UNDERSTANDING XIMAXIAN MAGIC

OUNÍA AND EXPRESSION OF ELEMENTAL PROPERTIES

 


The purpose of this lesson is to explain how ounia express elemental properties. We use "elemental properties" to refer to the properties associated with each Element (hereafter: “Properties”, capitalised). For instance: movement, clarity, invisibility are Properties associated with the Element of Wind. This lesson is intended to complement – and should therefore be read together with – the “Ounia” entry (by Rayne Avalotus) and all three parts of “Understanding Ximaxian Magic through the Cár'áll.”

SUMMARY

An oun has the capacity to express all the Properties of its Element and can indeed be expressing more than one property (physical or spiritual) at the same time. How many/which Properties are expressed by an oun at any given time depends on which Properties are currently active and “given voice to” through the links. One can think of Properties as separate layers to an oun so that increasing one Property does not necessarily reduce/increase another.

All other things being equal, an oun tends to express all the Properties which are currently active in the part of the (object’s/entity’s) Cár'áll that oun is located in. Note that an oun does not always express all of its properties. For example, ounia contained in certain objects naturally have certain properties shut off. Consider still air: The wind ounia in still air are expressing all of their properties except that of movement whereas the earth ounia do not express any of their properties except that of stillness.

Generally speaking, a Property can be “turned off” in one of two ways: (i) One could manipulate the oun directly and stop it expressing that Property or (ii) the Property could be “muffled” by turning the links connecting that Property to the rest of the Cár'áll from soor (active/speaking) to ahm (passive/listening). Compare snuffing out a gas lamp by turning the valve and blocking the conduit through which the light emanates.

THE FOUR ELEMENTS: WIND, WATER, FIRE, EARTH

The Prime Energy (Cár'áll) has four main states: these are the elemental energies of Wind, Earth, Water and Fire. Each elemental condition ascribes a certain quality to the Prime (Auratic) Energy through exclusion. Sunlight (Prime Energy/Universal Cár'áll) passing through a red prism (Element of Fire) becomes red (elemental fire energies). Strictly speaking, the red lens does not “colour” sunlight red – it merely excludes (blocks or “weans out”) all the other colours which were already present in sunlight.

The Four Elements represent the four guiding principles of the cosmos, the four cosmological orientations. For example, Wind (capitalised to refer to the Element of Wind) is the cosmological principle of motion, clarity, being... Notice that we do not say “Wind is clarity”: The Element of Wind is the existential force or drive towards clarity; clarity is a quality that guiding principle manifests as. The qualities the elemental orientations ascribe to a Cár'áll are known as “(Elemental) Properties”.

The origins of Ximaxian magic lie in elven mythology, the Carpadosia. But Elves do not think like Humans do. Santharian human magic is based on elven teachings; as humans tried to adopt (and later adapt) elven cosmology, these alien concepts were interpreted, re-interpreted and often mis-interpreted over the centuries. Over time, three views emerged among Ximaxian scholars as to what the Four Elements actually are. Many of the schisms and diverging explanations in Ximaxian magic could be traced back to this fundamental difference of opinion. The view one takes determines one’s explanation of ounia and how these ounia express Properties.

View 1: The Four Cosmic Orientations

This account sees the Four Elements not as four primordial energies that run through and permeate the cosmos but as four principles which influence and qualify (from “quality”) the Prime Energy (Universal Cár'áll). All Ximaxian scholars agree that what we see as wind, water, fire or earth here in the world are not the Four Elements themselves – they simply are the purest physical manifestation of those Elements. But this account goes further: It argues that, the Element of Fire, cosmologically speaking, is not a form of energy but an orientation, a principle, which manifests as/in fire ounia – which in turn can manifest as or create fire, heat, light, passion etc. Just as the Cár'áll is the template or defining principle behind an entity, so the Elements are the driving forces behind the Cár'áll which generate in it certain qualities/affinities.

View 2: The Four Elemental Energies

According to this view, an Element is not just an abstract principle but a form of energy, an elemental force that runs through the cosmos. The Elements are not physical but they are manifest, just like Cár'áll is not physical but is manifest – they might exist beyond or behind the world we walk through but nonetheless they exist. So the Element of Fire, for instance, is a cosmic energy which is composed of smaller units of energy called fire ounia. Or to put it the other way around: The fire ounia in a Cár'áll together with all the other fire ounia of the cosmos constitute the Element of Fire.

Historically, it was an extreme version of this view that led to first the denial and then the abject fear of raw magic. If fire ounia is the very essence of fire energy and that energy is quintessentially different from say wind energy, it is much less likely to be fire ounia today and wind ounia on Elfday. And if raw magi actually can forcibly convert one into the other, then the very fabric of Existence must be in danger! If there is a certain amount, a specific proportion, of fire, earth, water, wind energies in existence and the cosmos does not naturally produce more or convert one into the other on its own, then an errant raw mage converting elemental ounia of one type into another upsets the very balance of the universe.

View 3: The Middle Way

Current Ximaxian thinking embraces both views: It accepts the Four Elements as guiding principles which draw a Cár'áll towards a certain orientation/affinity – but it does not deny that this guiding principle could exist as – be embodied in – some kind of elemental force coursing through the cosmos. The reason for adopting this half-way house is rather practical: Certain observable magical phenomena are easier to explain with the first model and others with the second. For instance, as Ximax encountered more and more foreign practices which could only be explained by reference to raw magic, academic opinion shifted back towards the first account. Generally, the second, practical/tangible model is used with novices for teaching purposes whereas high magic theory and purist explanations of magic heavily lean towards the first, philosophical/abstract account.

OUNÍA: THE PRIME ELEMENTAL ENTITY
(or:
THE SUMMARY OF AN ELEMENT)

Ounia (singular: oun) are the building blocks of the Cár'áll’s Substance. Since Cár'áll is energy, the actual material (“Substance”) of which it is composed must also be energy. Therefore, an “oun” is an immense concentration of elemental energy.

Ounia can be thought of as energetic nodes (or knots) within the Cár'áll. Notice that the oun is the Prime Elemental Entity: ounia are the smallest, indivisible units of the Cár'áll – one either affects an oun or not; there is no such thing as adding “half an oun” to this or that part of the Cár'áll. As far as Ximaxian magic is concerned, ounia are considered to be indivisible – although there is speculation in high magic theory that some forms of raw (resonance) magic might be able to “unravel” these nodes/knots into strands of elemental energy and perhaps even strands of pure, undifferentiated auratic energy (that is: Prime Energy or Cár'áll in its purest sense).

In a sense, an oun is “the summary of an Element.” Ounia reflect the “cosmological purpose” or “existential orientation” of their Element. An oun harbours within itself all the qualities of its Element – and the potential to express and imbue these upon the Cár'áll as individual properties (see next section below). A fire oun for instance can be seen as a condensed form of the raw energy that is the Element of Fire and all that it represents. Ounia thus come in four “flavours,” echoing the four elements: wind ounia, water ounia, fire ounia and earth ounia.

OUNÍA AND EXPRESSION OF PROPERTIES

Technical Note: For the sake of simplicity, all the examples in this section are based on Sphere-1 manipulations. Sphere-1 increases/decreases the dominance of an element in the Cár'áll without actually moving (Sphere 2) or adding/subtracting (Sphere 3) ounia. For more information, refer to the entry on Spheres.

Expression of Properties: The Layer Concept

Properties operate as separate layers within an oun – influencing one Property does not necessarily alter another.

One consequence is that an oun can express multiple Properties simultaneously. Imagine fire ounia in a Cár'áll, some of which are expressing heat and others light (heat and light are both Properties of the Element of Fire). The point is one does not have to usurp light to get more heat. One can turn on the “heat” property of the remaining ounia without extinguishing their “light” property. At the theoretical extreme, ounia working to their maximum capacity in one Property (heat) does not prevent them from working in their other capacities (light).

Another consequence is that the behaviour of ounia (and thus their manipulation) cannot be described in terms of quantity alone - the world of ounia and Cár'állia must be envisioned in both qualitative and quantitative terms. To progress deeper into magic theory, we need to gradually move away from the visualisation of ounia as physical balls attached to strings, and move towards a conceptualisation that sees ounia as nodules of energy expressing/radiating certain qualities.

For instance, there is a difference between solidity and that which causes solidity. In other words, we should not think of earth ounia as tiny little rocks floating around, invisible to the naked eye – so that as we move and gather these earth ounia at a specific area, they materialise into a larger rock platform sailing through the air like a magic carpet. Instead perhaps it would help to think of earth ounia as nodules of energy expressing/radiating the quality/property of solidity. So as we move ounia, it is these qualities that move around.

This comes back to active & passive qualities (soor/ahm): If we move fire ounia expressing heat (that is: fire ounia in which the quality of heat is active and other characteristics passive) from A to B, we heat the air in that trajectory. Or more accurately: we move the “heat” around. If we gather fire ounia expressing light and move them from A to B, it appears or manifests as a unit of light/luminosity travelling from A to B. Likewise, if we move fire ounia expressing the spiritual quality of vitality/animation, we can awaken/animate people that unit of ounia passes through – quite a handy way to awaken a group of drowsy students in a lecture theatre! (Of course Cár'állia tend to revert to their original state (the Form acts as a magnet. Therefore the effects will slowly dissipate unless we either continuously “channel” fire ounia along that line or turn the meta-state of those active link/ounia from meta-ecuan (transient) to meta-xeuan (enduring).)

How Ounía express Properties: Soór ("speaking") Links giving Voice to active Properties

For a Property to be expressed in the Cár'áll (for a Cár'áll to have a certain quality), (1) that quality must be active in the oun AND (2) given voice to through the links. Note that these are cumulative requirements.

This should be obvious but for the sake of completeness, we can also turn the statement around: Generally speaking, a Property can be “turned off” in one of two ways: (i) One could manipulate the oun directly and stop it expressing that Property or (ii) the Property could be “muffled” by turning the links connecting that Property to the rest of the Cár'áll from soor (active/speaking) to ahm (passive/listening). Compare (i) snuffing out a gas lamp by turning the valve and (ii) blocking the conduit through which the light emanates.

A note on elemental inter-dependence: The domains of opposite Elements (Wind-Earth; Fire-Water) overlap. For each property an Element has, its counterpart has an equal and opposite property: Heat is governed by Fire and cold by its counterpart, Water. Note however that, all other things being equal, augmenting the desired property produces a stronger effect than muffling its opposite property. By turning off heat property of Fire a fire mage cannot make a room as cold as a water mage of equal strength will by increasing the influence of Water’s property of cold.

Thus, how many/which Properties are expressed by an oun at any given time depends on which Properties are currently active and “given voice to” through the links. All other things being equal, an oun tends to express all the Properties that are currently active in the part of the (object’s/entity’s) Cár'áll that oun is located in.

A) The Ounia Method ("Elemental Method")

A Property can be activated and/or the intensity with which it is expressed through the oun adjusted directly through the oun. Remember that each Property is expressed through a different layer of the oun. Continuing with the analogy of the gas lamp, one can tune (increase/decrease and/or switch on/off) a Property just as one regulates the intensity of the flame by turning the valve. Extending the analogy, we turn one valve to generate the yellow flame of light and another to produce the pink flame of passion.

This is the method of elemental magic – direct manipulation of ounia with an indirect impact on links. Just as a river opens up (hollows out? Tunnels?) its own way through the earth and a sudden gush of water bursts out holes in the dam enclosing it, amplifying the intensity of one Property in an oun can sometimes naturally cause some of the links around that Property to shift from ahm (passive) to soor (active). (By the Conservation of Voice principle, this would lead to a corresponding number of previously-active links connected to less active Properties in the Cár'áll to switch off to ahm.) The layer model thus provides a valuable explanation of how elemental mages are able to indirectly influence links by influencing ounia.

Observation of phenomena tells us that certain Properties are naturally connected. Burning something produces both heat and light. When you melt metal, it becomes hotter and eventually starts to glow. To spell out the consequences: Sometimes Properties can be manipulated in isolation, independently from one another. Sometimes Properties “come in clusters” – they cannot be manipulated independently of one another; changing one will affect the other, which might be in the same (e.g. both increase) or opposite (e.g. one increases, one decreases) direction, proportionately (both increase/decrease pro rata) or otherwise (they do not increase in the same proportion). Sometimes Properties can be manipulated in isolation up to a point, but a natural connection is triggered once that threshold is passed (e.g. metals can be heated to a point without making them glow, but once they start glowing increasing heat will increase the light emitted, albeit not in the same proportion in all metals). Ximaxian scholars invest vertiginous amounts of time and thought into studying these connections. Knowledge of such matters becomes invaluable in creating enchantments, “triggers” for spells, or a complex web of spells and enchantments which trigger one another.

B) The Link Method ("Xeuá/Ecuá Method")

Note: In practice, Xeua and Ecua mages can affect both ounia and links – however, for the sake of simplicity we will only concern ourselves with pure xeua/ecua, that is: affecting the Cár'áll solely through the manipulation of links.

Continuing the gas lamp analogy: Suppose you are in a dark room. The aim is to illuminate as much of the manor as possible with the lamp in your hand without fiddling with the valve. So you do not directly intensify the flame but instead open as many doors as possible to adjacent rooms to “carry” or spread the light emanating from the lamp. In this example: Lamp = Ounia; Flame = fire property of light; Doors = Links; Manor = the Cár'áll.

Ahm/Soór:
Links can be either ahm (passive/listening) or soor (active/speaking). Soor (speaking) links “give voice” to ounia, allowing their active Properties to manifest in the Cár'áll. An ahm links means that a Property, even though it is active in the oun, cannot be expressed to the rest of the Cár'áll. Spell-casting (as opposed to enchanting) affects ahm/soor but not the meta-state.

Meta-states:
The meta-state describes how quickly a link shifts between ahm (passive) and soor (active) – i.e. the meta-state refers to the permanence or impermanence of the connection type (ahm or soor). In simple Tharian, it signifies whether the current state of a xeua-link is stable or prone to change. So: An ahm link with an ecuan (transient) meta-state is a passive link that is likely to shift into a soor (active) state. An ahm link with a stable/enduring (xeuan) meta-state is a passive link that will not easily become active. A soor link with an ecuan (transient) meta-state is an active link that can be extinguished (turned to ahm) easily. A soor link with a stable/enduring (xeuan) meta-state is an active link that is likely to stay active. Enchanting (as opposed to spell-casting) changes the meta-state but not ahm/soor.

(NB: “Ahm-xeuan” is the shorthand for an ahm (passive) link with a xeuan (stable) meta-state.)

Link direction: Who speaks to whom?
The Theory of Ahm and Soor, of communicating and responding, implies four different ways of linking. One may draw a line from X to Y, or from Y to X, or in both directions, or do a simple line without any arrows. Let X be the Property of “passion” in a fire oun and Y the Property of “clarity” in a wind oun.

(i) X-->Y: X “speaks to” (acts upon) Y which listens (reacts) but does not respond back; you suddenly feel very passionate about clarity.

(ii) X<--Y: Y “speaks to” (acts upon) X which listens (reacts) but does not respond; you feel you are clear on what it is you are passionate about.

(iii) X<->Y: Dialogue – X & Y hold a conversation. They both speak and respond; X & Y mutually influence each other. You are clear about where your passions lie and you are passionate about achieving clarity.

(iv) X---Y: Silence – neither X nor Y speak; they both listen. The link is neutral. Neither passion nor clarity manifests in the Cár'áll.

 Date of last edit 26th Rising Sun 1671 a.S.

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