Magic is said to be alive, to think, to ponder, to exist in all things and as part of all that is and was and will be because magic comes in some way from the interaction of The Pale with the Planes and Dimensions, and what it creates is the power itself, always a part of the greater Pale, and yet we can see and feel and shape it as Mages of assorted typed. The Pale is thought by many to be the ultimate source of all Magic, and the Well of Souls is sometimes called the Well of Magic, while the Voes is said to be the Path of magic, birthed from the Eternal Flame.
For evidence that Magic does not change the rules, look to the nature of what Magic cannot do.
It cannot reduce complexity. It cannot change Time, save for a scant few moments of movement within it. The more complex the spell one does, the more difficult that writhing mass becomes to shape and hold and release. We are still learning the limits of what that complexity is – while a Power That Is may casually walk by and move a mountain, we Mages have neither the strength of magic nor the capacity to grasp that vast and complex a working within our minds, even for the short while to cast it.
Magic cannot force someone to reveal their true name. It can be used to uncover it, but a true name cannot be yanked out of the person so named. Mages have limits on their ability to alter things at range. Magic does not, but we are the ones using it, and we have limits on our range of influence, for all the grand and glorious power that we do have. Magic cannot hide or obfuscate a manifestation. Magic has a price, and many have not realized how dear that price can be until it is too late.
Magic bends those forces; it does not create new ones. It has guidelines that it seems to follow, and so we mages must follow them as well.
What is a Mage, you ask? Mages are anyone who uses magic spells outside of a ritual on Wyrlde. If there is a manifestation, then it is magic, and the person is a mage. Mages are those who can use magic without resorting to a ritual, who do not have a need for imbued or ingrained objects; a different group entirely.
We cannot do anything merely because we can conceive of it, like Powers and Old Ones and Spirits, but we are Mortals, after all, and they are not. That should also give you thought about why a Mage cannot bring the mountain to them, but Gods can.
Anyone can ultimately be involved in the casting of a spell, through participating in a ritual, usually in a designated space that has been carefully prepared. Even if they do not have the gift of magic, even if they are a Null, they all possess at least some mana, and it is this that they tap into, and this is why rituals are almost always involving many people, for they have to use the number of people to provide the mana. However, rituals still must have someone who has the Gift, someone who is still a Mage, to lead the ritual.
While nearly everyone has some degree of capacity to hold and generate at least some orgone, only some have the capacity to draw more of it into themselves, to use it to shape effects, and to serve their own desires. If there is one thing I can say from all the years of gathering dust here, it is that magic likes to be entertained.
What we do know about Mages is that when they are properly trained, they can do much, much more than if they were to try and teach themselves, though of course we all ultimately learned from someone who taught themselves and then taught others. The greater your facility, the broader your knowledge, the deeper your dedication to the task of learning, the greater your capability with magic.
Mages are born with a capacity to do magic, yes, but more importantly they have the ability to build up mana, to store it in themselves, and then direct it at will. This combination of factors is important, and the two combined are called the Gift of Magic.
It is not a matter of degree, and it is not limited to any given heritage, nor is it directly Inherited – just because one person has the ability does not mean that their parents, siblings, or children will have it.
To discover if someone has that power to both cast spells and store mana is quite easy, though it is believed that less than half of the total population has the capacity. Identifying children who can use magic is a big business. Akadian Lords pay well for those who are young enough, so that they can continue to gain more mages under their control in seeking just the right person to inherit their secret arts and hoarded spells.
To identify someone, all that is done is a child is asked to read from a piece of paper.
The paper is written in Caligulan, the language of magic, which only those with the Gift of Magic can see and read (and never need training to do so). This works down to the age of six. Younger than that and it doesn’t seem to function.
For Servants, Caligulan is still used, but they are bestowed their Gift and granted a Weird – a mark in the form of a holy symbol that denotes them as having been given in service to a god. This is key because Servants exist outside the normal structure of a priesthood, and though they can always request space in a temple, they are still outsiders who are subject to jealousy and envy.
Culturally, Magic is nominally structured in support of noble powers and is intended to support the current order of things. Most mages work for a noble or other force, however some do not, and they are treated as risky, untrustworthy, and dangerous. For this reason, most mages do not advertise themselves as such – they will pretend to be something else among the common folk. There is a history, early in the founding of the Empire, that tells of how a group of mages thought that they could take over; it was narrowly averted, and the mages were exiled in what became the slow establishment of Akadia, once under the eventual rigid and absolute rule of a Warden named Gimlet of Tolues (a town erased by the rebellion).
This is difficult as it is drilled into most Disciples how they are special, and important, and better they are than others from almost as soon as they begin the arduous training. Meanwhile, many Sensates never really get a complete grip on their powers, and often become afraid of it, unwilling to move forward into that task of learning how to use their powers actively, sometimes not even realizing they are using their powers.
There, again, are more of the secret rules of magic. It is not so easy as it seems, and it wants to be known.
The greatest of us have determined that there are several guidelines, which we call theorems, that apply. These are often found engraved in the entrances to Towers and are often the first things that Apprentice Mages learn and store in their books of spells. I require my apprentices and Pupils to memorize them several times throughout their education and am often disappointed by them.
Many will call these the Rules of Magic, though that makes it seem as if they are imposed upon magic – they are not. They are what Magic imposes upon Mortals. Mortal beings, from any of the Mortal Realms, have significant limits upon the way that magic operates for them, and the way that they can use it – and, as noted, in some places they cannot even use it.
This is one reason why some Mages seek to become Immortal and tread the dark paths of Lichery.
Theorem of Self-Knowledge:
One who does not know herself, having never tested herself or her limitations, does not know what she can do. And the reverse is also true.
Theorem of Knowledge:
With understanding comes control and power.
Theorem of Names:
Knowing the True Name, the true and complete name, of a phenomenon or entity allows you to target it even beyond the traditional limits, including summoning it across the Planes and Dimensions.
There is another, darker more terrifying thing about this: using this True Name in a very specific but very short ritual, with the target confined to the ritual sigil, can strip a person of their affinity for a year and a day. The Rite is Severance.
Theorem of Senses:
Everyone’s senses are finite and limited to the amount of information which one can absorb and process at any given time.
Theorem of Imitation:
The more the first entity knows about the second the better the imitation.
Theorem of Balance:
One’s energy or power level must be kept on an even keel, too much or too little will kill oneself.
Theorem of Sigils:
All effects must be structured, bound by the function and then the form.
Theorem of Discrete Effect:
A spell must always be for a single, discrete effect.
Theorem of Locus:
Mages must have a Locus – an object that helps them to empower and direct their effects, as well as possibly provide a handy reference.
Theorem of Incantations:
Spells must be released by chanting to draw forth and build up the energy needed.
Theorem of Motion:
All spells involve motion of the Mage, from hand signs to motion of the body to more.
Theorem of Concentration:
While engaged in somatic and vocal action, one must focus one’s will and this requires concentration, regardless of the spell.
For some spells, it is only necessary for them to be brought to fruition, while for others it may take continued concentration to maintain an effect over time.
Theorem of Interruption:
An interrupted Spell is a failed and lost spell.
Theorem of Attraction:
Merely the act of thinking a lot about what you expect (desire or fear) will summon that thing.
Theorem of Contagion:
Things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance even after physical contact has been severed.
Theorem of Relevance:
The effectiveness of a connection depends upon the relevance, or import and value, of the contact.
Theorem of Association:
Things react upon each other by their connection with each other.
Theorem of Sympathies:
The part is equivalent to the whole.
Theorem of Rites:
All Rites require a call and response incantation, a ripple of motion, and then Materials to engage the spell.
All of that said, the actual process of using magic is fairly simple on the surface. There are four basic parts to a spell:
An Effort of Will: Effort of Will requires focus and concentration. If this focus is broken the spell escapes and unravels.
Somatic Gestures: Specific gestures result in specific magical effects.
Incantations: Chanting aloud in Caligulan; a combination of sounds that informs and shapes the Orgone, spoken aloud and clearly. Note that the magic of Caligulan is not something that can be understood by others who are not mages, but if they recognize the spell, they can counter it.
Manifestation: The thing that says it is working. Different Affinities have different manifestations, but once you see it, you know it is working. Manifestations are always visible, even to ordinary folk. There is no casting of spells secretly upon Wyrlde.
I will repeat this to you several times: spells are very much living things. A sigil is a constraint on magic, a kind of cage for it. They wriggle, they struggle, they seek to have their way and be free – magic is aware and has desire and sentience. As they are abstract, they dwell in the mind of a person, wriggling, struggle, poking, prodding, pestering to distraction. And once distracted, it is free.