World of Darkness - Alpha Network
“Special quotation regarding Character Examples..”
*"An Essay on the Fallen World" ~ Journal of Ivan Hazelgrove (Archmaster “Wolfe”), formerly a Free Council Acanthus, Infiltrator of the Paternoster Ministry, and Planeswalker
The Tellurian – the world as it is meant to be – was not so different from the world we know now: a world of actions and beings and things, where we live and experience, change the world around us, grow and die. In all likelihood, the Astral (where the perceptions and thoughts of beings coalesce and evolve) and the Shadow (where resonances accumulated to reveal what concepts were meaningful in the world, but hidden by its form) and the Underworld (where souls were helped to release their phenomenal attachments) were also meant to exist. The difference is that the Tellurian was woven properly with the supernal: the symbols – the code, if you like – of all that is.
We think of The Supernal like Plato’s cave – it is Real, and our phenomenal world are like the shadows cast by it – but I think that we are mislead by this perception. The supernal consists of what we call platonic ideals – purest forms of what things are. Symbols, untampered through interaction with other symbols. A “template” or a “mold” if you will. And the “supernal realms” are merely a filter – looking at a grouping of pure symbols. This is what we see with our “mage sight”: it is in fact seeing the pattern of symbols in our world, this world. A supernal symbol has no meaning without a phenomenal existence, much as a desire has no consequence unless acted upon; the supernal is not how the world should be, but the component parts of the world. The phenomenal is what should be: a multitude of patterns, coalescing and altering one another, filtering through past experiences, changing, growing, dreaming, acting. Like a painting that starts with a pure, unadorned, perfectly rendered bowl of fruit, shade and perspective are applied, making it impure, but also giving it meaning and context, making it real. This is what I call the Pattern: it exists only in the phenomenal, and the tellurian is where the pattern is how it should be.
But the world has Fallen. It is because of The Lie.
By “ascending the golden ladder”, what the Exarchs sought to do was fundamentally, permanently change the symbols which composed the world. They did so. Perhaps the world Fell because they did not erase the pre-existing symbols first, creating a dissonance between two things which were exclusive but now both True. Perhaps it is because they became living symbols, still somewhat insulated by an identity and will, not truly part of the fabric. Perhaps it is because they sought only to subjugate humanity and did not fully rewrite the tellurian, thus placing a cage around the symbols of human perception and experience. Whatever the reason, the Lies they forced on the world created a tear which allowed more Lies to seep in, creating a layer of symbols which poison, unmake, and corrupt the true component symbols of the world on their way to becoming “What Is”.
The Abyss cannot override the Supernal, but when an abyssal symbol seeps into the pattern, it does not interact with the other symbols properly. It creates glitches, makes things “anti-real”, or creates new and unique things which should not be and warps the pattern. It doesn’t necessarily do this in a way that is evil, but it prevents what should be from becoming what is, it obscures the true symbols which underlie the phenomenal, and alters the way they interact to create more dissonance where more lies can seep in.
An Abyssal World would be one where false symbols completely hide the true ones, and become the new template which underlies the phenomenal. Fortunately, the Abyss is the chaos of all that Is Not; the symbols it interjects should not be able to synergize and interact in such a way that would allow this to happen. It is in conflict with itself. It can’t replace the tellurian. At least not entirely. Or so we hope. A glimpse of truth should always shine through. Or, maybe, the ability for symbols to come together and interact will be lost altogether…
We learn three things by understanding the Fallen this way. First, that students of Prime, the arcana of how symbols are expressed, should be able to discover ways of studying abyssal symbols, and perhaps finding a way to remove them from the Pattern.
Second, we know that the Lie is what keeps people asleep, and that seeing through it is how we come to Awaken. The lies of the Abyss may be too many to predict or understand, but the lies of the Exarchs are something we can know. If we endeavor to help sleepers pierce through those lies, we can free humanity from oppression and Awaken more of us to what is true.
Finally, and most difficult to accept, is the myth of Ascension. As the Exarchs showed us, any attempt to rewrite the supernal symbols is the ultimate hubris of humanity; as we are all flawed, our attempts to change the truth will only introduce more lies. Every Archmaster, and every attempt to force new symbols into the pattern, will only widen the influence of the Abyss. The role of Mages is only to guide how symbols interact, how they are expressed, not to change which are the true symbols to be woven into the Pattern.
Here are the Lies I have recognized in the Pattern. I believe I know which are caused by the Exarchs; others, I think, are abyssal lies about the Arcana. There are innumerable lies which seep into the pattern – tiny glitches caused by the abyss and archmasters; the following, however, are so pervasive that I believe overcoming them may cause someone to Awaken – and, perhaps, these are the Lies which keep the world Fallen.
[disbelief] There is nothing “supernatural” in the world; magic does not exist; humans are not capable of making changes to reality.
- The components of “life” are no different than any other matter.
- Death is the absence of life, not a force of its own.
- Thoughts are made of chemicals and electricity.
- There is no soul; “you” are an arrangement of parts, accidentally aware.
- Events in life are pre decided and unchangeable.
- You are not destined to accomplish anything; there is no “place” for you.
- [The Eye] : your every choice is being watched and judged.
- [The Father] : authority comes from one sole divine ruler. Worthy means obedient.
- [The General] : “the other” (groups of people different from you) is to blame for your suffering; you must kill them to be well.
- [The Unity] : people alone are meaningless; only acting together, each in their place as parts subsumed to a whole, can society function. Our individuality divides us; we should be one.
- [The Chancellor]: every resource has a price, and should be bought and sold for profit.
- [The Nemesis]: there is no “spirit world”; flesh is all that matters; this is all you have.
[the psychopomp] : there is nothing beyond your affairs in life; cling to them or face oblivion.
- [The Prophet] : only “great men” can achieve true change in this world.
- [The Raptor] : the world chooses how we live and die; there is no choice, only the “natural cycle” – resign yourself to instinct. Humans are not part of the natural world; they are above it, destined to rule it. Our actions cannot change the flow of nature.
- [The Ruin] : change only leads to worse situations; it is best to keep what you have.
I should speak briefly as to what I have learned about the so-called “lower depths”. I refer to these as the “hungering realms”, for my interactions with intruders have shown me a commonality: they all need (and try to compel and feed upon) something from the tellurian which they lack. The favored example, Demons, need the dark impulses of humans. There are many unanswered questions, in part because they cannot be reliably visited or summoned, and in part because they are exceedingly dangerous. Is it supernal symbols they seek to consume, or is it phenomenal patterns? Can patterns corrupted by the Abyss sustain them? Can they feed upon abyssal symbols, giving us hope to be rid of the abyss? It is my fear that the lower depths may always have existed, parallel to the tellurian, and they seek only to feed on the patterns which should be, and thus they aid the Abyss in unmaking the world.
The nature of the lower depths has made me speculate that many of the other races we encounter are related to them: the undead which hunger for blood (life), the stories which hunger for dreams (creativity), the specters which hunger for missed opportunities (events), the created which hunger to be real humans (souls). It may even be that spirits, which seek to reinforce their resonances to the point of imbalance, are touched by the lower depths. Did the Astral, Underworld, and Shadow which were meant to be become warped into realms of the lower depths when the world Fell? Did the abyss seep into their patterns, creating false embodiments? Or were they always intended to reinforce the pattern in these particular ways, but the balance they were once held in has been lost?
I have discovered a door which led, not to another realm, but to an alternate reality. It is as though Seattle is trapped in the early 20th century, and the fires never destroyed it; another timeline, I suppose. There is a border to it, however: I cannot travel more than half a mile outside the city limits. I thought at first that it was a relic of a pattern which had been written out of existence – like fragments from Atlantis – but after scrutinizing the symbols here, I am more inclined to call it an abyssal realm: a lie, fit together so well as to create an alternate world.
For days, I have been seeking, in terror, some sign that this is related to the myth of the 10,000 leaves; there is none yet. What I have found, though, is evidence of experiments being done here. There are ephemeral beings which have been trying to expel me, of a kind I’m not familiar with: they appear, under scrutiny with Prime, to be beings of causality (fate?) given mental constructs as bodies. Sometimes they have golems, sometimes they merely possess the people here (who do, terrifyingly, appear to be ordinary humans constructed from Lies). They apparently protect the experiments here, which, from the glimpses I have gotten, involve ways of altering the pattern.
I do not know if this is an abyssal world, seeking to create a process by which to synergize their false symbols in the way I mentioned earlier, or if this is an abyssal world created to hide an experiment with ways of changing the Pattern for another agenda. I do not know which possibility is more terrifying. But I fear – and hope – what this could mean for the tellurian. If this project was turned toward overcoming the Lie, could what has Fallen rise again? Or will it Fall even further, and become swallowed by the Abyss?