I originally posted this in another writing sub but haven't gotten a lot of good response (at all), so I hope you guys can help me out.
Magic in my world is divided into two fields: Free and Constructed. Magic is performed is with flow: the movement of life in both the earth, the life of Gaia, and within the magus' own body. Everyone is born with a set amount of flow, and that amount cannot be changed without unorthodox methods. By connecting one's own flow with the flow of the environment, a magus can perform magic.
Constructed magic is mostly performed with the help of grimoires, magical books containing what's known as spirit graphs, which are canals for the passage of flow. Think of these graphs as programs (or functions within programs). One of its main purposes is in the magic of transmutation: when activated, the grimoire will transform into the object it had been "programmed" into. Each spirit graph within the grimoire giving it specific properties, and combined with the magus' magic, the transformed object will take on these properties such as hardness and sharpness, or more mythical properties like the creation of illusions. Simple grimoires can be made into weapons like swords and axes, while more advanced grimoires can even emulate firearms.
Grimoires can also be used in spellcasting. Some grimoires have several pages for a spell, and others have the entire book dedicated to one spell. These spells primarily focus on the alteration of flow within the surroundings to create the desired effect. For example, a spell can massively accelerate the flow within a tiny area, causing what's essentially a pillar of flames due to the energy generated. Another spell might concentrate the flow in one area and release it, creating a "laser beam" effect. Yet another may stagnate the surrounding flow, forming a protective barrier around the magus. Complex spells require incantations, spoken in a set rhythm, to dictate the movement of flow to control the spell.
Constructed magic can also be used to create dolls—artificial humans, or to perform rituals (big spells). In both cases, spirit graphs are used as a medium.
Free magic, on the other hand, is done without the assistance of spirit graphs. Free magic lets the magus project his own formation of flow into the world, altering space and allowing them to essentially "create" objects or cast spells. A magus who has mastered Free magic can create a handgun seemingly out of thin air whereas a magus who uses Constructed magic must rely on a grimoire. However, by using Free magic, a magus is essentially exposing his life to the raw environment, which could be very dangerous if not used with care. Although the payback of Free magic is great, to actually use it is a daunting task (things like massively reduced lifespan due to constant exposure of flow and the risk of flow going out of control), and most magi choose to focus on Constructed magic instead.
Some magi put more emphasis on the use of grimoires, and some focus more on the creation of grimoires.
Magus families with centuries of history often have more flow within them, and their special way of channeling flow allows them a special type of Free magic: soul projection. Soul projection allows the user to create an artifact that normally wouldn't be possible with a single magus' amount of flow. Due to their specialty, they can only be performed with a sigil, possed by the current head of the family that is passed down through the generations. For example, one character possesses the sigil called Yggdrasil, which allows him to store a massive number of spirit graphs within his own body and use them all at once.