I don't know if you were aware of this but, wizards are immortal; or nearly so. I'm smiling at your response but let me guess anyway. The first question that popped in your mind was, 'So, why aren't we overrun with wizards?' Was I right? Well, other than your skepticism about the existence of wizards, I was right, wasn't I? The answer to why we aren't overrun with wizards is actually twofold. We can talk about the existence of wizards later if you are really that much of a skeptic.
First, wizards don't die after 80 or 100 years like normal people, but wizards can be killed. If you were to lock a wizard in a room so he couldn't be shot, cut, crushed by a land slide, or a thousand other ways a human can meet a violent death, he would live for a very, very, VERY long time.
He might go crazy from boredom, but he would live. We really don't know how long wizards live because there are no records of wizards dying of old age. There were hints in ancient Hebrew writings that Methuselah was a minor wizard which was the reason he lived so long. We do know that wizards can be killed. Wizards are immune to most diseases, but not all. It is rumored that wizards can be killed by a strain of the bubonic plague or the Black Death as it was called in the middle ages. There is some evidence that the Black Death during the middle ages was a wizard's version of germ warfare except it was a little more effective than they had planned. The wizard that spawned the disease was killed along with the wizard the plague was aimed at. There were no wizards left on the European continent to control the plague, if it could be controlled by wizardly means, and millions died.
The second reason we aren't overrun with wizards is harder to answer. A simple answer would be that wizards have usually lived in isolation, but that doesn't really explain much, does it? I don't mean wizards don't have people around them. They do, and usually a lot of them. It is a question of the quality of the people, not quantity. The kind of wizard also plays a role in this second part. There are two kinds of wizards. The way I understand it, being born on the summer or winter solstice determines what kind of wizard he or she is and the difference is so great that most cultures have names for both kinds of wizard.
You've probably read or heard about the studies of the psychological difference in a chimpanzee raised in isolation, with no touching at all, and a chimp raised with a lot of contact with other chimps; the isolated chimps are angry, violent, and extremely antisocial. Some would even categorize them as psychotic. The chimps raised with a lot of contact with others are more loving and outgoing which creates a more stable chimp society. It also makes them more vulnerable to the unstable chimps. The results of the chimp studies have been applied to humans, and the parallels are so close to being exact that psychoanalysts accept them as mainstream thought.
Now, consider the wizard as a human; a person isolated from birth because of the strange things that happen around him, or her. Yes, there can be female wizards. It is an equal opportunity skill set but I'll get into that later too. Many babies called 'devil children' were killed down through the ages because of strange happenings around them. Many of the ones that survived to young adults had lived their lives isolated from the common, loving touch of a mother, or father, or friends.
Imagine what they felt like, growing up with everyone afraid to get near them, or voluntarily touch them. Imagine how psychotic they were when they reached their prime. Often they took what they wanted, when they wanted it, with no thought of the damage and human misery they left behind. Wizards never lacked enemies that were willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill the wizard. At the end of every discussion about wizards there is one fact that supersedes all others. Wizards are human. Granted they are very special humans, but humans none the less with all the flaws and failings of the human condition.
I'm not saying all wizards were evil. I'm just pointing out that many of the wizards that survived their first year of life were evil because of the way they were raised and for some their circumstance of birth. Remember the point of this discussion was to explain why we aren't overrun by wizards. There have been some good wizards, but they had their enemies too. Wizards, either bad or good, accumulate wealth easily. Any time a person accumulates wealth, another person will envy that wealth. That fact applies to wizards and people in the normal population. Unfortunately, there is a substantial portion of the human race that prefers to take what others earn rather than strive for wealth themselves. The bottom line is that successful people have enemies. Wizards are able to bend the rules in their favor, so they are often near the top of the success ladder, and their enemies are increased proportionally.
Now do you understand why we aren't overrun by wizards? It is a perilous lifestyle and profession.
I still sense that you aren't buying into the whole wizard existence thing. That isn't a problem and is perfectly understandable. I'm sure no one would say you are wrong for not believing in wizards. A lot of effort has been expended, both wizardly and mundane, to keep wizards out of the mainstream press and serious history books. Of course the fictional genre have been allowed to portray wizards anyway they wanted, because no one really took them serious. After all, it was just fiction, wasn't it? I think an explanation of what a wizard is would clear up some of the doubt, and if it doesn't, well, that's okay too.
The first requirement to be a wizard is being born on the right date, specifically, the summer or winter solstice. I'll go into that more in the story. The second requirement is having a combination of normal talents. How often have you seen or heard of someone that is referred to as having a talent? It could be someone with a singing talent, or a talent for mathematics. It could be a painter. It could be a blacksmith. How about the horse or dog whisperers we have heard so much about in recent years in 'fiction' and maybe in reality shows, too?
You can name any human endeavor and, someplace in the world you will find a person with a talent in that endeavor. Now, consider talent as strengths. You can compare two people with the same talent, and one will be stronger than the other. For example, if you compare two people with a talent for singing, you can select one over the other as having the stronger talent.
Now, ask yourself what a talent in a person really is. What is the difference, physically, between a person with a talent to play the piano and a prodigy that can play classical piano at age four? There is some combination or alignment of cells in the brain of both individuals that allow them to play the piano exceptionally well. No one really knows where in the brain that alignment occurs or where in the brain that skill resides but both individuals enjoy the results. The prodigy has something extra built in from birth that allows him or her to excel in their talent. There is an alignment of brain cells that create something unique in that individual.
A wizard is simply a person born with multiple strong talents that have been combined in such a way they literally create a new talent. Advanced chromosome and DNA studies have shown a person with a talent for playing the piano, and a wizard with the piano talent would have the same gene expression on that part of the DNA strand. The same wizard may also have a talent with numbers, and the same gene expression could be found in another person that had a talent limited to math. Many people would fall into the category of the single talent but the wizard has multiple talents in varying strengths. No genetic evidence has been found that identifies the wizard to be unique among humans. All evidence points to the unique combination of talents, combined in such a way that a portion of the mind is energized so it grasps the world around it in a unique way. In this explanation about wizards, I referred to them as simply a person, but they are anything but simple.
Wizards don't have all talents. They just have very many talents, and some are stronger than others. That accounts for why some wizards are stronger than others, and why some wizards have different strengths. A wizard with predominant talents in singing may have more control over air and weather than rock and minerals. That same wizard may have some talent with growing things so he or she could brew up a mighty storm, and force a field of grain to grow to full term overnight. A wizard with a strong talent as a blacksmith could have more controls over rocks and minerals than growing things. Wizardly talent that is predominated by a green thumb could have more control over growing things than the air so he could grow a stand of oaks in the path of an approaching army or send vines to hold an enemy from escaping. Are you beginning to understand how this works now? If not, you should at least understand why some of the old 'fictional' stories depict wizards doing different things. One story may talk about a wizard whipping up a storm while another sends vines and trees to destroy his adversary. The point is that a wizard's combination of multiple talents determines their abilities and strengths.
I said I would address the gender issue of wizards later. Well, it is a simple enough explanation, and this is later enough. There is nothing gender specific about being able to manipulate organic and inorganic matter with your mind. There might be differences in what they do, but not in the essential manipulation of matter. A male wizard, with a talent for rock and minerals, may grow a building from the ground made of black or dark green basalt. It would be a manly structure, befitting a male wizard. A female wizard, with the same talent and strengths, may grow the same building using rose quartz. The buildings could be shaped identically, inside and out, but with a completely different impact. Do you see the similarities and differences? Enough said on the gender issue.
While I am explaining things I should address the name, wizard. That is a very English word, but it isn't the only thing people with multiple talents that coalesce into new talents are called. Another name in the English language has been witch or warlock and they often have negative connotations. Shaman is one name used by American Indian tribes and some cultures in the Far East but that doesn't always indicate someone with magical powers. Shaman could also indicate a wise man but a Magus always had magical powers. Brujo is used by some American Indian tribes from the United States to the southern portions of South America. Brujo is also used in some European countries. A person called a Brujo almost always denotes someone evil.
The varying talents and their strengths in wizards is what have accounted for legends of wizards with varying powers and strengths throughout the ages. The most famous wizard that everyone would recognize by name today is Merlin. He was one of the good guys and he really tried to always do the right thing. Fiction depicts him as an old man, and often with a white flowing hair and beard. Merlin never looked a day over 25 in his 243 years of life. Remember, wizards don't get old. Merlin was a powerful wizard in his day but Morgaine Le Fey was also a wizard and, in the end, she was his nemesis. Merlin was much more powerful than Morgaine because of his combination of talents and his strengths in those talents. He was rare among wizards because he possessed strong talents with air, ground, and water, and lesser talents with growing things. Morgaine possessed lesser talents with growing things and water but she was still able to defeat him with guile rather than with wizardly skill. Many proponents of Morgaine Le Fey have depicted their struggle like a David and Goliath battle with Morgaine being the David. My personal view of that fight was of a comparison between a mighty warrior and a small, poisonous snake in the grass. That whole situation was a good example of good and bad wizards, how the different talents support wizardly strengths, and how history has been clouded to hide the reality of wizards.
So, it's time to get down to brass tacks and explain why I am telling you all of this. I'm sure you didn't just pick up these pages because you wanted to find out about wizards. Wizards aren't real anyway, right? The truth is, I've been asked to write about a friend's life, and he happens to be a wizard. He asked me to change the names to protect the innocent. I think he used that phraseology as a joke but I'll use fictional names anyway. I've got two problems with this project. The first is that I can't tell his story and place it in another part of the country. How can I relate a true story and place it in west Texas, or New York, when the story happened in the mountains of Central Arizona?
Arizona has different animals, different terrain, and different attitudes in the people. It just wouldn't work. So, even though I will be using different names you may still recognize the people in the story if you know the area. I do request that if you do recognize any of them, please leave them alone. They all treasure their anonymity, and I would hate being the cause of them being exposed to undue hassles. I will use real organizations names and real locations. It seems silly to name an Indian tribe something else when it's obvious who they are. Besides, they deserve credit for the role they play in the story. Native Americans are good and proud people and don't get near the credit they deserve for what they've contributed to our society.
The second problem that I have is that I don't write fiction. I write school books! I write serious historical treatises! I have written the definitive investigative report on the fall of the Hawaiian Royal Dynasties. Between needing to use fictional names, and the way the history of wizards has been subverted since the dawn of time, at least half the people reading this will still think its fiction. I will write the story despite my misgivings, because I owe my friend more than I could ever repay. I would do anything in my power to accomplish anything he asks simply because he asks. I would do that because I owe him my life and my family's lives, but also because I respect, and love him like a brother. I guess I should qualify that and stipulate a brother that is loved. I never liked my real brother very much. He was a jerk, and jerks irritate me. So, that said, let me get on with the story and tell you about a wizard.