Superstition & Magic

Since the existence of psi is widely but superficially known in the Reach, there is a lot of superstition, including outright magic and I mean "low" magic.


A common manifestation of superstition is charms, worn on bracelets and necklaces, kept around as bric-a-brac, worked into ID cards and comm settings. They can be made by anyone, even in commercial mass production, but those made by "psychics" (or whatever the local hedge-wizards are called) are supposed to be specially good, of course. Examples:

General good luck:
quatrefoil, horseshoe, 7 multicolor beads, 12 or 14 white beads, Earth-glyph, horn

Latin cross, David-star, trefoil, uraeus (Horus eye), Earth-glyph, averting hand

red cross, double helix, Earth-glyph

heart, ankh, Venus glyph, Mars glyph, Mercury glyph, hermaphodite-glyph ace/king/queen of hearts

ankh, labrys, double helix, Venus figure, lignam, toy baby

crystal, labrys, ace/king/queen of clubs, Bohr atom, sun-glyph

dice (one all 4s, the other all 3s), toy coins, toy credit cards, cornucopia, ace/king/queen of diamonds

There are also "bad-luck" charms, drawn on the pictures of enemies, tied to statues or dolls of them, or secretly packed in among their belongings (or, more publicly and rarely, mailed to or thrown at them):

General bad luck:
dagger-pierced heart, skull, skull & crossbones, 13 black beads, broken Earth-glyph

ace/king/queen/jack of spades

broken love charms

deuce of clubs

dice (both all 1s), broken cup, deuce/jack of diamonds


Spells are pronounced, sung, written and burned, or written and used as charms. Verbal spells can be done by machine. There is a large and variable vocabulary of meaningless "power words" similar to "abracadabra." More specific spells are scraps of poetry or litany, preferably in English, though Latin, Greek, Terranic, KaiSenese, Conventional, and even Universum are sometimes used.

Spells are usually thought to be strongest if done by a hedge-wizard ("psychic," "witch," etc.) or cleric, but anyone can try their hand.


Village and neighborhood wizards, witches, psychics, or what-have-you have always been around and are ineradicable in the Reach.

Psi is real. The difference between it and superstition is very inadequately taught. So anyone with good observation, intuition, and people-skills can claim to be a psychic, especially if they really do have some psionic or patharchic skills (which the less-educated public generally fail to distinguish from each other) and a good knowledge of local superstition.

These folk tell fortunes, fix bad luck, find lost articles, make charms (see above) and do impromptu counselling, as they have for millenia. They no longer do much healing; that has been ceded to technology. They sometimes do detective work when the local authorities are feared, can't be bothered, or have proved useless.

Few people are hedge-wizards as a sole occupation. It is usually a side-line for entertainers, supported house-keepers, servants, minor clerics, or anyone who cares to try it.


Good luck:
shooting stars, rainbows, sudden lulls in crowd noise or traffic, unexpected insects, the numbers 7,12, 13, or 14; Old Terraformer sites, first serving from a vessel, children

Bad luck:
comm crashes at significant moments, the number 13, walking counterclockwise around sacred places, Old Terraformer sites, time-travel, desecration