In the Marvel Universe, magicians like Doctor Strange draw their magic from three main sources:

  1. Internal physical/psychic/spiritual energy giving them abilities such as astral projection, telepathy, hypnotism, mesmerism and the ability to expand their senses to other dimensions or to see astral forms. This magic is limited to the health, stamina and experience of the mage. More experienced magi may possess additional personal abilities such as the ability to cast personal hexes, curses or even will someone to die.

  2. Tapping into other dimensional energies which can allow magic users to fly, create protective barriers, open dimensional portals, cast bolts of mystic energy, and the conjuration of simple objects. Using these powers does not require a sorcerer to conjure or draw energy from any named beings thus owing no particular allegiance or debt. With preparation or ritual theurgy, some sorcerers can perform advanced magics such as transmutation or intangibility.

  3. The most powerful magic users can draw upon the extra-dimensional energy of mystical beings from other dimensions allowing sorcerers to perform incredible feats of magic by invoking the deity's name. This includes spells such as the Winds of Watoomb, the Bands of Cytorrak, or the Rings of Raggadorr, to name just a few of such beings.

While every magic user in the Marvel Universe does not perform magic the same way as Doctor Strange, many of them use some variation of these three sources of magic: personal, extra-dimensional manipulation or divine/infernal invocation. They may also use magic from spell books or tomes such as the Necronomicon or the Black Bible.

Is the DC Universe structured in the same fashion or does magic work in a completely different way there?

  • The Quasi-Wimploplasto Magic Continuum.. – user931 Nov 3 '14 at 7:21
  • 1
    This should not have been downvoted, nor should anyone VTC. It's a perfectly reasonable question, especially given the reference to Marvel, which has actually explained its magic 'scientifically' in the past. There's no reason for the QA to believe that DC didn't do the same before asking the question. – James Sheridan Nov 3 '14 at 7:57
  • There is no reason to close this question as it is able to be answered for every DC continuity up to the most recent New 52 Multiverse. There are even references to magic from the new Multiverse which don't appear to contradict previous continuity references. – Thaddeus Howze Nov 3 '14 at 9:32

Magic in the DC Universe has multiple points of access, but a single point of origin. Its primary source was the Godwave, a burst of primal energy related to the Source and the Source Wall. It was believed to be the catalyst for magical energy permeating the Multiverse. 1

In the previous DC Continuities (Pre-Crisis, Silver Age, Post-Crisis, Modern Age) Magic was a Universal power accessible to those who understood it and can control it via technology, ancient lore, ritual/theurgy, or through direct manipulation of the magical energy itself. In the early universe, many races could manipulate magical energy and often employed its darkest chaotic aspects in their rituals.

Three and a half billion years ago a humanoid race from the world of Maltus sought to bring order to the stars. An offshoot of the race became known as the Guardians of the Universe. They sought to remove magic from the universe, and laid siege to the necromantic forces of the cosmos. The war was costly on both sides. The last to fall was the powerful Empire of Tears, finally subdued by the Guardians on the tombworld of Ysmault.

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The tombworld of Ysmault, the demonic inhabitants of Ysmault and their final conflict against the Guardians agents, the robotic Manhunters.

  • Despite magic being a fundamental aspect of the Universe, the Guardians of the Universe (later known as the Guardians of Oa) tried to bind and dispel this chaotic energy in an attempt to make the universe more orderly. It was partially successful and allowed for the ascension of reason and scientific exploration.

  • This collected magical energy existed as the Starheart. The Guardians compressed it an flung it to the far corners of the Universe. Eventually, a fragment of it found its way to Earth becoming the ring and lantern of the Golden Age Green Lantern.2

  • Despite the tampering of the Guardians, magical energies still existed in the Universe and many species would eventually tap into them despite their efforts. The Endless are examples of magical Universal forces beyond the ability of the Guardians to regulate or control.

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The Endless are as old as the concepts that they represent, and although exact ages for any of them are unavailable (only relative ones are), they are known to have at least existed for far longer than life on Earth has. This is possible because of the existence of many advanced alien civilizations from long before the creation of the earth.

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The Helm of Nabu used by Doctor Fate, the Tantu Totem used by Vixen and Sargon the Sorcerer's Ruby of Life.

  • Many magic users on Earth are either genetically predisposed to magic and are called Homo Magi. This blessing of their bloodline allows them to manipulate powerful magical energies whose source is unknown. Homo magi first appeared in Justice League of America #164 (March 1979), and were created by Gerry Conway and Dick Dillin.

  • Not all magic-using humans are Homo Magi. Some are blood relatives to the Fae, who were extradimensional beings whose magical affinity was far greater than Homo Sapiens and they pass this affinity to their descendants such as Timothy Hunter, Morgaine le Fey and Doctor Occult. A number of Humans draw their power from elemental forces such as Swamp Thing, Naiad, the Hat and Solomon Grundy.

  • Other dimensional energies can be used to change or empower Homo Sapiens creating god-like beings, including the Wizard Shazam, Captain Marvel, the Enchantress and Extraño. Gods or god-like beings are considered to be using a divine power and draw part of their energy from worship and part from The Source, a primal fundamental background energy of the Multiverse.

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The Source Wall, the fundamental barrier to the edge of the Multiverse. It is here that beings who attempt to understand the true nature of the Universe (by using the Anti-Life Equation, for example) are bound forever. It is believed this barrier is the source of all that there is, including magic in the Multiverse.

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On the DC Earth, Atlantis is often considered the undisputed center of magical power on Earth. The ancient Atlanteans were powerful magic users and used it to rule the world for millennia circa 45,000 BC. (See: Arion of Atlantis, also see: Ahri-ahn)

In the DC Universe, the Homo magi originated on the lost continent of Atlantis. The continent was a focal point for unharnessed magical energies (wild magic), and the local Homo sapiens evolved into Homo sapiens magi as a result of their exposure to these energies. Upon the fall of Atlantis, people who carried the predisposition for magic were scattered to the four winds. Today, every human being capable of casting spells is a descendant of the Atlantean "Homo magi."

1: Whether this is still true in the New DC Multiverse has not been determined.

2: Ref: Wallace, Dan (2008), "Green Lantern's Power Ring", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 92**

  • So it's kinda similiar, but not really? – user65889 May 10 '16 at 5:41

Barring the Godwave that is the meta origin for all superpowers in DC, at least before Flashpoint, there is no singular source of magical energy, because magic can be powered by pretty much any type of energy.

Arion the Atlantean sorcerer liked to use solar power, and once drained the Sun so badly he caused an ice age.

In "Agents of LAW" the bad guy powered a spell with Captain Atom's quantum powers.

In "Demon: Driven Out", a techno-alchemist powered his spells through his electrical socket.

Spellcasters can tap their own souls or the souls of others, make deals with third parties like gods or demons, tap into the innate powers of magic items or places of power, convert energy, or gather power through rituals ranging from tantric sex to bloodletting.

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