“I know the high arts and the Golden Tongue which men of old spoke to shape the world, but I use them but rarely since men now are often low and mealy, and it is not sporting fair to come among them as a god come among worms."
Which segues into my view of "magic." Because of God's decree against witches (which we are all familiar with), anything extraordinary or supernatural in fiction is liable to frighten us and drive us away. But let me respectfully break down the dividing walls which our culture has, probably inadvertently, placed in our minds separating the biblical narrative from anything historical, futuristic, and real. There was a man in an ancient garden who walked as a king of the earth beneath his feet, who ruled land and sea and sky and everything in them, a man with power who knew the secret names of things. It is no legend; he actually lived, and he lived long and, with some struggle, prospered; and fathered nations of great, inventive men who grasped the earth between their hands and bent it to their will. These antediluvian monarchs of the earth lived for unimaginable years and their stories, passed down - awful and powerful and etched in a cruel, bloody calligraphy - slowly devolved into the little petty stories of the gods we know today. Once they were human, enormous, powerful, giants in the land, still clinging to some glory of mastery of the world. If we were to meet them today we would be astonished. It would be fantastic. It would be like magic.
We fear "magic" because we are rational now, sceptical, living in a world of atoms and chemical construction and mute though beautiful biology. We fear "magic" because we instinctively ascribe all that is supernatural to either demons or the Son of God (but we still divide them from the world of atoms and chemical construction, of course). We fear "magic" because we have no idea what it is or what we really mean by it; we watch the ancients cower under a sky rent by a thunderbolt and call it superstition because our time can explain the sky exploding into light.
Just because we know how it works does not mean it isn't magic.
Don't tinker with a fear of "magic," don't tinker with an understanding of mankind. No mother today stands her boy up and straightens his tie, polishes his shoe, and tells him he comes from a people who were once noble and terrible and ruled the earth. But it would be true. And the fact of the matter is: it will be true again. Man is not done being majestic. Man is not done being the "stones of a crown." Men like Tolkien and Lewis, and Chesterton before them, wrote the way they did because they were not deceived into believing that the shabby, tattered fabric of the world now is all that there will be, is the only reality, the end-all, the holy backdrop against which men shuffle in their dance like circus monkeys. We are in the middle to latter half of the story: the glory is diminished, but not put out; the gods are buried, but not dead; the magic of a purer air seeps through a heavenly casement and, out of place in a world that hardly knows them now, a world they hardly know, men are learning the mastery again.
What else do you call the Kingdom? What else do you call the promise that Jesus will make all things new? It is not some detached, airy-fairy notion for which we have no real mental image. But the problem is, what sketches we are given in Scripture - and in the oldest of the old stories - are as boldly thrown upon the canvas in a blood-red ink as the stories of man's tyranny. It is frightening. We played with ideas of ghouls and spells and witches and called them evil - because they are - and said it was magic, and divorced outright all stamp of power completely, little realizing what legacy runs in our own veins, what treasure the hinged bone of our skulls hide, or the charter of creation which was given to us at the very beginning. We are being made men again, made, not only in the imago Dei, but once more in the imago Christi. By love and thunder, what a story it makes, too! And man's realm then (as it was in the past) will be a fitting setting for such a race of monarchs.
"The great colossus: Man," I called him once. I still call him that. Jesus, in some and very important ways unique, is in other ways (for us very important) only the first fruits. Our heritage is one of power and authority, mercy and love. I have said it before, I will say it again. My take on magic in fantasy - my own fantasy - is that: that it paints bold and red and beautiful the humility and the mastery of man. Too long we have forgotten the rock from whence we were hewn, too long we have ignored what we are becoming. We read Lewis and Tolkien and think what nice stories, and so well written, so full of virtue, and the blow between the eyes somehow misses us that the crowning jewel of God's creation was a fine creature and a damned fine creature, and is now a bloody redeemed fine creature, and magic - for now perhaps a mere child's drawing of what is really meant by a halo and what is really meant by holiness - is skirted in haste.