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Children of Knowledge

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Name: Child of Knowledge
Plural: Children of Knowledge
Pronunciation: sohl-ih'-fih-cah'-tee
Faction: Order of Reason (1325 - 1335), Council of Nine Mystick Traditions (1466 - 1470)

The Children of Knowledge are perhaps the most secretive of the nonaligned practitioners of Magic, and with good reason. Originally known as the Solificati (the Crowned Ones), they participated in the Grand Convocation and joined with the Council of the Nine Mystick Traditions, holding the Seat of Matter. But things went horribly wrong, and the Solificati disbanded several years later. While many went their separate ways, several of them regrouped and called themselves the Children of Knowledge, hoping to hide their Solificati origins. Since then, they have kept to themselves, being secretive for fear of retribution, staying out of the conflict between the Traditions and what is now called the Technocratic Union. With time working against them, however, they soon had to choose sides or perish.

Paradigm Edit

Far from being the dusty and socially isolated laboratory rats of medieval folklore, the modern Children of Knowledge enjoy spreading their form of Enlightenment in the mortal world. They do this by taking advantage of their knowledge of chemistry (which is the modern "child" of alchemy) and pharmacology. Originally, alchemy was developed to the purpose of changing one physical form into another, with the ultimate goal being the transmutation of lead (or another base metal) into gold through the so-called "Philosopher's Stone." Awakened alchemists realized, however, that this was a parable, and that the true mission of magical alchemy was to turn the spiritual being of mankind to an Awakened state, an epiphany of unity with the universe. The Philosopher's Stone was not simply about turning lead to into gold, but about helping humanity transcends the bonds of spiritual ignorance. All the Children of Knowledge had to do, they believed, was get the collective consciousness of humanity to open itself to the possibility of transcendental Enlightenment, and then knowledge would make itself known to all.

As followers of this philosophy the Children of Knowledge are squarely at odds with the Technocracy, for such universal transcendence forms the virtual antithesis of Technocratic beliefs and goals. The Children have seen their ultimate goal of spiritual transcendence grow further and further out of reach as the Technocracy imposes its paradigm of banality on the Masses. This very thing may yet drive them into the arms of the Traditions (and it will after the events leading to Mage: the Ascension Revised Edition). Although the Children of Knowledge believe that most of the Traditions' philosophies are flawed, they do not believe they can stand alone against the Technocracy. For them, the old adage, The enemy of my enemy is my friend, rings increasingly true with each passing day.

Lexicon Edit

Children of Knowledge: Alternate name to designate the Solificati, coined in 1500.

Cununctio: "Conjunctions"; three ranks of achievement within the Solificati.

Great Awakening: The name for the event that, triggered by the Children of Knowledge, will cause a massive Paradigm shift in the belief of the nature of reality among the Sleepers, thus causing the creation of the Tenth Sphere.

Hermium: True Mercury; also the name of the third and most powerful of Conunctio. This title is similar to that of Adept.

Lunargent: True Silver; also the name of the second Conunctio. This title is similar to that of Disciple within the Council of Nine.

Orichalcum: True Gold; also the name of the first and lowest level of Conunctio, but above the rank of a mere Apprentice. Roughly the equivalent of the title of Initiate in the Traditions.

Prima Materia: The first and original material of all creation.

Prima Vis: Primal energy within all things; Quintessence.

Shop: Common slang term for laboratory; short for workshop.

Solificati: (singular: Solificato) The original name for the Children of Knowledge, cast out of the Traditions during the Great Betrayal; means "Crowned Ones"; also the highest rank within the Children of Knowledge - a title equivalent to the rank of Master in other Traditions.

Transcendental Enlightenment: Alchemical jargon for Ascension.

Unity: The fabled "Tenth Sphere" of the Solificati.

[Mage: the Ascension, Book of Crafts, p. 32]

History Edit

Early History Edit

Medieval alchemy was simultaneously an art and a science. The original premise of alchemy, as written in the Corpus Hermeticum in the first four centuries A.D., was that base metals could be transmuted into gold and silver by freeing them from their inherent impurities. From Aristotle, they took the theory that all substances were made of prima materia, which comprised the four elements of earth, fire, air and water. All things were considered combinations of these elements in different portions.

Alchemy flourished and alchemists started to come together as a secret mystical community of magical research and practice. Astrology was introduced as a way to help determine the most influential times to attempt transmutation and a Chinese concept of medicine, adopted by the great Arab alchemy Jabir ibn Hayyan, further purported that if one ate gold that had been transformed from base metals, one could achieve immortality.

Dark Ages Edit

The golden age of alchemy was achieved in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of the greatest alchemists of all time - Arnold of Villanova, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon - worked in this age. Many alchemists met during this time and formed an informal but influential organization, which they called the Solificati. Knowledge and effort shared, they believed, brought everyone closer to discovery. Rank was not so much a matter of how much knowledge one had accumulated, but of how much one had discovered. They worked closely with the Order of Hermes (with whom modern Solificati claim a common history, though the Order denies it), and with them discovered many new properties of Magic.

Renaissance Edit

Then came the Order of Reason, which threatened to undo all their work. For this reason, the Solificati joined the Traditions at the Grand Convocation in 1457, sending their greatest researcher of the time, Diplomate Luis, to become their Primus. A talented Solificato, Heylel Teonim was even chosen to be part of the First Cabal, to help spread the word among Sleeper and Awakened alike. But Heylel was also the catalyst of the Solificati's downfall, when, in 1470, he led the Order of Reason to ambush the others of the First Cabal. At his trial, Heylel proclaimed that he had done it to teach the Traditions a lesson, showing them that the Order of Reason was more unified than the Traditions, and that the Traditions could work together when they put their minds to it (as they had when they hunted and captured him). For his part in what became known as the Great Betrayal, Heylel was sentenced to death, and his twin Avatars were ripped from him and destroyed (see The Fragile Path). The appellation Thoabath ("Abomination") was added to his name on all records of the trial. Many Solificati defended Heylel's actions, proclaiming that he took the bold step of self-sacrifice to bind the Traditions. Others despised Heylel for his betrayal and saw his goals as lofty but corrupted, no doubt by the Order of Reason itself. The rift further damaged the Solificati and, when combined with their distrust of other Traditions, it caused their collapse.

Throughout the Inquisition, alchemists of all kinds were hunted down and killed as heretics and evil sorcerers (some say this was part of the revenge of the Celestial Chorus for the Great Betrayal). But this did not stop their work. Disunited though there were, their research still managed to filter through the informal communications chains, and they prospered in quiet, hidden laboratories. Many Solificati defected to the Order of Reason, within which, in time, they gave rise to the Electrodyne Engineers and Difference Engineers (which in turn became the Etherite and Virtual Adept Traditions, an irony that has not been lost on the Solificati). Most Solificati returned to solitary workshops, living and dying by personal fortune. One group consisting of 12 survivors of the original Solificati retained its old name and continued its research. These 12 holdovers often relied on friends in the Order of Hermes for protection and secrecy; many Tradition mages, especially Celestial Choristers and Verbena (who felt that Heylel had also betrayed his lover, their representative Eloinem and had hidden her children within his Tradition), held a grudge against "Thoabath's Brood." In return, the 12 provided research of astounding quality, far surpassing any alchemical possibilities that the Hermetics had contemplated. The Order of Hermes kept the continued existence of the Solificati a secret, unwilling to kill the goose that laid the alchemical golden egg. In 1500, the group renamed itself "The Children of Knowledge."

Age of Reason Edit

The Renaissance was a respite and a time of rebuilding for the last Solificati. Over time, the survivors took on new Apprentices, and the Craft's ranks swelled to several dozen members by 1700. The old masters taught their students the lesson of the Great Betrayal - the lesson that the Traditions failed to learn: True unification and balance, just as in alchemy, could only be achieved when all elements had been gathered together in their proper proportions. Their Great Knowledge, as they called it, was linked heavily to the numerology that was rapidly becoming popular with the alchemists. The Traditions were only nine in number, but Heylel, as part of the First Cabal, had actually been two people - a hermaphrodite created through the joining of two other Solificati. Thus the number of the First Cabal was actually 10. In numerology, the numbers that form 10 (1 and 0) make only one when added together. They believed that this was the lesson Heylel was trying to teach as part of the Great Betrayal, that only one true unity of purpose would win the Ascension War. But how as the unity to be attained?

[From the Book of Crafts (WW 4011), p. 34]

Victorian Age Edit

It was only during the Industrial Revolution, after a few more centuries of soul-searching and intellectual discovery, that the Children of Knowledge finally realized how to achieve their goal. To create true unity among the Traditions they had to unify Magic. Since the Council of Traditions had only designated nine Spheres of Magic, the former Tradition should discover the Tenth Sphere. The Children called this holy grail Unity, a lofty achievement that would manifest itself when the Sleepers had been Awakened to the Magic in the world. A simple look at the dreary conditions of the Masses and the tightening grip of the Order of Reason (soon known as the Technocratic Union) was enough to convince them to achieve this goal. The Sleepers must be Awakened at all costs, and the alchemical formulae of the Children of Knowledge were just the thing to accomplish the task. Only they could work Magic under the guise of science. Once the Sleepers were Awakened, the very power of the movement would be the catalyst to open the Sphere of Unity to the alchemists.

[From the Book of Crafts (WW 4011), p. 34]

Modern Age Edit

The big breakthrough occurred in 1943. A Swiss Hermium alchemist named Dr. Albert Hoffman accidentally discovered a substance that induced unusual visions, strange patterns of thought and experiences almost akin to madness. In the years to come, many people who took the substance would say it opened their minds to the wonders of the universe and helped blaze new pathways of spiritual Enlightenment. The substance that Hoffman was d-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. (It is said that Hoffman was promoted to the rank of Solificato for this discovery). The mystical and alchemical uses for this substance were kept even from the Order of Hermes (though many suspected the Cultists of Ecstasy already understood the concepts, if not the formulae themselves). Even though the Hermetic wizards were long-time friends and covert supporters of the Children, the alchemists feared that the powerful Tradition mages would attempt to steal what had been so long in the making.

Immortality (or longevity, at least) was one of the prime goals of alchemical achievement. Although many of the 12 surviving Solificati succumbed to age, infirmity or happenstance by the 20th century, four survived to the modern era. These four, and their classically trained Apprentices, were less than amused by the concept of a psychoactive drug providing the "ticket" to Enlightenment. A schism, which had gradually risen throughout the turbulent 20th century, fractured the Children into two camps - one that followed the old beliefs of Enlightenment through achievement, the other that looked toward the "hallucinogenic cornerstone" of future change.

Most young Children of Knowledge ended up following the latter path; to them, LSD was the modern Philosopher's Stone, the way to open the Masses to the possibility of Magic in the universe and the foundation of the Tenth Sphere. Buoyed by their successes in the 1960s and again in the 1990s, they took the fight for magical Enlightenment to the streets. While old alchemists still labored alone in secret, the new breed preferred to work among the Masses. They pointed to the fact that the Traditions were nine in number again, lacking only the Tenth Sphere, and thus the tenth seat, to make them into one force, with one mind, one vision. The young Children of Knowledge intended to found the tenth Tradition, and to create their own seat: the Seat of Unity.

[From the Book of Crafts (WW 4011), p. 34-35]

Of course, the events concerning the War in Heaven and the subsequent Reckoning brought an unexpected turn of events.

Post-Reckoning Edit

The Children of Knowledge returned to the fold of the Traditions in 1999, albeit not as the would-be Tenth Seat, but rather as House Solificati within the political framework of the Order of Hermes.

Organization Edit

Internally, the Children of Knowledge still call themselves the Solificati (singular Solificato). They consider their Tradition to be the oldest of all, and can trace their Magic back to the European alchemical research of the Middle Ages, then the art of Spain's Moors. The Moors had actually adopted their craft from the Greeks, who had developed alchemy in Egypt in the fourth century B.C. The Children of Knowledge revere the ancient Hellenistic figure Hermes Trimesgistus, the Thrice-Great, as the founder of their magical tradition, and some honor his original form, the Egyptian deity Thoth, god of mathematics and science.

Guilds Edit

There have never been any known internal guilds within the Solificati.

At one time, conservative elements within the Craft referred to themselves as the Solificati proper, while some of the more liberal researchers distanced themselves from the old nomenclature and opted for the name Children of Knowledge; the latter resembled Cultists of Ecstasy in their demeanor as well as their experimentation with psychoactive substances.

Version Differences Edit

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