Under Feet of Clay
De Rerum Divinis et Occultae Arcanisque
De Rerum Divinis et Occultae Arcanisque
On the Nature of the Divine, the Occult, and the Arcane
A New Theory on the Substance and Origin on the Three Magics
A theoretical treatise by D. Zoethungater
Dikethalean College of Rhetoric, 1152
Concerning those powers which convey the powers beyond mere flesh, much ink has been spilled to little effect. Despite a millennium of mortal effort to understand the three magical forces that suffuse the cosmos, the most ancient text of Euclidanes remains the standard. Principles of Magical Theory and Practice has yet to be surpassed as an effort in magical study, a fact which surprises none given Euclidanes’s status as a student of three of the seven legendary sages. Yet there seem to be minor errors in Euclidanes’s work, particularly on the division of the powers (Principles IV.1.1-17) and the powers carried by beasts (Principles VII.8.104-111). While the effect of the sagely study of Euclidanes can never be overstated, I offer this humble theoretical criticism to better illuminate the depths of his work, the nuance of which may have been overlooked or omitted by the original Archmage.
In regard to the first principle, the division of powers, it has long stood that there are three schools from which a mage can draw: the divine, the occult, and the arcane. As Euclidanes, and later his student Goras, would expound: “This was no accident of the universe, but a prime design by the stars and the gods. Consider the triangle, which is the strongest and most basic of the geometric figures. By virtue of three points, three sides, and a measure of 180 degrees, it provides in its flexible presentations but perfectly consistent traits the basis from which an entire universe may be built” (Geometrikon 12.15-16). Goras adds thirty years later: “Kurantes postulated, and correctly so, that the original position of Uraidikos that all portions of the physical were built of singular pieces of a substrate particle. However, Uraidikos incorrectly believed that this common structure was water, whose threefold nature as ice, liquid, and vapor could explain all matter in the universe. Kurantes demonstrates the insufficiency of water to explain all things through his illustration of fire, but produces no alternative. In the following pages, I will demonstrate without a shadow of doubt to plague us, that the indivisible atomic structure is the triangle, four of which come together to form the pyramid, the basis of all figures with depth” (Contra Uraidikon Kurantenque, I.1.4-5). However, both these theorists understand the domains of the three powers to be separate. As defined by the Archmage, it is the realm of the arcane to manifest the energies and powers of the cosmos themselves, commanding the atoms and energies in a mirror of the gods themselves. The divine spellcaster instead creates conduits for the will and powers of a divine energy, who are potent sources of the raw power that can command the universe. The occult, a phenomenon unique to mortal creatures, draws instead on the decline of those powers over time, and turn the entropic energies of mortality against the universe to bring about change.
These principles have not been challenged in a thousand years, but they do fail to account for what Euthephro observed in his Lectures on Theurgy and called Convergent Magics in 640. “That most basic spell every acolyte learns, which we call Cure Light Wounds, it is not uniquely a divine spell. The cleric and oracle learn it, yes, as the wizard and sorcerer cannot. However, consider the bard. Through song, this arcane conduit can cast a spell otherwise unique to the realm of the divine” (Lectures 15.12.2). Despite 500 years of work, theurges have little more research or theory to explain how an arcane caster can conjure the energies typically reserved for channels of the divine. Even more confounding, the occult spellcaster can mimic spells from either of the two other power sources. Chilstonus also noted regarding the destructive potential of evocations across these magical sources that “generally the Arcanist has a significant advantage in raw destructive potential. Their volatile energy grants them a higher maximum potential, while it remains inconsistent and unpredictable. In contrast, the power of the divine caster typically grows more slowly, though with less variability. The highest realm of healing and harming magics has no variable factors, in the spells the High Priests refer to simply as Heal or Harm. However, the occult falls not cleanly between these, but bounces between these two points, as a lute cannot play the note between two strings, but instead rings between the pair” (Meditations 3.14-15). In this illustration, Chilstonus argues that there are two core types of magic, the highly variable arcane and the more consistent divine, with the occult caught between them. However, this accounts only for evocation magics and cannot truly demonstrate why both divine and arcane casters can summon monsters, despite the druid’s preference for summoning from a separate collection of potential allies, or the means by which clerics of particular deities can learn to cast as divine spells those typically reserved for arcanists.
However, all writers on the topic have made two important and underlying assumptions in their approach to magic; that it is separate in substance and behavior from matter, and secondly that it has been unchanging since the inception of the cosmos. I theorize that both of these assumptions are, in fact, false. Consider the inheritance of power and form from Gaia until mortal kinds. Here I draw upon Luketias, who notes that “[t]here is an inheritance of power derived from the generations separated from the cosmic mother and father. Those who were the children of Gaia herself, including Proteus and Ladon, carried a titanic force of power. These titans bore children different in form and power from themselves. From Ladon came the dragons, from Proteus the archbeasts, and from Grandfather Time and his sister-wife, the gods. It was from the gods that a new form, the mortal humanoid, was begotten, just as the archbeasts begat the mortal beasts” (Historiae Callopiones 1.5.149-152). Thus, because magic exists within and throughout the material universe and is not restricted to realms of pure energy and thought, like the “realm of the ideals” which I have elsewhere written a refutation, and one form can beget a new, it is entirely reasonable to understand that forms of magic could be inherited one after another.
The power claimed by Gaia is one mortals do not fully understand and have never properly wielded, a strange and intense magnification of many forces. However, the power described as held by the titans in the Cosmomachy and other such texts reveals their powers were akin to the arcane power observed earlier. Its power is immense and with nearly endless potential, but rose and fell with chance and time. They were explosive and mighty, but even among these born directly from Gaia, it is noted that some were of immense power like Ladon, and others were small and reliant on cunning, like Proteus. Contrast this with the power of the children of these titans: the Trisdekatheon and Hupotheon, the dragons, and the archbeasts. These had only minor variations between them. While Xiphios the Thunderer is the strongest and ruler of the Trisdekatheon, the difference in power between him and his cupbearer is much smaller than the difference in power between Ladon and Proteus. And among mortals, we find two distinct and variant types of mortal. Those who bear the blood of heroes have powers and abilities derived from this inheritance, while those lacking such a lineage express power in a different way. These divisions and powers appear to mimic the relationship between the three sources of magic.
To preserve Euclidanes’s metaphor of the triangle, I offer this proof. No geometric figure exists all at once in the material world. The ink must first draw one side, then another, then another. While the stroke of the stylus that draws something so simple as a line takes but a few moments, the construction of an aqueduct in a straight line takes much longer. Would it not follow that the completion of one of the great forces of the cosmos would take even longer? Thus I posit that the forces of the universe did not exist all at once at the beginning, as in Goras’s notion of the eternal triangle, but instead was completed within time and history. The arcane came into being at the time of the titans and the first generations from Gaia, the birth of the second forms of matter also gave birth to the second form of magic, and finally the generations of mortals created the third form of matter and magic.
Does this mean that the use of the arcane is ultimately wielding the power of the titans themselves? Or that occult magic is a rejection of pious devotion? Certainly not! An axe may chop wood that may become the haft of a spear, a statue of a god, or a wedge for construction. Does one of these match the will of the tree? Magic is itself a tool born of the accidence of a form of matter, and can be used for good or evil. The year a tree was planted does not dictate the quality of the wood, and if magic has indeed grown from these moments in the grand history of the cosmos, then the nature of magic grows from the new form arising. Should a fourth age and form arise, we should then expect a new type of magic to similarly arise, though such an event is certainly a distant proposition.
Euclidanes’s system of magic is, clearly resilient and is not shaken by this criticism. Further work is needed from the theurges who can understand directly the powers that can reshape the matter and energy of the universe. If my theory is correct, there is little difference to note between the material and the ephemeral. The presence of magic as an aura that clings to physical objects mimics the way heat and fog cling to and object as well. Vapor, a gaseous matter, might mimic the miniscule atoms of the magical field, for which I offer the term Thekon. As the vapor of the morning fog suffuses the air and can be coaxed to return to water, the thekon suffuses all through the form of the magical aura, or thekon cloud. Clerics with the ability to read auras of good and evil note that these forces similarly mimic the aura, and as such I would further postulate that a thekon carries two traits, which magical theorists have long identified: moral quality and school. Beyond this, a third trait identifies what these particles trace as their origin; just as fire and water come not from the same materials, the occult and the divine derive from different types of thekon.
As for the differences between the types of magic, these three qualities account for all varieties of magic and further offers explanation as to why the same spells may be used by variant spellcasters, yet scrolls prepared by one type of caster may not be used by another. If the thekons have a variant quality of origin, they may not be utilized by one whose abilities allow manipulation of another. Should a scroll be prepared by a bard or a witch to cure wounds, the thekon storing the magical energies will still carry the arcane trait; a cleric without theurgic training will not be equipped to manipulate the qualities of the arcane, for their training allows for the manipulation of the thekons of the second origin, which we call divine. Thus, we can see why those of devoted practice can manipulate divine energy despite lacking ordination in the rights of a god, such as high orders of rangers and the druidic circles who guard the north. If these thekons originate in the moment a new form of material being comes into form, it stands to question whether it is the development of the new thekon that gives rise to a new being, or the creation of the new being gives rise to a new thekon to match. Until there is an event to watch, we can but speculate, however it is my opinion that the new form of being causes the thekons within it to be changed to a new type; divine magic should be understood as coming from the gods rather than divine energy giving rise to the gods.
This summary leaves out several pages of diagrams, geometric proofs, and tables of calculations.