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SoM MagicWheelColour

The Wheel of Magic, depicting the eight Winds of Magic; clockwise from top: Ghyran, Azyr, Ulgu, Shyish, Aqshy, Ghur, Hysh, and Chamon.

The Winds of Magic, sometimes called the Aethyr in the Elven tongue of Eltharin, known as the Elemental Winds in Grand Cathay[2] or simply just as magic in everyday usage, is the name given by magic-users to the invisible currents of magical energy -- the very substance of Chaos -- which flow across the mortal world from the Realm of Chaos.[1a]

This ancient, inter-dimensional force is a form of harnessable, emotionally-inflected-and-created energy that can be used by a skilled practitioner such as a wizard, sorcerer or priest to manipulate and alter the very fabric of the natural world.[1a]

Power of Magic

The influence of the Winds of Magic upon the mortal world is often bizarre, unforeseen, and random, just as the world affects them in bizarre, unforeseen, and random ways. It can be said with a degree of certainty that magic will always change elements of the mortal plane that it comes into contact with, but it is difficult to anticipate what form this change will take. Magic bends and unbinds the physical laws of creation and can remake reality such that things and processes that otherwise could not exist come into being.[1a] 

There are many conflicting theories among the different Imperial Colleges of Magic as to why and how the random energies of the Aethyr fall into reasonably consistent laws in the mortal world. Most of those who study the phenomena agree that wherever and whenever the immaterial meets the material, some kind of hybrid of the two is created. When the raw metaphysical Chaos energies of the Aethyr leaks through the Chaos Gates, it becomes perceptible as eight separate aspects to those with the appropriate senses.[1a]

These eight types of magical energy, perceived as different and consistent "colours" by those with the witchsight, are known to the Colleges of Magic as the "Winds of Magic." Of course, these energies are not literal winds. Rather, they are made up of the immaterial, chaotic, psychically-inflected energy that is magic, dispersed at different speeds and in different amounts across the Known World.[1a]

Each aspect of this refracted magic has an associated colour and is drawn to different things in different ways. Each different "wind" is associated with different kinds of spellcraft that have their own distinct "flavours."[1a]

Although "winds" is the most widespread term given to these variants of magical energy, that name is not necessarily the most accurate way to describe these energies. The Magister Alchemists of the Gold College often refer to the winds as the "Aethyric Humours," while the Hierophants of the College of Light sometimes refer to them as the "Paradigms of Magic," or even the "World Dreamings" as the shamans of the Amber College prefer to call them.[1a]

The Winds of Magic are experienced in many different ways, both among the sanctioned Magisters of the Empire and amongst the wild and untrained spellcasters of the world. Those who study and practice magic know the winds variously as concepts, moods, vibrations, fluxes, tides, spirits, forces, and colours.[1a]

Aethyrically-sensitive people often "feel" magical energies in slightly different ways depending on the nature of their particular magical awareness, and will often express their descriptions of magic in terms familiar to their personal experiences and cultures.[1a]

Regardless of the differences in personal experience, it is worth noting that the association of specific colours with the Winds of Magic is consistent amongst all the known traditions of arcane spellcraft.[1a]

Although those sensitive to magic often perceive the winds initially in radically different and subjective ways, if they survive long enough to hone these perceptions, they will gradually come to "see" the different Winds of Magic as possessing distinct and consistent colours.[1a]

The Imperial Orders of Magic's system of magic-use is powerful, stable and successful when compared alongside any other Human tradition of arcane spellcraft. Its ideas have influenced even non-sanctioned and downright illegal magic-users -- hedge wizards, witches, Black Magisters, necromancers, and warlocks -- over the last few centuries.[1a]

Eight Winds of Magic

The eight different Winds of Magic and their associated colours and Lores of Magic include the following:

Elemental Winds

The Cathayans perceive the 8 Winds of Magic as what their wizards call "Elemental Winds." Corresponding to the terminology used by the wizards of the Old World, the eight Elemental Winds are: Water (Lore of Life), Fire (Lore of Fire), Wood (Lore of Beasts), Metal (Lore of Metal), Stone (Lore of Heavens), Light (Lore of Light), Spirit (Lore of Death) and Darkness (Lore of Shadow). The Cathayan Dragons who rule the Celestial Empire are masters of all the elements at once and practice a form of magic Cathyans call "Feng Shi" which is effectively identical to the High Magic of the Elves.[2]

The use of magic has a long history among the Men of Grand Cathay. In Cathayan magical traditions, Dark Magic and High Magic, known as Yin and Yang, respectively, are both held as sacred energies that define the nature of the mortal world. Sometimes Cathayans use jet to craft fine pendants, bowls, rings or other trinkets that serve as protective amulets against all forms of hostile magic, except for Yin and Yang and, for some reason, Ogre Gut Magic.[3a]

Some Cathayan wizards are known as shugengan, and are said to have Cathayan Dragon blood in their veins, for which they are known as the "Dragon-blooded." Shugengan practice the Lores of Yin and Yang, which consist of casting spells that contain a certain combination of the differing eight Elemental Winds, though they do not suffer the corruption or dangers faced by western practicioners of what would otherwise be considered Dark Magic in the Old World.[2]

The Lore of Yin is composed of the Lores of Beasts (Wood), Metal, Death (Spirit) and Shadows (Darkness) whereas the Lore of Yang is a combination of the Lores of Life (Water), Fire, Heavens (Stone) and Light. The Cathayan Dragon Emperor has ultimate mastery of the Lore of Yang and the Moon Empress is the ultimate practicioner of the Lore of Yin.[2]