Animus magic is magic wielded by animus dragons that allowed them to enchant inanimate objects, plants, animals, and other dragons to do whatever the animus dragon pleases. Animus dragons have been recorded in five of the seven Pyrrhian tribes, yet none of the Pantalan tribes. IceWings, SeaWings, NightWings, SandWings, and SkyWings have all previously had animus dragons.
As of The Dangerous Gift, all alive and current animus dragons cannot cast new spells, and very likely will never be able to again, due to the spell cast by Jerboa III. This does not however imply that animus magic itself is destroyed, and newborn animus dragons by Jerboa III's phrasing should be able to cast new spells, as previously enchanted objects still work.
Animus magic was almost limitless, being capable of moving objects to controlling other dragons. Despite its capabilities, animus magic was unable to bring back the dead. If two animus dragons cast two spells directly in conflict with each other, the one who is older, more powerful, more practiced and experienced, and focused is likely to win, and what exactly was enchanted would have an effect as well.[event 1] Heavy use of animus magic can unintentionally alter the landscape where it was cast.[event 2]
Animus spells can be cast through spoken words, thoughts, writing, and Aquatic. To ensure accuracy, the spell should be as specific as possible; otherwise the request would be interpreted another way.
It was thought that using any animus magic could cause insanity, though it has been heavily implied in both that this only happens if an animus dragon uses their magic for evil. Turtle once mentioned that animus magic also hurts an animus dragon's soul if it is used for personal gain. However, the books imply that the animus magic does affect the soul, as Stonemover enchanted his scales to turn to stone instead. Both Darkstalker and Anemone attempted to prevent this through enchantments, but this did not seem to have any bearing on their eventual actions or the deterioration of their souls. Darkstalker had also tried this two thousand years ago with his Talisman. However, no effects were physically showing.
Different tribes have different methods of handling and using their animus dragons. Throughout time, some tribes lose animus magic while other tribes gained it.
IceWings have had animus magic longer than any other tribe, though there was no first animus dragon; the powers were believed to have originated from multiple dragons. IceWings host a test similar to the SeaWings' Talons of Power ceremony[event 3] to find animus dragons. IceWing animus dragons were only permitted to use their power once to benefit the tribe at a gifting ceremony. Prince Arctic's runaway caused the disappearance of animus magic in the tribe, which was bad genetic luck.[event 4]
When Arctic ran away with the NightWings, he introduced animus magic to their tribe. The tribe received their first animus, Darkstalker.
The SeaWings host a Talons of Power ceremony for SeaWings at the age of two after their first animus, Albatross, violently discovered his animus power. The test usually involved a object, in which the participants attempt to enchant it. The dragon who successfully commanded their object is deemed an animus.
Two thousand years before the events of the main series, Albatross went mad and killed most of the royal SeaWing family. This event became widely known across Pyrrhia and was used as a cautionary tale about animus magic. After the massacre, Queen Pearl outlawed animus magic in the kingdom, though the present-day SeaWings allow and use it.
SkyWings had animus dragons in the past, but they tended to be killed as soon as they were discovered.
- In an interview at the Rochester Children's Book Festival, when Tui was asked for the inspiration for animus magic, she replied: "So with animus magic, it started with thinking, I needed some kind of magic in this world, but I didn't want it to be like anyone can have any magic at any time, I wanted it to be sort of specific, and have it be pretty rare. And then, especially with Book Two, the more I started thinking about what I could do with it, and how it could fit into the murder mystery, that's how sorta started developing like, the backstory of what it does to you and all of that."