I’ve been struggling with this question for the past few weeks. Or months.
I don’t particularly like to think of it as a particle (unless I start going toward photons). I considered making it a force of some sort, but I don’t know enough about physics point blank to just make that decision.
In a way, I’m tempted to call it something ethereal, to say we don’t really know what it is, but if I do that, how am I supposed to decide on its properties? On the laws that govern it? How can I be consistent with its functions?
Part of me wants to say that magic is like life (or perhaps even not completely distinguishable from life)—not an essence or a thing, but a quality of something that is difficult to define on its own. I mean, many people say that plants are alive as well as humans, but we have different qualities that seem to define that—except cells are a thing. Is life defined by the ability to grow and divide and reproduce?
Scientifically, it might be. In my mind, and in this world, magic does not have the ability to create more magic.
Google itself doesn’t appear to be entirely certain, either:
the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces
Apparently influencing the course of events.
I see magic as a tool. It is generally something almost everyone—or everyone—or only some people have the ability to manipulate. It is something that has no alignment of its own—it is neither dark nor light nor good nor evil—it all depends on what the user intends and does. But some magics are inherently wrong—unnatural? That doesn’t work if magic itself is natural—like bringing back the dead.
I’ve been chasing myself in circles like these for so long that, even though I want to define magic for logical purposes following, I don’t quite know how.
For now, I call it an essence—the essence of nature.
What is magic to you?
Do you try to define it in your worldbuilding?
DO you mind when it isn’t clearly explain in your reading?