The History of Mana

Like 'tattoo,' 'taboo' and 'tiki,' 'mana' is a word from the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. In twenty-seven of these languages, the word mana means something like 'supernatural power.' Pacific Island cultures are the origin of the concept of mana, and yet more people in the world have learned about the concept from WoW or other fantasy games. The concept is a staple of the global culture of fantasy novels and video games, many of which feature a blue bar of magical energy called 'mana.'But how did this happen? How did a concept from Pago Pago become part of global gaming culture? How did an Austronesian spiritual force come on board the Exodar, and become part of the life of my draenei shaman? To answer this question we have to return to the Pacific, and to the Austronesians themselves.

The History of Mana