Sorcery in the world of Eärwa is the use of language to forcibly influence reality. Or put another way, it is the practice of making the world conform to language, as opposed to philosophy, the practice of making language conform to the world.
The Structure of SorceryEdit
Despite a tremendous amount of unresolvable controversy surrounding sorcery, there are several salient features that seem universal to its practice:
- Practitioners must be able to apprehend the onta, the very fabric of existence, which is to say, they must possess the innate ability to see “Creation as created.”
- Sorcery requires precise meanings. This is why incantations are always spoken in a non-native tongue: to prevent the semantic transformation of crucial terms due to the vagaries of daily usage.
- All sorcerous incantations require the sorcerer to say and think two separate things simultaneously. The spoken segment of an incantation (what is often called the “utteral string”) must have its meaning “fixed” or focused with a silent segment (what is often called the “inutteral string”) that is simultaneously thought. The thought incantation sharpens the meaning of the spoken incantation the way the words of one person may be used to clarify the words of another.
There are many metaphysical interpretations of this structure, but the result in each case is the same: the world, which is otherwise utterly indifferent to the words of Men, listens, and sorcerous transformations of reality result.
Words and MeaningEdit
Although words are the tools through which sorcery is implemented, the words themselves do not hold meaning, rather, words are the tools through which meaning is conveyed. And since even simple words can have multiple meanings based on a variety of circumstances, sorcerers aim to find the most perfect meaning of a word, the meaning that transcends all connotation.
Preserving and expressing the pure modalities of meaning,” he continued, “this is the heart of all sorcery... With each word, you must strike the perfect semantic pitch, the note that will drown out the chorus of reality.
Thus, to protect pure meaning from the inconsistencies of experience, sorcerers of all schools use an ancient language, a lingua arcana, to form their Cants.
Vulgar languages [...] are too easily warped by our insights and experiences. The sheer otherness of Gilcûnya serves to insulate the semantics of sorcery from the inconstancies of our lives.
The origin of MeaningEdit
Words are given meaning from memory, the meaning of a word differs between sorcerers because what the word recollects is different. Sorcerous languages seek to grasp the conceptually perfect ideal of a word, the perfect meaning.
According to Anasûrimbor Kellhus, perfect meaning comes from the memory of perfection.
To speak sorcery, Akka, is to speak words that recollect the Truth.
The ability to see and work sorcery is heritable, though far less so in Men than in Nonmen. The Quya are in fact hereditary sorcerers
The Few are those born with the innate ability to sense the onta and work sorcery. The Few are able to look beyond the appearance of things, beyond the reality of things, into the ideal. Men, who have forgotten God's voice, can only see one angle of reality.
But the Few—those who recollect, no matter how imperfectly, the God’s voice—possess an intimation of many angles, a memory of the thousand eyes that look out from this clearing we call ‘here.’ As a result everything they see is transformed, shadowed by insinuations of more.
According to Anasûrimbor Kellhus’s Novum Arcanum, the God peers through all eyes, and the Few were those whose sight recollected something of His all-seeing gaze and so could speak with the timbre of His all-creating voice.
The Mark is the name for what is otherwise known as the “bruising of the onta.” Aside from the Psûkhe, which may or may not be a true sorcery, all sorcerous manifestations and practitioners exhibit what is called the Mark. Various descriptions of the Mark have come down through history, but there seems to be little consistency in the accounts, apart from the experience’s ephemeral nature.
According to religious accounts, the Mark is akin to the disfiguring of criminals, the way the God reveals the blasphemers in the presence of the righteous. But apologists such as Zarathinius point out that if this is indeed the case, then it is more than a little ironic that only the blasphemers can see the Mark.
In secular accounts, textual analogies are typically resorted to: seeing the Mark is akin to seeing where text has been scratched away and overwritten in ancient documents. In the case of sorcery, since the amendments to reality are as flawed as the Men who do the amending, it stands to reason that some essential difference would be visible.
The branches of SorceryEdit
The branch of sorcery once practised by the Gnostic Schools of the Ancient North but now known only to the Schools of Mandate and Mangaecca. Unlike Anagogic sorcery, Gnostic sorcery is leveraged through the use of the Abstractions, which is why Gnostic sorcerers are often referred to as Philosopher Magi. The Gnosis was first developed by the Nonmen Qûya, who imparted it to the early Norsirai Anagogic sorcerers during the Nonman Tutelage, 555-825.
Gilcûnya is the tongue of the Nonmen Qûya and the Gnostic Schools.
Some common Gnostic Cants include, the Bar of Heaven, the Bisecting Planes of Mirseor, the Cirroi Loom, the Ellipses of Thosolankis, the Odaini Concussion Cant, the Seventh Quyan Theorem, and the Weära Comb.
- The War-Cants are the Gnostic sorceries developed in Sauglish (primarily by Noshainrau the White) for the express purpose of waging war and overcoming opposing sorcerers.
- The denotaries are the “primer” Cants given to students to practice “dividing their voice,” which is to say, saying and thinking two separate things.
- The Agonies are the Gnostic Cants of Torment, a reputed specialty of the Mangaecca.
With the exception of Metagnostic Cants, Gnostic Cants require a Sorcerer to use one utteral and one inutteral simultaneously. With Metagnostic Cants an utteral is combined with two inutterals. The only Metagnostic Cant known is the Cant of Translocation, also called the Cant of Transposition.
“Gnosis” comes from the Ancient Greek word “Γνώσης,” which refers to a very particular type of knowledge, characterized by mainly by its method of acquisition, an instantaneous, profound, ineffable, and often overwhelming moment of insight. Rather than having a single word for knowledge, the Ancient Greeks used a wide variety of terms to describe what fits under the umbrella of the English word "Knowledge" (including, in besides "Gnosis", "Techne", "Episteme", and many others). Extent Greek sources use the term to exclusively in describing the awareness/understanding of Philosophical and Spiritual truths, rather than general instances of instantaneous understanding.
The two most significant descriptions of Gnosis come from the philosophy of Plato and the scriptures of the Gnostic religion. In his dialogue "Symposium", Plato describes how a person can begin a contemplation of worldly beauty (specifically the body of a naked young man), and, through a series of abstractions, they can move through a number of stages, starting with the beauty of a physical body, then progressing into the beauty of the soul withing that body, then moving onto the principals that govern the soul, until finally they reach the essence of beauty. According to Plato, a man who pursues this practice of contemplating layers of abstraction from the physical world into the realm of Forms may be fortunate enough to experience a sudden moment of Gnosis, a vision not of something beautiful, or of the soul or principals behind that beauty, but of the essence of beauty itself.
Unlike Techne (the Greek term, not the Inchoroi sorcery; though for both Gnosis and Techne the Greek concepts are integrally related to the essence of the schools in question), which can be taught, Gnosis must be attained by the practitioners on their own, by going through levels of contemplative abstraction until they suddenly reach a moment of Gnostic insight into true reality.
The Gnostic religion, as its name implies, regards Gnosis as a crucial element of their spiritual practice. The Gnostics infused the Platonic ideas mentioned above with elements of Christian Theology, abandoning the (homo)sexual and aesthetic elements while infusing elements of the Judeo-Christian monotheism. The Gnostic scriptural text "The Foreigner" describes how the titular protagonist embarks on a ritualistic program of study which uses a modified version of the techniques described by Plato to attain Gnostic insight into the higher realms of existence. The Gnostic religion viewed the world we inhabit as false, and, not unlike The Second Apocalypse's "The Outside", believed that their was a separate realm of existence, called "The Entirety" inhabited by the highest Divinities, and that the world we live in is merely a shabby replica of this higher realm. The adherents of Gnosticism believed that by embarking on a regimen of deep philosophical reflection, a person could ascend through stages of abstraction, until, eventually, they would be able to experience true reality. This experience would be fleeting and ineffable (so it could not be explained, described, or taught), manifesting itself as a brief experience of absolute clarity in which one transcends past the false representations of this reality into the perfect realm of The Entirety. This Gnostic insight was the only way for a person still trapped in this realm to experience what lays beyond it.
The branch of sorcery that turns on the resonance between meanings and concrete things. It uses creative metaphors to implement sorcery. The Anagogis is generally considered inferior to the Gnosis because it works through Analogies as opposed to Abstractions: the Anagogic sorcerers can summon only an imitation of a dragon which spews out fire, while Gnostic sorcerers can summon heat itself.
“Anagogis” comes from the Greek word “Αναγωγής,” meaning “Comparison.”
The branch of sorcery once studied by Nonmen Qûya. Forbidden from practicing their art under Cû’jara-Cinmoi, the practitioners of the Aporos were seduced by the Inchoroi, whose loss of the Battle of Pir Pahal had been largely due to the power of Qûya. They created for their masters the first of the Chorae, which rendered their bearers immune to magic and killed Qûya on touch.
“Aporos” comes from the Greek word “Άπορος,” meaning “Destitute.”
Also known as noömancy. The sorcery of summoning and enslaving agencies, such as Ciphrang, from the Outside. The Daimos is not a true branch of Sorcery, as it can be implemented using either the Gnosis or the Anagogis. For both political and pragmatic reasons, many Schools forbid its practice. Some esoteric scholars claim that Daimotic sorcerers condemn themselves to eternal torment at the hands of their erstwhile slaves when they die.
“Daimos” comes from the Greek word “Δαιμος,” meaning “Demons.”
Wards and CantsEdit
Wards is the name given to defensive sorceries in contradistinction to offensive sorceries, known as Cants.
The most common types of Wards (found in both Anagogic and Gnostic sorceries) are:
- Wards of Exposure, which provide advance warning of intruders or imminent attacks.
- Shield-Wards, which provide direct protection against offensive sorceries.
- Skin-Wards, which provide “protection of last resort” against all types of threat.
Cants is the name given to offensive sorcerous incantations. Two common types are:
- Cants of Calling, the family of incantations that enable communications over distance. Though the metaphysics of these Cants is only loosely understood, all long-distance Cants of Calling seem to turn on the so-called Here Hypothesis. One can call only to slumbering souls (because they remain open to the Outside) and only to those residing someplace where the Caller has physically been. The idea is that the “Here” of the Caller can only reach a “There,” or other location, that has been a “Here” sometime in the past. The degree of similarity between Anagogic and Gnostic Cants of Calling has led many to suspect that they hold the key to unravelling the Gnosis.
- Cants of Compulsion, the family of incantations that control the movements of an individual’s soul. Typically these include the so-called Cants of Torment, though not always. An insidious aspect of these Cants is that their subject often has no way of distinguishing sorcerously compelled thoughts from his own thoughts. This has spawned a whole literature on the very notion of “will.” If the compelled soul feels every bit as uncompelled as the free soul, then how can anyone truly know himself to be free?
The Schools of SorceryEdit
Since Sorcery is unnatural, destructive and poses a great danger, it is viewed as a terrible blasphemy by the Thousand Temples and is widely condemned by faithful Inrithi. Sorcerous Schools arose in response to this pressure, creating powerful political forces apart from the oppressive religious order.
The so-called “Major Schools” of the Three Seas are the Circle of Nibel, the Imperial Saik, the School of Mandate, the Mysunsai, and the Scarlet Spires. The Schools are among the oldest institutions in the Three Seas, surviving, by and large, both because of the terror they inspire and by their detachment from the secular and religious powers of the Three Seas. With the exception of the Mysunsai, all the Major Schools predate the fall of the Ceneian Empire.
Untill the proclamation of Anasûrimbor Kellhus as Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas, the Schools only allowed male practitioners, further dwindling the number of possible sorcerers, however, since then the Swayal Compact was created as the first School for sorceresses in Eärwa.
- The Mandate is the School founded by Seswatha to continue the war against the Consult and to protect the Three Seas from the return of the No-God. Aside from its apocalyptic calling, the Mandate is distinct from the other sorcerous Schools in its possession of the Gnosis, a monopoly it has been able to protect for almost two thousand years. Mandate Schoolmen continuously dream Seswatha’s experiences of the Apocalypse every night, the effect of a sorcerous rite called the Grasping, where initiates reputedly submit to incantations while holding Seswatha’s mummified heart.
- The Mangaecca was the ancient rival to the School of Sohonc, and last of the four original Gnostic Schools. From its founding the School of Mangaecca had pursued a predatory ethos, regarding knowledge as the embodiment of power. In 777, they discovered the Incû-Holoinas, the dread Ark of the Inchoroi. Over the following centuries they continued their excavations of the Ark and their investigations of the Tekne. In 1123, Shaeönanra, then Grandmaster of the Mangaecca, discovered a catastrophic means to undo the scriptural damnation of sorcerers. The School was promptly outlawed, and the remainder of the School fled to Golgotterath, abandoning Sauglish forever. By the time of the Apocalypse, they had transformed into what would be called the Consult.
- The Swayal Compact was founded following the foundation of Anasûrimbor Kellhus’s New Empire. It is the only school for sorceresses in Eärwa. Its Grandmistress is Anasûrimbor Serwa.
- The Scarlet Spires is the largest School on the continent of Eärwa. Its sorcerers are the de facto rulers of High Ainon, a large southeastern nation, and the only School so powerful its has its own military. Power-hungry and ambitious, it has attempted to steal the secrets of Gnostic magic from the Mandate. Hanamanu Eleäzaras, the greatest Grandmaster of the Scarlet Spires, was one of the most powerful men in all Eärwa. During the second trilogy, Heramari Iyokus has become the Grandmaster.
- The Imperial Saik is a School from the Nansur Empire and indentured to the Emperor of Nansur. The School prides itself on loyally serving the interests of the Empire for a thousand years to this day. Cememketri was their Grandmaster in the last days of the Empire.
- The Mysunsai is a self-proclaimed "Mercenary School". Its name means "Bond of Three" in Vaparsi. Instead of serving any ruler or nation, it sells its services to any who will purchase them.
- The Vokalati is a School from the large southern nation of Nilnamesh. Its name means "sun-wailers" in Vaparsi. They have constantly attempted to steal the Gnosis in the past. By the time of the second trilogy, Carindûsû is their Grandmaster.
- The Circle of Nibel is mentioned once in Prince of Nothing as a major school, but nothing else is known of this school. Possibly, it's another name for the Vokalati.
Cishaurim and the PsûkheEdit
The Cishaurim are the notorious priest-sorcerers of the Fanim based in Shimeh. According to Fanim religious tradition, the Prophet Fane became the first of the Cishaurim after he went blind in the desert.
Given Fane’s claim that the true power of the Solitary God cannot be exercised so long as one sees the profane world, Cishaurim initiates voluntarily blind themselves at a certain point in their study, enabling them to dispense the “divine water” of the “Psûkhe,” as the Cishaurim refer to it.
They douse the fire of their eyes, pluck the one angle they see, to better grasp the many they recollect. They sacrifice the subtle articulations of knowledge for the inchoate profundities of intuition. They recall the tone and timbre, the passion, of the God’s voice—to near perfection—even as the meanings that make up true sorcery escape them.
Little is known about the metaphysics of the Psûkhe beyond the fact that it cannot be perceived by the Few and that it is in many ways almost as formidable as the Anagogic practice of the Schools.
“Psûkhe” comes from the Greek word “Ψυχή,” meaning “Soul” or “Spirit.”
Religious views on SorceryEdit
Cut from them their tongues, for their blasphemy is an abomination like no other … Burn them, for they are Unclean.
—The Chronicle of the Tusk.
Thus, sorcerers are generally thought to be damned by the Inrithi.
The author explained origins of this beliefs:
Originally, among the Men of Eanna, magic was the monopoly of the Shamans. They were of the Few, their souls recalling the God of Gods in near-perfect proportion, and were also considered holy, with a direct line to the will of the divine. They were Prophets and Sorcerers in one (to the point that this distinction was meaningless then).
At some point (still in Eanna, long before the Tusk), individuals arose who claimed to represent the Gods as Prophets, but who were not of the Few, and whose souls did not have any special recollection of the God of Gods. This perhaps gave the Gods a means of bypassing the God of Gods' influence and interfering in the World themselves, each with their own individual agenda.
Probably the Gods gave their Prophets 'magical' powers (miracles/thaumaturgy), but these remained under the control/will of the Gods, not of the Prophets themselves. There was eventually a conflict (initially political/philosohical, but eventually violent) between the Shamans and the Prophets. The Prophets won and outlawed/condemned Sorcery.
The Prophets monopolised the claim of representing the divine. This was the beginning of recognisable Kiunnat beliefs, with the Gods and their laws as pre-eminent and the God of Gods as an impotent 'placeholder' to represent the Gods as a collective.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Sorcery’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘onta’
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Thousandfold Thought, Chapter 6
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Thousandfold Thought, Chapter 10
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Few, the’
- ↑ The Judging Eye, Chapter 16
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Mark, the’
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Gnosis’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Gilcûnya’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘War-Cants’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘denatories’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Agonies’
- ↑ The Thousandfold Thought, Chapter 16
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Anagogis’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘High Kunna’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Cûno-Inchoroi Wars’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Daimos’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Wards’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Cants’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Cants of Calling’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Cants of Compulsion’
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Schools’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Gnostic Schools’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Mandate, School of’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Mangaecca’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Scarlet Spires’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Saik’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Mysunsai’
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 29.2 Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Cishaurim’
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘Unclean, the’
- ↑ The Darkness That Comes Before, Chapter 2
- ↑ Encyclopedic Glossary, ‘“Cut from them their tounges …”’
- ↑ The Warrior-Prophet, Chapter 9
- ↑ The Darkness That Comes Before, Chapter 11