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talljasperman's avatar

In the 1998 (or so) movie Merlin, it is told that he can't progress beyond being a "hand wizard" what other types of magic exist?

Asked by talljasperman (21744points) April 9th, 2014 Not available in some countries

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26 Answers

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

None, because magic doesn’t exist.

Seek's avatar

Oh, I love that version of the story.

In that film, there are plenty of types of magic. Look at Mebh and Morgan. Look at Martin Short’s character. They use magic that was far beyond Merlin’s ability. Remember how he couldn’t remove Nimue’s scars?

jtvoar16's avatar

I never studied Merlin, or any of his incarnations.
But speaking from my own experience with the fantasy world, he meant he was an illusionist. Anything you saw him do was misdirection. Other forms of magic, could possibly include ritualistic, which would mean that you have to have a specific place and goal in mind, and need to preform some kind of drawn out spell, sometimes involving other mages\wizards. Actual wizards, those who can manipulate the physical world, would be another type. Merlin would make you think he hide the moon by moving his hand over it, when in reality, it was still there… A physical wizard would actual rip that bitch out of the sky and put it in his pocket. The only other kind of wizard archetype would be the Scryer, a wizard who specializes in spying on people, and even, perhaps, to an extent, telling the future. I guess you could also argue that there are mages who manipulate time, but I don’t like to think about those because I am very stupid, and easily confused.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Ummmm, what exactly does a hand wizard do?

Seek's avatar

He could do simple magic – manipulating materials with his hands. He could, for example, make it look like he could pluck the moon out of the sky, and he could make a puddle of wax take the form of people in another room so he could spy on them. But he needed the rock giant’s permission to seal Excalibur into the stone.

I think the term “hand wizard” is unique to this particular miniseries.

herculies's avatar

Marianne Faithfull was a ‘hand wizard’ in the movie “Irina Palm.”

Berserker's avatar

Darn, can’t see the link. But if I understand the answers here, Merlin was basically an illusionist?

Well if I go back to the 1981 Excalibur movie, Merlin there describes himself as a ’‘necromancer’’. Not entirely sure why, to my understanding, a necromancer is a magic used to raise the dead, animate corpses and the like.
In that movie, Merlin explains that nature is its own entity, and describes it as ’‘the dragon’’. He is able to harness that power to do all sorts of things, from making simple potions to altering the fates of men. (Merlin is also not human) But Merlin himself says that ’‘the dragon’’ is ill tempered and cares about nothing, and he himself wields very little power compared to ’‘nature’’.
In fact in the movie, it seems that Merlin barely ever does anything, and just uses metaphors and random wisdom and passes it off as magic. But if you pay attention he does use magic quite a lot, I mean besides the obvious time where he changes Uther’s appearance so the latter can go bang Igraine.

Interestingly enough, in other depictions of King Arthur, Merlin is like a shaman so to speak, who apparently communicates with other powerful sources, but the only witness to his magic power is the mixing of roots/potions, and knowledge of runes, ancient writings and herbs.
(makes me think that if there ever actually was a ’‘Merlin’’, he was probably a druid of some import, before or during Roman invasion)

I was going to talk about Gandalf, but I think I’ll leave that one to Seek.

Seek's avatar

Gandalf is a Maiar – basically an angel. His is the work of the gods – the Valar, and Eru Illuvatar, and his power at any given time is dependent on what his mission is – originally a sort of guardian (as Gandalf the Grey) and then as a warrior-sorcerer (as Gandalf the White). Saruman, like the ⅓ of the Host that followed Lucifer, changed his allegiance to Sauron and Melkor.

(this is a personal theory that, so far in my readings, has not been confirmed or denied).

Berserker's avatar

@Seek Yes, I remember reading about that. And as far as the Maiar go, it is to my understanding that there are very few of them left, and that in fact, Gandalf may be the only one? I’ve also read, incidentally, that Tom Bombadil is even older than Gandalf, although Tom himself doesn’t even remember when he first started to exist. (confirmation?)

Seek's avatar

Yes. I believe Tom to be a Maiar as well, a servant of the same Vala that made the Dwarves. Name starts with an O, but escapes me at the moment.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Oh. My perverse mind hand an altogether different idea for “hand wizard”.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Also @Seek is pretty much spot on about the Maiar. Although the Maiar were no created by the Valar, nor were the Valar gods. The Valar were essentially just angels themselves, though of a higher rank than the Maiar and they held lordship (more or less) over the Maiar. All Valar and Maiar had their origin and the source of their power in Eru (Illuvatar).

My take is that they all had, basically only a certain amount of power and that using their powers could drain their, ummmm, “spirit/soul” (I guess, not sure if I can think of a better way of putting it). This is why you see Gandalf using any kind of magic only sparingly. This would also explain why Sauron ceased to exist once the One Ring was destroyed, because he had poured so much of himself into it’s creation and power.

Also Seek, I believe you’re thinking of Aule. Aule made the Dwarves. Actually I don’t believe Tom was a Maiar, as he was completely unaffected by the One Ring. He could have been one of the Valar, but there’s nothing substantial in the writings to go by. Some have even suggested that Tom was actually Eru taking a mannish form. Again, just speculation with nothing to really go by. It seems like Tolkien himself never figured out just what old Tom was.

Berserker's avatar

There is also Akiro, the wizard from Conan the Barbarian. He is the guardian of the dead, and has a powerful magic, but the only instance in the movie where you see him make use of it is when he banishes the spirits that come for Conan’s soul, essentially reviving him. I am to understand he gets his powers from the gods who have bestowed him with them in order to act accordingly as the guardian of the dead. (therefore jeopardizing his position greatly by intervening in the cycle of things when messing with Conan’s death) I don’t know if it’s so much magic as it is rather power over something. I suppose in the end, it can mean one and the same.

Conan; Will the gods help us in battle?

Akiro; No.

Conan; Then tell them to stay the hell out the way! ’‘swings axe’’

The antagonist in this is also a sorcerer, named Thulsa Domm who is pretty much Thoth Amon from the novels and comics. He wields the power of ’‘flesh’’, which I understand a lot of it to be hypnotism on a grand scale. Associated with snakes, his power is strong, but Conan surmounts it. (he can also change into a giant snake, turn arrows into snakes, kind of like Moses)

I am shamed to say that I don’t know much about those two wizards or where they get their power from though, and Thoth Amon himself in the original stories always pretty much remains a mystery. (granted, I’ve not laid eyes on ALL the works)

Berserker's avatar

Whoa dude, I’m suddenly reminded of an old question I asked on here years ago…not really relevant, but wizards.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Symbeline “I am to understand he gets his powers from the gods who have bestowed him with them in order to act accordingly as the guardian of the dead. (therefore jeopardizing his position greatly by intervening in the cycle of things when messing with Conan’s death)”

That’s pretty much the impression I’ve always had.

Not sure why the movie gave him Thulsa Doom, rather than calling him by Thoth-Amon. In the original stories Thulsa Doom was a necromancer (and if I recall correctly a litch). But the the John Milius/Oliver Stone Conan really didn’t have much in common with Robert Howard’s Conan anyway.

Seek's avatar

Aule! That’s it. I tend to pronounce it “Oh-lay”. Thus the “O” thing.

And of course you’re correct, the Valar aren’t “gods” as such, though Aule was able to create life of his own. (and really, at that point, how are you not a god? But I digress)

I had some big elaborate explanation as to why I felt Tom was a Maiar, but again, it will never be confirmed nor denied, so there you go. I do feel that the reason Tom was unaffected by the Ring was simply because he had no ambition. He had a pretty forest, and a pretty Elven wife, and he didn’t want anything more. To a lesser extent, it’s the same reason Sam never faltered. All Sam wanted was to go back home. And thus the Ring couldn’t offer him anything he didn’t already have waiting for him.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Actually Aule didn’t create life. He crafted the Dwarves, but they were lifeless at first. Eru basically scolded Aule for attempting to create life of his own, then kinda took pity on him and decided to imbue the Dwarves with life.

If I recall Sam has tempted by the Ring (he had visions of using its power to turn the wastes of Gorgoroth into a huge, lush garden). So he wasn’t wholly unaffected by it. But he also wasn’t in possession of it for very long, only a couple of days, so it had not had time to ensnare him (bearing in mind that by the time Frodo even left Bag End he had been in possession of the Ring for 14 years).

Yes, I’m a bit of a Tolkien nerd.

Berserker's avatar

@Darth_Algar Yes, that Conan is really far off from the actual, original anti hero. In fact…Conan spent his whole childhood and adolescence pushing a wheel? Seriously…in the novels he leaves home at 15 and rapes goddesses.
I still love the movie though, because it was my first exposure to Conan, which made me pursue the comics, then novels. It’s terrible really, (but Basil’s music ROCKS) but it will always have a special place in my heart. The Destroyer and that remake blow chunks though.

I’m not sure where Thulsa Doom came from either…can’t possibly have been a rights thing, could it? :/ Frankly though, I only knew it was the same wizard because of all the snake symbolism.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Exactly how I feel @Symbeline.

BTW: Have you ever read the Kurt Busiek/Cary Nord comics (published by Dark Horse)? Those are awesome on a level beyond awesome.

Edit: I doubt Thulsa Doom was a rights thing. The movie makers probably just liked the name better.

Berserker's avatar

@Darth_Algar I just learned that Thoth Amon also appeared in some other Howard work, most specifically King Kull. If that wizard appears in both, this may be why they changed the character around a little? Not to confuse people? (never had much of an interest in Kull for some reason, but I did love Solomon Kane)

And yeah you’re right…can’t possibly be a rights issue, otherwise how the Devil would I explain the name ’‘Conan’’? Lol. not sure what I was thinking there

BTW: Have you ever read the Kurt Busiek/Cary Nord comics (published by Dark Horse)? Those are awesome on a level beyond awesome.

YES. Those ARE really sweet. I really, really loved the artwork in these; or the ones I checked out anyways. Sadly I just can’t find them anywhere, I’d have to go to a bigger city to find comic book places, or order them online, but I have a few. I have the very first one as well, I’m glad for that haha. The SsoC will always be my faves, but the DarkHorse comics are more than worthy.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Symbeline “I just learned that Thoth Amon also appeared in some other Howard work, most specifically King Kull. If that wizard appears in both, this may be why they changed the character around a little? Not to confuse people?”

Maybe, though Oliver Stone did want to give Conan laser guns, so who knows what he was thinking.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Couldn’t view the link, but maybe they were calling him a hedge wizard?

Berserker's avatar

@Darth_Algar Laser guns? Lost me there lol.

Darth_Algar's avatar


In Oliver Stone’s original idea for the movie he wanted to change Conan to a post-apocalyptic future with high-tech weapons fighting radioactive mutants and crap.

Berserker's avatar

…seriously? well…wow…

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