Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Old Magic" bewitches readers

(R, PSN)
"Harry Potter," "Bewitched" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch;" witches and witchcraft have become very prominent in today's pop culture as a part of our imagination, Halloween, and our dreams of making things happen exactly the way we want them to.
And the newest addition to this influx in our obsession with magic is Old Magic by Marianne Curley. It is the story of a girl, Kate, with extraordinary powers to feel the emotions and thoughts of anyone around her. Shee meets her match in Jarrod, a new comer, with extremely bad luck and his own hidden talents. When Jarrod's power spirals out of control one day in science class, their relationship soon escalates to jealousy, dangerous adventures, medieval battles and romance.
However, is there any truth to it?
Wicca is an earth or nature based religion that deals with the elements (earth, air, water, fire and spirit), and channeling positive energy into everything you do. Wicca also deals with all of the things we see in these modern interpretations: chanting, spells, being known as witches and the Craft.
"I researched... [the] history of witches, their current lifestyle and religion; spells, including creating and casting," Curley said about the research she conducted for Old Magic.
A normal Wiccan ritual includes: chanting, meditation, praying, candles and, depending on the type of ritual, herbs and other tools for spells.
There are some striking resemblances between Wiccan and the book Old Magic.
Curley writes about cleansing spells, which Kate actually performs on Jarrod to rid him of a curse that is haunting his family. In Wicca, when practicing with tools such as amulets or other materials, you must cleanse them to rid them of any past energy. The two rituals are very different; however, they were both designed to rid the objects of any negative energy, or curses in Jarrod's case.
Also, later in the story, when Kate's grandmother Jillian is performing a spell on them, she casts a circle that is marked by one hundred candles. As Kate and Jarrod enter the circle, they may only enter through a certain part of the circle. This is the case in most Wiccan rituals. A circle is cast to create a confine of healing energy until it is released. According to, candles are usually placed around the circumference of the circle and are usually oriented to the four cardinal directions. People who must enter or leave the circle during rigual must enter or exit through a specified passage or break in the circle in order to not disturb the energy in the circle.
However, there is a point in the book where religious rituals end and fantastic imaginings begin. In the beginning, when Jarrod's powers spin out of control, his emotions control the weather around him, which we all know would be cool, is ultimately pure fantasy. Also at the climax of the novel, we see an element of time travel through magic, which also adds that element of fantasy.
"It's important to know the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and I believe most people do," Curley said of Old Magic. "It's a made-up story meant to feed the imaginations of readers, to entertain and give people time out from their everyday lives and everyday problems."
Old Magic has just the right amound of reality and fantasy to balance out the story of Kate and Jarrod. The book has all of the appeal of Harry Potter fantasy, the almost-Twilight-style romance, the medieval, "magical" history, and the ultimate journey through the darkest of times to self awareness and discovery.

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