socioeconomic development

anonymous asked:

Do u have any ideas/meta/headcanons about wandless magic? bc I've seen some headcanons floating around which were basically saying wands were a European thing & that loads of wixen in other places (the headcanons I read centered around the Native Ameicans I think) just used wandless magic but then when the white settlers came they banned it bc they thought it was dark. Or something? I was wondering about your opinion on that idea & just wandless magic in general bc I think it's rly cool. Thx! :)

So I looked through my tags for stuff on this and there’s a lot of stuff, so for starters I’d advise going through my meta tag and my tags on alternate forms of magic/alternative forms of magic and the Shafiq family, possibly also the fics from independence/resistance week. That should give you an idea of what I’ve already written on the subject.

A few key posts you should definitely read:

Wand magic & other forms of magic, even within the Western context

Wand magic & non-western cultures

This submit by essayofthoughts and my reply

Magic as electricity & wands as punishment

This fic on departmentsofmysteries

This myth on how wands came to be popular submitted by essayofthoughts

These posts on encyclopaediaarcana  [x, x, x]


Basically, I think that wandless magic was the way magic was originally practiced all over the world. Wands serve as conductors for magic, so if your magic is not very strong or if your control over magic isn’t very good, then you use a wand to channel your magic and produce the effects you want it to - essentially, wands started out being used either where magic had to be used in incredibly precise or tiny amounts (so to filter out interfering amounts of magic) or to help people who were not very good at magic. In some cases, in Roman Europe, especially, wands came to be used as a way of punishing powerful wix who stepped outside the bounds of the community which is an idea that the ficlet on departmentsofmysteries looks at. Eventually they take precedence over wandless magic because wandless magic is extremely difficult to perform - it requires a great deal of concentration and will power, whereas wand magic is essentially magic lite, you don’t need to put much effort into it to get it right - and wand magic is easier, saves time etc etc. I also think it ties into the fact that wand magic would have made sense in a militaristic setting, for fighting on the battlefield - ritual magic can only take you so far and there’s only so much concentration you can dedicate to channeling your will into creating the kind of magical effects you want WHILE fighting - so I believe that yes, wands would have become popular during the time of the Roman empire and its imperial/expansion project.

Whether or not wands are purely a Western concept or not, is something that I have mixed feelings about. If we’re drawing purely on historical/archaeological records, there are mentions of things like staves/staffs/wands being used as props during magic - or even other non-standard props being used to facilitate magic e.g. the use of a distaff (for spinning wool) in Seidr. Like I said, if we think about wands as conductors of magic, it would make sense for wix all over the world to have had them in some form or the other, particularly where magic would have had to be applied in controlled or restricted measures in order for rituals etc to work properly. By saying that wands are purely a Western concept, I think it does a great disservice to non-Western countries where wands or things like wands could have been used to perform magic in very particular settings, but maybe not as widespread practice.

I’m not saying that every non-Western culture has wands. Some do, some don’t, some have things that look like wands and some have things that don’t quite look like wands but yet are very much part of the process of doing magic. It’s just not very ‘recognizable’ to settlers, which, I think, is where the real problem stems from.

Wandless magic however is a little more complex, I think. Of course, it exists in various forms across cultures, but in the areas strongly influenced by the Greco-Latin magic system (i.e. HPverse magic) - and by that extension the Roman expansion project - wands would have eventually gained precedence over other forms of magic. I’ve looked at the kind of prejudice that would have been there in the early 9th and 10th centuries regarding the use of wands in this fic on the Ollivander family. Also iirc, being able to perform wandless magic in HP canon is considered a mark of a great/skilled wizard - I’ve managed to count only four book-canon wizards who are mentioned doing wandless magic (Dumbledore, Voldemort, Snape & Lupin) and if you increase this to film canon you have Hermione as well. So there’s still a kind of reverence for wandless magic, but essentially the Greco-Latin magic system view is that fwiw, wand magic is much more practical for the substance of day to day living and for all wix to perform.

In the colonial context, wands take on a kind of symbolic meaning, if that makes sense? It’s a way for the colonizers to “distinguish” themselves from the colonized and to reassert their own superiority and by that extension, to impose that superiority on other people - irrespective of their own views on wandless magic in their own native culture. The wand stands in for them and for their culture and for their magic, specifically, and so must be protected at all costs - and imposed on everyone else as part of the ‘civilizing’ project, i.e. to make others just like them. Does that make sense?

Whether or not wandless magic is dark - this is actually interesting because a lot of the dark magic that I’ve created for this ‘verse is largely non-wand magic/ritual magic. Arguably this might be because I am more fascinated with exploring the realms of dark magic and what it could be used for than I am for looking at light magic, but I think possibly what you could also infer is that really powerful dark magic is almost always wandless/ritual based simply because it requires that much concentration and willpower and sheer energy to be poured into it in order for it to be successful. Most of the really powerful magic we see in HP canon (barring the Patronus charm) - and also don’t necessarily seem to follow the standard formula of say the spell and the thing happens, e.g. the Cruciatus, or are wilder/less controllable e.g. Fiendfyre - is, incidentally, dark magic. Combine that with the ‘civilizing’ project of wixen colonialism and it could explain why wixen colonizers wrote off all non-Western wandless magic as dark. There’s also the possibility of it being a purely pragmatic decision couched in moralistic terms to lend apparent weight to it: wandless magic and ritual magic are far more powerful and far more difficult to combat/work against - moreso when it is unfamiliar magic - and so in order to create a rule-able people, making wandless magic a question of light and dark (rather than one cultural form of magic against another) they create a case for banning this magic that is virtually unassailable. Because everyone wants to be a ‘good’ wix, not a ‘dark’ wix.

I have a lot more thoughts on wand magic and its links with the kind of socioeconomic/cultural systems that developed in “the West” but I don’t think they’re particularly relevant to what you’re asking.

(All of this theory of magic, ofc, is predicated on the idea of magic being a form of energy - I am overwhelmingly fond of flourishandblottsstories’ piece on magic being the result of excess electrical energy in the nervous system.)