Urizen magical traditions Revision as of 22:59, 27 July 2012 by Matt
When a citizen of the Empire thinks of the Urizen, it’s usually a wizard he imagines. Whether a priest, a soldier or a merchant, it is quite common for an Urizen to know an incantation or the fundamentals of a magical lore.
The mountains of Urizen are rich in raw magical resources but they are even more rich in lore and recorded knowledge. There are libraries here that have been collected and expanded over five hundred years, but the magicians don’t rest on their laurels they quest constantly to improve and increase their understanding of magic.
The magi of Urizen are politicians as much as they are magicians. When Urizen joined the Empire they were instrumental in the creation of the Conclave, the great body of magicians that supports the Empire with their arcane skills. Some magi take an interest in the workings of other Imperial bodies, like the Senate, Synod or Bourse, but the majority regard the Conclave as the most important political arena in the Empire, a reflection of the importance which the Urizen place on magic.
Magic is viewed as the most potent tool an individual can wield to change the world. As nodes in the Net of the Heaves, mages are inherently more pivotal than those around them because they can use magic to achieve far reaching and dramatic changes. Magic can be dangerous however, too much magic can warp an individual’s consciousness or taint an area of land. Reliance on one Realm of magic can create imbalances with far-reaching consequences. What is more the Urizen know that individual wizards in other nations rival or even exceed the power of the Urizen though they lack their perspective and understanding and this makes them dangerous. Yet at the same time these wizards are the peers and potential allies of the Urizen magi, they just need guidance.
By bringing magicians together, the Conclave makes it easy for magi to assess their peers, to identify those magicians amongst the other nations who are pivotal nodes. By working together in the Conclave, they can more easily influence their colleagues and thus ensure that the magicians of the Empire are effective and work to improve the Empire.
Many Urizen magi have little or no interest in politics. The stargazers are interested in magic itself, performing research and experiments seeking to advance understanding and exceed the known limits of magic. They study magic not just for the power it grants, but so that they can understand both it and the complex laws that govern it. Although only a few stargazers are interested in astronomy they take their name from those amongst them who meticulously chart the course of the heavens.
A common theory among the stargazers is that there is at least one more Realm – the seventh Realm that represents the unknown. This seventh Realm, if it exists, is concerned with things that humans cannot conceive of, and may be related to the process of reincarnation. Attempting to understand the seventh Realm is a complex mental exercise – how does a human mind conceive of something that is by its very nature impossible to imagine?
Another common theory held by stargazers is that there are probably eight Realms, although there is bitter division over what these Realms might be. The most widespread belief is that the four “physical” Realms – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – should be mirrored by four “spiritual and mental” Realms – that there are at least two more Realms, the counterparts to Day and Night.
The stargazers maintain that the Realms can be a positive influence on the world, but only so long as no one Realm dominates the others. All six realms possess qualities that are valuable, especially in moderation. Many stargazers perform experiments designed to create balance between the influence of the realms, or to highlight positive elements rather than negative. The ultimate goal is to create a fabled state they variously call “celestial harmony” or “the omnihedron” that will help usher in a state of perfection on the mortal realm.
Both magi and stargazers are interested in the Eternals. The interest of the stargazers is obvious, for the Eternals may offer insights that can unlock the secrets of the Realms and the physical world. The interest of the political magi is more prosaic. The Eternals are powerful and are clearly pivotal nodes even if they are not part of the Empire. Where other Nations may find the Eternals suspect, the magi believe fundamentally that the Eternals are a “knowable quantity.” Their restricted nature as compared to humans means that mortals will always eventually get the better of them, provided they approach them rationally and with care not to get overconfident.
The archivists of Urizen maintain libraries of lore gathered from across the Empire and beyond. Honed and refined by generations of study and discussion, these libraries rival the great libraries of Basilikon. Urizen does not limit itself to magical lore, everything can be quantified, charted and recorded and to lose or waste knowledge is a dreadful thing. Recording and gathering wisdom and knowledge of the mundane world helps them to a greater understanding of how to apply their magic to the best effect.
The archivists always attempt to maintain perfect detachment from the events they are recording, no matter how painful or unpopular those facts might be. Most Archivists are masters of the Day Realm, able to perform powerful divination rituals. They know that success in divination relies upon having the most accurate possible information so they regard personal opinions and interpretations as flaws. It is perfectly appropriate for an Urizen to hold an opinion on his data, to have interpretation of what it means, the archivists just don’t believe that mere opinions merit being written down.
Urizen is also known for its torchbearers. This loose society is made up of scholars who observe and discuss events as they unfold. They actively seek to report the truth to as many people as possible, so that folk are educated about what is going on in their Empire. They are motivated to stick their noses in wherever anything interesting is happening, and then tell people about it. Some live among foreigners, to learn as much about them as they can. Others dedicate themselves to certain specific forms of truth – they become battle observers or political commentators. There is no formal torchbearer society, but those who feel strongly about truth and education often wear a badge, pin or piece of jewellery in the shape of a lit torch.
The clashes between Highborn librarians and Urizen archivists and torchbearers are notorious. Archivists are outraged by what they see as the librarians cavalier approach to the facts while the librarians are infuriated by the torchbearers insistence on spreading information to everyone. There is rarely much love lost between scholars of the two nations and they often compete with each other to possess information.