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Magic is a supernatural force that can be used to override the immutable laws of physics. Many magical creatures exist (e.g. unicorns, merpeople, giants, genies, vampires, etc.) and objects can even be enhanced or imbued with magical properties. In humans, magic or the lack thereof is an inborn attribute and those with the ability to use magic are called witches. The gift of magic is inherited genetically.

Using magic

Witches need training to learn how to control their magic. With young and untrained witches, magic will manifest itself subconsciously in moments of strong emotion (i.e. fear, anger and sadness) and with ordinary hand gestures.[1] For example, Sabrina Spellman once accidentally brought a dead frog back to life, made Libby Chessler uncontrollably smear lipstick all over her face, and then turned Libby into a pineapple after having been snubbed by the aforementioned cheerleader.

It should be noted that whilst the ability to perform magic seems to reveal itself in early childhood for a "full-witch", mortal/witch hybrids seem to remain mundane until the age of sixteen when their magical aptitude awakens.[1]

Almost all magic is done with the use of a physical gesture, typically by pointing of one's index finger. However one can do magic without a visible bodily action, though it is a rarely seen occurrence.

Spell Casting

Now you concentrate and point.
Zelda Spellman to Sabrina Spellman in Pilot

One of the most obvious characteristics of a witch is their ability to cast spells; a "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action. A spell could consist of a ritual action, a set of words, a verse, a gesture or any combination of these. Although some spells are spoken in an ancient language similar to Latin, a majority of spells, often written in iambic pentameter or as a rhyming couplet, may be cast in the native language of the witch. Witches can even invent and craft new spells to practically do whatever they wish it to do. In spell crafting, words are taken to the letter and witches must be exact with their words otherwise their spell could backfire. For example, when Sabrina was to cast a spell to clean her room she was inexact with her words and instead put things back where they belonged, causing mass havoc as a result.[2]

Some spells require more than one witch to make them work in order to increase the amount of magic and therefore potential power available for the spell. For example, the spell to turn back time is a spell that requires a collective of witches to perform it, as well as the approval of the Witches Council.[1] Some spells may also have additional and/or specific components as well. A spell may require the use of certain tools, ingredients (cat hair, avian feathers, or even tears), or the need to be cast at a certain time and/or place.

According to Zelda Spellman, witches can seal their spells, preventing other witches from tampering with or altering their spells.[1] For example, Sabrina's cousin Amanda had once locked the spell she cast on several people, which turned them into toys, and even Sabrina's Quizmaster was unable to reverse or break her spell. Although a witch may not necessarily be able to alter the spells of another witch, they could still impose other spells to circumvent their will. Since when working as a collective, witches can do things a single witch cannot, most likely a group of witches could break the sealed spell of a single, ordinary witch.

Potions

A potion is a magical mixture that produces certain supernatural feats similar to the effects of a spell. Potions can fulfill a vast variety of magical purposes, from revealing the truth to transforming one object into another.

Types of Magic

Magic can be categorized by the being in which is using it.

Witchcraft

Witchcraft is an extremely powerful form of magic that is primarily practiced by witches. This form of magic can do many amazing things and encompasses many different types of activities including levitation, transforming into the elements, spell casting, and potion making. Despite this, witches are limited by several rules inherent in the art of witchcraft. Foremost, there are some spells that witches are unable to perform alone and require them working as a collective to achieve the desired magical effect (i.e. rewinding time or getting rid of cellulite). Witches are also sometimes unable to cast some spells that manipulate areas controlled by divine mystical beings specializing in such matters. For example, when Sabrina wanted to cast a love spell, she was required to call upon Cupid and had to pay him for his services in creating an unnatural sense of love on her behalf.

Witchcraft also seems to be affected or limited by atmospheric and even astrological phenomena. In For example, Sabrina's magic was briefly knocked-out by the high altitude as she was not accustomed to the height, while The Wicked Witch was still able to use her magic.[3] Zelda also claimed that the alignment of certain planets would cause the family to lose all their powers.[4] One of the biggest astrological events for magic users occurs when Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune are all aligned in the ninth parallel of the seventh quadrant, an event which happens once every millennium. During this event, the ability to perform magic is negated until the event is over. It is unknown if these forces act upon all witches in both realms or just those living in the mortal realm.

Oddly enough, while in the Bermuda Triangle a witch's magic doesn't work. Although, their every wish comes true, the only stipulation is that a witch can only make one wish at a time and cannot make another wish until their previous wish is fulfilled.

Vampires are also noted to be immune to the powers of witchcraft.[5]

Troll Magic

Not much is known about troll magic, however It seems to replicate some of the effects found in witchcraft, and it is practiced exclusively by trolls. This magic seems capable of teleportation, conjuring small items and minor acts of transformation.

Divine Magic

Divine magic is a very powerful form of magic that is strictly practiced by deities. A deity's magic depends entirely on the deity's attribute—it could be elemental, such as the case of Mother Nature controlling the weather, fire and flames, as in the case of Pele, or they could have a number of supernatural abilities, as in the case of Mercury being able to travel fast to deliver messages and using his power to enchant footwear.

The Manifestation of Magic

  • An individual magical being's magic appears to physically manifest a certain way unique to them. For example, Sabrina and Zelda Spellman's supernarural powers often manifested as a stream of magical particles whenever they transfigure an object or being, conjure an object or teleport themselves from one place to another. Hilda Spellman's magic however appears as puffs of white smoke. Many other manifestations of magic have been seen from other witches and they seem to appear in an infinite array of colours and forms.
    • It has been seen that witches can change the way their magic manifests if they so choose. Amanda Wiccan's magic usually appeared as multi-colored particles, however she briefly chose to magically transport herself in the form of an explosion of white smoke.[6]
    • Some magic appears to change slightly as a witch gets older. Sabrina's magic starts as a stream of light yellow-gold sparkles. However, as she gets older, her magic seems to get darker; becoming a deeper, rusty orange-gold. Amanda's magic starts as a stream of sparkles (identical in form to Sabrina and Zelda's), however when she gets older, Amanda's magic is accompanied by a ball of orange light that leads the sparkle stream.
    • In addition to the form and colour of a witch's magic, witches can cast their spells in different ways. The most commonly seen in the series is simply pointing with the index finger; as done by Sabrina , Hilda , Zelda , Amanda , Irma . However Dreama often pulled on her earlobe to use her magic, Dashiell once rubbed his head, while Marigold Wiccan and Duke were seen simply waving their hands. Vesta Spellman and Dante often snapped their fingers, while James Hexton and Gwen both clenched their fists. Diamond Dave also was known to shake his fist and point, as if he's rolling dice, when casting spells.
  • Some specific spells may manifest magic in a specific way without the influence of the witch casting it.
  • Different magic manifestations are also normally accompanied by different magical sounds as well. For example Zelda and Sabrina Spellman's magic was usually accompanied by a 'ping' sound, while Hilda's magic was heard with a 'bong' sound.

The Limits and Specifics of Magic

Regardless of how powerful a witch is, he or she is not without limitations. For example, an individual witch cannot cast certain spells or brew certain potions as they lack the vast amounts of magic required for the spell or potion to be effective. Even if they do have the power to perform the magic correctly, it could still potentially fail. The following are some of the limits of magical abilities:

  • A single witch is unable to turn back time, but collectively witches are able to do things an individual cannot and furthermore turning back time is a request that must be taken directly to the Witches Council. Despite this, an individual witch can stop time in close proximity to themselves and some are even able to advance it.[7]
  • According to Hilda Spellman, a witch cannot get rid of cellulite.[1]
  • There does not seem to be a standardized formula for love spells or potions, as love is too "precious" or "weird" to tamper with. Despite this, their are a number of spells and potions that seem to replicate the effects of a love spell. Hilda Spellman claimed that Calvin Kline came remarkably close to some type of love spell or potion, producing ‘Obsession’.[8] A half-hour infatuation spell does also exist, creating, as the name implies, feelings of strong infatuation.[9] The witch Lucy brewed a magical tea that made Willard Kraft supernaturally obedient and she forced him to think he loved her.[10] Witches can also summon Cupid to manipulate love in their stead.[11]
  • Witches can restore life to small animals that have died; Sabrina Spellman was able to bring a frog back to life in her biology class.[1] However, restoring people back to life may be beyond even the boundaries of their powers. However, Sabrina's aunts have given her a reanimation voucher as a gift, which allows her to speak with the spirit of any deceased person she wishes for a short while. A witch can redeem the voucher only on Halloween since the boundaries of the dead and the living are closest at that time.[12]
  • According to Sabrina Spellman, tupperware is the only thing that can hold magic.[13]

Trivia

  • As to whether magic itself is a purely biological element, similar to a form of mutation that is passed down among family lines, and acts as an internal power source, or if it is an external energy force which magical beings merely tap into for their power is unknown. Given how a witch can physically give up their magic, the former is more likely.

References