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Divine Magic and You - A Dummy's Guide to the Divine
#1
Life in Azeroth is full of adventures and hidden horrors few have ever seen, but even the most mundane peon or peasant will have seen a display of magic at some point in their life. Magic is everywhere in Azeroth, from the demon-summoning Burning Blade fanatic to the righteous paladin who heals his allies, magic in Azeroth comes in all shapes and forms. Yet the magic of a shaman is fundamentally different from a mage's magic. And magic isn't without risks of its own. This guide will help you better understand what exactly Arcane magic is, and what kind of consequences it could have.

Arcane Magic and Divine Magic?
There are two kinds of magic in the world of Azeroth, divine magic and arcane magic. This guide is about divine magic; the Holy Light, Shamanism or Druidism. If you were looking for arcane magic, I suggest going here. Divine magic comes a strong faith in oneself or their gods. A Paladin who believes firmly in her cause for good will be able to call upon the Holy Light for holy magic, while a priestess of Elune can call upon such powers thanks to her faith in Elune. A druid can call upon the natural divine magic of the lands by serving nature, while Shamans are gifted incredibly power by their faith and dedicated service to the elements.

One thing all Divine magic has in common is that it is that divine spellcasters must constantly affirm that they are worthy of their gifts. A paladin who fails to use his powers for the betterment of the innocent will lose his powers, and a priestess of Elune who breaks with her faith will no longer be able to channel her magic. A Shadowhunter who stops pleasing the Loa spirits will lose his ability to call upon their powers, while a shaman who no longer serves the elements will not be gifted a single bit of their power.

This is a fundemental difference between arcane magic and divine magic, while arcanists take their magic by force, twisting the ley lines' currents for their own needs, a divine spellcaster must constantly prove that they are worthy of the gift.

What are the various kinds of divine magic?
There are many different kinds of divine magic, but they all stem from a strong faith in either beings of power, such as gods or spirits, oneself or one's cause. Yet none of these divine sources of power are just there for the taking, it takes many years of dedicated work before a young apprentice can prove to their patron spirits, gods, or to themselves, that they are truly worthy of the power. And even then, the power could be taken away again in the blink of an eye if their faith falters.

The different sources of divine magic described in this guide are the Holy Light, Elune, the Forgotten Shadows, the Loa Spirits, the Elements, the Cult of the Burning Legion and nature itself.

Elune - Night Elves / Tauren
Elune is the only true goddess on Azeroth and is worshipped by the Night Elves as the Moon Goddess. After the world was shaped by the Titans, she looked after the infant races and tried to guide them on their path. She's an extremely peaceful deity who favours reasoning over fighting to solve a conflict, and watches over all living beings in the world; even those who do not worship her.

She is mainly worshipped by the Night Elves who see her as the mother of the world and the protector of all living beings, although the Tauren also recognize her as a powerful goddess and part of the overall world, seeing her as the left eye of the Earthmother. While the Night Elves as a whole tend to be rather xenophobic, a priestess of Elune (or, in more recent times, a priest) is expected to always try to find a peaceful resolution to conflict.

Elune expects dedication from her priestesses, but she does not demand that they give her every waking moment. A priestess is allowed to have a life of her own besides her religion, though she is expected to strive for peace at all times. Those who constantly use violence as their first answer will soon find their belief in Elune faltering, and their divine power fading.

Divine magic with Elune as source is usually found in the form of Holy magic.

Holy Light - Humans / Dwarves / High Elves / Blood Elves
The Holy Light is the main faith within the Alliance, though it is not actually a religion. While the full name is the Church of the Holy Light, it is not a religion, but a philosophy and a way of life. The Holy Light is based around the Three Virtues, respect, tenacity and compassion, and a priest has to understand all three before they can call upon the holy magic of the Light. It is through their understanding of the Three Virtues, and their connection with the universe, that a divine spellcaster of the Holy Light can channel holy energy.

The Holy Light teaches that awareness of the self and the universe is a goal. One must strive to be happy with their place in the universe, but must always do the same for others, which is where the first virtue, respect, shows up. Destroying other's happiness and severing other's connections with the universe is not serving the world's well being, and therefore not your own. One must always respect other living beings and their connection to the universe.

Affecting the universe with divine magic is incredibly difficult, which is where the second virtue shows up, tenacity. It takes years of dedication before an acolyte can make even the slightest bit of difference in the universe, and tenacity is important for that. Most young acolytes will end up losing hope when they realize it could take decades before they can call upon the powers of the Light.

Only after a student fully understands the first two virtues, which in itself can already take years, are they allowed to learn the third virtue, compassion. Showing kindness and offering help to others is an incredible thing, but one must not accidentally take away the others ability to learn. If a young child tells you that they're going to find a way to build a bridge across the water, it might seem like the compassionate thing to do to simply help them, but you'll take away the child's ability to learn from the ordeal; to grow happy from accomplishing something and tying a bond with the universe.

Because giving help and compassion where none is needed or wanted can hamper the development of others, this virtue is always trained last, and only to those who have shown a good understanding of the other two virtues.

Yet even those who have finally, after many years of dedication, gained the ability to call upon the Light to assist them, could just as easily lose it again if their belief falters, or they willingly commit atrocious acts of evil. While the Holy Light is not a sentient being, or capable of judging if a person's acts are good or evil, willingly breaking vows and laws, or acting out greed or hatred, will quickly topple over the faith of even the most dedicated priests.

The Holy Light exclusively takes the form of Holy magic, and can be found in Paladins and Priests.

Forgotten Shadow - Forsaken
While for game mechanics Forsaken are humanoid and healed by holy magic, and harmed by unholy magic, they are in reality Undead. Holy magic harms an undead, while shadow magic heals them, and a human priest who falls to the plague can no longer call upon the Holy Light, lest they be burned by its holy energies.

Many Forsaken feel that the Light abandoned them, allowing anger and bitterness to take over their hearts. The Cult of the Forgotten Shadow is in essence the Church of the Holy Light, but twisted to better fit the feelings of the Forsaken, who feel that the Holy Light failed to protect them against the Scourge.

The Church of the Holy Light believes that every being has a connection to the universe, and that one can make the world a better place for others through their own connection to the universe and the connection of the universe to other beings, the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow claims that there is no such connection, unless one actually makes it themselves. They believe that through their own power, they can make their own connection with the universe, and use that connection to change the universe itself. Yet even though this idea is radically different, the Forsaken do follow a slightly altered version of the Three Virtues.

The Holy Light believes that there are beings, who are linked to the Universe, but the Forgotten Shadow believes that the universe is made up out of the wills of other people. To change the universe, you must oppose the will of other beings, which is not only disrespectful, but can be incredibly dangerous. The virtue of respect comes back for the Forgotten Shadow, although here it is to preserve oneself. While seeking power, one must respect those with greater power when it comes to changing the universe, or you will surely perish.

The second virtue of the Forgotten Shadow is also the same as for the Holy Light; tenacity. You might be trying to influence the universe, but millions of others are also doing the same. Only through being tenacious can you ever hope to grow strong enough to overpower the wills of others to make your own dominant enough to alter the universe.

Yet the last major virtue is not compassion, though some Forsaken see it as a lesser virtue. The third virtue is power, which can be a dangerous and difficult virtue. If one tries to gain power too quickly, they'll certainly provoke the wrath of others, while a Forsaken who has no interest in power or bettering themselves might as well have stuck with the Scourge. The quest for power requires caution, forethought, and a subtle touch.

One who has managed to truly master these three virtues will find that they can overpower the wills of others and change the universe in their own advantage; which almost exclusively outs itself as shadowy, unholy magic.

Loa Spirits - Trolls
Trolls believe in the Loa spirits, a collection of forest and ancestral spirits that, when pleased, can grant powerful magic to those who appeased them. There are countless Loa, from the Primal gods such as Shadra the Spider or Nalorakk the Bear, to the spirits of ancestors, as well as other less common spirits such as Ogoun, the Loa of War.

The Loa Spirits don't generally look favourably upon mortals however, and it requires voodoo rituals, sacrifices and wild, savage dances to lure the spirits close and to appease them enough. Only if one can manage to please the spirits, and keep them satisfied in what the Troll does, will they continue to gift their magic to the Troll.

Compared to the Holy Light and the Forgotten Shadow, calling upon divine magic through the Loa can be learned a lot quicker, but the spirits are a temperamental lot, and if they do not agree with the decisions of a Troll they're gifting power, they'll just as quickly take their magic away again. And if one has lost the favour of the spirits, trying to gain it back, or win the favour of different spirits, will be far more difficult.

The divine magic gifted by the spirits can take many forms, from the healing magic of priests, to shadowy magic used by shadow hunters.

Elemental Spirits - Orcs / Trolls / Tauren / Draenei
Elementals are the chaotic energies of basic elements of the world given form: earth, fire, wind, and water. Left to their own devices, they will quickly start fighting amongst their own. Water will try to douse flame, flame will try to scorch the earth, the wind will try to blow the earth away, the earth will try to block off the water. The elementals aren't inherently evil, they just have no sense of order, they're chaotic and unpredictable, which is where a shaman must step in.

Shamans act as the ambassadors of the elemental spirits, who reason with these volatile creatures to find more peaceful solutions to their conflicts. The Earthen Ring, the largest organization of Shamans, is dedicated purely to maintaining the peace between the elements, so that they do not descend into an elemental war that would wreak havoc on Azeroth. (On the other hand are the Twilight Cultists, who instead try to anger the spirits, pushing them into starting the elemental war so that Azeroth may be destroyed.)

Traditionally shamans keep the peace by talking with the spirits, acting as negotiators between fire, water, earth and air, trying to find a balance that works for all of them; though a more violent approach of simply striking the elements down until they calm down has proven more effective in the harsh lands of Northrend, where the Taunka don't have the luxury of dealing with relatively calm elements.

Through mediating between the spirits, ensuring that none of them are upset, the Shaman may, after many years of training, call upon their power, forming air and fire into powerful lighting, or calling upon the spirits of the earth to level entire cities. Yet this kind of power is only given in moderation, if a Shaman calls upon the spirits too often, or for reasons the Spirits find unimportant, they might just find themselves without their source of divine power as the spirits turn their back on them.

Cult of the Burning Legion
The Burning Legion is a potent and unending source of dark, destructive power. While many who deal with the Legion are warlocks, some draw fel divine power from it as well and can be found in prominent positions in the Cult of the Damned, ironically an enemy of the Burning Legion.

The unholy energies of the Burning Legion does not merely take the shape of the demon summoning warlocks that fanatically worship the Legion, there are also priests who find power by worshipping these dark masters. To most divine casters, such a thing is a cheap way to power with a steep cost, but there is no arguing that the unholy, shadowy power gifted by the Burning Legion to those faithful to them is a terrible power to behold.

Yet woe those who cross the Legion, for they will surely find themselves hunted across countless planets if they try to flee.

Druidism - Night Elves / Tauren
While a Shaman calls upon the elemental spirits, a druid calls upon a different kind of spirits, the spirits of nature. In every living being is a spirit. For every forest, there are wisps and animals, and for a druid, defending these spirits is their task. For a small task, a Druid might ask the spirits of the forest for help, but for larger tasks, they usually call upon patrons of power such as Cenarius or even Elune herself.

Through their endless devotion to safekeeping forests and animals, and assisting Cenarius, Elune and Ysera in the Emerald Dream, Druids gain the ability to call upon the forces of nature and the moon. They can call upon the light of the stars and the wrath of nature itself, they can give life to ordinary trees or sprout powerful vines out of the ground. Perhaps amongst the most amazing of their abilities is their ability to shapeshift into the very animals they wish to protect.

Yet all this power comes for their dedication. A druid must, at all times, strive to protect nature and the Emerald Dream. If Goblins poach the land, they must answer the call to solve the conflict, lest the spirits of the forest and their patron Ancients desert the Druid. This does not mean that they should always take the violent path however. Balance is important for nature and just Gnolls who're chopping down wood to build a home have just as much a right to live as the forest animals.

A wise Druid knows when violence is required, or when simply bargaining would work the best.

Other faiths
There are other faiths still that can empower creatures with divine energy, such as animalism or a strong faith in the Dragon Aspects. Others still pay homage to the Ancients, such as the Aviana or Malorne, yet such faiths are not found nearly as often as the ones above. Yet it is possible to find a strong faith in nearly anything, and through years of dedication, such strong believes may grant followers of these demigods or animal pantheons divine magic.

Tests of Faith and Ordeals
Divine magic can offer incredible rewards, but one must always remember that it comes at a cost. A druid can't allow his friends to chop down a forest, simply because they are his friends. If the spirits of the forest call out for his aid, he has to take action, even if it means breaking his friendship and defending the woods against his former friends.

It can be difficult to balance the devotion required to maintain the ability to control divine magic with an everyday life. For many priests, their faith becomes the main part of their life. There comes a day when their faith will be tested. When a Priest must decide between doing what their faith tells them to do or what they'd like to do, such a showing compassion to an enemy who has tried to kill them (faith), or simply ending their life. Failing such a test can have dire consequences, such as a weakened ability to call upon the divine, or a mark of shame, something that will not go away until they have repented for their error.

For those who have erred against their faith, or those who feel that they have to proof that they are worthy, ordeals of faith exist. For a Druid or a Shaman, this might mean that they venture out into the wild under the harshest conditions, and survive without the aid of magic, going by their faith in the spirits to protect them. For a Priest, this could mean sharing a room with plague victims and sharing their food and water, trusting their belief in the Holy Light to protect them from getting ill as well.

What kind of ordeal of faith a divine caster attempts depends a lot on their faith and their culture, but it will almost always be a defining point in their life. If they succeed they will certainly feel stronger connected to their faith than before, but if they fail, the odds that they will lose confidence is large. An ordeal of faith will likely only ever be taken once in a caster's life; those who constantly attempt such feats are generally considered showy and gauche, and may very well end up losing their divine grace non-the-less.

Summary
Divine power takes years upon years of dedication to control. A mage can twist the ley lines into a deadly fireball whenever he so wishes, yet a shaman must ask the elemental spirits for approval whenever they wish to throw a bolt of lightning. To an arcanist, this is a sign of weakness. An arcanist takes power by force, but they pay the ultimate price. Arcane magic is addictive, it ages the body, it makes the mind arrogant, and it can wreak terror upon ones body.

In many ways, divine magic is a cleaner form of magic, one that doesn't cloud the mind and doesn't harm the caster's body. (Though the magic gifted by the Cult of the Burning Legion does tend to be an exception for this.) While an Arcanist would never admit it, a divine spellcaster is at a far lower risk than an arcanist, they will never get addicted to their power, nor will they ever have a demon knocking on their door demanding payments.

Yet for every waking moment, for every time that a divine spellcaster calls upon their faith to heal a wound or to smite an enemy, one must wonder...
Did they earn the right to use it?
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#2
Thanks for the post, Theik. Was thinking about a shaman, myself, and WoW wiki wasn't giving me the answers I needed.
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