Codex: The Orders

Orders, The

Once, the Arcanum was composed of only three orders—the black of life and joy, the grey of balance, and the white of death and ends.  Only in the last few decades have others been added, to reduce the ranks of Apostates and better reflect the spectrum of morality and use, rather than a simplistic trinary.  Thus, the red of honor and war and the blue of history and knowledge.

The hedge witches are not under the aegis of the Arcanum as their magic is beneath the notice of sorcery.  And the divine theurgists remain apart with their own, unique powers that are not sorcery.  Thus, neither is incorporated into the Order system.

The Orders were created by the founders of the Arcanum for the purpose of easing administration of all sorcerers around the world.  The Orders were also, initially, a means of dealing with the philosophical differences between sorcerers.  Over time, the Orders developed into the social, legal, and political centers of the Arcanum.  In the early days, the Orders were ensured great leeway in their conduct of internal affairs.  Even with the expanded ability to handle their own operations, they must remain within the bounds of Arcanum law and restrictions.  Thus, the White Order is a more “acceptable evil” versus most of the Apostates.

As part of their duty to the Arcanum, the three elder Orders each maintain a school, all at different parts of the world.  Every school allows students from the younger Orders, and allied elder Orders—ex. the Black Order allows Grey, Red, and Blue Orders; the Grey Order allows all Orders.  The younger Orders have been pursuing attempts to set up their own schools, almost since they were created.  To date, they have received very little support from the Council.

In order to best fit their evolving purpose, every Order has a unique place for its members around the world.  Access to the Order houses is limited to members of the Order itself.  These are the core social and political centers of the Orders, places members can do their own activities with others like themselves.  As such, the Orders form the backbone of the Arcanum in ways that no other element of sorcerous society and government can.

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Codex: The Arcanum

The Arcanum

The Arcanum is the governing body and society of sorcerers on Earth.  It brought order and direction to the chaos of competing sorcerous cultures and governments that came before it.  The foundation of the Arcanum focused and enhanced the efficiency of the sorcerous fight against the Ravagers.  It brought unity and the pooling of knowledge and resources that led to the successful creation of the Guardians and turned the tide of the Great Conflict.  The existence of the Arcanum, its Council, and its Orders is the primary reason sorcerers can live lives of relative peace in the modern era.[i]

At its most basic level, The Arcanum is a government of sorcerers.  Traditionally, the Arcanum is run, overseen, governed by a council of nine masters representing the White, Grey, and Black Orders.  Each of these selects three members for the Council.  Historically, the White and Black Orders oppose each other much of the time and rely on campaigning the Grey to their side, but there are exceptions.  With the creation of the Red and Blue Orders, there have ben petitions to add, or reassign, seats to the Council to represent the new orders.  As with the petitions to create Red and Blue schools, these petitions have not gained much support with the Council.[ii]

The Arcanum is more than a governing body, though.  It also provides for the education and training of sorcerers throughout the establishment of schools and confirming standards for educators throughout the Orders.  Currently, there are three official schools around the world, each operated by an elder Order (Black, Grey, or White).[iii]  The Council provided oversight, as do the Orders, of the schools, their educators, and their administration.  Failure to meet Arcanum requirements is grounds for dismissal, though none of the schools will ever be closed outright.

The Arcanum is also the social center, indeed the entirety of society, for sorcerers.  Whether remaining with one’s Order or with all Orders, sorcerers go about their lives surrounded by fellow members of the Arcanum anywhere in the world.  Because of Arcanum law and organization, all communities of sorcerers within its purview are patrolled and protected by Guardians, often supported by Red Order warriors.  Moreover, all Arcanum members have recourse to the Justiciar sect of the Grey Order for legal disputes among themselves or against the Council.  Most Arcanum communities are integrated into, and concealed by, those of normal humans.  This arrangement has been found to enhance response time to Ravager incidents and resulted in a reduced loss of human and sorcerer life and collateral damage.  The last may seem somewhat illogical, as more fights between Arcanum forces and Ravagers take place in major population centers.  However, the Ravager prefer major human cities in which to operate.  Thus, having Arcanum communities in the same places reduces response time and makes hunting Ravagers more efficient.

Of similar importance, having communities within human populations also affords chances to interact with normal humans.  This both reminds sorcerers of why we fight and allows for relationships between humans and sorcerers, albeit usually limited ones.  The introduction of new blood to sorcerous stock has been a major project of the Council for most of the last two centuries, despite opposition by the White Order’s Scholomance sect.  Were it not for unions between sorcerer and human, sorcerers would have become dangerously inbred centuries ago.  In fact, some believe we came worryingly close to the danger point during the 17th and 18th centuries, when fear of “witch” trials restricted relations severely.

[i] The Council would like everyone to believe so, of course.  The truth is that apostates largely live peaceful and safe lives outside the Arcanum.  In large part, this safety comes because of groups like the Chameleons, Youxia, and Shadowmasters, whom the Council refuses to acknowledge (see Appendix B).

[ii] The old Orders don’t want to lose their stranglehold on political power, or their control over instructing the young.  But, the tighter they grasp, the more sorcerers question their reasons, motives, and flee the Arcanum for the freedom of the so-called Apostates.

[iii] The fewer the schools, the less deviation from the party line and the more control the Council and Elder Orders exert.  They will never allow the new Orders to build their own, approved schools.  And that may be the issue that drives a mass exodus to the Apostates.

Codex: Forward & Introduction

Foreword

The document you hold in your hands is a guide, an aide, to help young sorcerers acclimate to sorcerous society.  Although intended for that purpose, as initially commissioned by the Arcanum Council of Masters, over its numerous editions, even experienced sorcerers have found the Codex useful as a quick reference.  As such, the Codex is intended to complement more formal instruction and experience, rather than to replace either.  Because it is intended to serve as a reminder or a fast reference guide, entries will be necessarily brief, while including necessary information and details essential to interacting with Arcanum society, other magic wielders, and even non-humans.

The Council, and this editor, does urge caution and reminds readers not to rely entirely on this document.  Although the information contained herein is as accurate and up to date as possible, it by no menas is a substitute for the knowledge of subject matter experts.  One should not, for instance, actively approach a fae and attempt communication merely armed with the Codex.  Leave such interactions to experts, but keep the Codex for unavoidable emergencies.

Due to available information and priorities, most of this text does focus on the Arcanum and sorcerers.

 

J.T. Kemp, Master

Blue Order

Archive of New York


Introduction

Pay attention to what Kemp said, and didn’t say, readers.

The Codex Arcanum is intended for new sorcerers, and approved by the Council.

So, it is propaganda.

Still, the Codex has its uses, as long as we remember there is a load of bull droppings in it.

I have done my own edits, trying to comment on and correct Kemp’s disinformation and misinformation.  Kemp’s notes are at the bottom of each page, mine are at the end of the entire Codex.  Where possible, I added appendices to fill in gaps in the Arcanum’s knowledge.  Or what it admits to knowing.  I’m not entirely convinced that they’re as ignorant as they claim.

Anyway, the foundation of the Codex is good, and it’s a good idea.  Just read with a critical eye and separate the propaganda from the core of truth.

Alcuin the Apostate

Independent Scholar

Location “None of Your Concern”

“Production” Plan, of a Sort

Back to writing stuff this week.

I’ve gotten some feedback on a few stories, both the “Between” one posted here and a rather longer one.  So, I’ve started working on revising those.

But, looking ahead, I have two current large projects.

The Between-Earth

  • Story featuring Alestair Garnes (2/3-ish drafted)
  • Second story featuring Alestair Garnes, several years later
  • Story of the Daymar Institute of Magic, featuring a character from story 1, contemporary with story 2
  • Story of the Circle of Thoth, featured in story 1, contemporary with story 2
  • Story of Night City (in the Beyond), following story 2
  • Story of the Aspi Sea (in the Between), probably contemporary with story 2, but it doesn’t really matter
  • Story of the Labyrinth of Minos (in the Between), as story 6.
  • Story of Peakwatch Keep (in the Beyond), as story 6

 

The Codex Arcanum

This is my fictional work of non-fiction, a sort of field guide to an Earth-based urban fantasy setting, as written (or edited) by a pair of characters in-world.  I’ve gotten a lot done on it, but still have to draft:

  • History
  • Nine Important Places
  • Brief profiles/bios of a couple dozen important people (Who’s Who)
  • Appendix on Witches
  • Appendix on Witchcraft
  • Appendix on some safe havens for one sect
  • Possibly a References/Works Cited page of fictitious texts cited by the “authors” throughout the piece.

Delays and WiP

Apologies for the delay in posting.  We had a rough weekend and I’ve been focusing more on my non-blog writing, so I kinda fell behind.

Anyway.

I’m working on two major projects now.

The first is several short stories, most of which are linked in some way, in The Between urban fantasy setting.  Most are Earth-set, but a few will occur in parts of the Between and Beyond.  The first, that I’m working on now, takes place seven or eight years before the rest.  The others will all take place at the same time, most involving the first’s main character, or places and minor characters from the first.

The second project was kind of an “oops”.  It’s The Codex Arcanum.  This is intended to be a short book, or field guide, or quick reference work for an Earth-based urban fantasy setting.  In world, it will be a work of non-fiction.  The closest similar examples I can immediately think of are Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Basically, it’s a fictional work of non-fiction, if that makes sense.  So, I’m approaching it from a similar perspective to writing a piece of academic non-fiction, taking on the role of a writer-editor working for an in-world organization to revise their field guide/quick reference for people new to their culture and history.  Even to the point of including in-text citations and editor footnotes.  I’m debating whether to create a References section (probably making up my own citation system).

Cosmology of The Between

Leaving aside religious views, humans of Earth think the entirety of the cosmos is just their world (and associated universe).

Earth’s mages, and general magical community, know this to be false.  Or, rather, that this is a limited perspective based on lack of data.

Most of the magical community believes there are two layers to cosmology.  On the most basic level, there is Earth.  Beyond that, there are the Shadow Realm and the Spirit Realm.  These are the homes of the shadow beings and spirits as well as the sources of the energy that fuel shadow magic and spirit magic respectively.  This does not account for the Shadow Paths or Mirror Roads, however.  A minority of mages on Earth claim that there are, in fact, three layers to the cosmos.  The first is, of course, Earth.  The third is made up of the Shadow and Spirit Realms.  The second, they say, is a region called The Between which serves as a buffer between Earth and the non-human realms.  This interstitial region is, they claim, host to the Shadow Paths and Mirror Roads, among a variety of other regions.

Inhabitants of The Between say this view of cosmology is simplistic.  They say there are five, arguably six, layers to reality.  The first is Earth, although it is widely considered the least important.  The second is The Pale, which consists of the Shadow Paths and Mirror Roads and exists sandwiched by Earth and The Between.  Then comes The Between itself, including the Goblin Market, Irem, Sunken Atlantis, and Werwood.  Fourth is the Near Beyond, a region of lands more divorced from Earth than The Between, but still habitable by mortals.  Some argue there is a fifth interstitial realm that is home to the Dreamscape, Godhome, and the Spirit Realm.  Finally, there is the sixth (or fifth) realm known as the Far Beyond, which is home to inhuman entities from elemental beings to shadow creatures to entities born of chaos.  This last region is inimical to human, and related, life and mortal minds tend to crack or shatter when directly exposed to its realms.

Between 2 (2017)

What is the Between?

It is migraine inducing, if you think about it too much.

But, I’m sure you’d like a more serious, less flippant, answer.

It appears to be a realm, a place of pure magic that exists as a buffer between Earth and the Shadow and Spirit Realms.  It consists of scores, hundreds of regions that both occupy the same space simultaneously and are next to each other.  The metaphysics and geography are maddening.  It’s best not to think about that part.

The Between is home to many societies and creatures.  It is host to the places of Earth’s legends: Irem of the Pillars, Shangri-La, the Goblin Market, the Mirror Roads, Sunken Atlantis.  It is home to humanity’s greatest fears and archetypes, like the Shadow Paths and Werwood.  It is, in some ways, both platonic and Jungian, the place of forms and archetypes made manifest.

—Hunter Bradley, explorer, Shan Tzu Institute, Hong Kong, The Institute


 

I’ve updated the previous story PDF and added this piece to it as well