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|Atlantean Diamond:||Alae Draconis|
|Creed:||Magic is Alive|
Lore masters who hold (or seek) all the keys to all the doors, the Mysterium seeks out knowledge for its own sake. The Mysterium comes from the remains of Alae Draconis (or Dragon's Wing), the research and development branch of Atlantean society. Now they seek to reclaim the lost lore of the world and remember the lessons of fallen Atlantis.
Given their predisposition for finding knowledge it would be logical to assume that mystagogues and Guardians of the Veil would have a natural animosity to each other, and indeed the two groups have heated debates over the fate of particularly interesting subjects. However, the Mysterium does make a point of making sure querants are worthy of receiving secrets in question, which mollifies the Guardians somewhat. The Mysterium mages are keenly aware that some secrets were hidden for a very good reason. In some cases, the object of the search was not so much 'lost' as 'contained'; even the Lords of Atlantis were faced with powers and creatures they could neither tame nor destroy, and the only answer available was to simply imprison it until such time as a more permanent solution could be discovered. The secrets of the Mysterium aren't made free to the general public at large. There is usually a price to be paid, more often than not including tests of discretion and loyalty as well as requests for goods and/or services. Knowledge without wisdom is meaningless, and few hold this truth as deeply as the Mysterium.
In Atlantis, the Mysterium's members were professors and librarians by their own accord. Legends describe the Cenacle of Sighs, where mages could consult the ghosts of savants and vast libraries written in the tongues of fae, demon, angel, and gods. The ancient order ventured into the hinterlands to learn the natural sciences and cull the innovations of barbarian states. These expeditions were almost as martial as they were scientific, because outlanders (and the night-horrors who often ruled them) feared and hated the Great City. The early mystagogues paid for their knowledge in blood, securing a place of honor in the city's silver halls.
The Mysterium believes that magic naturally hides itself through fate and human actions. The order calls this phenomenon pancryptia. Pancryptia conceals magic within traditional legendry, ancient artifacts and scientific discoveries. One of the order’s primary missions is to bring this knowledge back to its Supernal source and restore its status as original magical wisdom. Mystagogues separate Supernal “signals” from Fallen “noise” and carefully record the results. In this way, they believe, they can stop the entropic surge of Pancryptia and preserve magical traditions.
Mysterium mages classify the pillars of a just mage society as Gnosis, Tradition and Reason. Gnosis is the realm of intuition, visions and mystical experiences. To many mages, this isn’t much more than a synonym for raw power, for even a simple Knowing spell is an extraordinary vision. Ideally, Gnosis allows mystagogues to use vision quests, meditation and (it is hoped) subtle messages from the Oracles to inspire proper governance. The primacy of tradition is less controversial, but is still hotly debated. Human mortality, Seer deceptions and pancryptia obscure the true origins of Awakened customs. Mysterium mages aren’t too troubled by this, since it’s a tradition ultimately proves itself by its longterm efficacy. The Consilium system is a legitimate tradition because it’s worked for a very long time. Reason balances the other two pillars. Magic is an Art rooted in Mystery, but magic obeys its own internal logic. Magic must be rational, or else it can’t provide the basis for natural laws. If a decision appears to be irrational, it has to be supported by weighty traditions or powerful visions.
The Mysterium believes that secret knowledge is the cornerstone of Awakened existence. Knowledge is an economy, ecology and the source of authority. Mages need to control the dissemination of knowledge. Without universal customs, charismatic, amoral individuals acquire undeserved power. Clear traditions give mages a framework to teach, bargain with and protect each other. Mysterium mages call these ties Guanxi. Guanxi encompasses a relationship in which one person can trade favors with another. Guanxi ensures that no matter the politics of the day, Mysterium mages can operate within the bounds of the protocols. Guanxi within the order takes precedence over Consilium rule.
While magic is indeed the central object of inquiry, the order’s beliefs do not separate this from the nature of all things, Supernal and Fallen. Mages know some of the Mystery, but none of them are omniscient. To cultivate enlightened power, the Wise need to examine the world around them to uncover occult revelations. Contrary to popular stereotype, these projects aren’t just academic exercises. Mystagogues crave experience as well as study. They employ meditation, drugs, ordeals and other rituals to ignite more intuitive, less systematic ways of knowing.
- Knowledge is power: Without occult knowledge, a mage is nothing. With it, she knows the secrets of the universe and the fundamental problems affecting humanity. The Exarchs imprison the world by promoting ignorance, because they understand this truth. Some Mysterium philosophers would go even further and claim that knowledge is reality itself, either in the form of a mystical understanding of the Supernal World or as patterns of pure information, waiting to be programmed by the application of suitable spells. Ignorance, then, is more than a practical disadvantage. Believing the illusion makes reality weaker and the Abyss stronger.
- Knowledge must be preserved: After Atlantis fell, humanity stumbled into an age of ignorance that crippled Awakened and Sleeper alike. The situation has degenerated to the extent that apostates and Free Council radicals sometimes claim that the Awakened City never existed! The Mysterium believes that uncovering and preserving humanity's magical tradition is the only way to transcend the Fall. Every fragment of arcane lore is a tool that mages can use to bind Above and Below, or at least slow the growth of the rift between them.
- Knowledge must have a price: Arcane lore is dangerous and is only acquired at great cost. Accordingly, the Mysterium does not share its secrets with Sleepers, and mages must meet certain standards. The order always demands payment. The best thing a mage can do is offer an uncommon grimoire or enchanted item in exchange for what he seeks. Even then, the Mysterium doesn't share its knowledge lightly. There are some books and some secret names that mages should never know, because they summon up what can't be put down or would constitute a weapon sufficient to destroy the Awakened balance of power. Unlike the Guardians of the Veil, the Mysterium does not believe in lying to the unworthy. It merely denies them access to what they unwisely seek.
Much of Mysterium doctrine originates in the Corpus Mysteriorum, a grimoire that was penned by an Archmaster of the Exemplar entente on an unspecific date. It states that magic- and, by extension- the entire Tapestry, is alive. Five major interpretations of the grimoire are prominent among the Mysterium.
- Aletheianism: Aletheians believe that the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides describes a sparse but correct model of the Tapestry. Reality is a contiguous whole that only appears to consist of discrete entities because it’s a dynamic thing. Destruction and separation are illusions borne from the interaction between the Supernal and the Phenomenal. Most people only see surface appearances — objects, people and other discrete things — and not the underlying process. Intelligence (the daimona) is just one property of the vast system of living possibility
- Deus Ex Sorius: Literally meaning "The God from fate", Deus Ex Sorius is the belief that magic is the body of God. Obrimos often rally behind this theory. To believers, spellcasting is a form of communion in which souls reach closer to the central divine Presence. Some adherents believe the Abyss is a dualistic Adversary.
- Dharmakaya: Literally meaning "The Body of the Law", adherents of the Dharmakaya believe that magic is inseparable from the Ascended Masters and Oracles. These beings exist outside of time and karma. Like Buddhas, the Ascended are personalities and absolute principles, with spiritual bodies that encompass the entire cosmos. Oracles are bodhisattva-like beings who postpone ultimate unity with the Tapestry to maintain the Watchtowers.
- Thaumacology: Thaumacology is the theory that magic is the heart of a vast metaphysical ecosystem. Viewed as a totality, it is an “ultraorganism.” Mages are single “cells,” though their exact function is a matter of debate. Some thaumacologists believe they’re the cosmos’s immune system. Others aspire to be the metaphysical gametes for a new Tapestry — a daughter for the universe. Similar to coral, magic supposedly exudes mundane reality to give itself a habitat. Many thaumacologists believe that the Abyss is the result of an imbalance in the magical ecosystem.
- Transmemetics: Transmemetics is the latest iteration of a movement that uses mathematics and Platonism to claim that magic is living information. Sleepers use meme theory to model ideas as if they were living things that evolve and reproduce in the minds of thinkers. Unlike memes, transmemes don’t rely on thinking beings. Instead, transmemes are information structures that the Tapestry accretes around according to their “reproductive” viability. Magical and natural laws are arbitrary structures that survive selection, reproduce and claim core importance within the Tapestry.
The mages of the Mysterium divide knowledge into three fields that are together known as the Sophiad. Each field has multiple subcategories. Mystagogues usually use subcategories based on modern academic disciplines, but a significant minority believes that these classifications are a bit forced. Their contemporary names come from 18th- and 19th-century efforts to modernize Mysterium scholarship, right down to bastardized Greek and Latin nomenclature. Modern mages still use it out of familiarity; attempts to introduce multicultural, organic classifications have largely failed.
Soriology is a powerful discipline that examines the heart of Awakened existence. Soriology’s secrets sometimes draw mystagogues away from the here and now, for high thaumaturgy, Supernal cosmology and the inner kingdom of the Awakened soul focus on the wise but not the Fallen World they live in.
- Magosophy: Study of psychology, sociology, morality and finally the Soul itself of the Awakened
- Supernology: Study of the realms of reality, including the Supernal Realms
- Thaumatology: Study of Spell lore, High Speech, alchemy and enchantments
Esotologists study supernatural phenomena of all sorts. These include supernatural creatures, Fortean events and strange places with unusual properties.
- Occultism: Study of magical phenomenons without a connection to the Supernal, including the arts of other supernaturals
- Sidereology: Study of the Astral Plane
- Teratology: Study of the various supernatural inhabitants of the Fallen World
Despite humble origins within the laws and limits of the Lie, exoteric disciplines guide the way to greater understanding. As much as they aspire to the heights of Supernal Ascension, mystagogues are, for all their powers, mere mortals who understand the world through the framework of the Lie.
Exoterics include all fields of study that are practitioned by Sleeper scientists.
The ultimate measure of a mystagogue’s status is her rank within the Atlantean Mystery, but the order doesn’t directly tie rank to day-to-day responsibilities. For one thing, each level have its own signs and secrets. Acknowledging them in everyday life would cheapen them and risk exposing them to lesser initiates and outsiders. Initiation doesn’t take specialized knowledge into account.
The Mysterium’s practices of initiation may be the most intricate and involving of all the orders’. Other orders (as far as the Mysterium knows, anyway) recognize merit, dedicated service and mastery of the Arcana with promotion to higher ranks and greater responsibility. The Mysterium has more exacting requirements. A mystagogue can only gain status in the order through initiation into what the Mysterium calls the Atlantean Mystery: the experience of knowledge handed down from before the Fall, if the order’s elders are right. They challenge the prospective mage to accomplish his advancement instead of receive it.
- Exemplum - New initiated members who have yet to learn anything about the Atlantean Mystery
- Acquisitor - Field agents that travel the world to unearth Supernal knowledge
- Neokoros- Members who have mastered the Mystery of the Principle
- Censor - Safekeepers of artifacts who protect them from abuse by unenlightened hands
- Theoricus - Members who have mastered the Mystery of the Soul
- Savant - Mages who train in a certain field (one supernatural, one worldy) to preserve its knowledge for the Mysterium, in case that am Athaneum that confined this knowledge is destroyed
- Daduchos- Members who have mastered the Mystery of Nightmares
- Curator - Keeper and custodian of an Athaneum
- Philosophus - Members who have mastered the Mystery of Misfortune
- Hierophant - Members who have mastered the last Golden Mystery
- Heliodromus - Archmages that have chosen to retain ties to their former Order
For an order based on mystery, ritualistic symbolism and the unknown, Mysterium factions may seem almost jarringly straightforward at first glance. Where other orders may divide themselves by philosophical differences or political agendas, the major Mysterium subsets seem to be almost simplistically organized by function within the order: librarian, reclaimant, archaeologist, researcher, ritualist. In truth, however, mystagogues, especially those who belong to a faction, are motivated as deeply by their own individual and personal philosophies as are the members of any other order’s factions. Despite how Mysterium factions appear to outsiders, Mysterium factions are not groups of faceless workers going about their jobs to serve the order’s greater goals. Each is called to his or her faction through deeply personal motivations that are tied not only to the mage’s intellectual and philosophical views of Awakened society and the Invisible Truth, but just as deeply interwoven with his or her intrinsic feelings, instincts and intuitions about the greater mysteries that lie beyond and below the surface.
- Archaeomancers - Archaelogists that seek to uncover lost or forgotten Mysteries
- Archivists - Librarians that seek to protect and preserve the store of knowledge alreaday amassed by the Order
- Bricoleurs - Innovators that seek to combine the knowledge found in the archives of the Order and inventing something new
- Egregori - The Egregori are dedicated to preserving supernal impressions that cannot be written down, like feelings or sceneries
- Reclaimants - Thieves that seek to retake knowledge and bring it into the safety of Mysterium Athaneums
- , p.43-45