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.

Codex: Other Magic Wielders–Theurgists (2017)

Other Magic Wielders

Theurgists

On the most basic of levels, the theurgists are representatives of the gods on Earth.  Of all the gods known throughout history and before history.  But, that is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Some theurgists claim to be direct descendants of a specific deity.  Some say they can channel a god, as a sort of avatar.  Others state that they are merely the chosen of a god.  Research and interviews conducted over millennia have received all three responses, and more.  Such claims cannot be fully accepted given current evidence, nor can they be fully discounted given the powers displayed by theurgists.

The one element that all theurgists, and sorcerers who have researched them, agree upon is that at their root, all faiths are united by a conflict between and need for balance of order and chaos.  Every mythology, they say, begins with the gods creating the world out of primordial chaos.  In effect, the gods bring order and structure to existence.  Thus begins an eternal war as chaos seeks to return to its natural state while the gods attempt to maintain order, and therefore life and existence.

Theurgists claim that they have a duty to assist the gods and combat the minions of chaos (Pinol and Ficano).  The average theurgist appears to be a normal human, at least to the naked eye.  They, indisputably, possess superhuman abilities that do not appear to be sorcery or witchcraft.  Admittedly, study of theurgists has been sporadic and scattered at best, particularly before the 1970s, due to the mercurial nature of theurgist-sorcerer relations.  They appear to be quite secretive about their capabilities and society.  Manchester and Beroul independently suggest that the history of theurgists is the history of religions around the world, organized or otherwise.  Only the Abrahamic religions appear to lack a connection to the theurgists, possibly due to their god’s nature.

 

Theurgy

Theurgy and its practitioners do not exist under the aegis of the Arcanum.  The practice of theurgy is no beneath sorcery, but is different and falls under the authority of different powers.  That said, the Council of Masters feels that some discussion of the theurgists’ powers is needed here due to the fluxuating relations between our two people.  Because of millennia of scattered information and unstable relations, most of what we know of theurgy is conjecture and guesswork.

The practice of theurgy appears to require that a human with magical talent and an affinity for divinity enter into a relationship with a deity.  The human gains access to spells and powers while the deity gains an agent on Earth.  Both benefit from the relationship, although the mortal seems beholden to the divine.  The deity can withdraw its aid, the spells and powers, at will, should the mortal leave its good graces.  If the mortal and deity argue, the mortal may find her powers waning or inaccessible (Smith and Henning).

As briefly noted above, theurgy involves both powers and spells.  The relationship between deity and mortal seems to give the mortal and enhanced degree of strength and durability, resistance to injury.  Many also spoke of other abilities, including changed appearance, instinctive weapon skills, and breathing beneath water, depending on the deity (Henning).  Many theurgists, if not all, also appear to be able to cast spells of some sort.  These spells seem to be universal, not tied to the deity, but rather to culture as researchers report theurgists using Saxon runes, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and other sigils to cast spells (Smith; Wilcox and Ashe).  The exact purpose and use of these spells is unclear in the available source material and current relations with the theurgists, in general, do not appear conducive to finding better clarification or details.

 

Gods

The gods of the world’s oldest religions are believed to be the source of theurgy’s power, and thus of the theurgists.  But, that begs the question: what are the gods?  Are they unique entities or mortals who achieved great power?  Are they, as some posit, alien or extradimensional beings or are they native to this world?

We are not entirely certain.

According to the work of Ankarloo and Ginzberg, even the theurgists cannot agree on the nature of the gods.  Most claim the divine to be former mortals or Earth-born non-human entities.  However, Ankarloo and Ginzberg did most of their work in the early twentieth century and are somewhat outdated.

Ker, Howarth, and Briggs independently undertook more recent research using both interviews of theurgists and their best, controversial, attempts at direct observation.  Compiling all three major studies presents our current understanding of the gods.  According to the most recent model, the gods are powerful spirit entities, much more powerful that the spirits employed by witches.  Despite their great power, the divine beings appear unable to access or manifest on Earth under normal circumstances.  They can only interact with our world through the intervention of mortal agents.  Much of this interaction appears to be indirect (Ker).  However, Howarth and Briggs agreed on a theory that some theurgists are suited, or powerful enough, to allow a divine spirit to possess their body and act directly as a sort of avatar, for a short time.  Briggs argues that such possession would necessarily be limited in both time and how much divine essence was involved because too much or too long would burn out a mortal body.

The Council strongly recommends avoiding any such entities whenever possible, for the safety of the sorcerer and, potentially, the world.

 

Chaos

Most mythologies around the world, throughout history, begin with a creation story.  Almost invariably, creation tales begin with chaos.  For instance, “Nature was all alike, a shapelessness / Chaos, so-called” (Ovid, Book 1, 6-7) from the Greeks and Romans or Odin’s formation of the world from Ymir’s formless body of mist or the Egyptians’ creation out of Apophis’s formless void.  The theme of the gods imposing form and order on the world appears to be consistent throughout human religions.

The theurgists believe, as many human cultures did, that this chaos, primordial state, has intelligence and agency.  They assert that chaos wished to destroy life, matter, form, the world and return the whole of existence to its chaotic state of being (Henning; Briggs; Ashe; Howarth).  Entities of chaos, they say, appear on Earth regularly with the goal of creating enough entropy for Chaos itself to manifest and consume everything.  Due to the nature of the world, these beings must assume a semi-solid form with some degree of fluidity or possess a mortal to inhabit and control as a sort of shield against order (Briggs; Ashe).

There are those among the Arcanum, and historical sorcerer, who believe that the theurgists’ chaos may be tied to the Ravagers in some way.  Evidence to support this theory is minimal at best, but it is a widespread theory amongst those who have studied the theurgists.  If true, it would certainly make the Great Conflict somewhat more expansive in its scope and would significantly affect sorcerer-theurgist relations.

 

Chaos War, The

Pinol and Ficano present the most complete work addressing the Chaos War, as the theurgists call it, within the Arcanum.  Their total treatise on the subject comes in around 270 pages, so we will only include the briefest of versions here, since the purpose of this text is to acquaint readers with the basics of the paranormal world.

In short, Pinol and Ficano say that theurgists claim the Chaos War has been going on since the birth of the gods, even before the world was created.  The gods represent form out of formlessness and the classification, thus organization and order, of things, the anti-thesis of chaos.  But, they note, most theurgists set the beginning of the war as the moment of the world’s creation.  That, it is said, is the moment at which Chaos first became earnest in its attempts to destroy the gods, and all of creation.

The gods mounted the first defense against Chaos and seemed to be victorious at first.  But, chaos is, by its very nature, adaptable and malleable.  It returned, driving the gods into confusion and conflict with each other, an effect they still deal with today.  As the war ebbed and flowed, waxed and waned, Chaos began to quietly invade and infiltrate the world.  It sent creatures born of itself to destroy and possess the creations of the gods.  It sent servants to undermine societies and topple empires, to sow discontent and discord among gods and men alike.

Chaos’s insidious invasion was beyond even the power of the gods to defeat.  Thus, they chose special humans and awakened their magical talent, or bred them among humans, the sources disagree.  These men and women became the first theurgists, empowered by the gods to fight for an alongside them against the forces of chaos.  These men and women eventually, the theurgists claim, came to be known among humans as demigods, kings, emperors, pharaohs, heroes of a hundred cultures, bringers of law and dispensers of justice, slayers of monsters, and founders of nations.  After the heroic age, the war moved largely out of sight of humans, at least to those who do not dig enough, all through the modern day.

Codex: History (2017)

History[i]

The recorded history of sorcerers and mages in general begins approximately 500 years ago, in 2500 BCE.  The oral history of stories and legends goes back much further, but cannot be corroborated.  Alongside the oral tradition are the numerous ancient tales of the non-human species that co-habit the world.

The earliest days of sorcerous history were a chaotic mix of people trying to guide, control, or aid the humans around them.  They were disorganized and every sorcerer fended for himself.  According to the early sources, the chaos began to settle down sometime circa 2700 BCE, with the establishment of sorcerous organizations that were parallel to humans building cities and civilizations.  Although problematic in some ways, and difficult for both sorcerers and humans, the system of local groups seems to have worked for the ancient world, with its lack of widespread communication and trust between tribal groups.

Circa 2200 BCE, the flaws in the system were exposed by the appearance of the Ravagers.  The introduction of the beasts and the need to protect humanity could not be served by a random collection of small, local, tribal groups.  Certainly, many sorcerers formed regional organizations, such as the intercity cabal of Mesopotamia.  However, even regional organizations were fiercely territorial and tribal in their outlook, focused on their own power and preserving their own knowledge and secrets for themselves.  As with the earliest sorcerers, they were not good at sharing and coordinating with outsiders.

As the Ravager threat grew, the ancient groups splintered.  Some felt they should employ humans in the war, equip them to protect themselves.  Others feared that taking such actions would cause the humans to turn against, and possibly destroy, sorcerers.[ii]  Ultimately, some leaders—including Barosu, Senefer, Madda, Fu Huo-te, and Ariach Havi—pooled their resources to bring disparate groups of sorcerers from across the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and Asia together.  This was the prototype for the Arcanum, circa 1500 BCE.  It would be another century before the Arcanum was officially founded, and three more after that before most of the world was united beneath it.  But, the effects on the Ravagers were almost instant, as scores or hundreds of groups were acting with a unified strategy and comparing anti-Ravager tactics for the first time.

The Arcanum continued to expand its territory and allied organizations throughout the European, African, and Asian continents well into the medieval era.  By the Renaissance, the entirety of those three continents and most of the Americas were members.  Only the native sorcerers of Australia were not under the Arcanum’s aegis.  According to official Council records, the Council approved the development of the Guardian Project in the early fourteenth century.  The first working versions were produced in 1374.  They were quickly distributed throughout Europe via the Church and Jewish communities, and more slowly elsewhere.

The so-called Age of Exploration had little effect on the Arcanum as sorcerous transportation was already more efficient and sorcerers beat humans out of Europe by a few centuries.  The Industrial Revolution began to cause some problems as humans spread and passed news faster, and kept better records.  The wars of humans often disrupted Arcanum society, as the invention of firearms led to more wide scale destruction and flight allowed better views of the terrain and mapmaking.  On the other hand, the wars were often used to great effect to cover and conceal major conflicts and engagements with the Ravagers.

In the modern world, many elder sorcerers are struggling to adapt while younger sorcerers hunt in the nightclubs and music venues, theaters and coffee shops.  They all find concealment both more difficult and oddly easier with the invention of smartphones and Photoshop.

[i] Expurgated propaganda, more like.  Kemp ignores the centuries of the Sorcerer Wars and the Arcanum’s numerous purges and pogroms against those not sufficiently loyal and Apostates.  Also excluded are the Arcanum’s bouts of attempted genocide against non-humans and the several rebellions against the Council’s supposed authority.

[ii] Kemp conveniently ignores that some sorcerers also didn’t want to arm or equip the humans because they would be more difficult for sorcerers to control or enslave later.

Codex: Ancient Sorceries (2017)

Ancient Sorceries

Over the millennia of organized sorcery, whether under the auspices of the Arcanum or before its existence, the practice evolved greatly.  Many of the old methods of using sorcery, or, more properly, collecting energy for sorcerous workings have been lost or set aside.  Some of these sorceries are well documented and have those in the modern era who attempt to reconstruct them.  Others are merely vague references, often in obscure texts, that may be nothing more than mere fantasy.

Blood sorcery, or blood rites, is one of the most well known.  We have ample evidence that the practice of gathering energy for sorcery from blood letting was common among ancient sorcerers.  Those among the Aztecs, both nahuatl and those concealed within the priesthood, and the Celts were especially fond of this method.  The Arcanum forbade, and later declared illegal, the practice for the last thousand years.  There are no recorded instances of the practice in the last five hundred, at least beyond isolated incidents of lone, misguided, sorcerers.

The second most well known is sex sorcery, or rites.  There is significant evidence of this method of energy acquisition being popular in Mesopotamia, parts of India, and some Taoist and Buddhist sects in China.  The practice was never expressly forbidden, but fell out of favor, except briefly during the Victorian era, for simpler, more osmotic, means.  Recently, the Society of Sensates, a sect of the Blue Order, is said to be researching and attempting to reconstruct the methods used.

As noted above, there are also some obscure references to other sorceries.  One text, Njal.VII.a3, briefly refers to draining power from spirits.  Another, Asbridge.II.e, indicates the possibility of removing power from magical items and artifacts to fuel spells.  Many Norse and other cultures suggest that runes or other symbols could potentially contain and shape sorcery.

The Arcanum Council, officially, will not approve of the study or reconstruction of any ancient sorceries.  The Council has ruled that the time and effort to relearn them would be a waste due to the prevalence of modern sorcerous methods and their efficacy.  The Council acknowledges that such sorceries may have been useful, even necessary, millennia ago, when sorcery was young and undeveloped.  The Council also notes that such sorceries were potentially necessary in order to combat the overwhelming Ravager hordes, thus requiring greater, more powerful spells.  However, with the advent of the Guardians, such measures are both no longer necessary and threaten the secrecy of sorcerers in relation to humans.  Therefore, they are best left to rest, beyond this brief discussion.[i]

[i] The unofficial truth is the Council thinks these sorceries are too similar to modern witchcraft, maybe theurgy, and they deny an ancient ur-magic.

Codex: The Elements (2017)

Elements, The

As previously noted, the core of sorcery is manipulation of the six elements that make up all life in the world.  The elements are: air, earth, fire, metal, water, and wood.  Each is useful for particular spells and types of magic, and incapable of use for others.  Under current Arcanum practices, every student of sorcery is required to study the basics of every element.  Beyond the basics, they are free to choose one or more to specialize in, usually based on affinities, personality, or the role that the sorcerer wishes to play in society.

In the past, a sorcerer required a sample of the element to be called upon in hand.  Quite literally.  However, over the last millennium or so, sorcerers have learned to create or summon elements to them, not merely to manipulate them.  Still, some elements are easier to employ than others.  For instance, air is everywhere around us, except in rare cases.  Likewise, water is all around, both in the air and in most living beings.  On the other hand, wood or earth can be difficult to find, particularly in a skyscraper in a major city such as Hong Kong or New York.  Metal has become easier in the modern era as it became plentiful and was used everywhere.  Likewise, the inventions of mechanical lighters, matches, and even combustion engines has made the presence of fire more prevalent.

Some sorcerers cling to an old tradition that states the elements exist in binary oppositions—Air:Earth, Fire:Water, Metal:Wood—but this philosophy has been supplanted.  Most in the modern world hold the view that the elements exist in a metaphysically, complementary balance.  In this view, earth does not oppose air.  Rather, earth’s grounded nature complements and makes up for air’s inherent flightiness and constant movement.  Thus, the two work together to form a powerful balance of energy and strength.

 

Air

The element air allows the sorcerer to clean, poison, move, and shape air.  It also lets the sorcerer levitate and even fly in some cases.  Air can be manipulated to decrease the rate at which the sorcerer, or another subject, falls.  But, these are only the most obvious and elementary spells that air sorcerers are capable of.  Air is also associated with all sorcery that involves movement of any sort, including freedom of movement or restricting a subject’s ability to move.  Air is also the element associated with intellect, of all sorts.  It can be used to enhance the intellect, memory, or information in general.  Air sorcery can be employed to perform divinations and read omens.  It has also been used for communications by aerial means and even mental or telepathic means.  Finally, air is the element of the spirit, or soul if you prefer.  It is said that some air sorcerers, the best and most skilled, are able to contact, travel to, and even manipulated spirits and the spirit realm.

 

Earth

Earth is the element of solidity, it anchors the other elements and the sorcerer.  It is immovable and grounded.  Earth sorcery controls the soil, precious gems, and rock.  It allows a sorcerer to find her way anywhere in the world, on land, and to raise walls in no time.  It ties the sorcerer to the Earth.  According to legend, ancient earth sorcerers were even able to shape the land to their desires and call up earthquakes at will.  Earth is also the element of matter.  As such, it allows practitioners to create, shape, even reconstruct any form of matter, in theory, however they wish.  The more artistically inclined often go into sculpting and other statuary.  Combined with air sorcery, it is even possible for earth to create automatons of different sorts.  Finally, earth is associated with the sensuality of both life and death.  In this way, earth sorcery is often life or death aspected, depending on the proclivities, philosophy, and training of the sorcerer using it.

 

Fire

Fire is a powerful and useful element, but also one that can be difficult to control and direct.  It is easy to lose control of fire and be consumed by it.  Therefore, fire sorcerers need to master themselves as much as they master the element for the two are directly linked to each other.  Fire wishes to burn and consume indiscriminately, so the trick is to focus it toward one’s desires.  However, fire is the element of passion and energy.  Thus, fire inflames and controls the passions of its users and their targets, should they wish it.  Skilled sorcerers can also dampen the passions of others.  Fire can, further, provide or absorb energy to and from others, leaving them frenetic or slothful, fueling other magics or spells, or dampening opposing sorcery.  Those who study this element, or master it, tend to be very open emotionally or tightly controlled and seemingly emotionless, incredibly energetic or seemingly lazy, depending on their form of control.

 

Metal

Metal is a surprisingly versatile element.  It is most commonly known as the element of strength and firmness.  Metal is the element most commonly used for enchanted items, alongside earth (pottery) and wood.  But, metal goes beyond control of its namesake and strength.  It is also associated with determination and patient, including spells that enhance and affect both.  Those who study the element of metal tend to become the armorers, inventors, and warriors of sorcerous society.  The element also influences and affects matters of wealth, particularly wealth associated with precious metals.  Those who wield metal sorcery possess and employ some of the magics and personalities of earth sorcerers.  In fact, metal and earth sorcerers tend to either enjoy their similarities and relations or hate each other because their personalities are too similar to each other.

 

Water

Water is fluid and adaptable, shaping itself to any container and wearing down even the most solid of materials.  Students of this element control water, ice, and steam.  However, water is also the element of change, which is why it was incorporated into the creation of the Guardians.  In some ways, water is the element closest to chaos.  It allows practitioners to change their appearance and form.  Water is also the element associated with intuition and emotions, so it is adept at influencing the emotions of others.  Water sorcerers can sway audiences with a handful of words or calm crowds with a song.  They can become masters of controlling other people, even to the extent of permanent charms and loyalty.  Water is also the healing element, used by the Arcanum’s greatest healers to cure illnesses and repair wounds.  Some believe the use of water sorcery is the source of the Guardians’ regenerative capacity.

 

Wood

Wood is strong like earth and metal, yet flexible like water, yet not to the extent of either.  It combines the best of earth and water into something wholly unique.  It includes the sensuality of both and takes that into the area of fertility.  For wood is the most fertile of the elements, the representation of life and growth at its best and most fecund.  Despite its name, wood is capable of affecting both trees, living and dead, and any other plant life directly.  Wood sorcerers are also able to affect the fertility of any animal, including humans and Guardians, as well as the strength of the same.  Along with earth sorcerers, they seem to be at the forefront of the Society of Sensates among the Blue Order and play a role in the Black Order’s Serpent Circle next to water sorcerers.  Conversely, wood sorcery tends to be rare among the White Order as it appears antithetical to that order.

Codex: Sorcery (2017)

Sorcery

Sorcery is neither good nor evil, and this applies to nearly all of its forms and uses.  Sorcery is a tool.  It is intent and aim that determines the morality of the effect.

Consider: What is the difference between the Guardian and the Ravager?  Both are users of violence, often visually indistinguishable from each other.  However, the Ravager crosses the Pale to fight for the sake of killing and destruction.  The Guardian employs violence when needed to protect others and those who cannot defend themselves, to prevent the Ravager.

Sorcery is life, and life is neither inherently good nor evil, rather how we use life is good or not.  In the past, our ancestors drew blood to call energy.  This could be positive, as in the sacrifice willingly given, or an evil things, as forcefully taken.  But the fuel itself was amoral.  Since those days, sorcery has evolved and we have, of course, found other, less corruptible, means of calling energy.  And, according to some, we lost access to other, forgotten methods.

When we say that sorcery is life, we mean that in a very literal sense.  Sorcery draws upon the energy inherent in all living beings to manipulate the six elements of existence: air, earth, fire, metal, water, and wood.  Each of these elements has its own personality, powers, and affinities, as will be discussed in detail later.  In the earliest days of sorcery, our ancestors had to draw blood of men and beasts to acquire access to the required energy, as noted above, and they needed the elements on hand to use.  Today, we train to touch the power constantly and siphon off trace amounts from every living thing around us, unconsciously.  This tiniest of drains is as noticeable as taking a single drop of water from the ocean.  Unlike our ancestors, we can also create and summon the elements, not merely manipulate them.

The practice of sorcery appears simple and easy, to the untrained eye.  A sorcerer merely waves a hand and twenty candle ignite.  The appearance of ease is both a truth and a lie.  The veneer masks hours, years, of study and practice that make the difficult second nature, instinctive, through rote training and something akin to muscle memory.  The sorcerer must draw upon his reserve of energy, collect energy from his environment, or from a storage device.  Then he must concentrate, shape the energy, and call upon the desired element.  Visualization is key here, alongside concentration.  As with all skills, the more it is practiced, the less conscious the process or action becomes.  In time, the basics become instinct while only the more complex spells require active concentration.

Although not required for sorcery, a staff or wand can be a tremendous aid for focus and concentration.  Both can also be prepared to store energy or even potentially contain pre-cast spells.  But, a staff or wand must be fashioned of formerly living material, usually wood.  Perhaps most importantly, a staff or wand becomes bound to the sorcerer and contains a piece of the sorcerer’s spirit, or soul if you will.

 

Natural Laws of Sorcery

Contrary to the beliefs of many normal humans, sorcery is not without its limits.  Observations conducted by many researchers indicate that at least six rules apply to all magics (Pinol and Ficano; Henning; Wilcox and Ashe; Aurelius; Bayfield; Michaels).

Baylor’s First Law states that dead is dead.  There is no known way to bring someone back from the dead.  Both resurrection and reincarnation are solely the province of the gods, if they are even possible for divinities.

Mullins’s Third and Fourth Laws directly concern the questions of currency and food respectively.  These laws state that neither currency nor food can be created by magic.  Fae glamour is not an exception either, since it merely creates the illusion of food or money, but does not actually create either.  Both can be transported, of course, just not made via sorcery.

Santos’s Second Law forbids the manipulation of time and traveling through time.  There is no known magic that can effect such travel or changes.  This particular law has been tested, perhaps, more than any other, but has held up over at least a thousand years, despite sorcerers’ best attempts.

Baylor’s Third Law relates to his first.  Sorcery, and presumably other magics, is incapable of creating life.  However, it is able to manipulate, guide, shape, reorganize, and change life by a variety of means.  This is the province of wood and water sorcery, primarily.

The sixth law is so universal that it has not been named for anyone.  Any form of magic—whether sorcery, witchcraft, theurgy, or non-human in nature—requires genetic talent to learn and use.  Without proper genetic alignment and make up, it is impossible for anyone to make magic work, possibly even including magical items, according to some theories.

Codex: Great Conflict (2017)

Great Conflict, The

The Great Conflict is the somewhat euphemistic name that the Arcanum uses for our war with the Ravagers.  Despite being mildly euphemistic, it is a true name, for we have been in conflict with the Ravagers, it is a core elements of the Arcanum, and it has been going on for millennia.  The Great Conflict really encapsulates the entirety of sorcerous existence, and the reasons for the Arcanum to exist.  Although not everyone in the Arcanum is directly involved, most who are on the front lines come from the Red and White Orders or are Guardians, all are indirectly involved in support to one degree or another.

The origins of the Great Conflict are shrouded in some mystery, as are the origins of the Ravagers (see Appendix A).  However, the fragments of documentation and artifacts that we have, combined with oral tradition, suggest that the Conflict began within a generation of the first Ravager sighting.  With that being the case, it started long before the creation of the Arcanum.

The early decades of the Conflict were very chaotic.  It appears that most of the fighting was between individual sorcerers hunting Ravagers in a sort of scattershot fashion.  The effectiveness of those strategies, such as they were, is debated, but seems to have at least slowed the Ravager advance for a time.  After a good century, organizations of sorcerers grew and took on the mantle of defense.  It was only with the advent of the Arcanum, though, that the Great Conflict became well organized on a global scale.

As the number of Ravagers has grown, and they have become better organized and hidden in human society, our tactics and strategies have been forced to adapt.  In the early days of the sorcerer organizations, pitched battles against Ravagers happened with some degree of commonality.  Today, those tactics are inappropriate, due to collateral damage.  Only the Arcanum and its leadership have proven to be the best, and perhaps only, way to curb the Ravager threat, or at least to slow it significantly.

Codex: Apostates

Apostates

Traitors to the Arcanum and to their duty to humanity, Apostates are rogue sorcerers who live outside of, and reject, the Arcanum’s authority.  Most Apostates are criminals who were cast out by the Arcanum, on recommendation of the Grey Order’s Justiciar sect.  A handful are misguided, young, rebels, were born to Apostate parents, or were born to normal humans and do not know better.  These are a slim minority, almost all Apostates are rank criminals.[i]  Apostates are a lawless collection of individuals with dubious, or questionable, moral sense who are purely concerned with themselves and have no sense of concern for anyone else.[ii]

Trustworthy sources who have had contact with Apostate society have related tales of brutality, violence, theft, and social darwinism.  They say that Apostates live in barely human conditions and are constantly vulnerable , and victims of, Ravager attacks.  Few, if any, Apostates live normal, or long, lives.  Recent surveys show the average life expectancy of Apostates is 50 to 70 years younger than for Arcanum sorcerers.[iii]

The Council strongly urges all Arcanum sorcerers and Guardians to report any suspected Apostates to the nearest authorities.  In this way, they can be collected or monitored by Arcanum authorities for possible reintegration into society or for incarceration.  DO not engage the Apostate.  They are usually very mentally disturbed and unstable, their training is often random and incomplete, so there is no telling what any spell they cast might do.[iv]  Only by reporting them and letting trained representative of the Council handle the situation can we bring an eventual end to the Apostate blight on proper sorcerous society, and help them to see the error of their ways so they can be reintegrated into the fight to protect humanity that is their duty.

[i] Blatant Arcanum propaganda.  While it is true that most Apostates have rejected the Arcanum, very few were ever deemed criminals before choosing to become Apostates (or being born into the status).

[ii] Completely false propaganda.  Those among the Apostates have formed numerous small organizations to protect and aid each other (see Appendix B) and have established several hidden havens and hundreds of safe houses around the world (see Appendix C).

[iii] Ask to see these surveys or talk to these people.  Neither exists, except in the Arcanum propaganda machine.  Many Apostates live well, are well educated, and are safe.

[iv] Yes, fear the scary Apostate.  Don’t talk to them and find out that they are just like you and have rational reasons to reject the Arcanum.

Codex: Ravagers (2017)

Ravagers

The Ravagers are beasts, creatures from we know not where, driven by a mad, base intelligence.  They appear human to normal eyes, but that façade conceals a seething hunger for death and destruction.  When in a frenzy state, a Ravager will change, physically and psychically.  Its skin will become bony and thick to better protect itself.  It will exhibit fangs, claws, even horn-like protrusions and spikes.  In a frenzy state, the Ravager’s higher psychic functions disappear, consumed by an overriding hunger for the life energy upon which they feed.  Most Ravagers sate this thirst through the consumption of blood taken from their prey, thus giving rise to the ancient tales of vampirism amongst normal humans.  A few, however, discover that blood alone is not enough.  These cases seem to require the ingestion of human flesh as well.

Normally, in a rest state, the Ravager can pass as human easily enough, despite a distaste for direct sunlight which makes them uncomfortable.  The frenzy state enhances their physical strength and speed fourfold, beyond the abilities of any normal human to match.  They also become tougher, more difficult to injure.  Regardless of their state, a Ravager can be destroyed by sorcery, a Guardian’s powers, and by causing enough damage to overwhelm their recuperative powers, usually by beheading or destroying their bodies completely.

We have no definite information about the origins of the Ravagers.  They appeared in small numbers millennia ago.[1]  Then they flooded the world for a time, prompting the creation of the first Guardians as the sorcerers of the era were nearly overwhelmed by the tide.  We believe that the Ravagers originate beyond this world, past a theoretical barrier called the Pale.  Hundreds of theories have been posited over the generations, though, and the Pale is merely the latest in a long line.

Modern Ravagers appear to have evolved from the nearly mindless creatures that fought our ancestors.  Today, there are a growing number of Ravagers who can conceal their hunger behind a façade of respectability.  Still, they must release the drive, the desire, the need from time to time.  And they must feed.  So, they gravitate to areas of human society where they can sate their desires.  They show up in the ranks of organized crime, illegal fight circuits, certain kinds of night clubs, even militias.  They avoid law enforcement and the military, since their nature would eventually be revealed.

A few researchers believe that Ravagers have a complex and civilized society (Berk; Hall and Pollington; Raffel).[i]  These few also claim that Ravagers are intelligent and capable of controlling their hunger under certain circumstances.  The majority of Arcanum researchers disagree.  The current theory is that Ravagers are beasts who are able to conceal their bestial natures for a brief time.  They appear to lack higher functions, although some can mimic humanity well enough to pass, long enough to feed.  They seem to be solitary, ambush predators with occasional, short lived, groups of three or four appearing.  What connects the groups, or causes them, is unclear, though some have suggested a familial relationship or social system (see Howard and Raffel respectively).

The Council’s official policy is that Ravagers are dangerous, invasive beasts.  The Council recommends that they be destroyed on sight, or that appropriate authorities—Council representatives, the Red Order, or Guardians—be contacted immediately and informed of potential Ravager activity.

[1] Some reconstructed sources appear to indicate that the Ravagers were drawn to, or even created by, sorcery (ref. Clareson; Thompson and Donne; Ptahotep; Eclesius, Spinnett, and Isaak).  Such creation or attraction could have been accidental or purposeful, the sources are unclear.  (See Appendix A)

[i] Berk, Raffel, Hall, Pollington, they’re all right.  The Ravagers are intelligent and have a society based on a complex ratio of age, personal power, and appearance of power, possibly with some lineage thrown in.  They follow the direction of lords and masters and are actually highly organized in some regions, while masquerading as chaotic loners.

Codex: Guardians (2017)

Guardians

Created by sorcery, the Guardians are the frontline of defense against the Ravagers.  They were developed and created under Arcanum mandate when it became clear that sorcerers could not reproduce and train fast enough to keep up with the Ravager invasion.   Due to the desperation of the era, a rare mix of water and earth sorcery was invented, resulting in the first generation of Guardians.  They were flawed due to an unintentional side effect that left them barren.  Wood sorcery was introduced in the second generation to correct the error.  They have bred true, and much faster than sorcerers, ever since.

Due to the mix of sorceries involved, Guardians possess two forms.  Their rest state is human to all appearances.  In this state, they are still notably stronger and faster than normal humans.  Guardians also possess a combat form.  In this state, their flesh becomes simultaneously hard as stone, yet pliant enough to move unimpeded.  They become effectively impervious to normal means of injury, though still vulnerable to all forms of magic and Ravager claws.  However, their strength and speed are enhanced to an inhuman, Ravager-level, degree.  As they age, a Guardian’s combat form becomes more inhuman in appearance.  This gave rise to stories of golems and animate gargoyles among the humans.

The Guardians were created and bred to be fiercely loyal to the Arcanum and sorcerers.  They were, and still are, trained from childhood in their duty to protect the world.  Despite the best intentions and most skilled sorcery, genetic mutations do occasionally occur.  In those rare cases, a Guardian may abandon his or her duty, often in early adulthood, and join the ranks of the apostates, alongside an unfortunate number of sorcerers.  The willful decision to give up the fight and deny their vows does, rarely occur late in life as the Guardians match sorcerers in potential lifespan, even though their average age is lower.

Although the Guardians are an integral part of Arcanum society and the Great Conflict, they are not afforded full status in the Arcanum.  Nor are they given a seat on the Council or a voice in choosing the members of the Council, though they do furnish military and security advisors to the Council.  In this way, they share a degree of kinship with the Red and Blue Orders.  There are those amongst the Arcanum who, unfortunately, consider the Guardians to be lesser beings, less worthy of rights, even nothing but tools.  These sorcerers are a minority, but sometimes a vocal one.  Fortunately, they are not supported by many sorcerers and tend to keep quietly to themselves.

Because they have spent centuries, particularly early in their history, ostracized by the early Arcanum, the Guardians created their own society apart from sorcerers.  According to Farman and Dryer, this society is oddly loose and unstructured.  It seems to be focused on the family unit, then clans of families and septs of clans.  Dryer notes that every clan and sept as its leaders, usually the eldest or most experienced member of the clan.  Gender does not seem to matter.  Many sorcerers expect that Guardian society will be strictly regimented—because of their militant role—or effectively chaotic and bestial—because of outdated prejudices.

While not regimented, it is true that Guardians do focus on militant aspects of society, as they were created to.  All Guardians learn to fight in various ways, regardless of gender.  Traditionally, Guardians begin learning unarmed combat around the age of ten, graduating to weapons by fourteen.  Their training covers nearly every year from ten to eighteen.  Even in childhood, Guardian games build stamina, hand-eye coordination, aim, durability, and quick changes between human and combat forms.  Some undertake training and education in non-combat areas, but the Council discourages this, for fear of sowing confusion in the ranks and losing the Great Conflict.  Even so, every Guardian is trained in at least the basics of Ravager combat.