Fiction and Allusions to Real Magic
The Discipline of Learning Real Magic


Magic has made a great impact on fiction in the last hundred years. Most people performing magic wave a magic wand and perform some incantation. Some, as those in science fiction, have had some training of super powers that they use like magic. Some are magical in and of themselves, and some are made magical or given magical powers through some perversion of nature. I have always been curious as to why people are so fascinated with magic. Even as a small child, I wanted magic to be real and was also attracted to magic. I went through a phase of learning magic tricks, yet that was theatre, not magic. I knew people with extraordinary personalities that seemed magical; that was closer to what we sought. Some pursued magic in the form of extra sensory perception and talked themselves into seeing the future or seeing ghosts. Others had some unexplained abilities that plagued them, no matter how rational and down to earth they were.


What is magic in fiction? Is it merely a display of some kind of baffling skill? Certainly in some books. Yet it seems closely tied to a moral code. All books with magic seem keen on putting forward a strong moral ethic. Horror stories put forward negative examples in cautionary tales as strong today as they were in Victorian times. Science fiction tries to explain magic as some mutation of humanity, often with horrific results, always with some heavy message about responsibility and consequence. Yet almost all stories allude to disciplines and schools, but hardly ever describe how the powers are educated. We see in several Kung Fu type movies how to discipline the body to perform above and beyond the norm, but we rarely see anything alluding to the mind or to the spirit.

One of the most famous mental magic books is Frank Herbert's Dune. In this book, many schools are presented that train certain skills. Herbert combines some martial arts studies with Eastern meditation for his "bene geserit" and a form of computer training for his "mentats." Often people are given magical abilities that give them insights into others, as Curdie learns in George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie. Curdie has his hands changed so that he can feel the hoof or paw or hand of the person he touches hands with. He can then see where that person is evolving to, or into what creature.

I became fascinated with the disciplines that fiction writers alluded to. I developed my own druidic Tarot, frustrated with the Golden Dawn and their dependence on the Kabbala and Greek and Egyptian symbolism. I wanted something from my own roots, in Northwest Europe.

anieth tarot

It is sad that, in the West, the only spiritual disciplines we have ar that of the church or that of the East. Some rites and rituals survive from ancient times, but most of them are little witch rhymes or dances and festivals with little meaning except some threads to an ancient time when they were religious, magical, or both.

In Anieth, we found Western Spirituality in tact. My brother, Peter, was more concerned with recording language and anthropology, but I saw the possibility of understanding the Western soul. For Anieth was not only magical, but full of disciplines for each "power" that people possessed. Here is an example of a scene related to me by my husband. He was of a people who could see the future.

Lorg Arinn looked across the valleys smoking with the mists of dawn. He was too restless, he had to move his leg and feared that the others would be disturbed from their meditation. He felt guilty that he could not calm his mind, but he did not care; the morning was too beautiful. He whistled a bit and Lonrach laughed. The rising light caught in her hair turning the orange color of it blood crimson. The morning air around Lonrach began to shimmer.

He blinked and the shimmering became worse. He focused on the tree inside of him, trying to feel the roots of his mind rather than the tossing branches of his thoughts. The ripples around Lonrach cleared as he focused on the Now. He did not have to lose her in the shadows of the future. She blinked and smiled at him.

"The key to sanity," Lonrach quoted to him, "lies not in interpreting the future as fully as possible, but in being in the here and now. Memories will rise up to swamp you from the past as often as visions will rain down upon you from the future to steal the sunshine of the present. If you are in the moment, you will see what is there to see and not what does not exist. The riddle is that there is no existence, that each moment, once existed, is not. Even in grasping the now we cannot be in the now, but the act of grasping is what we are. Grasp the moment, despite its evanescence,".

"But if existence cannot be experienced before it is memory, then isn't it better to live in the future?" he asked.

"Try to live in the future, if you can," Lonrach said.

He defocused his mind and she began to shimmer again, her features blurring into many features.

The world began to sway as if a thousand leaves had begun to fly in the wind. He could see the world around as rays of movement overlapping in a chaos of form and sound that excited him. He narrowed his focus a little, trying to see only the immediate future, and the world dropped to a purring quiver.

"Focus on the now!" Lonrach cried. He sharpened his attention and discovered that she was standing before him, holding a large stick right at his forehead. "Did you see that coming?" she asked.

He grinned and laughed as he took the stick out of her hand and tossed it aside.

To me, this was a perfect example of the kind of discipline that those people would have to undergo. Seeing the future was unlike remembering the past, for the future was many visions, some very distracting. It is my intention to do many articles about the different kinds of disciplines we met in Anieth. Here, in brief, are a few of the disciplines practiced and the talents that they honed.

The Magic of Water

Water is a flowing magic. If it stagnates, it pollutes. If it floods, it must be channeled or it is a destructive force. This discipline shows how to channel energies, how to keep the energy flowing, what to do in drought or flood. A bit like Eastern lymph work, or acupuncture, it is more of a nervous energy of the spirit than a blockage in the actual body. The discipline is great for people who do healing and channel energy. Practices vary. The Willow school is discussed and the Elder school. There are also sacred lakes and rivers in which water magic has pooled, rather like earth magic, like the springs and lake of Nava.

The Magic of Fire and Blood

Fire is also a flowing energy, but it is not channeled but sparked and captured in the exact quantity needed to heal, energize, or, in rare cases, maim. The energy is called upon rather than brought up from within and the magical worker acts as an electrical conduit. There is a problem with knowing how much is enough and most disciplines are in kinds of calls to summon up the spark needed and no more. The Rowan school is the fire school better known, though this is practiced also by the Alder.

The Magic of Air and Voice

Air magic is summoning magic, called from outside, sometimes with the help of a familiar. It is the magic used by many healers, shamans, and requires a great concentration. Most practitioners of this magic are solitary by nature, some are hermits. This is the magic of the wizard and the wise old man who lives up the mountain. This magic is mostly used by the Pine, Hazel, and the Silver Birch, but also by the Thorn King.

The Magic of Earth: Places and Objects

Most of the Clans of Anieth practice this magic, since it is charm magic, but also rooted magic, or the magic of being. Unlike water magic, this magic is closely tied to places and people. Sometimes one is just born with this magic, like a lucky token. You will see Tree shapers like Lugh Aradarach marked as a "lucky tree" or places of great power like An Doras, Coombe Charria, and the vale of the White Doe that are nexuses of power. Often this magic resides in stones and can be concentrated in objects like wands and bones. The Oak and Ash focus on this power.

Charm Magic

By far the most common magic in Anieth, used by most Animal shapers, but also prevalent in Animal Queens. Charm is also the most abused magic, even on Earth, where it is called charisma or attraction. The magic is not taught, but the native who has charm undergoes considerable discpline to instill a caution and control in using this power. Used in defense, scorned by many who do not believe the practicer can keep from using it for gain.

Shaping Magic

There are mental disciplines used by shapers, both to hold shape, take shape, and control shape and the senses that come from the shape. Often the human mind is overwhelmed by the shaping mind as an actor is sometimes lost in the part. On these pages are some cross-shape disciplines like crossing the predator boundary, dealing with three dimensional movement and swimming.

The Tarot

This was one of my specialities, the ability to shift and alter the walls between worlds to send people to Anieth or to summon images and people from Anieth to Earth. I developed my own Tarot deck to aid in this discipline, but it also aided in the power to see paths in the Game and to help in the fight to turn away the Zelosian invasion. My own deck is discussed here with my choices for the cards and the breathing ritual for the lower Arcana.

More on the Deck

Called "listening" in Anieth, telepathy is the second most common skill. Levels of listening run the spectrum from "intuition" to "not being able to shut it out." Exercises are similar to those for clairvoyance and precognition, focus, concentration, staying in the moment, staying in the self, sympathetic magic and protection, levels of listening. Much of the skill set is general, but there are several exercises to focus listening that even humans can use to become much better at "reading" people.

Telepathy, Clairvoyance, and Precognition

Called "listening" in Anieth, telepathy is the second most common skill. Levels of listening run the spectrum from "intuition" to "not being able to shut it out." Exercises are similar to those for clairvoyance and precognition, focus, concentration, staying in the moment, staying in the self, sympathetic magic and protection, levels of listening. Much of the skill set is general, but there are several exercises to focus listening that even humans can use to become much better at "reading" people.

These skills, like telepathy, are lumped under "listening" magic because their disciplines are so similar. Breathing exercises, concentration and focus are like many forms of meditation. However, there are many "mental stretching" exercises that are not common. Some of the practices are with non-sentient beings like trees and the earth and sky. Much of it revolves around control and forms of madness.

Bow and Silence

Also called warrior school or hunting school, this discipline is the most like the martial arts of Earth. Learning to stay in the space between the draw and the shot. Berserker training is part of this school which is dominated by the Holly. However, the Pine and Birch also have their schools. Students learn the laws of silence, patience and the skills of grace, speed and strength. There are thousands of body exercises to train the nerves and bones. This is the most popular study with humans.

© 2015, A.R. Stone

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