Have you ever been stuck in traffic and wished you could fly? How about changing your mother in-law into a toad, or even a yak? Magical powers are the stuff of fantasy and an important way for us mere mortal types to have an imaginary, if useful outlet.
Wizards come in many different forms and types but are recognized as archetypes all over the world. This along with dragons and the Yeti, is an interesting phenomenon in that the need for a human with supernatural powers seems to permeate nearly every culture.
Native Americans have the shaman or medicine man in their corner. Through dreams and visions they would guide people to where game was plentiful and act as a doctor for whatever was ailing their tribes. Often they would walk with animal spirits and offer political advice to the tribal leaders. Their strength and usefulness was mainly in herbal lore.
In Europe wizards are what we understand them to be today. Usually they were depicted as venerable looking older men with arcane knowledge of the elements, plants and the mystical forces of the universe. Women were not considered wizards, but rather called witches. Today the term witch refers to a specific in-law.
The popular game Dungeons and Dragons as well as popular fiction such as the Lord of the Rings and games like World of Warcraft re-enforce the image of the European wizard. The long flowing robes and white beard are typical of this archetype and make the wizard readily identifiable in fiction. Sometimes wizards will carry wands in these incarnations or have a familiar; an animal guide that will do their bidding and act as an advisor.
During the Middle Ages wizards were thought to be evil or possessed by evil spirits. Often times any advances in science were viewed as potential black magic and frowned upon. If one considers burning a person at the stake or torturing them as a frown. To say the least, in Europe, making a scientific breakthrough was not something often advertised.
In Asian however, the wizard was revered and thought highly of. They were often court advisors and considered men of science, though of an arcane nature. The image of the wizard in Asian was nearly the same as their European counter-parts, but this might be because nearly everyone in Asia wore robes- something we Westerners try to do all weekend if we can.
The image of the wizard or magical being is one that offers us all a little escape. Anyone who says they have not ever thought about magical powers just might be one of the most boring people on earth. Wizards were often thought of as having unknown powers, usually their magic was nothing more than an excuse on the part of normal people for things they did not understand; a way to explain the unknown. Still the image persists even through the age of science we are currently enjoying. Wizards do not offer an escape from the unknown these days, but rather an escape into the unknown.
Zeeman Haus enjoys writing articles online on a variety of subjects. You can check out his latest website on Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures which provides deals Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures & Accessories.