-by Grant Smuts
The book is out, and the world of Amarith is now real to a few people. I figured I should explain one of the major aspects of Where the Gods Lie Dreaming… namely the magic. The following will attempt to summarize the core function of the kind of magic largely encountered in the first book.
Circean magic draws its predominant philosophy of ritual and action from the real-world understanding of both Hermetic and Ritual magic.
The Magic of Amarith
-written by Valagan the Bold, circa 1218 YoA
There is no document that adequately explains the origin of magic in our world, beyond the esoteric myths and legends that predate the Mundane era. The Pre-Mundane world, the days of titans and elder gods, offers itself up to much speculation – the dawn of the human race is a time from which few records have survived. Much of the postulations and hypotheses on magic have been simply that – with very little to corroborate the theses presented by any Academy.
What follows here are therefore the most objective excerpts on magic gathered from premier academies across the length and breadth of Amarith.
First, we’ll examine the most prevalent form of magic on Amarith, the Traditional or Circean Ritual School.
‘Dual Philosophies’ by Caradan Volte
From the outset, it is necessary to distinguish between the two major forms of magic that occur in Amarith: Circean and Chrysalline (or Geo-Adventian). Circean magic, as the name suggests, draws its power from Amarith’s second moon, gifting mages with a supreme command over the forces both visible and invisible upon the mortal plane.
Despite its name, Circean magic predates the rising of Circea by many millenia, albeit in a far more muted form. This fact necessitated the distinction of the term ‘wizardry’ from simple ‘magicks’. The modern conception of wizardry arises with the increased power (and the resulting formalizing of magical learning and training) granted from Circea, whereas magicks has now become a catch-all term for any magical effect or ability. What became immediately evident with Circea’s rising was that the simple magical ability demonstrated by many entities across Amarith is woefully inefficient compared to more powerful ‘true’ wizardry. That said, it should be stated that virtually everyone in the world is capable of magic to some degree, possessing some potential, however limited, to tap, by learning or luck, into the arcane mysteries of the elder planes. However, Circea’s rising made it clear to many of the most attuned that what man had instinctively been doing throughout the eons had been relying on some ideal of the distant planes. They noted, as they had never noted before, how their hands, their arms, and sometimes their bodies traced the paths to extra-material regions, rendered to them in their minds as luminous paths. By tracing the paths with merely their hands, they gain access to powers granted by the universe. The path, as it always had (though it was not always known), depended on knowledge.
The first lesson, the first path, as always, was the Binding Circle.
The Binding Circle
The binding circle is the key, and it is the gate. Through it the wizard traverses, guiding the powers in their raw form through the gate, forming and defining them upon the threshold. The Binding Circle is the doorway, the portal created by the wizard, through which he might, by the power of his voice, spirit and will, command the elder powers of the universe to manifest. Yet it is only the manifestation – the power must still be shaped, or face dissolution into nothing. From here come the binding seals, which grants both power and limitation.
The Binding Seals
The Binding Seals are the runes of power, which stand as substitutes for the roads within the elder planes. The runes define the energy, often in terms of the material plane, taking on a form with which the wizard is comfortable or familiar with. Yet the runes, though they transmute the energy into something recognizable, grant neither force nor power – the energy, though now defined, remains formless. They must yet be given shape and meaning.
The Binding Words
The words of power, awakened by Circea’s advent, are tales of hidden power that bleed through from the forgotten planes in the dreams of awakened wizards, shamans and mystics. The binding words are tales that echo from the dawn of the universe, recounting of lost battles, heroic adventures, or telling of the memories of ancient kings and queens from lost days of creation’s beginning. The binding words reflect the energy which pours through portal and which are bound with runes. The words provide the force and form in which the magic materializes in the world.
Many of the binding words are vast stories, rendering some spell-casting impractical… but wizards developed a shorthand over time, using excerpts of the spells for quick incantations, allowing them to cast magic almost instantaneously, while sacrificing a large portion of the spell’s power.
Other short-cut methods apply, with wizards using rings, bracelets – virtually any circular ornamentation, inscribed with runes to ‘prime’ themselves for quick casting – as seen by Cloudrend’s battlemages who usually prime an offensive spell to the rings they wear. It should be noted however, that only one spell can be bound to any one object at a time. Also, the casting of the spell erodes the ornament – theoretically a wizard with a bound ring could cast a spell until either his mana expires or the ring crumbles to dust on his finger. Certain metals erode at a far slower rate than others – Ingedrium, tungsten and white gold are considered to be the finest metals for binding spells, due to their longevity.
Mages also utilize wands and staves as a focus for their magic, or to assist in the drawing of the circle. Certain types of wood allow for a greater focus of magic, though metal staves and wands are not unheard of. In contrast to the common opinion, a wizard’s power does not derive from his paraphernalia; instead the wand, staff or ring is meant to serve as either a shortcut to their spell-casting, or to add focus and precision to their magic.
These are the three processes of traditional, Circean Magic. Many felt that it would have been displaced by the rise of Chrysalline Magic, but as awareness grew of the rather situational requirements of the latter, many wizards prefer the traditional art for its versatility, and for its admittedly greater power.
Next: The Magic of Amarith Pt2: Chrysalline Magic
*imagery from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.