The Winds of Magic, called the Aethyr in Eltharin, or simply just magic in everyday usage, is the name given by magic-users to the invisible currents of magical energy which flow across the world from the Realm of Chaos.
This ancient, inter-dimensional force is a form of harnessable, emotionally-inflected energy that can be used by a skilled practitioner to manipulate and alter the very fabric of the natural world.
The influence of the Winds of Magic upon the world is often bizarre, unforeseen, and random, just as the world affects it in bizarre, unforeseen, and random ways. It can be said with a degree of certainty that magic will always change elements of the mortal realms 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 the mortal plane and can remake reality such that things and processes that otherwise could not exist come into being.
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 stuff of the Aethyr leaks through the Chaos Gates, it becomes perceptible as eight separate aspects to those with the appropriate senses.
These eight types of magical energy, perceived as different and consistent "colours" by those with 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 substance of magic, dispersed at different speeds and in different amounts across the world.
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."
Although "Winds" is the most widespread term given to them, 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 refer to them.
The Winds are experienced in many different ways, both among the sanctioned Magisters of the Empire and amongst 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.
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.
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 traditions of arcane spellcraft.
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 as possessing distinct and consistent colours.
The Imperial College'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.
Eight Winds of Magic
The eight different winds, and their associated Lores are:
- Aqshy, the Red Wind, the Lore of Fire
- Azyr, the Blue Wind, the Lore of the Heavens
- Chamon, the Yellow Wind, the Lore of Metal
- Ghur, the Brown Wind, the Lore of Beasts
- Ghyran, the Green Wind, the Lore of Life
- Hysh, the White Wind, the Lore of Light
- Shyish, the Purple Wind, the Lore of Death
- Ulgu, the Grey Wind, the Lore of Shadow
- Warhammer Fantasy Role-play -- Realms of Sorcery (2nd Edition) (RPG), pg. 32