The Council Transformed

The Juggler

The Reckoning forced changes on the Traditions that they were unwilling or unable to do for themselves; yet, the more things change the more things stay the same. Over the last twenty years the Traditions have been engaged in a process of renewal. Outmoded ideas and practices were shed in favor o new approaches that draw on both the ancient wisdom that has stood the test of time and new ways of understanding magick.  The Council have always been like the Juggler from the Tarot. They must be alert at all times whether Stasis, Entropy or Dynamism are rising or falling. Age old enemies in the Ascension War, Marauders, Nephandi, and the Technocracy are still in the mix as well, but new players have added their own batons into the game. The Disparate Alliance and the Sphinx insert more complexity to the already complicated Ascension War juggling act. Still embroiled in their own internal transformations, the Traditions struggle to keep up with all the changes in order to ensure that magick survives into the 21st century.

Council Structure

The Council of Nine has never been tightly organized. It has always existed in a close-knit network of friendships, political liaisons, mystic partnerships, formal titles, and Digital Web addresses. Central leadership is invested in its constituent leadership in the form of the Council of Nine Primi, but its body politic is scattered across the globe in chantries and fellowships.

  • Nine Primi – Personal representatives for the Traditions that meet in the New Horizon Colony in New Zealand. The Council functions as the faction’s legislative branch. They create policy, interpret the Protocols, and do the big picture thinking in the Ascension War.
  • Heralds – Heralds are the voice and hands of the Council to local communities. Some regions may only have one Herald serving and entire state or even a nation. Others, like Los Angeles, may have several in a single city. Heralds ensure open lines of communications between the Council and Traditions chantries.
  • Chantries and Horizon Realms –  These are the local communities of Tradition mages that the Heralds connect with. Chantries and Horizon Realms can be as influential as a primus.  Doissetep, for example, was highly influential in its day. Some are influential because of their location, some because of their magickal or material resources, or others because an important person or people dwell there. Almost all mage belong to a chantry, but chantries have a variety of structures from hierarchies to democracies to somewhere in between. Chantries are usually started with a mission in mind such as university, war, exploration, or a collective spiritual cause. Sometimes they are collections of cabals pooling resources, and pursing their own agendas. Chantries, Realms, and cabals are the body politic of the Council. These communities are the force and resources that are shaped by the primi.
    • Cabals – Within chantries are cabals. Cabals are the “family” unit of mages. Usually made of 3-5 mages (sometimes more), cabals are often dedicated to a specific part of a chantry’s missions, or have a collective agenda. Some are made up of a single Traditions, but nowadays the trend is to mix.
    • Both Chantries and cabals have systems of justice, advancement,  and minor transgressions are often handled at that level.
  • Tribunals – Tribunals are the judicial branch. Anyone can call one, and the chantry of the mage who calls it hosts it. Grand Tribunals can only be called by the Primi, and these are only called for crimes or events that concern the Traditions worldwide.

Tradition Justice

Tribunals are a judgment by one’s peers. The Traditions believe that mages should be judged by  other mages – not by Sleepers or other entities.  Tribunals are solemn affairs usually judged by Master- rank magi with strong reputations for wisdom and fairness.

  • Minor offenses or concerns that impact a single cabal or chantry are usually handled on the chantry or cabal level with no Tribunal called.
  • Hearing Tribunals – More serious crimes or matters that involve only a single Tradition may be handled at a Hearing Tribunal. Hearing Tribunals generally involve a single Tradition unless there is a compelling reason to involve outsiders.
  • Council Tribunals – Serious crimes or matters that impact the Council as a whole, for example conflict between mages of two different Traditions or chantries. At this point, mages from all involved parties would send representatives. These usually involve at least one representative from each Tradition.
  • Bloc Tribunals – These require the presence of at least three members of every Tradition. Essentially a large and very formal Council Tribunal, such gatherings are called for matters that impact the Council as a whole or high crimes.

Titles And Status

The Traditions might quibble about the terminology, but they have a shared set of values that allow them to determine rank and status. While these don’t directly translate into position or office, the more magickally powerful a mage is the more weight their words carry. It isn’t all about magickal might, however. Words, deeds, political or social savvy, one’s Avatar, Destiny, or other markers might confer status as well. That said, at the end of the day, if you can’t walk the walk, magickally speaking, mages will quickly stop taking you seriously. One’s magickal might roughly determines one’s place and role within Awakened society.

Current Status

The Reckoning unveiled and then dealt with many of the problems that had plagued the Traditions for centuries. While they lost a great deal, that sacrifice was necessary for renewal. Now that the Storm is past the Traditions, individually and collectively, must pursue the work of renewal or perish. With that renewal came a fresh perspective on the Ascension War. The Storm scoured away the crust of apathy placed on the world by the Technocracy. Now, more than ever, the Traditions have pledged to return to their roots, and put the Sleeper concerns first in order to ensure the future of magick.

The New Horizon Council is re-shaping the Traditions as a whole. With most of the primi less than a century old (rather than measuring their lives in centuries), these leaders came of age in the modern world. Science and technology are no longer seen as solely tools of the Technocrats or simply the play things of the Etherites or Virtual Adepts. Science, technology, and magick can be reconciled, and for many, were never mutually exclusive to begin with.  Without giving too much sympathy to the Technocracy, Tradition leaders of today say that it is not science and technology that is the problem but those who wield them. All the Traditions have growing technomantic wings that are helping to bring magick into the 21st century.

The Council has also updated is approach to the Protocols. Rather than viewed with cynicism or lip service the Council is proactive in promoting these values, and when required, enforcing them through Tribunals:

  • Respect those of Greater Knowledge
    • The Reckoning brought this Protocol into sharp focus. Under the old Council the common sense wisdom was that greater knowledge was synonymous with greater power, but this is no longer the case in post-Reckoning Awakened society. Mages of all Traditions take a much more critical look at what knowledge is, how something is known, and from whom or what source the knowledge comes. Archmages might have a great deal of magical might, but having spent two centuries  isolated in a Horizon Realm makes one out of touch with what is happening on Earth. Likewise,  younger mages might understand the Sleeper world, but lack the foresight of more experienced mages. This has always been a point of contention in Awakened society, but the difference now is that the Traditions recognize it. Masters and Adepts treat Disciples and Apprentices with the respect they deserve as the future of the Traditions, and magickal might is no longer the be all, end all of what makes one wise. That being said, the Traditions still argue and contend and divide over who really knows best.
  • A Tutor’s debt must be repaid
    • The Storm killed off or cut off the Traditions from their best and brightest minds. If the Traditions were to survive a new generation of mages must be trained. The Traditions took at hard look at their recruitment and initiation methods, and made some much neeed changes. Just because it was done that way in the Middle Ages doesn’t mean it still needs to be done that way. That being said, the Traditions still provide rigorous training, and expect their students to give their all. Students who refuse to meet these standards or pay their tuition are shut out in the cold until they do so. In exchange for such tough tutelage, these new students find mentors who are engaged and excited rather than distracted or bitter.
  • A mage’s Word is his Honor; break not a sworn Vow
    • Before the Reckoning, many mages only paid lip service to this Protocol, but after the Conflagration and the Concordia War this Protocol is strictly enforced.  Oathbreakers are dealt with harshly. The Council is not looking to repeat the violence and misery of the past.
  • The Will of an Oracle must always be obeyed
    • Possibly the most controversial Protocol, this article was nearly struck from Council law at the convening of the New Horizon Council. It was only for the presence of the Sphinx that it was kept. But is the Sphinx an Oracle or is it the old Council pulling the strings of younger mages? When as the last time anyone actually heard from an Oracle, anyway? If they do exist, where were they during the Reckoning? The fact that they sat out the largest upheaval since the Ascension War began makes the modern Traditions more than a little distrustful of anyone claiming to the an Oracle. Even the Celestial Chorus is reluctant to give up its new found autonomy for the whims of some ancient theocrat. The Council will reconsider the matter if and when an Oracle appears.
  • Betray not your Cabal or Chantry
    • The Technocracy pogroms forged tight bonds between cabals and chantries that survived. Betrayal from these mages is virtually unthinkable. Older mages are still angry about the loss of Horizon, and even those who aren’t refuse to let something like that happen again. A degree of paranoia is still present even twenty years after the Reckoning due to the pogroms and the mystery of exactly how Horizon was compromised. Was it really the Hollow Ones? No one agrees on whether or not it was, but even those who do blame the Hollow Ones don’t think they acted alone. Who was the Ascension Warrior and where are they now? Whatever the case may be, betrayal is dealt with swiftly and harshly. It is truly the cardinal sin of the Traditions.
  • Conspire not with the enemies of Ascension
    • Same as above, but on a larger scale. This puts many of the former Crafts in an interesting and unenviable position as their fellows emerge from hiding.
  • Protect the Sleepers; they know not what they do
    • If there is one Protocol the Council is determined to get right it is this one. All the primi and Tradition leaders are re-shaping their Traditions to not only protect Sleepers, but actively appeal to them. The Traditions want to take advantage of the chinks in the Technocracy’s strangle hold on the Consensus by persuading the Sleeper to accept some of their ideas. Exploitation, harm, or abuse of Sleepers yields stiff penalties.
  • Be subtle in your Arts, lest others know you for what you are
    • The so-called Rule of Shade was formally adopted by the New Horizon Council. With the advent of social media and smartphones it is more important than ever that mages be prudent about to when and to whom they reveal their magicks. Flashy magicks are frowned upon, but the general attitude is that mages who lack the common sense not to get caught get what they deserve.

The Council In Los Angeles

Mages have been active in Los Angeles since pre-colonial times, but the Ascension War in L.A. begins in the 1700s with the arrival of the first Celestial Choristers. Council mages in L.A. have never had much in collective governance, and there is no “local Council” that oversees things.  Like Traditions everywhere, the Awakened society operates in a sub rosa network rather than the strict hierarchy of the Technocracy. Tribunals have been called with deacons, heralds, or cabal leaders sent to represent their community’s interests. If collective action in needed then chantry or cabal leaders deal directly with other chantry or cabal leaders. With so my conflicting agendas, and differences in paradigms and cultures, L.A. is a panoply of magical thought and experience. Should a Tribunal be called then the chantry who’s member has called it must host it. Beyond this, chantries, cabals, and Traditions are left to govern themselves as they see fit. It takes something significant to get them to put aside their differences and work together, but when  something like that does appear then the Council gets to work. There have only been a scant few times when this has happened in Los Angeles history, most notably, the New Horizon Council’s destruction of the Nephandus Jodi Blake in 2001.

Los Angeles has the distinction of being the cradle of the New Horizon Council, and remains an important touchstone in Awakened society. It was here in Los Angeles that the New Horizon Council gathered for the first time, and  the rite that killed Blake and tore her Avatar from the cycle of reincarnation was performed. This show of force coupled with the transmissions of the Sphinx showed the Traditions that they still had some fight in them. While the Council opted to move its new headquarters to New Zealand for a fresh start, Los Angeles remains an important city for the Council.

L.A. is huge. Not even the Order of Hermes has a complete record of all the chantries that have wrestled the angels of Ascension in the City of Angels. Mages come to Los Angeles for as many reasons are there are mages. Still, Traditions do tend to hang together, and known points of contact have developed over the years.  Local Tradition mages refer to these as Missions. One can make contact with the locals at the following locations:

  • AkashayanaPaul’s Kitchen
    • Paul’s Kitchen is an institution in Market City China Town. At this cozy, “mom and pop” Chinese restaurant you order a meal, and ask for it to be made to bao ju. Once you have finished your tea you will receive a visit from the Tradition’s emissary to test your worthiness.
    • Wushi (Tiger Dance) Bodhimandala is one of the oldest chantries in L.A., and has lead the vanguard fighting in the Ascension War. The “hustler-monk” Tiger’s Ears represents them to new arrivals, and the Council at large.
    • +hangout/jump 18
  • DreamspeakersGeorge’s 50’s Diner
    • Dreamspeakers can be found swapping spirit stories and spirit names about the urban Umbra of Los Angeles at George’s. Why? Because it’s like something out of a dream…or maybe it’s the coffee!
    • Ghostwheeler “spirit chauffeur” Greg Torres is probably the most well known member of the Tradition in Los Angeles. He’s willing to lend a hand to those getting their bearings, but each spirit-walked must ultimately make their own way.
  • Celestial Chorus – La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles
    • One of LA’s oldest churches, has long been a sanctuary for the Celestial Chorus.
    • Mother Maira Alvarez, the Chorus’s house mother, can be reached by lighting a blue candle in the name of the poor at the feet of La Reina de los Ángeles.
    • +hangout/jump 17
  • Euthanatos -Tom Bergin’s
    • Located on Fairfax Ave, Bergin’s has been the informal meeting place for the Tradition since the 1940s. Why do the death mages meet at an Irish pub? You’ll have to ask them.
    • Lhaksmist horror director Henry Fitzgerald is willing to give any death mage the lay of the land if you buy him a beer at Bergin’s.
    • +hangout/jump 16
  • Cult of Ecstasy – 13th Hour Club
    • An old Jazz club out there somewhere…but you don’t find it. It finds you.
    • Aesop “The Professor” Warren can be found most days nursing a hangover in a rundown club-chantry callled the 13th Hour Club. He’ll tell you what’s cool in the city of Angels.
  • Society of Ether – Clifton’s Cafeteria and the Gernsback Room
    • A member of the Society can usually be found at Clifton’s Cafeteria listening in to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, or just having a late-night snack. The Tradition created the  Gernsback Room, a private club in a non-Euclidean space within the restaurant created by the Tradition during the signing of the Manifesto of the Sphinx.
    • Ethernaut Harold Montague functions as chancellor of the Tradition in L.A. If you make an appointment he’ll see you next month.
    • +hangout/jump 4
  • Order of Hermes – Ascension Lodge
    • The Order of Hermes languish in an old Hollywood estate somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. The secret address and astrological coordinates will be in your letter of introduction.
    • Practicus Malvolio Ellis Roman, bani Fortunae is the Order’s messenger on the West Coast. He’ll be there to pick you up at the station, and show you around.
    • +hangout/jump 62
  • Verbena – The Wisdom Tree
    • The Wisdom Tree is a gnarled old pine near Cahuenga Peak, not far from the Hollywood sign. Beneath it is an old ammo box where people can write messages, wishes, or dreams in journals provided by volunteers. Those seeking to make contact with the Verbena leave a rune inscribed with blood under the New Moon so the witches can find you.
    • The Tradition’s defacto leader is Twister bruja Rosie Ayala-Beltran. She has some how managed to more or less unite the Tradition under a loose system of heralds until the Storm ended.
  • Virtual Adepts – Teklon
    • Teklon is the Virtual Adept stronghold somewhere in LA’s Digital Reflection. If you don’t know how to get there then you’re not one of the Elite. The Elite might throw some sympathy toward the noobs at Musso & Frank Grill. This Hollywood restaurant houses an informal shrine to the first and oldest public pay phone in Los Angeles. If you pick it up and ask for the Operator in just the right way a recorded voice will connect you to Teklon’s central switch.
    • Stelfox Mary of the Phantom Current usually takes care of orientations for those new LA.

Songs of the Underground

Tradition mages argue over who was there and who did what creating a rich history of the Ascension War in Los Angeles. Each Tradition has its own achievements and losses, but there are several events in the Council’s history that they collectively recognize:

  • Toypurina and the Virgens – Celestial Chorus cabal Virgens de Los Angelos operating inside missionary forces fail to contain the increasingly violent conversions of the indigenous people at the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel.  Awakened indigenous medicine woman Toypurina leads a spectacular uprising against missionaries. She is betrayed, however, and the uprising failed, but she became known as the Joan of Arc of California. While she never joined a Tradition, Toypurina’s example inspires the Traditions and other Awakened to this day. Traditions mark October 1st 1785 as the start of the Ascension War in Los Angeles. A Tribunal is held on October first every year to celebrate Toypurina’s life and work.
  • Etherite DefectionHarold Montague was an Electrodyne Engineer, and founder of the Olvera Construct.  When he defected in a cloud fire and ether, he took with him his entire amalgam and a version of the MP-MLA, and has been a thorn in the lion’s paw ever since. Serial monogamist (he’s had 14 wives), rogue pilot, gambler extraordinaire, and international man of mystery, Montague was at the forefront of the Ascnesion War for much of the 20th century. He began as a member of Ascension Lodge, but after winning their largest Node in a poker game one evening, left to start Montague Labs. His most legendary feat was the Battle of Los Angeles in the 1940s when one of his aircraft prototypes was mistaken by Sleepers for a UFO. Montague allegedly lead a raid on an important Horizon Construct around the time of the Storm which ended badly killing his cabal and placing him into a years long Quiet. Despite his ups and downs, his knowledge of the Master Plan of Metropolitan Los Angeles remains an essential tool of the Council in countering Technocracy efforts, a fact his ego won’t let anyone forget!
  • The St. Francis Dam Collapse – Two and a half minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam catastrophically fails. The St. Francis dam an important keystone in the Technocracy’s Master Plan, and its collapse set the plan back decades. The Union, of course, blames the Traditions for the collapse, but no single mage, cabal or chantry has every admitted to having been involved.  The matter of the St. Francis Dam collapse remains unresolved, and rumors of a curse on the site abound. Anyone who visits the site notes there is a strange dimensional anomaly that damn odd. Many Council mages believe the Resonances to be Nephandic, but then then again it could be something else.
  • Ahl-I-Batin Vanish – The Subtle Ones were members of nearly every chantry in California, but one afternoon in 1920 they were gone. Some left hurried notes of apologies, and vague references to business in the Middle East while others simply vanished leaving their chantries to pick up the pieces.
  • Sister Aimee – Choirister Sister Aimee is arguably one of the Council’s greatest successes and failures. After making a splash as one of the first radio televangelists, she raised enough money to build the Angelus Temple in 1925. Within, she fostered one of the most legendary Reality Zones in Los Angeles history.  She eventually looses her church due to her hubris, alleged drug problems, and Technocracy attacks.
  • The 1960s – The 1960s – Throughout most of the 20th century, the Traditions were under the thumb of Technocracy pogroms. When the Union erected the Cryptopticon, the pogroms intensified giving Tradition mages little room to breath. All of that changed with the defection of the Virtual Adepts, and the blinding of the Cryptopicon allowing Tradition ideas, long suppressed by Sleeper authorities and Technocracy pawns to surface and find new footing.
    • Virtual Adept Defection – In 1962, Koss Hamilton followed her Convention in joining the Council of Nine. Like Montague, Hamilton took with her many of her fellow Adepts and a copy of the MP-MLA (smuggled out on a floppy disk days before), but the Technocracy had taken steps to ensure the plan stayed secret this time. Most of the file was corrupt, but there was enough for the Traditions to hit back hard against the Technocracy. Virtual Adepts, Montague Labs, and other technomancers infected the Magic Motorways surveillance network with a computer virus known simply as Oedipus. This quasi-living intelligence (for lack of a better word)  effectively blinds the Cryptopticon. For a period of 8 years, the Cryptopicon sees nothing resulting in the Tradition’s advantage during the counter-cultural years of the 1960s.  The Cryptopicon mysteriously comes back online in 1970, about the same time as the ARPANET an LO-Sector also come online. The timing is too uncanny for them not to be related, but how they are related is unknown. The virus also damaged the Cryptopicon creating dead zones in Los Angeles that it simply cannot see. The Technocracy is still working to resolve this issue, and the virus is still out there, somewhere, doing who knows what.
    • Ascension Lodge – Ascension Lodge was founded in the 1930s as the premiere university chantry in Los Angeles. For a time it was that, but the 1960s freed its leadership to pursue more lofty agendas. A streak of fabulous drug-fueled parties, public rituals and unfettered influence ensued resulting in a quixotic mess. Its  chancellor went Mad, and its remaining members Censured. The Lodge and its fabled library closed its doors in the early 1970s, and has declined ever since. The Lodge is a symbol of both hubris and hope for local Tradition’s, and there is always talk of reviving it. No one has yet to do so, however.  The Lodge is still cared for by Hermetic Marjorie Prince and her loyal staff, and its sprawling grounds are the defacto setting for Tribunals and other formal meetings.
    • Witch Wars – The Verbena of the West Coast are a house divided. For as long as the Tradition has been present in Los Angeles the witches has been crippled with in-fighting. Bitter arguments about legitimacy of one lineage or another played out at Tribunals, in coven intrigue, and even spilled over in the the pagan magazines of the day.  These little earthquakes lasted from the 1950s to the 1990s, but peaked in the 1960s. The bitterness was only quelled when the Storm made the Tradition reassess its priorities. A fierce rivalry still exists between the prestigious and influential Golden Gate Coven in the Bay Area and the so-called “Hollywood” (read: fake) witches of Los Angeles. The Storm and the Pogrom finally forced the Verbena of LA to the table, and they formed a kind of “council of witches” with each coven sending a represenative. The idea was to create a single body of mutal aid, but so far all its done is squabble.
  • The Storm – The Storm shocked the Los Angeles chantries as it did the rest of the Council. Realms were destroyed, cabalmates vanished, Quiets increased in the isolation caused by the Storm. While no one in Los Angeles was directly involved anyone who participated in the Ascension War up till now began to have doubts. If the Storm was a self-inflicted wound, and not everyone agrees that it was, then the Tradition’s as a whole have some introspection to do.
  • The Pogrom(s) – Seeing the Ascension War all but over with the Council in tatters, the Technocracy marshaled its might against any Tradition mage it could find. Chantires were sacked, cabals broken apart, and members of the Traditions killed or went into hiding.
  • The New Horizon Council and the Slaying of Jodi Blake – In 2001, the Traditions managed to trap and kill the notorious Nephandus Jodi Blake in Los Angeles. How this came about, on who’s orders, and is unclear. It began with a gathering of  Masters an Adepts in L.A., and ended shortly after then the public declaration of the Council’s reformation. This, of course, was a trap for Jodi Blake. The cabal met at 3:37am in the abandoned Hawthrone Mall. There they conducted a joint ritual that allegedly slew Jodi Blake. The site of the ritual is said to contain a blasted out hole with a large, flat obsidian disk at the bottom of it. It is heavily warded, and the Wushi chantry has been charged with guarding the site from intruders. Access is restricted to the Nine Primi and their designates.
  • The Manifesto of the Sphinx – It started off as a rumor. Someone heard that someone had a copy. Then the rumor became fact. What remaining cabals and chantries received copies. To some this was welcome news. To others, salt in a healing wound. In Los Angeles the first copy was received by the Etherites who were among the first to reach out and re-establish the Traditions in the city of Angeles. A framed copy hangs within their secret club house inside Clifton’s.