Quantum entanglement & Sympathetic magic

Quantum entanglement & Sympathetic magic

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Well, as any of my dear friends out there know, I am trying to create a world in which magic is merely science that is forgotten. I know, not a new idea. But I am trying to express it in a way that is true to most reader’s expectations of fantasy while providing a rationale that satisfies my own need for logic and consistency. Anyway, I’ll write more about that ambition at a later time.

This post is about two real ideas that I wish to mesh in my novel. Once is science based. The other is an old magic concept.

Firstly quantum entanglement, which  can be thought of as “the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate” (to quote Schrodinger of feline fame). In lay terms, because two such particles are correlated, then a change upon one can result in a correlating change in the other – even at great distances. From this has come some proposed ideas about possible ways of sending information across galactic distances, transporters (as in Star Trek) and so on.

Now the old magic idea that I wish to mesh with this is something called Sympathetic Magic. Any of you ever read the Golden Bough (1922) by Sir James George Frazer? It’s an anthropological study of myth and magic and so on. I had to study it in one of my subjects in my Arts degree back in the 1980s. Sympathetic magic has within it two interesting ideas.

One is called the Law of Similarity. In other words, if two things are sufficiently similar then you can link them such that if you impact one then you can impact the other. Hence the whole idea behind, for example, voodoo dolls. Make a likeness of someone, cast a spell, and then you can inflict harm on them.

The second idea in Sympathetic magic is the Law of Contagion. If two things were once linked then they will continue to act upon each other even if the link is severed and the objects are significantly separated. Hence, to continue our previous example, Voodoo dolls can be made more effective if you include a piece of the potential victim’s hair or fingernails or whatever.

For me, it seems obvious that a civilisation fallen from such heights where they effectively use Quantum Entanglement to a position where they barely even know gunpowder might perceive surviving devices (e.g. a Star Trek style transporter) in terms of Sympathetic Magic. I am certainly giving the operator sufficient “magical” insight into the backend to see certain things occurring and then having to understand them in magical terms.

I hope that I can do it well.