The Limitations of Witchery

Witchery is a powerful force in the world, and witches have always been able to achieve deeds that seem nearly miraculous.  Yet, despite millennia of practice, there are some goals that witchery seems unable to reach.  Perhaps appropriate workings have yet to be designed, or it may be that witchery – like most other human endeavors – has some firmly established limits that cannot be exceeded.

Following are five of the most classic goals that no witch has yet been able to achieve, though classic studies of witchery insist that they should be possible.

Living human flight

Air witches have long sought the secret of flight.  Some witches of a particularly strong Air Talent have been known to levitate or slow their rate of descent in a fall, but flight itself has not been achieved.  No fewer than thousands of witches have crafted workings designed to bestow the power of flight upon themselves or other humans.  The closest to living flight yet developed was the Air witch Pierre Duplaise in the early 1900s who created a working that would allow him or any other person to rise into the air and hover for an indefinite period of time.  Duplaise could move himself about in the air by pushing off objects and drifting in his chosen direction, but if there were no sufficiently large objects for him, he was limited to mere levitation and hovering.

Some witches have even managed to control their fall from great heights.  Not merely controlling the rate of descent, but even allowing themselves to move about in the air.  Though close to flight, their movement continued toward the ground, albeit much more slowly than were they purely at the mercy of gravity.

When asked why witches could not fly under their own power, renowned Air witch Orville Wright (who learned to use machines to do what witchery could not since his own Talent was so minimal as to be almost non-existent) replied, “It might be because people aren’t birds!”

True shapeshifting of humans

Witches have long known that a species of shapeshifting supernaturals exists, or at the very least once existed.  This has caused many witches of various Talents, primarily Earth, Shaman, and Druid, to seek to create workings that would allow humans to change into other creatures.

An innumerable list of workings and even worked objects have been created with the intention of turning human beings into other animals.  None have been truly successful.  Some of given the human in question certain animalistic features:  cat eyes, donkey ears, kangaroo legs, scaly skin, etc.  Bestowing animal abilities onto humans has long been a standard working for many witches, but those have never been more than short-term modifications to a person’s abilities.  Even this, however, is limited to enhancing what humans can do rather than bestowing completely new capabilities.  For example, a person can be given the agility of a cat, but that is only an enhancement of a human’s natural abilities.  A person who is paralyzed, for instance, will still not be able to move, no matter how many “Agility of a Cat” workings might be placed on him.

Immortality

Witches are far, far from the only people who have sought a way to bypass death and live forever; no one group can put an exclusive claim to that particular ambition.  Witches, however, have resources for the work that are not available to Orthos.  Given their connection to healing workings, it is not surprise that Earth witches have been very involved in attempts to achieve immortality.  Less expected is the fact that many Shamans have also put effort into immortality; their rationale is that there are creatures that are effectively immortal, so the potential to become so is inherent in nature.  However, they have not yet found a way to make this potential open up to any except those few creatures for whom it is already a reality.

Witchery is certainly able to increase a lifespan and to heal a broken or diseased body.  But the increase to a lifespan seems to be limited to what has already been known to occur naturally in humans.  Witchery can extend a life past the century mark, but to date no witch has ever managed to live or make another live past roughly one-hundred-twenty years.  Even this degree of life extension has required repetitions of the original working; when the working is not done on a regular schedule, the passage of time seems to catch up with the person in question a very short order.

Creation of life

Folklore, religion, and literature are filled with persons who create living beings either from pure nothingness or by bestowing life upon previously lifeless matter.  In the world of the Perfect Coven, this endeavor has been attempted by witches, as well.  As might be expected given their affinity for material results and healing, Earth witches have been among the involved in attempts to create life.  Equally engaged in pursuing this creation have been a number of Augers.  This Talent with its ease of ability to deal with spirits has long given a drive to bring those spirits into a more purely physical existence.

Many Earth witches have physically crafted a variety of objects, duplicates or imitations of living beings, and sought to bring these things to life with their witchery.  While the Earth Talent gift for healing is able to mend and repair a living body, it has always fallen short in the attempts to create one.  The bodies crafted by these witches have gained a measure of animation, able to move and act, but no Earth witch has yet succeeded in doing more than creating a moving object.  There has been no actual life, awareness, nor volition in these creations.

Augers have taken a similar, but slightly altered approach to the goal.  They begin with the same creating of a form, but then call a spirit to inhabit it, rather than attempting to animate it with their own witchery.  This has resulted in some amazing imitations of life, but the “creatures” brought forth have had no biological functions, the bodies do not develop nor do any of the normal things that living bodies do.  These, too, are nothing but witchery-created automatons.

Some scholars have theorized that if an Earth witch were to craft a body and an Auger were then to summon a spirit to inhabit it, the resulting combination might be closer to alive than any other witchery has yet achieved.  The difficulty in this has always been the odd quirk in the Auger Talent that makes an Auger working with any other witch so challenging for any save the most skilled witches.

Create lasting emotion

This goal has been the ambition of many Psi-witches and more than a few Bards.  Both Talents are well-suited to working the emotions of humans.  The creation of a new emotional state in human beings is second nature to Psi-witches.  With the power of music as their primary tool, Bards are almost as skilled in evoking emotions.  Both of these working can create very strong, but temporary emotions.  While in effect, the emotions created by witchery are very real, and the person experiencing them responds as if the feelings were his own, created through normal means.

Love spells exist in plentitude in legend and literature, but true witchery has never been able to make one person truly love another.  Creating infatuation is simple for Psi-witches and Bards (a simple working for one, and an empowered love song for the other), but any witch can do a working to raise amorous feelings in a human being.  This “love” is powerful, all-consuming, and intense.  It is also temporary.

The same applies to any emotions created through witchery.  Fear is an easy emotion to create, but it fades and loses its power over the subject.

Real emotions have not just a cause, but they grow, evolve, and adapt.  Falling in love is one event, but living in love with someone requires adapting to new experiences with that person, learning more about him/her, and sharing time together.  Emotions created by witchery of any form are incapable of this growth, and will thus fade away in time when they prove unable to adapt.

Given that witches are human, for all of their extraordinary abilities, it is a given that attempts to bypass the limitations of witchery will continue.  No human endeavor is likely to ever be allowed to rest on only what has already been done.

Perhaps there are some hard and fast limits to what witchery can achieve, perhaps not.  Most serious students of witchery believe that Orville Wright his upon a serious truth in his sarcastic response, and that witchery can never change the true nature of anything, only make slight and temporary alterations.

Others disagree.

No matter what the truth may be, witches will continue their workings, and someone may someday find a way to live forever or to soar through the air under his own power.

Mickie says:    I love this.  It gives a nice dose of reality that even magic can’t do everything.  It also provides us story tellers with some limitations to follow in the future.  There will be no immortal wizards coming forward to answer all our questions.  It also shows the balance in our shared world between magic and technology.  And when one falters, the other steps forward.

Sid says:  Humans, Witch or Ortho, will always attempt to reach past their actual grasp. In this, as in many other endeavors, people will always ask “could we”, but rarely (if ever) ask “should we”.  It has been speculated that perhaps limiting that grasp is one of the functions of a familiar – steering a witch away from what they should not attempt. However, witches will never know the truth of this, as familiars do not give away their secrets.

Looking at this from another perspective – as one of the writers involved in this series – having defined limitations on witchery makes for a more complex, interesting world. If all problems were easily solved with a bit of witchery, what reason would we have to write? James has given us some of the big limitations; it’s up to us (and our characters) to determine their individual limitations within these parameters, and others we will discover as we work in and continue to build PCEarth.

 

Advertisements

9/6/2017 → Wednesday Skype & Write – MONTHLY MEETING

Last night was our September monthly meeting. Much was discussed, updates were given, and even a bit more worldbuilding was accomplished! So – quite a productive evening.

Worldbuilding…um, I would love to go into deep detail here, but that would spoil future books! Suffice to say that we discussed how witchery is taught in schools (basic curriculum, basic workings and techniques, especially in elementary and high school) and how other skills are learned, especially things like oh, cursebreaking, which isn’t a witchery talent but a learned skill set.We also talked rather more about talents vs. learned skills and how certain witches/deva/orthos would select their paths of study.

Limitations on witchery were also discussed. Obviously, we don’t want superpowered witches that can do anything and everything with their magic, because that would make for really boring stories. Discussing how witchery can and should be limited took us into a discussion of physics, which means James unpacked his physics learnings to help us decide how certain natural laws applied and/or could be bent to accommodate witchery. And people say you never use your degree once you graduate! Between James and our other scientific expert, we are working very seriously to ground our magic in actual scientific principles, and yes, that’s exactly as difficult as it sounds.

There was also some talk of the Deva, and that’s all  I’m saying because spoilers!

In update news: James got Cursebreaker’s Dance back to Sid. She’s beginning the next (hopefully final) revision/draft!

Sid has also nearly completed the framework for the Shaman, Water, Bard Trilogy synopsis. Once that’s done, she’ll pass it off to Mickie and James to put some flesh on the bones.

Now that James has finished his edit pass on Cursebreaker’s Dance, he’s sketching out scenes and making outline notes for his next book in the series, Cat’s Cradle. This will be Perfect Coven Book 6 a/k/a Book 3 of the Ortho, Siren, Were Trilogy.

Mickie is still hard at work on wrapping up Charlie’s Web. Then there will be revisions, then synopses, and then…pitching. Very scary. We’re getting so close.

Supernaturals 4: Elemental Supernaturals — Water

~Elemental Supernaturals continued

As discussed previously, the Deva are the supernaturals with the closest ties to witches and orthos, and are an accepted part of society, though often secretive about their status. Deva have their own cultures and religions, though they appear to have evolved somewhat in tandem with humans, so there are similarities and overlaps, especially in terms of witchery. There is a theory of dual evolution from a common ancestral core which cites as evidence the ability of the Deva to interbreed with witches and orthos to produce viable children.

Deva are often tied to the physical manifestations of their element, i.e., Dryads to forests, Naiads and Nereids to water, and all Deva can feel their Element wherever they are.  Of all the Deva, naiads and nereids are probably the closest related to each other.

Water Deva – Naiads and Nereids

Naiads are the basis for the freshwater nymphs of Greek myth. Naiads live in clans, which are matriarchal, ruled by Elders, all women, all witches. Most often, the office of clan elder is hereditary, passed from mother to daughter. Each Elder has her own advisors from within her extended family group. Advisors are both witch and ortho-Naiad, male and female, and are selected by family ballot. The advisors attend council meetings with their Elder and are considered an adjunct to the council itself.

Clans consist of several enclaves and take part of their names from the bodies of water they inhabit. All Naiads inhabiting a body of water belong to the same clan, but not to the same enclave or even the same family.

Naiads don’t have family names, per se; they use a matronymic system, meaning that a child will take their mother’s name as their last name. Therefore, they also differentiate themselves by naming both their clan and enclave; i.e., Jarvi’s full name is Jarvi Vada of the Saginaw Bay Huron Clan. For simplicity, most Naiads prefer to use their clanwater as their surname when mingling in human society.  

As clans can be extensive, Naiads prefer larger lakes or a large series of lakes, inland seas, and the great rivers as habitats, though some enclaves will live by smaller lakes. These enclaves are almost always allied with or a cadet branch of a larger clan. They don’t live entirely in the water. Their homes are constructed so as to be partially submerged, partially above the waterline.

Naiad passive metaskills include the ability an ability to tell another Naiad’s homewater, enhanced stamina, and a greater ability to endure water pressure and temperatures. Naiad active metas include the physical manipulation of their element, including changing the molecular makeup of the water once inhaled to allow them to breathe it for a period of time; the time varies according to the naiad’s innate abilities, of course. Some naiads can even tell what water a Water witch prefers, though this ability is stronger in the males. Naiad witches tend to lose the ability to manipulate water on the molecular level (i.e., they can’t break down water in order to extract oxygen to breathe underwater) for their witchery.

Naiads are physically very human-looking. They are disposed to be broad in the chest to accommodate their expanded lung capacity, which allows them to hold their breath for extended underwater stays. There may be a blue or green sheen to the hair and perhaps the nails, but they are the second most human-looking of the Deva, the Ailur being first.  Naiads, like all the Deva, can interbreed with humans, both witch and ortho, and produce viable children with either witch or naiad characteristics. Unlike the mythology, there are male naiads. They don’t appear in the mythology because the clans are matriarchal, and  the naiads most often encountered were the Elders in power and their advisors, thus giving rise to the myth that male Naiads do not exist.

Naiads do travel from their clanwater for various reasons, including going to college, diplomacy, or just for adventure. If the naiad opts to stay somewhere for a period of time (attending college, for example) they will form a temporary Bind, much as Dryads do. The process is much the same; the naiad will bring a worked bottle of homewater to mix into a small body of water that is easily accessible. A standing body of water is preferred, such as a small pond, as then the bind won’t need to be renewed as often. Again, the naiad will also need to periodically return to their homewater to renew themselves and to retrieve fresh water for the Bind. The length of time between home visits are determined by the naiad’s individual abilities and strengths, and, of course, whether or not the naiad is a witch. A witch will not need to bind as deeply – they can often make do with “water feature”, for example, small desk fountain or an aquarium, where they can combine a portion of their homewater with water from a source native to their location. A naiad – witch or ortho – whose bind fails will suffer a Withering, much as a Dryad will.

This has become rather lengthy, so Nereids will be discussed in a later post. However, as an FYI, note that nereids are the ocean-dwelling water Deva. While some may look similar to naiads, and share an Element, they are not the same species.

~to be continued~

James says:  Our world – PCEarth – is getting crowded.  We are starting to see not just witches (which already have us fascinated with the new things we keep “discovering” about them) but the many supernatural peoples that also populate the world.  We’ve already looked at some historical figures who were witches in PCE, and we could very well see some historical supernatural figures in the not-too-distant future.  (You can take that as a hint of an upcoming blog post if you want….if you want to be right, that is.)

Mickie says:  Nice job Sid!  Now we have to write about some of these supernaturals. Or are we already doing that?   One of the most fun things about this series is incorporating real history and mythology into the world we’ve created.  We’ve really put a lot of thought and work into the details…as you can see.

ALCHEMY – A WITCHERY SCIENCE

In medieval Europe and Asia, in the world we know, many scholars and learned men pursued the art of alchemy.  This forerunner of chemistry has been discredited on this Earth, but on PCEarth, that is far from the case.

While all witches are able to use physical items as a focus for their workings, those with the Earth Talent are most likely to do so.  The solid nature of their element makes working with tangible objects a reasonable and easy channel for their witchery.

Before the Pact and its spread to most of the world, many witches felt the need to hide their workings from their Ortho neighbors; this required secrecy that was not easy in most cases and not possible in others.  Earth witches took to working plants and creating potions with their workings embedded within the liquid.  A plant known to cleanse the body would be worked by an Earth witch and become a potion that purified wounds and enhanced healing.  The witchery would be used to bring out the inner properties of the plant and to enhance them, then the worked plant would be changed into a form that would make it useable by anyone, witch or Ortho.

This spread to include all manner of materials.

Before long, Earth witches had developed the science of alchemy.  Careful studies of natural objects and the inherent properties of each became treatises of how to use each in a plethora of potions, powders, unguents, and material transformations.  Each of the elements of earth, air, fire, and water was represented in the alchemical art, and witches of each Talent began to practice it.  However, alchemy remained the especial province of Earth witches, as their Talent has the greatest strength in drawing power from and granting power to materials found in and grown from the earth itself.  Other Talents, dealing as they do with elements that are less solid than Earth, are not as adept at this sort of working.

For a time, alchemy was the science for medical treatments and the improvement of people and things through witchery.  As other sciences grew, however, and became more widely known, alchemy fell out of favor.  While a witch skilled in the art of alchemy could produce a potion to counteract a poison, so could any pharmacist or physician – Ortho or witch – who had learned the medical sciences.

Alchemy could only be practiced by a select few, and the number of those few doing so began to dwindle rapidly.  Before many generations had passed, alchemy was nothing more than a brief aberration in the practice of witchery, no longer a subject of anyone’s concern.

Now, in the 21st century, that is changing.  A new generation of Earth witches is finding promise and potential in alchemy again.  A new witchery practice is being developed.  This new practice is known as Thaumaceuticals; it is a new attempt to embed witchery workings into medicines, allowing healing witches to expand their work beyond the few people they can personal attend.

The inspirations for this field of study come almost purely from ancient alchemical practices.  Other than updated materials and equipment, most of the workings done in thaumaceutical work is identical that what was done by alchemists.

Will this new form of alchemy become a viable and respected part of witchery or will it fade away as it did once before?

 

 

Sid says:   The world of the Perfect Coven grows yet again! I have to confess that alchemy has always fascinated me, from the accounts of John Dee to the mysterious St. Germain to its inclusion in the Harry Potter books. James has dropped a few hints about what’s to come next, and now to know that there will be an alchemy element makes me even more eager to get the first trilogy wrapped and move on to the next books!

 

 

Mickie says:   One of the most fun things about writing is that you can invent stuff and then make it work in your world.  Thaumaceuticals – such a nifty concept.  I love the connection to alchemy.  I enjoy the esoteric mystery of it all.  And again, it gives us another opportunity to incorporate real world history into our story world, as there are some very famous (Isaac Newton) and infamous (Faust) Alchemists whose secrets may have major impact in our timeline!

Joan of Arc – Auger Witch or insane heretic?

The woman who would go down in history as “the Maid of Orleans” was born in France in January of 1412.  Her mother had a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, barely surviving the experience.  She had been terribly sick during the pregnancy and her husband feared that should would not survive.  He brought in a local midwife, who happened to be a highly skilled, if not very powerful, Earth witch.  The woman assisted in the delivery, and brought mother and baby daughter through in the best condition that could be expected. She spoke to Monsieur d’Arc and casually commented on the fact that if there were more Earth witches in the area, the delivery could have been much better, and lamented on the fact that so many of the local witches had died in recent years, falling to odd fevers.

Though the family did not learn of it for some time, the midwife herself died only a few weeks later. Her family feared she had contracted the Black Fever, as it was still known to exist in some isolated areas. The Black Fever, however, should not have caused her to lose control of her witchery as she did. Her death was mourned by the community she had served, but then passed off as simply one of the tragedies of life.

When she was twelve years old, Joan had her first vision of a divine being.  At least, that is how she explained the experience, referring to the entity as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.  Over the course of a very short period of time, she added many other names to the ones she saw, including “Saint Michael the Archangel”, “Angel Gabriel”, and “hosts of heavenly angels”.

Given that there was no significant history of witchery in their family, and that the girl had no familiar – which was known to be the single most indicative sign that one was a witch – no one suspected that Joan’s “visions” might be anything other than what she claimed them to be.  The era was rife with religious fervor, and for a virgin maiden to see heavenly personages was not removed from the worldview of the people around her.  The facts that she claimed to see a bright light just before the appearance of the visions, and that the ringing of bells often triggered such visions added to the perceived sanctity of her visions.

One of the most significant factors in Joan’s visions was that on at least two occasions – so stated in Royal Decree – other people saw the angels in her presence.  This surely, said the common wisdom of the time, proved that the child had commerce with the heavens.

Modern scholars of witchery claim that Joan had Talent as an Auger.  Not only is this one of the rarest of witch Talents, but it occurs most frequently in certain geographic areas, and France is not one of those. As no one at the time believed Joan to be a witch, she and those of her acquaintance quite simply believed her to be in communion with Heaven.

During the years of Joan’s early adulthood, war raged and grew between France and England. While this war was far from new, it reached some of its greatest ferocity during this time. Joan claimed that the angels and saints of her visions had instructed her to “go to France” making it clear that what was meant was the original royal domain of the nation.  Always before, the only advice the angels had given her was that she should be a good and pious woman, but now they began stating that God supported the claim that Charles was the rightful heir to the throne and that the English claim to France was unsupported by the divine. They began to instruct Joan in the ways of war and politics. Finally, they instructed her to seek an escort to the royal court.

Being, as she saw the matter, a pious woman of true faith, Joan followed the instructions. Some historians would later that say that this was the step that would eventually spell doom for the Maid of Orleans. Being told by one of her “visions” that “only men may command in battle, you must become a man,” Joan began to dress as a man and to exhibit male mannerisms.

After many days of travel, Joan arrived at her destination and was escorted in to see King Charles. She immediately began speaking to the king of his own personal concerns, and prayers he had made to God. During her time with His Majesty, she was reported to be looking over his shoulder or to one side, as if listening to someone other than the king. It is now believed, of course, that she was listening to instructions and information from a variety of spirits, including those who would have been in the king’s presence during his prayers and could have conveyed such knowledge to the girl.

To test Joan’s orthodoxy and to see if she were truly blessed by God or a raving heretic, the girl was taken to the city of Poitiers, where refugee professors for the University of France tested her knowledge of theology for three weeks. During all their questioning, she answered everything they asked with precision and a vocabulary and understanding not expected of a barely-educated farm-girl. As when she spoke to the king, Joan only rarely made eye contact with any of these learned men, always looking over, behind, or to the side of them. In their ignorance of what she was doing – an ignorance many now believe she shared – they thought her to be humble, shy, and respectful to those of higher station.

As Joan went about reforming the French army, the force of her personality and the sheer vibrant charisma of all she did brought her a reputation as being a “living saint”. Despite the humility she had previously attempted to convey, she began to embrace the title. While never stating that she was, indeed, a saint, at no time did she deny the term nor ask that it not be used. Anecdotes from that time state that she had begun to act as if she were not even part of the group she grew to command, but distant from them in some way.

Not long after this, Joan’s behavior began to arouse suspicion in those around her. In the claim that would be seen as the moment that led to her eventual downfall, she stated that she and some other virgins had gathered in the local church and prayed over a dead infant so the child could live again long enough to be baptized. The doubt over her claim came with her statement that the child had indeed returned to life but died again almost immediately after being baptized. Only those women who were with her, of course, could testify to the event, and their statements of what had happened were far from in accord with one another.

After this event, her troops began to view Joan with more fear than respect. While always a figure of awe and divine majesty to them, Joan’s open claims to supernatural power of her own – literally the power to raise the dead – had turned her into a figure of fear and dread.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their fear of her, Joan’s troops rallied and fought like no soldiers had fought before. They brought victory to France, and led to the coronation of Charles.

The beginning for France was the beginning of the end for Joan. Overconfidence inspired by the almost non-stop promptings and speech of the various angels and saints led Joan into courses of actions that soon brought her to being injured in battle and captured by the English forces.

The charge brought against Joan was heresy, which while religious in nature was still seen as a legal violation. Joan’s apparent piety touched the hearts of the judges, and she was sentenced to prison after having recanted her heresy as the overly enthusiastic actions of a deluded and hysterical maiden. One of the strictest conditions of her sentence was that under no circumstances was she to ever again dress and/or act as a man. She agreed to this.

Very shortly afterward, Joan’s brothers arranged to break her from prison. This plan was dictated by several of Joan’s unseen advisors, who insisted that her work needed to continue and she could only do the holy deeds required if she were free from prison. By this time, her own will had been completely eroded by the incessant prompting of the various beings, and she immediately complied, forcing her brothers to make plans as instructed. Part of the plan was to have her dress as a man again so she could walk out with them. This plan, needless to say, did not succeed. Joan was arrested again, and this time the charge placed against her was “relapsed heretic”. Once convicted, there was no option other than a death sentence.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431.

In 1920, an investigation by the Catholic Church found that the region of Joan’s birth was still infested with pockets of contagion of the Black Plague. By that time, it was also known that the Hexern virus had been riding many strains of the Black Plague and had brought about the death of many witches. Scholars now believe that Joan was a witch with the Talent of the Auger, the ability to pierce the barriers between worlds and to call spirits into the mortal realm. How could this have gone unknown, since witchery was well-known then? If the child were infected while still in the womb – the mother was very sick – the virus would have been situated to manifest when the baby’s witchery came forth. No familiar would have ever bonded with the girl, as no familiar would have allowed himself to be bound to a witch who was already sickened with an illness that would claim his life as well.

Further, the beings Joan saw and spoke to are exactly the sort that were most often called up by the few Augers of European lineage at that time. Almost all such workings were done in a religious context, for fear that the power of man would be insufficient to deal with such beings and that the blessings of God was required.

Was Joan of Arc really a witch who fell victim to insanity brought on by the Hexern illness? Was her loss of will truly the result of unending spiritual visitations or merely the last stages of a fatal illness? Sadly, while history and science now indicate that this was indeed the case, no firm answer will ever be found.

Sid says:  Oh, wow. Joan of Arc/Jeanne d’Arc has always been a favorite legendary/historical figure of mine (along with Pope Joan), and I actually think I like PCEarth Jeanne even better! This is an amazing piece of PCEarth history, along with some significant insights into the effects and the reach of the Hexic demon. Our world grows ever more complex, deeper and richer with every blog post, short story, and discussion.

Mickie says:  So many possibilities and as much of a mystery as the Joan of Arc of our world!  We’ve been working to build the history of Perfect Coven Earth, tying it to our history’s famous events and personages, but making sure the magic of PC Earth is alive and believable.  Writing these stories and histories and giving them a supernatural or magical twist helps us define this world we’ve created and understand it better.  It’s also a nice reference library for building new characters.

Elemental Supernaturals: Earth

The Elemental Supernaturals (or Deva, as they call themselves) are most closely tied to witches. In fact, there is a theory among Witch and Ortho anthropologists that Deva/Ortho interbreeding produced some of the first witches. The Deva themselves have not confirmed or denied this theory.

Deva are out and accepted in society, though individuals often choose to keep their supernatural status to themselves. Most Witches and Orthos have had limited interaction with the Deva, as most live in secluded enclaves in the People’s Confederation. The Deva have long been allied with the People, though their agreements and enclaves are considered state secrets. Details are known only to Council members. Individuals and families sometimes live freely among regular people (both in America and in the Confederation), though again, they tend to keep their supernatural status quiet.

Deva correspond to the elements, same as Elemental witches. There are Earth Deva (dryads and weres); Air Deva (sirens and peri); Fire Deva (djinn and sila); and Water Deva (naiads and nereids). Deva are connected to their element, can feel and manipulate it to some extent; these are called meta-skills. The extent of elemental manipulation depends on the individual. All Deva, witches and other, are stronger in their home areas. Deva can interbreed with Deva not of their Element, though this rarely happens. If children are produced, they can possess witchery or the meta-skills of the dominant element. However, the child of a cross-elemental pairing will always be sterile.

Deva can also be witches. However, possessing the talent of witchery minimizes their supernatural abilities, most often the active meta-skills, though it also lessens some of the restrictions of regular Deva; it’s a power trade-off. Deva witches do have access to some of the passive meta-skills, though not always at the level of their ortho-Deva counterparts. Deva witches do have familiars, and Deva witches are almost always Elementals, of the element corresponding to their supernatural nature (i.e., a dryad or were witch will be Earth). Deva witches are known to be weak in the meta-skills, relying instead on their witchery to control their element whereas a non-witch Deva would exercise control via their metas.

Earth Deva – dryads & weres (ailur) Continue reading

PC Earth – A Bit of a History Lesson

In my short story “Wakpala”, Charlie Redfeather tells a story about her ancestor and his part in stopping an incursion into Lakota Territory by the U.S. military in the 19th century. One of the things we’ve been conscientious about in our world building has been creating a believable history. It is important to note that the history of the Americas diverges sharply from ours.

In the Perfect Coven world, western expansion by the Europeans was stopped at the Mississippi River, and most of the continent is held by The People’s Confederacy. The People’s Confederacy is a loose joining by the various native tribes, which hold and administer their own territories. There is a central government, with a council leadership and a congress made up of individuals from the separate nations within the Confederacy.

The big difference in this world, of course, is magic. While there was still a technology advantage to the Europeans, in the sphere of Witchery, the People excelled in war magicks.

There are a couple of factors that come in to play:
European Witchery took a serious hit during the Middle Ages. The numerous plagues of those years decimated the Witch Clans as well as the Ortho population. The Black Death, in particular, was responsible for the end of many powerful clans. Also, the Black Death caused the death of the strongest and most powerful Witches, seeming to drive them mad before their deaths. The surviving clans became reclusive, hiding in their enclaves to wait out the sickness and madness of the age. As a result, they lost a great deal of their political power, and Orthos were ready to assume it.

The chaos of the Middle Ages led to internecine war between Witches and Orthos, as both sides tried to position themselves and seize power and influence as the world emerged from The Middle Ages. The sectarian violence lasted over 300 years and well into the discovery of the “New World.”

On PCEarth, the Puritans were Orthos who were looking for a new start and a land with no Witchery. They landed on the North American continent shortly after the eastern seaboard natives suffered a plague of their own. Due to the hexern nature of the illness, the tribes who normally lived in the area had declared the lands quarantined and healthy individuals had withdrawn to allow the disease time to fade and die. This left the northeastern seaboard in particular sparsely occupied and open to colonization and occupation.

As British and French interests began to expand into the West, they ran into the borders of the Quarantine lands, which were guarded by warriors and witches of the indigenous tribes. The French were able to negotiate with the tribes they encountered and expanded into the Ohio Valley, building forts and settlements along the border. This expansion conflicted with claims of the British colonies, and eventually led to open warfare with the tribes allying with the French. The tribes who held territory in the colonized and disputed areas called a council and hammered out the beginnings of The People’s Confederacy. United, the People rallied and with warriors and witches defeated the British and pushed the border back to the east.

The Spanish arrived in the New World full of the zeal of the Inquisition and an anti-witchcraft campaign. In PCEarth, they turned their attention exclusively to Central and South America, and lost what territory they held in North America pretty early on.

The indigenous populations of Central and South American were dominated by the Aztec, Maya and Inca, all of which had a strong tradition of death cults and devil worship. The most powerful nobles of the courts were witches. It appeared that the main Witchery available throughout Central and South America was that of Augery, which was used to summon the powerful devils they worshiped. The efforts of the Spanish Empire to wipe out Witchery in the New World were inadvertently aided by the indigenous tribes, as they sacrificed any person who showed signs of a talent other than Augery.

All three sects were decimated by epidemics of Old World diseases introduced by the Spanish – measles and small pox. The Aztecs, in particular, were affected by hexern ridden hemorrhagic fever. It is believed that the populace exposed themselves to the disease in hopes of becoming one with their gods, as a person who was hexern ridden was considered to be a holy prophet possessed by the gods. By the end of the 17th century, 80-90% of the indigenous peoples of Central and South America were dead.

James says: Wow. This world of ours keeps getting more and more complex. Not only are we creating stories set in a setting comparable to the world in which we live, but we are building a rich history for our world and its people. Plagues, wars, religious uprisings, invasion of foreign lands, insanity….. We’ve got it all. This world is becoming a beautiful tapestry.

Sid says: The history of PCEarth is as deep, rich, diverse, and complex as our own. We are working to build a living, breathing, vibrant world for our witches, orthos, and supernaturals – so much so that I don’t know how we’re going to leave it when this series is over. Perhaps I’ll get my wish, and M. and J. will agree to do a historical series next!

That said, this piece on the colonization of America has me wondering about the Roanoke Colony. What could have happened to them in PCEarth? Or is it a mystery even there? Perhaps someday we will find out.