How the magick works

Last time on Work in progress: I told you how I came up with my idea for Tellurin’s magic system, and the dark history of the craft.

But how does it work, you ask?  We all have Robert Heinlein to thank for that.

Ever read Stranger in a Strange Land?  Excellent, then you’ll know what I mean when I say “grok.”  You might even grok it 🙂

Grokking was what Martians did.  They raised Valentine Michael Smith and taught him how to do it.  When Val eventually came to earth, he started to teach humans how to do it too.

Grokking, is not just understanding a thing, it is understanding it in every way possible, through all the senses, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and sub-atomically.  Val could grok something so completely, it would cease to exist, having achieved its greatest purpose in having been so completely understood.  Yes, extreme grokking means understanding something into non-existence.

It’s not exactly the same thing, but sourcery and magick work in a similar way.  Sourcerors manipulate a thing by understanding its nature.  They understand a thing in its molecular structure, by its DNA, though they don’t call it that, and perhaps even to its atomic structure, but no further, and this understanding works on an instinctual basis.  No sourceror ever thinks in terms of modern science.  It’s just not a part of their vocabulary.

As I wrote in last week’s post, the source is a special kind of energy, but it’s still energy, and everything in Tellurin possesses its share.

Those born with a talent are also born with the innate understanding of how to use that talent.  The Agrothe magi have attempted to subvert those talents to their own ends.  They delay the expression of latent talents through their arduous initiation process and indoctrinate their students into thinking that their powers must somehow be “unlocked.”  If left to their own devices, anyone with talent could figure out how to use it on their own.  The Agrothe just want to ensure that the talent develops in an ethical framework.  Theirs.

Georges Merle’s The Sorceress.

As a child, the first creatures Ferathainn understood were the spirits of things: grass, flowers, rocks and trees all “talked” to her.  Because of this talent, Ferathainn understands the spirits of things well enough to evoke their qualities.  She can summon them too, though Aeldred hasn’t explained that what she’s doing is summoning.  He doesn’t want her to run amok.

With people, this understanding takes the form of being able to use thought speech.  Though she does not know it, Ferathainn can also read minds and project her thoughts into the minds of others.  Aeldred, not being a skilled mind-mage, has discouraged this avenue of Ferathainn’s development to the best of his ability.

Ferathainn’s understanding of spirits is also what makes it possible for her to excel at spirit travel.

Ultimately, her understanding of spirits will enable Ferathainn to master all of the elemental powers and talents, beginning with the earth, geomancy.  Hence, Initiate of Stone.

A note on source theft, farming, or poaching

As I mentioned last week, a person’s share of source is attached to their spirit or soul.  It’s part of what makes each person what he or she is.  Because of this, the soul and source may be called at the moment of death and taken by another sourceror.  This is usually accomplished by calling the source by its name, which for most people, is their everyday name.

Clever sourcerors have adopted source names, but these can easily be discovered by an adept mind-mage and so are no guarantee of protection.

In taking another person’s source, the sourceror risks taking not only the victim’s power, but also their personality and memories.  This can lead to insanity unless the sourceror can figure out a way to filter out the undesirable bits of the victim.

Waterhouse’s The Sorceress.

So … everything Ferathainn does is magic 🙂

Next week: a worldbuilding vacation.  I’m going to write about my most recent draft of IoS and what it’s taught me.  Stay tuned.