Learning Magic

Codex Inversus
8 min readMar 21, 2024

The relationship between master and apprentice is the cornerstone of magic learning. Despite the numerous and ever more sophisticated manuals, treaties, and pedagogical texts, arcane arts can not be self-taught. Magic is so context-dependent and capricious that only constant guidance can make you understand what you are doing wrong or right. Furthermore, the frustration of the first years is hard to overcome without a figure reassuring you of the eventual results. There are also accidents: sometimes they are only terrifying, other times actually dangerous, but all need handling by an experienced figure.

Each culture has developed ways of teaching the arcane arts, with specific traditions and institutions, but the first steps to magic prowess are more or less the same everywhere.

A kid can show interest and aptitude for magic in many ways, from badgering curiosity to instinctive connections. The commonest sign of a young person’s knack for magic is synesthesia: if a voice sounds “red”, a food taste “like a melody”, or a rock feels “bitter” to the touch, it may mean the kid is experiencing the mana field without previous teaching.
A promising child is sent to a wizard to become their apprentice. Most parents are fine with that since wizardry can be a prestigious and profitable career, but there is also apprehension: the disfigured and mad wizards are more than just a clichè.
The kid will work…

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Codex Inversus

A world-building project. Art and stories from a fantasy world. All illustrations are mine: collages and rework of other art. https://linktr.ee/Codex_Inversus