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Author Topic: Witchcraft, Flowmancy and Ximathurgy: a comparison  (Read 2049 times)
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« on: 14 May 2013, 06:44:00 »

Italics marked in turquoise to help Arti locate them while uploading.

EDIT: The entry on Flowmancy.



WITCHCRAFT, FLOWMANCY AND XIMATHURGY: A COMPARISON

Ximathurgy & Flowmancy:
Ximathurgy and Flowmancy both treat willpower as the basis of magic. However, the two systems differ in a number of important aspects: Ximathurgy emphasises the conscious, controlled execution of the will; Flowmancy emphasises willpower originating from a place of deep stillness – that is: from the skymind. Ximathurgy teaches the mage to impose his will on the carall to create effects; in Flowmancy all doing must be effortless: where there is exertion, there is no flow. Ximaxian mages ignore the natural “breathing shifts” of ahm and soor, asserting that these do not substantially influence the success of spellcasting; Flowmancy instructs the monk to follow the Breath. In this sense, the magic of the monks is closer to elven magic.

Witchcraft & Flowmancy:
The concept of ‘craft’ is central to the magic of both witches and monks, and both take this world to be a dream. But that is as far as the similarities go. The monks say that the magic of witches is as different from theirs as can be, to the point of being almost antithetical. They say witchcraft is to Flowmancy what a mullog is to a hobbit.

The principle of witchcraft is to lose oneself (or as the witches would say: to surrender); flowmancy is about finding your real self (or as the monks would say: to re-awaken to it). In fact, you cannot find your true nature, because you have never lost it: it is with you at all times. It cannot be changed or destroyed. You can never lose it – only lose sight of it as it becomes obscured under a tangle of habitual tendencies, a tangle built by endlessly grasping at what is pleasant and trying to avoid what is not. It is not something you need to cultivate or grow. Our true nature is already perfectly pure and complete. Remove the obscurations, and the ground luminosity will shine through.

Witches seek such experiences that bring about altered states of mind, where the logic of dreams and nightmares rules, and where reason is silenced; monks seek to let go of all states to arrive at what lies beneath, the essence of mind, what they call the ground luminosity: pure awareness.

Witchcraft relies on the attainment of a state of ecstasy, or rapture, which allows the witch to look beyond appearances and perceive the fabric of the world where everything is connected with everything else. The monks say there is nothing to be attained. All we need is already here – we just need to learn how to stand out of our own way. The skymind is not something which must be ‘found’ or ‘developed’ – it is always there; one simply becomes aware of it: the primordial naked awareness that is the ground of being. As the heart-advice of an old monk goes: ‘Vision is mind. Mind is empty. Emptiness is clear light. Clear light is union. Union is great bliss.’

Witchcraft requires ecstasy and trance; flowmancy requires calm, open awareness. Ximaxian mages strive to avoid everything that could disturb the calm execution of the will. Witches seek to renounce their will and use the forces that lurk beneath it. Monks calmly rest in the skymind, observing without grasping or aversion, effortlessly allowing what arises to pass through and dissolve back into the ground luminosity. In the skymind, there is no distinction between thoughts and the watcher of thoughts, both are ‘empty’, and that emptiness is the ‘clear light’ of pure awareness.

Everything is connected to everything else because everything is ‘empty’: ‘things’ have no substance, no inherent existence, separate from one another, they arise from the world as waves from the ocean, and that world itself is a reflection of the eternal energy which appears as this universe: pure, primordial awareness. In this way all is one. Everything is energy, and energy is consciousness. ‘Clear light is union.’

Ximaxians train the mind to control what it cannot directly perceive; witches seek to subvert the mind in order to overcome its limits; Krean monks look deeply within to find that the flow to be perceived and the perceiver are one and that there is nothing to be controlled because ‘when the stream is not externally controlled it controls itself’.

Every witch or monk knows a craft and it is through its execution that he or she accomplishes his or her magic. In the case of Flowmancy, this ‘craft’ is the martial art of Flowing Water. In witchcraft the crucial transition from everyday consciousness to trance is accomplished through the craft itself: through the hypnotic effect of repetitive movement (such as in loom weaving), through evocative chanting, or through the ‘surrender’ of the mind to a tricky task. For the monk, the craft is a form of mindfulness meditation. Through the craft he trains his mind to remain mindful of breath and action, gently bringing attention back to the anchor of the craft each time it drifts away.

Witches and Krean monks use different metaphors to point to the illusory nature of both dream and waking life:

Witches use the images of a tapestry and a spider spinning threads. The world is made of threads woven by Harash, the World Spider. In our everyday lives, we are unable to see these threads themselves, but instead only illusions, ‘dreams’, conjured up by them.

Krean monks use the metaphors of lightning and moon:

Lightning (Way of the Wind): In the night sky, lightning flashes. Suddenly the mountains are illuminated, each peak seemingly a separate object, but what we are really experiencing is a single flash of light reflected back to our eyes. Just so, the seemingly separate objects of the Dream are actually the single light of our mind, the light of the skymind.  

Moon (Way of Water): The Dream is like a moon reflected in many different waters – in the pond, the well, the sea – and in many different windows in a town, and in many different crystals. The moon is not multiplying. There is only one moon, just as the many objects of the Dream are of one essence: the pure consciousness of the universe.

So, witches and Krean monks both accept that the world we see, hear, smell and feel is a dream. What they cannot agree upon is what to do with this realisation. Witches strive to create new illusions while the monks seek liberation from illusion:

Witches see the fabric with which the illusion of reality is constructed, and use it to create a new illusion, a new image, a new reality. What grows is good, and what grows chaotically is even better. The more complicated the dream, the longer the sleep will last. So say the witches.

The monks on the other hand seek not to extend the dream but to be liberated from it. They strive to wake from the dream into the skymind. But, unlike Murmillions, who also believe the world to be a dream, Krean monks see no reason to destroy the world in order to ‘end’ the dream and wake up. They say it is perfectly possible to awaken into the skymind – the primordial naked awareness which manifests the illusions – while the dream continues. This is because the process by which experience arises is the same whether we are dreaming or awake. The world is a dream, the teacher and the teaching are a dream, the result of our practice is a dream; there is no place where the dream breaks until we are liberated into pure skymind. Just as it takes practice to recognise the illusory nature of dream while asleep, we must practice to realise the illusory nature of waking life.
« Last Edit: 22 May 2013, 04:22:18 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #1 on: 21 May 2013, 06:41:34 »

Hi Coren,

interesting concept!

No objections from me, as far as your descriptions of witchcraft are concerned. :)

*Vanishes back into his world of illusion, far away from experiencing the skymind that allows him to visit Santharia ...*
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Amabella Catston
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« Reply #2 on: 21 May 2013, 11:13:01 »

Hi Coren, this was interesting to read.  :)

I just have a question, since I am interested in what is and is not feasible as a trade item.

(Disclaimer - I am certainly no expert in magic!)

I was wondering if flowmancy fundamentally differed from the Ximaxian system in terms of reagents. That is, while beginners of the Ximaxian system spend a lot of money on them (and go to an expensive school too), I would imagine that even if a flowmancer did not have any sans at all, it would make no difference on the speed of a student learning it. My impression of flowmancy is that there would be no physical object besides the caster and the target, and so no equivalent of a flowmancy "reagent" which could be bought or sold.  Similarly, if flowmancy comes from within, I can't imagine a flowmancer using/creating/desiring a "relic" or "artifact", as flowmancy comes across to me as a force which must be liberated from the physical and material world.

If I understand it correctly, even the children who play with the rubber hoses (in the other thread's document), are not described as actually practicing flowmancy itself, and thus the hoses are not equivalent to "reagents"?

Similarly with witchcraft (as the name implies) magical physical items can be crafted, whereas a monk does not seem to "craft" any physical magic objects, only a state of mind?

Basically my question is - Is it possible for flowmancy "reagents", "relics", "artifacts", or magic items of any kind to exist anywhere in Caelereth (and be traded), or is this the antithesis of the nature of flowmancy?
« Last Edit: 21 May 2013, 11:17:14 by Amabella Catston » Logged

Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #3 on: 22 May 2013, 04:27:39 »

Thanks for the comments. :)

Amabella, I'll get back to you on the reagents in a few days, if that's ok? (Oh, and welcome!) In the meantime, here is the link to the entry on Flowmancy.
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #4 on: 24 May 2013, 05:57:58 »

Quote
That is, while beginners of the Ximaxian system spend a lot of money on them (and go to an expensive school too), I would imagine that even if a flowmancer did not have any sans at all, it would make no difference on the speed of a student learning it.

Yes, this is right. Contrast this with the magic of the Morchin mage-priests, which will be heavily dependent on reagents.

Quote
My impression of flowmancy is that there would be no physical object besides the caster and the target, and so no equivalent of a flowmancy "reagent" which could be bought or sold.

Yep. Flowmancy does not require reagents to cast spells. However, your question made me wonder whether they would use reagents such as herbs to enhance the flows within their own bodies or to clear obstructions. Then, reagents would be used to prepare the monk to work magic rather than to aid them in casting.

Quote
Similarly, if flowmancy comes from within, I can't imagine a flowmancer using/creating/desiring a "relic" or "artifact", as flowmancy comes across to me as a force which must be liberated from the physical and material world.


Yes - for the most part. Flowmancy does not require artifacts or relics to work magic. That said, I am toying with two ideas: First, could there be a use for things like crystals in altering, redirecting or focusing flow patterns? Second, could the "weapon set" (for the lack of a better term) influence the spell effect? Changing the weapon set changes the spell set? So a monk fighting with say a staff would have access to a different set of spells than one using a sword or one fighting without weapons.

Quote
If I understand it correctly, even the children who play with the rubber hoses (in the other thread's document), are not described as actually practicing flowmancy itself, and thus the hoses are not equivalent to "reagents"?
The hoses are more "teaching tools" than "reagents", yes.

Quote
Similarly with witchcraft (as the name implies) magical physical items can be crafted, whereas a monk does not seem to "craft" any physical magic objects, only a state of mind?

I like this idea of crafting a state of mind!

Krean monks have three types of magic: (i) Flowmancy; (ii) the Virtues (becoming a Bearer of the Virtues); (iii) Blessings. Flowmancers do not craft physical objects, only a state of mind which allows them to alter the Flow. Crafting enchanted (or in this case: 'blessed') objects would fall under Blessings, which usually involve an actual craft such as weaving or calligraphy. The entries on (ii) and (iii) to come some time in the future. :)

Great questions! Please let me know if anything is not clear or another question pops to mind. :D
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"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #5 on: 25 May 2013, 09:37:29 »

Your answers were very clear, thanks!  thumbup

*goes off to read the other flowmancy posts*
« Last Edit: 25 May 2013, 10:29:13 by Amabella Catston » Logged

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