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ZAP!

Energy is what gets things done.  We use energy to make changes whether we’re talking about magic or the mundane.  If you’ve taken a bunch of science classes or just watched Star Trek, you’ve heard a lot about energy… all kinds of energy.  So, since you’ve used it, and heard about it, and a good deal of the conversations you’ve had with your fellow magic workers has been about energy, tell me:  WHAT IS ENERGY?

Physics is basically the study of energy.  You learn about how to measure the various kinds of energy, what they do, what to call them, how to manipulate them, even how to generate them.  And one of the basic principles of science is that you can neither create nor destroy energy.

Wait a second, if you can’t create and you can’t destroy energy, how can you generate it?  Let’s look at an electrical generator and see what’s going on:

Most electricity is generated by moving a magnet around and around until it produces this electricity stuff – pretty simple, actually.  But, you see, there’s the rub.  Moving something requires energy.  Not electrical energy, movement of objects is known as kinetic energy.  And then there’s that magnet thingy; magnetism is a kind of energy too.  So we’ve got two sorts of energy involved in generating electrical energy.

Hmmm.

Okay, let’s look at how we use electrical energy.  Take the light bulb for instance.  The electricity goes in at the base of the bulb and we get light.  Light isn’t electrical energy.  And we get heat.  Heat isn’t electrical energy either.  And, remember that magnet we used to generate the electricity?  You can use electricity to make a magnetic field too.

All these different kinds of energy seem to be related, don’t they?  Well, big surprise, they are.  They all represent the same activity when you get right down to it: change.  All the various ways we name the various forms of energy are nothing more than convenient ways to talk about how we use energy… how we make changes.  We don’t really make energy; we only use it in selective ways.

Well now, you’ve now received your required lesson in physics.  How about METAphysics?  What’s different about magical energy when compared to mundane energy?

Not a bloody thing.

We can’t create magical energy any more than we can create mundane energy.  The same goes for its destruction.  All we can do is harness it (using some kind of energy) and transform it (using maybe another kind of energy).  And we can direct it (another thing that requires energy) and we can make it do all sorts of other tricks.  Once again, what we call it is almost the least important part about it.

Without getting technical, energy really is ONE THING: change.  If you want to generate energy—magical or mundane – all you have to do is find a way for two things to have some kind of relationship.

This is where it gets to be fun.

One of the basic premises of every magical system is a simple idea: everything is connected.  Are you beginning to see the possibilities?

If everything is connected, then you can get energy out of any two things in the universe!  But, before you try to get atomic fission from your two goldfish, let me explain that some types of energy are easier to produce from two goldfish than other types of energy.  That’s just the way the world is, so try not to fight it too much, okay?

Most magical training involves learning how some kinds of energy are produced more easily from certain relationships than other kinds.  But, if you only have two goldfish, maybe you should start small and build on your successes.

Let’s say you want to generate a lot of heat and all you’ve got to work with is two goldfish.

Rubbing two goldfish together might generate friction and friction can turn into heat.  But I think the goldfish might not be able to generate that much heat before they expire and, besides, rubbing them together might be considered somewhat cruel, especially by the goldfish.  And remember: everything’s connected and when you do something cruel to one thing it’s likely to bring cruelty down on you.  So let’s think of another way, okay?

Why not put a little energy into selling the goldfish?  Maybe you bought them for five dollars each.  Surely you can think of some way to fancy them up in the minds of potential buyers and sell them for eight dollars each.  It might take some doing, but it’s not impossible, is it?

When you sell them, send them off with a tearful farewell and count your sixteen dollars with great glee.  Because sixteen bucks can get you a young tarantula!  Now, you might not want a tarantula, but somebody does and those critters can live off of your bug infested back yard trimmings easily enough.  That’ll make it grow bigger.

Big enough to be sold for thirty dollars.  In the mean time, you can entertain your friends by claiming that your tarantula is really the product of two goldfish.  That ought to make your friends scratch their heads a little.

Congratulations, you now have thirty dollars and you’ve gotten rid of that creepy spider.  And thirty dollars can buy you six goldfish!  Which then you can sell for forty-eight bucks.  With forty-eight bucks, you can go down to the hardware store and buy a small catalytic heater.

Plug it in (to the electrical outlet) and voile! you can now generate a lot of heat.

Well, okay, maybe there are easier ways to generate a lot of heat.  Two goldfish might not be the best mechanism to do it.  But… if that’s all you’ve got, then go for it.

Take note that, beside the somewhat bazaar connections (but everything is connected!) and the bits of energy (advertising, trading, feeding, plugging in the heater, etc.) used along the way, the biggest use of energy was your mind.  A lot of magic is like that.  Magic takes a lot of mental energy.

But then, so did the first electrical generator.

For those of you who may be beginning your journeys into the world of magic, just remember that your mind, your ability to imagine and figure things out, is the greatest repository of magical energy ever produced.