The origins of the eight Britannian mantras are unknown, and it is unclear if they were specially created during the time of Lord British's reforms following the defeat of Exodus or if they have their roots in traditions more ancient. Volumes of mantras lost and forgotten found in later ages speak to the possibility that their use preceded the Virtues, and it is known that such practices were not limited to humanity. The Gargish people, independent of mankind, engaged in similar ritual chants with regard to their morality systems, hinting at a possible common source for the mantras - a theory reinforced by the many cognates between the Gargish language and the Britannian and Serpent Islander languages of magic. Sadly, however, knowledge of pre-Sosarian civilization is limited, with Zog's apocalypse having no doubt having disrupted records of such eras.
Whatever their beginning, these mystic intonations came to the forefront of the Stranger's quest toward Avatarhood in Ultima IV, as their use in repeated meditation at the Shrines of Virtue was essential to attaining the level of enlightenment necessary to proceed to the Great Stygian Abyss and seek therein the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. As the heroes continued adventures throughout the realm, these eight mantras would be of import again and again, with the hero often revisiting them that they might gain better understanding from the Shrines in times of need.
In later ages, during Sir Cabirus' ill-fated attempt to colonize the Abyss, mantras re-emerged in a different light as a number of Shrines were either erected or discovered within the depths of the great dungeon, at which pilgrims could meditate in pursuit of specific abilities. While such boons of personal skill and strength were already available from devotions to the eight cardinal Shrines as of the time of the gargoyle wars, these underground sites offered all sojourners a greater range of skills which they might improve. It was also amidst this strange environment that mantras took on the ability to modify physical reality, with their use becoming essential in finding the Key of Three Parts and the Cup of Wonder.
Traditional Britannian Mantras
- The mantra of Honesty: Ahm
- The mantra of Compassion: Mu
- The mantra of Valor: Ra
- The mantra of Justice: Beh
- The mantra of Sacrifice: Cah
- The mantra of Honor: Summ
- The mantra of Humility: Lum
- The mantra of Spirituality: Om
In addition to these mantras, it is known that the mantra for the anti-virtue of Pride is Mul, a reversal of the mantra of Humility. While not commonly held as mantras in their own right, the three guiding Principles in the Britannian Virtue system also have syllables associated with them: Ver for Truth; Amo for Love; and Cor for Courage. These combine to form the word of passage for the Abyss: Veramocor.
These mantras are also used as the common names for the principles in the Gargish language, which seems to fit with the culture's tendency toward having titles and even personal names refer directly to function. While the mantras for the eight Gargish Virtues are never explicitly named, it seems likely that they may likewise be the same as the Virtues' vernacular appellations. For reference, the English names for these Virtues and their Gargish equivalents are listed below
- Direction: Trak-tas
- Feeling: Sent
- Persistence: Te-per-tas
- Balance: Mis-tas
- Achievement: Le-in-tas
- Precision: Ben-in-tas
- Order: Ord†
- Singularity: Prí-tas‡
† - Opposed by An-ord or Chaos.
‡ - Singularity is a Virtue which corresponds structurally both to the Britannian Virtue of Spirituality and to the axiom of Infinity, and acts in the capacity of both Virtue and axiom in Gargish culture. During the course of Ultima VI, a Word of Passage similar to the Britannian Veramocor was required to enter the Shrine of Singularity, similarly formed from words associated with the three cosmological Principles. It is unclear if this word, however, Unorus, was intended as the mantra of Singularity.
General Mantras for Skill Advancement
- Mantra for advancement in the arts of combat: Summ Ra†
- Mantra for advancement in the arts of magic: Mu Ahm†
- Mantra for advancement in practical skills: Om Cah†
Specific Mantras for Skill Advancement
- Mantra for advancement in Acrobatics: Fal
- Mantra for advancement in Appraisal: Hunn
- Mantra for advancement in Attack: Ra†
- Mantra for advancement in Axe use: Gar
- Mantra for advancement in Casting: Sol
- Mantra for advancement in Charm: Un
- Mantra for advancement in Defense: Anra†
- Mantra for advancement in Lore: Lahn
- Mantra for advancement in Mace use: Coh
- Mantra for advancement in Mana: Imu
- Mantra for advancement in Missile use: Fahm
- Mantra for advancement in Picklock skills: Aam
- Mantra for advancement in Repair: Lon
- Mantra for advancement in Search: Lu
- Mantra for advancement in Stealth: Mul†
- Mantra for advancement in Sword use: Amo†
- Mantra for advancement in Swimming: Ono
- Mantra for advancement in Tracking: Sahf
- Mantra for advancement in Traps: Romm
- Mantra for advancement in Unarmed combat: Ora‡
Mantras Linked to Specific Artifacts
- Mantra to locate the Cup of Wonder: Insahm
- Mantra to manifest the Key of Truth: Fanlo
† - Bears obvious relation to an extant Britannian mantra
‡ - Specifically listed as a "mantra of the desperate"
- The words associated with the three Principles appear to be derived from Latin terms for similar abstracts. It is likely that Ver comes from Veritas (Truth), Amo from Amor (Love), and Cor from Cor (Heart or Spirit).
- The mantra of Compassion, Mu, may have its origins in an eccentric characteristic of David Watson and his wife Kathleen Jones (the real life counterparts to Iolo and Gwenno), who would reportedly "moo" at one another like cattle, earning themselves the nicknames "Mr. and Mrs. Moo." This behavior may also have been referenced in the behavior of the party in Ultima VII should the player double click on a cow.
- The mantra of Spirituality, Om, is likely taken from the sacred Om of Vedic religions.
- The Lost Book of Mantras in Ultima VI and The Book of Forgotten Mantras in Ultima VII both contain a number of silly examples, including "Dim Sum," "Biff," "Pow," "Bang," "Zowie," "Cow," "Spam," "Meow," and "Spankimiah" (an enigmatic word that features in the Quotes section of Ultima VII). There is also a reference to the popular joke of having a child chant "Owa Tagoo Siyam" repeatedly, as they try to discern its meaning ("O what a goose I am!")