In mythology and literature, a potion is usually made by a magician, dragon, fairy or witch and has magical properties. It is used for various motives including the healing, bewitching or poisoning of people. For example, love potions for those who wish to fall in love (or become deeply infatuated) with another (the love potion figures tragically into most versions of the tale of Tristan and Iseult, including Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde); sleeping potions to cause long-term or eternal sleep (in folklore, this can range from the normal REM sleep to a deathlike coma); and elixirs heal/cure any wound/malady (as in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). Goscinny and Uderzo's character Asterix the Gaul gained superhuman strength from a magic potion brewed by the druid Getafix.
During the 19th century, it was common in certain countries to see wandering charlatans offering curative potions. These were eventually dismissed as quackery.
In modern fantasy, potions are often portrayed as spells in liquid form, capable of causing a variety of effects, including healing, amnesia, infatuation, transformation, invisibility, and invulnerability. Potions have also gained popularity as a standard item in video games, usually as a healing item. The availability of healing potions in the popular Final Fantasy series of games eventually resulted in the release of an actual beverage named "Potion" in Japan by Square Enix, the games' creators.
- John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Potions", p 779 ISBN 0-312-19869-8