The Solificati, also known as the Children of Knowledge (among many other names), are a group of mages notable for being founding members of both the Order of Reason and the Council of Nine Mystic Traditions. Their time among both factions, combined, only amounts to 15 years.
While many went their separate ways, several of them regrouped and called themselves the "Children of Knowledge", hoping to hide their Solificati origins. Since then, they have kept to themselves, being secretive for fear of retribution, staying out of the conflict between the Traditions and what is now called the Technocratic Union. With time working against them, however, they soon had to choose sides or perish. Tonight, two factions claim the Solificati title: Those affiliated with House Solificati of the Order of Hermes and those affiliated with the Disparates.
- 1 Paradigm
- 2 History
- 3 Organization
- 4 Version Differences
- 5 References
The paradigm of the Solificati, like the art they pursue, is transformative and shifting. The last great invention of LSD in the 1950s resulted in a radical split between those who embraced psychotropic substances and those who reject them to stay true to their practiced arts.
Magic is a symbol for self-refinement. While it bestows great powers, those trinkets are nothing compared to the spiritual process. Everything in Creation is part of the process (the stars, the minerals, the spirits, the beasts), and is a reflection of a cosmic truth; every item has a higher state. The world is organic, caked with baseness that, when smelted away, reveals Divinity. That smelting presents the greatest challenge; it requires wisdom, education, intuition and outer elements.
Perfection of one breeds perfection of all. Material things are ultimately hollow. One must be generous as the swan, honorable as the flame and valiant as the lion. The true Philosopher's Stone is not a stone at all – it is the spirit that lives forever.
Far from being the dusty and socially isolated laboratory rats of medieval folklore, the modern Children of Knowledge enjoy spreading their form of Enlightenment in the mortal world. They do this by taking advantage of their knowledge of chemistry (which is the modern "child" of alchemy) and pharmacology. Originally, alchemy was developed to the purpose of changing one physical form into another, with the ultimate goal being the transmutation of lead (or another base metal) into gold through the so-called "Philosopher's Stone". Awakened alchemists realized, however, that this was a parable, and that the true mission of magical alchemy was to turn the spiritual being of mankind to an Awakened state, an epiphany of unity with the universe. The Philosopher's Stone was not simply about turning lead into gold, but about helping humanity transcend the bonds of spiritual ignorance. All the Children of Knowledge had to do, they believed, was get the collective consciousness of humanity to open itself to the possibility of transcendental Enlightenment, and then knowledge would make itself known to all.
As followers of this philosophy the Children of Knowledge are squarely at odds with the Technocracy, for such universal transcendence forms the virtual antithesis of Technocratic beliefs and goals. The Children have seen their ultimate goal of spiritual transcendence grow further and further out of reach as the Technocracy imposes its paradigm of banality on the Masses. This very thing may yet drive them into the arms of the Traditions (and it will after the events leading to Mage: The Ascension Revised Edition). Although the Children of Knowledge believe that most of the Traditions' philosophies are flawed, they do not believe they can stand alone against the Technocracy. For them, the old adage, The enemy of my enemy is my friend, rings increasingly true with each passing day.
The Solificati's roots are found in the earliest practices of alchemy, the first mystic science. For many centuries, there was no kind of organization among the practitioners of the Royal Art beyond the occasional loose alliance or small exclusive order.
Medieval alchemy was simultaneously an art and a science. The original premise of alchemy, as written in the Corpus Hermeticum in the first four centuries CE, was that base metals could be transmuted into gold and silver by freeing them from their inherent impurities. From Aristotle, they took the theory that all substances were made of prima materia, which comprised the four elements of earth, fire, air and water. All things were considered combinations of these elements in different portions.
Alchemy flourished and alchemists started to come together as a secret mystical community of magical research and practice. Astrology was introduced as a way to help determine the most influential times to attempt transmutation and a Chinese concept of medicine, adopted by the great Arab alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, further purported that if one ate gold that had been transformed from base metals, one could achieve immortality.
The golden age of alchemy was achieved in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of the greatest alchemists of all time - Arnold of Villanova, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon - worked in this age. Many alchemists met during this time and formed an informal but influential organization, which they called the Solificati. Knowledge and effort shared, they believed, brought everyone closer to discovery. Rank was not so much a matter of how much knowledge one had accumulated, but of how much one had discovered. They worked closely with the Order of Hermes (with whom modern Solificati claim a common history, though the Order denies it), and with them discovered many new properties of Magic.
When the Order of Reason first began to come together, the scattered alchemists listened to what they had to say but rapidly rejected and were rejected by the nascent society of philosopher-scientists. The alchemists wanted nothing to do with "boorish and banal gathering," while the Reasoners disliked the astonishing arrogance projected by the perfectionist Magi. Instead, the alchemists took what they had learned of the Order of Reason (as well as a newfound sense of solidarity from their brief flirtation with that Order) and sought to parlay that information into a seat on the Council of Nine at the first Grand Convocation, a gambit that paid off. Newly christened the Solificati ("Crowned Ones"), they plotted out a grand vision for the unification of Creation within a single, elevated mystic paradigm.
The Order of Reason threatened to undo all their work. For this reason, the Solificati had joined the Traditions at the Grand Convocation in 1457, sending their greatest researcher of the time, Diplomate Luis de Estes, to become their Primus. A talented Solificato, Heylel Teonim was even chosen to be part of the First Cabal, to help spread the word among Sleeper and Awakened alike. But Heylel was also the catalyst of the Solificati's downfall, when, in 1470, he led the Order of Reason to ambush the others of the First Cabal. At his trial, Heylel proclaimed that he had done it to teach the Traditions a lesson, showing them that the Order of Reason was more unified than the Traditions, and that the Traditions could work together when they put their minds to it (as they had when they hunted and captured him). For his part in what became known as the Great Betrayal, Heylel was sentenced to death, and his twin Avatars were ripped from him and destroyed (see The Fragile Path). The appellation Thoabath ("Abomination") was added to his name on all records of the trial. Many Solificati defended Heylel's actions, proclaiming that he took the bold step of self-sacrifice to bind the Traditions. Others despised Heylel for his betrayal and saw his goals as lofty but corrupted, no doubt by the Order of Reason itself. The rift further damaged the Solificati and, when combined with their distrust of other Traditions, it caused their collapse.
Throughout the Inquisition, alchemists of all kinds were hunted down and killed as heretics and evil sorcerers (some say this was part of the revenge of the Celestial Chorus for the Great Betrayal). But this did not stop their work. Disunited though their were, their research still managed to filter through the informal communications chains, and they prospered in quiet, hidden laboratories. Many Solificati defected to the Order of Reason, within which, in time, they gave rise to the Electrodyne Engineers and Difference Engineers (which in turn became the Etherite and Virtual Adept Traditions, an irony that has not been lost on the Solificati). Most Solificati returned to solitary workshops, living and dying by personal fortune. One group consisting of 12 survivors of the original Solificati retained its old name and continued its research. These 12 holdovers often relied on friends in the Order of Hermes for protection and secrecy; many Tradition mages, especially Celestial Choristers and Verbena (who felt that Heylel had also betrayed his lover, their representative Eloine and had hidden her children within his Tradition), held a grudge against "Thoabath's Brood." In return, the 12 provided research of astounding quality, far surpassing any alchemical possibilities that the Hermetics had contemplated. The Order of Hermes kept the continued existence of the Solificati a secret, unwilling to kill the goose that laid the alchemical golden egg. In 1500, the group renamed itself the "Children of Knowledge."
Age of Reason
The Renaissance was a respite and a time of rebuilding for the last Solificati. Over time, the survivors took on new Apprentices, and the Craft's ranks swelled to several dozen members by 1700. The old masters taught their students the lesson of the Great Betrayal - the lesson that the Traditions failed to learn: True unification and balance, just as in alchemy, could only be achieved when all elements had been gathered together in their proper proportions. Their Great Knowledge, as they called it, was linked heavily to the numerology that was rapidly becoming popular with the alchemists. The Traditions were only nine in number, but Heylel, as part of the First Cabal, had actually been two people - a hermaphrodite created through the joining of two other Solificati. Thus the number of the First Cabal was actually 10. In numerology, the numbers that form 10 (1 and 0) make only one when added together. They believed that this was the lesson Heylel was trying to teach as part of the Great Betrayal, that only one true unity of purpose would win the Ascension War. But how was the unity to be attained?
It was only during the Industrial Revolution, after a few more centuries of soul-searching and intellectual discovery, that the Children of Knowledge finally realized how to achieve their goal. To create true unity among the Traditions they had to unify Magic. Since the Council of Traditions had only designated nine Spheres of Magic, the former Tradition should discover the Tenth Sphere. The Children called this holy grail Unity, a lofty achievement that would manifest itself when the Sleepers had been Awakened to the Magic in the world. A simple look at the dreary conditions of the Masses and the tightening grip of the Order of Reason (soon known as the Technocratic Union) was enough to convince them to achieve this goal. The Sleepers must be Awakened at all costs, and the alchemical formulae of the Children of Knowledge were just the thing to accomplish the task. Only they could work Magic under the guise of science. Once the Sleepers were Awakened, the very power of the movement would be the catalyst to open the Sphere of Unity to the alchemists.
The big breakthrough occurred in 1943. A Swiss Hermium alchemist named Dr. Albert Hoffman accidentally discovered a substance that induced unusual visions, strange patterns of thought and experiences almost akin to madness. In the years to come, many people who took the substance would say it opened their minds to the wonders of the universe and helped blaze new pathways of spiritual Enlightenment. The substance that Hoffman discovered was lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. (It is said that Hoffman was promoted to the rank of Solificato for this discovery). The mystical and alchemical uses for this substance were kept even from the Order of Hermes (though many suspected the Cultists of Ecstasy already understood the concepts, if not the formulae themselves). Even though the Hermetic wizards were long-time friends and covert supporters of the Children, the alchemists feared that the powerful Tradition mages would attempt to steal what had been so long in the making.
Immortality (or longevity, at least) was one of the prime goals of alchemical achievement. Although many of the 12 surviving Solificati succumbed to age, infirmity or happenstance by the 20th century, four survived to the modern era. These four, and their classically trained Apprentices, were less than amused by the concept of a psychoactive drug providing the "ticket" to Enlightenment. A schism, which had gradually risen throughout the turbulent 20th century, fractured the Children into two camps – one that followed the old beliefs of Enlightenment through achievement, the other that looked toward the "hallucinogenic cornerstone" of future change.
Most young Children of Knowledge ended up following the latter path; to them, LSD was the modern Philosopher's Stone, the way to open the Masses to the possibility of Magic in the universe and the foundation of the Tenth Sphere. Buoyed by their successes in the 1960s and again in the 1990s, they took the fight for magical Enlightenment to the streets. While old alchemists still labored alone in secret, the new breed preferred to work among the Masses. They pointed to the fact that the Traditions were nine in number again, lacking only the Tenth Sphere, and thus the tenth seat, to make them into one force, with one mind, one vision. The young Children of Knowledge intended to found the tenth Tradition, and to create their own seat: the Seat of Unity.
Of course, the events concerning the War in Heaven and the subsequent Reckoning brought an unexpected turn of events.
The Children of Knowledge returned to the fold of the Traditions in 1999, albeit not as the would-be Tenth Seat, but rather as House Solificati within the political framework of the Tradition of the Order of Hermes.
The remaining Solificati (the former Children of Knowledge), who refused the merger became a founding member of the Disparate Alliance, a new faction of former Crafts that banded together to withstand the Technocracy and the Council.
Internally, the Children of Knowledge still call themselves the Solificati (singular Solificato). They consider their Tradition to be the oldest of all, and can trace their Magic back to the European alchemical research of the Middle Ages, then the art of Spain's Moors. The Moors had actually adopted their craft from the Greeks, who had developed alchemy in Egypt in the fourth century B.C. The Children of Knowledge revere the ancient Hellenistic figure Hermes Trimesgistus, the Thrice-Great, as the founder of their magical tradition, and some honor his original form, the Egyptian deity Thoth, god of mathematics and science.
The Children of Knowledge are organized into Apprentices, three lesser groups of Conunctio, and the highest group of all, the Solificati. There is little internal structure or enforcement within the Children of Knowledge; they have no need for it. Individual alchemists are proven by their work, not by any supposed positions of power or authority. The alchemists praise those who share their discoveries, and others seek them out to learn new knowledge. This encourages open communication. To the Children of Knowledge the old saying "publish or perish" is painfully true.
- Apprentice: Apprentices are the lowest ranking Children of Knowledge, those who still study the basic tenets of the Sphere of Matter. Apprentices learn from a Conunctio Hermium (Adept) at the least; becoming an Apprentice to a Solificato (Master) holds great honor and prestige. Aside from learning the ways of magical alchemy from a teacher, an Apprentice also performs mundane chores around the laboratory, including restocking, measuring ingredients for experiments, cleaning lab equipment, and even mending, washing, cooking and ironing. An Apprentice spends many hours alone, contemplating his lessons, becoming familiar with the patterns of thought that are critical to alchemical discovery.
- Orichalcum: The first rank an Apprentice receives after passing the Test of the Philosopher's Stone (in which he must demonstrate the ability to turn lead into gold - in game terms, achieving Rank Two in Matter) is that of Orichalcum, a word meaning "True Gold". This is first and lowest level of the Conunctio. At this point, the newly appointed Orichalcum often sets up his own laboratory and begins long hours of patient work to create his own unique magical Rotes and Effects or an effective variant of an existing one. He succeeds if other alchemists can read his treatise and reproduce the Effect with regular, predictable result. The Orichalcum expands his ability to go beyond simple, logical transmutation by seeking more radical changes in the substances in which he works.
- Lunargent: After publishing his first magical alchemical formula and having it accepted by at least five higher-ranked Conunctio, the Orichalcum ascends to the Lunargent Conunctio, the conjunction of True Silver. Now the alchemist explores beyond the transmutation of physical matter, moving on to transmute thought and perception. The Lunargent uses alchemical substances and mind-altering pharmaceuticals to open mystic senses to the patterns of creation, and then to the inherent possibilities of changing that pattern (in game terms, he learns to use at least one dot in every Sphere). At this point the alchemist learns to mend that which was broken, and to create things that have not yet been created from the very stuff of the prima materia (Rank Three Matter).
- Hermium: The next level of recognition is promotion to the Hermium Conunctio, the conjunction of True Mercury. Having mastered the ability to transmute substances into other substances and forms that are radically dissimilar (Matter 4), the candidate creates a dissertation on an aspect of alchemical thought and presents it to a group of seven alchemists of the Hermium Conunctio. This work must not only delve into the physical aspects of transmutations, but must also tie into the philosophical theories behind them. After the dissertation is accepted, the alchemist rises to the Hermium rank, the loftiest of all the Conunctio. At this point, the alchemist generally starts looking for an Apprentice, as his work now demands a great deal of assistance.
- Solificati: Solificati are masters of magical alchemy. Their works are widely distributed both among the Children of Knowledge and the general populace. Every magical alchemist is familiar with Solificati, and portions of the Solificati's works are often at the top of an Apprentice's reading list. No limit has been set regarding the number of Solificati, but less than 20 such Masters existed in 1996. To become a Solificato, an alchemist of the Hermium Conunctio must have trained at least five Apprentices who have passed the Orichalcum Conunctio, and he must have published several scholarly works about transmutation and philosophical enlightenment. An alchemist does not apply to become a Solificato; rather, he is invited to appear before a gathering of them and present his theories and insights. Such invitations are based on alchemical credentials, published research and general disposition and demeanor. If the Solificati deem the Hermium worthy, they invite him to become one of the Crowned Ones in an elaborate, secret alchemical ritual.
In 1996, roughy 150 Children of Knowledge existed; many of them resided in Horizon Realms and Sancta where their experiments wouldn't cause trouble. Before the Reckoning, the Craft met as an entire body once every four years at an agreed-upon time in a known locale. There, they debated many things, not all of them magical. In the last three meetings, serious discussions about approaching the the Nine Traditions, seeking their help and knowledge in pursuing the Tenth Sphere, arose. Some radical elements even suggested that the Children of Knowledge might attempt a formal return to the Traditions before they discover the Tenth Sphere, thinking that perhaps the mere presence of a Tenth Tradition would have created a positive atmosphere for the completion of the quest. Conservative Solificati stopped the radicals cold, but a significant minority of the Conunctio began to rally to the cause, which led to the eventual integration of the Children of Knowledge in the fold the fold of the Tradition of the Order of Hermes as House Solificati in 1999.
In modern nights, lab assistants make common acolytes. They are usually students with lab science majors, and even some bright (but not yet Awakened) high-school students who apply for part-time, after-school jobs. A few acolytes come from the "top" of the drug culture, the cream of the hallucinogenic crop - not drug dealers, but vision seekers who prove more reliable than simple dopeheads. These people are less likely to be alarmed by some of the more unusual things they might see while working in and around an alchemical laboratory. Such acolytes are not the stereotypical "stoners," but often extremely intelligent people with esoteric abilities and interests who have much to contribute.
Life working with the Children of Knowledge can be strange, to say the least. Most alchemist treat their assistants well, regard them as valued employees and pay them generously for the work they perform, usually in cash (after all, it's a simple matter for an alchemist to make money and valuables). Students also often seek help and advice regarding their mundane studies, although the alchemist is careful to stick to "straight" science in these cases. The last thing the alchemist wants is a nosy professor hanging around the shop asking odd questions about "True Mercury."
In general, many alchemists treat Sleepers like sheep or, worse, like lab rats. Conducting alchemical research on mundanes is often frustrating, as the Masses sometimes seem almost willfully uncooperative. The ongoing search for the catalyst for the Great Awakening keeps the tempers of the often-haughty Children of Knowledge from boiling over. Stories lingering from the Inquisition prove that Sleepers have teeth when provoked, so wise Children watch their actions carefully and continue their work in secret, blaming large-scale field tests on "government agency experiments" (like the CIA's LSD tests in the 50s and 60s). There is, however, little true concern for the well-being of Sleepers in large tests, when an alchemist may drop some new elixir into the local water supply. After all, results, not test subjects, are the most important thing. Those who "test" on an individual basis are not as callous, and tend to have a more compassionate outlook. Some alchemists have night jobs as club bartenders for this very reason - it gives a chance to observe the long-term effects of their concoctions.
In their various iterations, the recruitment standards of the Solificati changed and adapted. Below, the criterias of the Solificati of the Renaissance and the modern Children of Knowledge are described.
Convincing a good alchemist to train you is difficult enough; the endless tests, labors and lessons that come with that training drive out all but the most dedicated seekers. Many apprenticeships last five to 10 years; in that time, the "egg" (apprentice) learns the most common symbols, but must figure the rest out for himself. Few alchemical texts feature writing - pictures and a few cryptic references are all an egg has to learn by. If he Awakens, he might be taken into the formal fellowship – or he might not. Most eggs don't know what they have joined until they've been chosen to join it.
The Children of Knowledge have no difficulty finding recruits. They simply look for people who have an avid interest in discovery, be it in alchemy, chemistry, or the occult. An open mind is also important.
A teacher usually starts socializing with the initiate, often inviting him to parties, where the teacher and other colleagues engage him in metaphysical and magical discussions. All the while, they gauge the strength of the initiate's Avatar. If they deem him suitable, the real training begins.
To start with, the teacher shows the initiate a few simple alchemical tricks. He explains the processes, and then invites him to try them. If he succeeds, even partially, the alchemist offer to take the initiate in as an Apprentice. This is, of course, not as easy as it sounds. Many potential Apprentices fail their first tests even though they have strong Avatars. However, they may try as many times as they like. Those who persist succeed. Those who do not persist fail, and never become alchemists. Many of the finest alchemists found it difficult to master their first magical Effect, but they say it taught them to persevere in the face of adversity.
Conducting the ritual of Apprenticeship is a simple matter, definitely something every Hermium knows how to do. It requires a purification of the body, a balancing of the essential components of matter and mind; the teacher brings the new Apprentice into the necessary state of receptivity for new Enlightenment. Ways of doing this vary from individual to individual, depending on what the Apprentice needs to attain this state, and often center on activities that make him feel alive. The Hermium paints alchemical symbols on his body and on the Apprentice, as well as in the "workshop" in which the balancing takes place.
One element common to all initiations is the Alchemist's Oath, in which the Apprentice promises to devote his life to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe, and promises to share discoveries with his brother and sister alchemists. In return, the Hermium promises to teach the Apprentice truly and well. Breaking this oath can cut the Apprentice from the society, or can lead to official censure for the Hermium. Censure is the complete dismissal of what the dishonored Hermium has to say on any subject, and the refusal to share information with him. Censure can last for any amount of time; the longest censure ever known lasted for over 100 years.
There have never been any known internal guilds within the Solificati.
At one time, conservative elements within the Craft referred to themselves as the Solificati proper, while some of the more liberal researchers distanced themselves from the old nomenclature and opted for the name Children of Knowledge; the latter resembled Cultists of Ecstasy in their demeanor as well as their experimentation with psychoactive substances.
In Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade, the Solificati form a full-fledged Tradition within the Council of Nine, holding the Seat of Matter and playing a more direct role in the politics of the Awakened. The tragedy of the Great Betrayal fates the Solificati to be cast out of the Traditions.
In Mage: The Ascension Second Edition, the Solificati form an independent Craft known as the Children of Knowledge, which had some dealings with the Council of Nine but for the most part kept itself hidden due to grudges carried from the Great Betrayal.
Events concerning the War in Heaven and the Reckoning were taken into account in Mage: The Ascension Revised Edition, and thus the Children of Knowledge were transformed into a faction of the Tradition of the Order of Hermes known as House Solificati.
|The Council of Nine Mystic Traditions (Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade)|
|Ahl-i-Batin · Akashic Brotherhood · Chakravanti · Chœur Céleste · Dreamspeakers · Order of Hermes · Seers of Chronos · Solificati · Verbenae|
|Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition - Disparate Alliance|
|Ahl-i-Batin · Bata'a · Hollow Ones · Knights of the Temple of Solomon · Kopa Loei · Ngoma · Orphans · Sisters of Hippolyta · Solificati · Taftâni · Wu Lung|