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The world I am working on is a soft science fiction realm dressed up in the trappings of magic and the occult. A world where there are loosely defined scientific principles behind the rituals and relics of effective spell casting. Lycanthropy is believed to be nanite-actualized lunacy. Vampirism is explained as a side effect of an anemia cure gone wrong. I'm aiming at the soft spot, where the characters are living in world of infinite possibilities, but are still holding out hope that their faith in science will save them.

Which leads me to question...

I'm looking for a whimsical, semi-scientific "explanation" for demon summoning, and I would prefer that it involve time travel. Either fetching demons from the past, from an age before science destroyed the faith-base which fueled their existence, or from the future, from the chaos which is waiting for us once science inevitably falls apart.

So is there a relationship between either the circle, the pentagram or the candles and any of the modern theories of time travel?

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    $\begingroup$ primeval had 'anomolies' that allowed prehistoric creatures as well as super evolved critters from the future to travel to the present time. They weren't circles so much as abstracted balls of light but you can definitely work with the concept. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2020 at 23:02

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If you are so inclined to mix magic and science thus...

I remember something about Einstein and his colleague Rosen - they thought at some moment that a wormhole may have each mouth in a different universe. There is some elaboration on this in Wikipedia). Moreover, their wormhole would only allow passage in one way.

A summoning circle would then be one mouth of a wormhole. Assembling one will necessarily cause a mouth to appear at the target plane of existence, allowing whatever is there to cross to the plane of the summoner.

Since we're dealing with wormholes, time travel is already heavily implied. The other mouth of the circle may be on either your past or future. Different circles may even draw from different times.

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  • $\begingroup$ Perfect! And our own prejudice that holes tend to be circular will tie the wormhole idea to the mystical symbolism. This is exactly what I was looking for. There should be badge for providing an up-voted answer within an hour of the asking. I'm still at my writing desk and now I have something to write about. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2020 at 6:38
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    $\begingroup$ Its unfair to issue awards based on prompt responses, as it does not give people in all timezones a fair chance. $\endgroup$
    – Innovine
    Feb 23, 2020 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Innovine, agreed. Which is why I didn't close the question and select Renan's answer immediately. However, now several days later, with all time zones given opportunity, I am adding a bounty to expand the rewards I can offer to both existing and future answer-ers. Now, in seven days, when the bounty matures, I can choose the best answer to receive the bounty and accept Renan's answer to grant that lesser award for its promptness. This is a win-win opportunity, not an attempt to give my local time-zones any advantage. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2020 at 22:16
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Look no further than the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics, and taking charge of infinite probabilities

A few distinguishing aspects to Quantum Field Theory that may assist you:

  • So matter is really a series of waves, oscillating in various omnipresent fields that sometimes interact with each other. Particles are point like waves that travel, it's actions governed by it's 'Wave Function'
  • When a particle is emitted, it actually travels along all possible routes - only when it is Observed does it suddenly collapse the 'Wave Function' to be a particle.
  • Time is not as simple as we think it is. It is often 'reversible' and malleable. Some argue, in fact, that time does not exist in the Quantum world, only causal chains of events that are still reversible.

This lends itself to your magic users - they could perhaps take the principles and do the following:

  1. All possibilities could exist, and may have existed, even though the likelihood of its existence is miniscule. However, if your Magic User / Scientist could take advantage of the improbable, and make it probable, then it is possible a demon from the past could pop into existence. This actually happens all the time, particles can create themselves in the middle of nowhere, it is just the configuration of these particles that requires control over probabilities.
  2. Time is not what we think it is. Positrons are electrons travelling backwards in time. The creation of a particle is sometimes dependant on time-reversal. Look at Feynman Diagrams - it is possible to rotate interactions to be parallel to time-axis - meaning time is simply another dimension in space much like a coordinate system. Your Magic User / Scientist could discover the secret to manipulate matter in time, and therefore conjure material 'from the past'.
  3. Observers in this universe are actually important. It is noted that the act of observation affects the universe. A particle is indeterminate until observed - so your Magic User could take advantage of this aspect, such that observations could lead to collapse of wave functions in a certain way. Shapes are important, as particles travel in all geometrical paths until observed. Your pentagrams, circles and other shapes could have significance by shaping particles probabilistically to travel in a certain geometry to attain qualities you want. For instance, light (a photon) can travel in a 'squiggly' line to a destination, however once its wave function collapses it is highly probable it travelled in a straight line, so this is what we (almost) always see. It could, however, have traveled in a pentagram instead, and this is a distinct possibility. By drawing or channeling light into a pentagram, perhaps certain possibilities are created more likely to summon demons (which again, is highly improbable).

The world of Quantum Mechanics is weirder than you may think - in fact I regard it as much weirder than any fictional story I have read. Using it will reveal untold possibilities.

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  • $\begingroup$ So... you're saying that the OP's wizards set up an Improbability Field like the ones in The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy? $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @SEistoopoliticallycorrect Yes. That is precisely what I am saying. $\endgroup$
    – flox
    Feb 28, 2020 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ Very useful! I feel drawn to the "time is often reversible and malable" line, as that works with the ego of one of my scientist characters. Enabling him to allow himself greater leeway than is prudent in his experiments. Thank you! +1 $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 12:30
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In the book Nicolas Eymerich, inquisitore by Valerio Evangelisti, when the ancient pagan gods of Europe lost all of their followers due to Christianity, they migrated to exoplanets where they continue their existence. These planets can be (and are) visited by future humans with advanced technology, but pagan rituals can bring the gods back to Earth in a physical form, due to the existence of a fictional physical particle called 'psytron'.

Psytrons travel much faster than light and they interact with human synapses which can excite them. This effectively enables a transfer of information or thought structures across space and time but also to 'crystallize' in physical form a thought, image or belief shared by a large number of people gathered in the same place.

So basically you could exploit a similar fictional particle/entity that can transfer energy from the psychic to the physical plane to have either

  1. a mechanism to fetch your demons from another planet/back in time/forward in time or
  2. a mechanism to give physical existence to the demon based on the strength of the belief of its summoners
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  • $\begingroup$ #cecilian-Monicawasmistreat, The book you referenced is available in 20 editions spread across 8 languages, but I don't know how to read any of them. That is a shame since it sounds a lot like what I am looking for. I already had thought about possession and summoning being the same spell, with different results based on whether what you called the "crystalize" phase working. I also am using the faith-based power base idea which is not only a part of your recommended work but also plays a strong role in Gaiman's American Gods. Your book would have helped a lot if only I knew how to read it. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2020 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, unfortunately they were never translated to English, which is a shame imho. It's been a long time since I read the book so I'm sorry I can't be more specific than that. I've found a couple of links that detail the concept further, they are in Italian but maybe with Google translate... oggiscienza.it/2017/11/08/ritorno-eymerich-teoria-psitroni rickdeckard.net/2018/03/24/evangelisti $\endgroup$ Feb 24, 2020 at 10:00
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E8

So, strangely enough reality may mimic faith. Drawn in a way akin to the 8-fold way, or in an 8-pointed star and possibly best explored with (not kidding) 8-dimensional numbers called octonions, E8 is a 248 dimensional space that can be projected onto the 3-dimensions of space and one of time that we are used to. If written as a matrix, it is a mathematical expression with over 2 billion entries. E8 might be an effective way to look at M-theories, which describe a unification of all known forces at scales both tiny and enormous.

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  • $\begingroup$ A very good answer, but more descriptive might help in terms of how related more cogently with the question. Essentially you proposing that 248-space beings are projected onto a 4-space summoning circle. Hyperspatial entities are good candidates for demons. Plus one. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Feb 28, 2020 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ Way above my knowledge level but I will research E8 and hopefully catch up with you on this. Thanks for pointing me in such an interesting direction! +1 $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 12:49
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mumbo jumbo coming your way...my favorite mathematical and geometric theory go-to for magic soft science. KNOT Theory.

A knot is a 'string' that is joined together so that it cannot be undone, the simplest knot being a ring/circle (or "unknot"). You can have more than one knot/unknot entangled together. Notice how some knot entanglements look similar to a pentagram to the uninitiated pitchfork wielding hordes. enter image description here

Your magic user scientist is messing around with the entanglement of the ether atoms/quarks and other quantumly minuscule matter of the universes and whatnot.

When they appear to be drawing a circle in whatever medium they are using they are actually rearranging the ether to follow a staged path of a 'knot' - a closed loop.

SOMEHOW your characters have managed to find a way to rearrange matter at two different points in the universe both spatially and/or temporally. What with all that spooky action at a distance nonsense.

When they manage to rearrange two unknots separated by either time or space together (image "a" in the figure below), they create a single closed loop that connects two points together allowing passage from one side to the other. Or maybe it's the process of separation that creates the connection between the two points.

How your characters are physically doing this, I do knot know. It's a closely guarded secret.

The magic science of the demon portal wormhole creation is a bit hit and miss... only the most adept arcane users have any success. Most magic circles are just that, circles drawn in the mud.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I'm going to need to read this a few times, but I already see that it is wonderful! Thank you! It implies an "as above so below" relationship where lines in the mud guide the adept to find/create the equivalent arrangement of "quantumly minuscule matter" (consider that phase officially stolen!) to establish one end of the portal. If the chosen "QMM" happens to be entangled with other "QMM" from a demon populated era, then you get what you asked for, either for better or worse. Very useful! Thanks Again. +1 $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ This is my favorite answer to the question. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor Ooohh! My first actual bounty! Thanks. Glad you found my mumbo jumbo helpful 😁 $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2020 at 15:40
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Wormholes, black holes, ignoring the space/time between two points, it's all good that our science wizards can do that, but it's more than just the result, it's how to get there and how its done.

The circle contains the method of travel for the hapless demon. Around the circle is your arcane symbols, and real geometries. Not the alien geometries -- those you summon.

The symbols actually do something though -- they are an identifiable set of coordinates that identify either the entity that you aim to summon though space-time, or a location that this entity is at. If you are pulling demons from the past, this could explain why your runes are an older but recognizable script -- runes, hieroglyphics, etc. -- this is the alphabet that the demon summoning understands. For the summons that pull form the future, it's a script and we know it is, but it's not actually been created for language use, so it looks like magic letters. For reference, see the coordinates system of Stargate where the seven chevrons need to be set to a specific character to reach another gate.

The geometric designs are a bit trickier as it is not just acting on this world. The central circle is obvious in that it defines the limits of the portal that is created. But the other geometries that the circle is inscribed hold a use in relating to how the portal maneuvers though space-time to achieve. Sometimes extra lines are added to obfuscate things, so how it bends might not be obvious at first.

The candles are most likely accouterments because magic, no matter if it is arcane magic, or science magic, needs the dribbly candles and dark robes and things.

But overall, the spell circle basically functions as a compact sort of spell program that is run on the universe to pull a living being (usually a demon, but occasionally an ordinary high school student) from a different point in space-time and deliver them to the present. Returning them to their own time is a bit trickier ...

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  • $\begingroup$ The relationship of symbol alphabet to the temporal origin point of the summonsed demon is excellent! I like that they have to be recognizable to the entity which they affect as it implies their (perhaps unconscious) acceptance of the summons request. That will play nicely into one of my subplots. Thanks! +1 $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 12:36

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