There are two broad classifications of magic present on Ytherra, both of which utilize the ambient power of the essence, that force which pervades the world, and which is called Ilésh Asú in Draványa and Ihénza in Old Manthezárin. So-called “Low Magic” uses the power present in objects and symbols, or energy that can be easily coaxed from such. Practices such as alchemy and herbalism, the use of runes and augury are examples of Low Magic. “High Magic” is the direct manipulation of the essence.
This latter was chiefly a Manthezárin development, although its methodology has been widely adopted, even in Arál Draván, where practitioners utilize essentially identical methods, although there are many superficial differences. Early in the history of Arál Draván a distinct magical tradition developed, chiefly due to Dravánu feelings of cultural superiority, culminating in the development of a “dialect” of Archaic Draványa called Nashanáya, a complex artificial language invented with High Magical practice specifically in mind, as a counterpoint to the predominant use of Manthezárin by spellweavers across Suratha.
Today, these two traditions continue to co-exist. In Arál Draván, the so-called Asangáru Tradition is overwhelmingly dominant, and it holds a great deal of sway in Angháza, which lies within the Dravánu cultural sphere. Even there, however, it contends with the Manthezárin Tradition, which is dominant everywhere else. This is true even in Selurean lands, in which a third tradition is being developed in the Gray College. This approach is fundamentally different from the older methods, regarding the essence as a single unified force rather than six different varieties of energy. Some preliminary breakthroughs have already been made.
The essence is comprised of six different types of energy, each of which corresponds to one of the six Empyreal Realms. These “flavors” of power are called Correspondences; each affects different parts or components of the physical and immaterial worlds. In all of its forms, the essence can be manipulated; indirectly as by the process of alchemy, or directly by application of both the intellect and the will, a practice requiring long study and careful instruction, and also a particular gift or talent. Those so gifted, when they are identified at an early age, can be trained to mastery of this ability.
The Asangáru hold that each individual gift is attuned to one of the types of power, more or less exclusively, with talent in the others regarded as rudimentary or residual. Practitioners of that tradition thus focus training in one of the six Asangáru paths, each a subgroup within the Asangáru Concord and each corresponding to an Empyreal Realm and its associated Correspondence, and trained solely in that path, with a few legendary spellweavers mastering multiple paths. In the Manthezárin Tradition, while it is realized that most individuals are more gifted in one Correspondence than in the others, value is seen in mastering as wide an array of magics as one is capable of. Magi of the Manthezáin tradition tend thus to be less specialized than their Asangáru counterparts.
A comparatively young tradition has arisen in the Selurean Kingdoms, born only two centuries ago with the establishment of the Gray College near Enthierre. Adherents to this philosophy hold that magical energies exist in only one form, which while seen as differing by Magi of older traditions, are fundamentally the same. This approach has led to some breakthroughs long considered impossible by Asangáru and Manthezárin Magi, combinations of the power of the multiple realms rather than effects utilizing only one. The Selurean Tradition is still young, and its Magi have not yet approached the levels of power seen in Magi of the elder traditions; many of its techniques, while revolutionary to the student of the schools of magical thought, are of a lesser magnitude than long-perfected techniques. The manipulation of the weather is an exceptional case; this was thought impossible for centuries except in very limited scenarios, but Selurean Magi have managed to create spectacular and potent effects in the last three decades. The Gray College guards these arts carefully, but it is not clear that such feats are even possible in the older Traditions.
Too, in the Selurean Tradition the talent for High Magical practice is not seen as an absolute; any sentient being is in principle capable of the practice of High Magic according to this doctrine, at least on a rudimentary level, and presuming that the individual has sufficient gifts of determination, willpower and intellect, such that they are capable of grasping the essentials of the techniques involved.
There is another source of esoteric power which some choose to pursue; the aid of powerful entities of various origins. The Gods are the most obvious of these, and their powers are often invoked, not only by priests but by common people. As a rule, divine blessings are subtle, unlike the savage power wielded by Magi, but it can be effective nonetheless. The Gods and their servants are a part of Ytherra, even dwelling as they do in the Empyreal Realms; other entities, many of them malign or alien in nature, can be contacted in the Well of Worlds, a cluster of adjacent dimensions separated from Ytherra by stronger barriers than divides it from the Empyreal Realms.
The structure of the Well of Worlds is largely conjectural, but it seems to be arranged in a series of tiers or layers; some layers are comparatively easy to contact, but the beings dwelling therein are of roughly the same order as mankind (or perhaps of the old races,) and concern themselves chiefly with their own inscrutable agendas. Entities from the more distant layers are progressively more powerful, more concerned with Ytherrean events, and more dangerous. Such beings are collectively called Azakárin, demons, and the practice of contacting and dealing with them is called diabolism. Not all of those from the nearer layers of the Well of Worlds are inimical in principle, but they have outlooks and ethical codes different enough from mankind’s to make them treacherous to exhort aid from.
Entities from the Deeper Void are inimical indeed, and greatly desirous of influence on Ytherra, for reasons which are not fully understood by mortal practitioners. Bargaining with such entities is extraordinarily hazardous, as they consider mortals to be lesser beings on the order of gnats, and do not hesitate to subvert or even devour such arrogant mortals who anger them, and seem not to have any semblance of an ethical or honor code as such are thought of by Ytherreans. Such practices are proscribed almost everywhere on Ytherra, though exceptions exist.