Magic and Maji

I tend to be fairly particular about language (it’s something of an obsession) but I bit off a bit of a whopper with writing fantasy containing Maji->Magic->Mages, and having entirely other supernatural practices beyond the scope of this nomenclature.

Magic within O&E is a rather particular thing; it is the spell craft of Mages, who took the title from the same root as Maji, who were the original practitioners from ancient Osyrae that spread the practice through the world.  For confounding fun the Maji were not originally mages, or even necessarily the inventors of magic as  a group.

Magic won – and that is a rather important point.  Mages tend to be the most highly educated people of their world (on average,) and tend to be particular about the term.  However the cost of their near complete dominance in the field of gifted practice is that to the commoner, all gifted practices are magic.  First world problems, as it were.

So it is that a stable boy might call something magic, that is really druidic, channeling, the healing arts, or something more exotic still.  Just like literally is used by some to mean figuratively, and like as a short hand for hyperbole.  That will give you some context how miffed Laurel might be at Sasha’s use of the word magic in Chapter 2.  I say this with some humor, but less to dog on the habits of modern speakers, as to point out that language is a fluid thing.

Lycians refer to the living magic, as something of an offshoot of their origin.  Their order was founded by a mage after all.  Though they practice little, or no magic.  She was even a rather particular bookish woman, but none the less the term stuck.

Druids (we’ll meet some, some day) would likely border on offended to refer to most of their practices as magic.  Since Druids tend to feel Mages subvert the natural order too much.

I try to maintain a fairly clear meaning to words around the supernatural practices encountered through the pages of O&E.  Channeling (using the leverage of existing forces,) conjuring (brute force,) and magic (spell craft, or a branch of it at least) all mean different things, but the lines can be blurred.  These are ultimately techniques for manifesting super-physical effects, rather than truly discrete.

I tend to favor ‘rational’ powers as a write.  That is that they follow some type of internal logic, and do an end run around physics, rather than completely subverting it.  There are few or no shape-shifters in the world.  Physical transformation is possible, but difficult, possibly extreme, and tends to be one directional.  (A particular example shows up (subtly) in chapter 4 as a historical story.)

The energy for all of this has to come from somewhere.  The ‘aether’ is a limitless power source, but comes at a cost.  Taking from theoretical physics energy can be borrowed (virtual particles) but must be paid back – entropy takes its due – and while an increase in ‘useful energy’ in one area occurs (order) the energetic state of the surroundings is lowered.  Certain enchanted objects actually degrade nearby materials over time in this exchange.

This all being said one can get clever.  Rather than taking all of the energy for the aether, one type of energy in the environment can be traded for another.  Heat converted to visible light for instance.  (What the common light orbs through out the story do.)  Carrying this further heat can be converted into kinetic energy, condensing and crystalizing air into a razor sharp projectile – or easier still like can be traded for like, shedding ones own momentum into the air around them to stop a fall.

Any way, at some point I’ll post a longer treatise on magic, spell craft, and gift (possibly in character as an excerpt from a fictional book,) but I thought I’d share this glimpse for the curious.


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