I was thinking during some Harry Potter discussion that some do not see "magic" as presented in many fantasy settings as anything particularly harmful. People as a whole do not really grasp the danger of such things. This isn't about Harry Potter, but the lax attitudes about magic without a clear source in fantasy. Books like the Lord of the Rings, the Wheel of Time, Chronicles of Narnia and even the wacky Sword of Truth series all have magic and stories intended to entertain while showing the particular authors message. Magic is not just something that is. It has a source. It can be bad or good, but it is a story with background. This doesn't make the story good, just less dangerous. Why? Because why do we engage in fantasy stories? One part is just entertainment, but the other is fantasy itself. We put ourselves in the story to some degree and that is why the fantasy elements appeal. It is fun to imagine something that we cannot experience in real life. This is why people read fantasy novels, play World of Warcraft and watch special effects heavy fantasy films. Addressing the benefits if any of such methods of entertainment is another issue. The issue here is presentations of magic.
A quick definition of "magic" can be "the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces". This can be extended to include all things which show a seemingly normal human being having unnatural power of some kind. This can be the main characters in Harry Potter, the Jedi in Star Wars or Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. The magic as presented by these fictional characters is not only a story telling device, but a source of entertainment and fantasy. This is the potential danger to the faithful.
In reality, the source of "magic" is from demons. This is rare, as beliefs contrary to truth are enough to satisfy the demons (ie, a demon will never compromise its mission to destroy by revealing itself to those who do not know it exists), but there is one aspect where this can be dangerous: when a person knows the truth and the demon offers its service to tempt that person. We read of demons tormenting saints. They only do this because they cannot do anything else. The saint has too much faith to be tempted by material offerings. We do not read of these things typically working (they do not very well; they are a last resort, so most people will never experience an actual physical involvement or manifestation of a demon). What we do not read about is those who accept the demon. This can be an acceptance of some evil of this world or more directly related to "magic" in an acceptance of the demon itself knowingly. This is the source of "magic". The power from a preternatural source being given for the use of a human being. This is the only way a person can willingly get such power by their own will. The dangers of it are beyond the actual ability of the demon. The will to receive such power is enough to damn a soul, as it is an interior act contrary to reason and God. So, demons do not need permission or the ability to act to get what they want. They only need a person to choose something contrary to God to have successfully tempted a person to sin. In some cases, they will have this ability and they will use it. If it could be described as a conversation, the offering would be much like:
Demon> "I know you know I exist and you follow God. However, I noticed you wanted
This can be a lie, but it can also be the truth. It is a small thing for a demon to destroy the entire universe. It is merely energy/matter and the demon is a spirit and is not bound by time and space (in that it takes no time; they do not know what has not occurred any more than it can be determined from available data) and destruction of the universe would be as simple as kicking a sandcastle. They are only limited by God in what they can do. It is not that God desires evil; He does not interfere with free will and certain acts of demons are allowed if it would not over power us. So, whatever we could possibly want in this world is probably in the power of demons to give to some degree. It would be corrupted and limited by our lifespan at the best though, but it is there. Demons cannot interfere with free will, so they have to use human vices to get what they want (they cannot make a person fall in love, but they could create the opening for lust). For things which are entirely material or person, it would be even easier. Want to get good grades? Want more money? Want knowledge? Want evil to happen to another? It is more likely the demon will not do anything and just laugh at its easy victory while the human wanders in darkness, but the demon could do it. A misplaced "wish", willing evil to others, engaging in something contrary to God for "fun" may just be answered by a demon. Even if it is not, it is still in our mind and our soul. It is something which needs to be washed away. It is something we need guarding against.
So, when engaging in fantasy entertainment, care is very important. Anyone who uses such entertainment will have some fantasy about it. People try to use the "Force" or entertain thoughts about having abilities they witnessed in some story in their current life. Everyone does it.
The danger is not in the creation of actual witches, a person knowingly getting power from a demon (which is not satisfying to the person, it will be a constant struggle with oneself until death), but in being open to improper fantasy inspired by the particular fantasy work. It is in our passions and our desire to be entertained that we can find the most danger. A relaxed mind is open to much. It is of great importance to first judge the source of this relaxation. Would one relax to the hypnotic song of a deadly creature (a common fantasy element)? Why would one relax to a story (in print or film) which imprints future fantasies on us?
We must discern the spirits to determine their nature before listening to them, but we also much discern the sources of entertainment. We will judge a person before letting them into our house. We will judge a person before listening to their testimony. We will judge an alleged apparition before taking it to heart. Why do we not judge our entertainment before opening ourselves up in its fantasy?
It is very important to discern the source of magic and the framework of a particular story before opening oneself up to it. The background of the fantasy is just as important as the individual instances of fantasy. Just because a character does something that is superficially similar to another, it does not mean it is the same. The background elements will be very important when the mind attempts to fantasize. Also, there is no moral obligation to engage in such entertainment at all, so forsaking it entirely will eliminate any potential danger.
It may be just a story, but it is just our soul. Discern carefully.