Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

These often mark the limits of Magic (sometimes a time-limit: Cinderella must leave the ball by midnight) or of protection. In the Mabinogion it is a condition of the Wizard Math's existence that his feet must rest in a maiden's lap except in time of war, while Lleu Llaw Gyffes may be killed only while meeting the bizarre condition that he stand with one foot on a goat and the other on a bathtub. Virginity is a frequent condition of Witches' and, less often, Wizards' magic, and is invariably required by catchers of Unicorns. A Genie's powers are restricted by the condition of servitude to its bottle's owner. Visitors to Faerie or Hell should observe the conditions of safety: that they accept no gifts, eat no pomegranates and (in the case of Orpheus) not look back. The bewildered God Ptath in A E van Vogt's The Book of Ptath (1947) is protected by Seven conditions which must be fulfilled before a usurping Goddess can seize his power. In Terry Pratchett's Sourcery (1988) a difficult-to-meet condition (that a born wizard should throw his staff away) is explained as providing the loophole required by Fate in every Prophecy. In Irish Myth, binding conditions placed on characters are known as geases or geasa (> Curses); one of Cuchulain's required him to taste the food at any hearth he passed – he was thus forced to eat dog-flesh before his final battle, so diminishing his powers. [DRL]

see also: Prohibitions.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.