At times I feel bad about keeping secrets from father. I know Bastian doesn't get along with him, but the truth is, he projects himself so hard into Father that if he did so any more, his forehead would be a PowerPoint presentation. I often sit and wonder if one day, I should just invite Father for a coffee and tell him the truth: that I am a magic user; a magician, a wizard, a warlock... all those pretty names.
If I had to tell him (or anyone else), I think I'd go a little like this:
Let me tell you a little about magic.
And I don't mean that kind of magic when they cut a lady in half, or make a bunny appear in a hat or pull a penny out of your ear. I mean the kind of magic that has always been here, around us, close, but where people forget to look.
When, after the loss of a partner, a lover, or a friend, that seemingly unstoppable pain suddenly fades, that is magic.
When you feel the mighty and perfect words of Bach's Cantata # 15 -- "For you would not abandon my soul in Hell" resound off the walls of Westminster Abbey and make your heart beat just a little faster and you don't know why, that is magic.
When a strapping young man, suddenly, for no reason turns back in his chair during an exceedingly boring lecture and smiles right at you, that is not only magic, that is just a good reason as any other to get up from bed in the morning.
And while there is no trick in cutting a lady in half (if all you want to see is a lady cut in half) you can't expect magic to come to you all the time. You have to be ready to search for it, even in the most unlikely of places.
Consider this a small sample of the red pill: I am a mage. I am a reality worker. I am the earthly avatar of something so umberably powerful and beautiful that it could not exist in this reality without destroying it and itself, and for that reason decided to put a tiny spark of the divine in my soul, and the day I managed to wake it, I realized I could set the world ablaze.
I am, if you will, a very literal translation of Nietzsche's "Will to Power" - I make things happen by WANTING them to happen. While my will is limited, my possibilities are not. Creating fire is just one of the few things I can do, and, let's face it, I do it by cheating.
To stop being cryptic, take in mind the Matrix as it is portrayed in the movie. Now think of someone who knows the code and the language the Matrix program is written in, and can hack it and rewrite it partially. That is, to all purpouses a mage such as myself. Of course, my reality programming skills are limited - my goal (like that of all other mages) is to manage to learn it whole so you can work the program and write and change as you see fit. We don't say magic words (unless were into it), we don't summon gods to do magic for us -- we weave it into reality.
I cannot turn invisible, or fly or prevent bullets from killing me -- I can, however, program a shield around me that will deflect forces. Which force, light, gravity or kinetics determines the final result: invisibility, flight or invulnerability.
My power is virtually unlimited, yet, by my very human nature and habilities, I limit myself. However, if I don't know the direct line of code that will allow me to achieve a certain effect, I can always use a bit of tinkering and cheating and using of backpassages to achieve it anyway.
So, yes, I know what you're wondering. I could stop a man's heart inside his chest just by programing reality for it. Why don't I do it? Well, allow me to quote you my favourite novel (after Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel":
“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could”’
Because it's wrong. That's enough for me.
It's probably one of the more horrible ways to die, and even more likely the most horrible way to kill. So much can go wrong when you tinker and toy with someone's body that I'm not going to take the chance to use someone's body against themselves ever. Moreso because the Mages as a whole frown against this practice and a frown from them usually translates in a whole lot of pain.
Now, to try and explain why are are like this... First of all, this is a trait unique to humans. Vampires, werewolves -- yes, they do exist -- (by their condition of non humans) have no such power as we do, for apparently, they have had their connection to their Daemons cut-- more on them in a bit). You can indeed exist without that connection, but your life is a wretched one, as you go through life feeling that an important part of you is missing. Wether they're aware of it or not, every human has inside them that little spark of divine. The trick is realizing it, and then, presto, do magic.
I know that many do not believe in soul. To those, let me propose you a simple exercise to help you see that luminous sparkle that allows us to breathe, and think and love: go to the local morgue and ask to look at a dead body. They'll slide a corpse out of a drawer -- if you have the choice for your first viewing, choose an old old man...
*furiously scribbled and underlined* Not children. NEVER EVER CHILDREN!
You'll see it immediately. Once the spirit has left the body there is nothing else but a heap of pale tissue with hair.
I suppose that each culture has their soul: the westerners have the soul, the hebrews had the spirit, the easterners have Chi, the indians have Shakti, and John had Yokho. It doesn't matter. You have to see beyond words and into what they represent. They represent your connection to a greater power, a spark of the great cosmic awareness that binds us all, to each other, to the starts, to the seasons, to Nature.
That is the Deamon. Wait. Don't go get the Holy Water and the Priest just yet, this is just a name for an entity that represents a facet of that power. Some call it Avatar, The Force, or just the Soul. That entity exists inside the Matrix itself and it's your interface, the keyboard, computer, eletric instalation, mouse and whatever apparatuses you want to add, to the great program of reality.
It's through it that you create magic.
Think of it as a very literal Nietzschean "Will to power".