke Skywalker needed a new figure in his life to take up the mantle of wizard. So as the last surviving Jedi Apprentice and the Rebellion's only hope, Luke bravely travels to Yoda's home planet and promptly crashes his ship.
In steps Yoda, and with all the dignity and respect that come from countless decades of experience he is immediately mistaken for an impish and meddlesome vagabond by our hero and scolded accordingly. Ironically (stupidly), Luke is too busy searching for the Jedi master to notice him. After this initial awkwardness, Yoda schools Luke in the Jedi arts using some very unorthodox methods. Methods such as making Luke do a handstand and stack rocks at the same time... Well, perhaps any training session involving telekinesis would be deemed unorthodox.
When Luke decides he's done enough upside-down rock stacking and that it's time to leave - against his master's discretion - he can't lift his ship out of the swamp he crashed it into, thinking it is an impossible task (and probably also thinking about how much heavier spaceships seem when their engines are clogged with swamp). Using the Force, Yoda lifts the ship for him in spite of his advanced age, leaving Luke in awe. This is because Yoda understands that a spaceship and a small rock weigh the same... or something along those lines, it makes sense when he explains it; and unfortunately, it's all in sharp contrast to the 'Battle-mode' Yoda (the green blur) whose powers are demonstrated in the newer Star Wars films, almost as if someone forgot what it is Yoda's supposed to be.
Richard Rahl (Richard Cypher)
Sadly, he is one of the least known wizards here, yet the the most finely crafted of them all. Richard Rahl is the hero throughout the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and is presented as a real person, with all the frailties and strengths that can be expected of an individual. Content to sit back and live the comfortable life of a woods guide and completely unwilling to believe he is a wizard, or even adopted, Richard is eventually thrust by destiny against his biological father, Darken Rahl, forcing him to prove himself as a wizard. That's just a small fraction of the forcing Richard deals with, and eventually he accepts his latent gifts.
As a 'war wizard,' Richard discovers he has a talent for war tactics greater than any mortal general. As wielder of the Sword of Truth, Richard is at first pressed into summoning up memories from the previous Seekers of Truth, who had used the sword before him, in order to save his life in battle. In just a matter of years though, Richard proves himself more than worthy of his predecessors, developing a swordsman's style all his own, more effective than any used with the Sword of Truth before. Due to Yoda's current occupational confusions, Richard is the only wizard mentioned here who is still very much up and about doing new things in a proper wizardly fashion. At the moment, Richard is engaged in an epic struggle with the tyrant Jagang, fighting with every ounce of his strength to defend the human spirit against Jagang's barbarous army of oppressors who can't comprehend the value of the single individual, because sometimes that's just what wizards have to do; best to wish him luck.
He's not a very good wizard. Actually, he can't even spell wizard, or cast spells at all. Well... he cast a spell once, but mostly he spends his time running away from one danger to the next cheating death. This kind of behaviour intrigues Death, who happens to be a character in the Discworld novels, which gives an idea of the kind of writer Terry Pratchett is. Death talks in capital letters (LIKE SO) and traditionally greets dying wizards (and witches) in person.
Rincewind's only wizardly attributes are his ability to see magic and wear a tall pointy hat without feeling embarrassed. It is written of him that:
Rincewind had always been happy to think of himself as a racist. The One Hundred Metres, the Mile, the Marathon – he'd run them all. Later, when he learned with some surprise what the word actually meant, he'd been equally certain he wasn't one. He was a person who divided the world quite simply into people who were trying to kill him and people who weren't. That didn't leave much room for fine details like what colour anyone was.
Since Discworld is a parody of our world (or our world is a parody of Discworld if you prefer) the wizards there are kind of like exaggerated scientists. They:
… dress strangely, live in a world of their own, speak a specialised language and frequently make statements that appear to be in flagrant breach of common sense,
(or our scientists are like exaggerated wizards if you prefer).
Harry Potter and Co
Keeping the spirit of wizards alive in modern times at such a young age should be an unbearable burden for anyone, but not the renowned Harry Potter.
Thanks to him, every little girl in the world wants to grow up and marry a wizard. Why they would choose the skinny, bumbling, and scarred Harry Potter, whose own foster family doesn't want him, is anyone's guess. Wizards are simple, but no-one understands girls. One reason might be because Harry has been known to beat up the most feared wizard in the world, Lord Voldemort, anytime he can get around to it. This is noteworthy in itself, but also consider that the first time Voldemort lost to Harry was when he was a baby (Harry, not Voldemort - use some common sense). In the fourth book (and the first movie, strangely enough), (Warning, Plot Spoiler imminent!) it's learned that this is because Harry's mother sacrificed herself to make Voldemort's spells reflect off of Harry.
Similar kinds of things happen to Harry on a regular basis, but don't worry about him getting a big head over all of it. Harry couldn't care less that strangers love him just because his parents died. Harry regularly attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a highly respected school of magic that apparently only allows British students. Students enrolling at Hogwarts are divided into four houses: Ravenclaw receives the intellectual types, Slytherin takes the crafty and ambitious students, Gryffindor snares the courageous students, and Hufflepuff gets all the leftovers. The wizards and witches at Hogwarts are assigned their house by the Sorting Hat - students put this on their head and the Sorting Hat simply invades their private thoughts until it knows which house they belong in.
When he's not off saving Hogwarts all by himself, Harry's getting into trouble with his friend Ron, while Hermione does their homework. Luckily, Ron and Hermione are in the Gryffindor house with Harry. Ron is Harry's best friend - he isn't really very good at magic spells and he's sort of a coward, but when Harry and Hermione needed to win a giant chess game in order to save a really important rock, Ron was there to shout out moves to the giant chess pieces (since Harry and Hermione are bad at chess), winning even when he knew it meant his being knocked out by the giant chess queen. Hermione is the smart one (excepting chess, because that's the way Ron is smart). She gets top marks in all her classes and actually knows how to cast spells. Sometimes other wizards or witches talk to Harry, but that's usually when something bad is about to happen to them. At this point you may wonder why Hermione isn't in Ravenclaw and Ron isn't in Hufflepuff; it's easy to point the finger and say 'plot contrivance'... but hey what's that over there?
It's Dumbledore, the esteemed headmaster of Hogwarts. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore has the dubious honour of being the only wizard Voldemort was ever afraid of, until Harry - because he's who the book is named after. In the fifth book it's told that Dumbledore was a marvel with a wand during his NEWTs (exams every student must pass at the end of their fifth year). Other facts on Dumbledore are not as reassuring. Ron's older brother is quoted saying to Ron and Harry:Mad? He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes.
Perhaps he is - after all, the first words he speaks in the series are 'Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you,' as he greets the new students enrolling with Harry. When it's all said and done though, Dumbledore has proven himself a competent leader. His presence alone makes the school a safe haven, he is never too far away when he is needed, and he has also proven himself the only teacher at Hogwarts who has the slightest idea of what's going on inside its walls. Even when the Ministry of Magic continually attempts to remove him from his position as headmaster, he is always around to help the students and is never gone for long.
Since all the other wizards are inept compared to Dumbledore, he is forced to shoulder most of the responsibility of protecting Hogwarts, and thanks to his and Harry's efforts, no evil has yet succeeded in closing the school. Dumbledore would like nothing more than to be held to the kind of responsibilities that get you sent 'thick, woollen socks' as presents rather than all the books he tells Harry he receives (since Dumbledore is expected to be a keeper of knowledge, and with wizards, knowledge is power), but as an old Gryffindor himself, he is not the kind of person to shirk burdens.
Spock is the hybrid child of a Vulcan man named Sarek and an Earthling - er, a human - woman named Amanda. Even though Sarek's strong Vulcan genes were largely dominant over Amanda's weak human ones and Spock was raised as a Vulcan, he has always been left with the taint of his filthy human corruption. Filthy corruption that even his illustrious career in the sciences, his illustrious career in Starfleet, and his illustrious career (Vulcans live a long time) as an interplanetary ambassador can't overcome. Sarek has always been deeply disappointed about his son being a half-breed, and it can only be hoped that poor Sarek has the Vulcan patience to bear the terrible burden of having a son whose father had a love child with a human.
Compared to the rest of the wizards here, it might intitially seem that Spock comes up a little short. Besides Yoda, he's the only wizard in this Entry who is never actually referred to as a wizard (except here - probably that doesn't count). Spock can't make suitcases sing, he can't save swamp-wrecked shuttlecraft by thinking deep thoughts, and he certainly can't cackle the way a wizard really ought to be able to. That's okay though, because Spock grew up in the civilized parts of the Star Trek universe that explore reality with technological magic. So Spock is a wizard at the science station, where he does stuff like break Romulan codes1; and since he's the only one that can do it, that makes it wizardry (really, the dictionary says that's what the word means and everything).
The mystical magic is the kind other people use. Other people being aliens, and if you've gotten to fractions yet in school, you'll know that being half alien means Spock gets to have technological savvy and mystical power. The mystical part of Spock's magical self is manifested2 in several ways. The most prominent of which is his mind-melding ability that allows him to... meld minds. Vulcans can do it with any creature (that has a mind). Spock's full-blooded Vulcan half-brother even did it once with a giant floating blue head that was trying to pass himself off as God. Weird things happen in Star Trek. In the original Star Trek series: Star Trek, Spock also possessed super strength thanks to his Vulcan heritage. Strength that was eventually stolen from the Vulcan people by late 20th Century Earthling scriptwriters.
Normally, Spock's full name would have been covered by now. Sadly, novels don't count when it comes to clarifying intimate details in a television character's bio(graphy), and no actual episode or movie is willing to cough it up beyond referring to it as an unpronounceable 'lineal Vulcan name'. So you'll just have to wait until Spock is born in the year 2230 to find out his entire name just like everybody else... Yes, that's enormously inconsistent logic, but from what can be learned by watching Star Trek, that's the kind of logic we'll have in the future.
What's In a Wizard?
To answer this, we must first consider where wizards came from. Yes, their roots lie in mythology, but if you were a wizard being asked that, you might have looked through this question's surface and into its meaning.
Wizards were a part of ancient fantasy, and have survived all the way into contemporary fantasy, for the same reason as elves, ogres, or knights. They are all extreme examples of the sorts of creatures that exist in reality, and so they are archetypes and can never die. Who among us hasn't confronted an ogre or 15 in your lifetime? When a soldier trains daily for battles he prays will never come, is he not acting as a knight? When an old relative, who has always acted appallingly childish up until this point, comes through for you in trying times with a powerful bit of wisdom, has she not been playing the role of the elf? Learn the qualities that make a wizard a wizard, that way when you meet one you'll know what you're dealing with, and more importantly, so the next time you hear someone say wizards aren't real (or witches or whatever), in that haughty matter-of-fact tone mastered by so many, it won't be their sensibility you recognise, but yours, at realising how foolish they sound.
This is at the heart of what defines a wizard. A wizard, by his very nature, will be decidedly adept in any given intellectual field. Whether it be linguistic, logical, spatial, musical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, or any combination thereof. This is not to say a wizard must be the best there is at each of these things, but simply that it will all come more easily to him. There may also be exceptions, such as a wizard born without the ability to understand or appreciate music at all. These exceptions usually happen to a wizard through the natural balance that tends to make itself part of their life, whether welcomed or not, and is discussed further on. Regardless, the innate talents of a wizard set them apart from their competing peers, putting them to shame and making the wizard easily identifiable.
It is on this concept of talent that the usage of the word wizard has thrived. Although lately, it may be better known in the more mangled form of wiz or whizz (as in 'Paul may be a maths whizz, but I like him anyway.'), but most people have taken the time to become familiar with the entire word instead of just the good half.
The short story Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind offers a scene that truly personifies the way in which this quality can set a wizard apart. In it, the character Abby, upon meeting the First Wizard Zorander for the first time, is astonished to see several people speaking with the First Wizard simultaneously. A tad unnerved and quite sceptical about this situation, she finds far more difficulty in carrying on her part of the conversation with the First Wizard than he does with his, in addition to the many other conversations in which he is already actively participating. Zeddicus Zorander has no difficulty listening comprehensively to what, for any other person, would be utter commotion. Later on in the same story, Zedd is able to hear Abby again under equally impossible circumstances, when her frantic message is called to him from much too far away.
With most people, not listening to others is an indispensable part of daily life. However, a wizard, perhaps because of some genetic flaw, is characteristically helpless to conform to society. As such, they will be the person who is always listening. A similar aptitude to read between the lines of a conversation will also make itself obvious, as well as an acute knack for seeing things that don't belong, or are at least out of the ordinary. They will sometimes also display a keen sense of surroundings, except those bookish types that are always spaced out. Many wizards even sleep with their eyes open, just to push the point.
Again, in order for Zedd to accomplish such feats as multiple conversations at the same time, he must have kept up with everything he was hearing. Comprehension is a big part of listening (in some circles). A wizard should have no problem absorbing information that would make a normal person fling their hands up in the air in disgust. Don't confuse comprehension with talent. It is one thing to learn something quickly. The point here is about the limits of a wizard's mental capacities - as in there aren't any.
Because of the unique quality wizards possess of being able to absorb substantial amounts of information, there must be balance elsewhere. Unfortunately for their friends, this balance may come in the form of forgetting their names, or many other things most people would be insulted to have forgotten about them. This forgetfulness also extends to pretty much anything else save what has been embedded into their memory through bizarre and uncontrollable criteria that can only be described as personal. There's only so much room in anyone's memory, and when someone can't recall their own anniversary because they instead unconsciously chose to remember the exciting new discovery at work someone made, that person is displaying decidedly wizard-like characteristics.
All right, but in order for their work to claim those coveted priority spots in the wizard's memory there must be some kind of self-actualisation going on there. A wizard can't simply revel in any job just because it's what his dad did, or even because he happened to be raised by the local clockmakers' guild. Furthermore, it would be a rare sight indeed to see a wizard working in the military or as a policeman. It would simply go against their overwhelming instinct for independence. This is because wizards, as a people, are driven not by society, power, or even benevolence, but by an internal desire to fulfil themselves as wizards. Many wizards are born to be servants of the people; they will use their talents in protecting the masses. Conversely, there are some that must live unmindful of fellow humans. In the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K Le Guin, Ogion is perhaps the most powerful mage in all of Earthsea, yet he can only live contentedly and fulfil his purpose in life as a hermit. While still more wizards will exist perhaps only to invent, with absolutely no concern for other people or even in what way their inventions will be used. Regardless of where this motivation leads, the significance is its effect. Wizards must always live in freedom in order to realise themselves, but ironically they are inevitably victims of their own nature. While truly you might think that for all their power they would have more freedom than any, in the end, a wizard's life is not his own. Instead, it is the product of their intrinsic motivations, which will send them off to live as a wizard, willingly or kicking and screaming every step.
Being honest, all these wizardly attributes leave little room for social niceties. Some wizards are just plain weird, and often an internal battle between insanity and genius must be waged and won before the outward conflict can even stick its head out to see if it's show time yet. The true wizard will always triumph under said pressure, while the inferior models usually just burst into madness at some intervening point. There are too many examples to name them all, but rest assured all the cool wizards are doing it these days. Harry Potter usually gets the whole school to think he's crazy about once a year. Don't panic, this doesn't mean that the kid in science class that wore his socks inside-out for good luck was a wizard, he could easily have just been an idiot.
Wizards are inclined to think, and hence behave, like philosophers. No one knows for sure why. Some theories suggest that it's due to the lifestyle of a wizard. Never being asked to help with the manual labor does have a tendancy to lead one's thoughts toward the nature of the universe and the particular relation between it and whatever topic is currently being discussed at the moment; and you might not think that a few decades of having nothing to do would be enough time to form an opinion on everything, but it apparently is. Other theories point out that there are wizards who do work all day long, who have never met any other wizards, and who still find it necessary to follow the thread of an argument for far too long and even to its conclusion, which is, you'll know, quiet disorienting and rude if you've ever seen it done. So it may also be genetic, or at least as genetic as whatever makes a person a wizard in the first place.
Probably it's the inherent aptitude wizard's have for seeing what's true teaming up with their equally inherent desire to set things right, and it can all become extremely annoying when you're trying to explain something to somebody and a wizard is around to correct you.
Firstly, what exactly is wisdom? Is it judgment? Possibly, but when's the last time you heard about a Norse god giving up one of their eyes to be allowed to drink from the Well of Sound Judgment Skills? Wisdom is so much more, it is a kind of active insight into the nature of truth itself and wizards have got it in spades. When a party of adventurers runs into a difficult decision, even the leader will look to the wizard, and their real world counter parts are no different. If you're grappling with an extremely tough problem and your party does not have a wizard, please don't shake a quiet kid and demand to know if he's a wizard.
There is an informal understanding that the best wizards are the most childlike. Why? It's simple, a wizard's power and imagination come from the same place. The ability to shape magic into spells is not accidentally the same sort of act as the shaping of clay into pots or mental images into paintings. Wizards are artists, and so it follows that their spells must be works of art. Originality and imagination abound in the mind of a powerful wizard. They simply cannot conform, and this goes for their ideas as well.
The harmony wizards must have in their lives to operate properly is, as usual, just an amplified metaphor for the balance ordinary people find they require in their lives as well. For instance, just as a normal person will become exhausted after a two hour-long argument with their spouse over who's the best driver, a wizard may go into a year-long coma after trying to break the mind of Yorg the Mindsplitter Demon of Caerthos. All right, that's not really the kind of balance being discussed here; it's just a good lesson for people in general.
A more appropriate example might be how just as an ordinary person would probably do best not to pretend they're somebody they're not for fear of forgetting who they really are, a wizard probably shouldn't frolic in the body of a squirrel too long for fear of forgetting they're a human and getting stuck as a squirrel forever. Many times a wizard will be unable to cast a powerful spell, not because they are not up to it, but because the consequences of it will destroy them. The essence is that balance is a wizard's worst enemy. Case in point, Richard Rahl, despite his best efforts not to be a 'war wizard,' found himself killing people an awful lot. So as a balance, eating meat made him sick. When he managed to avoid killing for a sufficient length of time he could then eat meat again. By the eighth book, Naked Empire, (Warning, Plot Spoiler!) Richard has become so powerful that he no longer has to kill simply to survive, but he begins to experience headaches that are killing him. This is when Richard learns the meaning of the wizard's eighth rule: deserve victory (eighth book = eighth rule). He realises that if the killing he does really is the right thing to do then he wouldn't need to balance it out with anything else, and by simply eating meat again, as he should, harmony is restored and his fatal headaches cease.
Many wizards display an unusual knack for seeing what's coming. Sometimes this is in an instinctive sense, like when one may prudently ditch his friend in an abrupt flash of clarity, just before a clumsy and drunken telepathic offensive against Yorg the Mindsplitter. Many times this foresight is displayed in a concrete manner, such as sensing something important before it's about to happen - like the 'spider sense' of Spider-Man. On other occasions it can present itself in a more abstract way, such as sensing something important before it's about to happen - like Spiderman the movie. (Who thought that was going to be any good?!)
Wizards are devious. They'll trick anyone if it means achieving their goals, even the good ones. Wizards are often feared, not because they are rumoured to make you sterile if you touch them, but because of their conceivably inhuman talents for the subtle and deceptive. When Merlin got it into his head that Camelot should have a king of his choosing, he simply used magic to fool Arthur's mother into thinking Uther Pendragon was her husband so that they would conceive Arthur. Probably not the circumstances most people would choose to be born under. Merlin then planned out the whole Sword in the Stone contest. He may have even created the Round Table. So basically, the entire kingdom of Camelot was just his brain child. These kinds of events (and maybe just a little of the sterlizing thing) explain the confusing behaviour of most villagers to cower away from wizardly folk and spread rumours about them behind their backs.
A wizard's natural sway over the minds of others is as infamous as his cunning intellect. When they put their minds to it, they can get just about anyone to do just about anything. Many wizards find that they must use a few people in order to protect the rest. This is a great burden, but they seem to do it anyway. Using other people as tools may sound wrong, but it's for the greater good, and usually it's the only way to do business. Imagine what the Lord of the Rings would have been like if Gandalf had tried to take the One Ring to Mount Doom himself, or what if Yoda had tried to kill the Emperor instead of Luke? If being a wizard means you have more brilliance, daring, and inner strength compared to the ordinary folk, then it really becomes your responsibility to lead them into doing what needs to be done. The same line of thinking is used in politics, except in reverse, so that it is the people with the least brilliance, daring, and inner strength who lead (it's difficult to be brilliantly daring and moderate at the same time). This illustrates an example of why many people find fantasy too silly to read.
As diverse and obscure as many wizard spells can be, they all invariably fall into a particular category. Pay no attention to any writer's efforts to divide magic spells into categories; they're just trying to be creative and original (instead of accurate, for example). Pay even less attention to the efforts of game designers to separate spells into categories, they are already as misguided as writers and they're most likely trying to jam it all into some kind of (clunky) combat system too. These are the spells that any spell-caster has access too now, thanks to the countless years past wizards have spent figuring it all out for them.
Divination - This is a wizard's ability to see beyond what their senses might ordinarily be able to detect. Like most of these categories it can be both passive, as in having a vision, or active, like in a finding spell.
Enchantment - One of the most frequently-used types of wizard's spell is the enchantment. An enchantment is different than a regular spell because it will not dissipate immediately. An example of an enchantment could be a spell that causes it to always be winter, but never Christmas, like the one cast over Narnia by the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Enchantments can bend reality around them to suit a wizard's fancy, or if that's too hard, they can bend perceived reality around them instead.
Summoning - Another word for summoning is evoking, and it is the opposite of the invoking just down there. It is the creation or transportation of something outside the wizard, like a fireball, or a bear. If you're wondering why a wizard would ever need a bear, then you'll never know.
Invoking - This is a rarely-used ability wizards have to call forth power from elsewhere. This kind of spell can be observed in something as a frivolous as a wizard gathering magical power into their legs so that they can jump higher than usual. Because wizards favor intellect over brawn, they tend to stay away from physical self-empowering spells in favour of less personal enhancements, but there are also invocations that amplify other aspects of the wizard. These spells can be cast at such an advanced degree that the wizard can become the focal point for divine or godlike powers. Use your imagination.
Animal - It works as long as no one realizes that humans are animals. Some wizards have a sort of animal empathy that allows them to commune with their bestial brethren. You may have discovered by this point that wizards can't leave well enough alone, so it makes sense that there are also wizards who have even learned to share an animal's special qualities, like the night vision of the wolf, or the cold resistance of the polar bear. You may even have figured out that wizards sometimes can't leave alone that which has already not been left well enough alone, and so there are even wizards who can become a particular animal.
Telepathy - This relates to mental processes and is the wizard's potential to use their mind to read another person's mind, enter another person's mind, or something cool like crack an egg with their mind. Telekinesis is a word commonly used to describe moving things with the mind. A good example of that would be in the Fellowship of the Ring movie when Gandalf and Saruman duel by slamming their mind into the other's body (since it's too hard to do it the other way around).
Biomancy, Elemental - Some wizards can heal people with their magic. Depending upon the world in which the wizard participates, this healing can go from being only helpful enough to assist the process of natural healing to being powerful enough to bring a person back to life. The term for bringing a person back to life is resuscitation3.
Biomancy is decidedly a catergory linked to holiness, and being that, it's not a stretch to say that any spells related to the divine, life, or light4 can fall here.
Necromancy, Elemental - Everyone has heard of necromancy at one time or another. Wizards can oftentimes mess with this other side of the spectrum of life more easily. Necromancy involves an unnatural focus on the dead, and is very entertaining to watch, unlike healing, which is boring. Turning corpses into zombies that then rise out of their own graves is good visual imagery and mentally simulating too. The townsfolk are too busy fighting them off with fire and protecting their children to notice the subtle positives like this.
The suffix, 'necro-,' refers not just to the dead, but death as a whole, and it has informally evolved further to cover the notion of darkness in general.
Earth, Elemental - Many wizards don't go in for what they see as unnatural magic. They prefer to stay closer to Mother Earth. Geomancy spells, which force (encourage they call it) plants to grow at incredible speeds, rocks to shoot out of the ground, and earthquakes to... quake the Earth, would be part of this kind of spell.
Weather, Elemental - Thanks to Latin, there is a technical term for almost every kind of elemental magics. The most important physically bound elements, outside of Earth, would probably be the other three Medieval elements: aeromancy, hydromancy, pyromancy, and then the one that was too elusive to be discovered during the Medieval era, electromancy. Some people throw dishes or even rocks when they're angry. Wizards throw weather - specifically wind, water, fire, and electricity, what weather consists of to people who believe science should have stopped at the invention of the telescope. Sometimes wizards can generate the element from within themselves, but more easily it comes from nature. Wizards have been known to conjure thunderstorms for no explicable reason.
Transmutation - The changing of one thing into another. This could include a wizard's reputed gift for turning villagers into stone, or the animal that fits their personality, as well as shape-shift into a wolf in order to eat the villager's chickens. Why the wizard would ever want to do any of these things is never explained by the village gossip.
Naming - All sorts of legends in human history have postulated the existence of 'true names'. That is, people figured, every single entity in the universe by virtue of having some degree of separation from everything else must have a single, true name. A name encapsulating that entity in its entirety. The obvious result of this being that the knowledge of a thing's true name would grant power over it. However, if the tale of Rumpelstiltskin has taught us anything, it's that you can't go around expecting to figure out names all willy-nilly... Actually, it taught us exactly the opposite of that... but that just goes to show that you shouldn't put your trust in tales of fantasy. Wait, that's all wrong too. This paragraph is doomed.
The point is, that tremendous twists of fate or luck aside, only the cunning mind and magic of the wizard are fit to figure out the true name of anything. When a wizard does manage it, he'll have the same control over the thing named as he would with any of these regular types of spells he knows. In some wizardly worlds, like Earthsea, spells pretty much are true names. So deciphering the name of the sea means being able to cast spells over the sea, which is no small feat. The more power a thing holds, the more difficult finding out its name will be. So you should be safe, as long as you don't go around threatening to take away fairy tale girls' first born unless they can guess your name in three days, that's just asking for it.
Temporal - Perhaps the least used spells are those of chronomancy. Time is a dangerous field of wizardry and probably the hardest to utilise. Any spell that alters time in any manner would obviously be part of this category.
Spatial - These are the spells wizards use to directly transform the physical realm. This could involve a wizard tearing a hole into another dimension, translocating (not teleporting, that sounds like something involving energy... and corny special effects) himself or others from one side of a continent to the opposite end, altering gravity (gravitomancy, anyone?), altering shape, and so forth. A spell is not spatial if the physical change is through an indirect cause. It is one thing to light a fire letting combustion do all the work, and entirely another to actually create fire by physically rearranging the atoms in the air.
Alchemy - Like everybody in the prime of their youth, alchemy had great hopes and aspirations. Initially, alchemy intended to figure out how to turn regular metals into gold, cure all diseases, and grant immortality, but eventually had to settle for giving birth to chemistry and then dying. Alchemy survives now only in stories. When wizards, and wizard-like folk, mix potions and then sell them to adventurers, they are practicing alchemy.
Many spells end up being part of more than one category, but hopefully never less than one category. For instance, a spell that causes the nearby dirt to always melt more often than it likes to could easily be several types of spell at once. Please keep in mind that no categorisation is perfect5.
Literary Works of Wizardry
- The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
- The Earthsea cycle by Ursula K Le Guin
- The Once and Future King by TH White
- Portions of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
- The Lost Years of Merlin series by TA Barron
- The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Concluding Question and Answer Session
Question - So if wizards are so great then why don't I ever see one on Dawson's Creek?
Answer - Wow, what a stupid question. Okay, this is simple. Firstly, wizards appeal to a slightly different demographic than the teenage soap opera viewer. Secondly, Dawson's Creek is cancelled, let it go. What you seem to be trying to ask is why wizards aren't more prominent at the moment than they are. This is because the sword and sorcery epics have been pushed aside lately in growing favour for the science fiction craze. Writers feel that settings with castles and evil monsters just are not believable enough anymore due to today's more sophisticated audiences who are likely to believe only realistic things, like that seventy years from now everyone will own a robot butler, police will stop crimes before they are committed, and that nurses will ask you to fill out a form deciding what you want the new baby to be like when he grows up.
Question - If it is all symbolism, then what are wizards meant to represent?
Answer - That's better. Some legends hold, that during humankind's genesis, we were given all of God's knowledge and none of his power. It isn't hard to perceive our condition as being in this state, or at least a comparable one. A wizard is how a human might be if he held both God's knowledge and his power. This conception of a wizard was formed a long time ago, when the mystical was civilisation's mindset toward power. Of late, it has been technology that we are pitting against our human frailties, and there is no longer a need anymore to imagine ourselves as wizards. You can now literally have wizardry packaged in a box and sent to your doorstep, and that part of humanity's endless quest for God has halted in a quite unexpected manner.
Question - When is this Entry going to end?
Answer - Forthwith
Question - Why are wizards so captivating, but at the same time under-appreciated?
Answer - A great deal of the time spent in the wizardly vocation is mundane and tedious. The only real highlights of a wizard's life come near the end, when all his hard work and experience have culminated. By this time, the wizard has past the point in his life where it might have been his station to play hero. His role has become the one of teacher - just as noble, but passive now. So, when a hero is forged, a person of great courage and vitality, who has all the potential required to overcome the evils of the world, he will still lack the skill and insight that can be cultivated only through a lifetime of lessons learned and obstacles mastered. Obstacles such as the one the hero would have to soon face alone and unprepared were it not for his mentor, his wizard. This is as it should be. For it is the wizard's interaction with the less experienced and more hands-on champions that we identify with and find so appealing. The wizard needs no attention. He has already accomplished his feats. He has already met his destiny. Forgotten unjustly, is only the inexorable replacement wizard, toiling largely unnoticed until such time as he reaches his summation and a new hero rises who will seek his much needed wisdom. Perhaps some of these new heroes that everyone will soon admire are wizards themselves, but more likely they are just unique individuals. Ones familiar, but not obsessed, with magic, and who need just a little guidance and inspiration in their life to help them contend with the great difficulties of which they are expected to struggle. Even for them, there is always wizardry.
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