Growing up, we’ve always been mesmerized by magic. Be it street magic or those telly shows that exposed magicians by revealing their secrets or fantasy works or even those DIY magic kits and even illusionists like Chris Angel, magic surrounds us in every shape and form, and there’s no escaping it!
I bet you didn’t know that there are various types of magic utilized in both film and literature- from your beloved Harry Potter to even Marvel movies (possessing superpowers is also considered as a kind of magical prowess).
Magical and superhuman abilities are used in world-building, and various characters can obtain their magical powers via various origin stories- ranging from learning magic in a special institution such as Hogwarts or through a magical talisman or charm or even by having a magical link to nature. They utilize these magical powers either in the form of incantations, spells, or prompts and may even accidentally stumble across the same. At times, even the greatest wizards and superheroes can lose control or grow unstable with too many magical powers on their hands.
Magic can be used for both good and evil, and in this blog post, we shall explore the types of magic and what purpose they may serve:
This type of magic involves changing various chemical elements from one form to another. A substance with little to no value and can be turned into a highly potent substance. Nicolas Flamel in the Harry Potter universe is a highly gifted and renowned alchemist.
Breathing life into a dead person/animal or even non-animated beings.
May refer to either conjuring magic spells and potions or even conjuring up life from the spirit world via incantations.
This magical ability enables the person who possesses and uses this power to disintegrate matter, such as transforming solid into liquids or even into ashes.
Controlling the elements such as earth, wind, water, and fire, something that can be seen in anime such as The Last Airbender.
Controlling or absorbing energy from other beings. The TV show ‘What we do in the shadows’ has an example of a character named Colin Robinson who has the ability to suck energy from mortals like a vampire.
As the name suggests, this type of magic involves the ability to bestow magical powers unto others.
This is the opposite of the aforementioned ability to bestow powers as it involves either muting one’s own powers or those of another magical being. This also allows one to sense or recognize energy and powers if they’ve been bestowed on another person.
Birds, Planes, and Superman are bestowed with this magical ability to fly.
Without this ability to heal his life-threatening wounds, Wolverine would be lying dead in a ditch.
Without the Doctor’s intergalactic ability to die and be reborn as a new person entirely, the TV show Doctor Who would’ve ended after just one season.
A person possessing such an ability can create optical illusions, mirages, etc , either big or small, such as conveying the illusion that they’ve made an elephant or the Taj Mahal vanish into thin air.
This is the ability not to die or outlive others. An example of the same is Dorian Grey from The Portrait of Dorian Grey, wherein the titular character utilizes a painting of himself to stay young and alive forever.
This is the ability to speak and understand multiple languages, some of which may be mystical. An example of the same is Harry Potter’s ability to speak to snakes via Parseltongue.
This ability enables one to see visions or sense danger ahead of time and shield themselves or others from a dangerous event way before it even occurs. e.g. Alice from Twilight.
A mage is one who specializes in magic spells, tricks, and charms.
With this power, one is rendered not visible to the naked eye or to others and can slip out of a boring job or claustrophobic social gathering effortlessly. An example of the same is when Harry Potter puts on his invisibility cloak to eavesdrop on others like the nosy boy wizard that he is.
Immune to injuries:
With this ability, one’s skin becomes impenetrable to weapons, and thus, the user is able to escape injury.
This is the ability that enables users to manipulate forces of nature such as creating sandstorms to subdue their enemy like Imhotep in the movie The Mummy or create tornadoes, cyclones, etc out of thin air such as Storm in X-Men. This also refers to the manipulation of parts of the body such as elongate limbs, cause claws to protrude or extend out from their skin in the manner of Wolverine, etc.
This enables users to defy the laws of gravity as and when they please. They are able to make objects float or even fly off on command.
Force field creation:
With this ability, it is easy to shield oneself against evil forces. In Harry Potter, the witches and wizards shield themselves against the dark arts by creating a magical protective dome around Hogwarts.
Another example of a power that can be found in X-Men, the character of Magneto can manipulate metal objects at will or at command or even attract them towards him just like a strong magnet.
The evil and spiteful Kilgrave in the show Jessica Jones uses his powers of mind control to ‘talk’ people into doing all sorts of evil and fatal deeds, some of which are as harmful as talking them into walking off a high ledge. Yikes!
This is the ability of a person to create multiple versions of themselves, sometimes via a chemical or scientific process.
This is just a fancy term for the ability to walk through solid objects.
With this ability, one can merge two or more objects or living beings into a single mass. I guess this is a great ability if you want to save space at home.
The ability of a human to turn themselves into a different creature altogether, such as a werewolf. E.g. Jacob in Twilight.
This ability allows a person to manipulate technology such as cables, telephone networks, electronic devices, etc, at times causing them to malfunction.
This is the ability to talk to the dead, usually by a means such as a Ouija board or by holding a seance to ‘see into the beyond’.
This involves either mimicking another person’s physical appearance or their body language and expressions. In a way, it is identity theft via magic. e.g Mystique in X-Men. It can also be seen as a type of shapeshifting.
Not only does this power allow users to bring the dead back to life but also manipulate them and it is also connected to the dark arts. An example of it can be seen in the LoTR franchise as well as in ‘Stardust’ by Neil Gaiman.
This ability allows users to be present everywhere in any shape or form.
This magical power enables a person to have access to vast and unlimited knowledge and understanding of various subjects. To put it in layman’s terms, you’re a certified genius if you possess omniscience!
In layman’s terms, this is also referred to as a witch doctor’s magical ability. It includes bringing the dead back to life, seeing the future via chicken bones or other animal body parts, and foretelling prophecies.
In layman’s terms, this is see-through vision, and as the name suggests, it allows a user to see through stuff that isn’t transparent or translucent such as a brick wall. Superman, apart from possessing laser or heat vision, also possesses this power.
Heat and laser vision:
A person with this ability can poke holes or burn through solid matter by focusing a laser-sharp bright light onto a particular spot, usually emitting it from their eyes or from a special device placed across their eyes that emits a strong heat ray. Common examples are Cyclops from X-Men and Superman. Great if you’re lost in the woods and want to quickly build a fire if you ask me.
An example of the same is seen in nature as dolphins and bats possess this magical ability and are naturally capable of finding their way via sonar detection or via sensing sound waves, vibrations, and echoes, especially if they do not have visual aids to help them out.
This ability enables users to manipulate sound waves.
These may differ from superhuman to superhuman. While some possess the ability to have catlike reflexes, others possess a reflex that makes them sense or react to sudden situations quicker than any ordinary being might. Examples of the same are Spiderman’s tingling Spidey senses and Catwoman’s catlike senses that enable her to get out of harm’s way in the nick of time and land on her feet every damn time.
Transporting oneself back in history or to any event in time. Just don’t bump into ‘future you’ or ‘past you’ or step on a butterfly, as you might cause a paradox and cause a splinter in all of time and space that can never be fixed. Time travel can be achieved either with the help of a physical time machine such as the TARDIS from Doctor Who or the Delorian in the Back to the Future franchise or through an inbuilt ability to do so like in the movie ‘About Time’.
This is the ability to slow down or accelerate or even stop time in its tracks.
The magical ability to move faster than any other human or even faster than the speed of light, in the manner of superheroes such as Flash and Quicksilver.
Unlike time travel, one cannot travel back and forth in time with this ability, but it does enable one to teleport or transport themselves from one place to another. The teleportation devices in Star Trek that enabled Captain Kirk to ‘beam’ himself up and out of sticky situations utilized such magic.
Spiderman makes scaling walls look like a piece of cake with this ability.
Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon from the novels by Rick Riordan was able to hold his breath underwater for long hours and possibly even weeks on end without the help of gills or even oxygen tanks.
Witches and warlocks find this form of magic incredibly useful. It is also known as black magic and can involve spells, intonation, voodoo dolls, as well as concocting fatal potions.
As the name implies, this basically means the magical ability to implode or explode on your own. A bit too painful, I think.
If you’ve seen X-Men, you already know what this magical ability entails, but if you haven’t, then it means that it enables one to read somebody’s mind or thoughts.
This is the ability to foresee the future with the help of a magical device such as a mystical crystal ball or even tarot cards and runes.
The Pig Sty Alley landlady in the movie Kungfu Hustle was well renowned for her ability to achieve a scream that was so high pitched, it would shatter window panes in any vicinity!
This type of magical power is especially useful if your day job forces you to work extra long hours or you’ve forgotten to bring a flashlight.
The power of seeing above and beyond and at further distances than a normal human.
Do you have a pal who’s interested in learning more about this topic? Then do use your magical power of directing them to this post, and don’t forget to check out the other posts on this site.