Magic is the general term used for the focusing of the raw energy into various properties and for various purposes. This raw energy, often referred to as magicka, flows from Aetherius into Mundus by way of the sun and stars, and from it the Mundus was created. Magicka comprises every spirit, it is the energy of all living things and can be harnessed in a variety of ways. Despite thousands of years of study, there is an enormous amount of speculation about how magic is generated, how it might be used by Aedra and Daedra, and how it might flow between living things.
Magnus was the god who designed Mundus, the mortal realm, during its creation. After it was completed, however, he ordered the project terminated, and left for Aetherius at great cost. In doing so, he tore a hole in the veil of Oblivion through which the magicka of Aetherius flows into the world. The great rift he left behind, the sun, is itself known as Magnus. Soon, other et'Ada who agreed with Magnus followed his lead, leaving smaller holes which are the stars, through which magicka also flows. This is why the stars under which a person is born have such a great influence on that person's fortunes and fate, and why many materials which fall from the heavens have great magical properties.
Some of the first recorded uses of magic were by the Ayleids of the First Era. Through the salvaging of fallen fragments of Aetherius, they attained great arcane power, which they used to enslave the early Cyrodiils. A common phrase in the Ayleid Language is "Av molag anyammis, av latta magicka", which means "From fire, life; from light, magic". With one or two exceptions, wizards of the early First Era were generally solitary, and there was little collaboration beyond the master-apprentice relationship, or standardization in magical practices.
Many different magical arts have been developed during Tamrielic history for purposes ranging from warfare to technological advancement to religion and divination, and there is often much scholarly disagreements between various researchers. Notable magical endeavors include the Redguards' Shehai Shen She Ru, the Nords' Thu'um, the Bosmer's Beast Tongue, the Maormer's sea serpent-taming magic, the numerous innovations the Dwemer, and the little-understood process of "reaching heaven by violence" known as CHIM. A person's reserves of magicka are determined by numerous, often unknown influences, and some people are naturally very gifted in various ways, but no one has the infinite power of Magnus himself.
The power of the Aedra and other deities is sometimes, but not always, within the meaning of "magic" on Tamriel, depending on the context. The worship of deities is suspected to be desirable to those spirits due to the belief that they transform the energy exuded by the worshipper into another, distinct kind of magic they can wield for the benefit (or downfall) of all.
A myriad of great wizards have come from the Altmer from Summerset Isle and the Breton from High Rock, as well as powerful Nibenese battlemages, Telvanni magelords, and Sload necromancers. Quite a few institutions that are devoted to acquiring arcane knowledge have been erected, including the Crystal Tower, the Mages Guild, House Telvanni, the College of Winterhold, the Psijic Order, and the School of Julianos.
The magical arts are not always met with warmth. Often this has been with good reason, as magical studies have proven to be all-consuming in numerous cases, making the mages threats to themselves and others. The Psijic Order, the oldest known magical organization in Tamriel, is now considered a rogue organization by the Thalmor of the Aldmeri Dominion, and the two have clashed before. Most Redguards consider wizardry both "weak" and "wicked", and it fell out of favor with the Nords in the First Era. Necromancy is reviled in most societies. Daedra summoning\trafficking is also hated in many provinces, especially in the wake of the Oblivion Crisis. Shadow Magic, while rare, is feared because of its power.
 Arcane Arts
The act of drawing on ones own magicka reserves in order to generate some kind of effect in the physical world is called "casting a spell". There have been seven widely accepted schools of spellcasting over time, each with a number of spells that pertain to its particular purpose:
- Destruction spells harm the target by damaging its health with either elemental or magical attacks, draining and damaging its attributes, skills, health, magic, and fatigue, making it weak to the elements, poisons and magic, and corroding its armor and weapons.
- Restoration spells augment the target by restoring its health, attributes, stamina, and magicka, fortifying its health, attributes, skills, stamina, and magicka, granting it resistances to the elements, magic, disease, paralysis, poison, and un-enchanted weapons, curing it of disease, poison and paralysis as well as harming the target by absorbing its health, magicka, stamina, attributes and skills.
- Conjuration spells call upon otherworldy entities through telepathy, certain skilled Conjuration mages can develop telepathic links with each other. Conjuration spells augment the target by granting it Daedric and Undead guardians and Daedric weapons and armor as well as harming the target if it is undead by causing it to flee.
- Alteration spells alter the physical and magical properties of the target. Alteration spells harm the target by making the objects it is carrying heavier and augments the target by making the objects it is carrying lighter, granting it elemental and physical shields and the ability to breath and walk on water as well as opening locks.
- Illusion spells effects light and a sentient target's mind. Illusion spells harm the target by commanding, demoralizing, paralyzing, silencing, and causing it to frenzy, as well as augmenting it by rallying, charming, calming it, granting it invisibility, night-vision, translucency and illuminating it.
- Mysticism is an obscure school, though its spells seem to manipulate magicka itself. Due to its spells that bind the target's soul, this school is closely related to necromancy. Mysticism spells augment the target by granting it the ability to detect life, reflect damage, absorb and reflect spells as well as harm it by dispelling its magical effects and trapping its soul, including the ability to move objects through space with telekinesis. The nature of the School of Mysticism is the subject of much scholarly debate.
- Thaumaturgy does not change the appearance or structure of a force or object, but can manipulate laws temporarily.
The schools of magic have often been subject to revision by existing magical institutes, and some have fallen out of favor. For example, following The Warp in the West the school of Thaumaturgy was rearranged into other schools and was largely replaced by the growing popularity of Conjuration, while in the fourth era the school of Mysticism was gradually consolidated into the other five extant schools.
Enchanting is the act of endowing objects with magical properties through the use of a soul, almost always with the use of a soul gem. An enchanted item's power diminishes with use, in which case additional souls may be used to replenish it. The strength of an enchanted item and the amount by which it can be recharged is directly related to the magnitude of the souls used.
The effects of enchanted apparel may augment the wearer, and the effects of enchanted weapons may harm the target, and vice versa. Some enchanted equipment, such as magical staves, can be used to cast spells without expending Magicka.
Alchemy is the act of mixing, boiling and distilling various substances to obtain their chemo-magical properties and create potions and poisons. Potions are (hopefully) imbibed orally and usually grant the imbiber with positive effects. Poisons are introduced into the target's blood stream by pouring it onto a weapon and attacking the target with it and usually gives the target negative effects.
Alchemical ingredients include extracts from plants, animals, undead and Daedra. Certain ingredients are very valuable to alchemists due to their rarity, many of which are extracts from Daedric creatures. Prospective alchemists often need to experiment with ingredients to gauge what effects can be created, usually by eating samples of ingredients. This practice is referred to as wortcraft.
Stationary alchemical stations are often used for the preparation of potions. In the Iliac Bay, they were often utilized by the temple clergy and the elusive Dark Brotherhood as a service to their members. In Skyrim, such stations were not only used by apothecaries, but also installed by court wizards and even some taverns. Some landowners may also have an alchemy laboratory in their own homes.
In contrast, within Cyrodiil and Morrowind it was far more common for smaller travel apparatus to be used by alchemists. These portable laboratories had four components:
- Mortar and Pestle: used for grinding the ingredients together into a paste to be boiled, required for potion brewing
- Retort: used for distilling the brew, increases the magnitude of the potion's positive effects, optional for potion brewing.
- Calcinator: used to increase all effects of the brew, both positive and negative, optional for potion brewing.
- Alembic: also distills the brew, used to decrease its negative effects, optional for potion brewing
Necromancy is the act of harnessing and manipulating the souls and corpses of the dead. This usually takes the form of creating undead servants either through reanimating corpses and skeletons or entrapping souls in ectoplasm. Alchemy using ingredients extracted from Ehlnofey is also considered necromancy. Lichcraft is the process by which a necromancer becomes immortal by becoming undead.
Aspects of Dunmer ancestor worship could be viewed as necromancy, a source of much controversy within Imperial Morrowind, and many of the Telvanni magelords are rumored to have extended their lifespan through necromantic rituals. While necromancy by itself isn't illegal under Imperial law, the Mages Guild generally discouraged (and eventually banned) the practice. Other institutions, such as the College of Winterhold, are more lenient towards necromancy.
Many Necromancers in Cyrodiil belong to the Order of the Black Worm, a cult devoted to Mannimarco, an ancient lich who was killed by Vanus Galerion and seeks to destroy the Mages Guild. The so called "King of Worms," Mannimarco was thought to have achieved apotheosis during the Warp of the West, and is often worshipped as a god by necromancers throughout Nirn.
 The Thu'um
The thu'um, also called the Storm Voice or simply the Voice, is a form of magic inherent in most Nords and some others which uses the words of the language of the Dragons to form "Shouts", the equivalent of spells, of immense power. The word actually means "shout" in the Dragon language. It is said that the Dragon Language makes no distinction between debate and shouting, and so their words have always been magical, and powerful, for those who take the time to learn and understand their meaning. The Nords believe that Kyne, the embodiment of the wind who is viewed as the Nordic aspect of Kynareth, breathed onto the land at the Throat of the World to form them. As such, the Nords believe that their voice and breath is their very essence, and that channeling this life essence is how the thu'um operates. Those who can wield this power are called Tongues by the Nords. Most if not all Nords have some talent for the thu'um, but it takes particular talent and many, many years of study and training to become a Tongue. The thu'um can be used for a wide variety of purposes, anything from sharpening blades to quickly traveling across the land, even controlling animals or killing enemies. Some stories suggest that the ancient Tongues even had the power to "sing Shor's ghost into the world". The most powerful Tongues must be careful when they speak and are often gagged for safety, as their voice can cause great destruction.
 See Also
- For game-specific magic pages, see: Arena • Daggerfall • Morrowind • Oblivion • Shivering Isles • Skyrim • Dragonborn
- ^ a b c Magic from the Sky — Irlav Jarol
- ^ a b c Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of Heaven — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ a b King Edward, Part XII
- ^ a b The Monomyth
- ^ Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of Shimerene
- ^ The Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty-Three — Vivec
- ^ The Firmament — Ffoulke
- ^ Ayleid Reference Text — Raelys Anine
- ^ The Final Lesson — Aegrothius Goth
- ^ Arcana Restored — Wapna Nuestra, Praceptor Emeritus
- ^ The Apprentice's Assistant — Aramril
- ^ Lost Histories of Tamriel
- ^ An Overview of Gods and Worship in Tamriel — Brother Hetchfield
- ^ The Affairs of Wizards — Turedus Talanian
- ^ Galerion The Mystic — Asgrim Kolsgreg
- ^ Ancano's dialogue in Skyrim.
- ^ The Black Arts On Trial — Hannibal Traven, Archmagister of the Mages Guild
- ^ Mysticism: The Unfathomable Voyage — Tetronius Lor
- ^ A Primer on Enchanting — Sergius Turrianus
- ^ The Path of Transcendence — Celedaen