The Potpourri Hypothesis Tradition / Ritual in Pearl College | World Anvil

The Potpourri Hypothesis

"Magic is, of course, vast and ineffable. Any attempt to codify its workings is doomed to fail. However, just as one can identify a single element in potpourri without explaining the whole, so too can we shed light on some small corners of magic without attempting to define it in its entirety. In this paper, I will attempt to explain..."


The exact wording of the potpourri hypothesis is up to the individual authors, but mentioning potpourri by name has become something of a tradition.   The word "potpourri" came into English from French ("pot-pourri") and to magic from the eccentric genius of Baoying Liang. The chief characteristic of potpourri is that it is a mixture, without any set proportions, repetitive patterns, or even necessary ingredients. Similarly, Magic appears to exist as a mixed bag of forces that is impossible to define as a whole system. Very bad things happen when one tries to define it anyway--unless they're very careful to preface their work with the hypothesis. Also like potpourri ingredients (and scents), different kinds of magic overlap each other. Some are stronger at some times, when certain things have been done, but also weaker at other times, even when you think you've done the exact same damn (Ahem. Please excuse the author's frustration, there was a recent incident with a very public demonstration, and--right. You're not here to hear about that!) things. This may be due to additional "ingredients" being present--or absent--that the caster was unaware of, very much including their own hubris.

Components and tools

The hypothesis takes on whatever form of communication the researcher is using. It's most associated with the written word but also regularly appears in oral speech, such as at the beginning of a course. Inventive (or paranoid) artists and musicians creating works inspired by magic are known to incorporate the hypothesis into their creations as well, such as the trope of including potpourri in portraits of famous occultists and still life paintings of magical instruments.


Pearl College faculty and research teams are required to invoke the hypothesis at the start of any research paper they write, let alone publish. Once Pearl proved that a kind of systematized study of magic was indeed possible, other research centers, schools, and assorted bodies picked it up posthaste.   It is traditional--and prudent--to begin any endeavor that Magic might mislike with the potpourri hypothesis. As such, it is commonly heard at the start of Pearl College courses and written into syllabi as well as included in the formal welcome speech at the start of each annual conference.   No one is entirely sure that invoking the Potpourri Hypothesis this frequently is necessary, but every one is entirely sure that they don't want to find out it is the hard way. Aside from whatever terrifying thing Magic would do to them, they might kick off another The Long Nap¬†and instantly become a pariah to the entire occultist population of the Terra Plane.
Important Locations
Pot Pourri, with additions from Contemplation and by author by Herbert James Draper, edits by Samantha Close