Beyond The Veil
Magic is a faculty of wonderful virtue, full of most high mysteries, containing the most profound contemplation of most secret things, together with the nature, power, quality, substance and virtues thereof, as also the knowledge of whole Nature, and it doth instruct us concerning the differing and agreement of things amongst themselves, whence it produceth its wonderful effects, by uniting the virtues of things through the application of them one to the other. HEINRICH CORNELIUS AGRIPPA, Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic
That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.
CHARLES DE LINT
Indubitably, magic is one of the subtlest and most difficult of the sciences and arts. There is more opportunity for errors of comprehension, judgment and practice than in any other branch of physics.
What Makes a Mage?
No-one’s quite sure how the ancients got their magic, but technomages have found that it’s always in the DNA, a freaky bit of code that let’s the bearer grab hold of the fabric of reality with their mind and twist. It also opens the bearer up to a host of new influences and perceptions. Only about 1 in 10,000 humans have it, and even then many never know they’ve got it. Since it’s a recessive, only those with both parents bearing the gene exhibit Magery at all. Mages have always used arranged marriages (which non-mage royalty copied) and breeding programs to perpetuate the Holy Blood. It’s theorized humans got the gene from a Fay/Human breeding sometime back in the mists of evolution. Maybe even before homo sapiens.
Vampires appear to be the result of a blood born AIDS-like retrovirus grabbing a hold of that bit of code and incorporating it into its own genetic structure. When the virus’ host dies, it keeps the host going by magic for self-protection. Likewise, shapechangers seem to be the result of another retrovirus, this one carried via all bodily fluids, that had already grabbed bits of animal genetic code when it grabbed the magic gene. It protects its host, and thus furthers itself, by lending those animal characteristics in times of stress (and at full moons, which some theorize has to do with magically-induced stress in the virus itself).
While there are many groups, orders, circles and covens of mages (and pretenders), only the oldest, most secretive and most powerful are part of the worldwide conspiracy of “True Illuminati“, the groups of powerful mages who have guided humanity through the ages. Also known as The Cabals, these secretive orders have amassed huge political power and wealth as well as being the magical equals of ancient vampires, dragons and the rest. While not every mage belongs to The Cabals, only the most powerful, they have a guiding hand in almost every lesser magical or mystical movement. Their power also reaches into every government, every large corporation and into many religious institutions. Many have become eccentric to the point of madness, or coldly cynical in their manipulations of their mundane, unknowing, charges. In truth, they’re so far from mundane humanity that they are Monsters themselves. Illuminati groups include the true and original descendants of Rosicrucians, Bavarian Illuminati, Jewish Cabbalists, Templar Knights and cultists of forgotten Gods.
But the Cabals are split into feuding factions and groups rather than presenting a solid face in opposition to non-human predators, and so are less effective than they could be. Each group carefully conceals its headquarters and its most powerful members and each is as avid in trying to outdo the others as it is in trying to stop non-humans becoming supreme. Still there are common mage types which have come to identify Cabal mages as much as the individual factions and secret societies they belong to. Known mage types include The Technomages who claim to have invented the Age of Reason as a curb on magical creatures; The Cultists who are the descendants of the original shamen and priests of ancient times and now control more than one major religion in their quest to eradicate all non-human extraordinaries; The Librarians who are scholars first and warriors second; the Diabolists who have given themselves over to entities from beyond this plane in return for earthly power and The Earthers who often number more modern shamen, Wiccans and neo-pagans among their ranks.