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The Probability Well Theory
By Aristophanes ex Bonisagus, of Tiercel’s Nest in the Thebes Tribunal,
excerpted from his recent book Arcana Magia

Before my apprenticeship at Durenmar, I studied the original Greek texts of the Philosophers. To find, then, that the First House still sought the 'fifth element' came as a shock. As the more perceptive of you realise, unchallenged theory becomes but worthless dogma, often marked by lasting uncertainty on basic principles. So it is with the 'Fluid Vis' theory, which fails to explain the means by which its 'Ether' intensifies into Auras. It is not even a unified theory of what 'untapped' magic is, but a series of special cases for different types of Aura. Certainly, vis seems to be fluid, but there are no real explanations - what is vis and how do Auras and Regio form? I thus propose the 'Probability Well Theory' of Magic.
Simply put, an Aura is a place where Mundane things are less likely to happen - a 'well' in the probability of normality. Where (and when) normal reality is weak, other Realms can affect it. Our incantations merely increase the likelihood of specific improbable events occurring, through symbolism and belief. Links to the 'dominant reality' aids such manipulation; Hermetic symbols focus on the Mythic Realm, whilst the Auras and magicks of other spheres may be mastered by those whose Gift is attuned to them, for example by Faerie blood or Diabolic Pact.
Belief, focused on symbols and myth (epitomised by natural forms of vis), weakens local mundane reality. The depth of a Probability Well is proportional to the source strength and the Local Rigidity Modulus of Normality (or 'Mundane-ity' - see my earlier paper on this topic). The increasing degradation of normality as one approaches the source creates roughly spherical 'Auras' around small sources, such as powerful artefacts and the Auric realignments we call wards. Thus a 'magical tide' may intensify without spreading out if the Local Rigidity Modulus is high, as it is due not to a rising Aura, but to a deepening Probability Well. Faeries have varying degrees of reliance on the Mortal realm and are thus native to intermediary levels of reality. Their existence and beliefs thus stabilise strata within the Probability Well or 'Regio', as Mundanes stabilise the Mundane Realm.
Vis, then, is no 'fifth element', but any substance sufficiently legendary to challenge faith in the Mundane. 'Distillation' concentrates a myth into a symbolic form, linked to most relevant magical Art. Vim vis reflects our basic belief in magic and thus takes any form we expect it to, flowing with the currents of thought. The current vis source depletion is the price of our failure to defend the Myths on which our Arts depend from the challenges of the Church and Rationalists.
Theories must be assessed on merit rather than on tradition and status; otherwise the rising stars of our Order will be burnt out before being allowed to shine. Auric Flux Mechanics (based on Infamitus' fragmented Fluid Vis theory) still cannot answer several basic questions. Probability Well Theory treats the topics in a uniform manner for the first time, resolving many outstanding difficulties. I will be happy to debate the subject further, both with Traditionalists and those with a genuine desire for progress in this field.
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