Xorus (prime)/Scholarship/Meditations on Arcane Magic (lecture)

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The following log comprises the full speech and a few details before and after, along with relevant questions.

This was the Faendryl Symposium of 5123, which took place on 09/24/5123 at the Alabaster Spire.

Speaking to Xorus, Ysharra asks, "Isn't your career one big spoiler after another?"

Xorus says, "I prefer the shocking twists and tragic endings."

The stars above Melgorehn's Reach seem to multiply, as if reflecting a mirror image of the mountain before they return to normal.

Speaking to Xorus, Ysharra says, "I have good news for you, then. It's very, very likely that your life will also feature those in stellar pace and intensity."

Xorus says, "The stars did just come out."

Xorus says, "Good evening."

Xorus says, "The Faendryl are intimately associated with 'sorcery'. As we all surely know."

Xorus wryly says, "They will never let us forget it, not that we are trying."

Xorus says, "Some would even equate us with it."

Xorus says, "There are those of us, of course, who would instead equate it with us."

Xorus says, "'All true sorcery is Faendryl sorcery.' That kind of thing."

Xorus asks, "But would our ancestors agree with this sentiment?"

Xorus says, "Or would they find it.. strange..."

Xorus asks, "... and weirdly motivated?"

Xorus says, "By certain things in our history that, from their point of view, had not happened yet and would have no meaning."

Xorus says, "Much as our state historians enjoy playing up the historical precedents for our contemporary ideologies..."

Xorus says, "... that is not necessarily respecting the past in its own terms."

Xorus says, "When you are speaking of House Faendryl in the Second Age, truthfully, Korthyr likely would not have thought sorcery relevant at all."

Xorus says, "He was forming a city-state with central power out of an older landed aristocracy."

Xorus says, "Nevertheless, as it is said, even by Meachreasim Illistim, the Faendryl were regarded as the natural leaders of the Elven Empire."

Xorus says, "For the reason that we had most mastered both elemental and spiritual magic."

Xorus says, "This was something that took some time to emerge."

Xorus says, "House Faendryl did not truly solidify until Yshryth Silvius brought the other noble families to heel under the Patriarchy."

Xorus says, "But the sense in this is that in that time period, the Elves were beginning to develop their own schools of magic."

Xorus says, "In the dark ages they had spiritual magic that was imparted by the Arkati."

Xorus says, "What the Elves sought to do was wield magic wholly on their own."

Xorus says, "The trouble is that wielding the raw essence in an undifferentiated way is very difficult."

Xorus says, "Call it 'flow magic', if you like, I prefer to call it Arcane."

Xorus says, "For even flow magic may be wielded in narrower forms."

Xorus says, "But there are what you might consider natural fault lines, constraints in how we beings of flesh and blood are able to wield the essence."

Xorus says, "There are what you could call esoteric ways of manipulating the essence without rational understanding."

Xorus says, "The kind of thing done by druids and shamans, or sympathetic magic, such as witchcraft and 'blood magic'."

Xorus says, "Something like informal cousins of ritual theurgy."

Xorus says, "While on the other hand there is exoteric spellcraft, which seeks to rationally order magic into systems of rules."

(Lylia can't seem to keep an expression of mild disdain from her face at the mention of sympathetic magic.)

Xorus says, "Into what might be considered mechanisms of cause and effect."

Xorus says, "Much more predictable, regular, and controlled."

Xorus says, "Within this we might refer to 'theurgy' for spells channeled from other sources, and 'thaumaturgy' as those manipulated directly by ourselves."

Xorus says, "And so it is we have fault lines for splitting magic into separate realms or spheres."

Xorus says, "There were some magicians who sought to cut nature at its joints."

Xorus says, "With the Illistim and Ashrim there was a tendency toward developing magic of the elements."

Xorus says, "Thaumaturgical magic is especially prone to elemental manifestations."

Xorus says, "When you restrict yourself to a single modality of magic, it is less difficult to craft new spells."

Xorus says, "At least from the Arcanist point of view. Others would say those 'pure' modes are fundamental."

Xorus says, "They might call them the fundamental harmonics of the spheres."

Xorus says, "As though magic were a kind of music."

Xorus says, "It is a debate of high pitch, as you may well imagine. But I am getting ahead of myself."

Ysharra says, "I see what you did there."

Xorus says, "The Ardenai of course had 'nature' proclivities, which tends toward spiritual magic."

Xorus says, "Speaking crudely in terms of House stereotypes."

Xorus says, "Esotericism in turn led to various things such as empathy, or occultism, various precursors to the kind of thaumaturgical 'mentalism' of the Erithi."

Xorus says, "Much as one may fashion what we like to call 'rote spells' in single realms, so we may also have narrower kinds of flow magic."

Xorus asks, "What of Arcane magic?"

Xorus says, "If we were to imagine the three 'spheres of magic' as instead a single sphere, they would be as movement constrained to a single degree of motion."

Xorus says, "Elementalism and spiritualism might be the angular motions, of either latitude or longitude, but not both simultaneously."

Xorus says, "While 'mentalism' would be only radial spokes of 'in and out', not arcs of 'up and down' or 'side to side'."

Xorus says, "We might call these slices of the sphere the 'spell circles'."

Xorus says, "In this analogy 'rote' Arcane magic would be little bits and chords taken from any of the circles."

Xorus says, "While its 'flow' would be the freedom to move any which way at will in three dimensions."

Xorus says, "Which is immeasurably more complicated and impractical to wield."

Xorus says, "Arcane is the undifferentiated raw essence, and in some sense, it is 'naturally' esoteric and irrational."

Xorus says, "Those with a talent for magic all have at least a minor capacity for the Arcane."

Xorus says, "Others, such as the woman you all call 'the invoker', are more prodigal."

Xorus says, "Sorcery in its oldest sense might be regarded as an inherently destructive mode of Arcane magic."

Xorus says, "And so it is that there are unschooled 'sorcerers' in all sorts of cultures."

Xorus says, "House Faendryl, more than any of the other Houses, sought to make thaumaturgical magic of the Arcane."

Xorus says, "Now, as it happens, 'sorcery' is significantly less difficult."

Xorus says, "In the most classical form of thaumaturgical sorcery, it is narrowly focused on the immediate, specific destruction of inanimate or animate matter."

Xorus says, "By this I mean a 'limb disrupt' spell only disrupts limbs, not internal organs or inanimate rocks."

Xorus says, "When the spells are destructive of the mind, it even has a superficial similarity with darker forms of mentalism."

Xorus says, "It involves channeling toward a specific target and turning its own essence against itself."

Xorus says, "Which you might call a 'hybrid' of two modalities."

Xorus says, "This is the character of 'mana disruption', disintegration, the so-called 'dark catalyst', and so forth."

Xorus says, "The narrowness of this is something like reducing the Arcane to two realms and only attempting to be destructive with it."

Xorus says, "Which would be like making diagonal 'spell circles' on the surface of the sphere, with 'flow sorcery' having somewhat more freedom of motion in this fashion."

Xorus says, "Such would be a model from the perspective of preternatural monism."

Xorus says, "Those who support the primacy of separate 'spheres of magic' would disagree with this model."

Xorus says, "Regarding 'Arcane' magic as merely an eclectic hodge podge mixed with sorcery."

Xorus says, "It is only a messier collision of incompatible forces."

Xorus says, "Discordant harmonies, magical cacophony."

Xorus says, "So, we have a philosophical dispute at the foundations of magic, between 'monists' and 'separatists'."

Xorus says, "Or whatever terms you wish to use for those metaphysical positions."

Xorus says, "Separatists regard the two or three 'spheres of magic' as fundamental with distinct forms of mana."

Xorus says, "They would say sorcery is the unnatural fusion or combination of separate kinds of power."

Xorus says, "Monists would say such convention schemes are ultimately arbitrary."

Udari asks, "Like Dark Magic?"

Xorus says, "I will be getting to dark magic."

Xorus says, "That we could just as well have developed magic into four realms, say, such as elemental and lunar, life and holy."

Xorus says, "And that there is only the singular essence, its wielders hobbling their own ways of manipulating it."

Xorus says, "They would consider sorcery to be a less differentiated form of magic."

Xorus says, "And that the separatists will have to define different kinds of sorcery for all the various combinations of powers."

Xorus says, "This is a somewhat academic debate as it makes no practical difference."

Xorus says, "The point is that the universalism or cosmicism of House Faendryl is what naturally led them to becoming pre-eminent in thaumaturgical sorcery."

Xorus says, "What is considered 'sorcery' has changed over thousands of years."

Xorus says, "By its very nature, making use of essences of other existences with our own 'mana' will in some sense be sorcery, in terms broader than its original definition."

Xorus says, "One is led 'naturally' to it from classical sorcery, as soon as one learns to turn the essence of the veil against itself."

Xorus says, "Which Elizhabet Mahkra did over 40,000 years ago."

Xorus says, "But, of course, essences from other realities are not natural to our own, so wielding them into magic is unavoidably mixed with that of our world."

Xorus says, "Whether you wish to call that combining or fusing them unnaturally, or finding and unifying more primal forms of power."

Xorus says, "And that is why in the present age we speak instead of 'demonology' and 'necromancy' instead of 'inanimate' and 'animate' matter."

Xorus says, "But it is also why House Faendryl was not condemned as a bunch of demon summoners and necromancers during the Elven Empire."

Xorus says, "Such things were deemed 'black arts', and of wholly different origins."

Xorus says, "The Faendryl attitude on this, of course, has evolved greatly."

Xorus says, "Certain traditions have merged with sorcery."

Xorus says, "What we now call 'the dark arts'."

Xorus asks, "But why do we not all simply wield Arcane magic?"

Xorus says, "When 'classical sorcery' focuses on a specific kind of matter, that has the effect of acting as a confound."

Xorus says, "Which is to say a mediating augment to its spell power, as sorcery is otherwise immediate in action."

Xorus says, "There are confounds involved in all of the specialized forms of magic."

Xorus says, "Mages attune themselves to the elemental planes, clerics to 'divine' spirits and the spiritual planes, and druids to the forces of nature or lesser spirits."

Xorus says, "Similarly, blood is used as the confound of what is usually meant by 'blood magic', which is distinct from 'magic merely involving blood'."

Xorus says, "While liches are infamous for their use and dependence upon soul phylacteries."

Xorus says, "Witches often make use of vermin such as ichor maggots or scarabs, which they might host inside their own bodies."

Xorus says, "Granted, 'witch' is a word that is very often used to refer to other, much more benign kinds of magic."

You say, "Just so."

Xorus says, "But when I speak of 'witches' in this sense, I mean the black arts of 'witches' such as Raznel."

Xorus says, "Contemporary sorcery, of course, has shifted from its roots."

Xorus says, "Necromancers make use of life forces in what might be called thanatology, and demonologists will attune to the demonic valences, and sorcerous elements such as balefire which is extraplanar in origin."

Xorus says, "But with Arcane magic the ideal is to have utter flexibility over the wielding of spells."

Xorus says, "In practice it is difficult to wield the more powerful spells of specialized magic without having self-limited oneself with attunement."

Xorus says, "It is why we most often instead rely on magical artifacts as mediating substances."

Xorus says, "In principle the Arcanists are able to themselves cast much of the 'rote magic' of any of the spheres of magic."

Xorus says, "The most familiar and quintessential example of this is the so-called 'Fash'lo'nae's Gift' spell."

Xorus says, "Except that particular spell is in general mediated with the aid of magical items."

Xorus says, "It is a way of allowing 'pures' to be arcanist in a narrow way."

Xorus says, "Much of Arcane magic might be accomplished instead within single spheres, but not all from the same one, for it takes the Arcanist to be flexible enough to wield between them."

Xorus says, "Most who attempt the Arcane will only be 'hybrids' of some kind due to sheer impracticality."

Xorus says, "Still, it is specially suited for more fundamental forms of magics, such as major portals or metamagical transformations."

Xorus says, "Whether that is making a 'nightmare' into a 'nightmare fog', or transmogrifying creatures into unnatural chimeras."

Xorus says, "Let us embrace then this universalist and cosmic tradition of House Faendryl."

Xorus concludes, "As 'our discipline rules all worlds'."

Ysharra asks, "Could you speak a little more about chimeras?"

Ysharra says, "I have heard mention of them, of course, in the Empire."

Ysharra says, "But I know very little about them."

Xorus says, "It is the unnatural crossing of kinds of beings, animals or humanoids or what-have-you, making new kinds of creatures such as the manticore or centaur."

Xorus says, "Thurfel did some experiments along these lines. The old city of Ta'Faendryl has numerous surviving escaped experiments."

Xorus says, "But it is most often a dark magic practice, such as the 'chimeras' that Elithain Cross made from the blood of his followers."

Xorus says, "So-called dark elves living in the southern wastelands, which are tainted with the dark essence of the Ur-Daemon."

Xorus says, "The Ur-Daemon are never truly dead, their body parts may be partly revived with their blood."

Xorus says, "Such relics are profoundly corrupting."

Xorus says, "That is what happened to the Luukosians of the Sanctum of Scales."

Xorus says, "Their high priest, or at least in the absence of Tseleth, had acquired the Eye of Goseth."

Xorus asks, "The Shahiath?"

Xorus says, "I am not familiar."

Earthdiver says, "Who rules in the black heavens, ever hungering."

Thrassus says, "Sounds like an alternate name for Marlu."

Xorus says, "That sounds like Althedeus."

Earthdiver says, "The fanatics of the Sanctum are oft heard repeating this."

Thrassus says, "Or that, yes."

Xorus says, "The Ithzir called it Grak'na'Den, which means 'father of the black heavens'."

Xorus says, "They might be speaking of Goseth. I do not know. I will have to spend some time with them."

Ysharra asks, "Yukito is asking this question: May I ask more about this idea of a unified magic circle? I can imagine the Spiritual and Elemental... elements as intersecting lines of a grid. So when you throw the idea of Mental there, you can concievably ray that out into a sphere or whole, in my mind. Yes?"

Ysharra says, "Yukito seeks to clarify his understanding."

Ysharra asks, "And furthermore: Going further... If I view it that way, perhaps it would be possible to map magical coordinates for exactly the effect you want? This is for my own visualization, mind, but I can almost see it as a constellation, and if you are disciplined or powerful enough, you can precisely choose what is needed?"

Xorus says, "Mentalism it could be argued is akin to Arcane in that way, with its focuse on manipulating one's own internal 'aura' or essences."

Xorus says, "With this analogy you can 'cover' the sphere with an infinite number of each kind of 'spell circle'."

Xorus says, "The radial notion of Mentalism could be thought of as a circle that is stretched into an ellipse so thin and eccentric it is like a straight line."

Xorus says, "But then such a metaphor only takes us so far literally."

Xorus says, "The Magister no doubt would have liked to discuss stereographic projections of the sphere onto planes."

You ask, "Nyaria had had a question about chimeras, specifically if the magics used to create them is still extant in the world or has been lost to us?"

Xorus says, "Scholars of the valences engage in all sorts of higher dimensional geometrical speculation to try to grapple with magic and the planes."

Xorus says, "Chimera making is not what I would consider common magic, and it is usually some sort of dark magic transmogrification."

Xorus says, "But it still happens. Thurfel was only two decades ago. And Elithain Cross was less than a decade ago."

Udari says, "I do understand that magic is like floating ice rock in water."

Udari says, "You dont see its full size. Only the top."

Udari says, "I got more respect for you wagglers."

You say, "I feel some people only see the portion above the waves, and I flatter myself by believing I see the entirety of it more clearly. And then I talk to Xorus, who is all the ocean surrounding it."