loyalty to the spirit of the law

“Oh, fuck loyalty!”

It’s finally happened: after seven seasons of acting like his trainwreck twin sister was the love of his life, Jaime Lannister told her that’s quite enough and started riding up the Kingsroad all by his one-handed lonesome. Unlike in the books, where Jaime was already away from the Red Keep for weeks on military business before he went AWOL with Brienne, and he’s left Cersei to assume he is oblivious to her plight, in the show version, he ended their relationship face-to-face. Earlier in the season, Olenna Tyrell told Jaime his sister was a monster and she would be the end of him, she was a disease and he would regret his role in spreading it. Based on his response to Cersei’s behavior at the time, Olenna’s predictions appeared accurate. For a moment there in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” it looked like Cersei was actually about to kill Jaime, precisely because he was refusing to go along with spreading her disease anymore. Based on his departure, it seems he walked out just in time to keep Cersei from being the end of him.

How did he finally reach his breaking point? Leaving aside all the other depravities she indulged JUST in Season 7, what did Cersei do* that Jaime simply couldn’t tolerate anymore?

Just in the finale, Cersei and Jaime’s disagreements include:

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The past week has been filled with discussions and arguments about whether or not Scanlan “deserved” to be claimed as Ioun’s champion, whether or not Percy was a “better fit”, etc. I wanted to make a post about my thoughts, which are based on the characterizations, the characters’ past actions, and the information on the gods from the Tal'Dorei campaign setting book.

Personally, I don’t feel that Percy would have been a “better fit” than Scanlan. I’ve seen people talking about how Scanlan isn’t a storyteller, that he hasn’t shown any interest in telling Vox Machina’s story, and that Ioun choosing him was based on what Matt’s idea of what a bard is supposed to be rather than what Sam actually does with Scanlan and the bard class.

I don’t feel this is true, and I’m basing that on canon. We know that Scanlan wrote the poem Resident Evil, about Vox Machina and the reclaiming of White Stone, and that he was looking to publish it. Also, so many of the songs he uses for Inspiration or even for attack spells are about Vox Machina. He doesn’t  utilize storytelling in the most traditional way, but he absolutely does tell Vox Machina’s story.

In the Tal'Dorei campaign setting, it is stressed that Ioun, the Knowing Mistress, is about the spreading of knowledge, philosophy, and lore. Her commandments are:

  1. Unmask those who would destroy the Knowing Mistress. Learn their secrets and tell them to the world.
  2. Uphold and teach the importance of reason, perception, and truth in guiding one’s emotions and path.
  3. Condemn those who lie, even among your allies, for evil folk gain power when their followers obscure the truth. Never stoop to the level of liars.

A lot of people have been making a big deal about the secrets Scanlan kept about his personal life, but I think that much of it mischaracterizes what was happening. Scanlan didn’t actually tell any lies. He didn’t misrepresent part of his life, he didn’t tell his friends anything that wasn’t flat out untrue. It could be argued that by not telling them everything he was committing lies of omission. But a lie of omission is intentional, it’s an intentional effort to obscure the truth through silence. There’s a difference between that and just never revealing personal information. I don’t want to go into a big meta about Scanlan’s issues. That’s a meta for another time. But keeping personal details personal due to emotional issues is absolutely not the same thing as intentionally obscuring the truth and misrepresenting oneself.

Moreover, much of the section on the Knowing Mistress in the campaign setting book stresses not personal information, but knowledge, philosophy, and lore. Things that Scanlan has absolutely no history of lying about or hoarding.

As fast as Percy goes, I feel that there are definitely gods who would be a better fit for him, and that considering the description and commandments given for Ioun in the campaign setting book, I don’t really think that Percy fits that.

While Percy is very interested in and dedicated to science and innovation, that has translated to learning and consuming information, but it hasn’t really translated to spreading and disseminating it.

A lot has been made of Ioun calling out Percy’s secret keeping in regards to his invention while she’s keeping the sealing ritual hidden. But I think the argument of hypocrisy is a bit too simplistic and ignores a couple of major things.

The sealing ritual isn’t hidden away and hoarded as some kind of special, just-in-this-instance, Ioun-is-hoarding-it way. As is made clear in the campaign setting book, and as has been hinted at in canon, such as when we saw the way the worship of Ioun was hidden beneath the Slayers’ Take in Vasselheim, she was “grievously wounded” during the Calamity, and that didn’t just effect her, it also effected her followers, who are now “hunted by agents of her ancient foes as she recovers in her weakend influence.” Her followers worship in private and spread knowledge, philosophy, and lore “anonymously”, without making a big deal about it being done in her name. So it’s not just the hoarding ritual that’s been hidden away, it’s Ioun herself and everything having to do with her, both for her own protection and for the protection of her followers. And that still hasn’t translated to any kind of selfish hoarding of knowledge. She hasn’t used the knowledge she has selfishly, to benefit only herself and her followers. She created something incredibly powerful and dangerous and hid it away for nobody to use, not even herself. And she freely gave it when it was needed to people who proved they would use it for good.

That’s very different from Percy’s relationship with his invention and the way he’s kept it a secret. Yes, he recognizes that it’s incredibly dangerous and that it could be catastrophic if it was able to spread throughout the world. But he continues to use it to benefit himself and his people. He continues to use guns as weapons himself, and he has armed soldier in Whitestone. Rather than recognizing the danger of his invention and hiding it away so nobody can use it, he indeed did hoard it in a selfish way, as he kept using it himself and gave it to his soldiers to use. Whatever his reasons, that very much is a sort of selfish hoarding of knowledge.

Percy’s main focus, his relationship with intelligence, has very little to do with the spreading of knowledge. He very much wants to consume knowledge, yes, but just as important as seeking knowledge is to Ioun is the spreading of knowledge. What Percy is far more interested in is learning things for himself, innovation, creating new things and furthering technology. That doesn’t really fall into the Knowing Mistress’s portfolio. There are, however, other gods described in the campaign setting book that far better encompass those things.

The Allhammer is the patron of craft and creation, and he grants inspiration in those areas. He’s also the patron of home and family, things that are also incredibly important to Percy. His commandments are:

  1. Remain stoic and tenacious in the face of catastrophe
  2. Uphold and promote loyalty to family, loyalty to clan, and loyalty to your people
  3. Legacy is paramount. To create something that lasts the ages is to change the world for the better.

Each of these commandments apply to Percy in, frankly, pretty blatant ways. Percy prides himself on being calm and efficient in battle, in times of great stress, and when disasters are happening. He places a very high importance on loyalty to Vox Machina, his sister, and the people of Whitestone. And one of his defining character speeches was about the legacy he would leave behind in his city, that even after his mortal life is over, he will live as long as Whitestone lives.

The Lawbearer, while perhaps not as precise a fit as the Allhammer, would also be a decent fit for Percy. The Lawbearer is described as “the driving inspirating behind many great inventions…” While Percy may not have such a devotion to the tenents of law and order, the spirit of invention is obviously incredibly important to him. The god’s commandements are…

  1. Embrace the company and aid of others. The efforts of the individual often pale against the capabilities of the community
  2. Strive to tame the wilds of the world in the name of civilization, and defend the points of light and order against the chaos of darkness
  3. Uphold and rever the spirit of invention. Create new places and colonies, build where inspiration hits, and expand the laws of the Lawbearer.

While it’s arguable whether the first two have a particular connection the Percy, the third certainly does, far more than any of the Knowing Mistress’s commandments.

Yes, it could be argued that there are also better fits for Scanlan, such as perhaps the Moonweaver. But when it comes to whether Percy or Scanlan are the better fit for Ioun, while neither may be perfect, Percy has aspects to his actions and character that very much go against her teachings, and Scanlan, with his songs and his writings, has done more to spread knowledge and lore.

And as far as Percy goes, he doesn’t necessarily need a god. Whether or not they will all need one tactically is another matter, but from a personal, character-based perspective, Percy seems perfectly fine with not having been chosen by a god. As Marisha has explained, a lack of faith in this universe is very different from a lack of faith in ours. Generally, if people in our world have a lack of faith it means that they do not believe in a higher power. It’s very different in the world of Critical Role and D&D because the existence of the gods is an absolute fact. Everyone knows the gods exist. And Vox Machina personally have tangible proof of that. So Percy (and Keyleth) being “the faithless” isn’t the same as not believing the gods exist. Percy can see that library, be moved by the fact that nothing ever disappears, that every person and every action is kept somewhere, forever, and still not feel a particular connection to the gods, even that particular god. He can still feel, as Keyleth does, that the gods aren’t necessary for every individual. He can, and certainly seems to be, very comfortable with the idea that he isn’t necessarily chosen and that he doesn’t need divine guidance in the way he once perhaps thought he did. Personally, I find it a little odd that Percy and Taliesin made it pretty clear that he’s perfectly fine with not having a divine patron, but the character’s fans still seem to be personally offended on his behalf that Ioun didn’t choose him.

Miserable Lester, Part 20: Dropping Some Eaves On Crime (3)

Marius follows Jondrette for a while, but then he kinda loses him, plus also he decides a more prudent course of action would be to take advantage of the man’s absence to return to the apartment building without being seen or arousing suspicion. He arrives just as the landlady is leaving for the evening and slips inside. He goes up to his room, sits on his bed, and waits.

And waits.

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A Study of Prayers and Ritual Theory in Astrological Magic

This will be the twelfth post in my series on astrological magic. The intention of this post is to familiarize you with the basic theory you’ll need to know in order to consecrate a magic circle, and to make your orations, prayers, and petitions effectively. There are an infinite number of variations you can reasonably apply to the examples I’ll give, but you should make sure the overall formula is sound enough. Please take appropriate care if you choose to alter or improvise any of the methods here. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to ask us.

One of the original sciences of the quadrivium (Pythagoras’s teachings) was rhetoric. Today, this skill is still very useful. Without it, you may have difficulty communicating or articulating your ideas, thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is why it is important to use the most accurate phrasing possible while casting any kind of magic. If you fail to effectively or clearly communicate your consecration, orations, what your intentions are, to whom you wish to speak, or what sort of power you wish to draw from, it is unlikely that you will succeed in your work. There are many classic stories about magic and dealings with supernatural beings where the hero says what they want, but their wish is worded carelessly, and might have multiple meanings, so instead of their goal, they are granted whichever meaning of the request they did not actually desire. This is the kind of natural punishment you will be likely to receive if you speak ineffectively or carelessly while using magic, so you need to be very careful when speaking with these forces.

Another thing you should take note of is that consecration is always done from inside the circle. Once a circle is consecrated, you should not enter or exit from it until your work is properly finished. Because of that, you should always take extreme care in remembering to bring everything you need into the circle with you. If you exit the circle after it has been consecrated and before your work is complete, many things can go wrong, and your work will probably not go well.

Consecration of circles:

Pietro D'Abano recommends reciting Psalm 51:7 after the magic circle has been constructed. Brief as it may be, this prayer is definitely sufficient for the heavy function of astrological magic. While saying this prayer, it is also necessary to sprinkle the circle with holy water, or another form of skilfully blessed purging water (if you’d like to deal with benevolent forces, this practice can never hurt). This is my preferred method for several reasons.

A slightly more thorough variant of D'Abano’s method is to sprinkle your circle with holy water while you recite the seven penitential Psalms (Psalm 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142. In the KJV, they are Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143).

Dion Fortune’s method is comparably simple and effective. Start by turning toward the east quarter. Touch your brow and say “Yours, O God,” and then touch your solar plexus and say “is the Kingdom,” and touch your right shoulder before continuing “and the Power,” and touch your left shoulder before adding “and the Glory,” and bring your hands together in front of you, clasping them together, saying “for ever and ever, Amen.” Now you should visualize a sword in your hand, and hold it in front of you, with its point toward the sky. Now, you should say “In God’s name, I accept the Sword of Power for defense against evil and aggression.” Visualize yourself doubling in height, making sure to render the image of yourself as formidable, powerful, and protected as possible. Now with the point of your sword, trace the outer boundary of your circle, and with your mind’s eye, watch it light up in bright yellow flame. Now face east again, and clasp your hands together over your head before saying “May the archangel Raphael protect me to the east.” Do the same in each direction, but instead of Raphael, invoke Michael from the south, Gabriel from the west, and Uriel from the north. After this, your consecration is complete.

Henry Cornelius Agrippa recommends the following things be kept in mind as you consecrate the place where you’ll be working. In consecrating your space, he says it is good to reference the Sanctum Sanctorum. Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle of the Covenant, Solomon’s temple, the hill of Golgotha, and Mount Tabor. You should call on names of God which pertain to the house of God, the throne of God, the Tabernacle, the Heaven of God, and names with similar symbolism.

The Clavicula Solomonis contains an extremely lengthy and demanding method of consecration. It looks to me like it would be reasonably effective, but I think it’s clear that most of the extremely specific needs it calls for are completely unnecessary. If you want to know about this method, just look at a copy of the Key of Solomon, and see for yourself.

Abraham von Worms and Abramelin the Mage make it clear that there is no exact prayer that you must say, though they recommend praying to Adonai, rather than any other name (a sound recommendation, since that name is a respectful title given to the Tetragrammaton, which is used out of reverence, because one should not attempt to speak the true name of God). They insist that a prayer from the heart which follows the right formula is the most effective kind of consecration. Of the methods mentioned above, D'Abano and Cornelius Agrippa’s methods are the most useful to me, because they are accessible and very effective. You can easily substitute your symbolism or imagery if you prefer something less Judaic, and you’re also able to combine these methods with each other, or with other methods you’re comfortable or familiar with. I hope this section has given you a general understanding of the consecration of magical circles, and of the things that go into the process of doing so.

Now, I will talk about some methods of speaking with the consciousnesses and intelligences of the planets. Keep in mind that there are many other ways to pray to the planetary intelligences, but that I’m using these particular approaches as examples. Keep in mind when dealing with the planets that it is generally considered necessary to stroke their egos and compliment them as much as possible, doing as much as you can to emphasize the greatness of all the things that planet is responsible for. These are derived from ancient Sabian methods, and it’s important to warn you that some of the methods involved here require animal sacrifices, and that these are often illegal, not to mention cruel. I also want to make it clear that they are very effective. Remember, if you carry out any animal sacrifices, you’re doing it at your own risk. I wouldn’t have you break the laws where you live, and there are definitely other reasonably effective offerings you can make to the planets (you can see some of the things the planets rule over here, if you want some other ideas of things you might be able to effectively offer to the planets).

To make a request of Saturn, you should consider that it should be in a favorable position in the sky, and you should do this on Saturday, in Saturn’s hour. Libra is the most agreeable place, Aquarius and Capricorn are also good places for it. If this can’t be done, wait until Saturn is in the midheaven, in one of its triplicities, or a term it rules over. It can be in one of the other angles or succeedent houses in addition to the midheaven, and preferably in an oriental house (in the eastern sky). Make sure Saturn is not in retrograde, and that it is in a masculine position. Make sure there are no detriments, falls, or negative aspects affecting Saturn. Especially avoid a square aspect with Mars. If it is in a cadent house or retrograde, Saturn will not fulfill your requests. Other tips about placement of Saturn are here.

Make sure to wear all black clothing, with black shoes, and a black hat on your head. Make your request in a secluded place, preferably where people are humble and pensive. Carry an iron ring and an iron censer with you. Begin burning the incense of Saturn (the incenses of planets can be found here). Turn toward Saturn’s location in the sky, and say a prayer like the following:

O exalted celestial with the great name who sits in the highest heaven, whom God made subtle and powerful! You are the lord Saturn, cold and dry, dark, the one who writes the good, the one who is always a faithful friend, hardy and adaptable in love and hate, whose knowledge is expansive and penetrative, honest and trustworthy in your promises and utterances, isolated in your operations, solitary, separate from others, familiar to suffering and sorrow, distant from joy and festivity, you are ancient and wise, and you erase the knowledge of those things which are good. You are the one who writes the good and evil. Miserable and tortured are those who are affected by your malice, and very fortunate are those who are in your favor. God has placed powers and virtues in you, and a spirit which does good and evil works. I ask you , lord, by your exalted names and your wonderful works, that you fulfill my request.

Now you should make your request, and throw yourself low to the ground, while always making sure you are facing Saturn. This shows your humble spirit, and your sorrow. After this, you should be able to conclude your work appropriately.

If you want to make a request of Jupiter, you should make sure it’s in a good position (especially concerning Saturn, but other tips are here), and safe from its detriments and fall. Wear yellow and white, with a belt around your waist. Go to a humble and gentle place, like a hermitage used in Christianity, and bring a censer made of tin. In the censer, burn the incense of Jupiter, and turn toward its location in the sky. Now you can say the following prayer.

God bless you, lord Jupiter. You are the warm and humid Greater Fortune, impartial, and fair in your workings, benevolent, beautiful, honest, and wise. You rule the truth, and equality. You are merciful, and separate from evil. You smile upon the faithful and loyal worshipers, reward those who take joy from their religions and who are not hedonistic. You are of honorable mind, and you carry out works of good freely and naturally. You are honorable in your heaven, your promises are law, and your loyalties true. I call upon you in the name of Adonai, who has given you the power and spirit you have, and by your benevolent and generous nature, that you fulfill this request.

Now, you should ask for what you request from Jupiter, and say:

For all good things come from you, and the very nature of goodness comes from you. This is why you will listen to all good-natured requests.

When you have a request for Mars, you should make sure it is well placed, and safe from its detriments and fall (more tips about the placement of Mars are here). Wear red clothing, and a red silk or linen hat with a red skullcap, with as much warlike apparel as you can wear. Hang a sword from your neck, and carry as many weapons with you as possible. You will also need to bring a mouse. Wear a copper or bronze ring on one of your fingers, and burn the incense of Mars in a copper or bronze censer. Make sure to do this in a remote place you have previously chosen. Face south, and speak the following style of prayer without hesitation or fear.

Mars, you are an honored lord of a dry heat. You are powerful and heavy, your heart can’t be moved, and you spill the blood and cause the illness of humans. You have great strength, you are hardy, fast, brave, and agile. You rule over fighters, warriors, pain, misery, injury, incarceration, sorrow, and things which are blended or dismembered. You are not afraid of anything, nor do you contemplate. Your works are yours alone, and your precision is strong and effective, as is your drive for conquest and challenges. Your bring harm to the weak and the strong, and you smile upon the warriors who love their battles. You validate the wicked and the cruel. I call on you by your names, qualities, killings, and challenges against the Lord God who gave you your power and spirit, stockpiling them and keeping them from the other planets in order for you to gain strength. Mirrih, Mars, Bahram, Ares, Angara! I summon you in the name of Adonai, so that you will hear and fulfill my request, and that you will see my humbleness before you and see fit to help me.

Now you should make your request from Mars, and say:

I call on you by the power of the archangel Uriel, who has been sent by Adonai to complete your works.

Now, you should behead your mouse, throw it into the incense fire, and eat its liver.

To make a request to the Sun, you should work on Sunday, and in the hour of the Sun. You should make sure the Sun is well-placed in relation to other planets and the signs, and safe from detriments and its fall. It is also usually good to have the Sun ascending. Wear yellow and gold clothing (preferably made of silk), a gold crown, and a golden ring. You should do this work in a small building you’ve reserved for this purpose. Bring a golden censer, and a beautiful rooster with you. Around the rooster’s neck, hang a piece of wood about 4 inches in width and length with a small burning candle on it. Start burning the incense of the Sun just before sunrise. Turn the rooster toward the Sun as it rises, and say a prayer like the following:

You are the center of our heaven, and you are honored and exalted above all celestial bodies. I ask that you, the revered and holy Sun listen to my request, and give me the friendship and good grace of the leader in question. I call upon you in the name of Adonai, who is the source of your life. You are the one who gives light to the world, and I am calling on you by many of your names. Shams, Sol, Mihr, Helios, Aras, you are at the center of the planets, and you give light and clarity to the world. Life and creation on Earth are gifts from you, your perfect placement, and your heat. I request your aid in granting me the respect and good will of the powerful people I’m dealing with, so that I may have power over places and people, just like you have power over all the planets. I ask for your pity and mercy, that I might have success in my endeavors.

The Sun in particular is responsive to a great many methods of prayer from nearly all the religions of the world. For example, Jesus Christ can be equated to the Sun (there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Christianity is a form of Sun-worship, and many scholars agree), so saying a traditional Christian prayer to Jesus Christ could probably just as easily give you the results you need. It is very useful and important to note that it is rarely or never necessary to make any kind of blood sacrifice to the Sun.

To request something from Venus, make sure that it is not in its detriments, fall, or retrograde, and that it isn’t affected negatively by an aspect of Saturn or Mars (and be sure to look at the other guidelines I’ve given for the placement of Venus here). Traditionally, there are two ways you can dress when dealing with Venus. One way is to dress in traditional Arabic garb, all white in color (Venus rules over the religion of Islam). The other option is to dress in the most feminine attire you can manage, and to exalt the feminine energy in you to the fullest extent of your abilities through that aesthetic endeavor. Silk and pearls should ideally be included in your outfit, along with golden wristbands and a golden crown or tiara. Carry a mirror in your right hand, and a comb in your left. Wear perfumes which smell like spices or nutmeg, and have a bottle of wine in front of you. Burn the incense of Venus in a censer made of gold and silver, or an alloy of the two. You will also need to bring a pigeon and a turtledove. Now, you should pray to Venus in a similar manner to the following:

Venus, may you be blessed by Adonai. You are the queen of the planets, the Lesser Fortune, fair and beautiful, and pleasantly aromatic. You are the lady who rules over ornate adornments and jewelry. You smile on lovers, joyous people, pageantry and decorations, elegance, beautiful singing and music, comforting things, recreation, and love. You love wine, relaxation, leisure, and sex, because these are of your nature. I call on you by your names in many languages. Zuhara, Venus, Anahid, Aphrodite, Tijanija, Surfa, I call you by the Lord Adonai, ruler of the highest order, and by your loyalty to Him, I ask that you hear my request.

Now, you should ask Venus for what you seek, and continue to say:

I call on you by the great archangel Anael, who is the angel of the Lord who mediates you and carries out your work.

Now, lower yourself to a vulnerable position on the ground, and repeat your prayer. After that, stand back up, behead your pigeon and turtledove, and eat their livers. Burn their bodies in the incense fire, and your prayer to Venus will be complete.

To make a request of Mercury, it is best to dress like a journalist or writer (however you think best resembles the way they might dress). Make sure Mercury is safe from its detriments and fall. It is ideal to have Mercury and the Moon in conjunction with each other in any work pertaining to Mercury (other tips about the placement of Mercury are here). Wear a ring made of solidified mercury, if you can find one. Bring a rooster with a large comb. Burn the incense of Mercury, and turn toward Mercury’s location in the sky holding a notepad or piece of paper as if you’re about to write on it. Now, say a prayer to Mercury in a similar manner to the following:

May you be blessed by Adonai, Mercury. You are honest, aware, and knowledgeable. You can teach all science, written language,and mathematical art. You are subtle and even-tempered. You understand commerce, finance, and economics. You speak through prophets and diviners. You teach logic, philosophy, geometry, and astronomy. You teach biology, rhetoric, and computer science. You teach complete cognitive awareness, and quickness of thought. You can change things from one state of being to another. You teach cleanliness, solidarity, and existential wholeness. You bring peace, and prevent people from crossing paths with evil. You also bring out the more beneficial traits of religion and law. You are helpful with Jupiter and Venus, and harmful with Saturn and Mars. You are neither male or female, but can be either in various situations. You are nocturnal sometimes, and diurnal others. You are harmonious, and you work well with whichever forces you coincide with. I call on you by many of your names. Utarid, Mercurius, Hermes, Thoth, Budha, Enki, Tir, I call you in the name of Adonai, the lord who rules over the highest order, and I ask that you hear my request, and that you bestow upon me your knowledge and wisdom.

Here, you should ask Mercury for the thing you request. Then, you should continue:

I call you by Raphael, the archangel of the Lord who carries out and regulates your work, so that you will hear and fulfill my request to you.

Now, lower yourself to the ground and repeat your prayer. Now lift your head up, and behead your rooster, burn it in the incense fire, and eat its liver. Your request to Mercury should be fulfilled.

To make a request of the Moon, you should wear childish clothing, and bring good-smelling things with you. The Moon should be in a good position, safe from detriments and its fall, and at a good aspect with one of the Fortunes (more tips on the placement of the Moon are here) Wear or carry a silver ring, and move quickly. Make sure you speak with elegance and punctuality. You should bring a censer made of silver to burn the incense of the Moon, and a calf or an ewe for sacrifice. Wash your face and turn toward the Moon to pray.

May Adonai bless you, wonderful Moon. You are kind, cool, and humid. You are fair and pleasant. You are the key to the planets, and you move quickly to shine your light on the Earth. You are the lady who rules over joy, contentment, and kind words. You love the law, and you subtly contemplate all worldly things. Cheerful songs and revelry bring you joy. Messengers, ambassadors, and hidden things are under your protection. You are uninhibited, closer to us than the other planets, you are the largest celestial body in the sky, and you are very bright in your light. You can aid good or evil, and all the planets can be joined through you. All things on Earth are either blessed by your grace or afflicted by your curses. You are the beginning and ending of all worldly things. I call you by Gabriel, the archangel of the Lord who carries out your work, and who helps to regulate your power, so that you might hear my request and grant me my wish. I call you by many names. Qamar, Luna, Meh, Selenê, Suma, Sin, Chandra. By your humility before Adonai I ask that you hear my request.

Lower yourself to the ground, and repeat your prayer. When you have done this, behead your calf or your ewe. If it is an ewe, eat her liver to seal the ritual. Burn the body of your sacrificial animal in a fire, as usual.

I hope this post has given you some insight into the methods of consecrating circles and praying to the planets in astrological magic. Keep in mind that these methods aren’t the only effective ways to do this, and that there is plenty of information available about dealing with the planets from many cultures who have their own approaches. If you’d like us to check our libraries for information of that kind, let us know. The next post in this series will be its conclusion.


Hellenic Polytheism 101-Eusebia and Kharis

Eusebia and Kharis are important factors for building and maintaining a relationship with the theoi. A lot of us are practicing Eusebia and Kharis without necessarily being aware of those words and what they mean even. Eusebia and Kharis are two concepts that can be difficult to define and pin down. I’m sure other people have different takes on the two practices, but I’m goign to talk about how I define them, and what they mean for my practice. Hopefully this is useful to some folks :)

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Discovering Mabini Stripped Off the Wheelchair

Forgive me for not spewing history in my blog for weeks now, since a lot has been going on in my quiet life. Tomorrow is the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, and as such, for the people who sent me questions via tumblr fan mail, please please be patient with me as I will put the questions on hold for a few more days, for my posts about Mabini. Rest assured I will answer them one by one.

Last Saturday, I went to the Ayala Museum and revisited their diorama of Philippine history. In the June 12, 1898 diorama (photo above), I noticed a man being carried via a hammock. No label was given that it was Apolinario Mabini, but for those of us who know history, we know. And I love how unassuming it was presented, as if Mabini himself do not want the attention to be drawn to himself. He was after all the power behind the Philippines’ first Chief Executive. He was used to being in the background. Mabini’s cabinet was even branded by his enemies as “camera negra” or the Black Cabinet. Who was this man anyway? 

Let me begin by gathering from memory what I knew about Apolinario Mabini from the teachers that taught me in my younger years (which I would surmise, you also may have been taught, within the Philippine education system). The overused “sublime paralytic” or “dakilang lumpo” (lit. translation: great paraplegic) tagline of him only mires the man as recorded in his writings.

I knew he was a paraplegic, brainy, tactful, genius, the power behind President Emilio Aguinaldo, during the first year of the first republic in Asia. That was it. Eventually in my college years, I encountered some leftist-leaning professors that say Mabini was a “balimbing,” in that in the end of all the fighting against U.S. forces in the Philippine-American War, he turned his back on his people by surrendering to the Americans, pledging allegiance to the American flag. He shouldn’t therefore be called a hero. Simple isn’t it? Everything is seen as black and white. Go to the enemy side, and you’re an a traitor.

I wish it were that simple. But then by adhering to that we would be committing a fatal error.

For Mabini breaks all the boxes that we put him in.

He is branded by some unlearned people today as a “balimbing” educated Ilustrado elite. But look into his life and you’d discover that he was nothing of the sort. Educated, yes, but rich? Mabini was so poor that when he graduated earning a law licentiate at the University of Santo Tomas, he refused to attend the graduation because he couldn’t afford a gown (thank God, a client of his sent him a gown that he wore that day). At the resumption of the Philippine Revolution on May 1898, Mabini, fresh from law school, worked in a notary to sustain his everyday needs. Yet out of his humble resources and with the help of friends, seeing that the Philippine Revolution that began on August 1896 was legitimate in its aims but disorganized in its implementation, Mabini self-published his pamphlets advising the people on what steps to take (i.e. Choosing a leader, laying out the aims of the movement), that when Aguinaldo, from his exile in Hong Kong, arrived, on May 19, 1898 all the people rallied to him easily, with 7 provinces declaring their loyalty to the new government, the first independent republic in Asia, that was to be established. One would think of the French Revolution, that out of uncontrolled passions, it descended into anarchy and much bloodshed. But the Philippine Revolution, with all its imperfections and self-inflicted crimes (especially on women, to Mabini’s alarm) never reached those dark depths. Perhaps it was Mabini’s influence that made the new Republic launch and float even if it was short-lived. He stood as a seer when the people needed one. His foresight and view of the times, his advise to President Aguinaldo was nothing short of… amazing. 

Paraplegic? Couldn’t walk due to polio? Yes he had the disability, but that quickly disappears once you read his works. In that full year from June 1898 to May 1899, as Mabini filled the position of the Prime Minister of the Philippine Republic in Malolos, he would write decree after decree for President Aguinaldo, as a man puts one stone on another to build a stable edifice. He didn’t need feet to build. He was a visionary—“artless” as Mabini would charge himself, but what a vision! Ever so suspicious on foreign forces, but with full concern for the welfare of his country, he never established a political dynasty, nor used his position of power for political gain. As Randy David said, he entered the government poor, he was still poor when he left it. He was the guiding hand of legality behind the very existence of the new republic. And when he saw that popular opinion in the Malolos Congress was not in his favor, he willingly stepped down as head of the cabinet, to be replaced by Pedro Paterno, whom we all know eventually sided to the winning side—the American forces.

Mabini was called by the American military as the great “intransigent” among the Filipinos advocating for independence. And truly so, because he remained resolute even after his capture, being sent to Guam in exile despite his illness. He only swore allegiance to the U.S. when Mabini felt that the Filipinos gave up armed resistance and by staying in Guam he was disobeying the vox populi. It was a genius stroke of the Americans not to make a martyr out of Mabini by executing him, for by doing so, they would have unleashed another Philippine Revolution.

He was, to the very end of his days, beside his people, guiding them.  And you don’t need feet to do that.

In the coming days I will be posting a lot of Mabini stuff online, his seemingly stoic loyalty to the rule of law and the spirit behind these laws, his concern for the people, his humility in submitting to the current set up in government that he did not approve but tried to fix by the use of his legal mind. Mabini made many enemies because of his stand, but that can’t be helped. All great men have enemies. But we don’t remember their enemies much, do we?

One of my best loved Mabini quotes is noted below, his advice to people who are in public service:

“I have here the key to our public conduct: show the people the magnitude of our task, point out to them the shortest way and the true aim so that they may not lose their way; then enumerate all the risked they have to surmount in their difficult journey without excluding anything and present these one by one to their real extent, so the people may gather up all their courage and strength and prepare all their resources; and after all these, tell them– “Follow me and kill me if I turn back. If you do not wish to follow, then I will go alone, and I alone will be annihilated for sure, but I will be greater than all of you together and I, alone, will reap the glory of all your past work because I, alone, have preserved to the end. Whereas, if you come with me, the greater part of the glory will be for those who overcame the biggest obstacles. This is not called a promise. It has a more noble name: it is called faith, unyielding and unswerving faith that may have inspired and guided past revolutions, shapes the present and will give life to the future.”

(“The Truth in its Place,” October 15, 1899)

Court of Owls AU

Based on cakechoz ’s fricking amazing art which everyone is rightfully loving. It got me thinking about Talon!AU for all the batkids (separately, as in it happens to just one of them and then they have to fight the others). For people with such skills, the capacity for darkness in them is always there, but they always know the line. But what would happen if they lost that?

- Dick Grayson: is never saved by Bruce Wayne. He is picked up from the circus an hour after his parent’s murders, the Gotham elites in the crowd seeing the potential in having someone so close to flying as a Talon. Bruce looks for him at the circus, but Dick is already gone; he is never Robin. Dick is just a lost boy who was found by the wrong people. He is taken in a time of extreme distress and brainwashed into believing the Court saved him; he works for them with undying loyalty, which otherwise would have been to Batman. Of course, when his identity is revealed to Batman/Bruce later on, Dick becomes the child he was too late to save. 

- Barbara Gordon: is dangerous; the Court knows that from a young age. The Commissioner’s daughter is as free-spirit as she is intelligent, but her father refuses to let her join the police force and fighting for what she believes in. Instead of putting on a mask and joining the Bat, she is approached by the Court, who offer her a very different way to enact justice. Disilusioned with both the law and vigilantism after seeing her father hurt protecting the Bat, she agrees. Dick Grayson’s heart and the Commisioner’s pride and joy fights them both, putting on a false smile in the day and a hood at night.

- Jason Todd: is never put in the Lazarus Pit. After crawling out of his own grave he staggers to the nearest road and wanders in confusion around the outskirts of Gotham. The Former Robin comes across a mugging in this state - saving two members of the Court in the process. They see his potential and take him in, healing him and turning him into their newest weapon. He is the blunt instrument, all force and no refinement; the keep him in darkness and pain. Without the use of the Pit however, Jason never regains his memory of his time as Robin and becomes loyal to the Court. When he is sent to fight Batman/the batfam years later, he has no memory of them - but they all freeze at the face; the fallen soldier they all believed was dead (Winter Soldier style, heck yeah!)

Cassandra Cain: is a natural born soldier if ever they’d seen one. Word of David Cain’s accomplishment of raising a fighter without words, but who could predict an opponents move before it is ever made spreads throughout the underworld community like wildfire. Although it hurts them to affiliate with Ra’s league of shadows that Cain was a part of, the Court cannot miss a chance like this. When Cass leaves her surrogate father she meets the Batman briefly, even considers joining him for a few months - until he tells her ‘no’ and tries to shut her away. Cassandra Cain takes orders from no man; even the Court understands that as they recruit her - the Talon which could kill them as easily as she did her targets.

Tim Drake: is too curious for his own good. When he gets close to learning the truth, a Talon is sent to kill Jack Drake with a Boomerang. With his sights set on a new target, Tim is approached by the Court, who offer their help and resources in finding his fathers ‘killer’. They help Tim to track down Captain Boomerang; his initiation is killing the villain in cold-blooded vengeance. Although he is torn by the choice, there is no Batman and his rules to show him how to get justice instead of vengeance. Coerced into killing, it hardens his soul but not his mind. The Court have a tool more refined than the rest of their armory. He is never Robin, he is Talon.

Stephanie Brown: is almost dead when they find her. She still has the Bat on her chest as she lies in the alley, although it is stained with blood from the Black Mask’s beating. They take her and fix her; when she wakes, she hears that the batfam believe her dead. Allowed to leave, Steph goes to the batcave - to find it unchanged. No memorial like Jason. No signs anyone cared she was gone. Just a changed tag next to her name reading ‘deceased’. With nowhere left to go, she returns to the Court without a care for anyone or anything - the hope of Gotham is extinguished; she acts without mercy or attention. 

Damian Wayne: is a pawn without a chance in the game of his family. His parents use him against one another, his mother especially - he is never taught to be a boy, only a weapon; a spy; a bargaining chip. He is the Robin not even Bruce can control; after his father’s death, Damian chooses to go it alone instead of joining Dick as he takes on the Batman mantle. With Bruce dead, he is hardened to the world and doesn’t believe it can be saved without bloodshed. Without Dick, he never learns otherwise. Once he learns of the Court he arrives and announces himself as their new Talon, never having to assert his worth to them. He is what he was trained to be: a soldier, not a child.

Eberron Faiths with Pathfinder Domains

Okay, this took me a while, but it was totally worth doing! I’ve updated all of the orthodox versions of Eberron’s faiths with the Domains and Subdomains from Pathfinder. This should help to set some baselines for some other pieces of writing that I’m working on. I’ve broken down the guidelines I used while doing this after the main text. I hope you enjoy!

  • Sovereign Host (pantheon) 
    • Arawai - NG - Domains: Air, Good, Plant, Weather, Void - Subdomains: Agathion, Clouds, Growth, Seasons, Stars - Favoured Weapon: Morningstar
    • Aureon - LN - Domains: Knowledge, Law, Magic, Nobility, Rune - Subdomains: Arcane, Aristocracy, Divine, Education, Legislation - Favoured Weapon: Quarterstaff
    • Balinor - N - Domains: Air, Animal, Earth, Scalykind, Vermin - Subdomains: Cave, Feather, Fur, Saurian, Wind - Favoured Weapon: Battleaxe
    • Boldrei - LG - Domains: Community, Good, Law, Protection, Repose - Subdomains: Defense, Family, Friendship, Home, Loyalty  - Favoured Weapon: Spear
    • Dol Arrah - LG - Domains: Glory, Good, Law, Sun, War - Subdomains: Day, Honour, Light, Redemption, Tactics - Favoured Weapon: Halberd
    • Dol Dorn - CG - Domains: Chaos, Good, Liberation, Strength, War - Subdomains: Competition, Duels, Freedom, Friendship, Reverly - Favoured Weapon: Longsword
    • Kol Korran - N - Domains: Charm, Luck, Scalykind, Travel, Trickery - Subdomains: Dragon, Greed, Imagination, Love, Trade - Favoured Weapon: Heavy Mace
    • Olladra - NG  - Domains: Community, Darkness, Good, Luck, Healing - Subdomains: - Family, Fate, Moons, Restoration, Revelry (as subdomain of Good) Favoured Weapon: Sickle 
    • Onatar - NG - Domains: Artifice, Earth, Fire, Good, Rune - Subdomains: Industry, Metal, Redemption, Smoke, Wards - Favoured Weapon: Warhammer
  • Dark Six (pantheon) 
    • The Devourer - NE - Domains: Destruction, Evil, Vermin, Water, Weather - Subdomains: Catastrophy, Ice, Oceans, Plague, Storms - Favoured Weapon: Trident
    • The Fury - NE - Domains: Destruction, Evil, Liberation, Madness, Strength - Subdomains: Fear, Ferocity, Hatred, Insanity, Rage - Favoured Weapon: Rapier
    • The Keeper - NE - Domains: Death, Evil, Rune, Scalykind, Trickery - Subdomains: Cannibalism, Dragon, Greed, Murder, Wards - Favoured Weapon: Scythe
    • The Mockery - NE - Domains: Destruction, Evil, Luck, Trickery, War - Subdomains: Ambush, Blood, Curse, Fear, Torture 
    • The Shadow - CE - Domains: Chaos, Darkness, Evil, Knowledge, Magic - Subdomains: Arcane, Corruption, Entropy, Shadow, Thought - Favoured Weapon: Quaterstaff
    • The Traveller - CN - Domains: Artifice, Chaos, Liberation, Travel, Trickery - Subdomains: Deception, Exploration, Industry, Revolution, Whimsy - Favoured Weapon: Scimitar
  • Elven Faiths
    • The Spirits of the Past - N - Domains:  Destruction, Knowledge, Protection, Repose, War - Subdomains: Ancestors, Hatred, Memory, Purity, Tactics - Favoured Weapon: Double Scimitar
    • The Undying Court - NG - Domains: Good, Luck, Nobility, Protection, Repose - Subdomains: Defense, Fate, Friendship, Leadership, Souls - Favoured Weapon: Scimitar
  • Sarlonan Faiths
    • Il-Lashtavar - LE - Domains: Darkness, Evil, Law, Madness, Psionics* - Subdomains: Corruption, Dreams*, Night, Nightmare, Slavery - Favoured Weapon: Mind Blade/Unarmed Strike
    • Il-Yannah (The Path of Light) - LN - Domains: Law, Liberation, Psionics*, Protection, Sun - Subdomains: Defence, Freedom, Light, Noetics*, Revolution - Favoured Weapon: Unarmed Strike
    • Path of Inspiration - LN - Domains: Community, Law, Knowledge, Psionics*, Protection - Subdomains: Cooperation, Discipline*, Home, Loyalty, Thought - Favoured Weapon: Flail
  • Other Faiths
    • The Becoming God - N - Domains: Artifice, Knowledge, Repose, Ruins, Strength - Subdomains: Construct, Souls, Thought, Toil, Resolve - Favoured Weapon: Gauntlet/Slam
    • The Blood of Vol - LE - Domains: Death, Evil, Law, Nobility, Repose - Subdomains: Cannibalism, Legislation, Martyr, Souls, Undead - Favoured Weapon: Dagger
    • The Cults of the Dragon Below - NE - Domains: Darkness, Earth, Evil, Madness, Void - Subdomains: Caves, Corruption, Dark Tapestry, Insanity, Loss - Favoured Weapon: Heavy Pick
    • The Lord of Blades - LE - Domains: Artifice, Evil, Law, Liberation, War - Subdomains: Construct, Fear, Revolution, Tactics, Tyranny  - Favoured Weapon: Greatsword
    • The Silver Flame - LG - Domains: Glory, Good, Law, Nobility, Protection - Subdomains: Heroism, Judgement, Martyr, Purity, Redemption - Favoured Weapon: Longbow

There are a couple of baseless assumptions I’ve made while doing these. 

  1. Each faith gets five domains and five subdomains, but like the gods of Pathfinder as of Inner Sea Gods.
  2. I wanted to avoid using the outsider specific subdomains. I did end up giving the Agathion domain to Arawai eventually due to their shared ties with nature, but otherwise I’ve avoided it since clerics are no longer tied to specific alignments. 
  3. Not every God or faith had five domains that fit their portfolio well. In these cases, I’ve tried to add extra domains that are logical, give access to a logical subdomain, or fill a gap in the pantheon.
    1. For example, Kol Korran and the The Keeper both ended up with the scalykind domain since their are associated with greed, making the dragon subdomain logical. Arawai got the void subdomain so she could also have the star subdomain, since farmers traditionally used stars to determine when to plant crops. Olladra got the darkness and moon domains since there was no moon deity period and I was coming up short on ways to make her significantly different from Boldrei. 
    2. Part of the design principle I used is what I call the James Jacobs principle. When James writes deities, he says that one way to create nuance and interesting scenarios is to give them one domain that makes sense, but is unexpected. I haven’t done that with everyone… But I think there are some very interesting options here. I’ve stuck strictly to domains published by Paizo, with the exception of the Psionics Domain and its subdomains for the Sarlonan faiths, which come from Dreamscarred Press’s Psionics line.
  4. The domains used should approximate the domains introduced in the original ECS. I didn’t really feel that there were any of those absolutely needed to be converted. 
  5. There should be interesting options for characters of each faith in every alignment, as well as providing options for Inquisitors and Warpriests (because those are definitely a thing on Eberron!).

I’m keen for feedback, so if you see something you liked, didn’t like, or disagree with, please let me know. What do you think? 

admirable qualities of the signs
  • aries: fieriness, passion, resilience
  • taurus: elegance, purity, gracefulness
  • gemini: friendliness, cheeriness, spontaneity
  • cancer: kindness, spirit, warmheartedness
  • leo: confidence, flair, energy
  • virgo: humility, intelligence, wisdom
  • libra: beauty, lawfulness, compassion
  • scorpio: sensuality, protectiveness, power
  • sagittarius: honesty, humor, optimism
  • capricorn: maturity, loyalty, responsibility
  • aquarius: originality, humanitarianism, realness
  • pisces: creativity, empathy, strength
Lore of the Day

The sharp divide between nobility and peasantry is one of the features of High Rock which visitors from the more egalitarian lands of Cyrodiil, Hammerfell and Skyrim find difficult to understand.  The notion of a social rank defined solely by birth, with no account given to competence or vocation, is the exception in these societies, not the rule.  In order to understand why High Rock is so different, it is necessary to understand its history, and how the ancient Direnni social order of slavery gradually gave way to serfdom.

In essence, serfdom is a bilateral contract between commoner and noble, usually but not always enforced by magically binding oaths administered by the noble’s wizards (or by the noble himself if he is a witch-lord).  In return for offering obedience and a portion of all his income, the serf holds land from the lord, and is given the noble’s military protection from bandits and monsters.  These oaths are binding not only on the individuals who swear, but on all of their descendants.  A serf who defies his lord or leaves his land shall be stricken by curses or even die, and a noble who fails in his reciprocal duties may legally be replaced by his overlord.  An oath of serfdom can only be annulled by the intercession of the gods, or in some cases a more powerful wizard.

Serfdom was invented as a partial replacement for slavery during the latter stages of the collapse of the Direnni Hegemony.  Enterprising lords offered rewards of serfdom as a way of incentivising their own slaves to fight and work harder, whilst retaining their subservience.  Whilst serfs remained under the near total control of their lords, they were no longer considered property, and could not be deprived or separated from their lands, as well as being able to own their own personal property, including slaves.

Following the annexation of Greater Betony in 1E 2710, Reman I formally issued a proclamation declaring slavery to be “abhorrent in the eyes of the Divines”, and to be prosecuted wherever it could be found. Although the Imperial proclamation recognized the distinction between slavery and serfdom, it nevertheless considered the latter to be close enough in spirit to slavery to demand a close degree of supervision.  Certain types of magically binding oaths were forbidden, such as ones which would have prevented the serf from testifying against their lords in Royal or Imperial courts of law. In practice, this law was applied inconsistently, and many satirical bards pointed out that the extent of punishment for violations depended not on their severity but on the Lord in question’s loyalty to the Empire!

Nevertheless, the cumulative effect was for oaths to become less restrictive as the constant power struggles of High Rock wore on, with lords exploiting Imperial interventions to discredit their rivals and bribe their own vassals with promises of greater freedoms and privileges. In modern High Rock, this trend has continued to the point that serfs and freedmen can be considered to overlap to the extent that one can no longer make assumptions about an individual’s social status from their feudal rank. 

Rather, their respective status has more to do with divides in values between town and country, and between the national ethos of rival kingdoms.  In the conservative heartland of Daggerfall, serfdom is seen to embody tradition, loyalty, and binding mutual obligations between ruler and ruled, and widespread freed status is seen as a derogation of the nobility’s responsibility for their subjects’ welfare.  In metropolitan Wayrest, where attitudes are diametrically opposed, liberty is prized above all else even if it results in poverty, and a family would rather starve than cease to rely on their own resources.


Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Father of 2 who prioritized his children.

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Honors student and a star basketball player in high school.

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Established gay-straight alliance at his high school.

Antonio Davon Brown, 29

Known for his loyalty and unwavering spirit.

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

Known as Drake to friends and for his love of dance and law.