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These things were first described by archaeologist Alfred Watkins in 1921. He claimed that in ancient times when Britain was very densely forested, people built roads in geographically convenient straight lines. He believed that the lines had been called "leys" because so many of them passed through towns with "ley" in their name. He would later claim that these "ley lines" existed in many countries all over the world, especially in Europe. His theories were generally dismissed by his peers, however.
Then wacky occultists heard about it, and decided that they must be magical.
Now ley lines (sometimes written as leylines) are hypothetical alignments between places of power, which may be magical, magnetic, or psychic in nature. These places of power are where two or more ley lines cross and are often known as Ley Nodes, Nodes, or Nexuses. Nodes are often regarded as spooky or unearthly. Stone Henge is said to be built on one such intersection.
They are often invisible conduits of magical power that flow through the earth and air. Mages can tap into them to gain their powers. Places where multiple lines intersect at nodes attracts wizards like moths to the flame.
Anime and Manga
- Outlaw Star has the Galactic Leyline.
- Mahou Sensei Negima mentions this concept, with a number of points on earth that have great amounts of magical energy. The World Tree is on one of these points. One of the Big Bad's plans to break The Masquerade involves using The World Tree point to start a chain reaction spell with the other points.
- Rurouni Kenshin at the end of the series Kenshin and co. have to deal with an antagonist who is trying to divert the "dragon lines" (lines of magic power related in some way to feng shui) in order to destroy a capitol building with many heads of state inside.
- Note that this is only in the Anime. The Manga took the stance of "Magic isn't real" and stuck to its guns like a baby to its bottle.
- For that matter, the second anime of Fullmetal Alchemist had dragon lines, surrounding the country and the city in an immense human transmutation circle.
- Rental Magica got these. People use them to choose places for big spellcasting, pure-magic monsters use them as a subway, and when magical pollution--which is already unpleasant--happens to be fueled by one, it creates a "Magi Night".
- The DC Universe has Ley Lines as well, though they're rarely mentioned.
- They were the basis for the "Millennium Giants" story arc in the Superman comics in the 1990s. Giants (suspiciously similar to Marvel's Celestials) woke up and started walking around Earth causing chaos, until Superman restored the natural balance of the Lines by sacrificing the electric powers that he had gained previously. (The whole thing might have been just an excuse to get him back to normal.)
- Chinese heroine Gloss, of the New Guardians, calls them the Dragon Lines of Power, and draws upon them to create various seismic effects, as well as gaining incredible strength, speed, and flight.
- The Invisibles features a brief mention about how Canary Wharf was built to tap into the power of the Southern Dragon Line (which is why they put a pyramid on top of the tower).
- Hellblazer, in keeping with its "throw it in" magic system, features these as a prime part of someone's plan at multiple points.
- Ley Lines (Nihon Kuro Shakai) is the English literal title of Japanese director Takashi Miike's 1999 film, which does not address the phenomenon of ley lines directly, but rather uses the idea subliminally as the film's heroes set out along their own 'ley lines', or the railways of Honshu to Tokyo. It is the final installment in a series of three films, titled 'Black Society Trilogy'.
- Thomas And The Magic Railroad: The titular railroad was inspired by ley lines.
- Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series features these as necessary for the casting of any magic whatsoever.
- Found in the Heralds of Valdemar novels, complete with Nodes. They're described as rivers of Life Energy that bleed off from all living things and "flow" to another plane. Further, it requires certain magical potential to attempt to tap their energy without being overwhelmed or burned out; mages who can do this are called Masters (or Adepts, if they can also handle nodes).
- The conspiracy theory in Foucault's Pendulum assumes that The Knights Templar learned to harness the power of the ley lines.
- Rupert in Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones is very distressed when he realizes the hotel where he's gathering his magical candidates is built at a node between ley lines. It has a bit too much magical power behind it for him to be comfortable working with it. He's entirely right, of course.
- Another Diana Wynne Jones novel that uses the concept of ley lines is The Homeward Bounders, where they're tied up with the position and behaviour of the Bounds.
- Stephen King's Dark Tower series has proxy Ley Lines.
- In the novel The Book of Night with Moon, about feline wizards who maintain magical gates that lie beneath Manhattan, the cats, unlike human wizards, use magic by manipulating threads of magical energy.
- No, the cat-wizards use the Speech like every other wizard in that universe. They are simply naturally talented at manipulating the "hyperstrings" that make the "Worldgate" in Manhattan (capable of sending wizards who know what they are doing across countries, to other planets, even to parallel universes) function properly. The Worldgate crashing is the hook to start the story.
- In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, ley lines are used for magical travel.
- They appear in at least one of The Saga of Recluce novels by L.E. Modesitt Jr., when the heroes are attempting to learn how to handle both Order and Chaos magic. Otherwise, they are hardly ever mentioned, you can read several of the novels and not even know they exist. Most mages don't know about them.
- Moon of Gomrath (by Alan Garner); the young hero has to follow a ley line in specific circumstances to find a magical plant.
- Used and mentioned pretty regularly in later volumes of The Dresden Files. Chicago, where the majority of the series takes place, is a major convergence point of many ley lines, which is why so much important stuff happens there. Other centers of ley line concentration include Edinburgh, where the White Council has their headquarters, and a Mayan temple where the climax of Changes occurs is another. One island in Lake Michigan, Demonreach, is actually a source of one such ley line, which is why Harry is cautioned against using its power when he claims the location as a sanctum.
- Played with in Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce. It's mentioned that up until recently, the local mages enhanced their spells by drawing power from what seems to be ley lines. As of the beginning of the story, the power has become unstable and unusable. Later on you find out that they actually drew power from the borders of tectonic plates, and the instability is due to the fact the local volcano is about to blow.
- Used to form the entire basis for magic in Irene Radford's Dragon Nimbus, Dragon Nimbus History, and Stargods series. At least, until a mage decided that dragon magic worked better.
- In the Darkness series by Harry Turtledove (an allegory of World War Two set in a generic fantasy world) leylines take on the role of railway lines in our world, with enchanted carts floating above them. However, because leylines also go under the sea, most ships are also enchanted and ride along them rather than using sails (the Algarvians at one point pull off a surprise invasion by using only rare sailships, magically undetectable). The biggest hub of leylines in the world is the Lagoan capital of Setubal (the equivalent of London), explaining its role as the centre of global trade.
- Ley lines in the Kate Daniels books are fast-moving currents of magic. It's impossible to touch them safely, as any living thing will be sheared off at the knees. However, the ley lines will drag anything along with them, so they're used as transportation. "Ley taxis" are cheap wooden platforms stacked up at every ley point, which people use to ride on.
- In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, it's revealed that in America, instead of getting a mystic urge to mark Nodes by building temples or megaliths on them, people get a mysterious urge to build tacky roadside attractions like The World's Largest Ball of Twine.
- Played straight with The Ship That Won.
- These play an important role in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon--it is, after all, a Mind Screw about surveyors.
- In Good Omens, Anathema is investigating the Ley Lines and finds they have been moving. They're forming a spiral around the hometown of the Anti Christ.
Live Action TV
- In Lost, the island is suggested to move along these lines, as well as having centers of geomagnetic energy.
- They rarely mention them, but ley lines exist in Charmed. The Halliwell house is built on a Nexus, which is why it's so magical.
- The stone circle in Children of the Stones gets it's power from ley-lines
- As mentioned in the description, there are a handful of real-world beliefs that use the term. Whether the lines are created by what is built on them, or things are built on the line over the centuries because it is there, tends to vary.
- In traditional Australian Aboriginal belief systems, there are "Song Lines", which are roughly equivalent to ley lines. To simplify perhaps a little too much, they are invisible lines which cross a number of natural sites of spiritual significance, which (according to Aboriginal mythology) were formed in the Dream-time when the rainbow serpent travelled across Australia.
- When a newer religion (most notably Christianity, for its tendency to convert natives) entered an area, the place the church would end up being built was usually either on the very site of the old worship, or if they didn't convert, a secondary spot of importance was chosen, usually a mountaintop or the center of a grove of trees, or somewhere else that was considered naturally vigorous, lucky, or both.
- The Muslims do this too, if this article is any judge.
- One could possibly make an argument that electric lines are built on a similar system, because there are good and bad places to ground, for the flow of electricity.
- Ley lines are at the heart of Rifts. In the backstory, the Great Cataclysm was caused when a nuclear war took place on the Winter Solstice, during a planetary alignment, feeding vast amounts of power into the ley lines. This overload set off natural disasters across the planet, causing further fatalities and pouring more energy into the ley lines, until finally the world was left in ruins. In the game's present day, the ley lines are still empowered, and can be seen from space. They are such a noteworthy source of power that the average magician is known as a Ley Line Walker.
- And where two or more Ley lines converge, they create a Nexus. Nexus points are where the eponymous Rifts appear.
- It is further stated that Ley Lines also extend into open space, which is why planetary alignments can cause increased activity on terrestrial ley lines. The Great Cataclysm on Earth also caused ley lines to erupt on the Moon and Mars, and possibly other planets, as well as causing intense solar flare activity. In the Three Galaxies sub-setting, interstellar ley lines are used extensively by magic-using civilizations (e.g. Space Elves) to travel through space without the need for conventional technology (although they use a lot of techno-wizardry).
- Shadowrun has Ley Lines called "Mana Lines". In Asia they're called "dragon lines". Places where they cross (and greatly increase ambient mana) are called "power sites".
- Dungeons and Dragons: as usual, has almost anything at least as an option:
- In the Birthright setting realm magic involves using and even creating ley lines to access remote sources. This is necessary because most human wizards live in cities, but human settlement screws up the magical energy.
- In the third edition, characters can accesses earth nodes to gain powers. Also certain magical locations give temporary abilities when used right.
- Vampire: The Requiem has them, primarily used by the Covenant called Ordo Dracul, and referred by them as "Dragon Lines".
- Mage: The Awakening has ley lines as current of supernatural energy which conduct resonance (the overriding concepts of a person place or thing; e.g. a hospital could have a strong resonance of healing or sickness), and their course is influenced by the local landscape. Nodes are where ley lines intersect, and where their resonances mix and intensify. Mages can harness nodes for free energy. Ley lines and nodes tend to influence the resonance of the areas they pass through. Hallows which occur within nodes tend to be heavily tainted by the resonance, which makes the Mana less suited for mages.
- Exalted has them, though they're called dragon lines because it was the reptilian race known as the Dragon Kings who first mapped them out. In Exalted, it's not so much that their course is determined by the landscape as that the landscape is determined by their course; Essence, as the term implies, literally makes up everything. Geomantic weapons such as the Thousand-Forged Dragons, which can warp, drain, or even destroy a region's dragon lines beyond repair, are thus among the most potent weapons of mass destruction in the setting.
- The Dark Eye also has leylines along with other forms of Functional Magic.
- These are cards in Magic: The Gathering. If you have one in you opening hand, you can start the game with it in play (the battle takess place on that spot). You can also bring them out at any other time, but you have to pay for it like any other enchantment.
- Role Master campaign setting Shadow World. Essence Flows follow paths around the planet Kulthea and can be tapped for magical power by touching them.
- World of Warcraft has these: Ley nodes are shown in the elven territory, and Karazhan is highly spooky because every single ley line passes through it. The deranged aspect of magic is now trying to redirect them all to his base, where he can toss the magic "safely" into space.
- The Wild Arms series seems to alternate between having one or multiple ley lines running through Filgaia. It is mentioned directly in Wild Arms 1 and Wild Arms 3, with the first game mistranslating it as "Ray Line" (although this was fixed in the remake).
- Ley points also appear in Wild Arms 4, Wild Arms 5 and Wild Arms XF. They are identified with one of each of the elements and affect the element of spells or summons used from on top of them.
- In Wild Arms 2, they're mentioned as part of the plan to trap an Eldritch Location inside a "Mana Prison". However, they're again mistranslated, this time as "Ralines" and "Raypoints".
- There's an exploration badge in City of Heroes that mentions Ley Lines.
- There's a couple actually, Paragon City is referred to more than once as a place Ley Lines cross, which is used as the explanation for why so many magical things happen there.
- The city zone Dark Astoria lies on top of a Ley Line, it is theorized that some of the ghosts that can be seen walking around in the fog may be visions of people in an alternate universe where the place was not taken over by Banished Pantheon cultists and their zombie servants.
- There's a couple actually, Paragon City is referred to more than once as a place Ley Lines cross, which is used as the explanation for why so many magical things happen there.
- Dungeon Siege 2 refers to Ley Lines.
- In Shadow Hearts, Covenant has ley lines serve as a very minor piece of the plot on the second disc.
- In Destroy All Humans! 3, according to the "Lunarian Church of Alientology", they are "invisible rivers of mystical energy", and they want to build where the ley lines cross in order to use them to communicate interstellar distances with their minds.
- The Crystal Lines in Final Fantasy XI. They're easy to spot, considering the Zilart essentially encased them in cement.
- There's also the leypoint in Wajaom Woodlands. Players can complete a quest to receive a ring that teleports them to that point that involves them getting struck by lightning.
- Leylines are arguably the underlying concept of Draw Points in Final Fantasy VIII, which are depicted as fissures in the ground that stream with magical energy, not unlike a natural gasline.
- Ley Lines are somewhat important in Warhammer Fantasy: For starters, the High Elves use them to keep their island home afloat, and disturbing the stones that mark them tends to have really bad consequences (a stray Goblin warlord and his shaman almost sunk the continent, which considering its status as a Cosmic Keystone would have been a Bad Thing.) The Slann also use them to communicate with each other, unfortunately for them they had to move their continent around a bit, which meant that their cities in Lustria and the Southlands are no longer aligned, which means they cannot communicate. This leads to redundancy at times, such as hitting the Cathayan fleet with two hurricanes.
- The eponymous railway of The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks are not only rails for the royal trains, they also act as the Ley Lines that channel the energy of the Spirits and keep Malladus imprissoned within the Tower of Spirits.
- The ritual known as the Holy Grail (from Fate/stay night) works by using a giant mana circle to collect mana from the two foci of leylines under Fuyuki, and then using this mana to summon Heroic Spirits. In the ending of Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu uses explosives to damage part of the leyline so the circle will eventually be obliterated by an earthquake before the Fifth Holy Grail War can occur. Too bad the Fourth didn't end normally...
- While not explicitly used in Super Robot Wars Z, but Asakim Dowin's Humongous Mecha Shurouga can execute its strongest attack "Ley Buster", which turns into a crash attack generated by a circle of seemingly magical energy. The above picture is even given a Shout-Out as part of the "Spheroid of Destruction".
- Heroes of Might and Magic 4 has those. Sacred Groves are created at the crossings of those. Conveniently, there can be always at least one such crossing in each Preserve, seeing as a grove can theoretically be built in any of such cities when it isn't forbidden by map settings. The groves boost a hero's maximum mana count permanently by 3. Additionally, Gauldoth the Half-Dead's campaign (the necropolis faction one) involves opening a portal to another realm, where Gauldoth's master Kalibarr is being held prisoner. That is done by destroying the Angel's Blade at a giant nexus point of the same kind of lines, which is described in words as a place where many rainbow-coloured lines meet, visible to a practitioner of Nature magic like Gauldoth. On the map, it looks like many other evil-styled Quest Gates, though.
- Dungeons of Dredmor has an ability tree in which you specialize in the usage of ley lines, who increases mana and mana regeneration
- The Sins once used the term to define the spot where they built the temples to draw energy from. Rhett quips that this makes the embodiment of evil hippies.
- Ley lines, and nexuses where they cross, are mentioned early in Eight Bit Theater. Black Mage is a living nexus.
- In Tales of the Questor, Ley Lines are discussed quite often when talking about their system of magic, known as 'lux.'
- While it hasn't influenced the plot, one annotation on Irregular Webcomic pointed out that moving vast numbers of ancient artifacts to the world's museums would turn them into immensely powerful nodes.
- The physics of magic in Elf Blood dictate that magical energy is fluid, and flows along tidal pathways that essentially act as leylines. When two or more of them meet, they push up against each other and form a lofty Place of Power that is a valuable resource for mages.
- Nikki Reilly from the Whateley Universe can tap ley lines to increase her power. Her dependence on them comes back to bite her in her combat final, where fallout from a previous fight in the same arena has caused all the local ley lines to become temporarily messed up.