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|Name:||Circle of the Crone|
|Nicknames:||Acolytes, the Mother's Army, Witches (derogatory)|
|Advantage:||Access to Crúac|
The Circle of the Crone is considered the vampiric equivalent of neo-paganism and witchcraft. It follows the belief that a goddess (the Crone) was cast out from the other Gods and Goddesses for uncertain reasons. They celebrate most of the major Wiccan holidays and practice a "Blood Magic" known as Crúac. There are many differences in belief and dogma between various circles and cities of the covenant. They generally dislike and argue with the Lancea Sanctum. Many of its members are Gangrel. They practice many rituals, ceremonies and holidays.
An Acolyte Prince is called an Oracle.
The common theme that unites the disparate pagan Kindred cults throughout the millennia is Crúac, the Blood Sorcery that cajoles the Beast and denies the Man (and, some whisper, has its origins in the gifts of the Strix). The history of certain cults is well documented, while others survived only in the archives of the Lancea et Sanctum, who began to persecute the pagans after the fall of the Camarilla and the alliance of the Church of Longinus with the upcoming Invictus.
The persecution served, ironically, to give the Acolytes a common ground and helped them unite into a Covenant. While each cult maintained its own mythology, they formed a political whole that tolerated the different interpretations in favour of a united front against their enemies. Cults were born, flourished and eventually died when their adherents either entered Torpor or found another cult that offered enlightenment.
In the 1800s, a number of coteries in Scotland and Ireland first presented themselves before the Invictus and the Lancea Sanctum by attacking their holdings, forcing the established Covenants to accept them as equals. They spread the news of victory across Western Europe first, and then to the Americas, where vampires belonging to the indigenous and enslaved minorities there were quick to bring their own voices to the Covenant.
The Circle of the Crone organizes its members according to special archetypes that are divided by gender. Most of these archetypes have their roots in mortal mythologies, but with a vampiric twist.
- The Maiden (♀): Also called the Virgin, the Maiden represents innocence - not the Christian, white-washed version, but the innocence of the Beast that is ignorant of good and evil. Acolytes are Maidens until they have first killed. They are often consulted for an unsullied opinion. Goddesses like Artemis, Persephone or Hine-titama are often used as identification roles for Maidens.
- The Fool (♂): Also called the Trickster, the Fool's job in the Covenant is to contrast opinions and sentiments within the Covenant through his actions. Fools are used to undermine the actions of other Covenants, or to work with entities that are beyond the scope of the Circle (Mages, Werewolves etc.) Gods like Hermes, Loki and Coyote are often used as identification roles for Fools.
- The Whore (♀): Also called the Scarlet Woman, the Whore's duty is to be rebellious and independent. They are free agents, and some of them are powerful free agents, but they need to be persuaded instead of commanded. Goddesses like Bastet, Ishtar or Qetesh are often used as identification roles for Whores.
- The Hero (♂): Also called Outsiders, the Hero is someone who is outside the norm, who is free to face his own quests and their perils. Figures like Hercules, Romulus and Finn are often used as identification roles for Heroes.
- The Mother(♀): Mothers act the maintainers of the day-to-day affairs of a cult, addressing the problems of its members and give advice to them (which is not always genuine). Goddesses like Hera, Kalikamata or Coatlicue are often used as identification roles for Mothers.
- The Father (♂): Fathers act as lawgivers and judges of a Circle, punishing and evaluating its members. Fathers are expected to look to the interests of the Circle first, even sacrificing their own perquisites if needed. Gods like Baal, Perkunas and Adad are often used as identification roles for Fathers.
- The Crone (♀): The Crone has the role to end. Usually an Elder, the Crone roots out heresy, act against the enemies of the covenant and purge the Circle of the incompetent and foolish. Goddesses like Hecate and Ammut are often used as identification roles for Crones.
- The Hermit (♂): The Hermit has the role to educate. Secluded from the Danse Macabre, the Hermit exists on the fringes, waiting for someone to come to him for information, either in Crúac or about the political atmosphere of the city. The price of the Hermit, however, has to be paid in blood. Gods like Odin and Telepinu are often used as identification roles for Hermits.
Of course, with their internal hierarchy being so fragmented, the covenant has no central leadership. The Circle follows no concrete dogma and maintains few prescribed laws. The covenant’s gods are many, its rituals limitless. The covenant is little more than a broadly branching tree whose boughs offer umbrage to various sects. Therefore, despite any commonality among roles and duties, the Circle offers very few officially recognized positions. To date, there are only two sanctioned offices.
- Chorus: The "Chorus" is an umbrella term for novices who seek introduction into the Circle and have yet to be tested in its ways.
- Hierophant: Hierophants act as high priests of their cults and finding a spiritual balance between them, when two cults begin to clash.
The Circle generally accepts that vampires are natural and as much a part of the world as trees, wolves and people. The Kindred are not “Damned” — such a term implies judgment. To the contrary, the Kindred simply are. They exist, and that is proof enough that they belong to this world. The Acolytes don’t use biology to explain this, though. While some Acolytes are certainly capable of being scientific, science is only a tool. Science is not the proof. The proof lies in mythology. For the cults of the Crone, mythology is just as good as — if not better than — history. Acolytes point to the fact that vampires would, to an enlightened skeptic, be metaphorical creatures that cannot be real. Disbelief doesn’t make something false.
The disparate nature of cults supports dozens of creation mythologies. One cult may attribute themselves to Tantalus, the mortal who was cursed with eternal hunger and thirst in Greek mythology, while another sees themselves as the children of Huitzilopochtli or the Jormungandr serpent. Others, who have glimpsed into the occult nature of the World of Darkness, posit that they are actually spirits, who inhabit dead bodies, bound via the Embrace.
The Circle knows of the power of unconsciousness and seek to harness it in order to communicate with the primal blood-gods of their worship. The ideal state of unconsciousness will be sought either in preparation for ritual worship or as part of the worship itself. Hierophants divide the means to ecstasy in five natural and two unnnatural ways.
- Physical Exertion: Physical activities, like dancing or chanting, that are done until the Acolyte is simply incapable of thought. It's seen as the purest of the five ways, for it rarely involves any emotions or thoughts.
- Battle: While often polluted with feelings of anger or envy, conflict is a powerful means to achieve a thoughtless state, to transform into a creature of pure martial understanding, machine-like in its precision and completely without mercy or doubt.
- Sex: While often tainted with feelings of lust or gluttony, sex can be used to achieve ecstasy, by forming a state of detached openness, often aided via means that restrict the senses.
- Construction: The act of creation, while open to pollution from emotions like pride or greed, can tap into the unconsciousness by working until the creator is nearly exhausted, having invested his very being into the object.
- Hunting: Hunting, while associated with letting the Beast reign free among Kindred, can be used to achieve the point of ecstasy by transforming the vampire into a true predator without succumbing to the Beast.
The last two are unique to Kindred and benefit from their special condition and of the Beast.
- Frenzy: By throwing himself willingly into Frenzy, the vampire seeks communion with the forces he worships.
- Torpor: By submitting to the dreams of the Fog of Eternity, the vampire hopes to find omens and symbols of the Crone to guide her Requiem.
Factions within the Circle are often more akin to prominent cults, often with their own arcane rituals. Below are some of the more prominent:
- Amanotsukai: Worshippers of the Japanese sun-goddess Amaterasu-o-mi-kami, these vampires seek to purify humans to return to the grace of their goddess.
- Sipán: Vampires who dedicate themselves on fighting the Church of Longinus, sacrificing them to appease their gods.
- People of the Land: Nomadic vampires that see themselves as the natural predators of humanity, to keep their numbers in check.
- Daughters of the Goddess: Vampires who believe that the goddess revered by the Circle is the true religion and that mortals and Kindred alike must be converted.
- The Second Descent: Vampires who believe that the Requiem is the underworld, with the eventual goal of achieving an apotheosis to rule it.
- The Hag: Vampires who share the torpid dream of a withered, old female that haunts them in their daysleep, who seek to decipher the meaning of this dream.
- Semioticians: Vampires who believe that the stories told by the Circle are mere allegories for the mastery of Crúac, and that the Circle has the right idea under all the religious drapings.
- The Disciples of the Void: Vampires who seek a state of ephemeral nothingness within their Requiem, and who work to return the world back to the Crone's maw.
The refinement of one’s blood into a potent new lineage is, for the most part, a sacred gift given to the Acolytes. The creation of a bloodline is either a powerful reward handed down by the old gods or the way that a vampire can finally become one of those gods.
- Asnâm, a Daeva-based bloodline that believe themselves heirs of a proto-Buddhistic Tibetan goddess, and let themselves be worshipped.
- Carnon, a Gangrel-dominated bloodline of neo-pagans who have fashioned themselves after the Horned God of Wiccan doctrine, working against the Lancea Sanctum
- Children of the Morrigan, a Gangrel-based bloodline that worships the Morrigan and acted as defenders of the Circle, although their methods become more and more anachronistic.
- Gorgons, a Ventrue-based bloodline that derives themselves from the three Gorgons of Greek mythology and who have been around since the age of the Camarilla.
- Mara, a Gangrel-based bloodline of aquatic vampires that worship the Crone as the Sunken Mother, the progenitor of the seas
- Vampire: the Requiem p.49-52
Carthian Movement · Circle of the Crone · Invictus · Lancea Sanctum · Ordo Dracul