The Kopa Loei are a Craft of Mages.
As one of the oldest magical Crafts, the Kopa Loei, also called kahunas, have been under attack by the Technocracy for over 200 years, and were nearly destroyed. Scattered across the Polynesian islands, this Craft is most prevalent in the Hawaiian archipelago. They keep the ancient Polynesian shamanistic magical arts alive by continuing to practice as their ancestors did. Despite a variety of pressures, the Kopa Loei refuse to adapt to the changing paradigm; the elders of the Craft insist that doing so would betray all they have worked for. Formerly members of priestly and royal castes, the original Kopa Loei came from the elitist of the elite – Awakened nobles who used their magic not only for the benefit of their people and their lands, but to maintain their social positions as well. A system of religious law, kapu, ensured that the abundant natural resources of the islands would continue to flourish, and that the Kopa Loei would remain the dominant force in local government.
The Technocracy overthrew these mystics, after thousands of years of Kopa Loei dominance. Native government is a thing of the past; the social order of the islanders has been largely destroyed, and Western ideas have been substituted wherever possible. Relegated to working covertly within native communities, the Kopa Loei are a pale remnant of the might they once commanded.
Although dominated by Hawai'ians, the Craft believes in the unity of all Polynesian peoples, which they call the bayanihan spirit.
Western sailors first passed through Polynesia in large numbers in the 1700s, and reports of large amounts of Quintessence and Tass drew the Order of Reason to Hawai'i. In 1778, they backed the arrival of James Cook on the island, exploiting legends about the god Lono arriving in white ships. Disease ripped through the kanaka maoli, and a series of Technocratic puppet kings abolished the kapu system and reduced people to serfs on plantations. Christian missionaries, including Choristers, further undermined Hawai'i's culture. In 1825, the Kopa Loei were formally established at a meeting in Lli'ili'opae with the specific goal of resisting foreign domination, but they faced repeated setbacks in the face of colonial power and Technocratic meddling.
In modern nights, several Kopa Loei have thrown their lot with the Dreamspeakers in the face of a escalating Technocratic persecution, though the Craft as a whole officially joined the Disparate Alliance.
Kopa Loei magic (ho'omana) is focused through the invocation of natural powers. Deities are considered to be parts of nature, therefore prayer is a valid approach. Fire and wind are also considered natural powers, and can be addressed directly without personification. The concept of direction lies at the root of ho'omana. Forces, spirits, mana – all have natural channels. Rerouting those channels in ways that do not conflict with natural forms the core of all Kopa Loei magic. The mage calls out to the power that he wants to direct, using a symbol of this power (a focus). Magic is performed in a time-honored fashion. Innovations are examined for conflicts with kapu and appropriateness for the goals of the Craft. Tradition and precedent are vital; maintaining a link with the past is half the power of the mage. The other half comes from acting in accordance with the right and natural way. Kapu and other customs determine what is right, so the natural way should be obvious. If any act goes against the basic essence of a thing, then the act is unnatural – hence, the Craft's hatred of the Technocracy. Magic is meant to maintain, restore, and enforce the relationship between land and the beings living on it, between hunter and hunted, between people and the gods.
Chants (mele) are an important focus for the Kopa Loei, on top of their cultural and historical significance, as are he'iau. Other foci include traditional dress and items found in nature. Technological foci, by contrast, do not work at all within this paradigm.
The craft does not work with the Spheres as broad concepts, but rather focuses on the particular talents of a given student, whether these represent a subset of a Traditional Sphere or a combination of two or more. Some examples of these specialties:
- ana'ana: using Life to kill from a distance
- he ho'okele moana: Wayfinders (see below) who use Forces and Correspondence to navigate the ocean.
- ho'o-komokomo: using Life to cause sickness
- ho'o-piopio: working with Forces generally
- ho'o-unauna: summoning akua (spirits) to cause harm
- kahea'uli: caller of evil spirits (or, slangily, a Euthanatos)
- kilokilo: using Time for divination
- kuhikuhi pu'uone: the construction of he'iau, which draws on Time, Matter, Prime and Spirit.
- lapa'au: healing with Life
- nana-uli: weather forecasting, which draws on Forces, Entropy, Time and Matter.
- oneone-i-hanua: working with akua as a priest, which may involve Spirit, Prime and/or True Faith.
- poi-uhane: containing and repelling harmful spirits
- wikilele: using Correspondence for instant movement
Although the Craft as a whole operates as a loose confederation, its members observe a fairly strict hierarchy when it comes to specializations. Each type must abide by a set of kapu and respect the roles and rights of the other "ranks." This is not to say that everyone plays by the rules – kahuna are notorious for pursuing their own agendas, and can be quite evil by many peoples' standards, especially if they deal with Entropy or the dead.
The Ali'i are specialists in Prime who link themselves to the aina and move mana to make the land fertile. The word is used mundanely to mean "chief." The sanctity of such wizard-priests is so important that death taboos once protected them.
By the standards of Western outsiders, the religious awe surrounding the ali'i can be mystifying. In the not-so-distant past, a person could be slain for simply letting his shadow fall across an ali'i's own, and many priest-chieftains imposed kapu across whole islands that no Westerner would accept – no one but the ali'i could wear shoes, for example, or eat the meat of birds. These prohibitions, however, protected the sanctity of the ali'i, and often cut both ways for them. This link to the land and its people made an ali'i's health and behavior vitally important in a culture so dependent on the goodwill of nature and the gods. This tie, and the restrictions that went with it, became the reason so many ali'i were targeted by the Europeans (especially Order of Reason agents) during the conquest and purge of the islands. These days, very few ali'i remain.
More independent sorcerers are called Kahuna, a word that's been sadly bastardized by surfer culture. Such mages work in many different Arts; although traditional kahunas specialize in one type of magic over all others (a Kahuna Ho'o-unauna, for example, summons malicious spirits), the last century has forced many kahunas to generalize their Arts for flexibility. As the Kahuna Ho'o-unauna example illustrates, these shamans and wizard-priests can be fairly ruthless and selfish, especially when angry. Whether a kahuna's magic heals, harms, divines, or destroys depends on the personality and goals of the mage themself.
Wayfinders are maka'ainana, common folk whose gifts allow them to do their jobs better. These people often utilize Hedge Magic rather than True Magic, although a few wayfinders do have Awakened Avatars. Such "intuitive folk" use subtle spells to help them dive or swim, navigate, fish, predict the future, or build. Like kahuna, a wayfinder's whim often dictates the uses to which they'll put their magics. While most ali'i and kahuna are men, wayfinders tend to be women. Although their talents are noted and respected, wayfinders aren't afforded the same reverence and fear that ali'i and kahuna receive, and they're as bound by kapu as any other common person.
Potential members are scouted from Polynesian cultural organizations and political activist groups; the Kopa Loei do not accept members who aren't at least half Polynesian. Any newly-Awakened mage is called a ho'omaka, but an initiate or apprentice is specifically called a keiki - literally, "child."
A cabal of Kopa Loei is called a kadugo. Most of them operate on a cell structure, with limited contact between one kadugo and another, for safety reasons. The Craft avoids large gatherings for the same reason: it would present too easy a target for their enemies.
This Craft's Awakened membership comprises between 15 to 30 individuals, many of whom reside in the Hawai'ian islands. Several more live in Micronesia, the Philippines and Samoa. The majority of the active Kopa Loei (another 200 members or so) specialize in hedge magic rather than kanakahuna (the Arts of the Spheres). Like most Crafts, they make no distinction between the two forms, but simply accept that some people have more talent than others.
Allies and Relations
The Kopa Loei have maintained relations to the Rokea and the Menehune since their development of their magic and are quite friendly with them, with many kinfolk and Kinain joining the Craft. In particular, there is a great deal of overlap in terminology between the Kopa Loei and the Menehune, and the two groups often identify themselves as kadugo (in the sense of having "same blood").
Kopa Loei despise the Technocracy; though their official name for the Technocracy is Tupua Nui ("great builders") they also refer to them as haka'uhane ("empty souls"). They generally refer to the Traditions as malihini, "newcomers;" while some have joined the Dreamspeakers or find common ground with Verbena, they hate the Celestial Chorus only a little less than the Technocracy. Nephandi, or ke aka nui, are of course as reviled by Kopa Loei as by any sane mage.
|Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition - Disparate Alliance|
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