Science and Magic

This site is dedicated to the Edda-Earth universe, and the novels that comprise it: The Valkryie, The Goddess Denied, and The Goddess Embraced. All are copyrighted to Deborah L. Davitt.


"I'm saying that every competent sorcerer and half of the ley-mages in the Empire could have done this. For every one thousand normal people, there is one sorcerer, ley-mage, or summoner. For every ten thousand normal people, there is one god-born. There are slightly under a seven hundred and fifty million people in the entirety of the Empire. Roughly, that makes for seven hundred and fifty thousand magic-users of varying degrees of power, and a grand total of under seventy-five thousand god-born. Total. And of those people, sorcerer, ley-mage, summoner, and god-born, somewhere between twenty to thirty-five percent of them aren't capable of doing more than boiling a cup of water, conjuring a little light. These are people who do rely on the old, cherished, passed-down spells, because that's all they're capable of doing. They don't think in terms of principles, concepts, and the application of the abstract to the concrete. Hedge-wizards. Crystal-ball aficionados. Then there is the vast majority of the magic-using population, about sixty-five to eighty percent, who are competent, educated, well-trained professionals. Any one of whom could have done this, because they aren't bound by two-thousand-year-old words in a book." — Kanmi Eshmunazar, The Goddess Denied

Origins of Magic

It is a matter of debate for scholars and philosophers as to what the origins of magic truly are. There are four competing theories. That magic comes from the gods, that the power comes from the will of the individual, that it comes out of power already inherent in creation, and that it derives from otherworldly spirits. Each theory has a kernel of truth to it, but they tend to come into conflict with one another.

God-born and God-Touched: The Gods Are All

This is the oldest of theories, that all magic derives from the gods, ultimately. Many god-born espouse it, and certainly most organized religions and monarchical governments tend to line up behind this… particularly when their royal families are god-born! The theory that the king is the gods' divine voice on Earth, seen on Real-Earth in the medieval period, has never gone entirely out of vogue, because every so often, there's a king or queen who can back it up.

The problem with this theory is that there are individuals who are not god-born or god-touched who can use magic. The other question is "where do the gods come from? Why do each of them have a different creation myth?"

Wise philosophers consider each creation myth a snippet of the truth, a metaphor for a reality that humanity was too primitive to understand. They do ask, however, why if this is the case, why the gods have not unveiled to humans new metaphors, now that we have grown beyond living in caves and herding goats.


Sorcerers: The Will of the Individual

This is the theory most often espoused by natural philosophers and scientists. That magic exists, is manifestly evident. So, too, is the presence of the gods. Their theory is that each individual has enough will and power within him or herself to affect the world around them. Most people barely use their will. They wander around from day to day, not making choices, or making really poor and unconsidered ones.

Occasionally, there are people who have enough raw will to bend the laws of physics as the philosophers have categorized them. These are sorcerers. They cannot create matter or energy; they have to use something that is present and re-orient it. If there is heat in the atmosphere, they can condense it, like a lens, into fire, for example. If something is in motion, they can add to that motion, or remove its kinetic energy.

Most sorcerers derived, originally, from the Hellenistic and Qin thought system on the elements; many still organize their thinking around Water, Earth, Air, Fire (and sometimes Wood). Most of their 'schools' were originally highly tradition-bound as a result, but many of them are interested in natural philosophy and science.

The vast majority of the original technomancers were sorcerers who began to develop magic that accorded with the new elements and new scientific understandings. They began to work with natural forces like electricity and gravity and physics instead of just the original four or five elements. As such, after initially element-based magic, sorcerers have become highly abstract in their use of magic.

Questions like this have lead natural philosophers to ask questions that the god-born don't particularly enjoy.

Namely: If each and every individual has enough will to bend the world around themselves in small ways, what happens when you get whole groups to focus their will at once? Is that not what faith and belief do? Is this not how humanity actually has created and shaped the beings known as gods? Who are, in turn, merely reflections of what our earliest ancestors believed in… and who have, as each society has grown and changed, become more or less powerful as a result of having more or fewer believers?

Does this not make the gods our servants?

Does this not just make the god-born particularly willful individuals, on par with a mage?

Is it not true that an individual who does not have faith in a given god, cannot be punished by that god? Only by a god-born who happens to be offended? The gods cannot affect those who are not subject to them, right?

The concept of the individual will being the most powerful force in the universe is essentially a democratizing one. Sorcerers tend to arise most frequently in societies that emphasize the individual, and they frequently are highly intelligent and tend to write about things like free will, human rights, and other such crazy things. Various empires have tried to suppress them, but Hellene has such a strong tradition of free speech and free thought, going back to Socrates (for all that they made him drink the hemlock), that democracy and the concept of human rights really has still emerged from Hellene. (However, the concept of female equality? That's Germanic/Gallic.)

Quin magic derives from Taoist thought, and Taoism is much more about the individual than, say, Confuscianism. Thus, this still scans.


Leylines and Ley-Mages: The Natural Force of Creation:

Connection to String Theory?

String theory, in Real-Earth, states that everything in the universe is connected by tiny, super-symmetrical strings that resonate in pairs.

Prevailing theory, among magic-users, is that the ancients who built dolmens, manhirs, stone circles, and stone alignments, and the Nazca lines in South America, understood and could tap into the power in the earth itself, in creation itself, the strings that connect all of reality together. They couldn't visualize on the Planck level, naturally, but they were able to ascertain where there were points that resonated with each other on the macro level. They aligned them not just with the seasonal progression of the stars, or to point out when the equinox was… though these were also motivations for the early farmers of the Neolithic era… but also in accordance with ley power in the earth.

Everything in nature is built on duality, magic-users and natural philosophers say. There's matter and anti-matter. There's positive and negative charge. And patterns repeat themselves throughout the universe. The orbit of a planet around a star? Just an echo of electrons circling the heart of an atom. If strings, which are one-dimensional, and aren't directly observable, connect all of reality to each other, exist in a ten-dimensional universe, then why couldn't there be a larger level, a larger concordance, of energies that bind everything together and resonate with one another?

Thus, these ancient paths, menhirs, and other stone structures were associated with lines of power in the earth. And used to help ancient mages tap into that power. That the stones are positioned at points that precisely resonate, and that maps of leylines all across the world can thus be derived, and that a ley-mage can tap into those ley forces anywhere on the planet … but will always be stronger at a point of convergence, or resonance.

Adherents of the philosophy of the individual will, can and will point out, that all of these sites were made with communal efforts, and ritual processions would have walked along the long rows, or danced around the stones. This would be an expression of collective will and belief.

Ley-mages counter this by pointing out that leylines exist, and technomancers tap into them to light houses and run dishwashers all the time. Sorcerers and philosophers counter that this works because enough people believe that it will work.

Adherents of the philosophy that the gods are the origin of all magic say, correctly, that these sites were used for the veneration of fertility gods, and that any lingering power there could be attributed to that as well.

Most normal people run screaming from these kinds of conversations.

A ley-mage cannot create or destroy matter or energy. A ley-mage can, however, form a conduit between him and herself, and the raw power of creation. They are at their weakest, when furthest from the earth. Almost all of their magic is based on the concept of classical elements, most powerfully, naturally, that of earth itself. A mage, tied to a leyline, and well-trained?

Can start an earthquake that would have leveled, oh, the walls of Jericho.

These are the mages who can throw fireballs, cause the earth to turn to mud, and frequently help with the building of skyscrapers. An engineer who doesn't bring a ley-mage on the team to select a site for a large building? Gets exactly what he deserves when it winds up, oh, leaning in the town of Pisa.


Summoners: Gods, Demons, and Spirits

There is considerable argumentation among scholars and philosophers as to where the gods, demons, and spirits reside, when they are not appearing among their followers on Earth.

Early tribes believed that their gods were in their idols, and lived in the temples. Later tribes generally attributed a home to the gods that was unreachable by mortals—Asgard, Mt. Olympus, Paradise. Since none of these locations exists (all right, Olympus, granted), the prevailing theory has become that the gods and demons live in alternate dimensions, and that spirits cross from either the same dimension as the others, or their own.

Some natural philosophers contend that gods, demons, and spirits are all the same fundamental thing: extra-dimensional beings of either beneficent or malefic intent, and that the gods became stronger than mere spirits because of being worshiped. An 'evil' god, or at least, a god who embodies destructive aspects, and must be appeased, such as Loki or Shiva, would be a demon who has gained in power, therefore.

The adherents of this philosophy come closer to the god-born philosophy, by contending that all magical power leaks into Edda-Earth from these other dimensions, and that mages can make contracts with spirits, demons, and gods to become conduits for that power. They contend that ley-mages and sorcerers have done precisely this with spirits of the earth, and are simply unaware of it.

The summoners, as these mages are called, are very aware of the spirits, and do try to summon and bind them. This is highly dangerous. Summoners have to bargain with the spirits, and these bargains often result in possession or worse.


Synthesis and Syncretism

Sorcerers who learn the way of ley-mages are known as adepts. These are few in number, and are among the most feared people on Edda-Earth. They have both massive will … enough to change the world around them … and can tap into the raw power of creation itself. Do not cross them.

It is said that Merlin was an adept.

God-born are almost never summoners. They know better. They don't need to enact new bargains; they were sealed in a bargain with a god since birth. Likewise, they hardly ever work to become ley-mages, which requires vast amounts of study, and while they have the will to be sorcerers… they don't need it. There is never any synthesis here.

Some sorcerers grow impatient with slow progress and become summoners as well. Some ley-mages do the same.

Technomancy

The ultimate form of synthesis and syncretism, it must be noted that there is nothing inherently evil in technomancy. It is a highly logical progression of combining natural philosophy and the magic of ley-mages or sorcerers.

Technomancy actually took its origins from sorcerers working with natural philosophers in Hellene in about 700 AC. The natural philosophers were noting down the essential qualities of some naturally occurring materials, such as the spark that generates when amber is rubbed, for example… and the sorcerers working with them noted that it was easier to generate a spark of that blue light when holding a piece of amber. That holding metal allowed better control of such things. That if they wanted to try to get something to fly? It helped if the item was already airborne.

The first advances were all military. Catapults, mangonels, and ballistae could throw their loads much harder with a sorcerer or ley-mage standing behind them, adding force to the hurled stone or bolt.

Gunpowder, imported from Qin, was tested for military applications by Rome, the Gauls, and the Teutons, only to be rejected. Bronze cannons had a tendency to explode, and digging in mortars at the bottom of a wall seemed foolish when a skilled ley-mage could reach under a city wall from a half mile away and tear it down with a day or two of work.

The scholars of Judea, it must be said, had no tradition of ley-mages. And very few sorcerers. This is not to say that they didn't have strong-willed individuals. They did. They just didn't embrace the study of magic. They did, however, embrace the study of gunpowder. And in 1553, built the world's first iron cannons, for deployment against Persia.

By 1550 AC, lightning… or electricity… had already been tamed for fifty years, and the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. The first steam-powered engine was built in 1528.

The sorcerers were still working with the natural philosophers. They began to explore practical applications outside of combat. The steam-engine gave them a motive force that they could expand upon and add to, in the same way as catapults once had; the first locomotives began to move around Europe and Asia by 1548.

A ley-mage named Thomas Mauritis, of Celto-Roman descent, who was from Britannia, but who'd settled in the New World, was also renown as an inventor. He invented a new type of stove, made entirely of metal, which revolutionized warming houses in the new world, for example, and experimented with flying kites in storms. He also tramped through the woods, trying to ascertain if there were regular and explicable leyline locations on this side of the planet.

There were.

He took his findings home to Rome, where he met with natural philosophers, who were trying to determine what the difference between ley-energy and electricity happened to be. At the time, it was thought that they were the same thing. He was the first ley-mage to try to investigate what ley-energy actually was.

And, to everyone's wonder, they determined that ley-energy could be used to run an engine, in place of steam. No need to burn precious coal. And it was so much less dangerous to tap, than, say, lightning.

It took another fifty years to develop the ley-turbine; similar in principle to a windmill, it stands where two ley-lines meet and resonate, and catches their current; unlike a windmill, it doesn't need to transform kinetic energy into electricity; it absorbs the energy, steps it up into a usable form mechanically, and transmits it through copper wires, similar to electrical current.

Thomas Mauritis had also invented the incandescent bulb before his death in 1568. It had seemed a novelty item, a way of producing light as he stood with it in his hand. A trick to make children smile.

By 1601, these bulbs had replaced the dangerous oil lamps hung from poles in Hellene and Rome. Gaslights were the norm in Judea until their electrical generation plants came on-line in 1615—all coal-powered, initially.

Rome, pragmatic as always, embraced technomancy. Hellene is truly the birthplace of it, and philosophers there immediately trumpeted it as a method by which the equality of all men might be achieved.

Well, all men except for slaves. And they really meant men, not men and women.

By 1899 AC (1855, Real-Earth), many countries across the globe have gone over to either an electrical grid or a ley-line one.


Fate and Wyrd

Wyrd is the Germanic (okay, Anglo-Saxon) version of fate. It is distinct from the more Greco-Roman-Christian notion of destiny.

Fate tends to mean that everything is pre-determined and pre-ordained.

Wyrd is the path you're fated to walk on in life. But in the Edda context, you make choices on that path. You decide who you'll walk it with. And while it'll all end in fire, what decisions you make along the path you walked determine how much honor will be yours, when everything does end.


Tattoo magic

"Not unlike irezumi, but she doubted that his markings offered the protections that a properly-worked irezumi provided. She knew that Nahautl tattoos could render skin like steel, or allow a man to turn himself invisible, but an irezumi artist could render the wearer of such a tattoo immune to flame. Immune to cold. Immune to the venom of a snake’s bite, or poison in a cup. " [Minori's thoughts, The Valkyrie.

Several cultures have learned how to work magic into the very skins of people. Wearing magic is often considered highly dangerous; get the incantation wrong, and you might well be cooked from the inside by it.

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