I first met Karin Rita Gastreich when she joined the Magic Appreciation Tour in June, 2012. It’s hard to believe it has been two years already! At that time, Eolyn was her only title, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Since then she has released High Maga, book two of the Eolyn Chronicles, and now the audiobook edition of Eolyn.
To celebrate the release of her new audiobook, Karin is doing a blog tour titled “Eolyn’s Amazing Audio Book Tour and Giveaway” (click the title to see all of the stops.) For her visit here at The Vaetra Files, Karin wrote a wonderfully detailed article about the history and structure of magic in Eolyn’s Kingdom of Moisehén. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Before you go, be sure to enter Karin’s giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Magic in Eolyn’s World
by Karin Rita Gastreich
Eolyn is a daughter of Moisehén, an imaginary kingdom with a long and rich tradition of magic.
The people of Moisehén consider themselves spiritual descendants of Aithne and Caradoc, legendary figures who first discovered magic. Over the centuries, the teachings of Aithne and Caradoc gave rise to a complex system of beliefs and practitioners. It would be impossible for me to cover all the details of this system in a single post, but I can introduce some of its major elements.
First and foremost, magic is built on a deep understanding of the natural world. Aithne and Caradoc did not invent magic; nor did they simply receive it from the Gods. They learned magic by observing the plants and animals, by listening to the landscape and learning the lessons of the forest and other natural environments.
For the people of Moisehén, magic is divided into several categories that represent the stages of discovery as told in the legends of Aithne and Caradoc. There are types of magic that are considered inherent, such as Children’s Magic and Primitive Magic. All magic that must be learned is referred to as Advanced Magic. This in turn is divided into three categories: Simple Magic, Middle Magic, and High Magic.
In addition to these divisions, a distinction is made between men’s magic, practiced by mages, and women’s magic, practiced by magas. Granted, there is a lot of overlap between men’s and women’s magic, but there are also distinct gifts and realms of knowledge that accrue to each tradition.
Primitive Magic is considered the root of all magic. It is the oldest form of magic, the first to animate the hearts of men and women. It is also the least understood of all magic, and many of its forms – such as love and desire – remain under the exclusive (and sometimes infuriating) control of the Gods.
Music, song, and dance are also considered forms of Primitive Magic. Although inherent to the human experience, Primitive Magic transcends all other categories and is used at all levels of practice. Musicians, artists, and other masters of Primitive Magic are honored as true practitioners in the society of Moisehén, whether or not they have pursued additional studies to become magas and mages.
Children’s Magic is the magic of play and discovery. All children who are well taken care of express this magic. But mages and magas know how to practice Children’s Magic no matter what their age. This is the magic that keeps us fresh and imaginative.
Simple Magic is knowledge of the use of plants, animals, and fungi for food and medicinal purposes. Of course, the title is a something of a misnomer, because Simple Magic is far from simple to learn! In Moisehén, novices of magic begin studying the creatures of the forest and their uses from a very young age. It can take years before they gain sufficient mastery of the topic to continue on to Middle Magic.
Middle Magic involves learning the languages of animals, stones, and plants, so that the practitioner can communicate directly with the natural world. Of course, plants and animals in Eolyn do not ‘speak’ in the way you might find in a children’s book. A maga never carries on a conversation with a wolf in the same manner she might with another person. But she does learn how to interpret the signals of wolves, to understand what is being ‘said’ by them, and to interact with them accordingly. Middle Magic forms the foundation for learning High Magic.
High Magic is the only form of knowledge and power that was gifted by the Gods directly to Aithne and Caradoc. High Magic was delivered to Aithne and Caradoc by Dragon, also called the Messenger.
Practitioners who have become adept at Simple and Middle Magic must petition the Gods for a staff in order to continue on to High Magic. The initiate spends time alone in the forest, and at the end of his or her retreat Dragon appears in the form of an animal or plant, with instructions as to what elements are to be incorporated into the staff. If Dragon does not appear, it means the Gods have denied the initiate’s petition to learn High Magic.
The elements that go into each individual staff are unique. For example, one maga’s staff may be made of cherry wood, with a crystal of amethyst and the feather of a thrush. Another may be made of oak with a crystal of smoky quartz and the wings of a dragonfly. Each staff is tailored to its user, and it is difficult, though not impossible, for one practitioner to use the staff of another.
Staves in Moisehén are said to be ‘forged’ because the integration of the elements that make them is achieved in a sacred fire prepared by the tutor of the initiate. With a staff, the mage or maga can draw on very deep powers of the earth to accomplish many feats of magic and illusion, such as flight, shapeshifting, the invocation of sound wards and vision wards, and the deflection of flying objects such as arrows. They can also invoke a variety of flames for ceremonial purposes, for self-defense, or in the case of Mage Warriors, for use on the battle field.
Magic in Moisehén is an evolving craft. Mages and magas constantly push magic beyond the limits of their predecessors. Eolyn and Akmael, for example, have certain powers that develop during the course of the novels. One of their ongoing challenges, as individuals and companions, is to recognize these abilities and make proper use of them.
Related to this idea, High Magic sometimes acts in unexpected ways. While certain rules and limitations apply, magic occasionally slips outside of its boundaries in a manner that surprises even practitioners.
About EOLYN (audio edition)
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)
Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks upon a path of adventure, friendship, betrayal and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.
“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy, with a romantic thread.”
– Publishers Weekly
–Kindle Book Review
About Karin Rita Gastreich
KARIN RITA GASTREICH lives in Kansas City and Costa Rica. An ecologist by trade, her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. Karin’s first fantasy novel, EOLYN, was released by Hadley Rille Books in 2011. The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is also available from Hadley Rille Books. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com and at http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com.
Author web links:
Blog for Eolyn: http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com
Blog Heroines of Fantasy: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com
About Darla Middlebrook
With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc.) with an impressive emotional range.
Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrates podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books. She is able to produce retail quality audio books from her home studio in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – Canada.