An Apprentice's Primer To Magic and the Preternatural
Magic, the act of manipulating reality with supernatural force, is a most misunderstood and often maligned profession that often earns fear and contempt from those who don't understand it. Magic is a field that has been filled with copious amounts of misinformation and false practices, often intentionally, in a conscious effort to prevent it from becoming commonplace or accessible to those not part of the extensive political and diplomatic regime that magicians and Supernaturals have forged over the centuries. This is not a conspiracy or plot, it is simply part of treaty agreements and what all involved parties feel is for the best.
With so much misinformation being part of the territory, identifiying "true magic" is a daunting affair. The easiest way to begin the immense task of explaining magic is to describe what it is not; magic is not shooting fireballs from one's hands, or moving mountains. It is not dependent on some invisible energy field that encompasses all life. Magic is not some inborn talent. All that said there are many fields of magic, but all of them are connected to the act of manipulating spiritual forces.
Magic is a legal system; diplomacy and etiquette are just as important as wisdom and knowledge. It is a code and series of agreements forged out between mortals and powerful beings, for the mutual benefit of mortals and immortals alike. In exchange for the right to invoke the power of a Supernatural, and the Words of Creation and rituals to do such an act, the mortal magus agrees to act as an agent and emissary for that Supernatural's concerns in our plane of existence, whatever that might be. Many magical agreements also see a higher member of a Supernatural race (such as a jinn prince) giving the knowledge of Words to command over lesser-ranking members of his race, his servants and soldiers. This allows the magus to invoke such beings without individual negotiations.
While, however, many forms of magic do not rely on the permission of a higher being to be carried out, the access to such knowledge is tightly controlled by Supernaturals and by what magi have access to them. The spirits of mortals can be manipulated in much the same manner that Supernaturals can, and this class of magic is a dangerous one in the wrong hands. Weaker Words can manipulate a mortal in many different ways, while the most powerful ones can actually rip the spirits from that person's body, slaying them or binding them to the magus' service. As many of the more malevolent Supernaturals, such as fallen angels and shaitans (fallen jinn) commonly use mortal souls as currency, such soul-manipulating magics are often taught to their most favored warlocks and sorcerers.
As much magic depends on the manipulation of spirits, the Words that enact its power drain energy from the potential within a magus' own spirit. This level of spirit energy, if too low, allows a rival magus with the proper knowledge to bind or force out the soul of that magus, enslaving or killing them. A magus whose spirit is depleted is killed, their spirit being pulled into the Abyss and lost for eternity. Most Supernaturals enslaved against their will (such as the demons bound by King Solomon) are done so only after the magus has somehow tricked them into using up much of their spiritual power.
However, spirit energy can be replenished. Invocations exist, mostly angelic in nature, that can grant new power to the magus, and rituals exist that can slowly draw energy from the practicioner's surroundings. However, the most effective means of acquiring additional spirit energy is through sinister means; blood, and the spirit of another sentient being.
Blood is the conduit of spirit energy throughout one's body, much as it is for the more mundane chemical energies that sustain it. This, more than anything else, is the prevailing reason for cases of alleged vampirism, virigin sacrifice, and other such savagery. Blood, once attuned to one's own spirit, can greatly enhance the power of a magus and allow him to use more Words and rituals. The lilu are among the more infamous users of blood and bound spirits as a magic replenisher, and this led to their alleged status as vampires and soul-devouring demons. Refer to the article on the lilu for more information.
Draining the actual spirit of a sentient being is a vastly more affective method of attaining spirit energy, and it is also the most horrific. As a person's immortal spirit is destroyed, they are in essence killed in the most total way possible. Fallen angels, jinn, and lilu, all considered "demons" by most laymen, are amongst the most common users of such dark practices. Spirit Trafficking in the Abyss is a major trade, and mortal magi sometimes use captured souls as bargaining chips during negotiations.
However, extreme care must be taken in replenishing the spirit in such a manner, as there are limits to how saturated a spirit and body can be with energy, even to the attuned conduit of energy that is a magic pracitioner's body. Oversaturation can be as deadly as being drained entirely, as the physical body simply cannot handle that much energy flowing through it. Using blood rituals often do not result in this, but foolish attempts to completely siphon the energy of a captured soul into oneself is usually fatal, unless the consumer is a Supernatural of some sort. Most sorcerers that harness souls for such purposes usually take small amounts at a time, which is of course even more terrifying and cruel on the soul itself.
Throughout history, the use of magic has waxed and waned considerably. During the so-called Classical period, magic was common; so, too, was misinformation to keep average mortals and foolish would-be sorcerers from gaining access. After the fall of Rome and the onset of the Dark Ages, use of magic continued before a concerted effort was made by groups such as the Church and the mysterious Ordo Procella to eliminate its use entirely. While the goals of the Ordo and Rome were quite different their goal was the same, and use of magic and even the misinformation to shield the populace was virtually stamped out in some places. With the onset of the Renaissance and later industrialization, magic and religion alike were dismissed by the onset of scientific thinking, reason, and logic.
However, magic never truly went away; it simply went underground. The more ancient practicioners of magic, such as the lilu, had no participation in mortal kind's perpetual struggles, while some of the "old guard" magi and warlocks of Europe were simply too powerful for the Ordo Procella to put down. Magic began to reassert itself around the turn of the 20th Century, ironically as industrialization was in full swing, and concerted efforts of misinformation were once again launched, with such ideas as a reinvigorated Hermetism and later Thelema to keep magic dismissed as useless superstition. While a tiny amount of truth existed in the manipulation of spiritual forces, what such "magick" lacked was the actual Words of Creation, the knowledge, and a totally distorted vision of the supernatural hierarchy. Some magi claim that a tiny few Thelemic rituals actually "work", but no serious practicioner would claim such a thing.
Today magic is still a small and tightly controlled affair, and there are at a maximum under one thousand practicioners worldwide. However, as last 600 years were rather Darwinian on magicians, most of those who remain are those who are truly powerful and formidable. A "new generation" of wizards and sorcerers has not surfaced in hundreds of years, although rumors persist of some high-profile practicioners attempting to raise a circle of new apprenti. Entering into the field of magic is perilous, and each man or woman who agrees to apprenticeship faces the very real possibility of death or worse. Negotiations can and do go wrong, with often horrifying results.
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That's really cool Soban. It's got a lot of powerful and interesting thematic qualities.
FEEL THESE GUNS ARCHWIND THESE ARE THE GUNS OF THE FLESHY MESSIAH THE TOOLS OF CREATION AND DESTRUCTION THAT WILL ENACT THE LAW OF MAN ACROSS THE UNIVERSE