So I was having an interesting discussion with some friends of mine about magic and energy.
Magical energy is very subtle. This is why so few people can sense it readily, and why we work so hard to increase our sensitivity to it. But how does this translate to other forms of energy? Or of being able to “measure” or even “convert” it?
The conversation went like this. If someone is sick, you can do a spell for them to recover faster. You raise energy and direct it toward a goal of healing the target. The energy in some way adjust the probabilities of a speedy recovery by the target, the target’s body generates a faster response, and viola, target is healed.
It may work well for a cold, but it ain’t gonna knit a broken bone.
You see, if you are attempting to spur a healing response, you need a relatively low energy threshold to accomplish this. Stimulate a few cells here or there, in effect, and they stimulate others, and the snowball effect leads to the result you want. This is far different from causing a large scale regeneration of cellular material, which requires massive amounts of energy. (Don’t believe me? Think about how long it takes a bone to knit, and how many calories in food you devote to that process. Still don’t believe me? Study cellular processes and how much energy is involved in the ATP cycle. Lots.)
This is why magic works on probabilistic effects easier. It is easier to influence a chaotic phenomenon than a more deterministic one. What it really comes down to for me, then, is time.
I’ve always considered magic to be an intentional change of the probability of an event. Probability is a temporal effect (at least if you think Pete Carroll’s on to something, which I happen to think he is).
And this, I think, is why you don’t have manifestations of magic like we see in the movies, and why concrete healing of the sort described above doesn’t happen easily, but why I can influence weather patterns a month ahead of time with relative ease. It’s about whether that energy is directed into time or space, and whether you’re trying to influence a probability that hasn’t manifested yet (time) versus impacting an object in a given state or condition (matter or space).
How is this practically important? Magic is more effective if it is directed at events not yet solidly determined, and it takes far less energy to influence those events than to effect actual matter in the present.