Magick can be defined as the utilization of energy to influence the natural world through supernatural change. This can manifest in a number of ways, including the more 'traditional' schools of magick:
- Thaumaturgy: the practice of elemental manipulation for constructive or destructive ends
- Conjuration: the practice of weaving energy into physical forms and vice verse
- Essation: the practice of quickening the natural course of healing through surgical and magickal means
- Abjuration: the practice of protecting oneself and others through deflection and absorption of energy
- Transmutation: the practice of changing the physical and magickal properties of physical matter in a permanent manner
- Illusion: the practice of changing the physical or magickal characteristics of living or nonliving matter in a non-permanent manner
- Astrologica: the practice of divining the past, present, and future through the study of the stars and astral bodies of the heavens
- Alchemy: the practice of extracting, purifying, and distilling animis from plants, minerals, insects, bone, and much more
- Evocation: the practice of calling forth spirits and otherworldy powers to the physical world; also able to summon information about the physical world itself
Although some magick practices and rituals cannot be categorized in any one or several categories (or none at all), magick is a system based on universal laws. Animis, or the potential magickal will of the user, determines not only the limits of one's ability to influence the physical world but the types of abilities one is capable of. For instance, a student of magick may discover an innate ability to manipulate the flow of elemental matter such as gases or liquids, but may find manipulating solid matter difficult or even impossible. A sanare might have the ability to influence the flow of blood and humours in a humil or ashanti body, but have no talent producing wards that might prevent a corpse from decomposing. Exceptional individuals can work to improve their skills in magick that opposes their unique animis, but such study often takes a great amount of patience and tutelage beneath a talented teacher.
Discovering one's animis takes time, effort, and an open mind. Scholars and magi across the world have attempted to create a ritual or a device to measure or identify the animis of a being without experimentation. But thus far, such technology has eluded even the most brilliant of minds.
Animis naturally occurs in great abundance in many types of matter both living and unliving, including plants both beneficial and poisonous, within the bodies of beasts and animals, solidified within minerals and crystals, liquified or aerosolized into aether (such is present within the Everspring and other natural wellsprings), and even within dead and decaying corpses (although utilizing this final example is usually strongly discouraged). Again, not all animis is the same, as different materials will lend themselves to different weavings of magick (such as Uribuck leather used in the crafting and utilization of energy manipulation vambraces
and the unique brightower silica of luspheres).
It is important to note that while some form of animis is required to perform magick, animis is not energy, strictly speaking. It is speculated to be a supernatural characteristic present in almost everything, much like the ashanti belief of the spiritual 'soul'. Most believe it to be a resource native and unique to the physical world of Tiathys like water or timber. Some postulate it originates with the Goddess Herself, although this is debated in most circles, the most important question being: if animis has a divine origin, how and why is natural animis used in the practice of barbaric and evil acts? Historical scripture and the Goddess Herself are silent on the matter.
According to Eshain tradition, the concept of magick as well as the source of animis can be traced back to the founding of the first civilization of Rehipeti in what would become the lost continent of Preii Valu. It was there that Tiathys Herself instructed The Ashen Priestess and her followers in the earliest forms of conjuration, thaumaturgy, and supernal healing, utilizing a natural overflow of magick that would be named for the Ashen Priestess herself. These primal practices were then refined through the centuries as the descendants of Rehipeti founded Eshain and later Antiell and Edia.
As humils in Rehipeti learned magick in the East, so too did the ashanti learn of magick in the West through the Goddess' influence. With access to the Everspring and an untamed wilderness to call home, their newly-acquired abilities reflected a decidedly natural tone which they used to construct a great civilization that spread from the South Sea as far north as the Wilwor River Basin. Magickal flows and eruptions in the Everspring offered evidence of a second greater Wellspring somewhere to the west. Despite the best efforts of their greatest mystics, however, the ashanti never discovered this second mysterious font of power.
The Mahwiel Ceremony
When Eshain settlers made the long voyage across the Great Ocean in 234 A.L., they found themselves in an arid wasteland almost devoid of vegetation. When their crops failed to grow, scouts attempted to seek out the source of the lifelessness. What they discovered changed their society forever: a wellspring deep underground, like the Pool of the Ashen Priestess in scripture. But this Wellspring did not grant life like the Pool or the Everspring. Instead of a magickal outflow, the Mahwiel (named after the Eshain word for "reverse") is a magickal intake that siphons animis from the surrounding lands into itself. This has a great negative effect on the flora and fauna of the nation that would become Edia, causing most of the far-western territory to become a barren wasteland but leaving the wellspring as an immensely powerful basin of animis.
The aether of the expansive well has few negative effects on humils except for one peculiar ability: in most who partake, memories are altered that cause the imbiber to forget their experiences of visiting the Mahwiel (as well as the knowledge that it even exists).
According to rumor (and Edian scriptural record concealed from the public), Tiathys appeared to the early Edians
and gifted this unique wellspring to their future generations in exchange for the performance of a unique consecration ceremony that She would teach them. They accepted, and dedicated the land of Edia to the Goddess. In this ceremony, all settlers who would become Edians drank of the magickal aether of the wellspring, causing their eyes to reflect the deep red color of the Mahwiel. Unfortunately for Edia's history, drinking of the Mahwiel caused almost all who joined the ceremony to forget its purpose. Those that didn't escorted the forgetful back to their homes and presumably became the first Mahwiel priests. The true purpose of the ceremony has either been completely forgotten or carefully hidden.
Due to the last century of conflict with its neighbors, Edian magick tradition has become semi-mystical and poorly understood by the Ashanti and Antielli. Edian priests insist their practices have returned to the shamanistic ways of the ancient Eshain. Antielli rumor describes Edian magick as foul and detestable, including taboo practices such as humil sacrifice, necromancy, and adoption of blasphemous xa'rith rituals. Only the ignorant and prejudiced believe this, however, despite the vast amounts of state propaganda stating such.
The xa'rith of Edan, having no ability to practice magick at all besides the most basic alchemical arts, view common Antielli, Ashanti, and even Edian magick as repulsive. For centuries, their tribal teachers and elders have warned their children to avoid the plagues of magick, and some even advocate for olmi dravka (xa'rith for "sacred conflict") to stomp out all traces of magick from the face of the earth. Were it not for their small numbers and primitive weapons, they might have made good on their threats - if a known scholar visits Alefeu without protection, it is nearly guaranteed he or she will be dragged into the streets and beaten publicly.
The search for animis and the development of the magickal arts is the main reason for many of history's migrations, including the ancient's migration from Rehipeti to Eshain in 2400 A.L, the settlement of San'Drael by settlers from Eshain in 247 A.L., and the settlement of Aurion in 234 A.L. It's also the primary reason (and martial weapon) for many of the wars of the last five hundred years, most notably the Great War that resulted in the magickal cataclysm and the Wound.
Animis in the form of liquid and gaseous aether can be found in many different parts of the world, from small underground basins to cavernous wellsprings and overflows. Villages and towns have been founded to capitalize on its production and refinement, and academies have developed to study the effects of these supernatural springs on the surrounding plant and animal life.
There are two (possibly three) areas of the world wherein lies little to no animis: all mapped areas within roughly fifteen (15) leagues of the Wound, one-hundred and sixty (160) leagues in every direction surrounding the Mahwiel (purportedly), and the entirety of the northeast landmass of Eshain Ka (now known only as the Blasted Lands). If a scholar wishes to explore these areas, they had better bring a large supply of animis-filled provisions with them, else they'll soon find their over-reliance on magick a heavy burden to bear.