Magicians, known in Egyptian as shesh, are those trained in the methods of Egyptian mythology and magic and can cast a variety of spells. Anyone can become one with basic knowledge and practice, but those with a family history in the art (such as the Blood of the Pharaohs) have greater innate power and skill. Magicians are often members of the House of Life and are trained by the members. One magician was called a "mage" by Sadie Kane during the second book, when he and other magicians were attacking Brooklyn House. This particular man had a phobia of penguins, and was overpowered by Felix.
The House of Life survived the fall of Egypt, but was forced underground. As a result, many of their most secret and powerful spells were lost. Since the end of the Egyptian dynastic period, members of the House of Life have been tasked with hunting the gods and trapping them, preventing them from having any contact with the mortal world. This is a stark contrast to previous actions by the House of Life, as they worked with the gods to better Egypt.
It has been implied by Zia Rashid that at one time there were a great deal of initiates in the House of Life until an unknown event occurred. It is later highly implied that this event was then the law made that magicians were no longer allowed to use divine magic.
Skills, Abilities, and Limitations
Magicians are trained in Egypt, the First Nome, beginning at no later than ten years. There, they learn the basics of spellcasting. They are assigned a new Nome at age thirteen. There are few dangerous exceptions, such as Carter and Sadie. While in training, a magician's specialty is determined. Initiates double as the First Nome's 'operators', scrying with bowls of oil and keeping in contact with magicians from other Nomes. Training is often intense and once the initiates are able to summon objects reasonably well, they will duel with another initiate while a full-fledged magician watches over them; this is done on the principle that magicians do not learn magic through study but rather from practicing.
A wand and staff is essential for a practicing magician. A wand, made of curved hippo ivory, is generally used for defense. The staff is most often used for offense; in modern times magicians have taken to using collapsible or disguised staffs. On occasion, the staff may be replaced by an object that is better suited to one's specialty. For example, a khopesh, a curved blade, is good for combat magic. In addition to a wand and staff, magicians also typically carry twine, paper, an ink set, and a ball of wax. Some may carry a shabti with them.
Magicians take a number of precautions to ensure the effectiveness of their spells. This includes wearing clothing made from plants (such as cotton) rather than animals as it may interfere with their magic; if a magician is strong enough, they are sometimes able to wear a small amount of animal products. Magicians may also tattoo a symbol of Ma'at on their tongues, and these tattoos may be temporary or permanent. The tattoo helps them speak magic words clearly. They also often drink water that has been purified by Thoth. This water helps magicians focus and gives them a great amount of energy.
Magicians, as agents of Ma'at, will often trap monsters within statues and smash them to destroy the monster's essence. Failure to smash these objects may result in the monster later being unleashed.
A spell, at its most basic, turns words into reality. A magician may use any language to cast a spell, but Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally preferred as they are the language of creation and Ma'at. The simplest way of casting a spell is to write it out on a piece of paper. Other ways to cast a spell include using a staff or wand to cast a glowing hieroglyph in the air. Or, as demonstrated by Alyssa, touching something to cast a spell on that particular target. Should a magician use a hieroglyph for something alive, however, they must be careful to leave it incomplete, else the hieroglyph itself may come alive.
Magicians seem to have the ability to change in to other creatures. This power seems to be standard for a magician as Carter and Sadie Kane were able to transform in to birds without any proper training. However is was most likely much harder, especially for Sadie, without hosting the gods.
To perform greater feats of magic, magicians have the power to bind themselves to a god using magic to channel their powers. Some can even draw the spirit of a god in to themselves. This is the origin of their magical powers. For example, Sadie Kane, while channeling the power of the magic goddess, Isis, was able to summon a concept, a feat that is supposed to be impossible.
Because the power of Ma'at sustains them magicians often live longer than ordinary mortals. Before they were lost in the collapse of Egypt magicians had known spells that can extend a magicians life to two millennium. In modern times the usually live to about three-hundred.
Magicians can manipulate mortal minds and change their motives. They can also use this on other magicians if their not on their guard or on magic lights that often are the crew of a ship. There are two ways to do this: the first is to bend the mind to the magicians will, the way one might do to turn someone in to an animal, the other is to speak Divine Words to command someone to do something.
There are some limitations on the magic a magician can cast. Each magician has a limited reservoir of magic. When casting a spell, they draw upon this magic. If a magician overdraws their reservoir when they cast a spell, the lack of energy will be made up by their life force, killing them and often quite literally burning up. This limitation may be escaped in a few ways. Many magicians store reserves of magic in objects, such as a staff, amulet, scroll, or wand. They may also summon power directly from Ma'at for a spell, but this is only when using the Divine Words, the Ancient Egyptian pronunciation of hieroglyphs. When hosting a god, the god will add their own power to the magician's reservoir, although the god may choose not to. Through practice, a magician may draw on the power of a willing god without actually hosting them. Another limitation is a magician's inability to summon a portal on the Demon Days unless possessed by a god of magic such as Thoth or Isis.
After death, a magician may exist on as a ghost like Setne did, but generally if they escape the judgment of Osiris. As shown by Setne, even in ghost form magicians are able to cast some spells and use Divine Words if they were powerful enough in life, but their ghostly forms limit their magical abilities. For example, Setne could cast some Divine Words even bound by the Seven Ribbons of Hathor, a glamour and possibly an execration, but he couldn't perform a simple summoning spell for either Apophis' shadow or Hapi the latter of which required Divine Words.
Magicians, through birth or training, can specialize in various forms of magic. A well-trained magician knows a little of everything.
Hieroglyphic Spells/Divine Words
These are normal magic spells by using hieroglyphs. They are written on papyrus and can be used for with other equipment. Hieroglyphs, if spoken, are called Divine Words and they don't need papyrus to perform spells. To speak Divine Words, the Paths of Isis and Thoth can be harnessed. The tools that can be used for this are scrolls, staffs, khopesh, and wands.
Example: Every magician in the world can do hieroglyphic spells.
This magic controls the elements, mainly fire, water, wind, and earth. The Paths of Isis and Thoth can be used in general to perform elemental magic except lightning, as that is chaos magic. However, it is best every element's individual god is used for absolute control of casting the element. The best tool for this magic is a staff, though a wand can be used as well.
- Although part of elemental magic, storm magicians aren't valued due to this magic being chaotic. It includes lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, and heavy winds. The Paths of Set and Apophis can be channeled to use storm magic. A staff is the best tool for this magic.
This is the ability to summon a holographic shell around oneself and it increases strength and one's senses to a deadly extent. People with skill in swordplay usually follow this magic. It is not necessary to summon the full avatar, as followers of the Path of Horus have been shown to use the Fist of Horus, by summoning the fist of the avatar. If the power of a god is channeled to use combat magic, the battle avatar has a resistance to magic. It is seen that combat magic is also the practice of summoning weapons. The Paths of Horus, Bast, Sobek, and Set can be used to do combat magic. It has rarely been seen what normal combat magic is and not using a god's power to summon an avatar. A khopesh is best used in this specialty.
This magic turns objects to dust or rubble. Death magic sends the victims to the underworld. The power of this magic is gray. This magic is very dangerous, and can be unstable if lacking concentration. It can also seriously damage the surroundings. Death magic is the opposite of necromancy. The Paths of Anubis and Osiris can be harnessed to do death magic. A wand can be used for channeling the magic in to the form of a grey bolt.
Example: Walt Stone's (Eye of Anubis)
Necromancers summon the undead from the ground, and get them to serve you. However, rogue spirits can be called and it is dangerous as these spirits can mislead you such as Setne. The Paths of Osiris and Anubis can be channeled to use necromancy.
Example: Walt Stone (Eye of Anubis)
Charm Maker (Sau)
A sau is one who makes protective amulets and charms.
Example: Walt Stone
A magician skilled in making shabti and figurines.
Examples: Iskandar, Nectanebo II.
Example: Jaz (Path of Sekhmet)
Magicians, who can communicate with and has authority over animals, magical and normal. Sometimes, they can also summon these animals. The path of the gods is extremely useful for this magic as almost all paths give power over the sacred animal of the god the magician follows. A staff is best used for this magic, as it can transform in to an animal.
A rare gift, diviners can tell the future. Iskandar described this as not being perfect and tricky business rather than being absolute. It has been shown that the futures seen by a diviner can be changed rather than being set in stone.
A specialty that has fallen out of practice since the fall of Egypt, the Kane siblings are now attempting to revive it by calling magicians with the blood of the pharaohs to Brooklyn House. In ancient times, all members of the House of Life followed the Path. Some only called upon the power of the gods on occasion, while others sought be become the 'Eye' of a god: a perfect union between god and magician. There was great risk in this, however, and if it is done improperly the host can be driven mad or even die. In other instances the god may overpower their host and literally burn them up. These tragedies are evidenced by Cleopatra VII's failed attempt at hosting Isis. In modern times, those that practice the path of the gods are persecuted by the House of Life.