Thursday, September 28, 2017

Akashic Symbolism and Ceremonies

Akashic Symoblism

The Akashic Record

According to initiates of the deepest Akashic Mysteries, a successful initiate finds the Akashic Record at the end of a long and harrowing astral journey. Most initiates describe them as a single tablet of glowing light that once touched, floods the mind with knowledge, but some describe it as an old woman, a statue of an old woman, or an aging book bound in human flesh. Artwork commonly depicts the Akashic Record as a glowing tablet held a loft by an Akashic Oracle, at the highest point of the artwork. The Akashic Record represent enlightenment, and the highest degree of initiation.

The Tree of Time and the Golden Path

Initiates of the Akashic Mysteries describe their astral journey as walking a winding maze until they reach the foot of a mountain that brings them to the road to the Akashic Record. When they look back down, they can see the fullness of time laid out before them. Some describe it as like a tangle of yarn, or a labyrinth, but the most common description is like a tree.

Those who learn the see the future describe a similar “maze” of branching possibilities. For example, when asked about whether or not a woman should accept a marriage proposal, Oracles actually see a myriad possible outcomes, including many possible outcomes if she says yes and if she says no. The near present has the least possibilities, and they’re very likely, the “thickest” branches, while those far away are the least possible and the most numerous, the “thinnest” branches.

The Akashic Order, thus, likes to describe time as a tree, with the present as the trunk, the roots as the past, and the branches as the possible future. The tree of time is ultimately the symbol of the Akashic Mysteries.

When walking the paths of the astral maze, many Akashic Initiates describe being guided by the golden light of the Akashic Record. This makes the preferred path “golden.” This has created the term of “the golden path” as the one true set of choices everyone must make to reach the enlightenment of the Golden Record. Many who follow the Akashic Mysteries like to have a great tree in a garden with golden ribbons hanging from its branches, to symbolize their dedication to following this “golden path.”

The Coming Storm

Beyond a particular point, no Akashic Oracle can see the future. She sees instead the writhing strands of chaotic impossibility. Beyond this point, precognition is impossible, the “Time Horizon.” This may just mean that every precognitive has limits, but the horizon refuses to move past a certain point: it comes swiftly and closes in on the current generation! And events that Akashics can see shortly preceding the Time Horizon depict awful slaughter, mayhem and carnage, though their exact nature varies, and who inflicts this carnage is invisible to the eyes of the Akashics (they can see the burning cities and the dead strewn about, but not who will destroy human civilization). Most have concluded that they cannot see the future beyond this because, for humanity, there is no future.

Within this writhing chaos, some Akashics can see gaps, and can peek at futures just beyond them. These tend to show humanity in a terrible state of subjugation or slow dissolution, but on one, beyond which the Akashic Record is visible, they see a safe and surviving humanity.

Akashic Oracles have a difficult time relating the horror of the Coming Storm (the first time an Oracle witnesses it, the GM might call for a Fright Check), and dislike talking about it. In iconography, artists like to depict it as a literal storm or as a burning tree; Akashics who have seen the Coming Storm prefer the burning tree, as they describe the Coming Storm as “devouring the tree of time,” but feel it might confuse the lay person. Within the temple on Persephone, an obscure wall has been painted entirely black and seems to move and writhe in the torchlight, and has the hellish imagery of skulls and slavery depicted on it; the Akashic Oracles claim the horror of this wall in a dark and foreboding passage comes to the closest to accurately depicting the Coming Storm.

Veils

The Akashic Oracle must isolate herself from the world to make the best possible predictions. Knowing the future, she must refrain from interacting with the world more than necessary lest her actions introduce unforeseen consequences, and she must not let worldly concerns distract her, lest they impact her visions.

The Akashic Order uses veils to symbolize this separation from the “supernatural,” or the silent places where visions take place, and the “real” world, where the rest of us live, and what the visions speak of. Those who enter an Akashic temple must pass through a silken veil, and those who will be initiated must pass through multiple veils, while the Akashic Oracle wears a veil while out in public, especially over her eyes.

The Veil symbolizes innocence and the dividing line between the supernatural and the physical. By wearing a veil, the Akashic Oracle denotes herself as connected to the “supernatural.”

The Devils of Persephone

The Devils of Persephone, important to the origins of the Akashic Mysteries, remain a potent symbol for the Akashic Mysteries. Akashic artwork depicts the Devils as standing between the supplicant and the tree of time, or haunting the labyrinth of time, stalking those who would reach the Akashic Record. They appear twisted or phantasmal creatures with black or shadowy skin, white eyes or no eyes at all, and great, fang-filled maws and long, hungry tongues. If an artwork depicts a point of light (a knight’s upraised force sword, or the Akashic Record itself), they recoil from that light as though in fear. They often decorate the facades of Akashic Temples, and statues of them stand before the veils of initiation. While outsiders interpret them as the monster, Akashic imagery treats them as guardians, as those who stand between the supplicant and the ultimate truths they seek, testing the worthy and devouring the unworthy.

The Symoblism of Time

The standard Akashic symbols tend to represent metaphors for time itself, explaining its shape, the needs of the Akashic Order and the ultimate lesson of the coming galactic calamity and the need for enlightenment and knowledge. The Akashic Order uses these symbols to teach the layman and to enlighten the initiate, but they have additional, more specific symbols.

The visions of oracles tend to be highly symbolic and confusing and often deeply personal. The Akashic Order has compiled entire libraries full of that imagery, to help explain the visions of their oracles, but they also drill these symbols into their initiates. They find that those steeped in the lore of that imagery are more likely to see that imagery in their visions, and thus these symbols create a language of interpretation that makes the visions easier to understand.

The Akashic Order often uses this imagery, in addition to the imagery noted above, in their Mystery Plays, in their ceremonies, and they’ve found their way into the heraldry of the Alliance.

Animals: Small adorable creatures, who often speak. Represent the poverty stricken, the weak, those who need to be protected; also represent the struggles of the common world, and often live in a harsh nature. For powerful, frightening animals, see the Great Beast.

Blood: Guilt, failure, the consequences of a past action catching up to one.

Blossoms: Any number of the poison blossoms of Persephone make their way into the symbolism of the Akashic Order. Their meaning varies from blossom to blossom, but generally symbolize love, innocence or the price of power.

Chains: Symbolize the bonds of vows, or connections between two people.

Darkness, the Void: Calamity, the Coming Storm, the Unknown.

Fire: Chaos, rapid change, the destruction of rightful rule; the Coming Storm.

Stars, Astronomical Phenomenon: A new journey, the need to travel, appointing a desired location.

Shadows: That which could be, but is not

The Blind Woman: Symbolizes oracles, oracular knowledge, or self-sacrifice

The Crown: Symbolizes rightful rule.

The Eye: Symbolizes knowledge, insight, psionic power, or the Akashic Record.

The Fool: Symbolizes innocent violation of rightful rule, an accidental (and possibly fortunate) violation of rules; can also symbolize another perspective.

The Force Sword: If vertical or held aloft, symbolizes a force driving away “Darkness.” If held horizontally or across the body, symbolizes righteous defense. If lowered (at a downward angle) but active, symbolizes restraint or control.

The Great Beast: Symbolizes slaughter, murder, war crime and violent violation of rightful rule.

The King: Symbolizes rightful rule.

The Knight: Symbolizes a powerful ally, someone that will defend or protect rightful rule.

The Lover: Symbolizes temptation away from one’s duty; a violation of the sacred.

The Mask: Usually two toned, with the left dark and the right bright. Symbolizes deception, or a hidden/masked nature, or something that cannot be known.

The Princess: Symbolizes a powerful victim or pawn, someone who others should sacrifice to gain safety or prosperity.

Akashic Ceremonies

The Akashic Mysteries use rituals to induce trances in themselves, to impress their followers, and because by following rigid protocols, they can slowly strengthen destiny to ensure that the future occurs as they predicted. All ceremonies require Religious Ritual (Akashic Mysteries). Such ceremonies may be performed by a priest or priestess of the order, but traditionally an Oracle is always present and the ceremony takes place under her authority, even if she plays no more than a symbolic role.

Supplication

Those who wish to ask a question of the Oracles of the Akashic Mysteries must submit their request in advance. For off-worlders, the Oracles prefer that the request be submitted before setting foot on the world. The Order decides which questions to take and on what schedule, and then notify those whose questions have been accepted.

When the supplicant, the one who has a question he wishes answered, arrives at the Akashic Temple, he is greeted by his companion, a member of the Temple who will accompany him at all times. He is ritually bathed, purified and dressed in preparation for meeting the oracle. Most temples encourage fasting. When the appointed time arrives, the companion gives the supplicant a ceremonial wafer dosed with a hallucinogen (traditionally Dream Nymph, but as that’s a dangerous poison, some temples use a more mild hallucinogen; see B440), and then guides him into the bowels beneath the temple where the Oracle awaits him. To reach her, he must pass through corridors full of symbolic imagery and at least one veil. The exact course depends on the message the temple wishes to give the supplicant (which may be political rather than mystical, something like “Look how powerful we are” or “Behold how much you need us”).

Finally, he stands before the Oracle. She usually sits upon a chair, tripod or throne, often in a room full of vapors. She gives a dramatic display in telling the supplicant the answer to his question (Performance or Religious Ritual). Usually, the temple divines the truth in advance, as the best precognition occurs in silent sensory deprivation chambers. Once the truth is known, the temple then usually decides what they want to tell the supplicant, and the Oracle focuses more on the impact of her performance than on how correct the answer is.

The real purpose of the entire affair is to put the supplicant on the right path. Thus, a man might ask “Who should I marry?” The order then turns their attention to his future and divines how they might answer his question in such a way to best help the Order. For example, if he tricks a local duchess into believing that he’s noble and marries her, he might have a miserable marriage and die to assassination, but their child would be an important hero in the future. And thus, they’ll couch the prophecy in revealing his “lost” aristocratic bloodline, in convincing him to rule, and in setting him on a path where he will meet the duchess, and gives him clues so as to recognize her as the woman he should marry.

Matchmaking and Marriage

Matchmaking is such a common question that the Oracles generally don’t accept such questions, and instead take a pro-active approach. A whole branch of the Akashic Order dedicates itself to keeping tabs on the bloodlines and eugenic traits of the various houses. These “Matchmakers” regularly go out and visit noble houses and consult on the viability of particular matches. These matchmakers tend to be low ranking members of the Akashic Order and might not even be psionic, and do not wear veils. They consult on the genetics of proposed matches and even propose matches to houses that seek them.

Oracles do investigate good matches. Generally, far-seeing oracles will have found particular people in the future that they wish to ensure will come into existence, and the oracle and matchmakers will work together to trace a bloodline lineage to the prophesied child, the Oracle working from the future backwards, and the matchmakers working from the present forward. Once the right matches have been found, the matchmakers will propose the matches and if that doesn’t work, the whole Akashic Order may begin to leverage their influence to push for a particular match. As such, traditionally, one accepted a proposed match from a matchmaker on principle, because one never knew when the entire Akashic Order would throw its weight behind the match.

The Akashic Order does not need to oversee wedding, but the nobility likes their stamp of approval, so a matchmaker will usually attend. They like to use the symbolism of the princess and the knight, the chains of the vow made between the two, and veiling the bride, to represent her innocence and purity. Sometimes, an Oracle will arrive to oversee the wedding, a veiled figure who stands apart from the proceedings as a silent witness. At the end of the ceremony, she might foretell the results of the marriage (usually highlighting the glamorous elements of their coming life, rather than pronouncing doom and gloom).

Note that in the modern Alliance, matchmakers and oracles still exist, but in far fewer numbers and without the influence they had before. Many disregard their advice (and bloodlines decay as a result) and even those who wish to consult with Akashic matchmakers are often unable to find any. “Traditional” Akashic weddings are rare

Judgment

The Akashic Oracles have their roots in psychic criminal investigation, and have a long tradition of predicting crime before it occurs. When an Akashic Oracle uncovers a crime that matters in the context of the Coming Storm, the order will duly note the prophecy and then move into action. The Akashic Order accepts the sovereignty of the aristocracy, and thus leaves it to them to practice law enforcement, but in extreme cases, the Akashic Order will turn up on a noble’s doorstep with a fully veiled and ceremonially garbed Oracle, who pronounces the wickedness of a particular person and demands a specific punishment. As always, the punishment is meant to not only prevent the crime, but to push the rest of society in a particular direction. At times in the past, the Akashic Order has even condemned the innocent because doing so had an important and beneficial impact on the future.

Initiation

Initiation greatly resembles supplication. It begins with a request, the arrival at the temple, the assigning of a companion, purification, ritual garments, the ceremonial wafer and then being guided into the bowels of the temple.

Thereupon it changes, depending on the level of initiation. The Akashic Order has three levels of initation. The first, lesser initiation or noble initiation, either initiates someone as a member of the Akashic Order, or inducts a noble into the “true” mysteries of the Akashic Order and “gives him his purpose.” Traditionally, all ruling nobles underwent the noble initiation, but in the Alliance few bother. Note that this step is not necessary to consider oneself a follower of the Akashic Mysteries; it is, instead, the “next step,” closer to a pilgrimage than a baptism, an optional step that shows intense devotion, or a mandatory step for those who wish to join the religious organization and gain Religious Rank.

The Greater Initiation, or the Akashic Initiation, is open only to precognitives who have undergone the lesser initiation and serve the Akashic Order. It reveals the Akashic Record to the initiate. This step makes one an Akashic Oracle, and is necessary to learn the how to read Deep Time.

The Final Initiation, also called the Shadow Initiation or the Dying, can only be undertaken by predestined oracles who have undergone the Akashic Initiation and have seen the Akashic Record or by someone the Shadow Council wants as their personal assistant. This inducts them into the Shadow Council, the ruling body of the Akashic Order.

A lesser initiate is guided past a veil and into a chamber full of imagery of the Devils of Persephone. There he must prove his worth. The initiate is questioned. The priest demands the initiate answer his name and purpose and then tests the initiates knowledge of Akashic Theology (a basic Theology test at between +0 to +4, usually questions about basic imagery). If the supplicant passes, he must sacrifice. The Priest tests the initiate’s conviction with a test of pain using a ceremonial variant of a neurolash. The target must pass a Will roll at between -0 to -4. Fanaticism applies its usual +3, while High Pain Threshold halves the penalty. If he passes, he makes a vow of secrecy to never reveal what he is shown in the initiation.

If the initiate passes, his companion guides him past the next set of veils, to a room with labyrinthine imagery. There, a priest or priestess reveals symbols pertinent to the initiate, most commonly a small symbolic chain, flowers, and tokens etched with more abstract symbols. Akashic Knights receive their force sword at this time. The priest or priestess accompanies these revelations with seemingly nonsensical pronouncements that, in fact, illustrate something of the initiate’s future, and how that future is symbolized in the symbols shown here.

Then the Companion guides the initiate past a third set of veils to a room where an oracle stands before an image of the Akashic Record. The Companion instructs the supplicant and she pronounces his purpose, the role he plays in the Akashic Mysteries. Then, the Companion instructs the initiate in the words and actions he must say and perform in the Akashic Mystery.

Finally, the Companion guides the initiate past the final set of veils, returning him to the chamber of Devils. There, he must speak the words and perform the ceremonial actions (Religious Ritual at +4) to be allowed out. If the character fails, the Companion couches him quietly until he gets it right, and then he’s allowed to leave.

The Akashic Initiation matches the Noble Initiation, but in place of an oracle, the third chamber has a sensory deprivation chamber or a pool in which the would-be oracle must float The previous steps only prepare her for the rigors of the true test, which begins now. Her companion guides her into the trance necessary to find the astral space in which the Labyrinth of Time resides, and the initiate must locate and read the Akashic Record. The exact rule for this are left up to the GM: it might be a roll of the Prognostication skill, or it might be Akashic Theology with a bonus from ESP talent, or the GM might play out a highly symbolic astral adventure. If the character fails to find the Akashic Record, most of the time, they’re lost in the labyrinth and never return, becoming comatose. A few simply retreat in terror from the experience, and any oracle can tell at a glance whether the character has read the Akashic Record.

The Final Initiation resembles the lesser initiation, except the third chamber is the Shadow Council Chamber itself, and the Shadow Initiate “never returns.” After introducing herself to her fellow Shadow Councilors, she is allowed to leave an enter via a secret passage that all Shadow Initiates use to enter the Shadow Council Chamber, and thus does not “return” to the original chamber as in the other two forms of initiation.

The Akashic Mystery

The Akashic Mystery is a mass ceremony held every 4 Persephone years. The Akashic Order invites attendees, who must be initiates in the Akashic Mystery. As with the supplication, each attendee receives a companion, is ritually purified, given a ceremonial wafer, etc, and then brought to a vast chamber.

An oracle conducts the Mystery. First, she reveals powerful symbols and speaks a prophecy for the coming four years using those symbols. Then she conducts a grand play in which all attendees must play out the role given to them during their initiation. They use the symbols given to them, perform the actions taught to them, and speak the words told to them during their initiation, as directed by their Companion and the Oracle. This grand play reminds them of the role they play, casts their lives as but parts in the grand Akashic Mystery, and gives them insights into what they must do for the coming period of four years.

Afterwords, the Akashic Order treats everyone to a grand feast; the Akashic Order accepts donations from the nobles attending, and most nobles make a point of trying to one up one another by bringing the greatest foods they can, or so it was during the height of the Akashic Order’s influence. Modern Akashic Mysteries are much more somber affairs.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...