I'd like to turn [Maleficent] into a fat ol'... hop-toad. Flora:
You know our magic doesn't work that way. Fauna:
It can only do good, dear, to bring joy and happiness. Merryweather:
Well, that would make me
Polar opposite of Black Magic
. "Holy" powers that the Heroes use. Probably called this because we tend to think of light as good
As with Black Magic
, there are three factors that determine whether a power is White
Magic or not.
- Source: If it's gained from God (or the local equivalent), a Council of Angels, a Sentient Cosmic Force, The Lifestream, Sealed Good in a Can, or some form of truly benevolent spirituality or religion, it's almost always White Magic. Other sources can include channeling the power of love, friendship, or "positive energy." This sometimes but not always includes Elemental Light.
- Cost: What is required to make the magic work. Whereas Black Magic may require sacrificing others for fuel, White Magic may instead require personal sacrifices from the practitioner herself, such as Cast from Hit Points or even Cast From Life Force. If any sacrifices from others are ever necessary, these will generally have to be completely voluntary (i.e., they weren't coerced into doing it) and usually altruistic and "pure" in motive. Eye of Newt may be difficult to obtain, but will not require any actual evil.
- Effect: The magic is directly constructed for the blessing, protection, cure, and/or promotion of the general welfare of others. Offensive uses may be reserved for Made of Evil creatures such as demons or undead, by way of Revive Kills Zombie.
As a rule, at least one of these must be positively good, and the other two at least neutral (good is better) to qualify as White Magic.
Unlike with Black Magic
, with White Magic you don't have to worry about malevolent side effects. (There may be a sacrifical cost to prove your commitment.) Whereas evil gods
tend to despise their human patsies, genuinely good
deities tend to genuinely like
their devotees. However, with White Magic you do tend to face certain Restrictions, as good gods tend to be pickier about how their servants use the powers granted to them. Crystal Dragon Jesus
usually wants his followers to use his powers to go out and help people, and he won't be amused when his devotees run around killing babies.
There are two common methods for imposing Restrictions. One is to limit what sorts of powers the disciples receive to largely beneficial effects that can cause no direct harm; powers of healing
, protection, or blessed empowerment
. Mature (or merely advanced) devotees might get a handful of spells for offensively weakening and hindering others
, though the available "debuffs" tend to be relatively gentle compared to the curses of Black Magic
. There may be at least one honestly destructive spell available, but which is only effective against Always Chaotic Evil
creatures like The Undead
and The Legions of Hell
; these spells are called Turn Undead
for a reason. Occasionally, there may be exactly one
destructive spell that can be used on any and
everything — the Holy Hand Grenade
It should be noted that between the lack of uglifying side-effects
of Black Magic
and the abundance of healing effects, the followers of Good tend to be much healthier and prettier. (Which may actually serve as a Justification
for Beauty Equals Goodness
.) Remember, however, that Sacrifice is a virtue. You may be expected to use up your own Life Energy
to get the job done.
The other most common Restriction method is requiring the practictioner to abide by a specific code
that stipulates when White Magic should not be used, when it may be used, and when it must
be used. This method is most often seen when the brand of White Magic involved features significant firepower. This code may mean contractual technical pacificism
, or at least 'Thou Shalt Not Murder' (which is distinct from Thou Shalt Not Kill
). Perhaps a priest can never take a life at all
, or perhaps, like a medical doctor under the Hippocratic Oath, he simply must never use his powers to cause harm. Perhaps a paladin
, like a police officer issued a firearm, is allowed (or even obligated) to use deadly force in certain situations in order to save innocent lives, but may have that power revoked
if it's misused.
Depressing as it is, sometimes Light Is Not Good
, or else just very stupid
. In these cases, people are able to use White Magic in all the wrong ways, either by serving as the personal healer of an evil overlord
or by marauding around the countryside, using "holy" bolts to slaughter Dark Is Not Evil
races like the aforementioned Friendly Neighborhood Vampires
and Blizzard-type Orcs
. Either the deity behind the White Magic isn't all he's cracked up to be
, or the form of magic
doesn't involve a sapient source at all.
Sometimes despite being well-intentioned, Good Is Impotent
, and White Magic falls under What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?
. Other times, God Is Good
and White Magic falls under Heart Is an Awesome Power
See also: The Medic
, whose Healing Hands
are often a result of White Magic
. White Mage
, who is sometimes powered by White Magic. Black Mage
, who is the opposite in gameplay terms. Protective Charm
is also generally White Magic
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Anime and Manga
- In The Slayers there is White Magic and Holy Magic. White Magic is a pale imitation of Holy Magic, the "real" example of this trope, and was developed by humans after most Holy Magic spells were lost to them. Only dragons are known to use Holy Magic, but most spells we see in the anime (Flame Breath, Chaotic Disintegrate, even Ray Freeze) are offensive in nature. The show uses the "somewhat depressing" version of the trope, in that the god race and their servants, including the dragons, tend to behave in a less-than-saintly way and don't seem to bother teaching Holy Magic to humans.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has this. It acts just as it should: all healing, no known attacks. Konoka Konoe is particularly good with this one; she can heal anything short of someone's head splattering like a tomato.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, Russia used once the orthodox church to curse his enemies. Not only it is the contrast to England's Black Magic, but also Light Is Not Good used for comedy.
- In Sorcerer Stabber Orphen, white magic is made of spells that allow the caster to enter the spirit world and control it. It has effects like healing and letting the caster pulls a "Freaky Friday" Flip with their target. This is how Azalie managed to take over Childman's body, leaving him trapped in the body of the dragon Bloody August.
- The magic of the Silver Crystal in Sailor Moon. It's the most powerful magic in the universe and seems to be able to do anything - lifting evil spells, healing wounds, defeating any form of dark creature etc. In the anime it's even used to purify and redeem several villains via The Power of Love. It's even able to resurrect the dead - though using the full force of the crystal's power is inevitably fatal.
- Star Wars: The Jedi qualify because the Force can be used to heal. In fact, it can even be used to bring back the Dead! At least, that's what Palpatine told Anakain. Then he used one couldn't learn this ability as a Jedi imply it is Dark Arts instead of white magic.
- In A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, all four elemental magics have Black Magic and White Magic inextricably intertangled in them. Each mage must fight every day to focus on the good side of his power and suppress its darkness. It is, however, possible with the aid of the Prince's Crown to transform someone else into an orah, a mage who can call on the good side, and only the good side, of all four elements.
- A slight variation from the usual in that while light magic is drawn directly from elemental goodness (and has to be bestowed by someone else, as it's impossible to claim for oneself), it has no more of a cost than any other magic (in fact, it has rather less, as it's mentioned that light magic is easier to control than regular elemental energy) and there doesn't seem to be any rule against using it as a weapon (the hero blows up a dark construct summoned by the villain at one point.)
- At one point in Pamela Dean's The Secret Country, Fence is described as a "white magician", meaning that he is good. The various styles of magic in that world are categorized by colors, so he is actually doing blue magic. Any of the magic types can be perverted to cause harm.
- A Mage's Power: There is a division of magecraft that serves the purpose of healing magic. It heals injuries, cures disease, and grants greater power to others. The arcane variety is no different in source or cost from any other kind of magic (personal mana) and used by doctors. The divine variety is drawn from the Goddess of Life and used exclusively by her clergy.
- In Sara Douglass' Tencendor novels, the Star Dance is sentient magic that doesn't approve of being weaponised and reacts badly against the hero when he tries.
- In Charmed, all good beings like good witches, white lighters, elders, fairies, and so forth use some form of holy-based spell casting in one form or another. Whitelighters especially are notable - as their power to heal any wound is triggered by feelings of love. Most other forms of magic are triggered by fear or anger.
- Once Upon a Time distinguishes between Dark and Light magic. Dark Magic tends to come with a price or else takes great effort to learn. Light Magic meanwhile is born of love and is used for good. It seems to be that Light Magic in humans is natural - and gets produced when a child is born to parents that have True Love for each other.
Myth and Religion
- The Bible holds a number of examples of God bestowing White Magic upon mortal men and women, other than simply working miracles around a chosen spokesman. None of it bears any resemblance to video-game White Magic, and there is certainly nothing like MP involved. In the Old Testament, Samson gets Super Strength (and likely some sort of Made of Iron nature that let him take on hundreds of soldiers at once but still get crushed by a collapsing roof). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul talks about "Spiritual Gifts" that born-again Christians get, that are weapons for spiritual (rather than physical) warfare.
- Jesus also promises that his followers will wield great powers than he does, and declares "Do ye not know that ye are gods?" - pretty awesome statement from the founder of a monotheistic religion. note
- Theurgy, or Theosophy, which was popular among the renaissance occultists, was basically the historical variant of this. It stood in direct opposition to Goetia/Cacodæmony.
- The distinction between the Left-Hand Path and the Right-Hand Path in occult traditions was historically mostly this, healing magic. This is not to say that Left-Hand specialists are evil and judging by people like Madame Blavatsky Right-Hand specialists are not always good. Others think these distinctions are bullshit anyways.
- The Paladins and Good-Aligned Clerics of Dungeons & Dragons.
- Expanded in the Book of Exalted Deeds, which features "Exalted" spells that can be used by any spellcasters, but require a good alignment. Each one also requires a certain personal sacrifice, which range from a few Hit Points to permanent attribute drain or death. The effects of the spells are almost exclusively for healing, purification, assistance, and evil-destroying.
- Interestingly, Neutral aligned clerics can choose either White Magic or Black Magic at level one, and then are never allowed to change their minds. It determines whether or not you can swap any prepared spell for a Cure or Inflict spell, and in Pathfinder determines whether or not you channel positive or negative energy.
- Sisters of Battle faith powers in Warhammer 40,000 are a borderline example. While they fit the first two criteria perfectly, and the third from the perspective of the Sisters, the Sisters are fanatical Knight Templar soldiers of the Church Militant, who really like burning people at the stake.
- White Cards, from Magic: The Gathering. As noted in the trope description, of course, sometimes Light Is Not Good.
- Shallyan priestess in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does only have spell that do benevolent things like cure wounds, disease, poisoning and insanities, except one that do damage against followers of the disease god Nurgle.
- The White Mages and Paladins of Final Fantasy are the Trope Codifier. The mechanics are as written but there's only anything approaching moral associations with the magic in IV (maybe IX, but that's because black mages are a separate race), and even then no one was terribly worried about the Black Magic users. What's more is that villains are able to use White Magic too, as heroes can use Black Magic. Though there has yet to be a villainous White Mage character for obvious reasons.
- In Final Fantasy XIV White Magic was abused to devastating effect in the ancient city of Amdapor. Despite being associated with healing and nature, overuse of White Magic turned the place into a festering hellhole full of deadly fungus and monstrous insects. (As of the "Through the Maelstrom" patch, you can fight your way through it yourself.) Ever since then, White Magic has been kept and protected by the Padjal people to prevent its further abuse, though players who meet the right qualifications can earn the right to wield it themselves.
- The Paladin Class of World of Warcraft draw their powers from "the Light." While this is no guarantee of the goodness of the player behind the character, as a whole paladins are supposed to be upstanding individuals, and their powers are definitely geared towards helping others. Lore-wise, blood elf paladins used to have the unusual attribute of using the Light by force, which wasn't so nice of them, but that's changed with the passing of the story. The Priest Class is a more mixed bag - depending on Race they are either Priests of the Light (human, dwarf, draenei, blood elf), the Moon (night elf), a group of tribal gods (troll), or the shadow (Forsaken). All are benevolent towards at least their own Faction, though, so that's something, but any of them can Avert this Trope by choosing the "Shadow Priest" talent-build.
- The light of paladins is only semi-sentient, it will respond if they think they're right even if they aren't, which is why the xenophobically insane scarlet crusade could still use the light.
- In Ragnarok Online there is the Priest class, who uses White Magic. His spell are mostly beneficial in nature, sometimes hindering the opponent or placing the gods judgment on him, but NOT dealing damage to something that's not an undead or demon (those better beware!) except the spell Holy Light that might be considered a lovetap comparing to other classes power (But considering that he can make himself almost invulnerable this may result in Death of a Thousand Cuts. And as the name suggests he uses the power of God. And there's the Soul Linker who's powers come the spirits also having mostly supporting or defensive abilities. He has also offensive spells but those only work on monsters not on players.
- Shadow Era has the Priest Heroes, who use white magic to heal and protect their active allies.
- Light Magic in (old verse) Might and Magic has a bit more offensive uses that aren't limited to undead than the norm (though the basic Light spell does double damage to undead), but less so than the other schools of magic. Costwise, it also fits: where Dark Magic has a spell to sacrifice a hireling for health, Light Magic has an extremely powerful healing spell that ages the caster ten years whenever it is cast. In terms of morality, however, a point is made that while Light Magic is mostly used by and associated with good people, it has no inherent morality, and the most important factor is how you use it (The Corruption is not a factor when it comes to Dark Magic in that verse).
- Dark Souls has the "miracle" subcategory of magic. These magics are based on faith, and are usually tied to some sort of deity. These spells tend to be defensive in nature, such as the healing and magic resist miracles. Joining covenants of gods usually grants you miracles as a reward, and allows the use of specific miracles.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Mane Six are able to harness White Magic through use of the Elements of Harmony, empowered by their collective bond of friendship.
- The Fairly OddParents has Da Rules, which attempts to make fairy magic work this way. In a general sense, fairies are unable to interfere with things like true love; furthermore, it's possible for a fairy's wand to be disabled if a godchild makes selfish wishes without showing any sort of appreciation. There also more specific examples: In one episode, Cosmo and Wanda are unable to conjure tickets to a sold-out event, as they would have to steal them from those who already have them. In another, Timmy wishes for a magic kung fu belt and headband to become a karate champion, but discovers that they only grant him amazing skills when he uses them to protect and help others. However, creative wishing is able to subvert these rules (it's revealed in one episode that a godchild somehow made a wish that caused the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, plunging Europe into World War I).