Mana

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Mana is an indigenous Pacific islander concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and (debatably) inanimate objects. The word is a cognate in many Oceanic languages, including Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian.

In anthropological discourse, mana as a generalized concept is often understood as a precursor to formal religion. It has commonly been interpreted as "the stuff of which magic is formed," as well as the substance of which souls are made.

Modern fantasy fiction and computer and role-playing games have adopted mana as a term for magic points, an expendable (and often rechargeable) resource out of which magic users form their magical spells.

Contents

Etymology

Mana is a word in South Pacific indigenous languages and more recently a New Zealand English word. See Māori influence on New Zealand English.

In New Zealand

The indigenous word reflects a non-Western view of reality, complicating translating.[1] To quote the New Zealand Ministry of Justice:

Mana and tapu are concepts which have both been attributed single - worded definitions by contemporary writers. As concepts, especially Maori concepts they can not easily be translated in to a single English definition. Both mana and tapu take on a whole range of related meanings depending on their association and the context in which they are being used.[2]

In contemporary New Zealand English, the word "mana", taken from the Maori, refers to a person or organization of people of great personal prestige and character.[3] Sir Edmund Hillary, is considered to have great mana both because of his accomplishments and of how he gave his life to service. Perceived egotism can diminish mana because New Zealand culture tends to shun personal display (see Tall poppy syndrome). A New Zealander might say, "Sir Ed has a lot of mana" even though he is deceased. Also, a New Zealander might say, "Sir Ed brought a lot of mana to the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuit Centre" (OPC) meaning that it has mana because of its association with a man of great mana. However if the OPC did something that was not respected by New Zealanders, it could lose mana.

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