Displacement of Ideas
Superior ideas replace inferior ones. Generally the inferior ideas are simpler and appeared on the world stage earlier. Generally this means that the inferior ideas may have spread to more places, but their ‘core’ or better-traveled places were displaced by the newer ideas. Of course, variants of an idea may make it more resistant to certain other ideas, and displacement speeds depend on trade networks, invasions, immigration, and globalization, so the displacement is not straightforward.
Below are some of the common displacements playing out over the course of the history of the world:
Apatheism -> Ietism -> Theism
Apatheism is the default position of not holding beliefs about higher powers and not really caring.
Ietism is the belief that there is ‘some’ unspecified power in the world. It arose tens of thousands of years ago. Believing in the existence of a higher power helps for all the spellwishing derivatives (ie. spellpraying) as it is an entity that can somehow grant magic, and this in turn helps those working such magic. It had since spread throughout the world.
Theism arose roughly a few tens of thousands of years ago. Having a defined, specific belief about a deity is superior to just some ‘unspecified’ power as it makes the deity more understandable and thus further empowers the spellwishing derivatives (which are based on asking some higher power for aid). It had since spread to almost the entire world.
Maltheism -> Dystheism -> Eutheism
Maltheism is the belief that the deities are malevolent (demons), and arose naturally alongside theism as a means of cause attribution for perceived evils such as disease and death and misfortune, and thus to ward off evils.
Dystheism is the belief that the deities have good and bad elements, and thus allows for magic that does positive (active) beneficial magic, and not just negative (preventive) magic. This flexibility means dystheism has an advantage here. Dystheism has spread to much of the world.
Eutheism is the belief that the deities are beneficent only. This of course leaves a gaping hole in the explanation of perceived evils, but is balanced by the fact that belief in pure-good deities further enables positive beneficial magic. Eutheism has spread to much of the world.
(Pure) Spellwishing -> (Pure) Spellwilling
Pure spellwishing is the belief that one can alter reality just by wishing. It succeeds only extremely rarely, as there is no particularly defined moment where the alteration begins. Furthermore, pure spellwishing is external locus, based on luck or some undefined power (ietistic), so there is either no or very little feedback effect from successes or failures.
Pure spellwilling is the belief that one can alter reality by willing it, and generally defines a specific moment (the “spike of will”). Because there is a defined moment where the alteration begins, it is far more successful than pure spellwishing.
Both of these are too rare to be even meet one another, let alone be displaced.
Pure Spellwishing/spellpraying -> Theistic Spellwishing/spellpraying
Theistic spellwishing is the belief that one can alter reality by wishing to a deity - for maltheism, to wish them away (or at least redirect their attention to someone else); for dystheism, to make them like you better; for eutheism, to plead for their aid. Deities are generally seen as being more consistent than plain luck, so succeeding or failing at theistic spellwishing will cause a feedback loop which is far more effective than that of pure spellwishing.
Theistic spellwishing/spellpraying has spread to all the places theism has spread.
Spellwishing -> Spellpraying
Spellwishing, as distinct from spellpraying, involves only making the wish, without any somatic requirements.
Spellpraying is the belief that one must also assume a certain posture or gesture or some other minor somatic requirement to work magic. The addition of this requirement makes this way’s magic more reliable. Spellpraying has spread to much of the world.
Spellwilling -> Spellworking
Spellworking is the use of words or actions (anything more than simple wishing or willing) in working magic, and is a very expansive term including innumerable faiths. The added requirements strengthen the magic and make it more reliable, and thus enable any combination of greater effects, a greater chance of success, or a greater percentage of people able to work the magic,