Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

The Remnants of Magic in Our Modern World

While researching the Salem Witch Trials, early English folk magic, and modern psychic practices for my upcoming dark fantasy series, my world has become a lot more… magical. Despite my best efforts, I can’t bring myself to believe wholly in magic (though I envy those of you who can!), but I’ve started to notice how these practices I’m studying survive in our modern, logical, technology-centered world.

The average skeptic would probably define these “modern magic techniques” as superstitions, childhood silliness, or plain idiocy. For the most part, I agree. I’m not arguing that these practices work as the users intend. Rather, I’m sharing my personal connections between the traditional and the modern to show that, though humanity’s belief in magic has nearly evaporated, the shadows of magic (and perhaps even our deep-rooted desire for it to be true) remain.

Divining Love: Egg Whites to Daisies to MASH

divinationAccording to many secondary sources, such as Reverend John Hale’s A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft (1697), young girls from Salem experimented with fortune telling. Supposedly with the help of Tituba (Reverend Samuel Parris’ Native American slave and the first individual accused of witchcraft), the girls used egg whites and a mirror to create a “crystal ball.” The shapes formed would reveal the occupations of their future husbands.

However, when one of the girls saw a coffin, she got spooked. Some traditions hold that this scare caused the girls, specifically Betty Parris and Abigail Williams (Rev. Parris’s daughter and niece), to believe themselves (or to act) bewitched and start the witchcraft hysteria. Though the truth of this story remains unclear, the “white magic” described was practiced throughout colonial America and England during this time.

Young girls today still use playful means to divine information about their love lives. Plucking petals from a daisy, alternating between “He loves me” and “He loves me not,” allows the questioner to discover the “truth” about her crush’s feelings. Back in my day (the early 2000s), we used a pencil-and-paper game called MASH to determine our future husbands, occupations, houses, cars, number of children, and other topics of interest. (Learn how to play it here.) The divination methods may have changed, but the “magical” intent remains the same.

(What both of these practices say about heteronormativity and gender stereotypes is a topic for another day…)

Numerology: What’s Your Lucky Number?

numerologyIn the simplest terms, numerology is the belief that numbers have a divine or magical significance, and that they can reveal truths about the present or future. The most common numerology practice involves your Life Number. By adding the numbers in your birthdate and reducing them to a single digit, you can identify your Life Number. (Example: My birthday is March 11, 1992. So, my Life Number is calculated as 3+1+1+1+9+9+2 = 26 = 2+6 = 8) According to the meaning behind the number 8, my life path will revolve around ambition, goals, and material wealth. (Find your own Life Number here.)

Numerologists can do similar calculations with other dates or words (there are systems that assign numerical values to the letters) to divine the meaning behind them. For instance, if you’re looking for a good day to have a first date with someone, you should pick a date that reduces down to 2 (the number of cooperation, harmony, and love).

Where do we see numerology in everyday life? An obvious example is people who choose their own lottery numbers, based on the number’s significance to them. I’ve noticed a similar pattern on the daytime game show, Let’s Make a Deal. (Yes, I’m an 85-year-old woman in a 25-year-old’s body. Moving on.) At the end of each episode, the big winner is offered a chance to win the Big Deal of the Day by choosing a numbered curtain. Nearly every time, the contestant “justifies” their selection by giving the number meaning. “Curtain 3, because I have three kids.” “Curtain 1, because my birthday is August 1st.”

By assigning meaning to the numbers, and trusting that meaning to perform the magic of helping them win the Big Deal, the contestants participate in the basic tradition of numerology.

Do You Believe in Magic… or Its Remnants?

zodiacFrom magic/religion scholars to humble inquirers like myself, the line between magic and superstition remains blurred and often nonexistent. Though we might not believe in either, we keep both alive by checking our horoscopes (or tweeting about the travesty of Mercury being in retrograde), knocking on wood, playing with Ouija boards, folding “cootie catchers,” and so much more.

Discovering these magical remnants and recognizing them in my own life gives me a strange sense of comfort. The idea that humanity still clings to the hope that we can evoke positive change and control our futures (even if we’re doing it unknowingly) offers a uniquely beautiful form of optimism. And in today’s messed up world – you know what I’m talking about – I’ll take all the magic I can get.


Do you take part in any of these magical or superstitious practices? Do you truly (or want to) believe in magic? Where do you see magic or beauty in your life?

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Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

New Book Release: Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) by Ashley Capes

imperial-towers-book-release

It’s a great week to be a bookwormdragon! I’m excited to announce that another author and friend has a new book out. Ashley Capes writes epic fantasy, genre-blending fantasy thrillers and gorgeous poetry. He’s just released the fifth novel in his Book of Never series, Imperial Towers.

View the cover and short blurb below, then be sure to check out the whole series at your favorite online retailer!

never5-6by9Only one thing stands between Never and answers – his brother.

Driven toward the enemy-occupied Imperial City, Never’s doubts grow. Even with new knowledge about his powers, can he truly keep his friends safe in a warzone? Or, like too many times before, will he end up responsible for the deaths of those he should have protected?

Check out Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) on your favorite online retailer.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Sons of Brabant by Michael Bolan

sons-of-brabantThe Sons of Brabant (Book I of the Devil’s Bible Series) by Michael Bolan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sons of Brabant is the first novel in the Devil’s Bible Series by Michael Bolan (it’s also FREE on Amazon at the time of writing). After the Duke of Brabant dies, his family falls apart. The eldest son, Reinald, inherits the Duchy after manipulating the Duke on his death bed. The younger sons, Willem and Leo, and their sister, Isabella, leave the Duchy in a rage. They establish a mercenary band and vow to one day return to Brabant and liberate the people from Reinald’s tyrannical rule. Meanwhile, Duke Reinald has teamed up with some of the most powerful people in Europe in an attempt to bring about the biblical End of Days and Second Coming of Christ.

The Sons of Brabant takes place in 17th-century Europe, during the Thirty Years War. I should preface this review by saying that, while I enjoy history, I’m not well-versed in this particular time period. The novel seemed well-researched and historically accurate but, to be honest, I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t. However, from the little nods throughout the text, I get the feeling that there are a lot of historical “cameos” and references that history buffs will appreciate.

Where The Sons of Brabant deviates from history is in the fantasy elements — and as a fantasy author, these were my favorite parts of the book. I loved the mythology behind Conor’s Irish homeland, and I hope to see more it in the later novels. Also, it’s no secret that I adore apocalypses, and I found myself enraptured (pun intended) with the plot to bring about the Rapture. The “Four Horsemen” have woven an intricate plan, and the political, economic, scientific, and militaristic scheming were fascinating.

From a writing standpoint, The Sons of Brabant is solid. The characters are developed and have clear motivations, and while this novel didn’t provide enough time for them to grow too much, I can see how they might evolve over the course of the series. The narrative style fits with the formality of the time period, and the plot, though complex, is clearly explained. In fact, it may have been too explained. At times, the action would stall when the exposition or the characters (in dialog) would repeat a detail already given or summarize action that had already been shown. For the most part, though, the story moves along at a steady pace.

The Sons of Brabant strikes a nice balance between history and fantasy, battle and political intrigue. It serves as an intriguing introduction to the characters and the larger plot to bring about the Rapture, while also providing hints at the action to come. Recommended for those who like historical military fiction, mythology, and religious thrillers.

 View all my reviews

You can find out more about Michael Bolan on his website. He also discusses the theme of fear and his favorite literary villains (including Duke Reinald) in this guest post.


sons-of-brabantIf you are interested in reading The Sons of Brabant and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Dead Magic by Kara Jorgensen

dead-magicDead Magic (IMD #4) by Kara Jorgensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dead Magic is the fourth novel in Kara Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Since many of you may not have read the complete series, I will keep this review vague to avoid spoilers. If you would like to read my reviews of the other books in the series, I’ve included links to them at the bottom of this post.

Continuing the pattern established in previous books, Dead Magic leaves behind Eilian and Hadley Sorrell to once again focus on the lives of Immanuel Winter and Emmeline Jardine. Dead Magic marks the series’ grand entrance into the world of (you guessed it) magic. Though hints of magic have occurred throughout the other books, this novel dives deep into the rules of magic and its practitioners. Both Immanuel and Emmeline must learn to harness the magic within themselves as well as prevent a darker magic from consuming them… and the rest of London.

As always, Jorgensen’s characters are complex and well-crafted. Though I’d already spent much time with Immanuel and Emmeline in previous novels, Jorgensen still manages to reveal more about them through the obstacles they face in Dead Magic. It was deeply gratifying to see Immanuel start to heal and watch his relationship with Adam Fenice grow. Likewise, I appreciated that Emmeline remained her headstrong self, even when her stubbornness lead her astray.

Despite being separated by Immanuel and Emmeline’s perspectives, the plot of Dead Magic masterfully weaves together. The story contains a perfect balance of physical action, magical action, romance, and introspection. While I can’t say any of the events were huge surprises, the story held my interest from the start, and I enjoyed every page. With each novel, Jorgensen’s deft skill with words deepens. She has a great ability to write in a way that is both clear and lyrical.

Overall, Dead Magic is a wonderful addition to the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. I feel like every time I read one of these novels, I pronounce the latest installation my favorite, but I have to do it again here — the series just keeps getting better and better! Highly recommended for readers who enjoy steampunk, Victorian era London, historical/dark fantasy and a dash of steamy romance.

Ingenious Mechanical Devices reviews: The Earl of Brass (IMD #1), The Winter Garden (IMD #2), The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3)

View all my reviews


dead-magicIf you are interested in reading Dead Magic and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.