Sensing is the ability to feel essentia, and it is the first and most basic discipline of drucraft. At its most primitive level, sensing gives a drucrafter awareness of their own personal essentia (the essentia that is attuned to a drucrafter as a result of residing within their own body). This is absolutely essential for anyone who hopes to move on to channelling or shaping, since both of those disciplines revolve around manipulating personal essentia; trying to learn them without being able to sense one’s own personal essentia first would be like learning to draw while blindfolded.
Unfortunately for aspiring drucrafters, learning to sense is also the point at which most drucrafters fail out. Sensing does not require any sort of inherent gift, but it is a demanding skill that requires focus and patience. It is also a very internal and very passive skill which can’t be learned by simple repetition. A novice drucrafter who doesn’t approach the discipline in the right way can easily train for weeks without making progress.
In the past sensing was traditionally taught in a religious context, with exercises that focused on prayer and meditation. With the general decline of religious influence in the drucraft world, this is now less often the case, but the fundamentals of the discipline remain the same: quiet, stillness, and focus. Various training regimes have been developed over the centuries, but the goal of all of them is to teach the student to perceive another sense beyond the five that they were born with, and this is inherently a very difficult thing.
Sensing progress typically comes in fits and starts. Most novice drucrafters (at least those with any talent) are not totally blind to essentia – they can pick it up in occasional flashes of awareness. However, training that ability to the point where it works consistently, quickly, and reliably takes a long time. Most drucraft teachers expect their pupils to take at least a year to become capable at sensing, and even then, different teachers have very different definitions of ‘capable’. In theory, a qualified drucrafter is supposed to be able to reliably sense their own personal essentia, measure the ambient levels of free essentia in their surrounding environment, identify the type of essentia being used in an active sigl, and distinguish someone else’s personal essentia from ambient essentia and from that of a Well. In practice, it’s quite rare for a drucrafter to really master all four of those skills. Learning sensing is hard, slow, and often boring, and most drucrafters are keen to leave it behind to get to the more exciting (and prestigious) stuff.
It’s generally accepted among modern drucrafters that the overall level of sensing skill in the drucraft population today is lower than in previous centuries. In the past, sensing was a necessary gateway skill for locating Wells and shaping sigls, but with the increasing use of finder’s stones and limiters in the modern age, this is no longer the case. In the modern day, the only ones who really need to be good at sensing are manifesters; everyone else can generally get by without it. That being said, sensing still provides insights that can’t be obtained any other way, and many Drucraft Houses and corporate dynasties still make a point of training their heirs to a high level of sensing skill.
Once a drucrafter has mastered the basics of sensing, the hardest part is behind them. Some will end up as channellers, others as shapers or even manifesters, but statistically it’s quite rare for them to fail completely. The vast majority of drucrafters who master sensing go on to achieve at least a basic level of competence at channelling as well.