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15 votes
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Where did Morgana le Fay come from?

There are a few different accounts, detailed here: She was the half sister of none other than King Arthur himself, the daughter of King Gorlois and Igraine (Arthur's mother). She was most likely the ...
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14 votes
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What is the origin of the myth that witches burn in water?

TL;DR This belief doesn't come from a myth. It first appeared in The Wizard of Oz. I think the first time this belief was stated was in The Wizard of Oz rather than in any myths. The belief probably ...
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6 votes

Did Bedwyr (Bedivere) ever have dark magic?

Insofar as the earliest native British traditions go, at least, it doesn't seem so. Looking through some early Welsh texts (Culhwch ac Olwen, Pa Gur, the Trioedd Ynys Prydein, the Beddau stanzas, a ...
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  • 464
5 votes

Who's afraid of steel? Is iron different?

All the sources I've looked at do indeed say that iron repels fairies, and horseshoes, nails and shears have all been used to keep travellers and the newborn safe. There are many theories as to why ...
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  • 5,818
5 votes

What is the origin of the myth that witches burn in water?

As a follow-up to my (almost) namesake @Thom . And to @Spencer It is not specifically stated that they burn in water they are only afeared to cross it. Tim O 'Shanter's poem says Ah, Tam! ah, ...
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4 votes
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What are the special powers of a unicorn's horn?

What are the special powers of a unicorn's horn? Many stories of unicorns refer to the magical properties of their horns, a claim first made by a Greek physician named Ctesias nearly 2,000 years ago. ...
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4 votes

Are there any ancient myths about human body parts said to be benefical or detrimental when eaten?

You're thinking about the Iroquois. There is a widespread belief, first started by missionaries to illustrate the savagery of the natives, that the Iroquois would torture and eat the hearts of their ...
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  • 7,646
4 votes

Are There Biblical References to Good Magic?

It's always hard to prove a negative but I'm gonna try. The bible is full of verses explicitly telling the reader that magic, sorcery, necromancy or divination is not allowed and should not be ...
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  • 4,001
3 votes

Do leprechauns derive their power from gold?

When you say 4 elements I assume you mean the Aristotelian elements: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle also posited a fifth element: aether. from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_element#...
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  • 139
3 votes

What is sympathetic magic?

Frazer is the source of the formal definition so far as I know. From his Golden Bough: IF we analyse the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve ...
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3 votes
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Was the Argo sentient and capable of conversation, or was its speech more like Siri or the USS Enterprise computer?

I would say Argo was not self aware. Instead, Zeus “... spoke through the wood taken from one of his Dodonian oaks, as stated in the first book of the Argonautica (Apollonius of Rhodes, 2009), when a ...
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3 votes
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What would a Roman want to achieve with writing inscriptions and magical signs on bronze nails?

I suggest you take a look at Nails for the dead: a polysemic account of an ancient funerary practice by Silvia Alfayé. The paper focuses on the use of nails in Roman funerary practices, but in section ...
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3 votes
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Scientific inquiries into magic & the paranormal?

This typically falls under the field of pseudo-science, although there have been rigorous, empirical attempts to validate the supernatural (all have failed.) However, these inquiries themselves have ...
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2 votes

Prior to the 1800s are there any examples of a (preferably mortal) being described as possessing telekinetic abilities in the modern sense?

There is a tale in the Mahabharata (ca. 400 BCE) about Shakuni manipulating the outcome of dice throws so that his opponent loses his kingdom and his wife until Krsna intervenes and saves the woman ...
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2 votes

Are There Biblical References to Good Magic?

From the introduction of THE DEPICTION OF MAGIC IN RABBINIC TEXTS: THE RABBINIC AND THE GREEK CONCEPT OF MAGIC:
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  • 5,286
2 votes

Are there stories on gods turning into mortals, or losing immortality?

Here is another time Apollo was made mortal. After Zeus found out Apollo possessed the full gift of prophesy, he asked him which woman would give birth to the kid that would over throw him as king. ...
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2 votes

What are the special powers of a unicorn's horn?

My overall sense is a general association with life, generation, and regeneration as a phallic symbol—it's not by chance that unicorns are associated with virgins! When you look at the at the ...
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2 votes

What are the special powers of a unicorn's horn?

Well this is not a full list and some things might be from modern fiction, but... Healing. Curing diseases and sealing deadly wounds. Not sure if Excaliburs' sheath was made from it?... Apothecaries ...
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2 votes
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Do leprechauns derive their power from gold?

Leprechauns aren't a great option in that they're highly location dependent. Of course if your story is entirely set in Ireland that's no problem, but if you want to be anywhere else, no leprechauns. ...
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2 votes

What is the origin of the myth that witches burn in water?

This is a story thread in Robert Burns's poem 'Tam O'Shanter' from 1791. Tam is spirited safely by his mare Maggie to a bridge, and the pursuing witches cannot follow him across the water.
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