There is a hidden language that empowers and constrains all aspects of the Whorl. It is not a language as spoken by mortals, but rather a language of tightly complex logic trees, nested variables, and elaborate algorithms. Every particle and speck of matter contains this language and is bound and constrained by it. In this way is earth made fertile and water made capable of supporting life. In this way does blood flow in the living and bodies of the dead disintegrate into component nutrients. The only limits to what this language can do are its own inbuilt logic and the amount of energy provided to the system.
The Sun is the source of all energy, and as the rest of the Whorl absorbs its light and heat, living things obey the language that is encoded in them and grow. Air becomes agitated and blows. Sea currents flow. Clever mortals, with sufficient study and the right tools and aids to mental concentration, can glimpse small snippets of this language, and in so glimpsing, can tweak it. Change a variable here, remove a stop there, and matter and energy can be manipulated to do strange and wonderful things.
With a word, a wizard can release the stored energy in the gust of wind turning it into a blast of flame. They can alter the language of bodily movement to freeze a person in place… or animate the corpse of someone who's died. The language of the Whorl is abstract and complex beyond the capacity of mortals to comprehend, but what little fragments wizards do figure out they keep, pass on to students, accumulate in libraries, and trade as a valuable commodity.
There are some for whom arcane magic comes naturally. Without need for mind-straining study, these rare few seem able to manipulate snippets of the language of the Whorl through intuition. Such practice is inevitably chaotic and dangerous, lacking the precision of those who study such effects carefully. Even rarer are those with the blessing of the Great Dragons whose grasp of the secret language derives from some hidden aspect of themselves passed down from distance ancestors.
This, then, is how wizards, sorcerers, and bards manipulate reality to suit their goals.
Priests and paladins of the gods access this hidden language in a different way. The gods themselves are immensely powerful beings built entirely of the hidden language of the Whorl. They manipulate reality within their divine purview as innately as people breathe. In an essential way, the ARE the aspects to which they are bound, and can grant to their devoted followers the ability to change reality within certain limits. Druids and rangers also draw power directly from the living speech of the goddess Parvati. Their power is bounded not by their academic knowledge but by their devotion.
Straddling the line between arcane and divine power are the warlocks. Studied enough to contact powerful beings who are, themselves, not precisely gods, they are able to forge a conduit for power that neither they nor their patrons could have created alone. Warlocks tend to form pacts with lesser powers such as Aranyani, the Queen of the Fae, or the fallen god Surya whose chains prevent him from granting power to his own priests anymore. Even stranger are those warlocks to the The Outsider. Have they really contacted an actual being or does their power have a different source? Not even they can give a clear answer.
No matter the method of access, all magic derives from the same source: the hidden language of the Whorl, sometimes called Vac (pr. "vach"), an ancient word meaning Speech. A knowledge of Vac, combined with the energy that fills the Whorl, can make truly stupendous feats possible.