The Path of the Gods, or divine magic, is a branch of magic which utilizes the power of the Egyptian gods. It is one of the oldest and most powerful forms of magic practiced by the House of Life. After the fall of Egypt, this magic was abandoned for nearly a millennium.
The Path of the Gods is the very origin of Egyptian magic itself. In ancient times, magicians would call upon the aid of the gods to work their greatest feats of magic. While most would only use their magic, others would attempt to host the essences of the gods inside themselves.
The goal was to become the "Eye" of a god and gain full access to their divine partner's vast experience and might, basically wielding the power of a god. Although there were those who gained limited success in this objective, it was only the Pharaoh and his family who truly achieved it.
However, housing gods is very dangerous, as they will overwhelm a weak host and possess them. Furthermore, the magician will be killed or even destroyed by the god's possession if they reside too long within such a mortal as they cannot handle such power. Even if death doesn't occur, containing a god can shatter the host's sanity.
After the Roman conquest of Egypt, Chief Lector Iskandar forbade any further usage of the path of the gods. He felt that the gods were too dangerous to work with and had their own hidden agendas. Two thousand years later, Carter and Sadie Kane renewed the practice by recruiting the descendants of the Pharaohs.
It involves harnessing a god's power and using it to perform extremely strong feats of magic. For example, if a magician followed the path of Horus, they could channel Horus' power to use combat magic, summoning the personal combat avatar of the war god.
A magician can follow any path but they usually follow a path that is best for their specialty. For example, Zia Rashid's specialty is fire magic so she follows the path of Ra and can channel the sun god's power for even stronger fire elementalist spells. Carter and Sadie's specialties are combat magic and magic in general respectively so they follow the paths of Horus and Isis, channeling their power. As mentioned in Red Pyramid, a magician can also channel powers of multiple gods too, although it is risky.
Now, the Path of the Gods does not just offer magic that could be mastered by a talented magician on their own (given enough time, of course). Carter Kane, when channeling the power of Horus, can also use powers unique to the war god, such as the Fist of Horus. Sadie Kane, when channeling the power of Isis, is shown to able to summon the Wings of Isis.
There are dangers in using divine magic. An inexperienced magician may pass out, go into a deathly coma or even explode when channeling the god's power. Sometimes even experienced magicians cannot cut off the connection of minds with the god, resulting in them burning up.
A magician hosting a god can get addicted to the power. This is the reason Carter and Sadie had to separate from Horus and Isis. Carter and Sadie regret separating from Horus and Isis many times as they no longer possess the full power of a god anymore, although they can still channel their gods' powers relatively well. However, she admitted in the third book that she still found it tempting to be Isis' Eye/host.
Usually, the host must be a descendant of the Egyptian Pharaohs, to properly channelize the god's powers. However, demigods (half human and half deity), can also host the gods, but at great personal risk. The only instance is when Percy Jackson, one of the most powerful Greek Demigods, hosted the Egyptian goddess, Nekhbet.
The Path of the Gods can be used through sympathetic magic, which is done by finding connections with god. These can be by sharing common habits, emotions, ideas, materials etc. For example, Carter and Horus share the common dislike for confined spaces so Carter used that connection to channel Horus and summoned the Fist of Horus.
Sympathetic Magic also helps if a magician has little to no knowledge on how to use divine magic. After Carter gave up Horus, he lost his link to the god and as such, he couldn't perform combat magic. However, using sympathetic magic, the absent link between Carter and Horus was re-created. Another example is with Sadie, who gave up Isis and lost the ability to speak Divine Words and Elemental Magic. She used sympathetic magic to regain her connection to Isis and perform hieroglyphic and elementalist spells once again.
However, it seems that they could already tap their patron gods' power to a lesser extent before using sympathetic magic as Sadie called on Isis to assist against Babi and Nekhbet, after drinking an animation potion, and the Kane siblings later traveled through the Duat albeit, using papyrus and ink.
A person using sympathetic magic may tap into a particular god's powers, but not be aware of exactly which one they are channeling. Walt Stone suddenly started channeling Anubis' power during The Throne of Fire and is unaware of why he has the particular power he displays until Anubis figures it out and consults Walt. This may mean that a person using sympathetic magic doesn't actually get to choose the god they tap into and they simply channel the god they are most compatible with.
Eventually, there is no need to use sympathetic magic and the magician can just directly tap into the god's power. After the events in the Throne of Fire and the six-month-gap between it and the Serpent's Shadow, Carter and Sadie eventually abandoned sympathetic magic and after training, can just simply channel Horus and Isis' powers. However, this requires experience and initiates of Brooklyn House usually still use sympathetic magic to use the Path of the Gods as they have nowhere near the experience the Kane siblings have.
This is another way the Path of the Gods can be used. So far, it has only been done in The Son of Sobek when Carter Kane uses khefa, the Divine Word for 'fist', to summon the Fist of Horus. It is very different to using sympathetic magic as this requires a lot of concentration and if the spell isn't cast, it remains in the magician's mind for a while afterwards.
Therefore, a simple outburst could trigger the magic whereas sympathetic magic is involuntary, on-the-spot, and is easily lost if not cast. While this is a good alternative, it is unknown if it works for magicians studying the path of Isis, Ptah, or Thoth, as they need to channel the power of these gods to speak Divine Words in the first place.
- Bast: Combat Magic, Animal Charming (cats)
- Geb: Earth Magic, Sand Magic
- Horus: Combat Magic, Animal Charming (falcons & griffins)
- Isis: Magic (in general), Elemental Magic
- Osiris: Death Magic, Necromancy, Animation
- Nekhbet: Combat Magic, Animal Charming (Vultures).
- Thoth: Magic (in general), Elemental Magic, Animal Charming (baboons & ibises)
- Sekhmet: Fire Magic, Healing Magic, Animal Charming (lionesses)
- Nephthys: Water Magic, Necromancy, Death Magic
- Anubis: Death Magic, Necromancy, Animal Charming (jackals)
- Set: Chaos/Storm Magic, Sand Magic, Fire Magic, Combat Magic, Transformation (fruit bats and storm clouds)
- Apophis: Chaos/Storm Magic, Animal Charming (snakes)
- Serqet: Animal Charming (scorpions)
- Shu: Air Magic
- Sobek: Water Magic, Combat Magic, Animal Charming (crocodiles)
- Ptah: Divine Words, Amulets, Animal Charming (rats)
- Khonsu: Time Magic
- Ra: Fire Magic, Animal Charming (scarabs)
- Neith: Combat Magic, Animal Charming (bees)
- Tefnut: Water Magic, Rain Magic
- Khnum: Water Magic, Earth Magic, Wind Magic, Fire Magic, Statuary Magic, Death Magic, Animal Charming (rams)