Iconomancy: A Magic Without Words is a treatise by Alexander of Daventry.
Iconomancy: A Magic Without WordsEdit
I find it somewhat ironic, if not humbling, to realize that the more one learns, the more one learns that one has not learned enough. The more a person studies and explores the mysteries and secrets of Magic; the more questions found answered in scrawled worm-munched and mold-infected parchments; and the more foul dungeons and death-cold catacombs wandered in search of new wonders, the more the thaumaturgical tourist becomes baffled. Each new discovery brings a few new facts, but with them come a passel of new perplexities. Like a flea on a dragon's hide, we think that the little we perceive is all there is to the beast. Then we bite, and the dragon scratches. If we survive the encounter, we find ourselves elsewhere on the beast, its smoking snout perhaps, discovering in the process that there is more to the dragon than we could ever have imagined. Magic is like that. As soon as we think we know what it is, how it works, and how to control it, the universe absently raises a hind leg and...off we go again.
Of course it's not fair. On the other hand, the lack of fairness on the part of the multiverse, all of the universes of existence, is one of the few things we do know for sure.
Elsewhere, I have written at much length concerning the proper practice of the magical craft. I have shown how would-be magicians can never be too careful in following all the proper instructions and steps in the casting of spells. If the proper ingredients are not used in proper amounts and in the proper order; if the proper words are not intoned at the proper time; if the magic wand is not properly changed; and if it isn't properly waved at the proper time, then the envisioned magical spell will not work properly---if at all. Also, the would-be wizard will most probably suffer consequences of the direst nature. In cooking, a misread direction might only result in a baked cat instead of a baked pudding. In Magic, a missed or misread direction might easily turn the spellcaster into a cat. Or dead.
Or much worse.
In the past I have written that there are but two kinds of magicians. I have since reconsidered. In truth, there are just three kinds of magicians. Magicians, dead magicians, and those who wish most heartily that they were dead.
Sometimes we are so busy looking at water that we miss seeing the ocean. Some things, and some facts, are so obvious as to be missed. Thus it is with magic. The small and the simple household spells, ensorcellments, bindings, petty conjurations, love potions, and enchantments are passed around from mouth to ear, seldom inscribed on parchment. Their simplicity is such that even when mistakes are made in the casting, the worst that might befall the practitioner is an occasional blood blister, wart, partial baldness, or a week or two of bladder incontinence. Minor annoyances for minor spells, simple maladies for simple magics.
The greater magic and sorceries, because of their complex natures must be recorded in some way. Obviously, to learn and use such incantations, the sorcerer must be able to read the words inscribed in the scrolls and books of the Art. To practice the Craft of Magic, it is not enough to be careful, to follow directions perfectly, and to keep your magic wand fully charged. To be a magician, you must know how to read! How often we overlook this. How often we have blithely assumed this to be true.
Moreover, many of the most powerful and fearsome of the magical tomes are inscribed in languages and symbols either long dead, unknown to the magician, or from races other than that of the human folk. Some are reputed to have existed since the times before the Lizard Folk crawled out of their swamps to raise their gargantuan cities, and rule the stars for untold millions of years. The Lizard Folk themselves died out, victims of other arcane sorceries beyond the multiverse itself. Some even claim that those insane and incomprehensible magics which destroyed the lizards---the very sounds of which cannot be conceived nor reproduced by humans---exist still, written into the very shapes of the clouds and patterns in the winds. How can one read the words of such spells? How can a sorcerer utter the proper sounds?
We magicians are smug, I believe, in a certain picture of ourselves surrounded by our paraphernalia, our flasks and retorts and glass tubes and jars of dried esoterica. We wave our wands and invoke all of the powers we can command while those tools and supplies of our Craft look on without comment, silent acolytes at the alter of Magic. We take our time, make our gestures, cast the spell that we will, and then return to our books or our cups. In our peculiar liturgy, we control the time we take, and not the opposite. What then if sorcerers clash in battle, when one might not have the luxury of slowly building a spell to some titanic climax? Or, is it true, as some folk say, that the winner in any such contest of magical mayhem is the one who doesn't die of boredom?
When King Graham of Daventry, my father, fought and defeated the evil sorcerer Mordack in magical combat, he used a type of magic that was unknown to me until that time. King Graham is not a magician and, to the best of my knowledge, has not studied any grimoires or other compendium of the sorcerous arts. Mordack threw spells at my father potent enough to defeat great necromancers with just the wave of his wand. Yet King Graham vanquished the wizard, perhaps the most powerful mage I have ever encountered, after having studied this unique form of magic for only a few moments. True, my father has a good memory and is well trained and able to remember whole pages of manuscript at a glance, but he had not the luxury of lingering over Mordack's syllabus of mystical spelling, The Objurgation of Souls, for long.
To be a magician, you must know how to read. Although overlooked, it is nonetheless taken for granted; a truth so obvious as to be paid no mind. It is a conventional wisdom that is never doubted. The trouble with conventional wisdom, however, is that they are conventional. But the multiverse is large, and occasionally the dragon scratches.
All of the rules of spellcasting as I knew them were broken in that conflict which concluded, happily, in my father's favor. Later, like the scratched flea suddenly sitting on the dragon's nose, I began exploring Mordack's book, touring this new land of magical mysteries. In it, I discovered a different type of wizardry, one completely without words, artifice, or artifact. I have named this new form of spell-casting Iconomancy---conjuration through pictures.
It is because of its very simplicity that King Graham was able to master it as quickly as he did. I suspect that anyone of normal intelligence, and even average memory, might learn it with little effort and in a modest amount of time. it works thusly.
Sometime in the past, certain potent images---I call them Icons---were crafted, drawn onto the pages of the Objurgation of Souls to be studied and used. Whether it was by Mordack or by someone else, I do not know, although I suspect the manuscript is of great age and protected from decay by magical means. Whoever created the icons, was a very strong sorcerer, able to imbue his or her mystic power into the very pictures which were created. So strong and powerful is the magic draw into the icons, that all one needs to do to use them is to strongly and accurately recall the mere image of the desired spell. Concentrating with the eye of one's mind, the magician merely clears the intellect of all extraneous thought, forms a clear picture of the spell, and lingers with that image for a moment, much as one would caress the memory of a lover. This takes but a moment or two.
Our language has no word for the ultimate step, activating the magic. For that reason, I have taken the liberty to suggest a word to describe the willing of the spell into reality. The mind clicks on the spell in a moment of finality, one which tells the universe that, yes indeed, we perceive the image representing the spell as real and, at once, the spell is.
Thus it truly happens. It is much easier done, than described. Like relieving one's bladder, one doesn't know how it's done, one just decides, then does it.
It goes without much saying that the spellcaster must be in posession of a potently charged Wand of Magic during this act. Few magics work properly, if at all, without the stick of sorcery to channel and propel the magical energies through the aether from the caster to its culmination. Iconomancy is not one of the exceptions.
Much like I have transcribed portions of The Sorcery of Old, I shall now reproduce, as accurately as my modest artistic skills will allow, such excerpts from The Objurgation of Souls as I feel safe in bringing to the knowledge of others. Many of the magicks contained within the realms of changings, spells of transformation to and from various mortal forms. Using these spells, the mage will be able to change into still another. These castings are most powerful and agressive, and seem to have been intended for use in wizardly warring. If you must use or experiment with them, do so wisely.
Much evil and misery has passed through the lands of our world, despite good folk and better intentions. use these powers of Iconomancy---use all the many magical powers---in the cause of good, and for a world filled with peace.