How Magic Works: Visions

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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!


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Magic in the Fay of Skye Series

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This post jumps off a little from my guest post on J.L. Gribble’s blog, so if you haven’t read that yet, you should go check it out.

Magic is a force in the universe of my world, one that can be manipulated by certain people and sometimes becomes corporeal in the form of gods and magical creatures. It is, from another perspective, a divine presence—an emanation of creation. So, just like there are many ways to discover god in our world, there are many ways to use magic in mine.

The Magisterium method uses very regimented casting structures. New spells are not allowed unless approved by the Magister’s Council. Spells are cast the same way, every time, regardless of situation or location. That means that some spells may not work as well, or not at all, if they rely on a certain elemental force in a place where that element is lacking (water spells in a desert). But they are also easier to learn, as you do not need to learn how to adapt, and will generally work in most circumstances outside of extremes. Spellcasting is done using hand and finger-movements, voice, and the caster’s will. Students are taught by “shadowcasting” with Master Casters, and practice using cat’s-cradle-like twine weavings.

The Academe method is very similar to the Magisterium, except that they allow limited adaptation and have a looser process for creating new spells. New spells need only be vetted by local Academie representatives. Otherwise, they cast spells in the same way and train their students in the same way.

The Fay Method uses the same spellcasting structures (hand and finger movements, voice, and will), but is very dependent on adaptation and encourages experimentation and new spell creation. Shadowcasting is the preferred instructional method, and then co-casting. Twine or thread practice is not allowed, as it creates muscle-memories that will inhibit the ability to adapt in other situations.

These are the primary types of magic use that have been encountered thus far in the series. For reference, Amelia Upton (the Queen’s Sorceress) and Lucien Blake use the Academe method. Donn and Fina use the Magisterium method. All of the Fay family members use the Fay method. Ronan’s magic is a mish-mash of Magisterium, Academe, and extremely good luck.

Other ways to do magic:

  • Mind Magic
    • Purely mental magic is practiced in other areas of the world. These types of spells manipulate magical energy directly with the mind. Uses meditation, and sometimes still postures, like yoga, to assist with concentration. But no movement or gestures are necessary. This type of magic will be used in book three by the hero.
  • Dance Magic
    • Full-body casting, using dance or regimented movements similar to Tai Chi. This type of casting allows for very powerful group work, and teams will choreograph spells to devastating effect.
  • Auditory/Sound-based
    • Chants, songs, poetry, etc. This is similar to mental magic, because the spell is shaped in the mind, but the voice brings it to life. This is the kind of magic that Etta’s mother Aileana did.
  • Crossover Magic
    • Any combination of magic types. Sometimes dancers will sing, or mind magicians will use their hands or body.
    • Most people cannot fully cross over to using other ways of magic. I see this as similar to how people can have a natural talent or a natural inability to do things like drawing, singing, dancing, or even math or writing. In my world, mages may be able to learn to do very basic spells using a different style, but they will always be best at the one they’re most suited to.

These are all examples of active magic, or trying to cause change in the world using magical energy. Passive magic is an awareness of magical energy, either natural (magical currents, potential energy, etc.) or artificial (spells). In the books, I call checking for passive magic “opening your Sight.” But the experience isn’t entirely visual. There are scent, taste, temperature, pressure, auditory, and other sensation-aspects to the Sight. It is also highly symbolic, because our brains process the world through symbols (you are reading this using symbols that we call letters, in a greater metaphorical sense, all words are symbols, too).

There’s much more to know about how magic works in my world, including elemental affinities, but this post is getting long, so I’ll save that for another day!


To see this magic in action, visit any of the following retailers:

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Essential Magic, The Fay of Skye Book One

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Paperback

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A Theft of Magic, The Fay of Skye Book Two

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Trade Paperback

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A Merge of Magic, A Fay of Skye Serial Prequel

Part One Amazon Exclusive eBook

$0.99 or free with your Kindle Unlimited Subscription

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