Magic, The Taint, and Cosmic Significance vol. 1
by Eldrac d'Murani
Researchers have long since posited that the best definition of magic is that of a web or weave that is tapped into through mastery of Arcana. It is further posited that tying into these webs and weaves is mirrored in several abilities, including planar travel and the manse abilities. Indeed, many of the arcane inclined Elder Gods act in terms described by weaves and webs throughout the histories.
Within the construct of the Low Magic and High Magic systems, this description of a web or weave makes complete sense. In terms of Low Magic, the web is in the form of the central unity of the chakras, and the latticework interplay of the four seasons. This web pattern, which solidifies the interior aspect of the person, through the image of the rainbow, reflects the interplay of the colors within the rainbow itself - a lattice of reflections and color combinations. The seasons, as noted, also have interplay - as both summer and winter represent extremes, as do spring and fall; spring and summer represent life, as fall and winter represent death; and spring and fall represent growth and transformation, while summer and winter represent suffering and perseverance. As for High Magic, the web is clearly visible in the connections between the spheres and the image of the pentagram, which is key to the ritualistic aspect. The pentagram is a symbol of the most intricate web, and, much as the body does for Low Magic, conforms to the central Law of Fives that is posited as a central force for Arcana creation.
It is within that posited aspect, the Law of Fives, that I wish to place this exploration of both Magic and the Taint, as there need be a connection drawn here between the aforementioned magics and their significance as bases for higher spiritual abilities, specifically that which deals with mysticism - cosmic studies, nature magic, and elementalism.
It is essential, in this exploration, then, to first argue that the structure of the creatures capable of using Magics meets two standards: The Law of Fives and the Law of Threes and Fours. The first, the Law of Fives, is mentioned concretely in the Cosmogenesis histories, and is the main reference to the title, "Star Gods," which is one name given to the Elder Gods, in relation to their shapes. It stands to reason, thus, that when many of the Elder Gods splintered, they also embraced star shapes, and thus fulfilled the Law of Fives themselves. The Laws of Three and Four, I posit, are a natural result of the Law of Fives, which is Cosmic in scale. In order to settle Creation, there needed to be a level of Created forces - thus, the Four Seasons, the Elements in opposition - to coincide with the Metaphysical realities - the Three Fates, the Three Children of Yudhe (as noted by Dracnoris in "The Book of Dracnoris" it is possible that the three is a template for creation in some way). In this way, the Metaphysical, the Created, and the cosmic would be in the correct balance to form the whole. This is mirrored within Low and High Magic as well - the Three Prime Colors, the Four Seasons, the Four Spectrum Colors - essential for Low Magic as it is the combination of the Metaphysical and the Created - and in High Magic, the ten spheres, a double Five, are placed in the structure of a central square, a Four, with two triangles top and bottom, Threes (according to the diagrams of Vashner in "High Magic: The Eleven Spheres") or two squares, Fours, with a central vertex creating an upper triangle and a lower triangle (Threes), which together form Fives. This places the Cosmic in balance with the Metaphysical and the Created, and in many ways is representative of the totality of Creation - as each Being stands at a fulcrum of Cosmic identity, Metaphysical identity, and Created identity.
Defined here, Being is a sentience that is dependent upon these three distinct levels. In mortalkind, this is inherently so for reasons that will be discussed in detail later, but focus on the splintering of the Elder Gods. In terms of the half-formed, this is also valid, in the Created essence that brought them forth, through creches, the Metaphysical essence, again either through the higher planar creches, and the Cosmic essence, given their Awakening by the Sixth Circle from Creations of Dynara - bringing forth their Spiritual essence. I do want to note that, while the Great Spirits of the hive-souls are also Beings on a grander scale, they did not develop a Cosmic scale because they were gathered, rather than Awakened, from purely Created beings. The fae Spirit Maeve, however, is an exception, as this resulted in the hive-soul of Awakened, through the work of the Sixth and Seventh Circle, though it should be noted equally that the Maeve's creation resulted in a star-shape, which inherently creates a Cosmic dimension. One only need look at the difference between the Avatars of Moon and the Aspects of Crow to see the difference between the Being of an Awakened Great Spirit and the Being of a Hive Great Spirit. In addition, it is also necessary here to mention the Cosmic significance of the Primal Gods, who, despite being of the same generation of the Soulless Gods were not given to Magnora as Heralds. I can only surmise, given that both Dracnoris and Keph splintered into star-shapes (note:Dracnoris splintered into both dragons and dracnari, and though dracnari are star-form, the dragons are not, necessarily so, though they can assume a star-form, and thus, for our considerations, should be treated as such Beings) and, from a careful reading of "The Book of Dracnoris," the response that Dynara gave to Dracnoris concerning his pondering non-existence, that there was already some aspect of a soul within Dracnoris and that soul must, in some way, conform to the Law of Five, giving these Primal Gods the Cosmic dimension that their Soulless siblings lacked. Perhaps, herein, is the secret to a basic understanding of the Immandivinus connections that are inherent in the Elder Gods. Note also that Soulless Gods do not have any of these three dimensions. In some ways, the Soulless, who were also born from creches according to "The Book of Dracnoris," can be said to possess the opposite of the Cosmic dimension - the Excoroperditio - which will become central to our discussion later.
In any case - within Beings, through the Law of Five, and the subsequent Laws of Threes and Fours, there is an inherent cosmic reality, coupled with a metaphysical and created one. In all Beings, these manifest through a unification web, granting each Being some semblance of possibility in learning metaphyiscal, cosmic, and created skills. To a certain degree, certain individual aspects may make for an increased aptitutde for one or the other, such as an individual race's attunement to a particular nature or environment, or a particular Elder God's affinity causing a similar affinity in a splinter, or attuning that Elder with Creation in a different way, such as the voice of Lyreth or the crystalline nature of Xyl. Indeed, in all Beings, this unified web that is present works by channeling those energies through the body - and I use channeling deliberately, to invoke those self-same practices that are used by Psionicists, and the interact of the Elemental channels among Elementalists. I would also add that the Harmony auric skills of the kephera, as well as the songs of the Bards, are also representative of channeling, though they do not directly use this term with the same centralized meaning that the aforementioned do. The channels of these energies are central to the learning of skills - especially any skill involving "magic" (that complex term we briefly defined, but should grow now to include, in its lower case form, all skills that are above the physical, meaning involving some form of metaphysical or cosmic dimension). First the channels must be available, then opened or, in some cases, awakened (no relation to the Awakening of the Great Spirits, but rather, a cursory awareness of the channels must be made clear to the Being or the Being must become aware of them through self-discovery or self-exploration), and then developed, through training, self-discipline, learning, practice, and other common forms. Indeed, none of the created Beings on the order below Dynara, Magnora, and the Son of Yudhe show any evidence of omniscience - rather, each Being displays evidence of some form of awakening process (whether awakening or Awakening).
However, here we come to a central and notable concept: while Beings of mortalkind grow and demonstrate potential for further growth on distinct levels, other Beings are remarkable in that their growth is questionable or distinct. Acutely, this relates to the Elder Gods still in existence and the half-formed and Great Spirits (the half-formed will be used to describe those being residing on the Cosmic Planes). The Elder Gods are capable of growth, in terms of Their own personas, ability, and internal development. This is clear in the lives of the Thinkers of the Fifth Circle, who searched for new truths and knowledge and explored, while also choosing to engage in battle during The Elder Wars (Lord Raezon, being a clear example), and all of the Elder Gods, themselves, who at first agreed with the use of the Soulless experiments, and then disagreed. Indeed, the very act of moving towards splintering, as expressed in "The Book of Xyl," and through that text, the reflection of Mugowumpois' own journey towards splintering, reveals a progressive growth process. The one way in which the Elder Gods could not grow is in the increase of Their power. As evidenced by the experiences of the Elder Gods Thax, Orclach, and Krokano, when attacked by the Soulless and receiving wounds, there were difficulties in reforming (as initially Xyl did when the Fifth Circle first found the Soulless) and returning to full strength. Indeed, the ability was there, as demonstrated clearly by Lord Thax's experience, where His essence was able to be gathered, but there was a Created dimension that, for some reason, could not be resolved. Note: There is an added dimension to the half-formed and Great Spirits that will be covered in detail during the second volume of this work - but, in basic terms, each of the half-formed and Great Spirits demonstrate evidence of growth in terms of identity and strength by achieving an individualization and theoretical construct, while simultaneously inter-relating with others, though their ability to grow beyond what they are is obviously limited with the absence of the Song of Dynara and, further, their own Cosmic limitations - as they are bound to one particular physical essence that is inherently tied to a Cosmic or Ethereal manifestation, as a function of their half-forming, and the inability to thus manifest completely on other planes.
To return to the Elder Gods, then, this is consistent with the aforementioned understanding - the Elder Gods possess a Created, Metaphysical, and Cosmic dimension and, when one is damage severely, are capable of reforming, inasmuch as that essence is still available. The problem of the aforemention Soulless attacks is that the essence is no longer available, being that the Soulless consume it, and, through their process, convert it to Excoroperditio essence, which fuels their growth process. Because of their own substantive existence, the Elder Gods faced, then a problematic situation - They had the ability to grow, but not the available essence and because of Their Soul's reception of the Song of Dynara, it seems They did not inherently possess the ability to acquire new essence. This seems to be the only major difference between the Soulless Gods and the Elder Gods, in terms of ability to acquire essence - the Primal and Elder Gods were able to subsist independently, drawing from the Immandivinus for a self-sufficient growth existence and the Soulless, not possessed of a Soul, could not and needed to consume Immandivinus in order to grow independently. It must be said, here, however, that both are capable of growth, and both demonstrate the desire for growth.
Therefore, the Thinkers, searching for truths, developed the concept of using the Soulless to impart the ability to consume to the Elder Gods, giving them access to incorporating more Immandivinus into Their Beings, and drawing from the Excoroperditio essence as well. The debates about the why and the political/social dimension of those conversations is not the subject of this, though it should be said that there were two major arguments that were illogical and should have been treated as such: Meridian's problematic assertion that there was a problem because the Soulless had devoured His mate, which is of course not a logical reasoning, and the assertion that the hunger would cause the Elder Gods to become like the Soulless, which is not logical in that A) The Soulless were not becoming the Elder Gods by consuming Immandivinus and B) the Elder Gods who did experience the Soulless Elixir did not lose access to the Immandivinus but gained something else, instead. Though this was disorienting, especially in the case of Orclach, for example, one need simply point out that all growth is, at first, disorienting, especially when challenging, Cosmically, and especially when those Beings who are thus being challenged have a grander and larger Cosmological and Metaphysical awareness. Indeed, one needs go no further than to attest to the process of Ascending for a minor viewpoint of the disorienting and uncomfortable nature of rising to a new Cosmological and Metaphysical awareness and becoming attuned to a newer reality, and there are advantages that mortalkind possess in this endeavor that the Elder Gods do not. However, it is also important to note that for the three previous examples given, each of the Elder Gods was able to not only reform, but gained strength and the ability to grow in new and distinct ways - Orlachmar was able to absorb the essence of Volkh, and Wolf sensed that residual essence within, which means that the essence did not inherently change its overall quality of divine substance, Krokano gained the sight that could pierce through illusions, and Lord Thax gained a stronger Created form that directly allowed Him to increase His strength and power.
This is highly significant in that, upon splintering, the Beings that arose - being mortalkind - were significant for two reasons - one, as already described, each had a Created, a Metaphysical, and a Cosmic dimension, which Mugowumpois clearly attested to ("The Book of Xyl") and two, each demonstrated still possessed a fragment of a Divine Spark, but not one that inherently dominated the character of the Being - in other words the splintered Beings did not develop solely based on the Immandivinus. This is significant because it allowed the introduction of the Portal of Fate, through which only Beings who did not draw energy from the Immandivinus and were not directly bound by Cosmic or Ethereal manifestation could pass and, through the process, grow. The process of growth by which mortalkind lives is directly tied into these specifics.
This reflects the study of Mugowumpois, who in testing splinters that had passed through the Portal of Fate, was unable to detect a profound transformation, and, yet, each was more balanced between these three aspects of existence, better protected from the Soulless, and capable of stronger deeds and more powerful resistance to the Soulless.
This, therefore, leads to two conclusions that can be extrapolated from this development: one, growth is predicated on Created, Metaphysical, and Cosmic development, and, two, somehow through contact and battle with the Soulless, followed by passing through the Portal of Fate multiple times, "mortals" are capable of harnessing this to increase their ability to become resistant to and actively resist the Soulless. It should also be noted here that, at this point, the rising of the Vernal Gods is proof of this, though each of them became limited due to rising as Vernal Gods and, thus, being unable to return to their Vernal forms following their deaths, though it is expected given the theories of Mugowumpois, that the Vernals who perished were reincarnated, though the Fate of those who became the Seals is a mystery.
However, it is essential to establish that these souls who gained and grew had contact with the Soulless in the process of their growth - they fought, learned, and grew. And, after the Vernal Wars when contact with the Soulless became null, they continued to experience loss, pain, and death in order to progress, and still felt the same desire to grow. All of these things could be said to be a part of the development that had already occurred in each, as each was a reborn soul already - not one soul was "new." Even the faeling, who were descended from fae and elfen (shards of Elfenhoala) did not have a "new" soul. (Note that at this point, cosmologically, neither the viscanti nor nagasith existed, nor were the illithoid and kephera known to the larger population, though, at some point, Keph and Illith did splinter, and, as splinters, gain the ability to pass through the Portal of Fate, albeit, in terms of the illithoid, are capable of absorbing particular channels to gain strength, though not at the level of absorbing essence at the Soulless level, though it is interesting that the illithoid are able to be reborn considering that they come from a Soulless, yet somehow possess a soul to experience the portal. Equally, curious is that the illithoid are able to grow and even work against the Soulless, even capable of working against the rest of the illithoids).
Therefore, it is necessary by these explanations to conclude that the Twelve were correct in Their suggestion and experimentation, and, furthermore, the Elder Gods that splintered were, essentially, subjecting themselves to a similar experiment: that contact with the Soulless that would change the spark within them, allow them to grow and gain strength, and become capable of surviving and exelling against the Soulless. Moreso, this is given supreme clarity by the return of Estarra, the Eternal, who is theorized to be the merger of Dynara, Magnora, and the Son of Yudhe - the incorporation of the Excoroperditio and the Immandivinus, as well as the incorporation of the Metaphyiscal and Cosmic with the Created (in that the Son of Yudhe is a more attuned Creation than Dynara and Magnora were when compared to Yudhe, according to the Cosmogensis texts - "limited in omniscience yet full of potency").
This, then, brings us to the Taint, which, of course, occurred through Project Cosmic Hope. The cosmic significance of reaching the supraplane was, of course, central to the Project's goal. However, what was not expected was the contact with the Soulless, Kethuru. Upon contact, however, several things occurred: firstly, the Taint was unleashed; secondly, the individuals present were transformed; thirdly, there was some recognition of the presence behind the Taint. This meets the first condition for the process outlined before - contact with the Soulless. Upon the actions of Hallifax and Gaudiguch, and the sealing away of those cities and planes, those same individuals all noticed and commented, with a "neutral" source in Lolly Pringle confirming, the lack of presence in the Taint. However, each of their transformations remained, and, following years of passing through the Portal and descendancy, progressing and growing in power and ability. This, then, meets the secondary process outlined before - passing through the Portal to gain strength.
Thus, the Taint must act upon the web structure outlined previously, and increases the aptitude of the channels, while, simultaneously, allowing new channels to open and form, causing mutation and growth. As those changes grow, they seem to remain steady, and adapt Metaphysically and Cosmically to the new physical Creation, as attested in the development of the viscanti and the nagasith, who are the results of Tainted splinters, intermarriage, and long term adaptation. In addition, the ability of the viscanti to thrive, as opposed to be weakened (as many Elder Gods were when in contact with the "Taint" of the Soulless - see the various Books of the Elder Gods for examples, specifically Orclach, Krokano, etc.), upon Tainted ground is evidence that the Taint has infused the channels with a level of growth that surpasses "resistance" (a similar thing can be said for the nagasith's abilities on the supraplane).
Thus, the Taint, inherently, represents the same transformative experience the Elder Gods were counting upon in splintering, which is the strengthening of the aspects of existence that allow resistance and power to combat the Soulless, and the same growth process already outlined, as those touched by the Taint increase in terms of physical Creation, the Metaphysical dimension of Intellect and Arcana, and the Mysticist Cosmic dimension.
Cosmically, therefore, it is necessary to posit that the Taint is not only a desirable outcome, but the very same desired outcome that the Elder Gods splintered themselves for - survival and the establishing of a format for growth and transformation that could bring about increased survival and resilence. In addition, the Cosmic significance of the Law of Fives, and the corresponding Laws of Three and Four, indicate as well, that the experiments of the Twelve were also in line with this rationalization, and, therefore, represent the key to overcoming the Soulless rather than remaining as wardens of a tenuous prison.
Ultimately, therefore, the Taint is the necessary first step in the progressive movement towards victory.