Magic- the Ars Mysteriorum, as it is called by Awakened scholars- is the act of imposing the laws of the Supernal Realms within the Fallen World. It defies the laws of the universe as Sleepers know them — granting access to hidden worlds, allowing a consciousness to move among bodies or creating sunlight in the middle of the night. Not all feats of mystic prowess are quite so grandiose, of course, but all are, in one way or another, miraculous and awe-inspiring.
The Ars Mysteriorum is not a natural law so much as a rule of thumb — it tends to follow certain guidelines, but can often follow its own mysterious course, regardless of the mage’s desires. Sometimes, feelings and instinct drive magic more readily than intellect. At the same time, magic is no random thing. It has rules that are in force if the mage knows this or not. While the theories are many and fluid, the rules are numbered and fixed. The individual mage may not understand all the rules, or the many nuances found within, but from a systems perspective, the rules are defined.
Students of magic have several disciplines within the field of magic that are all based on the Atlantean teachings that have survived the fall of the Ocean Spire. Other magical traditions from the Barbarian Kingdoms also flourished in the time before the Fall, but are incomplete in their approach to the Supernal, cloaking the truth from the practitioners by binding them to Phenomenal World (at least, the Atlantean Orders say they do). More historical minded mages point to the Hellenistic Age as the point in history where disparate Darshanas and Cults first came together and realized common grounds between their arts, forming the foundation for Magic as it is practiced today by the Pentacle and the Seers.
Thaumatology describes the study of raw magic, something that is more difficult in the modern ages than it was back in the time of Atlantis. Magic springs from the Supernal Realms, the origins of all that is in existence. Supposedly immutable laws govern this realm and reflections of these laws are cast in the Phenomenal World that would later become the Fallen World. The Atlanteans, the mages that first codified the Ars Mysteriorum into a unified body, believed that the practice of magic was the purposeful incarnation by a mage of the Supernal — the heavenly or celestial — into the Phenomenal - the lower, prosaic realms of matter, including the subtle realms of spiritual matter called ephemera - and thus smoothing the imperfections of the Phenomenal by applying the Truth upon it. The mage, by virtue of his soul’s attainment to the higher realms, could bring the rulership of those realms down into the common world through sympathy, the principle that like can affect like regardless of distance. The Abyss has diminished these laws, but it cannot extinguish them.
The Supernal works through symbolism that manifests as Mysteries, as few mortals can fathom the truth without any filters. The Atlantean worldview knows that ideas are more real than matter. What is merely a metaphorical idea in the Fallen World might well be a literal reality in the Supernal World. In other words, the things of the higher world can sometimes be known in the lower world through symbols. Symbols are images or ideas with meanings that can’t be exhausted through study or reduced to a single, simple concept through logic. Mystical symbols speak to the soul, reminding it of its heritage, even if this remembering never rises to conscious awareness for most people. The Supernal macrocosm reflects itself in the soul of each human being through symbols and thus, each human has the potential to Awaken.
Relation with SleepersEdit
Should a symbol become shared too much among Sleepers, it loses its mystical significance. It still contains supernal Truth, but the contact with Sleepers and the Abyss that lingers within them obscures it, until the symbol becomes assimilated into the fabric of the phenomenal world, unable to be identified as a connection to the Supernal except by experienced mages. For this reason, the Awakened are careful how much they dissiminate their lore among sleepers.
Additionally, Awakened magic has resonant effects — a mage casting a spell finds himself surrounded with his signature Nimbus of leathery wings, or a luminescent vapor, or the sound of whispering book pages forever turning. Spells have their own resonant signatures, often appearing as glowing auras that contain subtle traces of information about the effect. These effects are only perceivable via Mage Sight, but especially potent magic can made them manifest within the Fallen World and even grow in intensity, inviting Dissonance from watching Sleepers and thus rendering the Spell easier to be dispersed by abyssal energies. Raw contact to the Supernal is damaging to the soul of a Sleeper, since it propels the Abyss into action, affecting their Integrity. For this reason, using covert means is seen as a sign of Wisdom and self-control.
Prima Materia and HallowsEdit
The Quiescence did not manage to obliterate every trace of the Supernal. Vestiges of the prima materia, the substance of the Supernal Realm, remain in the form of Hallows and manifest as Mana or Tass. While Mana is insubstantial and can only be perceived with the use of Mage Sight, Tass is accumulated Supernal energy that has imbued material objects within a Hallow. Both are tremendous assets to mages.
Imaginonology is the study of Imagos, the core of creating Spells. Each Imago is the blueprint of what the Spell is supposed to do (e.g. shooting Lightning out of one’s fingertips). The process of forming an Imago depends on the mages creativity and his knowledge of the Supernal Laws he intends to call down. To do so, the mage needs enough expertise to use the associated Practice (in the case of the lightning blast, Unraveling) and the associated Arcanum (in the case of the lightning blast; Forces). He must also decide if the Spell should begin instantly or after certain period of time (again in the case of Lightning blast, instant). After these primary instructions, he further devises the duration, potency, target (with special consideration to size and area-effects) and the primary effect of the Imago. The simpler the imago in question is, the quicker the mage can complete the process. When the Imago is ready, he uses the connection of his Path to draw the needed Arcanum towards his Imago and releases it into the Fallen World via his will.
By spending Mana, the Imago can be made more resilient to Paradoxes or strengthened in other regards (like duration, potency etc.) After a spell is cast, the mage has only a limited ability to redefine the spell’s parameters, like restricting targets or reducing the potency of the spell. Enhancing an already cast spell is nearly impossible. Furthermore, Imagos can be strengthened if many mages work in concert, providing the Arcana, power etc. A mage can also Reach beyond his power to enhance the imago, but this carries the threat of polluting the Spell with abyssal energies.
Imagos can further be divided into improvised Imagos (spontaneous created imagos that the mage has done ad libitum) and Rotes (which are practiced over and over again, so that the Imago becomes linked to a certain action). By becoming adept at a handful of Spells, the mage can transfrom them into his Praxis, Spells he has an affinity for.
A mage’s pattern can tolerate only a certain number of spells cast on it before the resonance’s signal-to-noise ratio interferes with his ability to conduct supernal power into an imago. This effect is called “contagion,” and mages can only withstand by using their own Spell resistance, which in turn is derived from their physical fitness. Due to this reason, mages are careful with using enchanted items and artifacts and even more careful with allowing others to cast magic on them.
As mages grow in power, they manifest certain Attainments that spring from their mastery over magic. Attainments are natural outgrowths of a mage's development and therefore are not classified as Spells. Rather, they are natural adaptions, like muscel growth during puberty.
The Atlanteans codified magic into 13 Common practices, 5 Imperial practices and one Apocryphal practice. Each practice defines what the spell is going to do and how it affects patterns. Each Practice is only available to a certain degree of arcane mastery (expressed by the dots). Furthermore, a mage can only use the associated practice if his Arcanum rating for the wanted spell is equal or higher. (In order to learn more about possible effects, visit the respective Arcanum sites)
- Compelling- The Practice of Compelling is concerned with influencing simple phenomena in the purview of the used Arcanum (for example, making a candle burn hotter). The mage can activate and/or direct these phenomena, but usually not enough to become vulgar.
- Knowing – The Practice of Knowing is concerned with perceiving the mysteries in an Arcanum’s purview and deciphering phenomena. Mages do not have to interpret these informations, as they are not sensual, but purely intellectual.
- Unveiling- The Practice of Unveiling is concerned with the impartation of sensory informations to the casting mage within the chosen Arcanum’s purview
- Ruling- The Practice of Ruling allows a mage to exert control over phenomena within the purview of his chosen Arcanum. It mainly concerns itself with cosmetic changes and suggestions, rather than brute force.
- Shielding- The Practice of Shielding allows a mage to make an object or himself more resistant by using the associated Arcanum to bolster his defense.
- Veiling - The Practice of Veiling allows a mage to conceal, camouflage or hide phenomena within his chosen Arcanum’s purview from scrutiny.
- Fraying - The Practice of Fraying allows a mage to directly injure his target (via Bashing damage). Often, they find use when death is not the attempted goal.
- Perfecting - The Practice of Perfecting allows a mage to refine and repair objects within an Arcanum’s purview
- Weaving - The Practice of Weaving allows a mage to alter the capabilities and otherwise influence an object without changing its inherent nature.
- Patterning - The practice of Patterning allows a mage to transform phenomena within an Arcanum’s purview into related phenomena or shapes, or replace their capabilities or functions with different ones.
- Unraveling - The Practice of Unraveling allows a mage to significantly injure a target, degrade its capabilities or negatively transform it
- Making - The Practice of Making allows a mage to conjure phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview ex nihilo.
- Unmaking - The practice of Unmaking is concerned with outright destruction and annihilation of a target.
- Dynamics - The Practice of Dynamics allows archmages to create phenomena that change according to conditions without the caster’s conscious direction or complex “programmed” effects. Instead, the imago “updates” itself in order to maintain the Spell.
- Entities - The Practice of Entities allows archmages to imprint supernatural abilities to a target, incorporating the nature of an Arcanum into the target’s pattern and even altering the laws of realms as the Hedge or the Underworld. The use of entities often harms the Pax Arcanum.
- Excision – The Practice of Excision allows archmages to remove a pattern’s properties according to the chosen Arcanum.
- Transfiguration- The Practice of Transfiguration allows an archmage to reverse the relationship between his soul and the Arcanum that is now so well-incorporated into it, in effect allowing him to achieve any desired effect that falls into the purview of the Arcanum.
The Arcana are the threads of the Tapestry that comprises existence. They originate in the Realms Supernal, stretch downwards towards the Fallen World, coalesce into Pattern and eventually fray and disperse within the Lower Depths. While the Arcana still represent reality after the dawning of the Abyss, their true power only faintly manifests in the Fallen World in the most fundamental and static ways, recognized as the common, unyielding laws of physics. These laws are, however, mere shadows of the true Supernal Laws that a mage can impose on the Fallen World via the connection to his Watchtower.
Difficulty to draw upon an Arcana is determined by the Path a mage treads. Each path has two ruling Arcana: one subtle, one gross, that make up the Supernal Realm he Awakened to. Other Arcana are called common Arcana and can be learned normal up to mastery, when the mage has to search for a tutor from the path that incorporates the Arcanum into its structure (saying a Mastigos, who wants to master the Life Arcanum, has to search for a Thyrsus teacher). Each Path is impaired by an inferior Arcanum, whose notions have only a minor sympathy to the Supernal Realm he is connected to.
Some mages (usually Left-handed ones) claim that there are more Arcana to utilize. The Scelesti speak of the Elder Diadem, the Lone Watchtower of Paradox, which apparently allows mages to channel Paradox as an Arcanum. Likewise, the Suspire, the holy book of the Tremere liches, speaks of the Fallen Dragon of Blood (implying a connection to vampiric Blood Sorcery) and other dragons that were cast down by the jealous dragons that impersonated the five common Supernal Realms. The same book speaks of the coming of the Final Watchtower, who will combine the subtle Arcana into one supreme Art- the Arcanum of the Soul.
The Arcana are paired into one gross and one subtle. Gross Arcana are connected to the material world, while subtle Arcana are connected to the more obscure aspects of reality.
- Acanthus- Time (gross) and Fate (subtle)
- Mastigos- Space (gross) and Mind (subtle)
- Moros – Matter (gross) and Death (subtle)
- Obrimos – Forces (gross) and Prime (subtle)
- Thyrsus – Life (gross) and Spirit (subtle)
Other Supernal pairings are possible, for example, some mages who awakened in recent times claim to have awakened to a tower with Forces and Spirit as ruling Arcana.
As they are tuned into a higher reality, the things mages encounter can promote a greater understanding of the Mysteries surrounding that reality. When uncovering, solving, or realizing supernatural phenomena and secrets, mages can gain a special type of experience called Arcane Experience. These symbolize the mage's growing understanding of magic and allows him to raise his Gnosis.
Implementology is the study of tools that aid a mage in channeling Supernal Truths. Each tool is exclusive for each mage, drawing on his personal understanding of the Ars Mysteriorum as transferred during his original Awakening. This is called a Yantra by the Atlantean Orders, how the mage works his magic in accordance with the Supernal Realms.
Common Implements are path tools, objects that resonate with a specified Supernal Realm despite their Fallen origin and bridge the gap between the two Realms. Objects with a pointed end (a wand, a sword etc.) allow it more easily for a spell to be aimed, while reflective objects (like mirrors) are more useful for defensive spells. The effect can further be strengthened if other objects are used that link to the Path of the mage (brass, for example, for a Mastigos). If a tool is used, it is worked into the imago (saying, a spell that enables a staff that shoots lightning should incorporate the staff into the Imago). Tools have to undergo a dedication before they can be used as a part of Supernal magic.
Other ways to further improve and stabilize magic are High Speech and its associated Glyphs, the magical tongue and scripture of lost Atlantis, that allegedly gained supernal connotations because it was the native tongue and script of the Ascended Exarchs, and Rote Mudras, that are often associated with the Spell.
Mudras are associated with certain Imagos, maintaining the Spell, but also rendering it static. Each mage has utilized different Rotes, depending on his cultural background, Path and Order. The Mudra symbolizes the concept of the rote and as such, the associated Imago. Various Rotes have been used:
- Asana: Static body postures, like yoga positions or poses of statues, often used for extended spellcasting
- Darshana: Facial gazes and expressions
- Mudra: Hand-gestures and finger signs, the most commonly used among the Awakened
- Nata: Ritualized body movements, like katas or dances
- Pranayama: Breath-techniques that focus on internal contemplation
While Atlantean dogma is the favored of many mages, it is incomplete through the insidious influence of Dissonance and its fragmentation on its way down towards the Fallen World. In contrast to many mages beliefs, Supernal knowledge isn’t merely secreted away in places and hidden in things under their control; far more often, in fact, it is interspersed throughout ideas and concepts, in modes of thought and in the most esoteric tenets of ideologies (which can be studied as Mysteries). Correspondences of Supernal origin are fragmented across the society and mythology of Sleepers. As the Supernal Truths themselves are unchanging, some mages decide to distance themselves from the dogma of the Diamond Orders. Instead, they use mortal correspondences and practices that reflect certain Supernal elements. By deciphering the cultural traditions (and the Supernal fragments that they conceal), the Awakened can behold something that ties them, in a real and often quantifiable way, to the higher realms.
Occult traditions like Kabbalah, Taoism, Gnosticism and Theosophy have spawned mages who were more comfortable with ways to cast magic that they knew than adapting to a foreign system that didn't really supported their personal understanding. Many of these mages point to philosophies of Neoplatonism that speak of a world of truth and of the illusionary, imperfect nature of the phenomenal world as evidences that Sleepers have touched elements of the Supernal before, even if they were not able to harness it.
Forms of MagicEdit
In the centuries after the Fall of Atlantis, mages have refined and rediscovered their knowledge of the Supernal. Below are the most famous- or infamous- forms of magic that are acknowledged by the modern Awakened.
also see Ars Nova for more details
The techniques summarizes techniques that use modern tools as foci towards the Supernal Realms. Practicioners of the Ars Nova use contemporary sciences to fuel their magic and use sympathies evident in mainstream Sleeper society.
also see Goetia for more details
With this art, mages can manifest their own inner demons and force them to do their biding. These creatures are distinct from conventional demons in that they reflect the darker side of the psyche that spawned them. Stereotypically, most practitioners of Goetia are Mastigos, but many other mages choose to expel their own vices.
also see Legacy for more details
With growing understanding of the Supernal Realms, mages can sculpt their own souls according to principles that resonate most closely with them. Doing so enables them to draw on inherent Supernal powers that are exempt from the scrutiny of the Abyss, called Attainments. Legacies are adapted after a tutorship from a senior member of the Legacy or formed by the mage himself after ardent study of Supernal principles. Others form Legacies via the examination of a Soulstone or the study of a special grimoire called Daimonomicon.
also see Supernal Summoning for more details
The power of summoning beings from the Supernal into the Fallen World is rare, but practiced. When summoning a Supernal being, the mage tries to create a connection from the Fallen World to the Supernal Realms that is allows one of the beings within the Realm to manifest by channeling his Path into a summoning circle that wards of the atmosphere of the Quiescence. The surrounding area should be in tune with the associated Realm (e.g a cemetery for Stygia, a ring of mushrooms in an unspoiled forest for Arcadia etc.). Supernal Summoning has grave dangers in form of the Abyss, who can invade the Fallen world through the opening created by the mage’s path. Mages have furthermore to pass a Trial to show themselves worthy of the summoned beings aid. To summon a Supernal creature demands at least a Disciple proficiency of the chosen Arcanum.
also see Antinomian Magic for more details
The Abyss offers his own powers to mages willing to pursue it. The Antinomian Path allows mage to accept Contradiction instead of Truth, follow his own desires regardless of higher laws, in exchange for pledging himself to the limitless Void. Antinomian Sorcery is seen as a crime by many mages, and Seers and Pentacle alike hunt the Accursed who have pledged themselves to the cause of unbeing.