I decided to do a lighter post for today, partly because this post is scheduled and I am at a conference, and partly because we have had some heavy themes this week. I decided on Young Wizards, because "wizard" in traditional tales is often portrayed as old, wise, and Gandalfesque, and I think there is no reason why young people should not also be portrayed as capable of wisdom, and the mental capacities required to wield magic. Take it as the folklore parallel to encouraging young people to go into STEM fields.
Aisha the Demon-hunter
Not only a kick-ass female hero, but also versed in the art of geomancy and looking into the future. I could talk about Aisha for days (I have a full-hour storytelling show about her).
(I included part of her story in my book)
The Three Gold-spinners
In this Estonian folktale, next to an evil old witch, a young Finnish "wind-wizard" also makes an appearance. He speaks the language of the birds, and helps a prince rescue three cursed princesses from the witch.
(Read about the story here)
The Rooster Beam
While the magician's age is not specified in this Grimm story, his illusion is broken and called out by a clever young girl (for which he later takes revenge). How the girl sees through the illusion, and who the wizard is, varies from version to version.
(Read the story, and find sources for other versions here)
The Cave of Salamanca
In Spain and Latin-America several legends exist about the Cave of Salamanca, a place where people can study magical arts from the Devil himself. When they leave after seven years, one of them has to stay behind. In many stories, a clever student who is last in line leaving tells the Devil to get "the one behind him" and the Devil takes his shadow. He becomes a powerful magician, but never has a shadow until the day he dies.
(Read about the legends here)
Very similarly to the previous, garabonciás are Hungarian weather wizards that study in a secret school for thirteen years, and one of them has to die for the others to gain magic powers. They usually take off curses, fight witches, summon dragons, and do other cool stuff.
(Read about them here)
The Master Maid
This is a story type (ATU 313A) in which a young man serves in the court/house of some powerful and evil person (the Devil, a dragon, an evil sorcerer, an evil king, etc.). He falls in love with the man's daughter, who is a very capable young woman also versed in the art of magic (in some Hungarian versions, she learns to use it from a book).
(Read about the story here)
A legendary figure of Hungarian folklore, blessed with superhuman powers. In some version of the story he is a small, strong man, and in some versions he is a young hero who learns magic from a group of fairies after he sneaks into their castle.
(I included a legend about him in my book)
The tale of the Red Princess
From Nizami's Seven Wise princesses. This story features a young and beautiful princess that is known as "the Princess of the Fort" since she prefers living in a fortress guarded by magic statues and studying books and stars instead of getting married. Whoever wants to marry her has to fight his way in, and also answer her riddles. A young prince wins her hand by his own wits, and some help from an old magician.
(Read the story in this book)
Any other young wizards, magicians, and sorceresses that come to mind? I didn't include some of the most well-known ones...