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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Your Power Up: Part Two of Magical Rituals with Rayne Hall

The previous thread is still open for review and comments, but today Rayne moves on to discuss how magicians concentrate and raise the power needed to fuel their rituals.

To recap: I am thrilled to welcome Rayne Hall to my blog this week for a two part magic lesson on Magical Rituals. She has has more than twenty books published under several pen names, in several genres. She holds  a degree in publishing management, and a masters in creative writing.

Currently, she lives on the south coast of England where she writes horror and fantasy fiction, as well as puts three decades of editorial experience to the test by publishing themed anthologies. 

Rayne's teaches online classes on a variety of subjects, which include copious feedback and support. Her simple, easy to understand primers on the nuances of magic are a fascinating look at various aspects of the art across a variety of magical systems. Whether you a writer, a reader, or a dabbler you'll this two part series on Magical Rituals fascinating.

All magicians raise power to fuel their spells.  If the term  'power-raising' sounds too much 'New Age' for your historical novel, you can invent a different phrase.

The magician (who can be male or female, although I use the female pronoun throughout) can raise power in many different ways, and she may use more than one source.

* She may draw the energy from within herself, by taking actions which create energy (dancing, drumming and sex are especially effective).

* Her own intense emotions (jealousy, fury, desire) can add extra fuel.

* She may tap into the existing magical energies of the environment, for example stone circles, leylines, ancient monuments, sacred sites, running water, sunlight or fire.

* She may use the magical energy contained in objects, for example crystals (especially in Wiccan witchcraft) or  relics (especially in religious magic).

* She can ask gods or spirits to lend power to her magic, especially if she practices religious magic.

* She may draw on energy from other people.  For example, if the whole village gathers to help a magician call rain, then those people's enthusiasm can be harnessed.  An evil magician may draw her energy from her victims' pain and fear.

A magician may use more than one source of power. For example, a Wiccan  may pray to the Lady and the Lord, invoke the spirits of the winds, perform the ritual on the intersection of two leylines, use a charged amethyst crystal, and dance herself into a trance.

The magician feels the power inside her body as well as around her. Some magicians perceive it as a surge of energy pulsing through the blood, others as a heat storm around them. Some say it feels like the whole body being stung with nettles inside and out, while others  liken it to waltzing while tipsy on champagne. Wiccan Witches describe the power as rising out of their head and spiralling upwards in a cone shape. You can use your imagination, as long as your magician feels something.


* What if a magician is not able to create enough energy for an important spell?

* What if a magician accidentally summons too much energy, and the spell is far more powerful than she intended (instead of one day sunshine, she creates ten years of drought).

* What if a magician needs other people to help her with the power raising, and they refuse for religious or moral reasons?

* What if some sources of magical powers are considered taboo or forbidden? What if a desperate magician taps into one of those forbidden sources?

* What if the magician considers certain sources to be sinful or evil, but drastic circumstances force her to use them anyway?

* What if the only way to raise enough power for a much-needed spell is through sexual arousal  with a partner of the opposite sex - and the only available partner is someone she hates?

In 'Storm Dancer', the magician Merida specialises in weather magic. She can call wind and rain through dancing. Additional power comes from earth energies, astronomical constellations, and the presence of fire and water. In her training, she learnt that it's forbidden to other people as a source of magicial energy - but when the other sources fail, she must ignore convention.


Have you read any works of fiction which show how a magician raises power?

How does the magician in your story raise power? What does it feel like for her?

If you have questions about magic rituals and power-raising, or about any aspect of writing about magic, ask. I will be around for a week, and enjoy answering questions. 

Rayne's recent release, Storm Dancer, features Merida, a magician who dances for rain in the parched desert world in which she finds herself imprisoned. The novel is epic in scope and explores the concept of a djinn that possesses Dahoud,  a former warrior, compelling him to commit terrible crimes against women. 

He and Merida find themselves thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. Will he  able to defeat his djinn, and will she be able to forgive his transgressions to accomplish the impossible and save the town entrusted to their care? 

Mysterious, dark, full of political intrigue and meticulously researched, Rayne brings this Bronze Age world to life right before the reader's eyes with unique, fascinating characters, vivid detail, and a complex, compelling plot. She puts her expertise on writing fantasy, magical systems, and fight scenes to the test, leaving readers unable to resist turning the page.

If you'd like another chance to win a free electronic copy of Storm Dancer, ask a question, make a comment, or simply ask to be entered in the random drawing, and give Rayne a way to contact you.

Rayne Hall teaches an online workshop 'Writing about Magic and Magicians'. Create believable magicians (good and evil), fictional spells which work, and plot complications when the magic goes wrong. Learn about high and low magic, witches and wizards, circle-casting and power-raising, initiation and training, tools and costumes, conflicts and secrecy, love spells and sex magic, and apply them to your novel. This is a 4-week class with 12 lessons and practical assignments. If you wish, you may submit a scene for critique at the end of the workshop.

The next dates for this workshop:

Rayne's other workshops include 'Writing Fight Scenes', 'Writing Scary Scenes' and 'The Low Word Diet'. Click here for an updated listed of upcoming workshops.

Artwork by Kuoke and LadyArmageddon. Copyright Rayne Hall


  1. Hi all.

    When adding names to the prize draw cauldron, I want to make sure it's people who actually want 'Storm Dancer'. There would be little point in drawing winners who don't enjoy dark-heroic fantasy, or who have read the book already.

    So just tell me you want to enter the prize draw.

    You can enter twice (once by commenting on the previous post, once replying to the current one). At the weekend, I'll draw two winners.
    Or rather, I'll get someone to draw them.

    I thought it would be fun to get my neighbour's black cat to pick the winners. He would have made an impartial oracle, suitable for a magic-themed prize draw. Alas, he's so lethargic, he'd never make a witch's familiar. When I showed him the paper slips and explained what I wanted him to do, he turned up his nose and yawned. :-D

  2. I rather like the discussions on how power is raised, in the 'Belgariad' and 'Malorean' series of books by Leigh and David Eddings. The Will and The Word ... in particular, I love how they described the global consequences of Garion raising a little storm to stop a battle.

    The characters in my book, Mortal Instinct, use more of a shammanic form of the work, mostly within Sacred Circles, where energy is raised, used and then safely grounded. There are usually feasts afterward.

    The more powerful of my practitioners also do solitary journeys.

    They draw energy from the Four Directions, Fire, Earth, Water, and Air, and the Heart of the Land, the Earthblood Fire.

    What this feels like depends on what the Circle or practitioner is trying to do. Anything from complete euphoria to total exhaustion to a sense of a job-well-done repleteness.

    Of course, when things go wrong, that's when it gets really interesting!

  3. Or complete euphoria followed by total exhaustion...

    Things going wrong is terrible in real life, but great fun in fiction. :-)

  4. This has been a great series of posts. I'm struggling with creating a system of magic for my story world, and this has been hugely helpful in making sure I get it right.

    Thanks again, and I hope I won't appear greedy to say, please enter me in the drawing again!


  5. It's my pleasure to enter another slip with your name in the draw.

    What kind of system of magic do you have in mind for your story world? Perhaps I can help with suggestions? What kind of world is it - contemporary or historical or....?


  6. Thanks so much, Rayne! It is a fantasy romance. The magic comes from the gods, and my protag has a special family lineage that links her to the dragon god. The part about having a ritual I hadn't thought about until I read your lessons. I don't think I will have elaborate rituals, but have the magic be something that she can learn to call up? Also, the first few times she is exposed to it it is very powerful and terrifies her when she nearly looses control of it. She grounds herself easiest if she can connect to the hero by touch, he's her soul mate.

    I hope that makes sense, and thanks so much for any input. I'm already looking into taking your class next year.


  7. Yes, magic is something she can learn. If she has natural magic talent in her genes (through her bloodline linking her to the dragon god), but hasn't yet learnt how to access it and how to direct it, the first experiences will indeed be terrifying.

    At first, she may not believe that it's magic; she may be in denial. Then she may be horrified. And even when she comes terms with the fact that she has magic talent, she won't at first be able to use it properly. Until she's trained, she may not be able to access the magic when she needs it, or the magic may happen when she doesn't want it to (like a loaded pistol going off when the trigger is accidentally squeezed), or she may overdose the magical power and cause something much stronger than intended, or she may get it wrong and the result is different from what she wanted to happen, or she thinks she's doing it right but nothing happens at all just when she needs it, or evil entities may try to gain control of her and her magical power.

    She'll need to learn about magic, and about her magic. Some of the learning may be from observation, trial and error. Some of it be through advice from an experienced magician. A lot will come from practice. Formal training would be best, if she can get it, i.e. a skilled magician teaching her, if the plot allows.

    Until she's learnt how to use her magic, you can create exciting plot situations when things go wrong. Instead of only nearly losing control of her magic, she really loses control - or rather, she doesn't have the control yet. The magic grows beyond what she can handle, and she's unable to stop the consequences.

    Later in the story, when she's learnt magic skills but hasn't fully mastered them yet, she'll do better and just barely handle the magic she releases.

    Another suggestion: from what you describe, I believe crystals would work well in your magic system. Certain crystals can intensify the magic power. This would apply to places where the earth contains those crystals underground (for example in the mountains), and also amulets or talismans containing crystals, or crystals worn as jewellery.

    If crystals play (or could play) a role in your story, I suggest you use them.

    I hope these ideas help.


  8. Rayne, thanks, that is very helpful. I had also had the thought of her ultimately being a 'vessel' for the dragon god's power and having it nearly consume her in the end. Does that kind of work along with what you are saying? Magic is pretty new to me and I want to get it right.


  9. This sounds like religious magic. In religious magic, the actual magic is performed by a god, and the magician is merely a tool.

    It's like faith healing, or miracles. It's not the healer or priest who heals or performs the miracle, but the god or goddess of that faith.

    The magician/healer/priest prays to her/his god/goddess and asks for assistance. The invocation part of the ritual is important in religious magic.

    There is probably also some kind of offering or sacrifice involved.

    The power of a god can indeed be intense and potentially destructive. Most religions have stories of humans who were consumed by the god's power, including humans who were originally favoured but then asked too much.

    Do you think religious magic, or some aspects of it, could be part of your fictional magic system?


  10. If anyone still wants to enter the prize draw, please do it in the next five hours.

    I'll draw the winners later today. (Or get someone to draw them for me... maybe a cat if I find one who understands what I want it to do... computerised random draws just don't feel right for this, lol).

  11. Rayne, thanks so much for being my guest this week. You've been very generous, as always, with your knowledge and your time. I am using sex magick and religious magick as well as traditional Wiccan magick in my story, and the insights I've gained from reading all these posts will help me with the fine tuning.

    It's a curious mix, I know, but think it works.

  12. Rayne, thanks very much. Yes, I do see religious magic being very much a part of my story, and I think you've helped make exactly how much clearer.

    Thanks again,

  13. The winners for the prize draw are Kari and Diane. Each gets a copy of 'Storm Dancer'.

    The sites will be in competition with one another, and the ones who win are the ones who manage to have more stories than the others.

    Kari and Diane, I'll try to get in touch with you, and give you an URL and voucher code for a site where you can download the book for free.