Verbena

“Haven’t you got any romance in your soul?’ said Magrat plaintively.

‘No,’ said Granny. ‘I ain’t. And stars don’t care what you wish, and magic don’t make things better, and no one doesn’t get burned who sticks their hand in a fire. If you want to amount to anything as a witch, Magrat Garlick, you got to learn three things. What’s real, what’s not real, and what’s the difference.”

-Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

Reckoning

The Verbena love life, and while they were willing to fight and even die for their beliefs, the Conflagration and the Concordia War were a needless loss of it. The Storm hit the Verbena particularly hard not because the Tradition’s numbers were impacted, but because it was evidence of Nature’s fury. The Verbena see the Storm not as retribution for the excesses of the Ascension War. They spent the Storm years sacrificing and praying for the anger of the Gods to cease. If they are to be believed their payers were answered and the sacrifices were not in vain. Masters in the Seasonal Realms were cut off from their Earthbound counterparts many of whom were mere Disciples, had to take the reigns of power. A rift has formed in the Verbena that must eventually be healed if the Tradition is to survive.

Current Status

During the Storm, the Verbena took to their coven houses and sacred groves to pray and sacrifice. There was widespread agreement that the Storm was not the End of Days, Ragnarök, or some other apocalypse like the Celestial Chorus. The Storm was retribution. A punishment for hubris of the “end” Ascension War. With the Paths of the Wyck closed and the Tradition cut off from the Gardener Masters in the Seasonal Realms, the Moon-Seekers and Twisters of Fate took up the mantle of leadership of the Tradition. Once the Storm ended, the Verbena found something unexpected. Many of the reliable Paths of the Wyck were impassable or gone, but others thought lost were once again open. The Storm tore open the crust that Reason unleashing long thought lost wonders…and horrors. The Verbena must now seek answers to the mythic threads that have come undone, and reweave their once great, secret network. There is a great opportunity here, but also much danger.

The Paths to the Seasonal Realms were some of the first to reopen, but the witches who walked them found them much changed. Spring Cottage was a desolate waste full of wailing winds and mutated creatures crazed with starvation. Autumn circle was an abattoir where former Verbena had lost their lives defending the Realm from some mysterious invaders. While still verdant, the Realm is stained by dark Resonances the Tradition are struggling to understand. Then there is the mystery of Summer Grove. The Paths that lead to it all terminated on an Umbral cliff, and even the most sensitive Twisters of Fate cannot locate it.  Most of the spirit-walkers of the Tradition caught in the Storm retreated to Winter Castle, but even that Realm was not left untouched. Those who venture to and from the Realm must endure Frozen winds filled with razor-ice, snow accumulation the size of hills, avalanches, and extreme cold – that is just during the day. At night, the Realm plunges into an impassable, arctic hinterland. The Verbena holed up in the throne room of the castle to tend to try to keep the sacred blood-oak alive. To do so, the Tradition’s Masters forced into a powerful dormancy which seemed to take them with it. Now, most of the Tradition’s Masters lay in the throne room in catatonic Quiets, their minds unreachable. The survivors do not understand what happened in to the other Realms, but what they do say is chilling.

What few Masters and Adepts returned to Earth found that the Tradition’s politics had moved on without them. Over the intervening years they have made their displeasure known covertly, and cracks have begun to form over issues younger mages consider trivial. Then there is also the matter of the Sphinx. The returning Masters, eager to strike back for the loss of Concordia, push for the Tradition to take up the cause again. Not all agree, and even if they are sympathetic, they no longer feel these elders, who measure their lives in centuries, understand the 21st century well to plot a successful second act Ascension War.

Moon-Seeker Master Elizabeth Morgan was chosen as the Tradition’s representative to the New Horizon Council, but was a controversial choice for many reasons. First, she is the scion of a British witch-family who gave up her inheritance to be with her Nigerian Dreamspeaker partner Alice Abebe. Second, she had a high profile career in the United States in the 1960s as a poet and activist who was influential in shaping witch-related feminist activism in New York City, something the Gardeners are critical of. Her Dianic approach to the Craft has not endeared her to the the Tradition either, but her connections to the Gardener pedigree, her demonstrated concern for Sleepers, and her forward looking approach to the Craft made her a blend of the old and the new.

The Wyck

  • Gardeners Of The Tree – Traditionalist Gardeners have always been both a blessing and a thorn to the Verbena. They are the trunk of the Tradition, and the secrets passed through the blood linage covens are cherished as a rare example of the Old Religion surviving into the modern world. On the other hand, their exclusionary philosophies and unwillingness to change have put them at odds with the rest of the Tradition. As the Ascension War, marched on the Gardeners languished in their family enclaves and Horizon Realms. When the Storm hit it took with it centuries old Realms with it and stores of ancient knowledge stored there – in both written and human form. The Gardeners are now faced with the challenge of seeking out and somehow reconstructing their traditions, or figure out how to move forward with the pieces. Remaining Gardeners have had to set aside their age-old grudge against the Twisters of Fate, and consult them concerning past lives and reincarnation to see what they remember. As much as it pains the Eurocentric members of the faction to do so there is some talk of perhaps inviting witch families from outside of Europe in order to support the trunk of the tree, something their returned-Masters strongly disapprove of. The transmission of the Sphinx has divided the Gardeners. Some see the Storm as an opportunity to focus on family, and rebuild their fading traditions. Others, particularly the returning Masters, see it as an opportunity not only bring their ways into the 21st century, but also settle some scores against the Technocracy.
    • Common Focus
      • Paradigms: Bring Back the Golden Age, Creation Is Innately Divine & Alive, A World of Gods and Monsters, Might Is Right, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, It’s All Good – Have Faith, All Power Comes from God(s)
      • Practices:  Craftwork, High Ritual Magick, Maleficia, Medicine Work, Witchcraft, God-Bonding, Elementalism, Invigoration, Mediumship, Bardism, Faith
      • Instruments: Armor, Artwork, Blessings & Curses, Blood and Other Fluids, Bones, Skin, Organs, and Other Remains, Books, Scrolls, and Periodicals, Brews, Potions, Powders, and Other Concoctions, Cards, Dice, and Other Instruments of Chance, Celestial Alignments, Circles, Pentacles, and other Geometric Designs, Crossroads and Crossing Days/Moments, Cups, Chalices, Cauldrons, and Other Vessels, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Drugs and Poisons, Elements, Food and Drink, Gems, Stones, and Minerals, Group Rites, Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants, Household Tools & Implements, Knots and Ropes, Languages, Meditation, Money & Wealth, Music, Numbers and Numerology, Offerings and Sacrifices, Ordeals and Exertion, Prayers and Invocations, Prayers and Invocations, Sex and Sensuality, Social Domination, Symbols, Tricks & Illusions, True Names, Voice and Vocalizations, Wands, Rods, and Staves, Weapons, Writings, Inscriptions, and Runes
  • Lifeweavers –The Lifeweavers have changed little. More of a breed than a faction, the Lifeweavers continue their individual paths shaping life as they see fit. The Storm years were a period of experimentation for the Lifeweavers who sought to adapt their bodies to the Storm. Their experiments were met with limited success, and more than a few died trying. With the Paths of the Wyck closed to them some went looking to the cities for answers. Increasingly, Lifeweavers have taken to the city forming a strange hybrid of the cutting edge and the primal. Of the four factions Lifeweavers care the least about the Sphinx and renewing the Ascension War, though some of the the new urban primitives have heeded the call.
    • Common Focus
      • Paradigms: Creation Is Innately Divine & Alive, Transcend Your Limits, We are NOT Men
      • Practices: Craftwork, Gutter Magick, Maleficia, Medicine Work, Witchcraft, Elementalism, Invigoration, Shamanism
      • Instruments: Bodywork, Blood and Other Fluids, Bones, Skin, Organs, and Other Remains,  Brews, Potions, Powders, and Other Concoctions, Crossroads and Crossing Days/Moments, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Drugs and Poisons, Elements, Food and Drink,  Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants, Meditation, Ordeals and Exertion, Sex and Sensuality, Social Domination, Voice and Vocalizations
  • Moon-Seekers – With their numbers swelling, the age of the Moon-Seekers may have arrived. The seeds sewn in the occult rival of the 19th century bore fruit in the 1990s in the form of a panoply of Sleeper interest in witchcraft. Rather than turning their noses up at the lack of traditionalism, the Moon-Seekers sewed those seeds again, and now, over 20 years later, a new cycle of Sleeper interest in the Craft has bloomed with the Moon-Seekers prepared to receive it. They have harvested these fruits in the form of apprentices making them the largest and most diverse faction in the Tradition. Techno-pagans dominate the faction using social media to spread the Old Religion in new ways in the New Age. The more primal aspects of the Digital Web have begun to attract the sub-faction, and they have made innovative strides with information technology creating living computers, convening coven meetings via teleconferences, and weaving spells over digital networks. During the Storm years, the Queerbena asserted themselves, and what was something of a lingering controversy among conservatives is now an accepted (perhaps reluctantly) fact.  Moon-Seekers as a faction have heard the call of the Sphinx, but points of view differ from coven to coven.
    • Common Focus
      • Paradigms: Creation Is Innately Divine & Alive, A World of Gods and Monsters, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, It’s All Good – Have Faith, All Power Comes from God(s), Embrace the Threshold, All the World’s a Stage, Turning the Keys to Reality, We’re All God(s) In Disguise, Tech Holds All Answers (Techno-pagans)
      • Practices:  Craftwork, High Ritual Magick, Maleficia, Medicine Work, Witchcraft, God-Bonding, Elementalism, Invigoration, Faith, Mediumship, Bardism, Hypertech (techno-pagans), Alchemy, Chaos Magick,  Gutter Magick, Vodoun, Weird Science (techno-pagans), Yoga
      • Instruments: Armor, Artwork, Blessings & Curses, Blood and Other Fluids, Bones, Skin, Organs, and Other Remains, Books, Scrolls, and Periodicals, Brews, Potions, Powders, and Other Concoctions, Cards, Dice, and Other Instruments of Chance, Celestial Alignments, Circles, Pentacles, and other Geometric Designs, Crossroads and Crossing Days/Moments, Cups, Chalices, Cauldrons, and Other Vessels, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Drugs and Poisons, Elements, Food and Drink, Gems, Stones, and Minerals, Group Rites,  Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants, Household Tools & Implements, Knots and Ropes, Languages, Meditation, Money & Wealth, Music, Numbers and Numerology, Offerings and Sacrifices, Ordeals and Exertion, Prayers and Invocations, Prayers and Invocations, Sex and Sensuality, Social Domination, Symbols, Tricks & Illusions, True Names, Voice and Vocalizations, Wands, Rods, and Staves, Weapons, Writings, Inscriptions, and Runes
  • Twisters of Fate – The Twisters of Fate might be the smallest faction of the Tradition, but they are arguably the most important. The need for their back to basics approach to the Craft, and the deep well of wisdom they drink from has been crucial in ensuring the Tradition’s survival in the 21st century. With the Gardeners hard hit from the Storm, it is left to the Twisters of fate to hold the Tradition together. In the past they offered their wisdom to any who would listen, but nowadays that is virtually the entire Tradition. Twisters find eager Disciples and Adepts  within circles and coven asking questions, and interested in learning. Twister Masters hold a special place of prestige, and their visions are believed to hold the keys to the Tradition’s future.  The Twisters for the most part are not seeking the limelight. Though they would never admit it openly, but the Storm is the opportunity they have been waiting for to reshape the Tree, and the world. The perspective on the Sphinx is one of curiosity. Some see it as a fool’s errand, but others believe a fool’s errand is just want the Tradition might need. If anyone can bend a fool’s errand into something transformative then it is the Twisters of Fate. The visions that accompany this path are harsh and hard to read. Those who pursue it risk much so the Twisters must weight the cost of sacrifice with the potential gains of the future.
    • Common Focus
      • Paradigms: Creation Is Innately Divine & Alive, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, All Power Comes from God(s), Turning the Keys to Reality
      • Practices: Maleficia, Medicine Work, Witchcraft, Elementalism, Invigoration, Faith, Shamanism
      • Instruments: Blessings & Curses, Blood and Other Fluids, Bones, Skin, Organs, and Other Remains, Brews, Potions, Powders, and Other Concoctions, Cards, Dice, and Other Instruments of Chance, Celestial Alignments, Crossroads and Crossing Days/Moments, Cups, Chalices, Cauldrons, and Other Vessels, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Drugs and Poisons, Elements, Food and Drink, Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants, Offerings and Sacrifices, Ordeals and Exertion, Prayers and Invocations, Sex and Sensuality, Social Domination, Symbols,  Voice and Vocalizations, Wands, Rods, and Staves

Verbena In LA

From Maja D’Aoust to the Witches of East Wick, from  Stevie Nicks to the Wicked Witch of the West, and from Anton LaVey to the Craft, LA is full of witches in show business. Real, imagined, or somewhere in between Los Angeles loves witches. And they love Los Angeles. The influence of the Verbena can be seen all over the City of Angles. Occult stores, Hoodooo conjure women, Korean and Japanese spellcrafters, Wiccan priests, the bruja and brujo in their shops and the so-called “new agers” tending to the needs of the stars, prove witchcraft is a natural response for many people feel marginalized and silenced. Loss of faith in institutions, particularly the government, and organized religion has led to Sleepers making sense of the world by turning to magic and witchcraft. That is a moment the Verbena take advantage of. LA is rife with witches so it can be hard to know where to turn, but the Tradition informally meets at the Wisdom Tree, not far from the Hollywood sign, on the full moon. Sometimes the entire Tradition attends, but sometime no one is there. Verbena and write a rune in blood and leave it in the box under the tree along with the other wishes. This will signal to the Tradition that the witch wants to be found. And she (or he) will be.

Aquelarre de Brujas

For the better part of a century LA was known for its witch wars. The panoply of different cultures, races, and cultural differences made the Verbena of LA something of a warring kingdom. To make matters worse, the highly influential Golden Gate Coven (GGC) out of San Fransisco have dominated the Tradition’s West Coast activities. The GGC has been so successful at getting Sleepers to adopt witchcraft that the Tradition sometimes forgets there are other covens doing good work. In L.A.,  Covens roes, fell, took new members, transformed, argued over the Craft, and curried favor with GGC. The Technocracy pogroms and the Storm finally forced the fractious witches of L.A. to unite under a single banner as the  Aquelarre de Brujas – the council of witches Each of the local covens designates a representative to attend the council meetings, and the Traditions attempts to move forward in the new Ascension War. Since the Storm, the witches have come to a tense agreement to share mystic resources and knowledge. The Tradition now boasts two large nodes, one in the Angeles National Forest, the other in Joshua Tree, that offer support the many small covens about Los Angeles County. The Council’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. Now that the Storm has ended old grudges have begun to resurface. The Storm did offer a kind of unity, but the Sphinx divides and without the present threat of the Storm the council struggles to agree on priorities. Ayala-Beltran is seeking Verbena with the right skills to help her keep the Tradition from falling into the fractiousness of old. The Tradition’s main concern are the wild fires, and re-opening the Paths of the Wyck.

Appendix

  • Verbena may take Healing, Shape-shifting, and Harming as Tradition practices. These are described in the Verbena Revised Tradition book. The rules for these default to the M20 rules, however.