"One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."

As in real life, Wizards in fantasy, especially in the realm of literature, haven't fared that well.  All too often, the wizard is cast as the villain of the piece; hell-bent on the acquisition of power.  This was a novel concept explored by Christopher Marlowe in his epic "The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus," which was later adapted to the poetic "Faust" by Goethe.  By the time Goethe had taken rein of the theme, it was already old.  Most "evil wizard" novels are variations on the Faust theme, but not as well performed.  It gets old rather fast, and one is left wondering, why does it still prevail?  

"Raistlin" by Larry ElmoreBecause of the "Great Lie" spread during the final days of Atlantis, and the fall and subsequent cataclysms afterward, wizardry became an evil word.  People no longer wanted to be in charge of their creative potential.  The seed fear spoken of by the Kryon caused us to place our creative potential in the hands of the Devic kingdom, after the withdrawal of the Hierarchy.  Consequently, any individual exploration of one's creative potential was considered to be an act of hubris, setting oneself up to be the equal of the Gods.  Forget, of course, that we are sparks of the Godhead, the great Creative All, and thus capable of conscious co-creation with the Spirit-Matter-Consciousness link that we maintain.  It was far easier to deny our creative potential, and thus avoid the consequences wrought by miscreation.  Throughout the Eastern and Western cultures, wizards have been portrayed as power-hungry, dominating, evil, merciless, cruel, heedless of their creations, and disregarding any other person other than themselves, with few exceptions.  This view is even more prevalent in Western society with the influence of Christian philosophy and the denial of the personal will.  Thus, we have Lucifer who seeks to create outside of Heaven and is exiled for his pains, Aladdin who has two evil magician antagonists, Sigifrith in the Volsung Saga who is ensnared by the spells of the evil sorceress Queen Grimhilde, Faust, who destroys not only himself but his beloved Marguerite, and a host of evil witches, warlocks (which literally translates to "oathbreakers"), sorcerors, and demonologists dotting the pages of classical and popular fantasy literature.  If a wizard is not represented as evil, he or she must be represented as whimsical; comical to a fault; bumbling, inept, and doltish; in short, the wizard is turned into "a fool."  Except for Gandalf in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," and a few other notables, wizards come up on the short end of the stick when it comes to positive representations in literature, even the Disney variety. 

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the arena of popular fantasy.  The formula is so old it positively creaks:  a wizard (name your gender) seeks to overthrow the ruler of the house and enslave the beautiful princess through sorcery, and it is up to the knight or barbarian or whoever (again, name your class, but he must be blonde and blue-eyed, and rippling with massive thews) slays the evil wizard (must be ugly with a wart on the nose) after a long fight, rescues the princess (also blonde, like Barbie), and gains the kingdom (or half, if the ruler the wizard overthrew survives).  It's sort of like the old comic strip Krazy Kat:  the background scenery constantly changes while the plot remains perfectly static.  The message is perfectly clear:  It is perfectly acceptable, even noble, to be a warrior, but one must never, NEVER be a wizard.  Why? 

Because the Warrior defends the status quo, the kingdom, and doesn't question his orders or his code, and the Wizard lives by his own rules and explores his creative power.

It is said that the popular literature of a culture reflects the morality and philosophy of that culture.  When it is broken down to this level, it is easy to see why the Warrior is exalted:  to be willing to die for those in power is considered exemplary.  It's the same reason for the promise of Valhalla or a Jihad:  it's easy to get people to die for you if they think they're going to Paradise because of it!  Contrast this to the nature of the wizard.  A wizard cares not for the status quo or for those in power, because a wizard takes responsibility for his or her own power.  A wizard actually challenges outworn power structures, edifices that have outlived their use.  Those in power fear wizards because wizards bring in change.  What better way to get people to revile wizards than to defame them in their popular literature? 

As I said, with few exceptions, this has been the way it has worked in the old energy.  As the new energies come forth within humanity, and the old power structures fall away, more and more people will be willing to explore their own creative potential, and the tale of the Kindly, benevolent wizard, the friend of humanity, will emerge.  There are, already, a few works such as these in the world. 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
"The Emerald City"

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first of the dozen or so Oz books written by L. Frank Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, although it had existed in storytelling form long before then.  The tale of the little lost girl, Dorothy, in a magical land inhabited by good and bad witches and a powerful wizard in its center, seeking to find her way home with her four companions:  the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the cowardly Lion, and her dog Toto, captivated the hearts of the entire world.  97 years and a major motion picture release later, the story hasn't dimmed one bit; the Oz books are as popular as when they were first published, but, hands down, the Wizard of Oz is the favorite one. 

There is reason for this.  The humorous thing (and one that I wonder if Frank Baum realized when he wrote it) is that the true Wizard of Oz is Dorothy herself.  She is the one who renders conscious creation when it is necessary; by her actions, she defeats both of the Wicked Witches, restores Oz to a peaceful balance, and is able to return home by using the magical ruby slippers.  The "Wizard" is shown to be no more than a kindly humbug; a showman from an American turn-of-the-century carnival.  The story is much deeper on a soul-psychological level than that of a mere tale of wizards and witches and magical creatures.  "The Wizard of Oz," both in the book and movie form, continues to captivate the hearts and minds of humanity because it is an allegory for the evolutionary journey of the human Soul. 

Dorothy is transported "over the rainbow" (the rainbow representing the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, in the Norse mythology; the bridge to Valhalla, and in the Vedic philosophy, the Antakaranah, or the connection between the Persona and the Soul.  In both book and movie, this occurs because of a tornado; mindful of the chaotic swirling of an unbalanced Astral plane of awareness.  Those well-versed in Tarot will see a familiar picture here with Dorothy at the beginning of the story and the Tarot trump "The Fool": Dorothy, the seeker, is poised with Toto at her heels, and in the background lurks the tornado; that which is to whirl her from Paradise (home) into Oz, a land of terror and beauty, of great magic and wonder.  What better description than of Earth itself, the realm of "all possible realities"?  The movie version emphasized this change by changing the movie from black and white to glowing technicolor when Dorothy entered Oz. 

After landing in Oz, Dorothy finds that she has already defeated one of the two wicked witches of the Land: the Witch of the East.  It is a telling point in the Oz books that the two "wicked" witches are those of the East and West (the Horizontal, or carnal alignment) and the two "good" witches are those of the North and South (the Vertical, or Divine alignment).  After making friends with the diminuitive dwellers of Oz, and receiving the Silver Slippers from the feet of the dead witch (in the Movie version, they are ruby), she sets out upon the Yellow Brick Road (the path of evolution) towards the Emerald City to find the great and powerful Wizard of Oz so he can return her to her home.  The Emerald City is representative of the Ajna (brow) energy center of the human body; the point of integration for the Persona.  Ancient sources say that the angels have emeralds in their foreheads, and that Lucifer's was lost when he fell from glory (the Ajna center detached and fell). 

Along the way, Dorothy meets 3 companions:  A scarecrow in search of a brain (the Mental body), a Tin Man in search of a heart (the Astral or Feeling body), and a Lion in search of courage (the Physical body).  These three represent the 3 bodies of the Persona; the mechanism with which the Soul can interact with its surroundings.  All of them lack something, and are seeking integration, as it is with any being on the evolutionary path.  These five companions:  Toto (the animal or instinctual self), Lion (Physical self), Tin Man (Astral self), Scarecrow (Mental self), and Dorothy (the Soul) have to be integrated into a working whole before the Soul can return home (to Paradise). 

When they get to the Emerald City and gain an audience with the Wizard, he instructs them to kill the Wicked Witch of the West and bring him her broom as proof of the deed.  Again, there is occult truth in this quest.  The Witch represents the Dweller on the Threshold; Dorothy's shadow self; which must be transmuted from base matter into Light before she may proceed on her journey.  Dorothy and her companions are taken prisoner by the Witch (become subjected to the raging shadow), but manage to defeat her by throwing water on her.  Water is the symbol of Universal Life and Love, the cleanser and purifier.  For many culture, immersion in water is considered to be a sacred sacrament, binding the persona with the Spirit. 

Upon returning victoriously to Oz, they find that the Wizard is no more than a humbug; a kindly but frightened showman who crashed in Oz when one of his carnival balloons drifted too far afield.  Here is one of the final tests Dorothy must face:  the realization that the Integrated persona, the Ajna, cannot perform the necessary task on its own.  Indeed, the balloon carrying the Wizard away eludes Dorothy at the last minute, and she, seemingly defeated, bursts into bitter tears. 

It is then that the Good Witch of the North appears and sends Dorothy on a final quest to the Good Witch of the South.  (The movie version skips this part).  In short, Dorothy is required to make a Divine Alignment (vertical alignment), leave the Ajna center (the Emerald City), and journey to the South; the inner portion of the Brain known as "The Cave."   When Dorothy reaches the palace of the Witch of the South (the cave), it is revealed to her that she is the key; that she has had the power to return home (to Paradise) all the time through the application of the Silver Slippers (her personal Will).  This is what the Wicked Witch of the West had been after all along:  to get the Ruby slippers from Dorothy (have Dorothy subjugate her personal creative Will to the shadow self, the base persona).  With her rediscovered power, Dorothy invokes the magic of the slippers (her Will, in alignment with Divine Will), and returns home (to Paradise). 

Lord of the Rings

Gandalf and FrodoJ. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is another classic example of a story with positive wizardry.  Originally published in 1937, "Lord of the Rings" has become one of the best-loved tales in the world; a story of deep evil and righteous action and good.  The crux of the story, the One Ring (one of the Rings of Power), is imbued with the power of Evil, forged in the pit of Mount Doom, and is quested after by the evil powers (Sauron, Saruman, etc.) to gain ultimate control of Middle Realm.  (The ring was stripped from Sauron by Isildur by cutting the finger which bore it from his hand; in turn, the same would befall the hero Frodo on the journey into Mount Doom.)  Knowing full well what the stakes were about if the ring were to fall into the wrong hands, the good wizard Gandalf, with the aid of Galadriel, Queen of the Elves, Aragorn, a human king, and a host of Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Bilbo), Dwarves, and Ents, sets out upon a quest to retrieve and ultimately destroy the Ring. 

In the prelude to the trilogy,"The Hobbit", the hobbit Bilbo Baggins retrieves the ring by accident from the cave-dweller Gollum, which sets the stage for the remainder of the three novels.  At the beginning of the 1st book of the Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring), Gandalf visits Bilbo on his birthday and urges the reluctant hobbit into the adventure, for him to pass the ring on to Frodo.  The remainder of the book and of the next two books (The Two Towers, The Return of the King), is filled with adventures surrounding the quests to destroy the Ring.  In the end, Frodo, unwilling to part with the ring (he was slowly turning into a second Sauron), has the finger bearing the ring bitten off by Gollum (a la Isildur and Sauron), and Gollum falls into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, thus ending his, and the Ring's, existence.  "Frodo of the Nine Fingers" as he is then known, Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, Galadriel, and Elrond, among others, set sail for the Haven, the other world, leaving Middle Earth.  The age of the Rings had ended, and a new age had begun. 

I am not a Tolkien scholar; there are far better sources out on the Internet and in the world than what I may provide on these stories.  Clearly, the plot is intricate and convoluted, as well as gripping and incisive.  For those of you interested in it, I urge you to get the books yourselves and read it; you will not be disappointed.  I bring up these books, however, because Lord of the Rings stands out as a blueprint for the way Wizardry is to take in the New Age.  

Galadriel's MirrorTolkien alluded to the fact that he did not write anything else in the genre of Lord of the Rings because the little voices that inspired him during the writing of the Trilogy seemed to have left him.  I understand this in that Tolkien was receiving stationed (channeled) information from the Otherworld; information that was vital for humanity's next turn of the great Spiral, and therefore had to be transmitted in a form that would be accepted by many.  Lord of the Rings is a metaphor for the great Earth experiment:  that creation forged from and thrust into utter darkness would gravitate toward the Light.  The darkness was personified in Sauron, and through those who bought into the power of the One Ring, while the Light was personified in Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, and those who quested to bring the Ring to Light; that is, uplifted and redeemed matter (returning it to its source, Mount Doom). 

Gandalf seems to personify this best.  In fact, he has been despised by some because he "performs little or no magic" in the course of the book, other than some levitation and pyrotechnics tricks, and defeating a Balrog.  Those who believe that Gandalf performs no magic greater than that missed the entire point of the books, in my opinion.  The magic comes in the transmutation and utter destruction of the One Ring, which Gandalf himself guides this process through every step.  For those of you who would believe that true magic entails nothing but the outer form; the flash and glitz, I suggest that there is still much for you to learn.  True magic is a process which is infinite, not an end result which is finite.  True magic is about pulling the darkness along with you, transmuting it as you go, and redeeming it in the Light; the great Creative mystery. 

The message to humanity, as given in Lord of the Rings, is this:  Trust in your own creative ability; your own power to transmute the darkness in your environment (your own vehicles of construction) into Light.  This is the only way that the great Earth experiment would work.  Obviously, the message got through, because a mere 50 years after the channeling of "Lord of the Rings," humanity participated in the Harmonic Convergence (August 1987) and uplifted enough of the Earth's energy that the call was sent through the Universe that we were no longer to be terminated, but to be upgraded to Graduate Status.  The realm of Fantasy provided the perfect paradigm for the working out of the Divine Plan. 

 "The Ebenezum Series" by Craig Shaw Gardner

EbenezumOne of the more humorous, positive portrayals of wizards is that of the wizard Ebenezum and his lovable apprentice Wuntvor.  The series of six novels by Gardner manages to mix slapstick humor in with practical wizardry without stooping to whimsy or making the wizard look foolish or inept (at least, not too much so.)  The first book in the series, "A Malady of Magicks," introduces Ebenezum and Wuntvor, as well as explains Ebenezum's particular malady; due to a mishap occurring during his last magic battle, he has developed an allergy to all things arcane; in short, applied magical force makes him go into a sneezing fit.  Undaunted, Ebenezum uses this talent to be able to "sniff out" (literally) where magic has been applied.  His apprentice Wuntvor (the narrator of the tales, a la Dr. Watson) bumbles at first, but as the stories progress, he gains in both wisdom and grace as he discovers his true role as the Eternal Apprentice:  He who forever bumbles, but inevitably saves the day with his "abilities".  Wuntvor is the true hero of these stories; Ebenezum, although starting out as a major character, becomes a "bit player" by the third book.  These stories are easily read and enjoyed by people of any age; the thigh-slapping one-liners are scattered liberally through the stories, and even the puns are good-natured enough to be non-groaners. The six storeis are, in order:  "A Malady of Magicks", "A Multitude of Monsters", "A Night in the Netherhells", "A Difficulty with Dwarves", "An Excess of Enchantments", and "A Disagreement with Death".  

"The Adept Series" by Katheryn Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris

This excellent series of novels (four, to date) follows the adventures of a wizard psychologist, Adam Sinclair, and his artist helper, Peregrine.  Set in modern England, Dr. Sinclair and Peregrine, along with many helpful friends, belong to a "hunting" lodge; that is, a mystic lodge devoted to guardianship and tracking down ill-workers of magic.  (Much of Ms. Kurtz's work is steeped in ceremonial magic, Masonic lodge ritual and symbolism, and Templar legends.)  The first novel, The Adept (1991), attacks the dark art of Necromancy, bringing it to its just end.  The next novel in the series, Lodge of the Lynx (1992) has Adam and Peregrine tracking down a black lodge devoted to raising Naziism once more on the European continent.  Subsequent novels include "The Templar Treasure" (1994) and Dagger Magic (1996), all well-worth reading.  Ms. Kurtz, in particular, excels in the realm of High Magic literature, and other books she has written worth reading are "Lammas Night" (finally back in print!), "Two Crowns for America" about the esoteric occult origins of the United States, and the Deryni Series. 
"The Secrets of Dr. Taverner" by Dion Fortune

Currently out of print (except in used book stores), this excellent set of short stories by Dion Fortune may have been the inspiration for Adam Sinclair in Kurtz and Harris' Adept Series (see above).  Dr. Taverner, like Dr. Sinclair, is a mystic psychologist who belongs to a high magical lodge.  His partner who assists him at his asylum aids him as well in his psychic endeavors, healing those who are shattered astrally instead of physically.  This is an excellent companion piece to Fortune's "Psychic Self-Defense," as it addresses many of those same issues in a witty, easy-to-read, short-story format.  Throughout the book, Taverner tackles situations involving psychic vampirism, dark adeptship, reincarnation issues, devic crossovers, transmogrification, and other mystical issues that can affect those working with magic, even today.  

"Bride of the Rat God" by Barbara Hambly

This novel, set in 1920's hollywood, involves an ancient Manchurian cursed artifact, the Moon of Rats, worn by a beautiful but untalented silent screen movie actress.  Her faithful companion-secretary and a mysterious Oriental wizard come to her aid when the ancient Manchurian Rat-god attacks, seeking to sacrifice her to gain in his power.  One of the best summations of Right Action comes from the Oriental Wizard when he states, "Inaction in the face of Evil is never a neutral act.  It aids the Evil and feeds it, lending it its power."  In short, it is always better to act rather than to do nothing at all, even if you don't fully know everything about the situation.  Not getting involved is as bad as committing an evil act itself.  The tale is gripping and suspenseful, in spite of the somewhat B-movie-sounding title.  (It is, after all, set in Hollywood!)  Other good magic and wizardry-oriented novels by Ms. Hambly include the Sun-Wolf series (Ladies of Mandrigyn, Witches of Wenshar, Dark Hand of Magic), Dog Wizard, and Dragonsbane (about Dragon Magic and wizards).  

"Stranger at the Wedding" by Barbara Hambly 

A new and exciting novel from the First Lady of Wizardry.  "Stranger at the Wedding" involves high magic fantasy with a classic "whodunit" murder mystery with a twist:  the murder hasn't yet occurred!  The book follows the efforts of Kyra Peldyrin, an aspiring wizard in a quasi-medieval setting, to solve the mystery of her betrothed sister's murder...before it occurs.  The book is masterful in the way it handles the dilemmas faced by Kyra:  first, her pledge to her Academy  not to use magic to interfere in human affairs, and a budding romance with her sister's fiance.  This is a must-read for serious fans of wizard fantasy.  

"The Fire Rose" by Mercedes Lackey. 

A close second to Ms. Hambly, in my book, is the excellent writings of Ms. Lackey.  This book is an example why.  "The Fire Rose"  is set in Victorian-era San Francisco, CA, involving a plain-jane librarian/scholar who is hired by a mysterious man to do reserach upon alchemy.  The alchemist is a fire magician, who has accidentally transformed himslef into half-man, half-wolf in a botched transmogrification spell. It falls on the shoulders of his new apprentice to helprestore him to his true form, while deterring the encroachments of an evil alchemsist who wishes them..and the rest of the world..ill.  A delightful twist on the "Beauty and the Beast" motif, and a wonderful contribution from Ms. Lackey. 
"The Diana Tregarde Series" by Mercedes Lackey

Unfortunately, there are only three of these outstanding books by Ms. Lackey: Children of the Night (regarding psychic vampirism), Burning Water (regarding devic channelling of the ancient spirit Tezcatlipoca) and Jinx High, a high-school setting regarding dark sorcery (synthetic magic).  Ms. Lackey sets her novels in familiar settings; Burning Water, for example, uses actual place locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas Metroplex, while Jinx High is set in Jinks, Oklahoma, just out of Tulsa.  (Ms. Lackey doesn't seem to have a very high regard for Tulsa, at least magically!)  Her heroine, Diana Tregarde, is a witch well-versed in craft magic, devoted to the Light (actually, referred to as a Guardian), who tackles each of the particular evils she comes across bravely and very effectively.  A word of warning for the squeamish:  some of the topics covered and the descriptions of occurrences in the books can be quite graphic, and Ms. Lackey minces no words in her descriptions.  Also check out Ms. Lackey's "Sacred Ground," about a female Native American adept.  

"Wizard Fantastic"; Edited by Martin Greenburg. 

This delightful anthology of wizard-oriented short stories is part of the "Fantastic" series (including Dragon Fantastic, Elf Fantastic [also a great wizard-oriented book], Knight Fantastic, and Castle Fantastic).  For the most part, wizards are treated here with respect, honor, and dignity.  Some, like the young wizard Briastros in "Wizard's Choice", will melt your heart with their compassion and warmth; others like "The Bane of Trisgeminy" teach great wisdom about the proper attitude and respect when working with magic.  All are a delight for any serious fan of wizardry to read.  

"Operation Chaos" by Poul Anderson

This delightfully funny book was out of print for many years; thankfully, it's now back in print, at least in paperback form.  Set in an alternative 20th century reality in which World War II was fought with magic and broomsticks, a witch (Ginny) and a werewolf (Steven), both well-versed in wizard magic, fall in love and produce a daughter, who is spirited away to the netherhells (a dimension of non-euclidean geometry) where they have to journey to rescue her.  The one-liners running through the book are hilarious; and wizardry is treated respectfully and with humor as well.  Definitely a must-see for anyone interested in magic or wizard-oriented fiction. 

Links to Wizards in Fantasy

A Partial Reading List

  • WizardTolkien, J.R.R. "The Hobbit" 
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Fellowship of the Ring" 
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Two Towers" 
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Return of the King"
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Simarillion"
  • Baum, L. Frank "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" 
  • Gardner, Craig Shaw "The Exploits of Ebenezum" (3-part anthology) 
  • Gardner, Craig Shaw "The Wanderings of Wuntvor" (3-part anthology) 
  • Cole, Allan "Wizard of the Winds" 
  • Routley, Jane "Mage Heart"
  • Kurtz, Katheryn  "The Deryni Series", "Lammas Night", "Two Crowns for America", "Tales of the Templar Knights".
  • Kurtz, Katheryn, and Harris, Deborah Turner "The Adept", "Lodge of the Lynx", "The Templar Treasure", and "Dagger Magic" 
  • Hambly, Barbara "Bride of the Rat God", "Stranger at the Wedding", "The Ladies of Mandrigyn", "The Witches of Wenshar", "The Dark Hand of Magic", "Dragonsbane" 
  • Lackey, Mercedes "The Fire Rose", "Children of the Night", "Burning Water", "Jinx High", and "Sacred Ground" 
  • Anderson, Poul "Operation Chaos" 
  • Any of the "Dragonlance" Series
For more information, check out www.amazon.com, where you may find these and many more Wizard novels.