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On Magic

On this page, you can read about the planes of existence and well as the metaphysical elementals, phases, and genders as described in the book Magical Wands - A Cornucopia of Wand Lore:

The Four Planes of Existence

It is impossible to understand our place in reality without considering the reality’s four planes of existence. Understanding them provides the framework for understanding the magical realm of Faerie, the realm of ghosts and other spirits, the realm of daemons, and – most importantly for wand lore – the astral plane that is composed of pure Quintessence, the magical material from which magic spells are crafted.

Planes of Existence

Illustration: The Four Planes of Existence

As shown above, reality consists of four planes of existence, stacked on top of each other:

  • Astral Plane of Existence – The highest plane of existence, the astral plane is an endless void filled with a golden fog of Quintessence, the magical material from which spells are made.
  • Spiritual Plane of Existence – Lying between the astral plane and our physical plane, the spiritual plane is the realm of ghosts and other spirits such as poltergeists, dryads (tree spirits), naiads (water spirits), sylphs (air spirits), and wisps (fire spirits). Although non-corporeal and normally invisible when in the physical plane, spirits can – if they so desire – briefly show themselves and communicate with people and magical beings such as fairies and mermaids. Mages can also make spirits visible by casting the appropriate spells.
  • Physical Plane of Existence – This plane contains both the mundane natural non-magical world, which is the home of humanity, and Faerie, the home of magical beings and beasts.
  • Daemonic Plane of Existence – Lying below our physical plane of existence, the daemonic plane is the dark realm of daemons.

Portals are places where our mundane world and Faerie nearly touch and the barriers between them are weakest. At certain times of the year, these barriers almost cease to exist and it is relatively easy to move back and forth between them. It is during these times when magical creatures sometimes slip through the portals and into our world. Fortunately, we do not need to wait for these dates in order to cross into and out of Faerie. We can cast special spells to travel to Faerie any time we want.

Similarly, there are places where the spiritual and physical planes nearly touch and spirits and ghosts may easily visit our world and Faerie. Magic spells can be used to summon and banish spirits. Finally, there are places where the Physical Plane and the daemonic plane nearly touch. Daemons occasionally break into our physical plane and can cause great harm until they can be killed or sent back to where they came from. Specifically, greater daemons commit evil acts such as murder and arson whereas the lessor daemons make all manner of annoying mischief.

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The Five Metaphysical Elementals

The five elementals of classical philosophy and alchemy are the foundational metaphysical constituents of all things: Quintessence, Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. These are not like the physical elements of chemistry from which all matter is made, but rather the source of the magical and mystical characteristics of all things including the magical creatures and woods as well as the mystical crystals and metals used in wand making. Conversely, a creature’s or material’s mixture of these elementals determines its associated magical or mystical properties.

Planes of Existence

Illustration: Five Metaphysical Elementals

The five metaphysical elementals can be defined as follows:

  • Quintessence – Quintessence is the the metaphysical elemental that naturally exists within the astral plane of existence and can be gathered and woven into magic spells by the mind and will of the mage. Quintessence is raw magic.
  • Air – Air is the metaphysical elemental associated with gases including both ordinary air as well as gases produced by alchemy.
  • Fire – Fire is the metaphysical elemental associated with burning, especially ordinary flames.
  • Earth – Earth is the metaphysical elemental associated with most solids including rocks and ordinary soil.
  • Water – Water is the metaphysical elemental associated with liquids, especially ordinary water.
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The Three Metaphysical Phases

Every type of magical and mystical entity is associated with one of the following three metaphysical phases: Light, Twilight, and Darkness. This is true for types of magical creatures (such as faeries and dragons), types of magical trees (such as maples and oaks), type of mystical crystal (such as emeralds and rock crystals), and type of mystical metal (such as gold and iron). These three phases result from decomposing the moral and ethical spectrum from good to evil into three categories. Phases are important in wand making because the phases of a wand’s components largely determine what sets of spells the wand will excel at casting (that is, strengthening and focusing). The traditional way to depict the phases Light, Twilight, and Darkness is to use a yin yang symbol:

Yin Yang symbol depicting the three metaphysical phases

Illustration: Light, Twilight, and Darkness

The three metaphysical phases can be defined as follows:

  • Light – The phase Light is associated with light, life, and creation. It also promotes goodness, benefit, order, safety, and health. Light is the yang to the Darkness’s yin.
  • Twilight – The phase Twilight lies halfway between Light and Darkness. It is neutral and includes spells that can either be used for good or ill. Twilight spells are those spells that promote the characteristics of the Light and Darkness equally.
  • Darkness – The phase Darkness is associated with darkness, death, and destruction. It also promotes evil, loss, chaos, injury, and sickness. Darkness is the yin to the Light’s yang.

Each magical creature, magical wood, mystical crystal, and mystical metal used in wand making is associated with one of these three phases. Therefore, most wands exhibit a certain preference for Light, Twilight, or Darkness based on the phases of the materials from which they are made. Similarly, many magic spells can be categorized as Light, Twilight, or Dark spells. Although every wand can be used to cast all spells, the compatibility of the wand’s components and the spell cast with the wand will determine the degree to which the wand magnifies and focuses the mage’s magic.

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The Two Metaphysical Genders

Many magical creatures and woods as well as the mystical crystals and metals strengthen and focus spells equally well regardless of whether they are cast by witches or wizards. However, some potential wand components show a distinct preference for either witches or wizards. For example, a wand with a core of unicorn hair strengthens spells cast by witches more than those cast by wizards. Conversely, a wand with a hawthorn handle and shaft will strengthen spells cast by wizards more than witches. This differential ability to strengthen or focus spells based on the gender of the mage is called the magical gender of the wand component: Female if it works better for witches, Male if it works better for wizards, and both Female and Male if it works equally well for both.

As shown in the following illustration, the alchemical symbol for Female is the symbol for the planet Venus: a stylized hand mirror. The alchemical symbol for Male is the symbol for the planet Mars: a round shield and a spear.


Illustration: The Two Metaphysical Genders

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