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- Source: If it's gained from God (or the local equivalent), a Council of Angels, The 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. If any sacrifices from others are ever necessary, these will generally have to be completely voluntary (ie: 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. But Your Mileage May Vary if you ask the newt what it thinks of giving an eye for the spell.
- 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 evil creatures such as demons or undead, by way of Revive Kills Zombie.
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. Ocasionally, 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.)
The other most common Restriction method is requiring the practictioner to abide by a specific code of conduct 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.
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 actually involve a sapient source at all.
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.
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.
- 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.
- The Jedi qualify, of course. That is, the ones who don't wander over to The Dark Side. And again: sometimes Light Is Not Good.
- In G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Dagger with Wings," a character talks of using white magic against his enemy. Father Brown deduces from the way he talks, philosophically, that he is the enemy, and he has already murdered the man he is posing as.
"It is true that by studying magic he fell at last under the blight of black magic; the Black Magic of this scoundrel Strake. But my brothers were wrong about the antidote. The antidote to black magic is not brute materialism or worldly wisdom. The antidote to black magic is white magic."
- Later, as Father Brown left,
As he shuffled homewards through the snow, he muttered to himself: "And yet he is right enough about there being a white magic, if he only knows where to look for it."
- In The Dresden Files, "Soulfire" is a source of power that can be used by certain angelic or holy beings to boost the power of magic. It works as a creative force, essentially combining with normal magic to create a sort of magical alloy that dramatically strengthens the power of the spell. Any spell boosted by Soulfire gets a silvery color added to it, i.e. a fire spell boosted by Soulfire comes out as silver/silvery blue flames. The only drawback is that using Soulfire takes power directly from your soul - and burning away all of your soul using Soulfire is a Bad Thing. Harry gains access to Soulfire thanks to the intervention of the Archangel Uriel after he redeemed Lasciel's shadow.
- In Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, the title character is briefly held captive by a Black Magic user named Mommy Fortuna. When the witch claims she would cut out someone else's liver to keep her, the unicorn replies, "True magic can never be done by offering someone else's liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back. The true witches know that."
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Theo argues that there is no such thing as White Magic, that even though he used his powers to blast demons and practioners of very Black Magic, he must give it up to avoid damnation.
- In Prospero in Hell, Miranda hypothesizes that their father thought that sprouting part of the True Cross and carving a staff from the tree would make using the staff to resurrect someone White Magic.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Phoenix on the Sword", Epemitreus marks Conan the Barbarian's sword to let it slay demons. Possibly the only benevolent use of magic in Howard's entire Conan saga.
- The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper has the Light vs the Dark, where the Old Ones use magic to save humanity. Although it's not always nice to those who have to endure the effects or after-effects.
- A point of in universe controversy in The Witch Watch, is whether or not white magic exists. Is it holy to use magic for the purpose of healing? Not when it turns out it requires human sacrifices to function
- In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Mae's sisters use this. They find it hard to believe that her powers naturally turn to Black Magic.
- Piers Anthony uses this in his Incarnations of Immortality series opener To Ride A Pale Horse.
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 invincibility. 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.
- Samson wasn't invincible, if he was, then he would've survived when he brought down the Philistine's temple. He had incredible strength, enough to carry two giant doors across a country, kill 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass and destroy an entire temple.
- 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.
- Keep in mind that Jesus was speaking using Old Testament definitions and that the in greek translation of the old testament word, calling someone a god is the equivalent to calling them 'a glorious' person.
- 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 Paladins and Good-Aligned Clerics of Dungeons and 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.
- Sisters of Battle faith powers in Warhammer 40000 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 fame, of course. Mind, 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.
- 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 xenophobicly 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 a 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.
- Due to the nature in which stat points are distributed in Ragnarok Online it's very possible to create a battle priest who buffs himself and whacks things to death with a mace which he gets bonuses to attack with. The 4th level weapon given to the priest class for the 4th seal is a mace supposedly for that very reason which changes a priest into a walking holy death machine when done right. Depending how a player interprets this it may be subverting this trope.
- 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.
- Dominic Deegan: Gregory's speciality
- Homestuck brutally subverts this - Eridan Ampora's white magic is exclusively destructive, and leads to the death of one of his teammates and the Rainbow Drinkerization of another. This turns out to be a neat piece of Fridge Brilliance as trolls, a nocturnal species whose planet is at its most dangerous during the day, have an inverse view of the connotations of light and darkness.
- Exiern: It can't hurt, unless it's really powerful
- In BIBLE, some angels such as healers can use white magic using energies channeled to them through their halos. Any other magic causes The Corruption, unless it's an archangel or human angel casting it.