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Where Magic Comes From

March 11, 2014

First, everything that would become the universe was all in one place. One infinitesimally small point in the void forever contracting in on itself. Before that ever-contracting point, there was another universe. Or perhaps, it was not exactly a universe as we would think of it, but it was a sort of existence that had its own unique forms of matter and energy. This prior existence may or may not have contained what we would call ‘life’, but it did contain beings capable of sentient thought. When the last universe came to an end, collapsing in on itself to become a single atom of unimaginable gravity, the essences of some of these sentient beings remained apart to continue their existence on other dimensional planes where the force of gravity is weaker. The primordial atom eventually imploded to the point where it could only continue to exist by exploding (a.k.a. the Big Bang). Many of the sentient quasi-beings from the last universe took the opportunity of the newly available matter and energy to re-make themselves over time into forms that could better interact with this newly expanding universe. This is how the ghosts of the old existence became the first gods of the new one.

While the ghost-gods were re-creating themselves, the quantum dust of the new creation began to take the shape of the simple elements hydrogen and helium, which then collided, coalesced and combined into great balls of nuclear conflagration. These first stars gathered their own clouds of matter around them, which eventually took the shape of the first worlds of the new universe. Some of the early gods took the opportunity to create life on these worlds, though it was still not quite life as we know it today. Many of these pre-life entities attained sentience, however, they would never be able to attain the levels of advanced gnosis achieved by their creators. This was by intent, for the early gods, or the elder gods as we know them today, wished to receive the power of worship without the risk of ever being challenged by their creations.

The stars had their own plans. They had arrived into existence and achieved their power by the natural laws of this universe, and they resented the intrusions from a universe past.  The stars realized that the things raised to sentience by the shadowy ghost-gods of an old existence were limited in their potential. Using their inherent knowledge of the laws of matter and energy, they devised a means to destroy and re-create the systems of matter that orbited around each one of them, by destroying and re-creating themselves. In doing so, they could form new, heavier elements, which could be used to create their own forms of life. More dynamic and chaotic life with greater potential to affect its own changes to the universe. Thus, millions of stars, each in their own time, underwent a supernova.

The gifts that the dying stars gave to their new systems differed wildly from system to system. Some of these gifts lead to more successful forms of life, some to less. Our own world, and our own form of life here on Earth, is marked by the gift of iron.

An immense spinning ball of molten iron formed the center of the Earth. Iron in the blood enables of mammals enables us to properly use the air of our world as part of our energy source. Iron is our connection to the star dust that we all originally come from, just as hydrogen is our connection to the Big Bang. The ghosts of the elder things that lived in the worlds before Earth, in the old solar system, are envious of it.

The elder gods would not allow their niche in the universe to be ripped from them uncontested. Some of them, as a means of preserving something of their creations, granted the gift of transdimensional travel to certain of their worshippers. In some cases, the elder gods were able to make war upon particular stars and ensure that their opponents expended too much energy to successfully undergo a supernova. And so, elder beings with ties to the universe-before still survive in the dark places of the current universe.

Hot iron can provide fresh connections, through dimensions we cannot see or hear, to the ever-turning core of our world, and to the stars. It can also attract the attention of the elder things, and some say, the elder gods. If one is brave, and most likely also foolish, hot iron can be used to compel or bargain with them. The iron in fresh blood is always hot.

Cold iron, if properly used, can repel such shades, such demons. It can also abjure or harm creatures from worlds where iron cannot be found. Hot iron, however, is the key to realizing sources of power beyond the three dimensions of typical human perception. That is why, sooner or later, it all comes back to blood.

* * *

This post was inspired by a combination of Tim Powers (especially his novel On Stranger Tides), Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman (of course), and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, whose work I’m honestly only familiar with second-hand thanks to a friend of mine. Just the tiniest bit of Lovecraft too. To anyone with a complaint about my errors in astronomy, or geology or physics in this post, I would ask you to please re-read the title.

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