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Several characters are seen performing what appears to be magic:

  • Zhaan in general
  • Nillam in "Vitas Mortis"
  • Maldis in That Old Black Magic and Picture If You Will

Now, to my knowledge unlike other shows crossing the boundary between Sci-Fi and Fantasy no scientific explanation is given to this; cf. Daniel's repeated ascension in Stargate which is, I believe considered to not be supernatural but a natural result of his advanced state or mind/influence of the Ancients (correct my if I've attributed the wrong source).

So is the 'magic' part of Farscape ever addressed as anything but mystical/supernatural in nature?

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    You're pretty much on-track about Stargate. Ascension is when the brain/mind evolves to a point where the physical body is no longer necessary - and the Ancients can help people who aren't actually there ascend before they reach that point.
    – Izkata
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 1:18

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The appearance of magical abilities in Farscape appears to be of a psychic or metaphysical nature. The show attempted to maintain the appearance of a science-based space opera but had moments where it lapsed into things that resembled magic. In most cases, these would be considered psychic abilities, some species-based, others amplified by herbs, meditation, or in some cases technology.

Examples include:

Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, a Delvian religious practitioner and mystic possessed prodigious metaphysical abilities. These were referenced as a part of her species innate abilities but needed to be developed the Delvian Seek training.

The Farscape Encyclopedia Wikia reports:

The Delvians are a very religious and disciplined species, and many practice what is known as the Delvian Seek. This is a search for enlightenment, of helping others and knowing no anger, and praying and worshiping their Goddess.

With prayer in the Delvian Seek, abilities follow. It appears that Delvians have psychic abilities which are able to be unlocked by a disciplined mind, aided by the Delvian Seek. One such ability is sharing "Unity", the ability for a Delvian to link their mind to the mind of other creatures, to communicate on a psychic and spiritual plane. ("Rhapsody in Blue") They can also impart spiritual energy on another using this, but such a gift can leave them drained. If they give up too much of their own energy, the Delvian begins to weaken, the crown of their head slowly becoming a sticky pulp, until eventual death occurs (see Episodes 3.01 - 3.04).

E'Alet wielded the ability to create sgabba flies that could implant murderous subliminal messages in their victims, which were amplified by E'Alet's own psychic powers. (4.9 "A Prefect Murder")

Stark is Stykera, a specialized subrace of the Banik. As a Stykera, Stark can ease the pain and suffering of others, one of the traits that made him sought after for Scorpius' Aurora Chair research. Stark wears a mask that protects him from the psychic stress of a soul passing onto the afterlife. (This may be why Stark is psychologically unbalanced. Not every Stykera can do this.)

Scorpius is the Scarran/Sebacean hybrid commander of the Peacekeeper force.

Scorpius discovered in his youth that his unique heritage gave him the ability to see other beings' "energy signatures." He found that each species had a particular signature. He also discovered that the energy signatures changed when one was lying. This ability enabled Scorpius to identify the human John Crichton as a non-Sebacean when they passed in a corridor on Scorpius' secret Gammak Base in the Uncharted Territories.

In the case of creatures such as Maldis, it is harder to sell since he describes his abilities as magic. But since he fed on psychic sustenance, (the pain and suffering of those he oppressed) he could be considered a psychic vampire and his powers would be still a highly amplified psychic field of resonant energy.

Maldis was a malevolent, powerful supernatural being who had reached a non-corporeal form and possessed considerable magical powers. Maldis gained strength from the life forces of others' pain and death and as a result used his abilities to encourage negative emotions such as fear, anger, hate, and pain in his victims.

Alas, they are described as magic in most sources, so we are left to assume sufficiently powerful psychic abilities can end up being called magic. However, since his downfall was facilitated by the psychic powers of Zotoh Zhann, it can be said perhaps the difference is one of degree and scale.

The Farscape universe was a vast one filled with a variety of species whose true capabilities were always kept close to the vest. It is safe to assume that "any significantly advanced technology (or psychic ability) could be indistinguishable from magic."

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  • My one isssue then is that your closing quote refers to technology not innate ability (i.e. psychic powers etc.)
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 18:53
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    Implying if their powers come from a technological source, i.e. genetic engineering (both Stark and Scorpius) or a discipline such as the Delvian Seek, or from an unknown psychic amplification such as Maldis) it might still be considered "magic." Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 18:58
  • As long as it's sufficiently advanced, does it really matter? :)
    – Tacroy
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 21:48
  • Nope. Not a bit. :) Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:55

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