Magic & Alchemy
What is magic? A better question might be, “what is magic not?” Magic is not a power granted by the spirits, although theurgy appeals to spiritual forces through devotion and prayer. Magic is not governed by the whims of supernatural beings, although entities may be conjured from the aether. Magic is not a force such as magnetism or inertia, although magic may be used to bind and direct those forces.
In short, magic is the manipulation of energy to produce a desired effect.
The student of magic must first understand that nothing supernatural exists and that all phenomena are natural. Nature abounds with the living energies of the universe—what has been defined by scholars as heat, light, magnetism, electricity, and aethergy. So too do all things abound with the energy of magic. The former is merely an aspect of the latter, and the latter a manifestation of the former. Any divisions that is perceived to exist between the realms of science and magic are merely illusions. Both are true and proper philosophies, inseparable and intertwined. Physics, alchemy, and medicine draw upon the forces of nature, as do the arts of magery, alchemy, and theurgy.
Magic is a quest for understanding the art of controlling and harnessing the forces of nature. Magic may be a healing hand or a deadly curse, a seductive love potion or an empowerment to bring floods and famine. Magic is neither black nor white, neither good nor evil. Most important of all, magic is not a thing. Magic is a process. It is a philosophy, a science, a way of seeing and controlling the natural world. And magic exists within each and every one of us.
– The Principals of Magic
Mages bind chords of aetheric resonance into harmonic patterns called empowerments, or spells. To quickly perform these complex bindings, mages will use their talisman, which has been imbued with crystones and empowerments to aid in spellbinding and to help them channel ambient aethergy. They may also burn aurium or take aethergy from other available sources to gain more aethergy. Empowerments can be infused into crystones, and these crystones can be arranged on weapons, armor, and items, making those items empowered items.
But binding empowerments is not simply a matter of whispering a few cryptic words and waving a wand, although to an outside observer it may appear to be so. Like an exquisitely orchestrated symphony, every empowerment must be composed by weaving chords of aetheric resonance into a single harmonious pattern in the aether. A mage is very much like a composer, and just as a musician must dedicate a lifetime to music, the mage must dedicate a lifetime of learning and tireless dedication to the art of magery.
Traditionally, magic has been divided into four distinct schools or branches: magery, shamanism, theurgy, and sorcery. Despite these divisions, all schools of magic actually inherit from the same basic set of laws and universal principles. Shamanism, elemental magergy, and astral magery are all subsets of magery, while sorcery and theurgy are both part of the wider school of spiritual magic.
The following section gives an overview of the various powers associated with the aetheric resonances, as categorized into their common domains.
Alchemy is concerned with the purification, transmutation, and distillation of metals, minerals, and elements. It is a process by which the magical essence inherent in all things is tapped to release energy or to mix and transmute the base elements of substances, recombining them into new substances. Alchemy has become the cornerstone of the modern world, giving rise to such wondrous substances as whitepowder, ichor fuel, lifting gases, extraordinary alloys, and miraculous medicines.