So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history. Life of Pericles, Plutarch.You grew up with your grandmother's histories, stories about old times and remote places that captured your imagination. You wanted to become a storyteller like her. As you grew older you began to realise that many other people discounted her stories as just tall tales and imagination; surely there was nothing like the lands beyond the Crooked Stump, but how come she knew people who had been there?
Several years later, you were studying history and archaeology with a consuming interest, having almost forgotten your childhood dreams of telling tall tales to people. The stories of the past were much more dramatic, and also true. At least that was what you thought.
When the famous Dr. Jeremiah Westcroft invited you to participate in a dig in Syria, you jumped at the opportunity. The dig was everything you had hoped for, revealing the ruins of an old Assyrian settlement in a remote valley. But Dr. Westcroft seemed to be surveying other places too. One night he brought you with him into a narrow canyon, to a hidden rock temple. Surprised you asked him why he had not told everyone about this great find; it was clearly very significant. For an answer, he led you into the temple. What you saw there Awakened your Avatar and made you realise that not all things in the books of history are true, and that some things are best buried and forgotten.
Since then you have been an archaeologist - or rather, a guardian of the old secrets. With a critical eye you have seen how the Technocracy streamlines history into military and economical chessgames, where religion and tradition are seen as superstition and there is no room for magick. You sabotage this work in a subtle way, by finding things and suggesting theories that sound and appear reasonable, but force history scholars to come to unexpected conclusions. After all, many lies (especially the true ones) are more plausible than the boring truth. And it is fun to tell stories about the past that may or may not be true, and only you (sometimes) know the truth about it.
And on the other hand, you also hide some finds, sabotaging digs and quietly replace some objects with others to keep the old secrets safe. Neither the Technocracy or sleepers should learn about the grave temple of Neber- Khef and its contents; that is something you keep to yourself.
You had already run into Master Cavendish (after all, he is on the board of the Seraphis Historical Foundation) and Master Weith (strange figure, appeared briefly on one of your digs, asked two questions, and vanished into the night). When you was invited into the Armorers you didn't hesitate - there were enough hints of interesting archaeology and dark truths to fascinate you.
Numerical proportions refer ultimately to the perceived order of the supralunar world.Ever since you was a small girl, you have enjoyed making patterns. Placing sticks in circles on the ground, drawing figures in the sand on the beach, drawing with your father's ruler and compass on the large, clean papers he brought you. Your mother joked that you would become a designer, but you didn't want to make things. You wanted patterns .
In school you excelled at mathematics and especially geometry. Your teachers and parents called you a prodigy, but you secretly knew that what you did was nothing special, just something anybody could do if they set their mind to it - which they didn't, for some odd reason. A professor from Cambridge heard of you and began spending Sunday afternoons drawing and discussing geometry with you. When you finally managed to finish school (a few years earlier than normal, but your friend the professor helped convince the authorities) you immediately went to Cambridge to learn real math.
Cambridge was wonderful. At least there were people you could discuss with, who not just stared at your drawings or tried to bully you so they didn't have to face their own insecurity. You quickly majored in classical geometry, to the surprise to most of your friends who had thought you would turn to some of the "more current" research topics like combinatorics, metamathematics or at least topology. But you found them all dry and uninteresting - what is the point of mathematics if there are no patterns, just an arbitrary play with different rules?
As part of your doctoral work you studied some obscure aspects of icosahedral symmetry and its relation to the golden mean. One important reference work turned out to be almost impossible to find, until your mentor told you about a private book collection at some sort of Masonic order in Cambridge. It turned out to consist of shelf after shelf of occult gibberish, but many of the books also contained renaissance or antique geometrical drawings which you liked, surrounded by hermetic double-talk. Studying the rare tome, you began to realise that your mathematical work fit in very well with the occult and geometrical ideas of the Pythagorean mystics, and somehow linked with the other books. Your mentor helped you study them, and gradually the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. The pattern was more beautiful than you had ever imagined.
Since that spring, you have been a fixture in the library of St. Vincent Manor, always studying the secret patterns of the old masters. Once each year you teach a course in classical geometry in Cambridge for a small group of students, but the rest of the time you study and write, supported by a stipend from the Seraphis Society. Everything is in order, but recently you have begun to feel the need to move on, to use your knowledge and vision instead of just studying it.
You cannot stand sloppiness and disorder: as above, so below, a messy desk is a sign of a messy mind.
Power wielders may treat people as things. Leaders may not. James MacGregor BurnsEven when you were very young you noticed the people who watched over you. Strangely your parents or your playmates didn't notice them, so you never talked about the strangers who sometimes gave you odd looks when they passed you in the narrow streets of Valetta, or the old man on the balcony who smiled towards you when you looked out from your window. When you fell into the harbour someone saved you quickly, returning you home to your family. You grew up knowing there were others out there who would protect you.
As you grew older, you began to spy on the watchers, sometimes trying to elude them, sometimes trying to find out who they were. You listened to your fathers stories about how lucky he was to have found Malta, and the strange series of events that occurred shortly before your birth that laid the cornerstone to his fortune. Imperceptibly, you began to realise what was going on, and just as you was on the verge of understanding, they presented themselves.
The night of your sixteenth birthday they brought you to a room overlooking the sea, and told you the truth about your heritage, your life and your true destiny. As the sun rose from the waves you greeted it as a member of the Prieure de Sion, one of the chosen of the holy blood, destined for rulership.
Since then you have been steadily rising through the ranks of the Prieure, to the rank of Chevalier. You heritage helps you to a certain extent, but there are other members of your bloodline who also show promise, and you know you have to work hard to become a perfect embodiment of the virtues the Prieure seek to manifest in the world. Following your mentor Nikolos' advice, you enrolled in the university to study some law and politics. He also taught you fencing and some martial art; "The holy blood is not to be spilt for no reason".
In reality, you know it is the Prieure de Sion that supports him (although he does quite well on his own; after all, he is of the Blood too, although less awakened to his potential). The Prieure desires three things: to protect the bloodlines that carry the holy blood, to help chosen men and women of the blood to fulfil their potential as rulers and mages, and to eventually place these hermetic pure-breds on the metaphysical thrones of Europe. Currently they are far from their goal, but though clever planning they are advancing on it. Influential CEOs and politicians have traces of the blood, and the Prieure are constantly trying to purify it further to bring an enlightened leadership to the world.
Your task is currently to grow to your full potential, and perhaps eventually succeed your father as the leader of the major international transport corporation the Prieure are subtly creating. But as Nikolos explained, you will probably find your own path, guided by the secret power in your blood.
When Master Weith appeared one windy day in Valetta to ask you if you was interested in joining his expedition to Egypt, you gladly accepted. You are convinced that if you can prove yourself in Egypt, you will be promoted to Commandeur. But there is something else drawing you there, something undeniable.
Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? Zechariah i. 5.You grew up in a upper-middle class Norwegian family, living in a pleasant house west of Oslo near Drammen. Nobody can accuse your childhood and early adolescence of having been unusual or unhappy; it was so normal that you sometimes wished (or feared) something would happen. It did, and now you wish you would have grown up to become a boring engineer like your father.
In high school, a friend lent you a book about medieval demonology, The Book of Black Magic by Waite. You thought it was slightly cool to actually see a book about demons and sorcery, so you browsed it in the evening, reading the juicy parts about demons and what they could do, seals, elaborate ceremonies and disgusting elixirs. That night something dramatic happened in your dreams, which were long and chaotic while strangely powerful (although you cannot recall anything but glimpses of them when awake). Filled with dread you awoke, and nothing was as usual. It was as if reality itself had become skewed; things were no longer as they seemed, but still looked like they ought to even when you knew something different was going on. Sometimes you thought you heard voices saying things in unknown languages, and a few times you found yourself having done things you had no memory of. And weird coincidences began to plague your life.
Trying to make sense of everything you devoured your surprised friend's small library of books about magic and began to study the area seriously. Your friends and parents worried more and more about you, but couldn't understand what you sought. Quickly you fell in with local occult groups, but most simply didn't work - your frightened intensity scared away the neopagans and didn't fit in with the dry Cabala students. You were quickly moving towards darker and more destructive groups when you accidentally (?) encountered your mentor Halvor Bergelmerson. He found you when you had some sort of breakdown where you suddenly began to shout incomprehensible chants during his lecture about Egyptian symbolism. Instead of throwing you out and calling the police, he helped calm you down and began to question you about your background after the shocked audience had left. He seemed more curious than frightened, and explained that you had chanted parts of the lost Book of Am-Duat, known only to a handful of enlightened.
For a while, your life seemed to have gained at least a measure of order as you studied the lore of the Order of Hermes under Halvor. He managed to explain at least a few of your problems, and you learned to control your powers - somewhat. For even he had to admit that you worried him with your sudden insights in arcane topics and erratic behaviour. He guessed it was due to your Awakening on your own, without guidance, but his explanations rang hollow to you - there were something more to what had happened to you. After a few months you both began to get on the other's nerves, and you impulsively left Oslo to wander Europe looking for the answer, driven by your unknown (and possibly imaginary) demons.
It was during your stay in Warsaw a message from Halvor reached you. He wrote that has been in contact with a hermetic master named Germund Weith, who was quite interested in your case and wanted to meet you. Asking around a bit about Master Weith didn't reassure you, but you felt compelled to seek him out in Hamburg. He turned out to be an infuriatingly clever man, obviously planning something and wanting to involve you in some way, so you quickly left. And then returned. For you knew that you had to be part of it.
Always do what you are afraid to do. Ralph Waldo EmersonWhen you grew up, you knew you had a duty. You didn't know what it was, but you knew for sure you would find out. This rock-hard certainty set you apart from other children, your parents and anybody else you knew. Whatever happened, you knew it wasn't important compared to your goal - whatever it was.
It was shortly after finishing school you met Claudia. You stood ready to face your destiny, but for the first time you felt a bit uncertain about what you were supposed to do. Most of your friends seemed to plan to get jobs or marry, but you was certain that wasn't your destiny. One moonless night you simply set out to find it, walking briskly through the empty streets for no particular reason. Almost as if you were guided you found your way to a towering house on the outskirts of town, surrounded by a large dark garden.
Suddenly you heard a shout, followed by what seemed like the sound of fighting; a woman screamed something. For a moment you stood frozen with fear, but then you had a brief flashback: it was your hesitation that had let him get past the bodyguards, armed with a bronze dagger. Filled with sudden energy you jumped over the garden wall and threw yourself against the man just as he fired his gun towards a woman who stood bent over his fallen comrade. The shot went off into the air, ricocheting against the gothic masonry and hitting him in the arm. He fled, leaving you, the woman and the fallen man who seemed to vanish into nothing as you watched.
Claudia invited you inside, pouring you brandy as you sat shivering in her library. She explained about the true nature of the attackers, and what really had happened with the bullet. She also gently questioned you, almost as if she knew something about you and your life - and the strange flashback. She showed you some artefacts she had collected, and gradually your eyes opened to another world, a world you had always suspected but had never before seen. She also told you about the dark forces awake in that world, and about the prize of entering it, but you knew it was your duty to enter it.
The next years were spent in training. You soon learnt that Claudia was hardly a commonplace person; some would say she was eccentric even for a hermetic mage. She had broken free from the established orders and houses, deciding to fight her own war against what she called "the three shadows" - the dark sides of the human psyche, the dark side of nature and the dark side of reality itself, manifested as Paradox. In order to fight them, you learned how to fight physically, mentally and spiritually. Even if Claudia sometimes looked and talked like an old mother, she could be harder than the cruellest drill sergeant, forcing you to hone your reflexes, perception and willpower.
Several times you went on "training missions", at first a simple visit to a haunted building, latter more demanding and dangerous missions against the corruption hidden in the cities. There was no clear dividing line before training and the real fight, and you could never count on the assistance of Claudia. You loved it - this was the duty you had dreamed of.
But after a few years you began to notice a change in Claudia. The library became more and more untidy, her clothes stained. When you returned from a dangerous journey to Canada she seemed surprised to hear that you had been gone. Slowly you came to the chilling conclusion that her mind was slowly going. Desperately you tried to convince her about it, but she refused adamantly - her will was as strong as ever, if blunted. You let doctors examine her, and they blamed Alzheimer's disease. A Master finally summoned from Paris examined her, and told you in hushed tones about how the minds of some old mages give away before the slow onslaught of time and paradox; they gradually sink into a diffuse Quiet with no escape. And Claudia was old, much older than she had admitted to you.
You arranged for Claudia's care, but you felt dead inside. Even if she had often been arrogant and too convinced about her infallibility she had helped you see your duty. On your own it was so much harder, and you feared that the creeping grey nothingness that was slowly eating her mind would one day claim you. Then suddenly Master Weith appeared out of nowhere, dropping hints about a greater duty. At first you found him irritating and unsettling, but then he somehow convinced you.
Only a few industrious Scots perhaps, who indeed are dispersed over the face of the whole earth. George Chapman, Eastward HoYou have always been a curious person, even during your childhood in Edinburgh you couldn't resist the challenge of finding out the Secrets, and it often got you into trouble. But you learned, and at least outwardly you grew up into a serious but dynamic young man, itching for travel and exploration.
When you arrived in Egypt the first time you felt a sense of belonging. This was a land of limitless mystery, ancient secrets and buried treasures. You began to work as an assistant/bodyguard to some English archaeologists and geographers, from which you learned more and more about the land. You also began to notice some of the stranger things going on in Cairo, and was once nearly killed when you witnessed something that should not have been possible.
Shortly afterwards you encountered Jonathan Cunningham of the Illustrious Temple of Amun the Unrevealed, alias the Luxor Club. Gradually you were introduced to the small chantry, where you studied Egyptology and hermeticism. Together you travelled across the land, studying the ancient secrets. In a great ceremony in the temple ruins in Karnak, you was formally initiated into the Temple.
Eventually you found the Club too constricting; the mages of it seemed to prefer the abstraction of Egypt before the real thing, seldom leaving their studies and museums. And they couldn't fully accept your practical views on things and your interest in modern secrets. Exactly what was going on in the city?
Everybody was surprised when you opened a carpet shop, and it survived - an European running a carpet shop in Cairo? Unheard of! Some even claimed you profiteered on the tourists, who felt more at ease in an European-inspired shop, and the guides you bribed better than anybody else to bring them there. But the real reason was of course that it was just a front; very few visitors found their way into the narrow alley off Sikkit al-badistan which was just as well, since the real business was in discreetly transporting old artefacts away from Egypt.
The idea was originally due to your friend Jamal Haroun, who pointed out that some of your friends in the West Delta Transport Company might be able to discreetly transport away souvenirs without too much control - and that he had friends who might provide some interesting finds. Thinking it over you realised that this was an excellent way for the Order to both earn money and contacts (although of the shadier kind) and to keep an eye on the artefacts of Egypt - better that you smuggled them out than the Technocracy.
Despite some initial worries, your business works quite well, especially after the destruction of the Sittah wa ashrin chantry in 1971. Jamal and his friends has some very interesting finds to sell (and sometimes to buy; you have noticed that some groups want special items which you provide), and the revenue from your friends in Britain is quite good. You even have gained some feeling for the subtle dealings among the illuminated brethren, and can play their game rather well now. The only problem is Mme Yvette E. Granboul-Ponty. That lady knows too much, and she has connections. Exactly who she is and works for is so far a mystery, but she seems to be content for now to just keep a squeeze on you for her own reasons.
Jamal Haroun: A charming gentleman, often found in cafés and clubs in Cairo. When you met him as a young man in Luxor he was a tourist guide, and he apparently still works as a guide occasionally, but it is clear that he has found even more lucrative sources of income; you suspect that he and his family has been quite involved in many aspects of grave robbing since time immemorial. He sells you "antiques", and seems to be involved with the Brethren of Purity and Balance.
The Zada family: You met professor Sadi Zada a few years back, and it seems that his family has almost adopted. Especially his wife Morgaine dotes on you, and you are often invited over for dinner, discussion and bridge. Professor Zada is professor in Egyptian history at Cairo University, and quite clearly involved in some of the more scholarly esoteric orders. From time to time he has visited your shop and bought or sold certain interesting artefacts and papyri. His son Yousef has worked for you from time to time and is an invaluable help with some old manuscripts.
Farouk Al-Attar: Farouk is the big man of the carpeters association in Cairo. Besides being important for your business, the association is also a social group which regularly meet to eat, discuss and think. It has many connections with the other groups of the bazar, both prestigious and less regarded. Thanks to the friendly advice from Farouk you have managed to become a respected (if slightly odd) trader.
Khaled El-Rifaie: Mr. Rifaie is very, very rich and powerful. He is one of the real movers and shakers of Cairo, and the exact extent of his businesses network is unfathomable (and probably very unwise to try to find out about). He resides in a luxury apartment in central Cairo, surrounded by bodyguards, bootlickers (he is as vain as he is rich) and business people. You have not had much contact with him, but just the fact that you know about him and his people gives you a certain protection. You suspect that he knows a lot about what is going on.
You have always had an affinity for secrets, for the patterns that are woven in the dark cafés and in the winding alleys of Cairo. You don't delight in intrigue or the more raw sides of the city behind the scenes, but you enjoy its great age, the ancient stones, the time that seems to be seeping from the gutters. All people and places have their secrets, you are just aware of them, gently watching.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. The BibleYou grew up in the Cavendish family - there is not much more to say. For four generations you have been the gentleman (and gentlelady) hermetics of Britain, ever involved in the struggle to bring wisdom to the world and to balance the secret forces underlying society. At least that is how you want to appear to others.
Your father, Edmund Cavendish, believed in giving you a rigorous upbringing, as carefully planned as a grand evocation and not very different from his own Victorian upbringing. Your tutors imprinted the importance of correct behaviour, strength of character, responsibility and hermetic wisdom. You were taught how to read and write different languages, the secret symbolism of numbers, both the true and official versions of history, how to influence people and how to manage a business. The only thing he overlooked was small things like being present at birthdays or visiting your mother.
When you was 24 you began to work in his office, and was officially initiated into the Seraphis Society. You worked hard to extend the family vision, at first overseen by the assistants of Father, later on your own with your own business. Things went well, you married a charming young lady of good family and the business grew. It was not that hard to become rich and influential, and your assistance to the Society and chantry proved your worth, even in the eyes of your father. You even gave what you saw as a good upbringing to your two children.
But something was missing. As you celebrated your fortieth birthday, you realised that you had never done anything in your life, you had just executed a well written script without changing anything. You, your father, the whole Seraphis Society had worked hard to bring about the hermetic vision - but this was not the way. Becoming rich and influential, introducing politicians with Masonic orders and helping schools teach some of the truth was good, but it was not enough. You felt the need to actually help manifest the hermetic vision in the world directly, not just through mundane ploys. So when grandfather Arthur began to gather people for the Armorers, you requested admittance.
Your finances are excellent, your firm Cavendish Consultants Ltd. is quite profitable, and you invest wisely so that you, your family, your order and society at large will benefit.
I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty;You have always been so much more alive than the others around you. Even when you were very young, your curiosity and drive gave your parents grey hairs despite their love for you. Sometimes you did things for no apparent reason, just because you felt you had to, like the summer you ran away, hitch-hiked to a small northern village and got lost in the woods; when the postman found you and helped you to the police station, you had no idea of why you had gone to such lengths to get to that place and what you had intended to do when you got there.
I woke, and found that life was Duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, poor heart, unceasingly;
And thou shalt find thy dream to be
A truth and noonday light to thee.
Life a Duty, Ellen Sturgis Hooper
Your teenage rebellion was fearsome to behold, and a bit surprising to everyone including yourself. After all, you had seemed to get along fine with your parents, and had shown no signs of disliking the lower-middle class lifestyle of them. Suddenly you were an activist and hippie, breaking free from the calcified society you had previously lived in.
You grew up into yourself during the hippie era, sampling all of it from free love and drugs over politics to living in a neopagan collective. But unlike most other people, you learned something from it and began to synthesise your own vision from the hodge-podge of well-meaning ideas. You understood the truth that deep down everything is love without throwing away your common sense; instead you began to understand your previous impulses, your intense feeling of aliveness and perhaps even part of your true nature. Still, you were aware that things were not as bright and cheerful as your family in the collective wanted to think. Love and drive can be frightening too.
After some years you had to leave. You didn't want to leave the collective, it had become your home, your family, your life. But you had to, something forced you away with a power you couldn't resist. With heavy heart you left, trying to figure out what forces really ruled your life. It was during your travels around England in a battered old Volkswagen you met William Stephenson. You knew he was the one, and soon you made him realise it too. You married, and bore him two children, Mary and Peter. From the outside, it looked as if you had gone completely normal. You even got a job at the local bookstore.
But you knew his secret long before he dared to reveal it to you after much persuasion. You had felt it when you first saw him; this was a man who saw the secrets within the things. He had once been a powerful mage, involved in subtle intrigue and powerplay to bring enlightenment to the people. But after many years of essentially fruitless efforts, sad losses and a growing awareness of the pointlessness of the whole struggle he had walked out of the Order, trying to set up a normal life away from all the cosmic secrets and heavy responsibilities of an Awakened.
Together you began to explore the secret truths. You showed him that there were things worth fighting for, a basic unity of existence that could unite simple loving family life with the struggle to define reality, and he showed you (at first reluctantly) how true magick actually worked. Your natural affinity with life, healing and growth flowered, which didn't surprise you. You became his student and mentor, and eventually he even introduced you to the mages at St. Vincent Manor. You quickly realised why your husband had left, but didn't condemn the other mages for their conservatism. It was a protective shell, helping them fight against a darkening world.
But slowly you began to grow restless. Again, you knew that you would have to leave those you loved. This time you knew more about why - your Questing essence and strong Avatar were goading you on, but it didn't feel better for that. As gently you could, you broke up from William, Mary and Peter, promising them to return as often as possible. To some of the conservatives of St. Vincent this only proved that you were a bloody Verbena who didn't even love her own children and husband but you didn't care about what they said. William seemed to understand, and offered to come with you, but he eventually understood that Peter and Mary needed him more. You left him as a sadder but whole man.
The next years were spend travelling, exploring and understanding. You learned a lot, but you felt it was not the right knowledge. What you sought was deeper. For some reason you encountered Master Cavendish in London, who surprisingly suggested that you could follow him to Egypt. Of all the people at St. Vincent, he was the only one who stood up for you and William against the disapproval of the others; unlike most Masters he had kept his human heart. And there was something more, a premonition or intuitive feeling that suggested that you would follow him. Something in Egypt needs you.
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