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A speculatively reconstructed history of human magics in Gielinor OSRS

First, it is well-known that magic begins with anima. However, how the two are connected is fuzzy. I have attempted to sort out the developing relations between the two concepts in a speculatively reconstructed history of human magics in Gielinor. If you do not want to wade through that long draft of an rs accounts, I will briefly summarize the main points.

The earliest human magics, which I call sorcery, dealt with the invisible spirits which populate Gielinor and which are responsible for all of its natural processes. During this time, the concepts of anima and sorcery were tightly linked: sorcery, and the early runic magics within its purview, were understood as the reflective participation in the spirits of Gielinor; anima was understood as the receptivity of visible things to invisible things, i.e. as the capacity of things for life, for responding to the promptings of spirits. Sorcery happened when animate creatures reflected upon their responsiveness to invisible spirits and acted with such reflective knowledge.


Human magics evolved with the advent of new gods, races, magics, and empires in the late 2nd and 3rd ages, into what I call mysticism. Mysticism recognized greater diversity in the invisible things which move the heart. These include spirits native to Gielinor or native to other worlds and spirits which span the abyss and transcend worlds. The heart is also moved by something other than these spirits, by something which I have called "the ultimate darkness" - a concept developed during the destruction of the Godwars and underlying our inherited image of the mystic, who studies what is invisible and knowable, i.e. spirits, in order to find satisfaction in what is invisible and unknowable. The ultimate darkness is the unknowable, that which lies beyond the known spirits. Mysticism was understood as the study of the spiritual, of everything which moves the heart.

The maturation of mysticism in the late 3rd age led to the condemnation of necromantic practices among humans and a new respect for anima, especially sapient anima. Anima was still understood in the ancient way, as the receptivity of visible things to invisible things, but in the late 3rd age anima was understood as the gateway to far more complex and mysterious aspects of the invisible than were known before.

The return of Guthix ended the Godwars, transformed human life on Gielinor, and led to the rise of Guthixian druidism in the early 4th age. The druids inherited the traditional respect for anima and the condemnation of necromancy, but the abrupt change and new struggles of the 4th age also led to the slow abandonment of the rest of the ancient wisdom and ways of sorcerers and mystics. This process culminated in what I have called the "Age of Obelisks" in the late 4th age. This period saw the discoveries in druidic summoning, demon summoning, and oneiromancy, a new interest in the elements of magic, and a reconception of magic in terms of lawfully regulated exchange. From this period we also receive the last art of the mystical tradition: the construction of mystic staves.

In the course of the 4th age, the conceptual link between magic and anima was lost. Anima had become a complex and mysterious concept at the height of mysticism, and as this tradition was abandoned it became fuzzy and obscure in the minds of Gielinor's humans. Within the paradigm of modern magics, anima was reconceived - as a raw material or quantifiable force underlying the lawfully regulated magical phenomena. It became detached from the study of magic, a variable input in mathematical equations. Anima became spiritual power, and (modern) magic became the direction of spiritual power. The concept of spirits was wholly lost.

These conceptual changes were solidified with the discovery and unmatched success of modern runic magics at the start of the 5th age, but the question of anima and its relation to magic has emerged again with the fall of the Edicts, the discovery of divination, and the threat of the elder goddesses' return.

Why did we go through all that? Because it was important to review the relationship between magic and anima. If we're going to construct a spell, and we know that we need to begin with anima, it's important for us to know what anima is. Over the ages, it has been conceived as receptivity to spirits, as receptivity in general, and as spiritual power. Because I am writing in a modern context, I will speak of spiritual power, but I don't want us to slip into thinking of this power as something like electromagnetism. Anima, even in the paradigm of modern magic, is a spiritual power, which means that it moves the heart. It stirs up emotions and sometimes prompts us to action. In order to construct a spell, we will need to find the stuff within ourselves that does just this.

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