How Magic Works: Visions
Visions have played a small but significant role in the Fay of Skye series to date. In Essential Magic, there is one false vision and a few true ones that influence events in the latter half of the book. In A Theft of Magic, visions are more prevalent, but have very minor effects on the story. In the third book (which I am writing now), Memories of Magic, visions will play a very large, plot-relevant role.
So how exactly do visions work in this world?
In my last blog post, I mentioned that there is a difference between active magic (typically referred to as spellcasting) and passive magic. In passive magic, mages observe magical phenomena but do not interact with it. Visions fall into this second category.
In a broad sense, visions can be almost any kind of “seeing” (although that’s a bit of misnomer, as I’ll explain later) over space or time. But when seeking a vision of something in a distant place, it is called scrying. Sometimes examination of spells and magical artifacts is also called scrying. When mages speak of visions, they specifically mean looking through time.
In my world, there is no set destiny or future. Visions are of what may be, and sometimes the one having the vision does not know if it’s a likely future or a very unlikely one. Sometimes it is very clear what must be done to stop the vision from occurring (or to make sure it happens) and sometimes it is not. Very strong Seers and Seeresses can seek out visions and attempt to answer these questions. For others, the visions come randomly.
Very rarely, a mage will be born with the ability to see backwards in time. Sometimes a very strong mage will be able to see in both directions. The ability to see the past allows for greater insight into what has already passed, imparting knowledge and wisdom for the future.
Visions are not only visual experiences, but engage all of the senses. A vision, despite being named for sight and called the Sight, also includes scent, taste, hearing, and touch. Having a vision is similar to lucid dreaming. Your brain is completely engaged in the experience, so you feel as though you are living it, but at the same time you are aware that it is not real.
False visions can happen either because of conscious manipulation on the part of another mage, or under certain circumstances when the magic of two mages interacts in ways not entirely understood. These visions may be entirely fabricated, as in the case of a vision spell crafted by a mage, or true experiences shared unwittingly with another. In the latter case, even though the contents of the vision are true, it is still considered a false vision because it comes from another mage rather than being a product of the magic that imbues the world.
To date in the series, the most prominent character with visions is Sorcha Fay. She is the heroine of the newly released A Theft of Magic, and her story includes several different visions. See below for ways to get your copy!