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Traditionally, magic has been divided into five distinct schools: magery (including astral magery and elemental magery), shamanism (also called primal magery), theurgy, and sorcery. Despite these division, all schools of magic inherit from the same basic set of laws and universal principles. Primal magery, elemental magery, astral magery are all subsets of magery, while sorcery and theurgy are both part of the wider school of spiritual magic. Deeper still, magery and spiritual magic share numerous similarities as well, as evidenced by the high number of sorcerers who are equaled adept in the art of magery. Apart from these schools of magic are psychic powers, mental abilities, and other similar phenomenon.
Magery is the art of harnessing aetheric energy and binding that energy to produce a desired effect. Like shamans and elementors, mages harness the energies of nature, the elements, and the aether. Magery, or thaumaturgy as it is often called in technical writings, is the scientific study and practice of magic, exercising the fundamental laws of nature through advanced mathematics, elemental correspondences, and astrological alignments to harness the ever-flowing currents that ebb and flow in the luminiferous aether. This force provides the energy that all mages harness—an energy commonly called aetheric energy, or aethergy.
Mages are particularly adept at controlling aethergy, manipulating natural forces, projecting illusions, and bending the fabric of space itself. Mages can also conjure physical objects by condensing forms in the aether into solidified metaplasmic substance. Although mages can summon and control elemental spirits, most prefer to create artificial aetheric constructs known as egregores, which are similar to spirits, but entirely artificial and designed to carry out a single specific task.
Astral magery is a more advanced form of magery that harnesses the energy of the astral light. Astral mages must employ highly technical processes and mathematical equations to tap aethergy directly from the astral currents. The mage must pour over countless astral charts, ephemeris tables, and ecliptic diagrams, performing meticulous calculations and resolving complex formulas to anticipate changes in the astral currents affected by the influence of planetary motions and celestial alignments. The most experienced astral mages eventually learn to intuitively project these patterns and calculations in their minds, just as an experienced architect can intuitively estimate every facet of a structure’s geometry at a glance. With this ability, an astral mage can harness a seemingly limitless source of energy, drawing down the blazing silver flames of the astral light.
Like astral magery, elemental magery is a subset of magery and deals more specifically with elements, elemental energies, and elemental spirits. Although most mages prefer to deal with illusions, conjurations, aetheric energy, and metaplasmic constructs, elemental mages (who may prefer to be called elementors) deal more directly with the elemental forces of earth, air, fire, stone, water, thunder, light, and lightning, as well as with elemental spirits.
Primal magery, also called shamanism, is fundamentally the same as magery in that both operate on the elements, the aether, and the forces of nature. Primal magery, as it is traditionally understood, deals with plants, animals, healing, natural forces such as wind and rain, and the assorted elemental forces that bind the natural world together.
Generally speaking, all practitioners of primal magic harness the energy within nature to empower their art, be that energy from herbs and crystals, meditative communion with earth spirits, or a profound devotion to nature itself. The cardinal rule observed by all who practice primal magic is simple: “For Nature to be commanded, She must be obeyed.”
The main difference between a mage and a shaman derives from their philosophical perspective of nature. While a shaman perceives all things in nature to be living, and works through a harmonious rapport with nature, a mages tend to see the world as governed by physical laws that can be studied, mastered, and controlled.
The central precepts of spiritual magic can be reduced to one thing—mystical intervention. In essence, spiritual magic works though higher spiritual entities and seeks to compel them to bring about a desired effect. Sorcerers and theurges casts spells to perform miraculous feats, such as healing or warding off an attack. In other cases, the spiritual adepts may call upon the aid of aetheric spiritual or divine powers to grant assistance.
Theurgy literally means “divine-working” and is generally understood to refer to magic as practiced by priests. As far as the Archidoxy is concerned, only Archidox theurges are true theurges; all others are sorcerers and karcists. Archidox theurges are those priests of the Archidoxy who seek to understand the nature of magic, to harness magic in the name of the Archons, and to use magic in the eternal battle against the legions of darkness.
Sorcery and Karcistry
Like theurgy, sorcery calls upon spirits and entities in the aether to bestow magical powers and evoke spells on behalf of the sorcerer. Sorcerers are similar to mages in many respects, but focus their art on summoning and controlling spirits, channeling mystical energies, and unlocking the secrets of the spirit world.
Karcistry represents the seductive power inherent to the grim realm of darkness, death, and decay. Although operatively identical to sorcery, karcistry is essentially the corruption of spiritual magic; karcists are consumed with the lust for power and seek to control the forces of entropy and death. In general, karcists are corrupt theurgists or evil sorcerers who work to summon malevolent spirits, raise the dead, or attain immortality by transforming themselves into an undead lich.
Psychurgy is the power of mind over matter, and its root meaning is “mind working”. Individuals endowed with psychic powers are typically referred to as psychics, psychurgists, or mentalists, although the terms mindbender and psycher are more common colloquialisms. Psychic individuals usually exhibit talents in particular areas, such as clairvoyance, telepathy, or telekinesis, and may prefer the corresponding designation of clairvoyant, telepath, or telekinetic.
Triclopes are by far the most powerful of all psychurgists, and while all Triclopes possess some level of psychic ability, Triclops Lords (who were wiped out at the end of the War of Tyranny) had a degree of ability far beyond anything achievable by humankind.
The Importance of Talismans
Whether a mage, sorcerer, shaman, or theurge, the most powerful item any wielder of magic can possess is his talisman. A mage’s talisman is indispensable in composing empowerments, as the talisman has been crafted to “remember” the resonance patterns of all the spells the mage knows, allowing him to quickly invoke those patterns and cast the spell. A mage can bind empowerments without his talisman, but doing so takes longer and he is unlikely to be able to draw enough ambient aethergy to power the spell, instead having to rely on some other source of aethergy, such as aurium, an aetheric battery, or special alchemicals.
A talisman is unique to its owner alone and must be entirely crafted by him from start to finish. The talisman may of course be anything, but the most popular items to use are wands, staffs, canes, rings, bracelets, amulets, or circlets. But not all talismans are made equally. A novice mage may a very simple and primitive talisman, while a more experienced mage will have a more capable talisman. As a mage progresses in his training, he will construct progressively more sophisticated talismans to handle the ever-widening scope of his magical knowledge. High adepts and archmages would be crippled if they were limited the same talisman they made when they were novices.