The First TheurgeEdit
Aaron opened his mouth to speak, but the words caught. There wasn't much one could say in response to something like that. This was going to be harder to resolve than he had initially though. Mentally, he cursed Speaks-With-Shadows, but he wasn't about to admit that.
"Please don't think of us as bullies or dictators, Anjou. I appreciate your pain, and I understand why you feel hurt by Speaks-With-Shadows. Believe me, I want to try and make this mess right, not just shove it under the rug. You are certainly not the first person to feel condescended to by a Theurge, or to feel that one of the Crescent Moons did ill unto you. Theurges are well known for being enigmatic, manipulative and even deceitful. But they have their reasons for being what they are, and I had hoped I could help you understand them better. So why do we have Theurges, you ask? What do they do for us? Let me start at the beginning then.
"All the tribes have legends about the first Theurge, and many claim him or her as one of their own. It's remakable, though -- while the details of every legend are different, the basic framework is exactly the same. I do believe that there is some kernel of truth to these legends, but I don't expect you to do so. For now, please, just listen. There are always six stages to the story: Alienation, Transgression, Signs and Omens, Communication, Sacrifice and Restoration. The Garou described as the first Theurge varies widely from legend to legend -- sometimes a grand warrior, sometimes a lowly metis. But he is always separated from his tribe, his pack, his social circle. Sometimes he is a visionary who sees things they do not, other times he is diseased or even insane. But he is always separate, alone and not entirely normal.
"The Transgression is by far the most variable part of the story. The other Garou, in their arrogance, manage to offend the spiritual world -- in the Uktena legend, for example, they run a herd of caribou to their deaths and butcher them all, leaving almost all the meat and hides to rot. The fundamental disrespect shown to the Animal Father of the caribou demonstrates the hubris of these primeval Garou very well. Other tribes have other transgressions -- for example, the Silver Fangs speak of the slaying of a just king, while the Glass Walker legend talks about the extermination of early humans; each tribe inserts their own favored moral of the story here. Regardless, Garou arrogance has managed to mortally offend the spirit worlds, and as long as this state persists, nothing good could come of our race's pursuits.
"This leads into the next section of the myth, the Signs and Omens. Slowly, the higher powers make their displeasure known. Fetish weapons shatter when used in battle. Ill luck and eerie coincidences plague these primeval Garou. Their human Kin's crops fail season after season, while their lupine Kin fall prey to hunters and predators. Eventually, since this occurs in times when the world was closer to magic, the spiritual malison becomes overwhelming; days become burning hot under Helios' glare, and nights colder than the void of space. Violent storm fronts follow the primeval Garou at Grandfather Thunder's bequest. All wounds become infected, all children are stillborn and the supernatural fabric of reality begins to actively lash out at the Garou.
Only the Garou who is to be the First Theurge can percieve the cause of this, and his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. Remember that this was before the establishment of most of Garou spirituality, and nobody yet knew how to speak with the spirits. But the First Theurge journeys into the Umbra to try and set things right. Now he must pass many great ordeals and tests before the spirits will impart their secrets to him, and this he does, demonstrating great cunning and wisdom in the process. For his bravery and vision, the spirits grant him the ability to speak in their tongue, and true communication between the races has begun. Once created, this is a bridge that is not easily broken; long after the first Theurge has died, Garou spiritualists will carry on the covenant he created in the learning of that simple Gift. But words alone are not enough to restore the balance, as in Garou hubris the offense has been allowed to fester and aggravate. A greater redemption is necessary.
The Sacrifice is always mortal. Garou legends are not comfortable stories, Anjou, and the simple truth is that only with his death can the shaman placate the spirit world. No other sacrifice is great enough. Often among the more warlike tribes, his anguish is magnified many times to emphasize the martyrdom aspect -- the Get Theurge is chained to a mountain while Surtur rolls glowing-hot boulders down his broken form for all eternity, for example. Did you believe that Christianity was the first religion to have a Savior absolve transgression with his own lifeblood? So much of human religion's mythology has its background or parallel in Garou stories. The first Theurge's death echoes the small death most Theurges experience during their Rite of Passage -- it's a symbolic correspondence, and that counts for everything in a mystical world.
"Regardless, the balance between the worlds of spirit and flesh has been set right again, and the unnatural plagues and tragedies cease -- this is the Restoration. The Garou, now able to understand the spirits, are humbled to learn of the First Theurge's sacrifice. The primeval werewolves swear that this kind of offense to Gaia will never be allowed to become so egregious again, and to show their dedication to this, they make a covenant with Luna: All their cubs born under the crescent moon, Luna's sign of the greater mysteries, will be given over to the spirit worlds to act as emissaries and messengers for the spirits, ensuring that the Garou never fail to pay them their proper dues again."
The Thousand FacesEdit
Anjou nodded slowly as she digested the legend, "That's, uh...evocative, I guess, in a primeval way, but it still doesn't do anything to make clear to me what good the Theurges do you in real, practical matters while your warriors are dying on the front lines or your judges are enforcing tribal law. Without sounding snide, I got tired of people trying to use legends as justification for real-life matters the first time one of my tribal elders tried the whole 'you don't understand Native ways, you ignorant city child' routine on me. Appeal to mythic precedent is not a valid form of argument."
The werewolf nodded. "Fair enough. You have a sharp mind, Anjou; you would have made a good Philodox. But you can't judge the auspice by one person, no matter how potent a presence she may be in your life. Theurges are a diverse lot, and they have a lot of different roles to fill in Garou society."
"First and foremost, Theurges are the clergy of our society -- but then you knew that, right? Yet, these are not like the mortal priests and shamans you have had experience with. If anything, they are more like the ecstatic priestesses and temple monks of ancient mystery cults. Along with the normal duties of any religious authority, they are responsible for preserving the mystery and fear that surrounds the sacred."
Anjou snorted, "Keeping the Garou masses scared and in aw of them. How noble."
"Keeping the Garou reverent," Aaron corrected.
"There's a difference between sincere reverence and simple ignorance, Anjou. All Garou revere Gaia, and want to serve Her. The Theurges don't force that on anyone; they don't have to. It's innate to us in a way I realy can't explain to a human. I'm sorry. We are born as spiritual beings, invested with Gnosis. But we are also proud beings; a typical Garou is more powerful than nine-tenths of the other beings she will ever deal with. Theurges ensure that our pride is never allowed to reach the point of hubris and disrespect to the spirits, as it did in the story of the First Theurge. A great many of our race's gravest crimes -- including the Impergium and the War of Rage -- are rooted in lack of respect in general. If it sometimes takes a little old-fashioned terror to remind us that we aren't the only creatures found worthy by Gaia, then in truth I'm glad we have Theurges to provide that. Spirituality provides an important kind of restraint to Garou; when we forget that reverence, bad things happen. And it takes a great deal to strike real, genuine terror into the hearts of Gaia's Chosen Warriors, given what we face on a regular basis. Some of what makes the Theurge an awe-inspiring figure is the unknown, the alien nature of what she deals with, and the fact that you never know which of your secrets a Theurge might be privy to. Moreso, though, the fear a Theurge inspires is the fear of failing in our diverse duties to Gaia. A Theurge is a living reminder to every Garou that we all have real, godlike cosmological powers looking over our shoulders, even though we can't see or touch them. Garou need that -- we need to know we aren't the biggest gorilla on the block, and that we owe our loyalty to spiritual patrons far above even us."
Anjou nodded. "Religion as a checks-and-balances system to your supernatural power. I guess I can see that. But surely you don't need a fifth of your race devoted to that alone?"
"Oh no. Most humans believe the spiritual is isolated in a far-distant land that they will only interact with at death, or in terribly rare moments of mystical experience. This isn't true for the Garou -- spirits are at hand every day. Our littlest gods look over our shoulders in everything we do, and we need to have people who know the traditional rites and ancient ways -- people who are qualified to talk to these living mysteries in the proper manner."
Anjou frowned skeptically, "But why all the voodoo and shit? Why bother with the rites, the sacred dances and the enigmatic puzzles? I've lived with Garou all my life; I know damned well every single werewolf has the capacity to learn how to talk coherently with spirits. Even some especially devout Kinfolk learn that trick. So why rely on Theurges instead of, say, a Philodox, when they translate spirit-speech in terms of silly metaphors and enigmas?"
"I once asked a similar question of an older Strider Theurge, when I was young and inexperienced myself. This is what he said in response: Theurges never obfuscate for the sake of obfuscation. They aren't here to decieve us, but like any diplomat or linguist they have to give the proper respect to both sides of the exchange. Nothing is more anathema to a spirit than treating it like a mundane ally, a resource -- like a Kin warrior or a high-up contact in the DEA. That is the Weaver's way -- to imply that the only important properties of a thing are those that can be easily observed, understood and catalogued. Some things are better left unformed -- or rather, formed by dreams, spirit dances and prayer instead of the banalities of anatomy and negotiation.
"My Theurge friend said that there are two kinds of truth in the world: the first, the hard truth, is that which Philodox deal with -- the truth of yes or no, guilty or innocent; truth gleaned by observation and analysis. It is true, but it also obscures any higher truth that may lie beneath it. It's...literalist, for lack of a better term. The Theurges' truth, on the other hand, is a soft truth; the truth of legends, prophecies and symbols. Not everything in mythology is strictly casual, but it is there for a reason.
"Every spirit - yes, even the Banes - is a part of the higher, symbolic truth. You can't put that truth into words -- that would kill it, and the Weaver would win. So the Theurges cut it into pieces, wrapping each in mystery and enigma. Then they deliver them, hoping that in solving the puzzle in search of some immediate, hard truth we will find the tiny, invaluable spark of the higher truth within -- a truth they could not articulate even if they wanted to."
"At least, that's what my friend says. Realy, though, it's ultimately academic -- even if we wanted our Theurges to speak in a strictly rationalistic and precise manner with spirits, like official translators or something, they can't. Many, many spirits are highly elusive and enigmatic by nature, and Theurges have to speak on their level if they want to speak with them at all. Ultimately, spirits may reflect aspects of the human condition, but they are very much not like you and I; it can take a Theurge years of training and a sharp mind to relate to them on a level they can understand. All I'm trying to say is that Crescent Moons have solid reasons for being enigmatic; it isn't as if they're trying to cow the ignorant or conceal their own incompetence."
Anjou nodded. "Fair enough."
"Theurges do far more than just terrify and confuse, though", the Philodox said with a self-deprecating smile. Anjou smiled back in spite of herself. She seems genuinely interested, Aaron realized. That was a good sign.
"They have a way with other Garou, you see. Our Rage burns strong; they help us to nurture our Gnosis as its counterpoint. I guess you could say they exert a kind of calming influence on us, preventing Rage from overtaking reason. Although I'm sure this is hard for you to believe, in many cases, they can be the most empathic of Garou -- not necessarily the most perceptive of emotions; that honor goes to the Galliards -- but the most willing to share in another's pain, to ease others' suffering by reminding us of our ties to our goddess. I doubt you've ever seen that side of a Theurge, Anjou. Believe me when I say they can be tremendously compassionate beings; the only problem is that some of them aren't always sure how to express that compassion without breaking down the wall of awe and reverence that surrounds their auspice
"Theurges are also our healers. One of their most common spirit-Gifts allows them to supernaturally mend wounds, knitting flesh with a touch. But they also practice the craft of medicine in the general sense -- very few Theurges have no understanding at all of herbalism and holistic medicine. You could even say that they don't directly heal others so much as they teach others to see how nature can help them to heal themselves. In some ways, I guess you could compare a Theurge to a classical midwife.
"Of course, many Theurges also have skill with modern medicine; some are even licensed physicians and surgeons. Remember that no part of respecting traditional ways implies that we cannot also embrace modern methods when they serve our purposes."
"Theurges are also tasked with conveying the spiritual knowledge to mankind, teaching humanity to perceive and revere the spirits in the same manner we do. Have you ever wondered why the Garou word for the energy of our spirit ties is the same as the humans' 'gnosis'? It is indeed a kind of secret knowledge, a gnosis, which lets us see what humanity can not. We do not just believe, or even know, that all things around us are alive -- we sense it, just as you touch, hear and smell. Garou are able, on some level, to perceive the pulse of creation, and if you open yourself, so are you. The tiny thread of the spirit world accessible to mankind in this age is called the Periphery, Anjou. Theurges work to encourage humanity to expand their spiritual perceptions to see it, but so many humans just don't care enough to want to look.
"This is not about conversion, about getting humanity to call God by the 'right' name, believe our dogma or follow a given set of Commandments. Theurges are charged with bringing the worlds of spirit and flesh together again, as they were in the Dawn Times when the world was still young. Then, the Weaver's wall, the Gauntlet, will not be so strong as to block gnostic perceptions. If humanity could only perceive the spiritual world the way we can, they would be able to see the real and concrete hurt that so many of their choices cause. In a way, it's hard to blame them for wounding Gaia, because all they can see is rocks and trees and other random matter -- they lack the gnosis, the secret knowledge, of animism. They can no longer see the essence of the living world around them; they don't understand the value of things, because the idea of treating trees and rivers as if they were people went out of vogue over three centuries ago."
Anjou snorted contemptuously. "I'm sorry. It's just that that sounds so hopelessly New-Agey."
Aaron shrugged. "You asked me to justify Theurges. I am not going to change my words just because your human prejudices make it difficult for you to take them seriously. Who do you think wants you to believe that everything tied to alternative religion is shallow and worthy of scorn, anyway?"
Anjou wasn't sure what to say to that. "I...don't know. It just always seemed hokey to me, I guess."
Aaron nodded slowly. "Can you imagine how hard it must be, then, to be a Theurge in this age? You have a sacred duty to teach humanity reverence for the spirit worlds, and the first thing that comes to so many humans' minds when confronted with nature worship is that it's 'hokey'? And yet belief that one lonely prophet nailed to a cross can excuse all humanity's evils...this is a national institution. Their work is a lonely difficult duty, and I know many Theurges who despair or ever bringing spirit and flesh close together again.
"This is not the only duty that Theurges have in the human world, however. Indeed, they are on of the auspices required to interact heavily with human society. As well as expanding perceptions, they are charged by Luna with rooting out and healing corruption. Now, attacking and slaying the deeply corrupt -- that falls to the Ahroun. But it is the Theurges who are responsible for pressing back the faint touch of the Wyrm on social fabrics, healing the soul and saving those who can be saved. It's sadly ironic that your one significant encounter with a Theurge has hurt you so much, Anjou, because there are many Theurges who would consider it part of their job description to give you succor before your heart could turn to bitterness and then to rage and corruption."
Not Speaks-With-Shadows, at least."
"Perhaps not. But do not paint all of her auspice with that brush -- like all Garou, Theurges are individuals, and they're a diverse lot to boot. Anyway, corruption.
"It's also a Theurge's duty to find hidden corruption within the human world, albeit not solely a Theurge's duty. Ragabash and Galliards are well suited to sniffing out the mundane aspects of corruption -- financial graft, legal injustice, racial hate and so on. But Theurges are unquely equipped to spot and track mystical or psychological evils, and their networks of spirit allies often alert the Garou Nation to dangers we would never otherwise imagine existed. Theurges then purify the taint on a spiritual level -- sometimes this can be as simple as using the Rite of Cleansing; other times it can involve a quest on behalf of restoring a corrupted spirit to health, or simply the spiritual equivalent of psychotherapy. A lot of Theurges spend time just talking with blighted spirits, trying to reaffirm their sense of purpose and understanding of their holier nature by prayer, metaphoric catharsis and meditation. Regardless, when what is broken is made whole again, the Theurge has triumphed.
"It is also the duty of the Theurge to speak for those that have no voice of their own. This includes the minor spirits who cannot speak with Garou not versed in the spirits' tongue, the great Incarnae and totems who do not trivialize themselves by directly manifesting to address their desires, and the dead heroes of Garou ancestry, whose spirits often seek out Theurges to make their wishes known. The Theurge is a classical necromancer, communing with the spirit of both the dead and the never-born to gain secrets, but she must also act as the representative of those beings' wishes. This can often put a Theurge in political hot water at a sept, or just make her resented. Many Garou are busy enough with their own lives without having to worry about having to tend to the whims of their ancestors, but it is the Crescent Moon's responsibility to ensure that the dead always recieve their due.
"This can be metaphorical as well as literal. If a Theurge's mystic intuition suggests that a dead hero wants to convey some kind of message to the sept, that dictum should be taken seriously from a Theurge's lips, even if the Theurge has never actually seen the hero's ancestor-spirit. A Theurge has the authority to speak on behalf of spiritual powers, to act as their proxy within Garou society. Now, this might seem like an easily abused privilege, and in truth it is -- many Theurges have learned to preface their own desires with "the spirits demand that..." But the cardinal rule of spirit dealings is that you reap what you sow. If the actual spirit whose cause a crooked Theurge appropriated ever shows up, the scam falls in on itself and the Theurge can face Renown loss or far, far worse punishments. Even in the more abstract, spirtual dishonesty offends the spirit broods, and no Theurge can last for long when the unseen world has turned against her.
"Just as a Theurge is the Voice of the Spirits, so she is also the Arm of the Spirits, ensuring that all debts to the ethereal world are repaid in full. Chiminage is treated with tremendous solemnity by Theurges, and many consider their debts to spirits to be of equal priority to their responsibilities to the pack. I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but then I'm a Philodox, not a Theurge, for a reason. I will say that any Theurge that can't find a way to balance both obligations isn't worthy of the title. This can be more difficult than it sounds, however. The spirits are the source of all a Theurge's power, mystique and information. Serving her pack, she's often called on to strike mystically against an enemy or learn her secrets, to bind fetishes or secure military support for a raid from war spirits. This all entails entering into debts of chiminage, and a careless or naive Theurge can rapidly find herself bound into a web of spirit geasa that will be with for all her life. It seems easy to swear an oath to never dress in red at the time, especially if it means a mighty bull-spirit will fight to the death at your side. But that promise lasts unto death, and you may have heard the legend of Cu Chulainn's downfall. It's a continual balancing act for a Theurge, trying to get as much power as possible without making a promise she can't keep.
"Theurges aren't just responsible for their own chiminage, though; they enforce the spirit pacts throughout the entire Garou Nation. Tragically, Garou of other auspices are sometimes willing to deceive, shortchange or violate a spirit to further their own desires, or even out of the best intentions of helping Gaia overall. Some Theurges can sense these metaphysical betrayers, while others find themselves contacted by the wronged spirit. Regardless, it often falls into a Theurge's lap to ensure that the spirit is repaid. This can mean making politically foolish decisions, or even having to face members of the more combative auspices in a fighting challenge to defend the spirits' dignity. Theurges do all this and more; there are even legends of lone Theurges taking on entire septs guilty of mistreating spirits, usually with words but occasionally with actions as well. It's not often a desirable duty, to enforce respect for beings that it can be so profitable to exploit.
"I'm sure you've seen more than your fair share of rituals being performed, being Uktena Kin."
"And I think that they're frightening, honestly, and while I've seen the real power they have, I still think there's a lot of superstition in them."
"You're right in that not everything you see in a rite is strictly necessary to its supernatural function. But it's not only superstition; it's community. Garou are primal beings; we're predatory in ways that are beyond any human passion. Because of this, I must admit, I've always found human religious sermons and sacraments to be...milquetoast, for lack of a better term."
Anjou chuckled. "You're not alone."
"My point is that Theurges use rituals much like human ministers use a sermon: to reaffirm the community, bonding it together. If it seems dark and terrifying, that is because we as a race are dark and terrifying, and that tone resonates with us. Though, I will admit, I have not known other tribes' rites to be as intentionally macabre as those of the Uktena. Anyway, ritualism does a lot to bond the Garou and to keep unity and hope alive in desperate times. Every rite connects us to comething bigger than ourselves. I know this all too well -- Philodox are almost as involved in ritual as Theurges are. At the risk of being cliche, you might compare our rites to those silly team building retreats up-and-coming yuppies get sent on by their CEOs, but without the embarrassment factor."
Anjour laughed in spite of herself, and Aaron smiled back at her before continuing. "But of course, the social aspect is just one side of Garou ritual; there's a lot of real power there as well. And that leads me to another role into which we cast our Theurges..."
"I won't deny that Theurges do some dark things at times, Anjou. T hese aren't neo-pagans or tree-huggers we're talking about here; Crescent Moons have real, tangible power and they aren't afraid to use it. In addition to all their spiritual and social duties, Theurges fulfill very important temporal roles in the Garou Nation. They create fetishes, divine intelligence about enemy formations, curse our enemies, brew poisons, bind spirits to practical defense pacts and turn the elements against the enemy. This may not be as immediately apparent to you based on where you live -- all Uktena have a few charms and spells to call their own -- but we are the exception, not the rule. In a Get of Fenris caern, the warriors are warriors, the bards are bards, and any serious kind of mojo will be coming from the Theurges' corner.
"The magic of a Theurge is obviously not flashy Hollywood sorcery. Theurges tend to scorn the obviously supernatural in favor of arts of influence and happenstance, and are typically proficient in a range of curses, abjurations against harm and revealing magics. Now, all Garou have their own set of Gifts, but while most werewolves find a small handful of tricks that are directly practical to them personally and leave it at that, Theurges tend to study spirit powers much more deeply. Many Theurges track down any rumors of a new Gift vigorously, and devote a great deal of time to expanding their repertoire -- it's part of their duty, after all. Theurges are also more likely to gain Gifts outside the normal purview of their breed, tribe and auspice -- it's a lot more likely you'll see a Theurge with a Galliard Gift then vice versa. In fact, Theurges have been known to offend members of other tribes by tricking spirits into parting with their tribal secrets.
"But no Garou truly has a plethora of Gifts; what makes Theurges frightening and powerful is that no one can predict exactly what powers a given Theurge has up her sleeve. They can know just about any Gift, and no Theurge worthy of the title will share knowledge of what Gifts she knows easily. In some cases, even a Theurge's packmates aren't aware of the mystical ace up her sleeve until they need to be. All this said, much of a Theurge's so-called magic is not anything she actually does herself, but a favor she receives from a spirit, repaid through the constant webs of Chiminage that wrap around a Theurge's life. This means that a Theurge who knows a diverse body of spirits can do damned near anything in a time of need, at the price of binding her life in an intricate web of obligations, geasa and spirit-debts forever after. Nothing is free, after all.
The Intelligence OfficerEdit
"I've touched on the role a Theurge has as an information source a few times now. A pack normally looks to their Theurge to uncover any information they might need in a coming conflict. This is usually gleaned through mystical means -- scrying and spirit lore -- but it can also be learned more mundanely. Theurges are expected to know secrets, and in many circles the measure of a Theurge's power is determined by how much dirt she has on powerful people. Blackmail is a common practice among them, and a means of gaining the influence and voice they need to perform their more benevolent spiritual duties. Don't look shocked, Anjou -- you know how harsh our war is, and how hard it can be to wring anything resembling justice or compassion out of human society. Theurges just use the tools they have available to them. That said, Theurges are not spies, per se -- that role belongs to the Ragabash. The closest parallel would be to call them intelligence analysts, but their sources are usually spirits rather than agents in the field. While Ragabash tend to enjoy being sneaky, Theurges love information for its own sake, and the darker the secret, the happier a stereotypical Theurge will be.
"If you suspect that Shadows was violating your privacy, Anjou...I hate to say this, but you're probably right. Many Theurges are incredible snoops; adding an Uktena heritage to the mix just doubles the allure of finding out a juicy new secret. Theurges watch over everyone, often in mystical ways normal Garou have no way of detecting. Yes, it's invasive, and yes, it feeds resentment, but just like the Ragabash and their pranks, it's part of their appointed role by Gaia, so nobody can realy do much about it. For what it's worth, they generally don't watch over Kinfolk, because Kinfolk aren't privy to secrets they want to learn. And if a Theurge becomes realy obnoxious about their secrets -- trying to blackmail a sept elder, for example -- a Philodox or other Garou authority can step in and slap them back into line, Or, if the offense warrants, throat them where they stand."
Ending on that note left an awkward silence
"I'm going to guess that you probably don't have a very high opinion of mysticism."
Anjou nodded, but there was no hostility when she spoke. "When I was young, my mother had this brightly colored Time Life book about religions around the world. I remember the pictures of the Sufi monks, going out into the desert in Saudi Arabia to chant and howl until they drove themselves into a trance state...or died. I remember thinking how courageous they must have been to risk their lives in the hopes of receiving a vision. Then I grew up a little, and I came to see their actions as stupid and superstitious rather than noble. For all the talk on television about the mystical experience, I've never seen anything that shows real, concrete good coming from it to offset all the sacrifies people make in its name".
Aaron nodded slowly. "Those monks are as good an image of the Theurge as any. It's a matter of opinion, I guess, but I've never thought of those kinds of people as stupid.
"Look, Anjou. There are mystical questions that we absolutely must have the answers to. Garou spirituality is not something done just to give us comfort when times are hard -- indeed, our faith only tells us that our goddess is dying, and the world is prophesied to die with Her. Instead, spiritualism is just a part of the world to us, something we are duty-bound to address, and the spirit worlds are every bit as sick as the corporeal. Reason and science, as helpful as they have been in many areas, cannot save us here -- the Wyrm, Gaia, purity and corruption; these things are simply beyond their domain. We need our mysticism, no more than ever, if we are to have hope. Our mystics are the one-eyed men in a world of the blind; they are the only ones who can offer us guidance in the realms of the higher mysteries:.
Anjou shrugged, and Aaron wished he were a Galliard, so that his words could so beautifully articulate what he knew in his heart. But he wasn't, and so there was a human woman, deeply hurt by the spiritual, staring at him as if he were an idiot.
"Do you believe in the Wyrm, Anjou?"
She paused and though. "Yes, I guess. I've seen the Ahroun dragged back from battles covered with blood and ichor. I've heard the stories, listened to descriptions of Black Spiral Dancers and Nexus Crawlers. Your enemies are certainly real. And I've seen the real supernatural power your Gifts have -- to heal, to create darkness, to jam up guns and computers or turn yourselves invisible. You're not fighting an imaginary war, so it makes sense that the spiritual force your enemies revere is a real one as well. And yes, if you want to know, in truth it terrifies me"
"What exactly do you think the Wyrm is, Anjou?"
"I, I don't know. It's the enemy, the evil you fight. I don't know a lot about it. I guess it's kind of like the Devil, right?"
"In Christianity, I've heard, the Devil is just an angel out of line, a rebellious spirit who doesn't respect his creator. I guess that's a reasonable image of the Wyrm. To the Christians, though, the Devil doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Michael could come one day and smite Lucifer realy good, and it just wouldn't make a great amount of difference. The world would go on just fine after Old Scratch passes on, Heaven will still open its gates to the true believers, and God's natural order will still reign on Earth. Good triumphs over evil, just as Saint Jon told us it would. But the Wyrm isn't that simple.
"The Wyrm is here to stay, Anjou. It's not just a rebel angel or rogue spirit, its one of the three cornerstones of the univers. I very much doubt even a godlike being like Luna -- or Gabriel, if you prefer -- could ever kill it. It would be like trying to kill gravity, or exterminate love. And the Wyrm is absolutely necessary -- without it, the world cannot exist in anything resembling the form we know, and all life would surely cease.
"That's why the Theurges' role as a visionary is so terribly important to the Garou's fight. Somebody has to take the long view; somebody has to seriously consider what we are going to do about the Wyrm in the end. Now, any group of people under siege is inherently going to be thinking for the moment, trying to survive the next day, week or month. But in the end that's destructive, because it means we keep sliding backwards, losing ground, without having a long-term stratagem to solve our problems. Right now, the Garou nation has absolutely got its hands full, so the Theurges are the only ones thinking long -- trying to figure out how we can actually heal the world, restore balance to the Triat, rather than just fighting a war of containment to prevent the Wyrm from doing worse than it already has.
"That's a cause worth purusing, and if you think about it a bit, you'll see that mysticism and spirit-questing, searching out supernatural revelations, is the only approach that has any chance of doing any good. Unless you can think of anything better the Theurges should be doing to heal the corruption that they aren't already. Trust me, I'm all ears..."
The Long ViewEdit
"So what is this visionary plan, then? What's the catechism here? How are your peoples' mystics going to put a broken world back together again?"
"There's a lot of discussion on jjust that topic, but no real consensus, unfortunately. Theurges are a very diverse lot, and every tribe's shamans have a different outlook. Even within a tribe, different Theurges feel that different things are needed. Garou spiritualism is very different from human religion; we aren't nearly as bound by dogma or catechism because of our distrust for the Weaver. This is a great strength, but it's also a grave weakness -- in terms of spiritual exploration, everybody tends to do their own thing, and since we're in a situation where we need some answers P.D.Q., that could be bad.
"I know a circle of Get Theurges down in Arizona who believe that the Defiler Wyrm would be weakened, and the lost Balance aspect reborn, if humanity could only be taught to accept death as natural rather than fearing it. In Alaska there are Wendigo Theurges who want to try and draw humanity away from the cities, hoping that they'll learn to respect Gaia again if they have to depend upon nature for daily survival again -- and no, this isn't subjugation; many humans want to live closer to the natural world. Other Theurges see restoring balance in terms of nurturing the virtue du jour, be it honesty, righteous anger, spiritual piety, filial love or common courtesy. The Stargazers inspired by buddhism, find moderation in all things the key to resisting the Wyrm's influence, and strive to teach humanity temperance in this vein. Other views are more supernatural -- a cabal of Strider Theurges in Uganda collects tales of Umbral journeys, collating and analyzing them in the hopes of finding a common thread in Umbral victories against the Wyrm. A pack of Walkers in Seattle is dedicated to psychoanalyzing captured Black Spiral Dancers, in the hopes that curing their madness might in effect contribute to curing the Wyrm overall. A bunch of Bone Gnawer students founded a society dedicated to debunking urban legends, taking the psychological bite out of the mythical terrors that menace the impoverished side of humanity. And of course our own Bane Tenders strive to keep sleeping evils asleep with blessed songs and other soothing powers, and to undermine active Banes by soothing their inflamed emotions, driving them into Slumber.
"The thing is, you see, that I think all of this helps. The world has some realy big problems as it stands, and there is not going to be one epic heroic solution to the dilemma of the Wyrm. But a whole bunch of little efforts does not necessarily add up to nothing; in the end I think that every spiritual approach can do at least some good against the Wyrm, and the diverse ways of the Theurges are the best chance we have. Realy, it's not just Theurges, either, though of course they have a much clearer vision of the enemy. Humans fight the Wyrm constantly, though they don't know it; they oppose corruption by promoting social justice, by refusing to give in to base urges, by having the strength to care about something. Spiritual warfare has a thousand faces, and the more metaphorical weapons the Theurges can find, the better off everybody is.
Theurges across the TribesEdit
"The Black Furies' Theurges consider themselves to be servitors of the Wyld as much as Gaia, though they consider the two to be tightly linked. Their theology ties strongly to gender, of course -- they believe that woman have a strong natural bond with the Wyld because both share in the ability to create life. Sometimes this is used as an excuse for arguments of female superiority, and many Fury Theurges argue that males are unclean, justifying the strict gender segregation under which most Fury rites occur. But there is a greater depth to them than just xenophobia -- the Furies want to protect the things that are uniquely feminine, and unlike most human feminists they do believe in and support gender roles. Nor, contrary to what you've probably heard, do they sacrifice men or even work against them -- most believe Gaia created each gender with unique abilities and a unique role. Their focus is on woman, and they want to ensure that men revere, and yes, even fear, the feminine power. At least, that's the story, I got from a Fury shaman I once talked to
"The Bone Gnawers are not often thought of as spiritual, but their Theurges have a strong niche nonetheless. Laughter heals the soul, and they use self-deprecation to grant dignity to those who would otherwise have none. Their rituals often parody those of the other tribes -- they even have a special rite for Super Bowl Sunday -- but they are still powerful tools for creating reverence, community, warmth and compassion. The Gnawers disdain formality, but in irreverence they paradoxically show great respect for their tribe's traditions and pay chiminage to spirits that have little else to their name. In the heart of large cities, Anjou, there lurk powerful and unknown spirits driven by the passions of the downtrodden and the feral. These beings are rarely seen or heard from in their homes, because the city Gauntlet is so strong, but the Bone Gnawers give them a voice, and in doing so they make the cities into living things instead of sterile collectives. These Theurges teach humanity to respect the physical things of their everyday life, the buildings and the trash heaps -- they take the heart and soul of animism and bring it into the modern age, and we owe them much for that
The Children of GaiaEdit
"The Children of Gaia's Theurges embrace the ideal of spiritual healing whole-heartedly, seeking out ways to cleanse corruption from individuals and heal emotional wounds. They have connections though their totem to special spirits called Heart Guides that have insight into the emotions and potentials of an individual. Every person has a Heart Guide, and that spirit understands the path that person can find to rise up over suffering, loss and depression. It's the Gaian Theurge's responsibility to use that information to help the person in question. Now if that sounds cliched or saccharine to you, I want you to consider this:
"I'm sure you've seen real cruelty and degradation in your life, Anjou -- I know that I have. And I know that, like me, you have probably put up your emotional walls and prevented yourself from sharing the pain of others completely, because that kind of empathy would be too hard for you to bear. We all do it, consciously or not, and I'm not trying to condemn that. But I am trying to get across to you the incredible courage that it takes to do what these Theurges do, to live through others' pain with them and to share their wounding. It's messy and bloody and it hurts, and very few people are psychologically set up to give of themselves in this manner. Surely, you've seen people like that? At homeless shelters, at rape crisis centers, at police stations and even schools? And you feel just a little bit in awe of them, and very awkward, because you know that it's not in your nature to give as selflessly and completely as they do, again and again. That's what the Children of Gaia's Theurges are like. Think about that before you dismiss all Theurges as bullies, tree-huggers or dogmatics"
"If the Gaian Theurges are gifted with great compassion, then those of the Fianna are blessed with joy. So many of my companions refuse to see the spiritual depth of the Fianna, just because their skin is white. Forgetting for a second that tribe's crimes against the Pure Lands, ask them how they tended their own: Fianna have always had strong ties to the land, and you can bet any one of their Theurges knows about everything that grows naturally within several miles of their home. Like us, they've watched a tribe that was once close to them fall into the maw of spiritual corruption; unlike us, their brothers didn't even earn a heroic death. Because of this, Fianna Theurges tend to be very serious about rooting out spiritual and psychological corruption in the Nation; this fact hardly makes the many Fianna Theurge "investigators" and "specialists" popular with foreign septs. But in the end, nobody wants to see another great tragedy like the WHite Howlers happen, so we're glad to have them.
"Now, living at an Uktena sept, you've probably heard a lot about Fianna irresponsibility and crims of passion. Fianna have the souls of artists and singers, and their Theurges try to use that to bring the message of reverence to humanity. They also get mocked for that, because so often what comes out of the process in Hollywood drivel, pseudo-Celtic pap and shallow sterotypes. But at least they are trying to reawaken the primal spiritualities; Fianna Theurges have put a lot of weigh behind the Celtic revival, modern Druidism and even Wicca, and for every ten vapid tree-huggers and crystal-wavers they sh ovel on us, we get one real spirtualist whose heart and soul is realy in sync with Gaia's brood. And maybe that's worth it.
Get of FenrisEdit
"If you want to talk about primal, though, let's address the Get of Fenris. Now, most of their Theurges' rites are horrifying to many outsiders, involving pain, blood and sometimes even death. At the same time, though, nothing that they do is gratuitous. Fenris, they say, bit off Tyr's hand for a reason. If Tyr had not lost his hand binding rage beneath justice, how could the act have any meaning? How long could a binding last, which is not sealed with agony and loss? I suspect many Bane Tenders would understand that. The Fenrir spirituality is one of strength and ordeal, and a Theurge serving Fenris will journey to the ends of the Earth to repay a debt of chiminage. 'That which does not kill me can only make me stronger,' they say, and for the Get at least that may well be the truth. But they have nothing but contempt for anyone that could not endure their rites, and that tends to alienate them from other Theurges.
"Glass Walker Theurges are viewed with a degree of prejudice by any other Crescent Moon born more than twenty years ago. Which is a damned shame realy, because they are among both the most necessary and most innovative of the Garou Nation's spiritualists. It's a very simple conceit to fall into; respect all the spirits except the ones that don't fit neatly into my worldview. I've been in big cities, and while I can't say they're my favored stomping grounds, I'm not so blind as to miss that there's real blood, anguish, joy, fury, passion and raw elemental power hiding beneath the steel and plastic. A Theurge can sense that kind of thing, you know, and the Glass Walkers have decided to explore it in greater detail.
"Now that's not to say that many city-spirits aren't sick and broken things - that's just an objective fact, and give the Walkers some credit; they know it. But Theurges are healers, and the Walker Theurges have taken it upon themselves to restore a semblance of dignity and reverence to the cities, teaching mankind to respect the souls of the buildings they erect and the lots they pave. And if urban dwellers realy did respect the world around them, I think cities would end up as a lot nicer places then they are right now. Now many young Walker Crescents see themselves as on a one-man mission to bring the Weaver back to sanity, and while their goal is admirable I'm not sure they appreciate the depth of the problem. But the tribe all together? Let us just say that I haven't given up hop for Mother Spider just yet.
"Red Talon spirituality is very very hard for even homid-born Garou to understand; fortunately, Anjou, nobody realy expects Kin to even try. We Garou are expected to honor the Talons as any other tribe, but I hardly blame you for your horror when they are mentioned, knowing what you do about them. To your species, they are a dangerous enemy, and that is tragic. What can I say of their Theurges? Begin here: imagine a sentient, thinking mind with no concept of logic, no reason or rationality. In many ways, they are very much like humanity was, before the rise of Sumeria and Egypt - they neither seek or want explanations for the world; they just revere it. There is no line between the mystical and the mundane to a Red Talon Theurge, because the difference is imperceptible to them. There is only nature, which both provides life and takes it way, and the massive alien un-nature crafted by the Apes. There is nothing "super-natural" to a Talon about rites or Gnosis, but a city is the most starkly supernatural - litterally, "outside of nature" - thing they will ever witness. It is beyond the natural order, beyond Gaia's laws - at least in their eyes.
The rites and services of the Talons occur in the depths of primeval wilderness. Many other Garou have never seen a Talon Theurge - it's their scouts and warriors that are infamous for attacking human settlements, and Galliards and Philodox who most often negotiate with other Garou septs. Because they lack the distinction between mystical and mundane, they don't think of themselves as shamans or magicians. Instead, they see themselves as the restorers of nature's inherent balances and the tenders of would. I've heard that Talon Theurges are granted the task of raising and teaching the young - both Garou and Kin - but that could be hearsay or speculation on the part of my sources.
"Shadow Lord Theurges...not all Crescent Moons are good beings, and in truth the Lords' shamans live up to many of the accusations you have laid against the auspice as a whole. Many of them are proficient in using spirits and magic to spy, to curse, to blight and envenom. They are plotters all, and coming from an Uktena that's saying something. The Lords rule by strength and as most Theurges lack physical might, they have to find another source of authority if they are to survive within the continual, ruthless Darwinian selection the tribe practices. Their power, like that of a traditional hoodoo Man, is fear: they make it well known that they see and know things others do not, and then they build on that mystery by trying to make the unseen powers they converse with seem as horrific and macabre as possible. they are masters of psychological warfare and occult terrorism, and it becomes all the more frightening for one of their victims to wake up thinly coated with blood that is not their own, because said victim knows that their mystic power is real and the Lord could have done far, far worse.
"The Lords' Theurges do respect the spirits, but they are far more willing to bind and dominate them then other Garou, who deal more diplomatically. Of course, in Grandfather Thunder's brood most spirits would consider a Theurge to be worthy of service if and only if they could force it from the spirit in question, so it's just the way things are done over there. Lord Theurges are also often cult leaders in the mortal world, using their skill with high ritual to cow humans interested in occult power into their service.
"Silent Strider Theurges understand better than anyone the sacredness of place, being travelers. Location is a magic all it's own, and one's home is one's temple - no one knows this better than the Striders, who have had their homeland stolen by serpentine vampires. They are often able to tell a lot about the character of a locale by its physical presence, and many Strider Theurges are extremely well versed in history and heritage. To these beings, respecting the past goes hand in hand with respecting the spirits, though that does not make them traditionalists - there's a difference between respecting what came before and trying to force the present to match up to the past.
All Theurges can speak with the ancestor-spirits of other Garou - being half-spirit ourselves, we go to the Middle World when we die. But the Theurges of the Striders have ties to the Underworld, the home of the souls of dead humans, and they are able to speak with the ghosts and shades that dwell therein. Many Strider Theurges devote themselves to the dead, helping them to resolve the things that keep them tied to the Gaia Realm. This most often isn't just a matter of avenging a death or delivering a last message to a loved one; the passions of a ghost are as deep and nuanced as those of a living person, and they must be resolves before that restless spirit can move on. It's a kind of spiritual healing, which of course makes it central to the Theurges' duties. I've heard rumors that great tragedy has recently struck the humans' afterlife-world, and the Strider Theurges now seek simply to help ghosts survive where they can - but that is just hearsay, little more.
"Silver Fang Theurges continue in the grand European tradition of applying reason to faith, and using philosolphical study to uncover higher spiritual truths; I'm sure Thomas Aquinas would be quite proud. Unsurprisingly, they do tend to become overly concerned with orthodoxy, but I think this comes more from a sincere desire to believe in what is true, rather than dogmatic though. their clarity of theology lends them a great deal of credence when dealing with humans, who are used to alternative or pagan religions having a muddy, vague or new agey (in the shallow sense) theology. These Silver Fangs are, to some extent, succeeding in articulating animism, and that's no small feat. Yet, even amidst their detached intellectualism and regal halls, there is another side to the Silver Fangs' shamans. Mystery cults, ecstatic revelers, masters of divination and prophetic oracles are not uncommon in the tribe, and form their own cults and factions, often being allied with the Druidic groups Fianna support. They aren't so much opposed to the mainstream intellectualism of Silver Fang Theurges as they are a counterbalance to it; many Theurges belong in one camp by day and the other by night. By this means the Fangs pay equal homage to both the intellectual and passionate elements of spirituality.
"Given the character of the tribe, it's not surprising how heavily honor figures into Silver Fang shamanism. They are among the most devoted to maintaining - and enforcing - debts of chiminage in the Garou Nation. Sadly, they have trouble appreciating any kind of humor concerning spirits, and this can drive them into conflict with the Ragabash. Fortunately, as in all things, they strive to lead by example, and a Silver Fang presence can often bring a lapsed sept new regard for the spirits, simply by the nobility and eloquence of the Theurge who speaks in their name.
"Stargazer Theurges mix Garou mythology with Buddhist philosophy to arrive at a belief system they call the Gaiadharma, the cycle of life. Many of these are isolated mystics, living the stereotypical mountaintop lifestyle and isolating themselves from impure influences to improve their clarity of thought. But many others are out an about among mankind and Garou; I think the best way to describe their mission would be to say that they see themselves as the warders of excess. They work to teach humanity, and Garou alike to avoid swinging to extremes in their choices and to embrace the middle path of moderation and temperance.
"I suspect that they had a hand in their tribe's recent decision to separate from the Garou Nation. I can see that a vision of some type guided them, and I hope the choice that they reached was the correct one. Still, the Nation is less without these Theurges. They are in large part the individuals responsible for convincing the Garou Nation to see the Weaver as a threat as significant as the Wyrm, and giving us a clue as to how to act against it. Their view of what exactly the Weaver is, is also fairly visionary - rather than focusing on the traditionally empasized aspects of technology and modernism, they dig to the core and view Mother Spider fundamentally as a weaver of illusions to cloud and conceal spiritual vision. I don't claim to understand all their philosophies, but some of their work certainly makes fascinating reading.
"Part of the reason I'm telling you all this, Anjou, is so that you don't view all Theurges as being like those of the Uktena. We have Theurges making most of the important decisions in our tribe, and I'm not going to argue with you if you want to tell me that may not be an utterly good thing. The truth is that as much as the Uktena uncover many powerful secrets and sacred truths, we also suffer from the maladies of Theurge leadership: overdeveloped caution, a tendency to inaction and an unhealthy attraction to dark mystical power. As a Philodox, I must admit that I see a lot of hope for many of the proud young Ahroun and Galliards pushing themselves to positions of leadership among us. Spirituality is good, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of everything, and these new, dynamic perspectives are helping our tribe to realize that. So yes, if you want to know, some of your anger at the Theurges you've met probably has a righteous base, and many of them may have grown complacent. I'm not going to deny any of that."
Anjou nodded slowly. "Thank you for granting that. I'm not opposed to Theurges in general, I guess. It's just that some of the ones around here seem so damned arrogant...."
Aaron nodded slowly. "On, then, to the Wendigo. Here you will find almost the opposite - the warriors rule. Wendigo Theurges tend to be vengeful beings, using fear to their advantage much like the Shadow Lords do. Many view efforts to teach humanity as misguided, believing that history has shown that humans are too ignorant to be taught. Of course, when they speak of humans, they often mean "white men". For all that the Wendigo are frightening, Anjou, they are on our side against a world that is still herding and abusing us; they are our Little Brothers, and we can't forget that.
"I'm sure you've heard the boasts that Wendigo visiting the sept sometimes make about being pure-blooded Natives of august ancestry, and if you've taken a few anthropology and American history courses, you know how ludicrous most of those claims are likely to be. The tribal elders have the same attitude toward spirituality they do toward lineage - "keep it pure" - and the approach is no more realistic in the field of mysticism than it is in breeding. Many of their Theurges are amateur anthropologists by necessity, trying to keep their rituals and chiminage strictly accurate to the ways the Cherokee or Tshimshan did it three centuries ago. Of course, it is a crippling weakness for a mystic to focus so much on details of form over sincerity of expression, and rituals three centuries old often aren't very applicable to the modern world, outside of very limited situations. In the most rigid septs, there is even a form of spiritual apartheid enforced - Theurges aren't permitted to commune with spirits that don't have precedent in pre-Columbian Native or Wendigo legends.
"Obviously, this is an intensely stifling environment for true spiritual visionaries to live under, and the Theurges break out of it when they can. I've heard there's something of an underground spiritual movement in the tribe that mixes a distinctly modernist bent with traditional devotion to protecting Native peoples and preserving not just the form but the meaning, the primal essence, of traditional Native religions. For what it's worth, I give these courageous spiritualists all my blessings."
Living As A TheurgeEdit
"Among Garou, Theurges are the most likely to experience a less traumatic First Change. They don't have the overwhelming Rage, and they don't instinctively tend to be as bloodthirsty or aggressive as the Galliards or Ahroun. It's an uncommon Theurge that has potent enough Rage to even have a chance of frenzying around the time of her First Change. Further, the Theurge is a being of two worlds even before she is consciously aware of her heritage - Gaian spirits often feel drawn to protect and guide a nascent Theurge before her Change, sending her signs and omens from the earliest days of her life. Many homid Theurges experience their First Change by traveling deeper into the wilderness then they have ever before been, driven to do so by instincts they did not fully understand and messages from beyond the material world. Lupus Theurges find themselves with spiritual questions that separate them from their fellow wolves, and their introspection and inquiry often lead them away from their pack before the First Change occurs
"If the First Change is easier for Theurges, then the Rite of Passage makes up for it. Many tribes have different practices, but there is a common thread throughout many of them: in becoming a shaman, the initiate must die and return to life. The Get of Fenris literally hang their Theurges from a high oak tree, leaving them to say in the wind and rain for nine days and nine nights. Now, suffocation will not normally kill a Garou, but the oxygen deprivation will still cause fainting and hallucinations - sacred visions granted by Fenris and nightmares drawn from deepest Niflheim. The Wendigo send their young Theurges out into the wilderness, fasting in solitude until they frenzy from the hunger or are granted by a vision by Changing Woman or Sky Boy. Young Glass Walkers sometimes crawl into the shafts and steam tunnels beneath a nightclub or rave, intentionally overdosing on hallucinogenic drugs to try and merge their consciousness with the throng of the dancers, the music of the city. Regardless of the method, the young Theurge brushes against death in order to gain a glimpse of the world of the dead. Even among tribes that do not have these practices, it's too common to be coincidental for a Theurge to end up mortally wounded and comatose after a Rite of Passage - the spirits claim their due, whether through ritual or circumstance.
"This near death is both a symbolic echo of the First Theurge's sacrifice, and a bonding with the spirit worlds. By making the journey into the world beyond this one and returning, the Theurge becomes a magical being, a creature of two worlds and a bridge from one to the other. Now, all Garou are creatures of spirit and flesh, Anjou; we all possess the ability to step sideways. But a Theurge is special in that she is a conduit, being in both worlds at the same time metaphorically if not physically. Spirits recognize this; it makes them more willing to convey sacred mysteries and to offer aid and succor in the Theurge's most desperate hour. For all that they must endure, the blessings of a child of two worlds are great indeed.
"The life of a Theurge is a demanding one, a continual balancing act between the spiritual and the temporal. On one hand, many of their duties - providing spiritual guidance to humanity, protecting sacred animals, creating fetishes, ministering to their pack, healing the sick, fulfilling chiminage - require them to be focused on real, normal life. The Garou Nation has no use for Theurges who are so enraptured with the higher mysteries that they become completely out of touch with the banalities of Garou life. Indeed, such a being can be a terrible liability to a pack! There are times when Garou are preparing for battle, and we need spirit allies bound to fight by our sides, incantations to drive away attacking Banes, and fetish weapons to give to our strongest warriors. If a Theurge is too "spiritual" to provide these things, she is gravely remiss in her duties.
"On the other hand, however, the world of shadows, omens and mysteries exerts a siren's song pull over a Theurge, and if she shuts that out too strongly, she's guilty of refusing to listen to divine revelations - again, a grave sin. You must understand this, Anjou, and I appreciate how outside of your - or my - regular fram of experience it must be: Theurges live deeply in a mystical world, where omens and ineffable enigmas lurk around every corner. Imagine if everything you experienced had two meanings: the literal one, and the symbolic one. A Theurge who loses her grip and immerses herself wholy in the ethreal world sees supernatural causes and effects in everything around her, reading omens and messages where there are none and becoming unable to relate to the concerns of the material world. Mortal psychologists call this disability Quixotism - the compulsive ascribing of supernatural causes to mundane events.
"The balancing act is made even more difficult if a homid Theurge is trying to hold down anything resembling a normal human life along with her spiritual and material duties. It's deeply surreal to have to return from a mythic quest in the spirit worlds in time to complete accounting reports for your boss, but some Theurges find themselves in that situation. Yet there is a compelling reason for a theurge to live as a human does as well: they must, if they are striving to influence and heal, the maladies of human society, be a part of it. A healer cannot do her work if she holds herself so far above her patient - or just outside her patient's world - as to lack sympathy for the patient's life. So Theurges do try to hold jobs, parishes, families and other human concerns more frequently than other Garou do, with varying degrees of success. The extend to which mysticism and chiminage plays havoc with that depends on the individual - the cleverest and most quick-witted Crescent Moons treat it like juggling, seeming to have genuine fun keeping all the elements of their complex and chaotic lives in balance. Those with less of this queer, inhuman composure find it a continual, nerve-wracking struggle trying to keep all their hens in a row. Nobody ever said being a Crescent Moon was easy, after all.
"Aging is both hard and rewarding for a Theurge. They tend to have the longest lives of any Garou, but they also have the most limited futures. Unlike Ahroun and Ragabash, they don't often go out in a blaze of glory. Unlike Galliards, our society does not give them the freedom to become loners, going out to seek one last, great story or legend. The Litany tenet about the old and infirm tends to be liberally interpreted toward Theurges - or more accurately, they are considered to be a liability only when their minds start to go. A warrior must be fit in mind and body, but a shaman need only be able to hear the spirits clearly and remember their secrets. For Theurges, rank tends to be tied to age more than for the other auspices. An ambitious young warrior can gain great skill in his art within a decade or less, but true mastery of spiritualism takes a lifetime. This can be frusterating to the ambitious Crescent Moon - an aged Theurge Elder might have watched to generations of Ahroun pass her by in rank before attaining her title - but patience is a quality that Theurges value anyway, and I'm sure many other Garou envy Theurges' opportunity to take life as it comes rather than rushing through it.
"The Theurge who achieves the status of elder in rank as well as age is a spiritual leader to her people, a treasured resource that all Garou pay reverence to. Elder Theurges often become Masters of the Rite at their sept, but a Theurge can hold a wide variety of sept positions. Regardless of their title, these beings are treated with a reverence for the elderly not typically seen in Garou society. We depend on our elder Theurges, Anjou, in a way that's damn hard to articulate. They are the closest of anyone to what we're all fighting for, and it's hard for any Garou not to feel a kind of awe when dealing with them. Our society reveres wisdom highly, as much so as glory and honor, and an elder Theurge is seen by many as wisdom incarnate. We need them, and when they die their loss is felt throughout the sept."
This category has only the following subcategory.
- [+] Theurge (1 C)