"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Monday, January 24, 2011

Simple Magic

I took inventory today and found that since last May, I've written eight posts that deal specifically with  magic in Eolyn's world. I've talked about the Origin of Magic in Moisehén.  I've covered the two forms of innate magic known as Primitive Magic and Children's Magic.  I've discussed some of the difference between Mages and Magas, and gone into a few specifics such as Shape Shifting, Tree Magick and the High Holidays of Moisehén.  I've also done a bit of philosophizing on the Rules of Magic, thinking about what (if any) limits should be placed on magic, and why and how.

It's a good list, but I still have a lot of ground to cover.  (In fact, it's kind of surprising how very little I've posted on the topic, given that my novel is mostly about magic!) So today, I'd like to talk a little about Simple Magic, which in the tradition of Moisehén is considered one of three subcategories of Advanced Magic. 

Advanced Magic is distinguished from Primitive and Children's Magic because it is not innate; it must be learned.*  The three subcategories of Advanced Magic -- Simple Magic, Middle Magic and High Magic -- correspond to the journey of Aithne and Caradoc, the first practitioners of Moisehén, who learned Simple Magic and Middle Magic by observing the natural world, and then were granted the power to learn High Magic by Dragon, a messenger of the Gods.

Simple Magic exists in our world today.  Its definition is pretty straightforward:  it is the knowledge of the uses of plants, animals and fungi for food and medicinal purposes.  Of course, the title is a something of a misnomer -- because Simple Magic is far from a simple thing to learn!  In Moisehén, students of magic begin studying the creatures of the forest and their uses from a very young age, and it can take years before they gain sufficient mastery of the topic to continue on to Middle Magic. Eolyn began learning Simple Magic from her mother Kaie at about the age of five, and continued her apprenticeship under Ghemena until she was formally initiated into the study of Middle Magic at the age of twelve.  (For examples of some of the things Eolyn learned from her mother, have a look at Chapter 1 on this web site.)

In Moisehén, Simple Magic is the only form of Advanced Magic that women are allowed to practice under the law.  This is due in part to the perception that Simple Magic does not pose the same threat that Middle Magic or High Magic can, if used in the 'wrong' way.  But there was also a practical side to this decision, when Kedehen and his advisor Tzeremond laid down the rules regarding the types of magic to which women could have access.  Simple Magic is a relatively widespread form of magic; the use of chamomile, mint and other herbs, as well as food plants, is part of day-to-day existence for most every citizen of Moisehén.  And while the average peasant household does not command the knowledge of medicinal plants that, say, a young mage might, it is still fair to state that Simple Magic is an integrated part of the life and society of Moisehén.  To truly outlaw it would have required burning pretty much every peasant woman in the kingdom -- and even the wizard Tzeremond was not up to that!

Nonetheless, from Tzeremond's point of view, the decision to allow the widespread practice of Simple Magic, while practical, carried substantial risks.  Simple Magic is the doorway to other forms of magic; the first step down a path that can lead to powers that, in the wizard's mind, comprised a major threat to the peace and security of the kingdom when wielded by women. As a result, women with extensive knowledge of medicinal plants are watched closely in Moisehén, and often burned on charges of witchcraft, even if the evidence for practicing other forms of Advanced Magic are minimal. 

Well, that's my post for the week. Hope you enjoyed it. Have questions and comments about Simple Magic?  Please post them below! 

We'll come back to Middle Magic and Advanced Magic later on down the road.

*Note that while Primitive Magic is considered innate, there are aspects of Primitive Magic that must also be learned, or practiced in order to perfect, such as dance and music. In this and other ways, Primitive Magic defies clear definition, something I discussed in my previous post on this topic. Another thing to keep in mind is that these broad categories -- Primitive Magic, Children's Magic and Advanced Magic -- are not entirely linear, in the sense that one does not necessarily 'precede' the other, but all can act in concert, or even cycle from one to the next and then back again..

Today's image is of mint leaves.  I obtained it from Wikicommons; the author is Kham Tran.