Monday, April 21, 2014

S is for: Sorcery (#AtoZchallenge)

Sorcery, harnessing the classical elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) to produce a physical result, is one of several kinds of magic known on Termag. Others include enchantment (imbuing an object with magical power) and witchcraft (harnessing nature, and working around the edges of Chaos magic). In ancient times, Making was a power both coveted and feared, as Maker could create anything they could imagine. Chaos magic (the polar opposite of Making) includes weather control; it is known, but not understood. Sorcerers generally believe that the rules of Chaos magic are too complex for the human mind to grasp, and attempts to harness it tend to prove that theory.

The Three Principles govern sorcery (and to a lesser extent, other kinds of magic). These principles are:

1) Principle of Necessity—there must be a need for the magic performed. Many sorcerers point out that the principle itself is rather loose at times, and includes the need to practice (especially for apprentices). Rogue sorcerers have a very loose interpretation, that allows them to use magic for unethical purposes.

2) Principle of Power (or Intent)—some suggest that this should be two principles, but traditionally they are combined. It does make sense: the person performing sorcery must have both the Talent for sorcery, and the intent to produce some result.

3) Principle of Closure—a spell begun must be closed. Some spells close themselves; for example, a Finding spell is closed when the sorcerer locates the missing object. Others (like Sleep or the False Dawn) must be explicitly closed. Any open-ended (permanent) spell must be cast as an enchantment.

A sorcerer typically undergoes six years of training as an apprentice. The distinctions of junior, intermediate, and senior apprentice are a rough guide to the capabilities of an apprentice, and each period lasts roughly two years. Intermediate apprentices begin to learn more complex spells that combine two elements, and can maintain two to four spells simultaneously. Some seniors can hold up spells in their sleep.

After six years, apprentices appear at the Gathering for testing. The testing is more practical than theoretical, and those doing the testing note how well the apprentice does with each element. In the end, if the apprentice passes, the testers choose a “primary element” for the new sorcerer, and indicate that primary element with a colored sash: brown for Earth, white for Air, red for Fire, blue for Water. The sorcerer then takes the color of that element as a title; for example, Bailar the Blue or Jira the White.

Next: T is for: (The) Treaty


  1. I quite like the naming tradition.

  2. Interesting. So can anyone learn or only certain people have the ability?

  3. I like the colour element to show where they are in their training.

  4. The different principles of sorcery are pretty cool. I like that each has a purpose. Good stuff!

  5. I love those principles! Also wonderful how the naming takes place with the colors.

  6. Thanks, Sonia!

    Patricia, it's only those who have Talent. Water and Chaos mentioned tests, or questionnaires, that help sorcerers weed out potential apprentices.

    Helen, once upon a time those meant more than what they do now. There may have been Orders based on one's primary element, but such distinctions are long forgotten.

    Thanks, Philip and Sylvia!


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