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The Illusion of Knowledge (IC)


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It was getting colder faster then would be expected because of the very hot summer that had beaten on Freedom not a month ago. Etain did not mind the heat so much, but the sudden cold had her bundling rather quickly. She had a lighter outfit in mind, but once she left the doors of Parkhurst she retreated inside and grabbed a coat that had not seen the light of day since early spring and a dark wine colored knitt scarf Millie had made. Her hair which hung about halfway down her back was tied into a thick braid and clipped at the end with a bronze rose. Her hands were gloved in wool instead of cotton, and she wore think stockings in her old black sneakers instead of ankle socks, and she still shivered as she took a step off her warm bus onto the college campus.

Freedom City University was not unlike Claremont in structure. Though sheer size dwarfed the private school for the unusually situated. Though it was just a bit past noon, so either students were scarce either inside dodging the cold or already taking class for the day. Moving to the front office Etain found a map reference to the building she was looking for and after about twenty minutes of searching located the office of Siobhan Drake. She knocked on the door but found no answer so instead sat herself on one of the small waiting chairs and reached for a book. This wasn't her usual Latin fair, instead it was a book of common stage tricks used by many famous magicians and how they were usually accomplished. She likely would not use many herself, but she thought they were all very clever in their execution and it was a good way to get ideas for her own shows even if she wouldn't outright copy, keeping with the style would make people less inclined to suspect that she was cheating just a bit.

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"Well, see, my underlying theory is that, ultimately, henotheism is going to supplant monotheism. There's too much evidence of there being deities, like Hades invading the city. That doesn't mean the individual need acknowledge them as creators, because there's no proof of that, but they are demonstrably gods." Two academic-looking people were walking down the corridor towards Etain.

One was a tired-looking younger man in a blue jumper, his dark hair tousled and down to his shoulders. The other, the woman talking, was slightly taller and clad in a leather jacket and blue jeans, her long brown locks tied up in a ponytail. With one finger, she pushed a set of glasses back up her nose. To Etain's magical senses, however, she was much less unassuming, a silver pentacle around her neck radiating strong after-images of solid walls of force, and the woman herself seeming ablaze in a corona of power, radiating upwards from the ground and around her in images of fire and frost and wind and waves.

"It's not a theory that'll go down well, Siobhan..." said the man uncertainly.

"Then they can take it up with the resident gods in the city, can't they?" smiled the woman. "Anyway, David, I've got an appointment, so I'll see you in the pub later?"

"We're meeting at six," waved the man, nodding curtly to Etain as he passed.

Siobhan turned to Etain and clapped her hands. "Sorry, was just discussing my thesis. You'll be Etain?" She held out her hand for the girl to shake.

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Etain blinked for a moment, it wasn't like she hadn't seen this before, just wasn't common enough for her eyes to be used to it, well anymore. She stood and gave the practioner a smile as she grasped her gloved hand into the other women,

"Yes, I am Etain Ms. Drake. I am glad you were able to make time to see me today."

She glanced at the man as he walked by, the idea of the thesis seemed pretty interesting. It was obvious that those called themselves gods did exist even if one underlying god got the popular sovienty in this particular country. But she supposed it was a harder general thing to accept as a whole, change in things like faith is not terribly easy.

She looked towards the office and took a step back so the other woman could unlock her door,

"How has your day been so far? It is quite cold today."

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"Call me Siobhan, Ms Drake is my mother..." said Siobhan cheerily, opening her door and walking in, holding the door for Etain. The office was small and cosy, with little more than a desk, a computer, and several shelves and chairs stacked with books and papers. The witch pulled out her wand, and flicked a few stacks of papers atop one another, freeing up a couple of chairs, the cheap looking ones of wooden frames and fabric 'cushions' most schools favoured.

"Well, not really, she's married," she said, removing her jacket and hanging it on a peg on the back of the door as she closed it. "It's been a pretty typical day, anyway. Taught a couple of classes on Abrahamic faiths, had to deal with a kid who thought he was a werewolf, and then I had a departmental meeting."

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"I am guessing his assumption was incorrect."

She didn't mind the cheap wooden seat and sat herself down. The casual display of magic was nothing new to her almost certainly, in fact in a way it was a comfort, it certainly made her feel more in place then some of the more sterile envirements like the Lab,

"Though it is a rather serious condition, sometimes things like the miss use of alcohol is much more common."

Glancing around the room she found it had the same sort of buzz of magic as Parkhurst, of course there were several source differences but it was less combative and more for comfort and practical magics.

"Does this room have a sound blocking protection in place, otherwise I would like to put my own if you do not mind."

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"Not entirely. He turned out to have a bit of an aptitude for spirit walking into animals. Nifty skill, without the needing to shave problem." Siobhan settled herself down in a chair.

And frowned a little at the girl's request for sound dampening. "Well, there're offices on either side, but I've never really heard much complaints about noise. Then again, I'm normally telling people no, they can't get further extensions on their work." But the witch shrugged her shoulders and leaned back. "But if it'd make you feel comfortable, feel free. Just don't knock out the phone, I might get work calls."

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"It is good that was cleared up then."

Her smile held as she got the go ahead, and she did, well physically she did nothing. She never did, but things were set up, no one would be able to hear them from the outside.

"There, do not worry about the phone, this does nothing to technology. Anyway, to the matter, I am doing some research which I think youc an assist with."

She pulled out a notebook and a pencil before she continued,

"You see, I do a podcast, nothing fancy or too popular, about magic. Though not really advanced magics, or magics, more like things people would encounter everyday and not notice otherwise. As such, I want to do one about people in general who have common beliefs or practices in magics, except looking at the ones I know, I honestly do not know much about general practioners, or really those with more modest or limited talents. Most of the ones I do know are users of sponsered magics, not true practioners, and even then they do not make up the majority in the least. So here I am, what do you know about the more general practices and those who do so?"

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"Well," sighed Siobhan. "That's a... pretty broad question. And a bit of a nebulous distinction you're using there, especially in that the general practitioners you're speaking of, a lot of them believe their magic is from an outside source."

She picked up a pencil and flipped it between her fingers a few times. "I suppose I can break it down into the big, rough categories to begin with. Your biggest modern one is probably voudoun, or voodoo if you want to call it that, and the closely related arts like hoodoo and Santeria. There's the more naturalistic ones people probably think of when they hear neo-pagan, like the modern schools of witchcraft, and druidism. I'd probably stick shamanism in there with them. You've got your more formalised practices, the so-called "High" magics, like hermetic study, or Thelema. There's a fair few others, but they're your big contenders."

The teacher made some broad gestures with her hands. "Now, largely, most magic is ceremonial. It doesn't affect others directly, and you don't need magical potential to do them. Why do them? Well, why do Christians go to church, why do Jews have a lot of ceremonies in their lifestyles? Incidentally, they've got archaic, obscure forms of magic the larger governing bodies don't strictly approve of, but they survive into the modern era." Siobhan steepled her fingers and leaned forward. "Then, above that, you've got more potent rituals and you start getting into more direct effects. Seeing the future, what most people see as 'voodoo dolls'. They're a lot harder, and need a hell of a lot more work and study. This'll be why you perceive most people as getting magic from external sources... it beats the hell out of decades of study. Magic is work."

Then, with a brief flick of her hand and a finger snap, she produced a small flame, and immediately dissipated it. "Then you get into what I call snap magic, or vulgar magic, or whatever. It's not ceremonial, and thus a lot of people who use it simply are not that religious. You just put will and magic into practice, and can do powerful effects. It's rare, and needs either a lot of study and training, or a lot of inborn aptitude."

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Etain sat and listened, and wrote notes. It was a broad question, and Siobhand answered very thoroughly, she didn't interupt, just jotted down some key points like she was a student in a lecture, which wasn't too far from the truth. She had learned about magic from fae, but to them magic wasn't a ritual, it didn't need to be to use, or really even honed for most desired effects, it was just there, always accessible, because they were magic, it was them there was no line or distiction between them, just as she had said it, snap magic.

"So it is more like most religion, though not most popular. That is a very good distinction to make. Belief is always something hugely required with magical practices."

She continued to write a few more sentences before she continued,

"And belief is work as well, especially here, where everything needs proof, evidence, something concrete before such a thing is considered. Though you know about that I am sure."

She looked up from the book,

"Do you have any books about some of these rituals on hand?"

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"And belief is work as well, especially here, where everything needs proof, evidence, something concrete before such a thing is considered. Though you know about that I am sure."

Siobhan shook her head and smiled a little. "No, you're not talking about belief there. Let's put it this way... I've met a lot of the Loa, a couple of Greek gods, a Norse deity, and a few more obscure things. I've never met my own Lord and Lady. Belief is not derived from proof. Maybe some people's is, but not everyone's."

"Do you have any books about some of these rituals on hand?"

Siobhan glanced over her shoulder at the stacks of books. "Probably, depends on what you're looking for. You do realise what you're asking me here is to provide reference material for a ridiculously broad question, right? I could probably do a whole semester on what you're asking, and still not bother with much specifics. I could hand you my whole library, and not answer your question properly. You might want to ask for some more specifics. What kind of magic are you looking for?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

"I suppose some Wiccan magic, or maybe rituals is more precise, I have gotten one or two questions about those."

She took a few seconds to think about it,

"I was actually asked if I was one in a post because my belief in magic, which was a rather strange generalization. There were also questions about witchcraft, though I am almost certain that the two things are not exclusive to each other. I have looked up a couple of definitions and histories about what has happened to supposed witches, very strange things h.. people have done out of religious paranoia."

Like summoning demons, though that was one group manipulated by outside forces they could not possibly control.

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"Ah, that's a pretty common misconception. It's not helped by the fact that it's not exactly a word with a solidified definition..." Siobhan frowned and stared at the ceiling, pointing one finger skyward and wiggling it as she thought.

"Basically, witchcraft is a form of magic which involves a form of magic often based upon fertility-based beliefs, often with am emphasis on healing and divination. Wicca's one religion whose practitioners are usually witches, but there's a few others. Worth noting, some people just don't work magic and are still Wiccan, there are Wiccan druids, and there are people who are Wiccans and druids and witches." She grabbed a book off her table, Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner and handed it to Etain. "This is a pretty solid primer to the topic. And it also avoids much of the more eccentric thinking on matters."

The witch leaned forwards, fingers steepled. "And by 'things done', I assume you refer to the witch hunting, but honestly... that predates pretty much every extant tradition. It's not worth anyone getting worked up over."

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Yes, lots of history in between, not my best subject."

She opened the book and started reading. She didn't mind learning this worlds history, she just tended to cherry pick which sections she gave any head space too. It seemed a lot of it tended to run together as certain events repeated themselves regardless of how knowledgable the persons in question were.

"There is never enough in books, but it helps."

Closing it Etain looked at Siobhan with a smile that had dropped temporarily with the previous sentence,

"I have another question, where would you go, to meet those who practice, but work with far less or no talent to go around. I could look online, but word from the mouth seems more reliable than text on a screen."

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