According to Gaius, even in the days of the Old Religion such practices were viewed with the utmost suspicion. This claim may be ironic, as the manipulation of life and death was the main principle of the Old Religion.
Undead Creatures Edit
Sorcerers can create Wraiths by using powerful magic to harness the grief and rage of tormented souls and make them live again. They cannot be slain by mortal weapons or magic; only enchanted weapons such as the sword Excalibur have the power to effect them. They are also said to disappear when their task is complete.
When Morgause agreed to grant Arthur a wish, she offered to summon his mother's spirit. At nightfall, she lit several candles on an alter, then chanted a spell that both stopped time and allowed Arthur to speak to Ygraine. The spell does not hold for long and according to Morgause, once the doorway is closed, it is closed forever (The Sins of the Father).
Spirits can also be contacted with magical objects such as the Horn of Cathbhadh, which can be used to open the door to the Spirit World. According to Gaius, every year at Beltane, the High Priestesses would gather at the Great Stones of Nemeton and summon the spirits of their ancestors. They trained for years before entering the Spirit World and were taught never to look back at a spirit, as doing so would release it into the living world.
On the third anniversary of Uther's death, Arthur used the Horn of Cathbhadh to speak with his father. In doing so, he accidentally released his spirit into the living world (The Death Song of Uther Pendragon).
Knights of MedhirEdit
Around three hundred years before the start of the series, seven of Camelot's knights were seduced by a sorceress's call. One by one the knights succumbed to her power and became the Knights of Medhir, a terrifying and brutal force that rode through the lands leaving death and destruction in their wake.
During the Great Battle for Camelot, Morgana used the Rowan Staff to bring the dead to life. Though she was not an experienced sorceress, the Staff's power was able to guide her own fledgling magic to summon an army of animated skeletons from the tombs beneath the citadel.
The skeleton soldiers were intended to help Cenred's army defeat the Knights of Camelot by forcing them to fight on two fronts. Because they were already dead, the skeleton soldiers could not be killed and could only be defeated by either destroying the Rowan Staff or killing the sorcerer who had summoned them. Even if they were reduced to a pile of bones, the skeletons could reassemble themselves and continue to fight.
Immortal Army Edit
The Cup of Life could make people immortal by transforming them into the living dead. This was first discovered many centuries before the start of the series, when a great warlord took a drop of blood from each of his men and collected it in the Cup. Such was the vessel's power that they became immortal where they stood.
After retrieving the Cup from Arthur Pendragon, the High Priestess Morgause used it to make Cenred's army immortal. She later killed the king and took the army for herself, after which she used it to conquer Camelot and crown her sister Morgana Queen.
As the living dead, armies made immortal by the Cup of Life could only be killed by enchanted weapons such as the sword Excalibur. Immortal armies could also be destroyed by emptying the Cup of the blood that it contained, breaking the enchantment and instantly reducing the soldiers to dust (The Coming of Arthur).
A Shade is a tormented soul summoned from its rest by necromancy. Though they possess their original bodies and skills and recall their original names, Shades are, in essence, no more than shadows of their mortal selves.
Shades are entirely under the power of the necromancer who summoned them and can be moulded to their will. This control seems to last until the Shade is killed and its soul released.
When she learned that Arthur was planning to marry Guinevere, Morgana Pendragon went to the Dochraid for advice on how to raise a Shade. At her instruction, the High Priestess traveled to the Pool of Nemhain and cast a magical coin into its depths, summoning Sir Lancelot's spirit into the living world.
Morgana used the Shade Lancelot to prevent Gwen and Arthur's marriage. With the help of an enchanted bracelet, the Shade succeeded in seducing Guinevere. When their affair was discovered, they were both arrested and Guinevere was banished from Camelot. Its task complete, Morgana then ordered the Shade Lancelot to kill himself. Merlin later freed Lancelot's soul from her control with a spell, allowing him to finally rest in peace (Lancelot du Lac).
Known Spells Edit
- Nimueh summoning Tristan de Bois as a Wraith (Excalibur):
- Gehíere mé wan cniht áwæce. Beo strangra ond steacra for brecþ wáne. Uprærest wærc, Uther Pendragon!
- Morgause summoning Ygraine's spirit (Merlin - Secrets & Magic, The Sins of the Father):
- Arise mid min miclan mihte þín suna to helpe. Hider eft funde on þisse ne middangeard þín suna wæs.
- ...þæt þu þonne wile great þone þe on þissum lænum lif þe geholian wæs.
- Morgause summoning the Knights of Medhir (The Fires of Idirsholas):
- Cnihtas Medhires, éower sáwla sind min sáwol. Onwic and cóm hér eft. Rid eft ond forsliehð eft. Gehðu, Uther Pendragon.
- Merlin puts Lancelot's soul to rest (Lancelot du Lac):
- Grið fæstne mid þisse tintregian sawle.
- Necromancy appears to be an area of great interest or importance to High Priestesses. Nimueh, Morgause, and Morgana have all practiced it on at least one occasion.