Basic Magic, as we understand it.

"A knife in the hands of a child is dangerous - but one in the hands of a cook, can create wonders. What laymen call 'magic' is the same. It is a volatile, beautiful thing - a power that our predecessors ignored to their detriment. But thaumaturgy is just waiting to be researched, resourced, refined. Countless cultures throughout history have drawn on the wellspring in their own way. Now it's our turn."

-Excerpt from the preface to Arcanum Vestrale, a 1983 publication of Prometheus Primogenitus1 Sibyl Dr. Harold Rand.


Christ as an abstract representation of the Kabbalah, a classic example of Theogonic thaumaturgy.

Magic is difficult and perplexing to grasp. It is, appropriately enough, arcane in its complexity. Certain rituals, potions, runes, totems, idols, and elemental manipulation seems to completely fail under some circumstances and function in others, with little logical consistency - certainly nothing that lends itself to scientific rigor. A researcher looking to approach magic from the traditional experimental perspective will need to throw away all prerequisites of the scientific method, materials testing, or even the notion of quantifiable results.2 Magic functions by its own rules, most of the time.

One of the most deeply troubling factors of the study of thaumaturgy is how little different schools share in methods and technique. Alchemy, for instance, shares much with modern chemistry - in part no doubt due to being its predecessor - and on the above diagram those branches of alchemical thought closest to the central label demonstrate the most internal consistency. Naturally, on the opposite end of the thaumaturgic map lies theogony or belief, one of the least rational and most difficult to study of the Thaumaturgic schools. The Authority and its researchers are unsure how theogonic thaumaturgy works in any capacity. We are aware that it can manifest supernatural and anomalous effects, and we know that the strength and intensity of these effects are correlated with the level of trust or faith that humans have in the potency of their religion and deities. Beyond that, we are blind.3

A similar dichotomy can be witnessed in the divide between ritual thaumaturgy and elementalist thaumaturgy. Rituals are a slow, methodical approach to the craft - sacrificing, communing with the wilds, or imbibing potions and tinctures that thin the barriers between the human mind and the powers of the natural world. These rituals are generally a human invention, and allow a talented practitioner to interact with their beliefs in a measurable and frequently permanent fashion. Elementalism, on the other hand, draws on those same natural powers far more directly, and in a way that seems substantially more arbitrary. Skilled elementalists can, through their worship of the fundamental forms of matter, move rock, breathe underwater, soar through the skies and walk across searing coals with no evidence of what we might consider ritual acts or preparation.

To compound matters, the thaumaturgic map is not strictly two-dimensional. The craft is riddled with overlaps, inconsistencies and loopholes that defy explanation or rational cataloguing. Indeed, many elements of alchemy are functionally similar to ritual, yet possess completely different cause-and-effect systems. Thaumaturgic smithing can in many ways be regarded as a subset of elementalism. Even concepts which are classified as opposites are often closely interlinked; witness the alchemical practices of the Hermetic thaumaturges, or the elementalism of traditional European druidry. Fundamentally, understanding the intricacies, inconsistencies and fundamental lack of logical rhyme or reason to the thaumaturgic craft is a vital skill for any Authority researcher seeking to delve into this rich and fascinating field.

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