Codex: Other Magic Wielders–Witches (2017)

Witches

Hedge witches, or simply witches, are humans who are capable of using the magic called witchcraft, or witchery.  Their magic, and thus their place in the cosmos, is lesser than sorcery.  Therefore, the Arcanum typically ignores witches, in its benevolence, unless they threaten concealment or get in the way of the Great Conflict.  Although they appear to be matriarchal in society (Bayfield; Michaels), witches come from all genders and sexes.  Contrary to popular portrayal, they also come from all ethnicities and walks of life, and ages (Dee; Korvin).  Researchers, and occasional observers, have recorded New Age types to boardroom suit, construction workers to lawyers among their numbers.[1]

It appears that witches organize themselves at random, mostly on the local level.  They have no national, continental, or global presence, nothing akin to the Arcanum.  Some, such as Michael and Korvin, record talk of state level gatherings, or national in places like Scotland and Honduras.  These all appear to be annual or random events where local groups gather for a few days to a week to confer and socialize.  Korvin indicates that there may be competitions at some events, to unknown purpose or prize.

For the most part, witches seem, throughout history, to keep to themselves.  They rarely approach sorcerers or the Arcanum.[i]  They are, according to Black and Michaels, concerned with protecting their territory, preserving their magic such as it is, and, apparently, aiding the humans around them in small ways.  Dee and Kramer state that witches lay spirits to rest, call up or stop rain, bless crops and beasts, and help to heal injured and sick people among the impoverished and working classes, especially among immigrant communities in history.  Unsurprisingly, their current stronghold in the U.S. is Louisiana, and they have large populations in the Caribbean, but can be anywhere.

 

Witchcraft

Witchcraft and its practitioners do not fall under the aegis of the Arcanum.  The practice of witchcraft is beneath, or lesser than, the subtle art of sorcery.  However, the Council of Masters has decided that some information about and explanation of the witches’ magic is necessary and useful for new sorcerers and reference.  Due to millennia of prejudices and problematic relations between sorcerers and witches, little is known about witchcraft and its practices.

It has long been known that witchcraft can, and has, employ both blood rites and ritual sex to fuel spells.  This has prompted some researchers to theorize a common ancestor for sorcery and witchcraft (Aurelius; Dee; Bayfield; Kramer; Michaels).  If such an ancestor, a sort of ur-magic, ever existed, all definitive traces have vanished, leaving only conjecture based on potentially false similarities.

What is certain, confirmed by observation of reputable sorcerers, is that witchcraft can be practiced alone or in groups.  Solitary witches perform spells on a regular basis, but they can gather in groups for larger, ceremonial workings.  Observations conclude that an ideal number for witches is five, but gatherings, or covens if you will, of three, seven, and nine have been reported.  The reasoning is unclear, but some have speculated that these are considered magic numbers as most are prime (Bayfield; Michaels; Korvin and Black).[2]

According to Michaels, Korvin, and Black, witchcraft can be broadly categorized into five types of spells.  They agree that these are: charms, evocations, invocations, natural forces, and spirit.  Charms affect the mind.  Evocation appears to be direct control of energy.  Invocation seems to involve calling upon spirits.  Natural forces is said to include control of beasts, plants, and weather.  Spirit seems to be direct control of entities.  (See Appendix E)

 

Warlocks

The major modern sources on witches—Korvin, Black, Michaels—write that witches who go against their people, violate ancient laws, and practice so-called dark magic are referred to as warlocks, regardless of gender.  These individuals live outside of witch society and are, apparently, fought by other witches.  Korvin and Black write that witches will actively hunt and oppose, even destroy, warlocks.  They say that warlocks seek power and practice death magic, slaughter innocents in blood rites, and otherwise violate witch, and normal, social laws and mores.

Because warlocks seem to essentially be evil witches, they very likely appear as human as witches do.  However, they appear to be less organized than witches, if that is even possible.  Korvin notes that witches told him most warlocks are solitary, possibly with a small coterie of apprentices and servants.  This is tied back to their quest for power in that they become paranoid and jealous of their strength.  In short, and in common parlance, they do not play well with others.  Still, Michaels reports that occasionally up to three fully trained warlocks will come together for a great work or mutual defense.  Michaels was assured that, eventually, one of the warlocks will inevitably betray the others, ending the short lived alliance.

As with witches, warlocks can originate from any ethnicity or background.  They all eventually acquire great influence, wealth, and power, even among humans, if they survive even a few years.  They can apparently be found anywhere witches are, for some unclear reason.  This last makes little logical sense, at first glance, since we are assured that witches passionately hunt and slay warlocks.

 

Shadow War, The

The witches claim to be in a state of perpetual war with the warlocks and powerful, non-divine, entities from the spirit realm.  They commonly refer to this conflict as The Shadow War (Bayfield; Michaels and Black; Kramer).  According to a series of interviews conducted by Michaels and Black, corroborated by textual sources discovered by Kramer, entities from the spirit world seek to either take over or merge with Earth.  Or possibly to exist entirely in our world.  Kramer’s sources are somewhat garbled and unclear.

These supposed entities, which Bayfield erroneously suggests are akin to Ravagers, are believed to contact and turn witches toward dark magic and destruction.  Whether they possess the warlocks or simply bribe and purchase them is also a subject of debate.  Regardless, the witches blame these entities for the existence of most, if not all, warlocks and their paranoid delusions.  Michaels and Black do not absolve the warlocks of responsibility, although Kramer paints them entirely as victims of extraplanar powers.

Bayfield and Kramer argue that the witches have an oral tradition, with only a couple written documents, that traces this “Shadow War” back to the prehistoric era.  Apparently they claim that they have been fighting against warlocks and these supposed entities, barely holding them back, since the days of living in caves.  The witches seem to believe that they lived as tribal and clan shamen before the first civilizations.  They say that their primary duty was to go out into the darkness and shadow to fight the entity-monsters and hold them at bay (Kramer).  This mythos, designed no doubt to attempt to enhance the place of their inferior magic, is discounted by the Council.  Debates about the supposed “Shadow War” have often led to strained or outright hostile relations between witches and the Arcanum in the past.

[1] Improved relations in the last few years have allowed Arcanum agents to learn more about witches.  We now know that witches hold five aspects somewhat akin to the Arcanum’s orders.  These aspects are as follows: Sun, who are the guardians and warriors, Moon who are the healers and changers, Spirit who are hunters and mediums, Nature who control beasts and weather, and Seers who are oracles, diviners, and lorekeepers (Shao and Chen; Thomas).  (See Appendix D)

[2] We know now that five, and multiples of five, especially fifteen, are preferred.  With this number, all five aspects or types of witches can be represented.  This is believed to improve the power and casting of ceremonial spells (Shao and Chen).

[i] Several Apostates and even groups of Apostates including the Eternal Circle, Drifters, Ghosts, and Youxia commonly befriend or at least have working relationships with witches, despite the Arcanum’s prejudices.

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