External soul: flaw in Hermetic theory?

I note that both infernalists and the Gruagratch have the ability to create an external soul that will make them effectively immortal- is the limit of the soul a flaw in Hermetic theory? If so what does that suggest about the relative power of magic and the divine?

To be fair it is a magic realm based religious path. I'm sure a lot of hermetic magi would say the same, but as written it works exactly the same as the infernal version (aside from trivialities such as form and technique)

More than immortal, that virtue will place a Gruagach in the same life expectancy group of hermetic magi with good longevity rituals, as there are many ways in the books to avoid aging (or dying of age), but most of them tend to give you 1 warping point per year. At the 2 centuries, it's warping what ends the character, with magi fading into Final Twilight and Gruagach becoming trolls.

With this suggest me about Magic & Divine Realms is that the Magic Realm is powerful enough to retain it's own, not giving them up for heaven or hell after they die.

I don't think there is such thing as a "Divine soul" (or any other soul with a surname or flavor, so to speak), things are already complicated enough if you have one soul. The virtue mentions "the character soul". And you can do things to souls with magic, the Limit of the Soul (which is a lesser limit, and so an hedge tradition might break it) just says that you can't create a brand new soul or bring back anyone from the dead. Leaving these two things aside there is a lot of fun stuff you can still do with souls.


An in-setting argument that might be made against the standard view of the soul is to point to mysteries like ascension to the hall of heroes which transforms the cult leader into an immortal daimon of the magic realm, leaving their physical body behind. You could argue this implies the soul is not tied to physicality and can be altered, or at least moved, through some magics. On the other hand you could argue that the soul in fact departs and the daimon is merely a reflection of the person, not the person - like a much more powerful and intelligent ghost. Merenita would possibly also make an argument about becoming, but I imagine most non-Merenita magi don't really believe the Merenita claims about that particular process (and they might be right!).

It's one of those things that is really left unanswered (or at least not definitively answered) and is probably argued about by more philosophical magi quite a bit.

Personally imo the simplest solution is that the idea that magical beings have no soul is false - many magical beings, especially magical humans and beasts of virtue, have the properties that are believed, in the medieval model of mind, to stem from the soul (Reason, Intellect, Conscience) so it stands to reason that they have souls.

Although then you could turn around and argue that that must mean those properties don't necessarily stem from the soul and that the model of mind is wrong, and it gets right back into arguing...


Very quickly:

A&A's psychology is based on Aristotle. Aristotle's psychology does not claim an immortal soul: in particular, his nous is not divine. Averroes derives an immortal intellect soul from it, which exists beyond individual humans.13th century medieval theology based on Aristotle then had to find the immortal soul in Aristotelian psychology: this search starts before 1220, passes through Averroes' argument, and leads to Thomist theology.

This search for an immortal soul in Aristotle's nous fits nicely with A&A p.11 research to model Magical Theory on classical philosophy, and can lead to an interesting saga - which could include adventures from sub rosa #20, #21 and #22.

A&A does not dwell on the developing 13th century theology. The role of the soul in earlier theology is based on the use of the term by the church fathers, who take it from 3rd and 4th century philosophy. Studying the history of the idea of purgatory may help understand it. The last judgement, as taught and represented by almost all Christians before 1200, does rely on the resurrection of the flesh, not on specific ideas of an immortal soul independent of the body.

At times Ars Magica differentiates a human spirit from its immortal soul - without specifying the role of Aristotle's nous in it. I recommend to consider such mentions and two phrase theories as inspiration for further research in a saga, not as a base for necessarily inconclusive 'RPG theory crafting'.


Interestingly I find that the Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul seems to fit really well with the rules of Ars Magica- at least as I read them. Of course this would mean that western philosophy and the Church are wrong about certain things, but to be fair in the real world they were wrong about a different set of things, so I don't really have an issue with that.

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