The term is most often found in a variety of communities. Within the Dungeons & Dragons
fantasy roleplaying community, spellcasting is a skill often used by druids, clerics, and wizards. Spellcasting is also associated with occult communities, such as those practicing witchcraft
. In addition, there is a long history of alleged spellcasting activities in most human societies, such as forms of curses
, rain dances
, or trinkets for protection.
There are many forms of spellcasters, and thus an equal variety of spellcasting. Some of the main spellcasting varieties include:
- arcane: the scientific manipulation of natural energies, often through the intermingling of oral, gesticulative, and physical components.
- psychic: manipulation of the world through powers harnessed through the mind. The casting of a psychic "spell" usually requires intense discipline and focus.
- spiritual: manipulation of energy derived from parallel spirit planes, whether in the form of communicating with, or summoning, spirits, phantoms, or poltergeists.
- witchcraft: tapping into natural energies in order to release them into the physical plane, often through meditation, burning of candles, chanting or reciting incantations, performing physical rituals and making herbal preparations.
- divine: tapping into the energy derived from a deity. Methods thus vary according to which deity is being invoked, but usually a "sacrifice" is preferred, whether in the form of an animal, a valuable object, or money.
Thus, descriptively, there are two major varieties of spellcasting, the manipulative and the harnessing. Harnessing varieties of magic are usually harmless as they do not change the natural order of things. However, manipulative spellcasting, in its extreme forms, such as when opening a parallel dimension, can disturb the natural fabric, and thus should only be used with care.