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I'm creating a magic system where the "magic" comes from "Higher Beings" as a source. Besides the "obvious praying to the gods," can anyone tell me of any other methods for accessing magic from a "God" or higher being?

Sorry if this falls under worldbuilding.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on Worldbuilding.SE – user29032 Apr 6 '18 at 7:28
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    As an active member on WorldBuilding.SE I don't think this question will be well-received over there. This is pretty opinion-based as every answer would be exactly equally valid. Why not say that magic is sentient and can be asked to do stuff? Why not say that concentrating on your goals is enough to force your will onto stuff? Why not say that cutting yourself releases magic from your body and allows you to inject that into other things? You could check out our Sandbox to get some feedback before posting on the main site. – Secespitus Apr 6 '18 at 7:52
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    If you run this through the WorldBuilding Sandbox as Secespitus suggested, and then post the final fleshed-out question on WorldBuilding, I'd be perfectly happy to answer it. As it's currently written, however, it's off-topic over here and would be too broad over there. – F1Krazy Apr 6 '18 at 8:20
  • check the Magic building subreddit for questions like this. – Robin Apr 6 '18 at 9:14
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If we define "obvious prayer" as "direct appeal to the god" then you have three alternatives : the appeal may be indirect, the appeal may be to a proxy, or both. The differences between the three while real are mostly sophistry, in practice you are talking about adding indirection to avoid the "obvious prayer".

Indirect appeal

Instead of asking for what you want, you do something that results in the same effect. Henry Taylor gave some examples in his answer.

Basically you are taking advantage of either the personality of the god or some rule he follows. The rule might be a contractual obligation, a binding geas or precedent, or simply a result of some sort of a social dynamic between the divine powers. This works because the great power of the divine requires them to play by the rules to an insane degree to avoid breaking reality. Apparently rebuilding reality if you accidentally break it is a major pain and everybody involved will get really angry at the person responsible.

Use a proxy

Traditionally instead of asking the god for favor, you will form a pact or make a deal with a spirit or angel who has access to what you want. And with traditionally, I mean this is more or less how real world magic was supposed to work. Note that the difference between a spirit or angel powerful enough to provide useful magic and an actual god is largely theoretical. A polytheist will consider them lesser gods, a monotheist will see them as lesser beings or extensions of the power of God.

The proxy may also be an object or a place associated with the divine to the point it has actual power. With the divine the "object" may be an immaterial thing, the difference between material and immaterial things is really a mortal limitation. As far as a god is concerned the verbal promise he made to your ancestor six thousand plus years ago is more real and concrete than the mountain your castle is built on.

The proxy can also be a person or bloodline. It can even be a nation, an ideal, or an organization.

Both

Spirits and angels are just as rule bound and for the same reasons as actual gods. Objects and places may respond to reproductions or invocations of the circumstance that imbued them with power. If the power was imbued on purpose, it may respond to anything the one making it wanted it to respond. This is typically the case if the proxy is a divine promise or pact.

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  • And yes, this is probably a world building question as I could answer it without any reference to writing. – Ville Niemi Apr 6 '18 at 6:10
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I think it is a world building question, but I'll answer it here because I'll be sleeping by the time the site police move it over to the worldbuilding SE.

How you communicate with your Higher Being will depend largely on the role which that particular deity plays in your pantheon.

If you need magic from the Trickster God, make him laugh. Set up a truly preposterous joke with utter faith that the punch line will come true. If the God thinks that it is funny, it doesn't matter that the punch line is impossible. The magic will pull off the joke.

If you need magic from a War God, demonstrate tremendous courage and savagery on the battle field. If your God respects you as a fellow warrior, She will help you survive no matter how desperate the odds; or failing that, will at least make sure that you die a hero's death.

For a Minstrel God, play music. For a Healer God, give care to those in need.

Earn your God's attention by excelling in Their areas of expertise. Forget praying with words unless your God is a poet, in which case, pray beautifully.

Communicate with your God through your actions. Let your faith be demonstrated by your fearless charge toward the absolute pinnacle of your craft, to an extreme which would require a miracle to accomplish. If your faith is solid and your craft is worthy, your God will reward you with the miracle of their magic.

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If your "higher beings" are something that you can talk with, you could form contracts with the beings in exchange for power. Great power needs often a great price. The higher the being is, the more it takes from the contractor.

That is the first example that popped in my mind, but there are many others.

The best way to figure something out for yourself would be to research the pre-christian magic. Ancient Magic from Egypt or Babylonia. Old Irish and Scottish Magic. Persian Magic, something like that. There are often magics, related to some god, Dschinn or Spirit that could help you with the building of this system.

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Don't forget that you have magic so you can use magical items; perhaps at some price exacted by the Gods.

So an example system would be that your amulet or ring or bracelet is a contract with a particular God that controls a particular kind of magic, you cannot have a contract with more than one God at a time, and every time you use it, you owe the God something s/he covets, and the bigger the magic, the bigger the debt.

Perhaps the Gods are in competition with each other for acolytes. If your God Pako brings down the walls of a castle, you must kill an adherent of the God Hargrave. If Pako just unlocks your chains, you must spend a day building him a flower altar, that gets Pako prestige points amongst the other Gods. The prices are high so you don't use magic too much.

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