Towards a Unified Theory of Magic

“Magic is not about causing things that are beyond what is naturally possible, it is about causing things that are beyond the ordinary. Put another way, magic is not supernatural, but extraordinary.”

Junius Johnson, "Introduction to Narnia"

It started when I was preparing to teach a session on how magic works in C.S. Lewis' fictional world of Narnia. First, I got carried away thinking about the hypothetical titles for scholarly studies of magic (*listed below for your enjoyment). Then, I found myself diving deeper into the philosophy of magic, what might be called the metaphysics of magic, than I could justify going for a one hour class for children. But it was when I found myself in the midst of assertions about the nature of magic that I was not sure I was prepared to defend that I knew that I could not think this through on my own: I needed conversation partners, and I needed to share the first-fruits of my musings with the world.

"The Grammar of Magic" is an invitation to think with me about the fundamental nature of magic in fantasy settings, and about the basic choices authors must make concerning magic as they are building worlds. We will consider the forms, costs, methods, and rules of magic, with an eye to discerning the underlying structure of magic as a feature of a world. We will also consider magic in relation to science, and consider the advantages of each.

Bring your thoughts about your favorite fantasy stories, bring your most unusual theories, and, most of all, bring your sense of wonder!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 7:30 pm Central time

Free, registration required (recording available to all registrants)

Woman in Front of Clock

What might a scholarly collection of books about magic look like? Browse my imaginary shelf below!

Analytics of Magic
Critique of Pure Magic
Systematic Magic
Fundamental Magic
Magic: First Principles (De Principiis Magicae)
The Rules of Magic
Magic: A Taxonomy
An Anatomy of Magic
Necronomicon ex Magicis*
Summa Magicae
Compendium Magicae
Three Dialogues Concerning Magic
The Journey of the Mind to Magic
On Magic (De Magica)
A Prolegomena to Alll Future Magic
De Magica Orthodoxa (Concerning Orthodox Magic)
Five Magical Orations
De Doctrina Magica (On Magic Doctrine)
On the Magic Hierarchies
On Being and Magic
* This book is of very dubious origin and is almost certainly spurious. It should not be trusted, consulted, read, or opened. Just bury it right back where you found it.
Books on Loan from Other Hypothetical Shelves [others' inventions]
Magic: Sources, Channels, Mechanics, and Effects
Principia Magicae
An Inquiry Concerning Human Magic
Tractatus Theologico-Magicus
The Phenomenology of Magic
Magical Investigations
The Logic of Magical Discovery
Magic and Knowledge
On the Geneology of Magic
Books Against the Study of Magic
Adversus Magicos (Against Magicians)
Summa Contra Magicos
A Diatribe of Comfort against Magic
Beyond Magic
Why I am Not a Magician
Magic and Its Discontents
Magic: The End of an Illusion
  • “This is a friendly, informal format where you can learn and share ideas about different aspects of faith. Junius as leader is welcoming, encouraging, real, orthodox, very knowledgeable, and clearly loves the Lord and loves people.”