Our Connection to Nature and Its Magic

I just finished reading a book called The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. It’s a biography that chronicles the life’s work of one of the most influential scientists that ever existed. You probably do not know him; though his work is just as influential today as it was in his day, his name has been almost forgotten. His name was Alexander Von Humboldt. His work single-handedly changed Western civilization’s view on what nature is and how we fit in it. The way Humboldt came to his realization and shared it with the world has inspired me and helped me develop my ideas around Aurth’s magic further.

Before Humboldt, during the industrialization of Europe and America’s civil war, people saw nature as a separate entity from themselves. Nature was the wilds that had to be conquered and harvested for man’s advancement. But when Humboldt started to publish his work, the opinion began to shift towards the realization that humans are just as much a part of nature as anything else on this planet. Humboldt’s theory (now a proven fact) was that we are all connected. Everything on Earth—the rocks, birds, streams, kangaroos and even algae—is all connected in some way. What happens to one will affect the others. These connections are what Humboldt referred to as the cosmos, but we know it better as the web of life. Remember that? We learned the simplified version of it in Grade 3 science. Grass is eaten by a grasshopper, the grasshopper is eaten by a songbird, the songbird is eaten by a hawk, and when the hawk dies its body decomposes into the earth to be absorbed by the grass. If a piece of that cycle is removed, then the whole thing falls apart… hawks don’t eat grass!

Humboldt learned about our connections to nature by going out into the natural world to experience it. During his journeys, he experienced the wonder of nature. Have you ever felt that overwhelming feeling of awe while in nature? I’ve felt it when I went whale watching off the coast and saw orca whales breeching the water’s surface, and during the first days of winter when the mountains get their first white-capped sprinkling of snow. Humboldt experienced this feeling too, and he was able to translate it into books. He shared his knowledge in a way no scientist had before. He wrote scientific papers that not only included facts and figures, but also included his emotional responses to what he saw, as well as colourful descriptions of what he found marvellous. I am not sure how familiar you are with my writing (download my free ebook here!) but what this sounds like to me is magic. What Humboldt experienced and wrote about were his experiences with the magic of existence.

To me, magic is not what we see being summoned from a wand or brewed in a cauldron in movies. Magic is what gives us life and is what we feel when we experience life (again, download my ebook here to read more about this). In A Gift from Aurth there are literal magic experiences that happen, like a man breathing fire or a woman who lives in a cloud, but it’s what the magic is intended to symbolize that I am trying to develop. Aurth’s magic is a metaphor for the wonder of our existence. The magic of our world may not be able to transform a cup into a kitten, but it was able to cover a planet of bare rock and hostile water with living things. The wonder Humboldt found in nature is where magic exists in our world. It’s the true form of magic.

In A Gift from Aurth, the antagonist is mining all of the magic of Aurth for herself. When she drains it from the environment, she literally strips the world clean of all life. When she drains magic from people, they lose their gift from Aurth and their driving force. Is this starting to sound familiar? What is happening in Aurth parallels what is happening here on Earth. As the human race strips our planet of its magic, we destroy our connection with nature and subsequently the magic in our lives.

The awe Humboldt experienced when he went out into nature inspired a whole civilization to see their place on this planet differently. He was able to express his thoughts and emotions about humanity’s place in nature in a way that captivated his audience and changed their worldview. That’s what I am trying to do. I’m not quite there yet, but Humboldt’s story has brought me one step closer to helping me share the magic of Aurth with my audience.

Turning Something into Someone – The Third Property to Aurth’s Magic – Gives Life

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This week’s featured art is by biology collagist Bedelgeuse. Click on the image to see more of his work and follow him on Instagram

One of my first posts was about how Aurth is not just the world A Gift from Aurth takes place in; it’s also a living being capable of thoughts, emotions, and interactions with other life forms. The being known as Aurth came into existence from the third life-giving property of magic.

This property says,

Magic is a life-giving force. Its light can bring a heartbeat and a soul to the inanimate. When life leaves the living, it is possible for magic to bring it back.

Aurth’s magic has an affect on life in the same way water, minerals, and vitamins do. Adding magic to an ecosystem is like fertilizing your garden with cosmic electrolytes. When an organism absorbs magic, the magic encourages it to flourish and thrive in extraordinary ways.

I have always been fascinated by the way trees become a home to so many other living things. A single tree can be covered in layers of life: the frills of ferns, a coat of moss and a metropolis of crawling creatures wandering through the crevices of its bark. I imagine trees in Aurth being the same, but what calls these magical trees home would look a little different. A crust of colourful coral could be growing through the mosses. Among the creatures would also be raves of costumed Nims swinging through the branches. The ferns would grow alongside beautiful flowers that bud into bursts of butterflies each day.

It is not only living things that can benefit from magic’s life-giving force. The rarest quality of all magic’s properties is its ability to give life. When magic concentrates in high volumes and a chance combination of coincidental circumstances unfold, magic can turn something into someone. The omnipresent existence of Aurth was given life by the magic that saturates its soil and water. The whole of the planet makes up Aurth’s body. It does not have hands for you to shake or a voice for you to hear, but it has a mind with intentions and a heartbeat at its core. Magic gave life to Aurth in this way, but that is not the limit to its possibilities. You may meet some characters in the story who could have been cast in the service of the beast in the film “Beauty and the Beast.” Magic also has the potential to invite the spark of life back into the body of someone who has died. This does not mean death is non-existent in Aurth. Death is still an inevitable future for everyone who goes to Aurth.

“Gives Life” was the last quality of Aurth’s magic for me to cover in this blog. What do you need that magic could provide? What would you become if magic transformed you? How would the world around you thrive if magic shared its life-giving light? For some inspiration, check out my posts about the other properties through the links below. Share what your imagination comes up with in the comments section or on Twitter.

What Would You Become? The Second Property of Aurth’s Magic – Transforms

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“Call Me Human” is by collagist extraordinaire Sebastián Delgado. The fluidity of the lines between the two subjects is how I picture the beginning of magic’s transformation. Click on the photo to see more of Sebastián’s work.

In the character description for Jack, I reveal he is a man with claw-tipped fingers and a wildfire of scales spreading across his limbs. How does a human man come to have such features? There are three properties that define how magic in Aurth reacts to its surroundings. Jack’s features come from the second property, “Transforms.” This property says,

Prolonged exposure to magic will cause transformations to occur to the body. These changes reflect the personality, desires, and subconscious of whomever the magic is affecting. It allows them to be who, or what, they truly are.

Basically, what this means is magic will progressively turn people who go to Aurth into something different than what they were when they arrived. What they become is who they truly are.

As a kid, I did not allow myself to buy or read comic books because I was afraid other kids would think I was a geek and not want to be my friend. I tucked an interest of mine away so I had a better chance at fitting in with other people. Have you ever tried to be someone you are not? Or hidden a part of yourself to fit in with others? These hidden parts of us can be unleashed through magic. A change could be superficial, such as a man getting blue skin because he says blue is his favourite colour. But just because the man says his favourite colour is blue does not mean it’s true. His transformation will come from somewhere deep within him, from a part he has hidden away from others and himself. He may have always said his favourite colour is blue, but really it’s pink. He’s just never embraced the colour because he was afraid of how his masculinity would be scrutinized. There is no need for this fear in Aurth. Magic will turn his skin into the brilliant hue of a pink summer sunset blazing across the horizon. Since it is impossible to escape magic’s effects, the colour would be embraced by him and everyone else around him.

Transformations can also come from our past. For Jack, his transformation comes from a childhood fascination with dragons. His happiest memories are from when he was a child in his father’s arms, being told of knights charging fiery dragons in their mountain dens. As Jack grew up, he forgot these fairytales in favour of becoming a mature adult. In Aurth, no one is too old for anything. A man who daydreamed of dragons as a child will become one in Aurth. He may only have a scatter of scales now, but in a few years he could be soaring through the sky with scaled wings.

These are just a couple of examples of the possibilities magic’s transformative property can create. There is no limit to what people can become. What does the true you look like?

Here are some other posts about Aurth’s Magic

The Three Properties of Magic 
Everything You Need Will Always Be Provided For You – The Second Property of Auth’s Magic – Transforms 

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The 3 Properties of Magic

 

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“Spark of Life” is a photo series by artist, Mirjam Hümmer.  In her beautiful words, “Everything is energy and interconnected on an electromagnetic level. Invisible to most of us, this life force energy, or chi, or prana, flows through all living things on Earth.” Click on the image to see more from her series.

Magic is the super substance of Aurth. Along with its own list of unique attributes, magic is capable of doing everything familiar substances can do. Magic supports life the way water aids in the lives of all living things by nourishing and purifying. Similar to coal and oil, magic has energy stored within it waiting to be unleashed with ignition. Magic is precious in the way silver and gold are valued for their lustrous rarity. Aurth’s magic can be found in all three states of matter. As a fluid, it is a warm, liquid light you could pour through your hands. When it solidifies, it will form glowing crystallized prisms you could set in a ring like a dazzling diamond. As a gas, magic is an iridescent vapour that drifts through the air in a cosmic mist of star dust. The wonder of magic is something to treasure because it is a non-renewable resource. The amount that exists on Aurth is all there will ever be.

I think of magic as a study of alchemy or chemistry. The way it works and reacts to its surroundings can be broken down and studied. Aurth’s magic is something you could have learned about in your grade school science class. I am not sure what kind of student you were but, do you recall how things such as chemicals and energy have a list of properties used to define them? It’s okay if you don’t. I had to do some Google research myself before writing this post. Some memorable ones I came across are: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed” and “An object in motion stays in motion.” I have been working on a similar list of properties for Aurth’s magic. They will help define how magic affects the world of Aurth and how it will play a role in the story. Here is what I have so far.

***Don’t worry, there will not be a pop quiz at the end of this post!***

The Properties of Magic

1) Provides

The basic needs of life will always be provided through magic. Shelter, food, clothing and more will appear in someway to those who need it.

2) Transforms

Prolonged exposure to magic will cause transformations to occur to the body. These changes reflect the personality, desires and subconscious of whomever it is effecting. It allows them to be who, or what, they truly are.

3) Gives Life

Magic is a life giving force. It’s light can bring a heartbeat and a soul to inanimate objects. When life leaves the living it is possible for magic to bring it back.

What do you think? I have purposely kept the definitions short because in the weeks to come I will write a post on each property to give you some examples of how they work and explain their symbolic value in the story. If you have some questions, good, ask them and share some thoughts in the comments section. I am really curious to hear what you think because your feed back will help me in my writing. Until then, class dismissed 🙂

Nims – The People of Aurth

Nims are the indigenous people of Aurth. They worship Aurth as their mother and god but they do not do so with sermons or prayer. Worship is done through a respect and appreciation for the planet they know as their home. Nims act as the shepherds of Aurth by tending to the plants and animals who live there. If Nims are plentiful in an area, it is a sign of environmental health. However, this can be misleading at times because Nims cannot always be easily seen. They are able to hide and sleep in natural objects such as flowers and rocks.

Appearance 

Nims are humanoid in shape. Their size can vary from one that would fit in your hands to one who could hold you in their hands. They lack any defining features such as eyes or a nose. Their face is simply made up of soft indents where eyes could be and a bump that indicates where a nose could go. They do not have mouths. They sense and eat though their flesh, which feels like freshly kneaded dough that’s been left out to rise. Their bodies are hairless and lack any sort of muscular tone. Nims emit a soft white glow, similar to a neon sign, from their flesh.

Some Silly Facts

As a whole, the Nim race is unorganized and carefree. Their only motivation is to have fun. They are characteristically easily distracted and are unable to sit still. The sound of dripping water in the distance could set a Nim off track for hours. A Nim sitting still is a Nim dancing to a made-up beat in its head.

A group of Nims is known as a rave. A rave forms when one Nim discovers another one dancing. This Nim will join in with the dancing until another finds them and then another. This can continue until hundreds or thousands of Nims join the rave. No one knows what ends a rave, but when it ends, another one will be starting not far away.

I am sure you have guessed, Nims love to dance. They are passionate about practicing any form of self-expression. Everyday of a Nim’s life includes dancing, art, singing and fashion. Aurth is their canvas. Whole forests are full of their sculpture installations and many surfaces are covered in their graffiti. The only aspect of their life that includes competition is in fashion. Nims construct elaborate costumes (especially hats) from natural materials, like shells and feathers, in an attempt to upstage the other Nims around them. This creates many impractical couture pieces that are quickly abandoned after being unveiled. Competition can be exhausting so not all Nims are always dressed up. Some take it more seriously then others and some are just lazy.

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Eyes as Big as Plates #Salme (Finland 2012) @ Riita Ikonen & Kroline Hijorth

Symbolism 

In “A Gift from Aurth,” Nims represent our inner child. Indications of this can been seen through their actions and the purity of their appearance. They are the part of us we subdue and repress as we enter into adulthood. The Nim inside of you wants you to call in sick to work on a beautiful day or suggests pulling over in your car to have a solo dance party when your favourite song comes on over the radio.

Featured Photo

The photo featured in this post is by Finnish-Norwegian artist duo, Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Their beautiful series of portraits, called ‘Eyes as Big as Plates’, captures images of people from around the world in sculptural costumes inspired by their natural surroundings. This resourcefulness and creativity is what I hope to portray in the Nim society.

Nim Conclusion 

This is really just the tip of the Nim iceberg I have floating around in my imagination. I have considered every aspect of them, including what they eat, their lifecycle, how they marry and even what their cellular structure looks like. It’s way too much for one post, so look forward to learning more about Nims in the future.

Do you ever listen to your inner child/the Nim within? I remember I once gave into a song while I was grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon. I danced down every aisle and it felt great! Do you have some stories to share? We would all love to hear them in the comments 🙂

Aurth – A Living Being

“A Gift from Aurth” takes place on a planet called Aurth. Aurth is not just a host for the characters of the story to have their adventure on. It’s a character in it’s own right because Aurth is alive.

Aurth is a planet rich in an energy source we would call magic. Over eons, magic has saturated it to its core. Every grain of sand and every drop of water is concentrated with it. One of the wondrous properties of magic is its power to give life. Not just life to the plants and animals that live there but life to the planet its self. Aurth is a living being. The core of the planet holds its mind and soul. It is capable of hopes, ideas, emotions and cares. Just like you and I, Aurth experiences empathy, feels love and can have it’s feelings hurt. Unlike us, with our bodies of flesh and blood, Aurth’s body is made from mountains and streams.

Aurth’s consciousness is an omniscient force across the planet. Having a presence everywhere means it is aware of everything that happens. This also means, with the help of magic, it can chose to interact with other lifeforms. An example of this would be causing a tree to burst into bloom with ripe fruit to feed the hungry or changing the direction of a road to direct a lost person the right way home.

The idea of magic creating life (or life being magic) has always intrigued me. We live in a world explained by science. We are taught life happens because a complex system exists with our heat beat, our breathe and electronic signals in our brain. Could there be more to it? Perhaps it’s a bit of magic soaked into our core that gives us life.

What do you think? Is there more to it? Share your thoughts or some love in the comment box below.