Maxims of the Dresdenverse

Belief is Power

Faith in itself is a form of power and a kind of magic. Strong faith in good (or evil) can act as a defense, an offense, a shield, or a guide, providing many effects which people would normally consider “magic.” This could include things like a glimmer of light from a crucifix in the darkness, burning a vampire’s hands as it grabs you, or a sudden burst of more-than-mortal strength.

The exact details of the faith can vary. Religious beliefs are the mainstay here: a staggering number of people have faith in God (or gods). Some people have strong faith in more philosophical beliefs—for example, the fundamental purity and goodness of magic, Tibetan mysticism, or even Communism.

The important thing is that if the person has faith in something—true, sincere, pure faith—then miracles can happen.

Magic is What You Are

You can’t make magic do something that goes against your fundamental nature. This works on both the deliberate and the emotional levels. An utterly kind, sincere person will not be able to muster malicious hate and bitterness of a level that would allow him to summon demons or blast with hellfire—or, at least, not without very significant provocation. Likewise, a vicious and corrupt thanatologist practicing human sacrifice isn’t going to have healing magic at her command—or, if she does, it may require blood and pain to make it work and will probably be more corrupting than simply leaving the open wound to fester.

At least, that’s the theory. Practice has, once again, shown things to be a lot fuzzier than the clear-cut examples above. Again, it all comes back to choice and to the complexity of the mortal mind and soul. Even a kindly old grandmother has the seeds of hatred within her, and even a cold-blooded gangster has moments of tenderness and kindness.

Magic is an expression of the person who brings it forth. It comes from their beliefs, their morality, their feelings, their emotional connections, their way of seeing the world: in a word, their soul.

There’s a reason why the soulgaze is the ultimate proof of sincerity between many wizards. A soulgaze happens when two people (at least one of them a wizard) make eye contact long enough to look into each other’s souls and see what they truly are. In that moment, a wizard not only sees what a person is, but he also sees what their magic is—it’s one and the same. For instance, if you choose to practice black magic, you dredge up the corrupt parts of yourself and make them stronger. You are what you choose to become, what you make yourself into. (Luckily, if you’re mortal, you also always have the power to choose redemption after a slip.)

Whether it’s faith or magic, all power comes from the basic nature of the mortal or monster who is using it. Evil brings forth evil, and good brings forth good. We are what we do, and we do what we are.

Maxims of the Dresdenverse

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