The Arcane Wheel is the cycle for which magical energy travels through our world, and is thus the reason for why and how magic can be utilized on Nym. It accounts for the three main magical sources (Natural, Deistic, and Cosmic) and explains the path and effects that magic has, as well as the importance of its system.
1. Arcane Threads, and especially ripped and torn ones, leak chaotic magical energy into the Dark Beyond (Cosmic Origin).
2. Some of this magical energy will reach Nym's Eye and traverse through the Shimmering Belt, where it will interact with the Tearworlds first.
3. As Lucine travels around our world, her shawl will catch large amounts of magical energy.
4. Lucine's shawl will slowly transfer magical energy through the Veil and into the Weave, where it is further transferred and distributed to the Worldsea.
5. As this magical energy is chaotic, it will cause anomalies and storms as the Worldsea attempts to swallow and absorb it. Once the magical energy has been tamed, it will travel further into the world, until it reaches the Worldsoul.
6. Within the Worldsoul, the chaotic magical energy is cleansed, until it is transformed into pure magical energy.
7. The Worldsoul will expel the pure magical energy and send it via Wendveins back into the Worldsea, where the Ebb will take portions of it throughout the world to where it is needed (Natural Origin).
8. Remaining magical energy is caught by Celunar's shawl as she passes over. She then distributes it to the rest of Arkath's Divide, and it is used to maintain the integrity of the Divide's structure and threads. Most of it will be absorbed by the Creators in their Halls (Deistic Origin).
9. Anything left of the magical energy that is unused by Arkath's Divide will go to the Weave and the Veil, where it will over time seep back into the Dark Beyond and likely return to the Arcane Threads.
Magic is controlled through the use of mana, which is an arcane form of energy and essence. Mana essence forms from condensed manaistic energy, which can then be found either physically in a crystallized, liquid or even vaporous form, or from within a body, usually present in a person's blood. Basically, mana is an energy that allows for the control, manipulation and storage of other energies, and thus chiefly correlates to magical affinity.
It is mostly found in living beings, but can also be found in circulation around the world, typically in areas magically strong. It is most largely condensed in the Weave, along with all other energies within Arkath's Divide. When an individual uses mana to perform magic, it is drained from them, and if it is completely drained it can lead to severe fatigue, known commonly as Mana Burnout.
Over time they will replenish their mana pool through rest as it is passively siphoned from the Weave, but the process can be sped up by mentally reaching into the Weave or consuming substances consistently strong in manaistic energy. Mana potions are the most common and most efficient way, although there is a risk for mana addiction that can lead to fatal drawbacks.
Mana was given to mortals when the Wildgod Zirche created the Mortal Soul, and implanted the greater essence of the Pool of Mind within it. Through the Pool of Mind mortals have a connection to the world's energies, and it created the basin which allows mortals to store mana within them. At the time, all mortal races held equal affinity for magic, which was to become an issue for the Creator Tiral when magic began to cause instability in the world.
During the Time of Stars, mana was taken from mortals as it had grown out of control. Tiral stored all mana of the world within Tiral's Tome, and entrusted her Creatorforged children, the Maaré, with safekeeping it. For a time only the Maaré possessed mana, but their developed arrogance and ignorance lured them to open Tiral's Tome before mortals were ready to control mana again. As a result mana became part of all living things in the world, instead of only to those who were ready to use it.
It is suggested that the premature opening of Tiral's Tome is what causes some individuals to develop larger than normal pools of mana; hence experience Arcane Awakening (which isn't to be confused with Deistic or Spiritual Awakening, as those two don't spark randomly), which typically occurs during puberty. It is also the reason why most mortals only possess small, standardized amounts of mana within them, although it varies depending on race, as some races are more attuned than others.
The size of a mana pool of a person directly affects the ability to make use of magic. The larger the pool, the greater the control of various energies, and the longer it takes for mana to drain. All living beings, with few exceptions, have traces of mana within them, which allows them to control energies on a basic level, should they learn to mentally access their mana pools.
However, only a few ever develop large enough amounts to control energies on an advanced level, as they uniquely possess mana pools that grow and expand at a more rapid rate than others. These few individuals are a rarity and the circumstances for how their magical affinity develops is still largely studied.
Every being with mana within them will see their mana pools expand over their lifetimes, but only those who experienced an Awakening has it grow at a faster and greater rate. The risk offered is that the more mana one possesses, the more effort is needed to control it. Those unable to do so are typically overtaken and consumed by their own manaistic energies, and in many cases it appears as a form of fatal crystallization of the body. Sterility is also a concern, and every individual who has experienced an Awakening will be affected by it. This simply means that those with greater mana pools can't reproduce to pass down their powers through natural inheritance.
Four main paths come to mind when concerning the study of magic. Generally speaking, most Mage Orders in the world dedicate themselves to at least one of these paths; either partially or wholly. Each path describes a desired way of thought when it comes to magic, and helps guide those who seek to study and wield magic.
Control is the path that is considered the most secure, but also the slowest. Mages who walk the path of Control undergo training dedicated to complete control over magic, which means that they try to limit themselves from wielding magic irresponsibly or excessively. This means that they will only actively use magic when it is necessary, and even then they might hesitate some more.
By exercising complete control, spells are more easily handled and are performed with little mana cost, and thus there is little risk of consequence or side-effects. However, spells' cast-times might be extended to accommodate for safety, and those spells are not necessarily very powerful. To further ensure successful control, mages who walk this path are less likely to take on more than one Magical Art.
Mastery is a path that welcomes challenge and accepts the risks; thus it is a very dangerous path to walk for a mage. In pursuit of mastery, mages are encouraged to take on several Magical Arts at the same time, combine them and empower them, and reach the highest possible strengths they can achieve. Power is the ultimate goal of this path, although power is often obtained only through very hard training and years of studying.
Mages who seek Mastery will see their spells become strong, fast and very effective, but control over those spells might suffer, and the wielder's magic might become unstable and volatile; possibly endangering the mage or those around them. Likelihood of Mana Burnout is high, meaning that a Mastery mage will quickly require rest after only a few cast spells.
Knowledge is the path considered the practically weakest, yet it is powerful in its own way. Mages in search of Knowledge seek greater understanding of magic, and try to find ways to effectively wield magic through theory. But most importantly the path of Knowledge is meant to unlock and understand the Arcane Laws, which in turn allows better control over magic and the energies that surround the world.
Possessing the necessary Knowledge lets a mage more easily inscribe scrolls, construct and control Magetech, practice magical sciences or brew alchemical potions with the use of magical ingredients. A mage's mental power is greatly improved down this path, and consequently so is their mana reserve and memory; meaning they are more likely to retain more spells in their arsenal. However, those who walk the path of Knowledge aren't very powerful or skilled when it comes to practical use of magic.
Wild is the path typically ascribed to illegal mages or mages who didn't receive traditional, academic training. This also holds somewhat true to druids and shamans, though in their cases their magic is tempered by either deities or spirits. The path of Wild is unpredictable, difficult to control, deteriorating to the body and mind, and it's the most dangerous of the paths. Spells are extremely potent and strong, but often transfer random effects due to poor to little training.
Mana Burnout occurs very quickly, and since spells aren't learned traditionally they're not easily understood or taught to others. However, those who walk the path of Wild are quick with their magic, learn to wield it solely from personal mental power and prowess, and their spells are highly effective, despite lesser grasps of Control, Mastery or Knowledge. Magical Arts are often learned in a mixture of each other rather than focused upon individually, which can lead to very random, interesting and risky results.