Magic is essentially an attempt by the spellcaster to harness the inherent chaos of creation. Eventually, chaos alters the spellcaster — physically, mentally, and spiritually — in a profound manner.
We have just overcome a rather large contingent of kobolds, and are en route to a village that we believe may soon be under duress by more of the creatures, so I am taking the time to write this now.
Last night it was discovered that we could “cure” the headaches, hallucinations, and strange powers that have been manifesting in the group, through use of an enchanted silver rod which we acquired near the site of the planar gate in the Slums. By way of experimentation, I allowed myself to be cured, and then had Lyra make contact with my mind to re-establish the powers. The ability to ameliorate the mental deterioration in this way should make learning to control these abilities less hazardous.
This morning, Lyra and I found Frantiska fading in and out of our reality. Apparently brought on by her headaches, she has manifested the ability to translocate in the same manner as Lyra, though she described a variety of unnatural hellscapes as the endpoints of her dislocation, leading me to believe that she was somehow traversing the planes, rather than just space. We were forced to “heal” her, as I described above, and in so doing she seemed to regain much of her mental composure lost over the few days as well—as if she could somehow not remember, or had mystically overcome, the horrors that she experienced in our journey to date. The ability of the rod to cure not only physical wounds, but also this strange psychic malady, and psychological trauma will be most useful.
As we journeyed today, I had a long talk with Lyra about the nature and workings of her Scion-ic abilities. We still have no idea how her abilities are spreading to the rest of us, but she was able to teach me some control over my new senses, such that I was able to see clearly with my hands, feel her form from a distance, and perceive meaning from the colors and shapes of her spoken words.
In my studies of Finnot’s text this morning and yestereve, I have come upon numerous notes regarding the summoning of creatures. Which, it seems, is very similar to the art of translocation, particularly as it regards the breaching of planar boundaries. Basically a transverse translocation, the casting of a summoning involves reverse transubstantiation of a being from another realm into our own. Like the creation of gates, this planar transit, usually of limited duration, is accomplished by means of a summoning circle (sometimes referred to as a magical circle, a yantra, a rune circle, a mandala, the circle of the elements, or other names).
Sister Winona, yet another maiden in my company, has also provided quite a surprising wealth of information on the subject. It seems she has made an extensive and in-depth study of diabology—the study of Hell and the creatures therein—and is quite the sage on such matters.
The common Corpus Hermeticum contains many published techniques for casting a circle, and many groups and individuals have their own unique methods. The common feature of these practices is that a boundary is traced around the working area. Most traditions say that one must trace around the circle deosil (sunward) three times. Finnot’s Book, however, suggests a single circle to be inscribed in the widdershins (an opposite course).
Circles may or may not be physically marked out on the ground, and a variety of elaborate patterns for circle markings can be found in the common grimoires and magical manuals. Most require the inscription to bear names of power (either the true name of a specific being to be summoned, or else the common names of angelic beings or demons of rank who can extend the power to command the obedience of other transplanar entities). Such markings, or a simple unadorned circle, may be drawn in chalk or salt, or indicated by other means such as with a cord.
The four cardinal directions are often prominently marked, such as with four candles. In ceremonial magic traditions the four directions are commonly related to the four arch-solars of Celestia1 , or the four classical elements, or four associated names of the greater gods. Other ceremonial traditions have candles between the quarters, i.e. in the north-east, north-west and so on. Often, an incantation will be recited stating the purpose and nature of the circle, often repeating an assortment of divine and angelic names.
A circle is typically nine feet in diameter, though the size can vary depending on the purpose of the circle, and the preference of the caster. Some magical practitioners use the common ceremonial colour attributions for their “quarter candles”: yellow for Air in the east, red for Fire in the south, blue for Water in the west and green for Earth in the north (though these attributions differ according to geographical location and individual philosophy).
A summoning will require the casting of a proper ritual circle for protection, and construction of a thaumaturgic triangle2 outside of the perimeter of the ritual circle, in the northern quarter. A thaumaturgic triangle is simply an equilateral triangle drawn within a circle, all three sides of the triangle touching the edges of the circle. Inscribed in the enclosed points outside the triangle, inside the circle, but not touching any of the lines of the triangle or circle, will be custom incantations tailored to the type of summoning that will be conducted. There are many other valid types of containment, but this is the most popular in traditional schools.
The barrier is believed to be fragile, so that leaving or passing through the circle would weaken or dispel it. This is referred to as “breaking the circle”. It is generally advised that practitioners do not leave the circle unless absolutely necessary.
In order to leave a circle and keep it intact, a door must be cut in the energy of the circle, normally on the East side. Whatever was used to cast the circle is used to cut the doorway, such as a sword, staff or athame, a doorway is “cut” in the circle, at which point anything may pass through without harming the circle. This opening must be closed afterwards by “reconnecting” the lines of the circle.
The circle is usually closed by the practitioner after they have finished by drawing in the energy with the athame or whatever was used to make the circle including their hand—usually in a widdershins (that is counter-clockwise) fashion, though in Finnot’s Book he uses the inverse deosil for the act of closing. This is called releasing the circle. The term “opening” is often used, representing the idea the circle has been expanded and dissipated rather than closed in on itself.
Here is an example of a fully rendered circle of summoning circle:
1 The four arch-solars are said to be:
- Barachiel, who bears messages across the planes.
- Sealtiel, who guards the boundaries of the planes.
- Zaphkiel, who sees all things in all realms.
- Raziel, who shatters the barriers of the Hells.
2 Remember that anything with a “hollow” or open space can be used to house or contain a conjured spirit; therefore you do not ever want to perform a summoning in a home, or within a permanently inscribed thaumaturgic triangle. Allowing the possibility of an entity taking up residence where you live can be a bad idea. It is also strongly recommended against binding spirits into portable items with the intent of keeping them indefinitely. They will rebel and seek your undoing. If one ever comes across one of these items, it is recommended to not touch them and leave the area immediately. Often times these entities or spirits have been tortured, abused, and forced into compliance by strong willed practitioners and they are not going to be friendly…