Acanthus is a magical path whose ruling Arcana are Fate and Time. Mages on this Path are also known as the Witches and the Enchanters on the Path of Thistle, Scions of the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn in the Realm of Arcadia, Kingdom of Enchantment and Abode of the Fae and the realm of illusion, enchantment and constant change. Their approach to the Supernal is one of Choice and Consequence.
They are characterised by their Awakened companions as flighty, reckless and irresponsible. Using the arcana of Time and Fate allows the Acanthus to sidestep the setbacks and perils that many other Awakened and all Sleepers must endure or overcome. While this can be to the mage's benefit, it can also be detrimental to his/her development. They fail to remember that we learn more through our failures than our triumphs. They seem to rely overmuch on themselves - their uncanny timing and luck. Since theirs is the Arcana of foresight and fortune, this open-minded attitude serves them better than it does most; however they are at times impatient, lack the ability to plan properly, and because of that they often lead into strife by their refusal to plan ahead.
Upon Awakening, Enchanters have their minds opened to the endless eddies, currents, and waves; the possibilities of destiny and near infinite pathways of the time stream. This could explain why Acanthae rarely commit themselves or focus on one thing for any length of time; the uncounted opportunities they catch a glimpse of make it seem as though nothing is impossible, as if anything can be forgiven in time. This is how the other Awakened feel in regard to their flighty, impulsive, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants cousins, and it may shed some light on the behavior of your typical Acanthus. The Enchanters are famous among other Paths as diviners, oracles, and fortune tellers of incredible skill, but that doesn't do much to change the popular opinion of Acanthus as generally unconcerned with the world around them. This is somewhat true, they are pretty mercurial, making decisions based more on their emotions than logic or duty.
Enchanters are naturally curious, but bore easily making it difficult for them to commit to anything they find dull or meaningless. However this mercurial attitude allows them to have an ability that too many Awakened lack - the ability to laugh at themselves and have fun.
The mages of the Lunargent Thorn have a reputation as the most capricious of the Awakened. To their friends, that makes them ‘free spirits,’ or ‘a breath of fresh air.’ Their detractors are more likely to apply terms such as “unstable,” “immature” or “childish.” Many mages see something fey or otherworldly about the Acanthus, and the Enchanters themselves are hardly in a position to deny it. Acanthus mages also seem to age differently from both Sleepers and mages of different Paths. Time treats Acanthus mages more gently than it does most people, and followers of the Path of the Thistle tend to look much younger than their chronological age.
Maturity and stability are not the strengths of those on the Path of Thistle. They are visionaries with extraordinary insights into events both past and future, but they may not always make as much of their insights as they could – much to the chagrin of other mages. Their peers accuse them of being flaky or even irrational, but those allegations seem not to faze the Acanthus one bit. Many reasons have been put forth for their odd behavior. Some have suggested that those on the Enchanter’s Path are so inundated with the endless branches of the time stream that nothing seems impossible and no decision irreversible. In their defense, the Path of the Thistle really does promise much more than a mage can handle until one grows in one’s magic.
A sense of ever-changing circumstances permeates anything associated with the Path of Acanthus. Acanthus mages are hard to pin down because their Path is hard to pin down. As soon as something definite emerges about the Path or the mages who walk it, the edges of the definition begin to fray, the tapestry unravels and a new image forms from the tattered ends of the old one. But this new image does not maintain permanency, either. Not only are rules and patterns and images pertaining to Acanthus in flux, time and movements are also subject to change without notice. An Acanthus mage may find her perceptions of time speeding up or slowing down for no apparent reason. She may learn to live between the minutes or to do nothing for hours without suffering from boredom. Those whose Awakening takes them to the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn know without thinking, act without fearing and accept the consequences of their deeds, whether for good or ill, with a sense of wonder and acceptance. Arcadia is a universe that is in constant flux, and to take too long making plans is a sure route to destruction. Any decision is made quickly, and if an oath is made, it is well nigh impossible to change.
Because so much of one’s magic takes the form of uncanny good fortune, it’s possible for a mage on the Path of Thistle to imagine herself merely extraordinary lucky, and many show a tendency toward superstition even in their magic. Their sense of wonder and endless possibility often inspires hope in others, for to an Acanthus the odds are never unbeatable and there are always second chances.
While Sleepers see time as an arrow, moving only in one direction, Acanthus mages see time as a boomerang, capable of reversing its trajectory and returning full circle to the place of its beginning. Both Time and Fate revolve around the concept of constant change and constant motion. Time is always ticking away. Fate changes as the probabilities and possibilities change. Sometimes these changes are sudden and drastic; at other times, they are both subtle and gradual. Acanthus mages learn literally to “go with the flow,” since their magic binds them to the eternal fluctuations of the cosmic pulse (Time) and the vagaries of the cosmic Will (Fate).
For the Acanthus, the world is obscured by Mists that hide past and future and surrounded by Thorns that keep each being in its supposed destiny. The Acanthus plucks these Thorns away or shear them with their own Awakened Will, as well as walking through Mists that the Acanthus walks until he finds the desired image.
The magic associated with the Path of Acanthus has inseminated the world in many ways, as the concepts of Time and Fate — as well as the role of the enchanter — still exercise great control over the beliefs of Sleepers. Celtic traditions, such as druidism and neo-paganism, are especially popular, but many Acanthus also draw inspiration from the Eleusinian Mystery cults of Greece and of witchcraft associated with the Norse Vanir. In modern days, Hermeticism has been a shared fundus of symbolism within the Paths, under them the Acanthus.
Western culture nearly universally assigns the Acanthi to the element of Air, while eastern cultures either assign them to the element of Earth (in the Hiden Gogyo Bujutsu) or the element of Metal (in taoistic influenced consilia). In the Neolithic Age, the Acanthi were associated with the Sky, as the heavens symbolized Fate's fickleness and the turning of Time.
The Free Council assigns two Tarot Cards to the Acanthus Path. The Fool symbolizes the Path itself, while the Wheel of Fortune reflects the Mysteries that an Acanthus is likely to encounter.
A mage's Nimbus accompanies his casting of magic. The Nimbus reflects his personal style of magic, as well as his advancement in the Ars Mysteriorum. A Nimbus of an Acanthus is enchanting on its onlookers, partly drawing their perceptions into the realm of faerie.
- Changeable: Visual light show appears, complete with exploding fireworks, changing colors and kaleidoscopic repetitions of visual elements. Sounds become intensified in their variations — loud sounds become louder and soft noises fade to near inaudibility, only to trade places so that soft becomes loud and loud soft. Strange music sometimes accompanies this effect, providing a melody that never resolves but is always turning into some other song. Powerful magic adds even more variations and more intense sensations. (Prime/Time)
- Ethereal: An otherworldly sensation surrounds the caster. Objects nearby seem either transparent or translucent, and everything has a sheen of unearthly grandeur. Junk cars do not change their appearance, but are nevertheless transformed into iridescent visions. Music reminiscent of an angelic choir— or a faerie chorus — rises and falls in swells of unbearable sweetness and inescapable sadness. Everyone nearby becomes aware of their own fragility, of how their lives hang on each heartbeat and of how delicate the balance of their existence truly is. It is as if a strong breath could blow the world away. Strong magic heightens this sensation, making others feel the aching beauty of something just beyond their grasp. (Spirit)
- Fated: All seems predetermined. Sights and sounds are perceived with a sense of fatality, as if they had been set into stone long ago. Voices murmur indistinguishably in the background, sounding like a Greek chorus announcing a hero’s unhappy fate or else a judge pronouncing sentence. Colors are somber without being dark; there are no half-tones or graduated hues. Rather, each color is shown in its coldest, most fixed state— slate gray, deep crimson, royal purple, dark green — lacking any true shine or sheen. Strong power reinforces the sense of predetermination, until those nearby feel as if they can do nothing spontaneous, as if every action they take has already been played out on some gigantic stage. (Fate/Death)
- Fey: Things seem enchanted or pregnant with the possibility of magic. In some cases, a greenish glow might highlight metals or reflective surfaces, and eerie, strange singing can be heard from afar. With powerful magic, fogs and mists might rise to cloak the ground. Time condenses into the present moment; concerns about the past or future seem less pressing, less real. Everyone’s heart seems to beat in synch, although the silence between beats hints of eternity. Things sometimes seem to move in slow motion, with sublime grace and beauty. (Fate/Time)
- Fortune-Telling: This nimbus creates an area around its caster in which everything seems possible, but only one outcome is certain. Images of cards, rune-stones, dice, bones and other vehicles for reading fortunes pass in and out of the viewer’s sight. Sometimes, it seems as if a fortune might become clear, but, at the last minute, the final element of the prophecy fades. Carnival music often accompanies this nimbus. Strong magic causes the nimbus to appear solid and transparent around its edges, as if the mage were enclosed within a giant crystal ball. (Time /Fate)
- Fractals: The patterns of the world present themselves within the nimbus, displaying an ever-shifting, seemingly random sequence of shapes and forms always in motion. After staring at the procession of forms, a sort of pattern emerges, though not one that can be determined by hard-and-fast formulae. The particular Arcanum used at the time controls the visual form of the fractal pattern: the Life Arcanum may produce shifting figures of molecules or recombinant DNA or images of bees swarming in changing formations; Forces may reveal snowflakes, lava flows, and patterns of shifting sands or a meteorite display. The stronger the magic, the more intense the shapes and the faster they move. (variable)
- Misleading: This nimbus displays a series of optical illusions, from twisting Möbius strips of light to figure-versus-ground arrays or Escherian landscapes. Just when the brain makes sense of what it perceives, the scene suddenly inverts itself or emphasizes a small detail that shifts the visual focus so that a completely different image forms. This process continues in a never-ending progression. Stronger magic enhances the contrasts, exerting an almost hypnotic effect on the viewer. (Space/Mind)
- Nature: The link between Arcadia, the Fae and the natural world reveals itself in this nimbus. A heady incense of blossoms and other natural scents infuses the air around the caster. The nimbus itself appears as a circle of leaves, flowers, twigs, thorns, shells or other nature-related images. Stronger magic brings out the colors of the images and heightens the scents so that they seem to cling to the skin. (Matter/Life)
- Surreal: This nimbus presents images similar to those that might be found by stepping “through the looking glass,” walking into a painting by Hieronymus Bosch or experiencing the effect of certain mind-altering chemicals. The outer edges of the nimbus are ill-defined, so that the “real” world blends almost seamlessly into the nimbus, extending the sense of un- or ultra-reality beyond the immediate vicinity of the caster. The more powerful the magic, the sharper the images become. (Space)
- Time-effect: Though some nimbuses may include sensations of extended time or other temporal effects, this nimbus uses time as its primary symbology. Some of these nimbuses appear as giant clock faces, with the caster in the center, or as numerous tiny clocks circling the caster. Other visual effects may include the images of infants aging to adults, growing old and dying only to transform into a fetus in utero and begin the process all over or the procession of the seasons. Strong magic may speed up or slow down the process. (Time)
- Whimsical: This nimbus may develop a cartoonish feel, becoming two-dimensional and incorporating animated creatures within its confines. It may also portray images from Circuses, carnivals or other symbols of entertainment and imagination. Though the initial images may appear “sweet” or “cute,” a feeling of manic madness prevents them from becoming cloying. Strong magic increases the madness quotient. (Life/Mind)
- Architects of the Future – The Architects of the Future are dedicated to creating the ideal future and observing the timelines with special focus. They seek to examine the details of the future and then to prune it like a bonsai. Their goal is to allow only those events to occur that further their particular aims. In addition to shaping the future to meet their needs, the Architects also attempt to quest deep into the Astral Realm, exploring the edges of the Anima Mundi for clues about the perfect future.
- Awakening Gambit – The Awakening Gambit are a Legacy who seek to shunt people into situations where they are forced to Awaken in an attempt to create more mages. Their methods are not always successful, and can be quite dangerous (although the Gambit mages do their best to ensure that no lasting harm can befall their target), but the number of successes they do get indicate that their idea is a sound one.
- Blank Badge – Dedicated idealists and revolutionaries against the whole of the Awakened establishment (including the Free Council), the Blank Badges are direct heirs to the Nameless traditions of the pre-Council era. They’re magical anarchists and rebels, striking the Seers for preference but also any traitor who tries to stay their hand or parlay with the Throne.
- Daoine – The Daoine are Acanthus who attempt to emulate Fae justice. They punish those who have violated their obscure codes and reward those who have acted virtuously. These mages are masters of the hex and curse, using their powers to perform their duties against violators of their own codes or the scruples of whoever hires them.
- House of Ariadne – The House of Ariadne is a Legacy devoted to urbanity. They are attracted to everything about city life, good and bad, for it is from the city that they gain the power to see into past and future. They walk the paths of the ley lines and the lesser lines they call Ariadne's threads crisscrossing the city, and use the symbols they see along the way to interpret the future.
- Morphean Continuity - The Morphean Continuity is less a Legacy and more like an infection. Followers of the Continuity make themselves hosts for the consciousness of an entity within the Dreamtime that uses Awakened souls as cells to sustain itself. In turn, it lends the Acanthus parts of its formidable power.
- People of the Hour- The People of the Hour are the result of the ambient feelings in the 1950s. Originally designed to aid people in their awakenings by following their strands into the future, by a bargain made with summoned Fae from Arcadia, the Legacy changed. By focusing solely on the present, the Legacy believes that they can change the future for the better.
- Princes of Many Masks – The Princes are masters in assuming other shapes and identities. For most Princes, becoming someone else is not merely an exceptionally useful method of accomplishing various goals; this process is also either an exceptionally exciting challenge, a profoundly personal calling or often both. Few members of this Legacy use their abilities purely for professional purposes. Most spend at least some of their leisure time impersonating someone else purely for the enjoyment of doing so.
- Pygmalian – The Pygmalian Society believes that art – true Art, that is – is a link to the Supernal, given its quality to provoke and inspire people, and it is a link that even Sleepers can use. The Society thus seeks to inspire artistic emotions in the Sleepers it interacts with, in the hopes of Awakening them from Sleep via a great induced moment of creative epiphany.
- Singer in Silence – These mages have an almost instinctive understanding of death and its hold on those around them. Theirs is the power to summon and create ghosts, and to read the strands of fate and death to see those who are marked and fated to die soon. This knowledge cannot be suppressed or easily ignored, and as a result of their connection to death the Singers are warped in mind, body and soul.
- Sister of the Blessed – This Legacy is an up-until-recently exclusive to high-class women group whose networking and attainments are focused on helping members avoid the social prejudice levied against them. They are skilled in subtle Fate and Mind magics to assist their endeavours and keep themselves from accruing too much unwanted attention stemming from their power.
- Skald – The Skalds are the heirs to a truly ancient practice known across the world; that of the singing storyteller and songwriter. They are superlative musicians and writers, and use these skills to move audiences of Sleeper and mage to joy, sorrow, anger, or any other emotion the bard cares to conjure.
- Storm Keeper – The Storm Keepers have guarded humanity against the forces of nature unchecked for many centuries. They have an almost intuitive ability to comprehend the weather systems of the world. Their powers give them control over storms and any collateral effects of storms, as well as the ability to predict the effects their abilities will have once employed, the better to be fully warned of the consequences of their meteorological meddling.
- Tamer of Winds – This Elemental Legacy specialises in the element of Air. The Tamers of Winds seek and dispense truth and good judgement, serving as judges and counselors to Sleepers and the Awakened. They can read truths on the wind and delve into the minds of others.
- Walker in Mist – The Walkers in Mists are an order of mages who draw their wisdom and power from the natural world around them, rather than the tomes and scrolls so beloved of their fellow Awakened. They’re masters of manipulating the continuum of nature they call the Mists to gaze upon and travel to places far removed from their own selves in the blink of an eye.
- Roses of Eden (both right- and left-handed)– The Roses of Eden are mages that denounce the Pentacle, and the Atlantean paradigm in general. They believe that in order to truly recreate a city of the Awakened, one has to abandon the past and start completely from scratch, just as the mages of old did. Some Roses are openly hostile to the orders. They might be able to work with order mages, or even to join their cabals, but they refuse to take membership. Left-Handed Roses are terrorists that seek to damage the society of the Awakened to force them to comply to their ideals.
- Carnival Melancholy (left-handed) – Awakened charlatans and conmen, the mages of the Carnival Melancholy harvest the souls of the Sleepers they dupe and use them to bolster their own chances of success. Their philosophy stems from the Depression and sees the Awakened as a nation of fugitives, doing what they can to survive and attain the Imperium Mysteriorum on the backs of the Sleepers.
Acanthus are drawn to crowds, but seem destined to be stuck on the edges of any crowd they hang with, always “the new guy” no matter how often they’ve been with a group. Their charming ways make great first impressions, but charm goes only so far, especially once the going gets rough and the Acanthus expects others to pick up the slack.
“Amiable anarchy” is about as good a description of Acanthus organizational principles as you’re likely to get. They don’t view others in terms of powerful or weak, superior or inferior or even good or evil, but rather as charming or tedious. A strong anti-authoritarian streak runs through the ranks of these Time and Fate mages. There is a distinct lack of hierarchy among Thistle Path mages, with deference generally given only by a student to a mentor. Leaders within the Acanthus fellowship are determined largely by personal charisma, rather than length of time since Awakening or ranking in Arcana.
Forums usually take place in public places, though often in private areas within those places. Back rooms in nightclubs or private lounges in convention centers are ideal locations for a caucus of Acanthus mages. Customs are few and simple. Most forums start out with a general greeting and some unstructured time for socializing and catching up with events in the lives of the individual mages. During this period, mages with something to discuss manage to make their desires known to one of the mages who is acting as “host.” By unspoken agreement, the social hour comes to an end and certain individuals present their issues to the group. If a decision is not immediately forthcoming, the attending mages participate in freewheeling large and small group discussions. Eventually a decision is made, but sometimes several forums are needed to reach a consensus.