Parktown: M-14 Exit 4 Bridge

M-14 Exit 4 Bridge, Central Campus

I have a long history with this highway overpass, strangely enough. I discovered these train tracks snaking between the many parks up the Huron River when first exploring Ann Arbor at the start of last year. Later during the winter time, I searched for a secluded spot to practice plein air oil painting and set up below the rumbling of cars of all places. I would not recommend painting in the winter without proper protective gear nor the sun to warm you up (even if I got a painting from the experience).

I was happy to return to this place and capture it again when I could finally use green on my canvas. The area has always struck me as a wonderful mixture of a desaturated human footprint, and the luscious abundance brought upon by nature.

This image was taken on 10/9/21.

Parktown: Argo Dam

Argo Dam, North Campus

B2B Ann Arbor is a bike path connecting the fringes of Ypsilanti along the Huron River and into Ann Arbor. Much of the path snakes its way through an aging concrete skeleton between the two cities, but I found myself particularly taken by the scenery at this dam while taking a breather. The whole area is teeming with cyclists, hikers, families, and all sorts of characters who stopped to listen to the water crashing from up above. There’s something about the cascading water and the bend of the river that had me wanting to take a swim. Unfortunately, the beautiful and luscious leaves of a Michigan summer are beginning to crumple up and desaturate. Such warm-weathered activities are now retired for the year, yet it helps me to appreciate the mornings which grow colder.

It certainly still won’t stop me from walking around and taking in the scenery.

This image was taken on 10/9/21.

The Magician’s Diaries: Clerical Healing Magic

Hello, my children,

It had not been but recently where I again pondered the unique disparities between more ancient holy magics and the modern understanding of proper casting. Many folk still retain their connection to the ancient gods. Such forces play games with the souls and ambitions of mortals, and it is quite savage I should say. Contrastingly, it is the way of the modern magician to worship those forebears which paved the way for our greater, shared understanding in such a manner that institutions like these could survive. The Ascended Eight, in their dreamful march towards deification, hoped to remove us mortals from the specific interference of Old Gods and their ever-encroaching spinning of fate. As the tales tell, these few nearly succeeded. However, there was but one matter which they were unable to strip from the domain of the ancient divines:  counteracting death.

Perhaps I should paint a different picture. The local gladiator, Khosula, finishes a match and returns to the pit where she is greeted by her retinue of cultists. Khosula, likely worshipping the mother of all ravens as a gladiator is one to do, sees death as inevitable and all but common in her line of work. Playing the dance of swords leads to a misstep every once in a while, and it behooves them to plead directly to the mother so that they may exist on the side of least bloodshed. However, in a society that celebrates the drama of near-death, an industry of gladiators falling left and right permits not continued feuding or public interest.

Individuals such as Khosula are sponsored by a respective church dedicated to one of the many Old Gods. Upon leaving the ring after a battle, every need is tended to and, importantly, every wound is healed. To have a represented combatant succeed in the colosseum is integral to establishing superiority over other, waning sects while too incentivizing the patronage of donors who bet well on such fighters. Again, the reality is that many of these gladiators do not believe in the organizations which feed them money and healing. It is merely a symbiotic relationship.

Such forces have the ability to both create and take awake the force of living, and upon evoking the name of one’s deity, these clerical magicians can repair skin where it had sloughed off. Superficial tears in tendons are knitted back together, in some cases, broken bones can be reconstructed with enough care and attention to anatomy. However, it is all a matter of timing and the quality of one’s resources.

Khosula now is a gilded celebrity, yet her early career often left her bruised and scarred with no relief or medical attention. One untimely day, despite dominating her opponent, she received an unlucky blow to her left eye that could not be healed, so now she stalks the battlefield having an imperfect blur of vision. Their powers are limited to the capabilities of the healer, which varies wildly amongst each worshipper based upon their true devotion and experience.

While not being perfect, this is what remains so tantalizing about the Old Gods. In a time of faith and high mortality, community leaders rise to power because they possess the immediate ability to relieve pain and to undo the shortcomings of one’s natural limitations. One can return from a wolf attack without the worry of infection, but there always remains a price to pay. The hunger which consumes you, that which owns you, transfers from wolf to the church.  Your price is favor and devotion to individuals defined by their idolatry of fickle, unpredictable allegories of universal experience.

The modern magician looks upon The Eight for guidance. While a wildly successful interpretation of systems of magic, The Eight were unable to properly resolve the issue of lifeforce. Some of you may be asking me where necromancy contributes to this larger conversation, but you must too recognize that necromancy involves the forfeit of the soul to reproduce tissue and rearrange nerves. 

 

While hope appears lost, that mustn’t stop you from the eternal march forward in the understanding of a world designed to limit the extent of mortal understanding. That is the way of the magician and The Eight before us, and that is how we will liberate ourselves from the obsessive eccentricities of the Old Gods once and for all. 

 

Until next time,

-The Magician

 

The Magician’s Diaries: Familiars

Hello, my children,

Today we must speak on the immense ocean that is familiar ownership. I must assume that some of you are quite familiar with the concept, yet to others it remains my obligation to educate. Familiars, admittedly, are a trendsetter’s magic– some traditionalists even perceive it to be on the level of lowly minstrels in terms of the flamboyant, magical whimsy required to conjure and subsequently tame such fey spirits. I, on the other hand, see it no different as the realm’s court magician walking the streets with their guard composed of flesh and bones. Whatever you surround yourself with, however you hope to express your practice, it matters little when the result is the same: a pickpocket will find it harder to approach when you have an owl on your shoulder turning its head back and forth in constant vigil.

Common familiars as possible by the first domain of spellcasting are conjured fey spirits, yet they take the form of any mundane animal one can think of: dog, cat, owl, rat, hawk, whatever your natural reference deems useful. Familiars, more often than not, are another set of eyes in which a mage may see-through. One can evoke this power by letting them roam free as you sit in your bed, supposedly drifting to sleep. At the very same time, your cat may slip into a courtesan’s mansion where your colleague asks of their escorts just the most outrageous, diabolical, salacious favors one would never hope to be revealed to the public.

Familiars too, once one finds their way to an elevated magical understanding, can be used as focusses for one’s magical energy. The stronger one becomes the more capable they are of summoning creatures that may heal you, may enchant others, or may even have the capacity to kill. Other, rarer such things include spectral spiders, fairy dragons, and imps of the underworld.

Students will ask me whether or not their pre-trained, mundane pets may still convert into a familiar. This is a question predicated on one’s already strong bond with an animal, and I understand that it may be important for one to be working in the field with a creature they can trust. I suppose that many animals possess the same function as familiars, but riddle me this: is it preferable to leave the rat you told stories to under the floorboards in their cage, or would you rather see it squashed under the boot of a random passerby. 

Animals cannot be reconstituted in the same way as familiars. If you are so inclined you may spend the resources to recover the lost soul of your pet to its former mortal vessel, yet I believe the matter may be so petty that The Mother would cast a curse upon you and your lineage for disturbing her eternal slumber. Familiars, since they are fey spirits, are tied to a different coil of existence. If they die, then one must simply summon them back to our plane (yet this does not excuse the frustration and anger from having gotten them into that position of death in the first place). 

Well, this has been a brief introduction to familiars and the wonders of fey ownership. Who knows what next week may bring, and I encourage you all to remain curious and studious as always.

 

Until next time,

-The Magician

Magician’s Diaries: Unnecessary Components

Hello, my children,

There is much debate as to the validity and purpose of differing magical components. As you all know, our tradition of magic is proud and monumental with accounts and precedence dating back millennia when the first folk had carved runes into the rocks of the caves of creation. 

 Such matters are important to consider, yet they are far from perfection. Everything shall be questioned, for these tales are but premonitions, constructed realities meant to support the “understanding” and rich historical narrative which those at the very height of magical comprehension spin in order to make it more difficult for students to shake off the boundaries of their education.

However, as a people’s magician, I hope to facilitate your ever extended search for powers great enough to subjugate worlds and realms infinitely large and incomprehensibly complex.

 

In order to do such a thing, we must first strip back the most basic components deemed necessary for these processes. The gold and effort one spends hampering their magical equations with this drivel is ludicrous, and it is time you know the difference between deceptive components and those of true substance.

  

 

Exhibit A: lavender, and all other components related to essential oils or scented balms, are likely to not have any place within our magic traditions. Now, of course, such things are useful in herbal remedies or in the relaxation of one’s mind before setting out to perform one’s daily rituals, however, this relatively recent addition remains a sign of mere minstrel-ship. 

Do not concern yourselves with simple medicines. That is not our goal, and the act of filling one’s ritual circle with flowers freshly picked from the meadow limits the purview of study within but a few months out of the year when harvested.

Similarly, honey is not useful when applied to medical salves or magical potions. Everything of that sort is useless and superfluous to merely make your products taste slightly better, a simple carnal distraction for working individuals.

 

On that note,

 

Exhibit B:

Blood is a tricky substance. One’s colleagues may be enamored with collecting, categorizing, and displaying their immense access to various creates and their nutrient byproducts, but it is not nearly as simple as finding your nearest cow and inserting a spout in its side like it were a tree brimming with sap. Furthermore, it is not as simple as asking a friend or subordinate of yours to volunteer a hand and let the blood spew forth just to get some samples.

 

The blood one collects for their rituals is distinct and purposeful for different types of magics, as many of you would also know, but the blood of the common human folk is absolutely not useful, There is nothing arcane about the blood of a human. Small folk and elves on the other hand are what one should collect to enhance their rituals.

Students often ask me as to whether what magic is, which I find to be an inane question that all should already have understood before coming to study at this institution of ours. I say that human blood does not possess any magical properties, yet the same is not true for those of sylvan descent… what could possibly be the origin of this strange distinction?

In our ever marching desire for a complete comprehension of the world around us, it angers me to need to highlight my own ignorance when providing a full explanation for your questions. I don’t know why sylvan blood is magical and human blood is non-magical, there is no known reason, substance, or property that we can trace, it is merely a fact that I am woefully underprepared to provide a satisfactory conclusion to your burning curiosity. 

 

But you all must trust me when saying that some substances provide us with no use, and others serve such an integral purpose to magical processes.

 

Until next time,

 

-Samuel Turner

Untitled

Hello, my children,

The characteristic sign of any sort of civilization is a wizard’s tower. Power is held and distributed by those at the top, so what a wonderful metaphor for these imbalanced structures set into place as the structure of our civilization for millennia. Folks fear those who stand tall above them, they cower beneath such deified figures when instead, such magically inclined people are just as flawed and scarred as the rest of us lowly folk (in different, more complex manners).

 

Now I may merely be a lowly magician, for I possess no obtuse obelisk as brash as The Headmaster’s pointy stick at the center of town, but I digress. There is no shame in sequestering yourself to a humble cottage at the side of a river, or a cozy 9 person shared room in the slums of the west end of the city. Such is the life of a magician of lesser stature than myself. I assure you, my most devoted students, that you will find yourselves easily to the middle stratum of magical labor (to be honest, high society isn’t realistic for you all).

As you all understand, the title of Wizard is a highly coveted political status, and the way of asserting your mindless dominance over the rest of the community is to retreat to the highest point in the highest city where no other person can reach you. You cackle at the humble congregations and convents, you mock the puny scale of the university, you spit at the 15-foot walls which are meant to protect the law-abiding citizens of this settlement.

 

Who is there with you? No one; a wizard can never manage time for a partner. Who is there to comfort you when you small little universe that you’ve created crumbles at the realization that there exists another wizard more powerful than you, a wizard whose tower extends beyond even the clouds, and you must take it, you must breathe in the same air as a greatness and profound intelligence that you may never achieve. These wizards, they are higher than kings. They are higher than gods. What happens when your deific power is pitted against another force of unimaginable magnitude? Well, you must once again assert your position on the theoretical totem pole. Climbing the ladder, riding high, falling down, rinsing, repeating, cutting the throats of your colleagues, destroying the final enemy in your ultimate pursuit of academic dominance. What is it worth when your bones crumble the same as your pitiful tower, and your precious memory remains only on the tongues of street minstrels speaking of your deepest misfortunes decades later?

 

No, wizard towers are defined by their unapologetic expression of superiority and idiocy. Hubris, it is all hubris, and the lower one is to the earth, the easier it is to see the absurdity of removing oneself from the restful hands which birthed all life. 

 

I apologize, again. I may have gotten sidetracked and expanded our time…

 

Until next time,

 

-The Magician