Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

1/28/2004

Chirography

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

What is the art of magical writing?

Well, I think it would be called “chirography”. It’s not really a popular way to do magic in the West, but the Eastern magi have used it for generations. Taoist charms and such are all mainly written spells on special paper with special ink and blessed by special ceremonies and prayers. Of course, Western wizards have the Runes, but it just doesn’t have the same feel. Runes are usually engraved on stone or wood and they seem so primative with all their sharp angles and simple forms. But, Eastern calligraphy is so flowing and exotic that it just seems to be made from magic.
I was first introduced to this kind of magic via anime and manga. A priestess holds up a strip of paper with Chinese symbols on it, shouts out a “prayer”, and a fireball launches from the paper. What fun! Every so often, I search for information on this, but rarely come up with much. The latest time, though, I found Yellow Dragon Talismans.
It occured to me that this would be a great way to do magic in a fantasy fiction world. It’s not really something that I’ve seen before and it has some nice limitations that generate some good plots. Also, as a writer, I like the emphasis on how magic the written word is! In any case, it’s an idea that captures my imagination, so I thought I’d throw it out for anyone else who might be fishing for an idea for their constructed world.

3 Comments

  1. Do you mean chiromancy? Though WordNet glosses that as “palmistry, palm reading, chiromancy, chirology – telling fortunes by lines on the palm of the hand”, so maybe grammomancy would be better?

    Comment by Jeffrey Henning — 2/9/2004 @ 7:25 pm

  2. Hmm, it stripped my hyperlink:
    http://www.langmaker.com/db/eng_grammomancy.htm

    Comment by Jeffrey Henning — 2/9/2004 @ 7:26 pm

  3. Sorry, yeah, I have the blog set to not use html codes in comments for security reasons. Damn blog spammers…

    Actually, the definition of chiromancy is what led me to use chirography instead! Though, I’ll have to check up on this grammomancy stuff. Thanks!

    Comment by J. K. Hoffman — 2/10/2004 @ 7:09 am

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