Thursday, December 14, 2017

Symbolism of Mystical Tyranny

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant originally draws most of its imagery and symbolism from the Divine Masks system, though it treats its symbols as just that: symbols. For the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, symbols exist to help frame your mind, or to fool the poor, ignorant masses. No true master of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant truly believes in the symbolism of the Cult.

Divine Mask Imagery

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant began as a Ranathim Dark Communion cult, and it tends to retain that imagery. The Ranathim have a powerful cultural impact on much of the galaxy and modern humanity tends to be impressed by their exotic, ancient imagery. That doesn’t mean that the Cult won’t co-opt imagery and symbolism from other philosophies; the Cult believes in focusing your mind, and symbolism acts as tools to do just that. If a dacifferent culture has different symbols that would better suit them, the Cult borrows those. The same goes for language: while many rites and rituals in the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant were originally in Lithian, the Cult translates them into other languages as necessary, and Galactic Common is, by far, the most used language of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant.

Common Divine Mask imagery includes:

Fire: The Divine Masks makes use of brazier and incense to represent the presence of the divine, preferring to light their temples with the “divine light” of fire rather than artificial, electric light. The Cult prefers this approach, but also use fire as a symbol for passion, and “burning away” distractions, or to teach lessons about the importance of embracing pain.

The Gate: The Divine Masks philosophy often has symbolic gates and doorways that separate the sacred space of the temple from the mundane space of the outer world. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is less concerned with the concept of “sacred space,” but uses gates, labyrinths and thresholds as metaphors for hidden self-knowledge and power, and the means by which one may acquire them.

The Lash and Scepter: Traditionally held in the hands of the divine emperor of the Ranathim empire, with his arms crossed over his body, the scepter represents power and the lash represents submission. The original imagery was meant to convey that the emperor represented both the enslaved classes and the master classes, but for the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, they represent the fact that all men must choose between self mastery or service to another, and that both principles reside within all people.

The Crown: The Divine Emperor of the Ranathim wore a complex, composite crown that represented all people that he ruled. Since the fall of the Empire, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant continues with the tradition of a crown, but typically simpler, usually just a circlet with a psionic-boosting gem, worn by those who symbolically represent the Mystic Tyrant, such as those leading an initiation rite.

The Psi-Sword: Originally, the royal guard of the Divine Emperor wore these powerful weapons, but after its fall, all members of the Cult began to practice with them. They represent a natural focus for one’s psionic potential, and directly manifest that as physical power. Those taken as an apprentice by a Tyrant, or inducted into the Cult directly, typically craft (or steal!) their psi-sword themselves. With the increasing inclusion of humanity into the Cult, the force sword, or the combined technology of both, has become more common.

The Tower and Throne: The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant never had an idol to their “God,”for their “God” was a living and breathing Emperor. Likewise, they lack temples and replace them with places of political power. The most iconic image of this is either a tower or throne (a tower or throne surmounted by a crown of fire is a common pictoral symbol for the Cult). Such towers tend to naturally accumulate sanctity to Dark Communion, and their thrones are often built with psi-booster technology.

The Bones of Tyrants: Because a tyrant is a living embodiment of the divine power of the Mystic Tyrant, and because the Cult seeks to find some means to transcend death, they often treat the bones of their dead with respect… and fear. Dead tyrants tend to be interred in strong, fortress-like mausoleums… often with safeguards meant to prevent some unexpected force from either getting in to steal those bones, or from the Tyrant using some means to rise again and getting out (especially if he was an unpopular Tyrant). Devoted apprentices and slaves often carry fragments of the bones of their masters in phylacteries worn around their neck.

The Many Worlds: The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does not believe in other worlds, but finds the imagery of the many worlds to be a useful parallel to self-understanding. Those who understand physics and mundane concerns have gained mastery of “Jenteku,””or the physical, while those who have mastered psionic power have gained access to “Akaleku,” or the “Astral, those who have mastered Communion have mastered “Falineku,”and those who have transcended all limitations to become a true tyrant are said to have mastered “Lithe,” to have become “Divine.”

The Labyrinth: The Labyrinth is unique to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and a late addition to its imagery. It represents the mind, set against itself in turmoil. The Tyrant must “delve into the labyrinth” to become a master of his own mind and passions, and finds at the heart of the labyrinth his truest desire, which becomes the burning flame the consumes all other passions and ambitions.

The Tetrahedron: Usually just called a “Pyramid,” the three-sided pyramid contains the rich symbolism of all three forms of Communion, each represented by a side, with each side containing three points, which represents the three paths of each form of Communion. The base of the pyramid represents slave and the masses and the pinnacle of the pyramid, where all forms of Communion join, which looks down upon all the rest, represents the transcendent master and the ultimate goal of all cultists of the Mystic Tyrant.
Game of Thrones Redesign by tryingtofly

The Aesthetics of Power

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant understand that power is perceptual. If one believes that one has power, one does. They use their symbolism and their philosophical aesthetic to emphasize this. They build vast buildings with steps that raise the tyrant over those who approach him, surround him with banners and dress in garments that project their own majestic power.

The Colors of Tyranny

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant uses color in its decoration and fashion both as a symbol for self-understanding, and to signal to others one’s level of initiation, or one’s purpose in the Cult.

Black is the color of the physical world and the color of shadows. It represents the lowest level of initiation and the blur of shadows that cloud the minds of men. It is worn by the lowest initiates, but also by those whose role is stealth, obfuscation or hiding the Cult from outsiders, such as enforcers or assassins.

Red is the color of the astral world and the color of fire and passion. It represents those initiated into the deeper secrets of the Cult, those who have gained sufficient passion that they can drive themselves towards greatness. It is worn by the apprentices of masters, but also those who wage war on the behalf of the Cult, its foot soldiers, agents and guardians.

White is the color of Communion and the color of clarity and ashes; it represents those of the highest degree of initiation, the leaders and masters of the cult, and whose wisdom has given them clarity to see the truth. It also represents those who keep or advance the knowledge of the Cult, such as archivists or archaeologists.

Gold is the color of the Mystic Tyrant, and the color of the divine; it represents those who have transcended the limitations of the Cult to become true tyrants. Cultists with a strong religious devotion to the Cult often wear gold as a reminder of their faith, but most who wear it do so to express power. They tend to be the absolute leaders of the Cult.


Names, in the Divine Mask system, have power. The Divine Emperor would take a new name upon his ascent to the throne, representing his ascension to a divine state. The Cult continues this practice: those initiated to a sufficient degree gain a new name from their master, typically a Lithian one, and the title “Thamet.” In this case, it represents his parting from mundane ignorance and his first steps onto a path of true enlightenment. Those who claim to have achieved transcendence take on a new name of their own, representing how they forge both the universe and themselves with their new vision.

Oaths, and Master/Slave relationships

The concept of slavery and mastery is central to the Mystic Tyrant ideology, as represented by the scepter and lash. Each Tyrant must make himself a slave to his own ambition and passion, and thus becoming his own master, and anyone who can master himself can master others. Slaves shelter in the power of their master.

A master/slave relationship is one of patronage rewarded with obedience and vice versa. A slave bends knee to the master, and the master may do with the slave what he wishes. In turn, the master trains and protects the slave. The greatest of slaves is the apprentice (sometimes called a “prince” or “princess”), the right-hand of the master, who is groomed to take his place, or to join him as a master.

The Cult treats the master/slave relationship very seriously, and makes a show of dominance and submission. Those who are slaves often wear the sigils or names of their master and other items displaying submission, such as slave colors, chains or constricting (or revealing) clothing. They must supplicate themselves before their master and refer to him as “master” (or, in Lithian, “Thamara”) For his part, the master is expected to maintain an air of regal dignity, and to refer to his slaves by their position, rather than their name (the exception is the apprentice, who has earned a position of importance).

The Rituals of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

Meditation (“Delving into the Labyrinth”)

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant concerns itself with self-mastery above all other things. Only those who master themselves can master others. They define this self-mastery as the elevation of one passion over all others, or the alignment of all desires in a single, central focus. This allows the achievement of greatness. The Cultist achieves this alignment through self-knowledge, which includes harrowing inner journey using meditation.

The Cult typically describes the journey as “wandering through a labyrinth.” The character confronts his own weaknesses and passions, often in vivid, hallucinatory detail, and must wrestle with them, flee from them or negotiate with them. They often describe some of their own passions as “monsters.” Some argue for battling and conquering one’s inner demons, but many suggest, instead, submitting to or sacrificing yourself to your inner demons; after all, they’re the most powerful passions and drives within you.

The exact experience varies from person to person and is entirely a metaphorical journey of psychological self-discovery. The Cult may speak of this as “a journey into inner worlds,” but they don’t actually believe this.

Rite of Initiation

Horus by Merl1ncz
The Cult has always kept secrets from outsiders, whether it was the political decisions of the Divine Emperor, or the conspiring of the cult that came after his fall. Those who wish to gain access to those secrets must prove their worth to the Cult through an initiation ritual.

The exact parameters vary based on the specific cult and the level of initiation the initiate is achieving, but certain commonalities pervade all such rituals. First, the initiate is kidnapped and blind-folded and then brought to an undisclosed location where he is confronted by black-clad masters. First, they demand to know his name. Then they test the initiate. The exact nature of the test varies; at the lowest levels, these might be simple questions about Cult doctrines or tests of loyalty; at higher levels these might be extremely demanding riddles, extreme demands (such as killing a loved one) or extreme, nigh-lethal tests. Once these have been surmounted, the initiate is walked through a threshold and before a crowned master, typically with the lash and scepter and seated upon a throne. The crowned master issues an oath of loyalty (to the Cult) and secrecy to the cultist, and when the cultist has completed his oath, the crowned master grants him the color appropriate to his initiation and, if appropriate, pronounces his new name.

Oath of Submission

When a cultist swears an oath to the Cult or to a Master, this is called an oath of submission. To perform an oath of submission, the cultist kneels before his new master, or a crowned master representing the cult as a whole (depending to whom the cultist is swearing loyalty). The cultist states his name and makes a solemn oath (“upon punishment of death”) to absolutely obey the commands of their new master and to keep their secrets. They then make an offering to their master, typically an offering of their own blood, but possessions or wealth are also acceptable, or an offering of a symbol prepared for the occasion. The Master then accepts the offering, accepts, states his own obligations (to protect and guide his new slave/apprentice) and then offers a hand to lift the slave up.

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