|Plural:||Akashic Brothers, Akashic Brotherhood|
|Nicknames:||Warring Fists, Akashics, Akashi, Akashayana, Akashayana Sangha|
|Faction:||Council of Nine Mystic Traditions|
The Akashic Brotherhood, also known as the Akashayana Sangha ("The Order of the Vehicle of Akasha") or just the Akashayana, is a Tradition of mages masters of mind, body, and spirit pursuing the arts of personal discipline.
They believe that mind, body and spirit are all part of the larger whole of the person, just like at the same time that person is part of the whole of the universe. In other words, conflict, is an illusion, and the same can be said of identity and dispute, so when mind and body harmonize, the soul follow them. By honing their bodies, these mages make a temple for the mind that ultimately brings the comprehension of the spirit. The Brotherhood uses simple tools — exercise, meditation, practice and study — to refine the simple man into a brother of knowledge.
The Akashic Paradigm is built on several notions that they share with multiple other Chi'n Ta of the Middle Kingdom. The Akashayana consider that their magic don't come from True Will but from eternal truths that manifest as side effect of the way to enlightenment. This means that Akashics fall less often to the hubristic trap of valuing their own magical prowess more than Ascension.
The Law of Transcending the Enemy. The short form of Draladharma, a hybridised term derived from Tibetan and Sanskrit meaning it is the active (Yang) principle in Akashic philosophy.
A return to simplicity lies at the heart of the Brotherhood's beliefs. Humans clutter up their lives with unnecessary and extraneous objects and desires. How can one understand the natural harmony of the universe by trying to grasp it, own it or control it? The natural place for every individual — the role of Dharma — is apparent when one is not blinded by the illusions of greed, desire and power. The exercises of living give a soul the chance to experience the universe in manifold forms, and so the individual should take this opportunity to gain insight by developing a harmony with the All. Each life is just a step on the greater wheel of Drahma until the individual releases himself from the chains that he forged with his own beliefs and desires.
Being a practitioner of Drahma means acting with the best moral intention and never using force against force, so in other words, an ideal Akashic practicing it has no enemies, never preventing the foe from acting. The aggression earns karmic penalty without causing harm to her. Similarly, every problem has an efficient, ethical answer, provided you act without selfishness and let yourself become one with the task.
The Akashakarma refers to the impressions all beings make upon the fabric of the Tapestry with their actions, something tangible to mages like the Akashayana. Called the Akashic Records by other willworkers, it is the passive (Yin) principle of Akashic philosophy, similar to the Taoist wu-wei.
The Akashayana know how to discern the impressions of thoughts and actions on the Tapestry, in other words the principle that guides the Tapestry as a riverbed guide a river. The Akashic Record can be sensed by the ones who empty their own selves from egoism, sharing their the thoughts of the others and understanding how to control and redirect the forces around them. This is shown as intuition, sudden knowledge and even visions from past lives.
By living following the Drahma, an Akashic can use the power of the All, in accord to the forces that fill the world around the Brother. She aligns with one of the Three Minister of the Sam Chien (the Triple Struggle), the Dragon, Phoenix, and Tiger, representations of Entropy, Stasis and Dynamism in the Metaphysic Trinity, but without becoming a mere vehicle like a Nephandi and their patrons or the Hengeyokai, as these personifications of the Metaphysic Trinity balance out the Akashic tendencies to reject these forces. In other words, they become empty vessels to manifest the powers of the Ministers, but moderating it with their own inner nature.
The Li-Hai believe in a Fourth Minister, Lung-ta the Windhorse, who balances the other three. This being represents the power of Drahma itself in the world, even in the middle of chaos and order, so the point is to find enlightenment even in the flaws of creation, giving sense to the Li-Hai quest to avoid the Sangha to be isolated from the modern world.
The Akashics refer to the Avatar as Bodhicitta, the Heart of Enlightenment. They do not believe that it is an indestructible soul, a god or a clump of Quintessence, but a concept and feeling of enlightenment that speaks to the mage, a spark of Akasha and the primal wisdom that has many names. Everyone has a Bodhicitta, it is not something caused by blood or luck, but usually it is drown in the banality and easy answers of Samsara. The Bodhicitta maks itself with the masks of the Metaphysic Trinity to teach the Drahma and lead the mage to balance.
To the Akashics, it is called the Samsara, the Consensus of Illusion. The whole concept is more vast to them, as Samsara is an attitude to the world, to believe that one is something separate and immune to the forces around him, rejecting the truth of the Wheel of Ages and impermanence. It is needed to live, as everyone needs a fixed conception of the universe to exist, but the power of this illusion is strengthened by the Sleepers way of life. The Akashayana were vital to the understanding of the Metaphysics of Magic as understood by the Traditions. Inspired by Buddhist philosophy, they posited a subjective reality, Samsara, while the Order of Hermes insisted that the four Greek elements and Platonic forms were the base nature of the universe.
Sat-Chit-Ananda. Unity with the Tao. Nirvana. Ascension. The concept it is known by many names, but the Brotherhood prefers to call it Samadhi, an state were the being itself is undifferentiated. The true face of the Bodhicitta is shown along with the true wisdom of Akasha, breaking the chains of delusion. There are many stories about the Akasha, Ascended beings who stand as the masters of the Wheel.
Tools and PracticesEdit
The soul of the Akashics lies in the Akashic Record, where it lies collected all the experience of all Akashic Brothers across history. Even with physical pages and ink, the Record itself exists in all levels of reality, material and spiritual at the same time. The Akashic Record is not supposed to be read, it serves as inspiration, gives understanding of past knowledge and presents its information so the one looking for it would never forget, using riddles or loans that cannot be understood by non-experts.
The Akashic Brotherhood have a wide range of common foci and tools, like asceticism and abstinence, meditation, breathing (yogic or taoist reverse-diaphragm breathing), bodywork, calligraphy, poetry, chanting, singing, crafting, eye contact, herbalism, kata, dancing, mandalas, mudras, pilgrimage, weapons...
Akashics break the barrier between their own minds and the Tapestry with these practices, and by emptying their own minds via meditation they open the Akashakarma to their own selves, letting them to commune with the Record and expanding their own minds even beyond, to all minds and actions.
Although Do is the primary structure for Akashic magic, many Brothers add other practices to focus their energy. Like Do, these practices are often Asian in origin — feng shui, meditation and calligraphy are excellent ways to direct chi — but all are designed to unify and direct motion and thought toward a goal. The spiritual and magical worlds are not far removed from the physical world. The balanced and enlightened man can, in time, access all layers of the universe.
- Main article: Do
Do is a meditative martial art practiced by the Akashic Brotherhood that is their main tool for practicing magic. It goes beyond mere combat applications to include philosophy, ethics, and healing arts.
The philosophical and historic roots of the Akashic Brotherhood lie in the beginning times when all the Meru'ai, the inhabitants of the Mount Meru (or the Village of Meru) in the Geruda Valley, lived in harmony. Like many, the Akashics claim to be the oldest magical society but even among them have their own distinct rites; the Akashics are more than an alliance of convenience as they are the ones who keep secrets that may even be from before the First Age. In the last world, they claim, an entire people performed a mass Ascension. When the world was destroyed, they were preserved at the summit of Meru, the world mountain, and vague memories of this perfect village are the basis of legends of Shangri-La and Shambhala.
The Meru'ai learned the Way of Harmonious Living from the grand spirits, Dragon, Tiger and Phoenix, and they disciplined their bodies and their minds through the balance of movement and stillness, but as the earth turned and more people came to live near the All, the All fractured and became dissonant. In time of need, the Meru'ai shaped Do into mighty war-arts, as they had one law, that barbaric outsiders would be killed if they tried to enter the village from the outside world. But one day an expedition appeared, a man who had left the valley years before came back and he spoke during three consecutive days. The first day he said them they were not supposed to separate themselves from the world, and if they refused to leave the valley they would end perishing by forces outside their knowledge. The second day he showed them the true nature of reality, an illusion created by humanity's own desires, hatred and greed. The third day he taught them the way to know reality as it is. And after that, he sacrificed himself with a bronze knife, cutting himself into pieces to show the Meru'ai that death is only illusion and that everything is one with the Wheel, showing them the nature of the Akashakarma. He was the first Akasha, the first to attain the state of the same name.
The corrupted Wan Xian hoarded Chi and the Hengeyokai slaughtered the innocent, and even the enlightened became enamored with the Five Elements. Some worshipped shen, or others talked of a Jade Mother or Lord of Heaven who had secrets worth ripping from the stars. The pleasures of earth made them fear liberation, and they began to talk of eternal souls that could sustain pleasure forever. Blindness and greed took them, and they forgot how to summon fire or grow rice. Once Meru disappeared, the balance between mind and body, motion and stillness, was disturbed, and the ones who would become Akashic Brothers wandered into the world, with some of them retreating into mountains, caves and forests to continue their study of balance through Do. Martial arts and exercises perfected the body while rigorous disciplines, chants and prayers cleansed the mind. Though these "Brothers of Meru" separated, their minds returned to a single pool, a shared remnant of their bygone home, so they forgot the fear of death and hell. As the children of Meru spread across the lands, they still had a connection thanks to this.
The children of Meru became hermits, healers and warriors, and after encountering death and violence, they mastered war and medicine, turning some of them cold-hearted and dangerous. These were the origins of what would become the Vajrapana, the Kannagara and the Jnani. They would end meeting soon other priests of the Wheel, who thought that karma, fate and luck were one and the same. They were the Handura, the Bhowana, Idran and Dacoits who would later become (with the exception of the Idran) the founders of the Euthanatos.
At first, both groups cooperated as they shared views of what reality and the self was. But once the plagues reached the Indian subcontinent, they ended battling over differences of doctrine. As plague struck an Akashic camp, Smoke Tiger killed the Dacoit Ranjit and accused the Dacoits of murdering those destined to oppose the sect, making it the start of the hostilities. Even if both believed in reincarnation and the turning of the Wheel, the Akashics believed that the Handura's belief of human progress through reincarnation, weeding out evil through death, impeded the cycle of Drahma as they began to take care of the misery brought by illness the most direct way possible. As the Brotherhood did not approve of mages who took into their own hands the power over life and death, and the Brotherhood warred against the thanatoic cults in what would be called the Himalayan War.
- Main article: Himalayan Wars
From 900 BCE to the 600 BCE (with some sources saying that it extended until the 300 BCE ) the Himalayan War raged. Even if at first he decided with the Dacoit Acarya Natadeva to halt hostilities, the Varjapani sifu Chan Ng reversed his position and ordered the death of all death mages along the Ganges a year later. After carving a mandala in a rock, he led the Akashi in all directions, striking all the death cults at the same time. At first, it was more an slaughter than a war. But after a while, and due to Chan Ng's way to handle the war, the thanatoic cults strengthened and united under a single banner, known as the Chakravanti. The truth behind this actions and the real reason behind the Himalayan War would only be revealed thousand of years in the future and concealed for the Akashayana's sake.
What was going to be the quick retribution to liberate India from the thanatoics influence ended degenerating into a long-drawn-out war, with soldiers and generals reincarnating just to battle again generation after generation, not even letting death to stop their animosity against each other. By the end, their leaders were just children driven by vendettas from dozen of previous lifes and demons urged both sides to fight and kill each other, bringing a terrible karma to all the ones involved in the conflict. This conflict will one of the direct causes to the Night of Fana, where an entity known as the Khwaja al-Akbar was summoned and revealed the Doctrine of Unity, making it the origin of the Ahl-i-Batin. Even so, the war continued more than a hundred years after it, and the Chakravanti got the lead when the Consanguinity of Eternal Joy and the Natatapas contained the Akashi. Formally, it only ended when the Grand Harvester Subranamian and Vedavati of the Natatapas combined their mystical powers into an Iron Avatar that destroyed the last Akashic holdout in the Ganges in 354 BCE.
This war left both Traditions scarred, although neither has entirely forgiven the other for the centuries of bloodshed, they have learned from each other, so neither Tradition as a whole likes to jumps quickly into conflict.
After the war, the Akashi changed their name to Akashayana to emphasise that they were a different “vehicle” (yana) to enlightenment than other sects.
The Dragon River WarEdit
The conflict known as the Dragon River War put the Akashics against the Five-Ghost Emperor. For the Akashayana, it began when a group of Wan Kuei led by Hon Li of the Soaring Wind conquered Mount Kailas, one of the earthly representations of Mount Meru, so they repelled them and initiated hostilities. After that, the demons allied with Yi Han, a corrupted Wu Lung who made ten suns that brought famine and misery to the people. The suns were eventually destroyed by the Yi the Excellent Archer, a mysterious warrior who would founded the demon-hunting order of the Shih.
This war would have clear long-standing effects to the Akashics. It was the cause of the Dalou'laoshi artisan-mages existence, the beginning of the long enmity (that still exists in the modern times) between the Akashics and the Devil Tigers and a distant respect for the Shih.
Following the conflict, some people were tired of the mages, shamans, and mystics telling them what to do, so during the Chou Dynasty the nobility prefered scholars that could give them answers without having to look to the gods. This group, instead using their knowledge of the natural world to provide the people with the means to aid themselves. These would later give birth to the Dalou'laoshi, the Five Elemental Dragons of the East.
Tired from war, the Akashics turned to survive as they could. Do developed hundred of styles during these times and in return to this prowess, Chou nobles protected the Brothers. These legalists would become the origin of the Shi-Ren after learning that compassion is to be tied to power and obligation affects the Tapestry the same as ruling. Also, many Vajrapani became followers of Mo-Tzu to cleanse themselves from the wars, fighting for a pacifist state and turning into the Li-Hai.
Other doctrines had a big effect into the Akashics, like the teachings of Laozi, that showed them that the harmony in the soul is the same to the one in nature, or Buddha, whose teachings were enough to convince the Brothers that still warred with the thanatoics to stop war at last.
The Burning Tiger WarEdit
From 160 BCE to 100 BCE a new war erupts, this time a three-way battle involving the Akashics, the Wu Lung and the Dalou'laoshi that would be called the Burning Tiger War. Thanks to the Fu Xia and the First Emperor of China Qin Shihuang, both the Wu Lung and the Dalou'laoshi had enough power and influence to get rid of the Akashics in China, so the hostilities began.
The Akashics defeated and banished the Devil Wizard Tae-tse and his demon army, but not before the infernal hordes claim the lives of many mages on all sides of the conflict. Still, that victory was enough for the Akashics to survive until the Yuan Dynasty without any difficulties.
As the spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto and similar religions spread across Asia, the Brotherhood followed. The Shaolin monasteries of China housed their members, as did the mountain-dwelling hermits of Japan, the cloistered priests of Tibet and the mysterious mystics of India. Many common people adopted Brotherhood beliefs in everyday life. They were not aware that the Wu-Keng were helping them, for they wanted a group strong enough to contest the Wu Lung.
Bodhidharma had a huge impact in the Akashayana with his doctrine of Dhyana, what will become the Ch'an and the Zen Buddhism. Akashics from all the parts of China went to learn in the Shaolin temple, and by the end of the sixth century they had members across all the Taoist and Buddhist sanctuaries across China and Tibet. Even the Wan Kuei went to the temple, and they were able to live in harmony with the Akashics there.
This groundswell of common support became the Brotherhood's bane: organized nations, harsh rulers and secret societies resented the Brotherhood's liberating influence on the Masses. Eventually, the Brotherhood found itself embroiled in wars as armies and governments sought to destroy its influence. The Brotherhood's holdings were broken and its members scattered. Hierarchical societies and caste systems, combined with a focus on material living, turned people against the Brotherhood's self-empowering ways.
In 1279, the Mongols invaded, with the aid of shamans skilled in overcoming magical resistance. In desperation, Yu Lung of the Akashics turned to the Yama Kings, learning dark alchemy and using it to infect the invaders with a terrible plague. When he sacrificed his brothers to the disease, his betrayal was revealed, and the Warring Fists helped the Mongol shamans find a cure, driving Yu Lung into exile. In gratitude, the Mongols promoted Vajrayana Buddhism and allowed the Akashics more freedom than to the Wu Lung or the Dalou'laoshi.
The Kamikaze WarEdit
Many took refuge in Japan after being persecuted by the Elemental Dragons and the Wu Lung, using the first buddhist missions. Some Vajrapani families who traveled here would in the future turn from peasant militias to the samurai caste. The Akashayana quickly grew accustomed to the local idiosyncrasies and they influenced Japanese culture and philosophies of natural harmony and simplicity, and the Vajrapani did the same with the samurai ethics.
Once the Mongols tried to invade Japan in 1274, the Japanese Vajrapani Akashics allied with their locals, unlike the mainland Kannagara of the Brotherhood. A typhoon destroyed the Mongol fleet, and by 1281 the invaders were rejected, something that created a rift between the Japanese and mainland Akashics that would be present until the Great Convocation when Nichuba accompanied the mainland Brotherhood representatives.
Screaming Ghost PurgeEdit
In 1356 the Dalou'laoshi and Wu Lung employed new innovations, like rockets and flying machines against Akashic Brotherhood, who badly beaten, retreated to Mongolian and Tibetan mountains with the help of the Wu-Keng. This would spark over one hundred years of secret warfare, but the Akashics will survive enough to help the Red Turbans, who overthrow the mongol rulers and brought the Ming Dynasty. When the first Ming emperor took the throne in 1368, he was supported by Shi-Ren aristocrats and Vajrapani guards.
The Grand Convocation and the Council of NineEdit
Once the Western Traditions came to China, it appeared as though the Akashic Brotherhood was all-powerful, and much to the annoyance of the Wu Lung, the Akashics were the first invited to the Grand Convocation Sh'zar and William Groth of Baerwald approached the Akashics in the Great Convocation of what would be the Council of Nine. Wu Jin, Cheng Sa of the Li-Hai, Battering Ram of the Vajrapani, Darumba of the Kannagara and Nichiba the Jnani were the representatives that would travel to the West in such a endeavor. The Shi-Ren were not represented because some of them were frightened by the Screaming Ghost Purge and left the Brotherhood to the Dalou'laoshi, but they were absorbed by them and deprived of any bureaucratic power by the Wu Lung, who controlled the corrupt bureaucracy of the Ming.
It was during this age when the Akashics began to recruit non-Asians into their ranks, with the famous example of when three mages of the Order of Hermes and the Verbena were accepted into Akashic tutelage, becoming the Gladius Argentum of the Li-Hai. The faction began then to recruit members from the west, especially from Spain or West Africa.
During the Convocation, what would become known finally as the Akashic Brotherhood who hold the Seat of Mind, befriended the Dreamspeakers, clashed with the Hermetics and the Celestial Chorus about magic theory, and tried to avoid the Euthanatoi. With the latter, during these times, they were unable to avoid conflict again as the Long Red Night incident happened in 1438, after a cooperation against the Dalou'laoshi in the Silk Road turned into two years of battles in Mongolia and Burma due to two mages who were enemies in a previous life. It is said that actually, both Traditions left the respective groups alone and tried to make their members to defect, ultimately being assasinated in cooperation by both Traditions to stop the conflict. Oddly no one is able to check the veracity of it as nobody can access to it even through the Akashic Record.
In 1466, the Resolutions of Intent that form the Council of Nine Mystick Traditions are passed in Horizon Council chambers, making the Council of Nine official and generic titles and ranks were standardized. The same year, the Council passes Compact of Callias, which encourages inter-Tradition cabals. To celebrate it, the Council appointed nine representatives as emissaries, enforcers and comrades to stand as a testament to the solidarity of the Council and their future goodwill. This First Cabal begins from Horizon the March of the Nine, travelling the world and spreading many legends of their deeds. The Akashic representative in this group would be the young Fall Breeze.
The Great BetrayalEdit
But in 1470, the Great Betrayal befell them, when the leader of the First Cabal Heylel Teomim bani Solificati betrayed the First Cabal to Rivallon de Corbie, who assembled an army, the Iron Hounds and the Legion de Triumph to meet them at Narbonne. Fall Breeze, Daud-Allah Abu Hisham Cygnus Moro and Louis DuMonte died. Fall Breze forgave Heylel, as she understood the true motive behind his actions.
Age of ReasonEdit
In 1644, the weak, corrupt and insular Ming Dynasty fell to Manchurian and Wu Lung troops. Once the Qing Dynasty rose, the Dragon Wizards had at last taken their vengeance on the Akashics, accompanying the Qing invasion of Tibet to destroy some of the Akashics' oldest strongholds. The Akashics were isolated into the Shaolin Temple and some Vajrapani wanted to strike back, but the Kannagara advised them against it.
The shen betrayed the Akashics when the Wan Kuei destroyed their sentries and the ghosts showed the Wu Lung their defenses. The result was a slaughter, with the enlightened vampiric Bodhisattvas rightly accusing the Akashics of tainting a monastery of peace into a stronghold against Qing dominance. Some Vajrapani fled with their Japanese brothers and the Ryukyu Islands, but others stood in China.
At the end, the Dalou'laoshi betrayed the Wu Lung for the westerners and that permitted to the colonialists and western powers to establish their own advance parties in China. They hid the realities of colonial trade from the Qing court, and instead of the expected tribute, the Qing received gunfire and opium. During the Boxer Rebellion, the Wu Lung and Akashics agreed to a rough truce to face their common foe. While the British guns were bad enough, the Dalou'laoshi reorganized into the Five Metal Dragons, bringing the might of the global Technocracy into their midst. In Japan, the Metal Dragons brought guns and revolution after Commodore Perry's expedition, and colonialism tightened the Technocracy's hold.
As the times changed, the Akashic Brotherhood began their own battle against the Technocracy, and after the Boxer Rebellion they perfectly knew what their enemy represented and they modernized their own methodologies. Even more than before, the Akashayana began accepting apprentices from non-Asian countries, terms like "Orange Robe" and "Scale of the Dragon" were made as attempts to make understandable their own concepts to the other Traditions and the Golden Dragon claimed a place in Doissetep, the most famous stronghold of the Traditions.
World War II pitted the Akashics against each other, pacifists against militants, Chinese against Japanese... Until Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed them their own pettiness. It was also a way to understand not only how far the Technocracy had come, but how far they were willing to go. As the communism in China repressed not only the old ways, but also the Technocracy's favorites, wars with the communists in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia allowed them to test new technologies, even when they did nothing to assist either side. Meanwhile in the Akashic side, the Shi-Ren financed movies and books about Eastern spirituality and the Li-Hai interpreted their teachings to help all the people in need whoever they were. Even so, some Akashics thought that changes were being too much, so after the 80's such innovations were halted.
In 1998, during the War in Heaven, the Primi of the Akashic Brotherhood, Master Hyemyŏng Sŭnim was killed in the destruction of Concordia. One year later, in 1999, the Week of Nightmares had millions of people who shared the views of the Akashics and the Euthanatoi dying, so the Vajrapani and some elements of the thanatoics urged for a suicidal revenge, to the point that the leaders of both Traditions stopped as they sensed a new Himalayan War building up in these mages, urging the other Traditions to declare the end of the Ascension War.
The Wu-Lung were humbled by the events in the previous years, to the point they approached the Akashics, so the Shi-Ren began an open dialogue with them. The Wu Lung offered a permanent alliance to the surprise of the Akashic Brotherhood, and they were integrated into the structure of the Tradition, even if maintaining their own differentiations and methodologies. They had some tension with the Kannagara due to not liking having monks leading them, but their viewpoints with the Shi-Ren are actually really similar.
It was in 2001 when the truth of the Himalayan War was finally revealed, as the real objective behind the war was to create a strong Akashic Brotherhood, the union of the thanatoic into the Chakravanti and the creation of the Ahl-i-Batin in the Night of Fana. All of this happened following the visions of a thanatoic prophet about the coming Age of Iron and the need of strong fellowships like the Council of the Nine Traditions and the guide of the Batini to discover the truth of Unity. For the sake of the Brotherhood's own unity, this truth was to be hidden by all means possible, and Nu Ying, a veteran Ascension Warrior and one of the last true sifu remaining in Earth after the Avatar Storm, fought during all his lives to maintain this truth concealed, even if it was needed to cut down brothers who remembered about the war and refused to keep silent. In the New Horizon Council that started with a gathering in Los Angeles the same year, Nu Ying was chosen as the Akashic representative.
The Akashic Brotherhood reaction the the Sphinx and the Rogue Council was cautious, even if some elders consulted various sources that seemed to point to a minor prophetic passage that mentioned the coming of a new leadership to the Traditions. The Akashics changed little after the coming of the Avatar Storm, some of them decided to retire into solitude to continue their spiritual advancement, but most of them continued doing what they always did, to help those that lost their paths and sharing their wisdom with the world in times of need.
To the Council of Nine, the Brotherhood now embodies the balance between violence and peace, understanding and conflict, in which the Traditions themselves remain embroiled. The Brotherhood's roots are spiritual, so they cannot be slain with bullets, money or laws. The Warring Fists use their incredible prowess to battle the enemies of the Traditions, while their teachings preach the Ascension of each individual through righteous action. As the modern Renaissance of martial arts and Asian philosophy blends with 21st-century culture and technology, the Brotherhood seeds itself once more in the hearts of common people everywhere.
Once the Akashics enters into monastic life, they receive a new name. These names (ex. Raging Eagle, Fall Breeze, Battering Ram...) represents an element of Drahma that they try to exemplify or a flaw to overcome that can be used as a quality to gain greater understanding. Vajrapani and Shi-Ren prefer family names, and some of them give themselves new names to eliminate egotism with a attribute. These name are not given to strengthen the mystic self but to dissociate the Akashic from a specific identity.
Akashic Brotherhood members does not have to be of an specific religion, and while there are a big number of Brothers who are Buddhist or followers of Eastern religions, there are other who follow other doctrines without being censored by the Tradition.
Buddhism is probably the most common, as it is really compatible with the Akashic main paradigm and share many ideas like impermanence, the subjectivity of karma and the Middle Way. Jainism is present in the Indian Kannagara, ascetics that rarely leave their own communities with extreme views in poverty and chastity who are revered for their wisdom. Most Chinese Akashics have Taoist beliefs, believing in the forces of Yin and Yang, and the concept of magic fits well with Taoism as a whole. Even devised as a political way of thinking, Confucianism got later added some spiritual beliefs like the duality of the soul (Hun and P'o), and with the exception of some Kannagara and the Li-Hai (who follow Mo-tzu anti-Confucianism) most Akashics draw something from Confucianism. Shinto is pretty common with Japanese Akashics, with most of them using a syncretic form of Shinto mixed with Buddhism who equate the Buddhas with the Kami. Christianity is not a religion that is usually associated to the Akashayana, but it found a place thanks to the great abundance of non-Asian mages who join the Tradition in modern times, as well the Nestorians who combined Buddhism and Christianism and the Roda d'Oro, with some of them seeing the impermanence in the Holy Spirit and Jesus' teachings in Buddha's ones. Other religions like Hinduism, Sufi Islam, Bon, Mongolian or Ryukyuan religions are common in their areas of origin.
Structure in the Brotherhood is loose; enlightenment and destiny are recognized as steps along the path, but all living things have virtue and value. To the Brotherhood, the idea of placing one thing or philosophy over another is a false division. Therefore, while Masters are respected for their insight, they do not exercise any real weight of authority — they are simply credited for their insight. Akashic acolytes come from all walks of life, but all study the Akashic way of leading a pure and simple lifestyle, at least to some degree. As a Brother progresses to a simpler and more unhindered state of Do and a greater Arete, his accomplishments are recorded and his teachings distributed so that all may benefit from them.
Akashics have more hierarchy that the master-student relationship, but it is not something forced by initiation or vows, as they are to live by harmonizing themselves. Someone rebellious is usually just ostracized, unless they are members of the Li-Hai.
Usually chosen from institutions where the Akashics have influence like monasteries, secret societies, yoga ashrams... The Akashayana have many schools were they teach watered down versions of Do, in the form of various kinds of kung fu, jujutsu and other martial arts, with the main objective of finding reincarnations of old Brothers.
These Sidai or Apprentices, are usually selected for special training and are explained of the true nature of the Akashic Brotherhood, getting their new names and learning everything about the Akashayana, like their traditions and history, to then find the sect where they feel content. This last part is commonly just an ideal and the apprentice first teacher usually exert an influence in the chosen sect. The training can last from months to years, and every master only has one apprentice, as the Akashic way of teaching is to intensive to be done in other way.
Some Akashics choose to be wandering warriors or scholars, called Ryugakusei (exchange students) or Shugyosha (student warriors), serving in multi-tradition cabals or as spies.
As mages skilled enough to be considered masters are scarce, the "masters" role is usually carried by Adepts, who should be a good Tao-shih (someone who attained the fourth level of one of Do's limbs) and a moral character. These Sihing are also the ones responsible of the day to day business of a Bodhimandala (Chantry).
While it is true that the Akashic Brotherhood is a Tradition that discourages rankings based on power, it is also needed a minimum of magical prowess to guide others to enlightenment. A Sifu or Master is only recognized after a new opening in the Kannagara appears due to death or retirement. A Bodhimandala usually only has one Sifu of each sect, and the predecessor designates a successor ahead of time. When this is not possible, the Bodhimandala decides a new leader (if there are various candidates, a test is devised) and contacts with the Sangha for a confirmation.
Known as the Sigung, they are the other Traditions Archmages, mages who are said to be the living incarnation of Dharmas and watch over the Brotherhood for afar. They are quite paradoxical, as even if revered for their knowledge, Brothers usually understand that they will probably never reach Samadhi.
Even with the Wan Kuei defiling the term, the Akashayana say that they know who the true Bodhisattvas are. Some Brothers decide to reject Samadhi out of compassion to the living and their suffering, becoming a manifestation of enlightenment to lead the other Brothers to Ascension. As they forsake ultimate Ascension, Bodhisattvas are venerated by the members of the Tradition, even to the point of being equated to the Buddhas or the Eight Immortals of Taoism.
Sects and FactionsEdit
Even with all the stereotypes, the Akashic Brotherhood is a really diverse and extensive Tradition, and some of the misconceptions about its members or size of the organization in the past was due to the Vajrapani and Kannagara being the more visible face of the Tradition ranks, with many Akashics getting uninvolved with the Ascension War fought primarily in the West, at least in the way it was done there, as a good number of the Akashayana prefer a most subtle and shadowy way to tackle it. Recent developments have shown the western traditions the true size of the Brotherhood, and the only reason why their numbers are still relatively small compared to the humongous pool of Sleepers to draw upon new members is the rigorous discipline needed to be a member.
It could be said that the Akashayana are a counterpart to the Order of Hermes as far as the East is concerned, being both a really diverse gathering of diverse groups under a shared belief, but the Brotherhood cohesion is fundamented in the very origins of the Tradition, the legend of Meru. Between the sects, there is a differentiation between the birth groups or jati, in other words those who trace their history back to the village of Meru, the Kannagara, Jnani and Vajrapani, and the schools or pai, sects like the Shi-Ren, Li-Hai or the Wu Lung, who were accepted into the Brotherhood at a late time. The jati have an own interdependent relationship between each other that the pai do not, and a Brother does not usually change her jati as the familial bonds they feel with it are usually really strong. Inside each sect factions develop based on nationality or other cultural motives, but even so, all members of the Tradition see themselves as a part of a whole unified Brotherhood and not a collection of disjointed cults.
The Stone Sutra says that ascetics who gave themselves over to Akasha are above rulers, so in theory the Kannagara are the ones who lead the Tradition in a way to avoid the Akashayana to stray from their own principles, but they are often accused to being oblivious of the reality of the new century, a view usually shared by the Shi-Ren and some Vajrapani. The Wu Lung share the same opinion as the Shi-Ren, and the Li-Hai are content to oppose the monks even if they would oppose a Shi-Ren leadership even more vehemently, so the only ones absolutely loyal to the Kannagara are the Jnani, as both had the symbiotic relationship of the hermit and the ascetic. This leadership issue is one of the paradoxes that the Brotherhood faces, as even if the Kannagara oppose modernization to rescind their guidance could also mean to destroy the moral and spiritual foundation of the whole Tradition.
As the traditional jati and pai system is considered by some a bit lax, there are cabals based on different peculiarities like culture, speciality or functions. With some restrictions like the Kaizankai, an Akashic can belong to various groups and change them based on her preferences.
The Jnani are wandering mystics, hermits and shaman. They hope to reconcile the self with the Avatar (which they called the "Buddha-Mind") through the practices of yoga, tantra, alchemy, meditation and lengthy spiritual quests. They believe all things are ultimately one and any separation between them is an illusion. Traveling throughout Asia, the Jnani have absorbed a myriad of beliefs from Shinto to Tibetan Bön rites. Their magics can be quite diverse. Many perform exorcisms and divination to protect people in rural folk cultures from the spirit world. Rumors also claim that the faction tends secret monasteries and libraries in realms like Hollow Earth.
Specialty Sphere: Spirit
- Chabnagpa: The Black Water Sect combines Tibetan spirituality with Vajrayana rites. Some are lamas who have taken strict monastic vows or yogis, lay teachers who perform practical rites such as weather divination and exorcisms. Spirit possession and binding are common to these Jnani. The Chabnagpa keep the Brotherhood's oldest and darkest secrets, including lore stolen from the Euthanatoi during the Himalayan Wars. The Chabnagpa tend to stay to their Tibetan monastery, in which it is said that a physical transcription of the Akashic Record can be found in the cellars… as well as other things.
- Lin Shen: The Vagabonds do not exist. That is according to Tradition policy: they are just a paranoid rumor that the Brotherhood's enemies cultivate. The legends attributed to the Lin Shen are similar to those of the fabled ninja. The truth is, the Lin Shen do not exist as a sect. A Vagabond is independently trained from a secret manual known as the Forest Classic, which describes the spells, skills, and justification for these shadowy methods used to wage shadow war on their enemies.
- Wu Shan: These are Taoist mystics who practice internal alchemy. They learn the appropriate catalogs of spirits and the properties of the rites needed to summon, placate, and bind them. Wu Shan use Do to balance their physical energies and cultivate a sense of serenity that resonates in the physical world.
- Yamabushi: Yamabushi refers to those Japanese ascetics who blend Shinto animism with Buddhist esoterica. Most live in the wilderness in Japan, predominantly its wide mountain ranges. They occasionally come down to the Sleeper world to perform cures and exorcisms as needed. While in their mountain homes, they practice superhuman feats to focus their minds and practice Do as one with the elements.
Tracing their origin to Mount Meru itself, the Kannagara are ascetic monks who uphold many of the Brotherhood's oldest practices. All Akashics practice difficult ordeals and purification rites, but the Kannagara believe that right mind and right soul can only come through right action. Many of their practices blend Buddhism and Taoism with core Akashic practices. The Kannagara prefer to remain aloof from sleeper affairs. The faction maintains several important monasteries which guide the Akashic Brotherhood as a whole. Here they renounce materialism in favor of prayer, hardship and devotion. Their numbers have dwindled over the years, Akashics sometimes join after tiring of conflict.
- Jina: The Jina sect, also called the Jain Brothers, are the most extreme ascetics of the Kannagara. They renounce all material possessions, practice an ethic of strict non-violence, and do not travel or involve themselves in worldly affairs. These pacifists are even careful not to slay small animals or microscopic life.
- Karmachakra: Scholars of the Great Wheel, the Karmachakra maintains the oldest traditions of the Akashayana. They tend all histories of the Brotherhood, including the Akashic Record. These linguists and historians also act as final arbiters of Tradition policy. Its members are often invited based on their Avatars' past incarnations' association with the Karmachakra; this provides continuity but breeds poor perspective.
- Shaolin: The best known sect within the Kannagara, if not the whole Tradition, the Shaolin use an acrobatic style of Do with Zen Buddhism as focus. They no longer inhabit their great monastery in China but still thrive throughout Asia and in a few places in the West. The level of asceticism varies from monastery to monastery.
The Li-Hai adhere to Mo-Tzu's philosophy of Universal Love and utilitarian morality. They value pragmatism over metaphysics. Members of this faction believe that ancient traditions enforce a false sense of morality which in turn leads to harmful actions. Instead, the Li-Hai seek to abolish old traditions in favor of rational thought. They seek to accept new ideas to bring the Brotherhood into the modern world. While the Li-Hai still practice Do, their style draws on western scientific approaches to health, morality and personal enlightenment. As such, they embrace a number of divergent schools and groups. Like the folk heroes of legend, they oppose tyranny and promote justice.
- Blue Skins: A synthesis of Tibetan mysticism and Mohist doctrine, the name derives from the legend of blue-skinned deities who point the way to enlightenment. The Blue Skins believe in "Crazy Wisdom". They hold that even intense, "sinful" emotions like vanity and lust can point the way to Ascension. In their view, fashion exists to discipline the body with the mind and pleasure is a living mantra to aid concentration.
- Mo-Tzu Fa: The oldest school of thought of the Li-Hai, the Mo-tzu Fa carry on the tradition of folk heroism and universal love. Members vow to use any means necessary to promote "equal love". Anarchists, philosophers, and vigilantes world-wide assist peoples living in poverty, violence, and disaster. They also view the spirit world in an animistic way, believing that spirits are not separated into offices, and must be placated with sacrifices and offerings of friendship and love.
- Roda d'Oro: Specializing in non-Asian traditions, this sect translated as Circle of Gold was established soon after the Grand Convocation. Originally designed for the regions that Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors settled, the sect's framework of physical discipline is open to any mage whose beliefs and methods fit only here.
The "Benevolent Aristocracy," the Shi-Ren are a politically active faction that desires greater Akashic influence in world affairs. Drawn from Legalist influences, Shi-Ren magic is very traditional and often involves lengthy rituals and calligraphy. Subtle use of Mind arts allow for social discipline and influence in diplomacy, finance and political struggle. All things have a place in the organized cosmology of the Shi-Ren. A strict meritocracy, most Shi-Ren have Pattern Essences. While most modern Shi-Ren do not believe a return to Imperial China is possible, they stress teaching of Asian history and culture to preserve the roots of the Brotherhood.
- Gam Lung: The Golden Dragons were established to crush the enemies of the Brotherhood. To that end, they formed secret societies across Asia, established a vast financial network, and even soiled their hands in the criminal underworld. They took huge losses in the 1990s when they clashed with the Syndicate and other financial powers.
- Han Fei Tzu Academy: This acts as the administrative arm of the Shi-Ren and a think tank for the whole Brotherhood. They accept all nationalities into this school of thought. The Academy serves as a source of tutelage for the Brotherhood overall. The Academy encourages personal achievement through a strict meritocracy. The Han Fei Tzu attracts students from all over the world through a variety of front companies.
- Kaizankai: This is a Japanese cabal of patriotic legalists who trace their ancestry to the 7th century imperial throne of the Emperor Shotoku. They moved into the feudality and became enmeshed in the politics of their country. They adopted to the economic power of Japan after the Meiji Restoration, scheming against the Zaibatsu. They accept only Japanese members.
Named for the "Diamond Thunderbolt" of Tibetan Buddhism, the Vajrapani are often stereotyped as young, hot-blooded warriors. The Vajrapani emphasize martial arts, exercise and hard physical labor. Originally they served as protectors for the Brotherhood, using their prowess to repel bandits and armies alike. In modern times the Vajrapani take the fight directly to the Technocracy. Older members sometimes tire of conflict and retire to other factions. Extremely nationalistic and family oriented, many Vajrapani claim descent from one of the 48 clans that originally made up the faction. Only recently have the Vajrapani begun to train and recruit non-Asians through martial arts schools.
- Banner of the Ebon Dragon: In China, the Banner is a secret society of Vajrapani clans that guards its fellow Akashayana and teaches kung fu to anyone willing to learn. In America, the Heilong Athletic Society reaches out to students in almost every place a Chinese population has settled.
- Sulsa: This is a secretive school of Korean warriors and spies. Theirs is among the most complex of Vajrapani arts, as they have been heavily influenced by the Kannagara and Jnani. They specialize in swordsmanship, learning a special dance that can hypnotize enemies and disguise violence in graceful steps. They combine martial prowess with the art of invisibility and mind control. Unlike the other schools, the Sulsa are made up of Awakened Warriors alone.
- Tenshi Arashi Ryu: This Japanese fellowship expresses Drahma through Shinto and Tendai Buddhism terms. Swordsmanship, mounted combat, weaponless defense, and archery are all expressions of Do from this school. The Ryu establish schools around the world.
Descendant from nobility, the "Dragon Wizards" have served the Chinese Emperor as advisors and sorcerers for over 4,000 years. Through heavily regimented rituals, they commune with ghosts of ancestors and heavenly spirits alike. Using their influence to crush rival factions like the Akashics and Wu-Keng, the Wu Lung remained aloof from "barbarian" western mages until the Technocracy conquered China. Based out of Hong Kong, the modern Wu Lung re-organized after the Reckoning. After consulting the I Ching, the new Emperor Bei Beishi chose to join the Akashic Brotherhood to preserve the shared magical heritage of ancient China. The Wu Lung do not practice Do, preferring their own style of martial arts.
Specialty Sphere: Spirit
- Dragon School: Comprised of the judges and attendants of the gods, who are masters of Spirit. Service in the Dragon School is a great privilege, and its members take their duty to judge Creation seriously, usually applying force to make things run smoothly.
- Tiger School: It consists of more practically oriented mages, focused on finding Tao in righteous activities. They specialize in Forces and are masters of martial arts they use to generate bravery that serves Heaven, similar to the Do.
- Phoenix School: This school is solely composed of female members and is usually treated as if it does not exist by higher ranking mages. Mastering the arts of Life, the followers of the Phoenix School focus on rewarding righteous behaviour among mortals, rather than judging it like the Dragons or punishing it like the Tigers.
Individual Akashic BrothersEdit
- Smoke Tiger
- Chan Ng
- Yu Lung
- Wu Jin
- Cheng Sa
- Battering Ram
- Fall Breeze
- Nu Ying
- Gentle Mountain
- Hyemyŏng Sŭnim
- Xiao Mengli
- Bishop Chen
- Lucy Hark
- Minoru Kirimoto
The Akashic Brotherhood in the Mage: The Ascension First Edition and especially the Akashic Brotherhood Tradition Book was a collection of badly researched concepts, racial stereotypes and badly implemented rulings that made said Tradition Book to be considered one of the worst supplements White Wolf ever released.
That was gradually corrected across the different books in the Second Edition era, culminating with the release in the Revised era of the Tradition Book: Akashic Brotherhood, that was at last a pretty good take on the Tradition with thorough research, actual knowledge of the concepts represented by this group and good rulings about Do.