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Author Topic: Flowmancy (Overview)  (Read 1895 times)
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« on: 18 August 2013, 01:32:29 »

Hey guys! Please find enclosed for your perusal the arcane art of Flowmancy. This thread contains the overview of the magic system. The entry is also attached as a Word document.

Gist: Wayist monks are Krean (Gondolwain) monks who follow the Way of Wind and Water. They practice the twin arts of Flowing Water and Flowmancy to attain liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. They practice with the aim of understanding the Flow (the streaming oneness in everything), and therefore nature, thereby learning to pattern themselves after it. Flowing Water is an internal martial art which focusses on turning the opponent’s own aggression against them and using softness to overcome hardness. Flowmancy is the magic of these monks - an arcane art which allows the monks to guide the Flow. The patterns used in Flowmancy to move energy are based on movements from Flowing Water. (Picture using martial arts moves to cast magic. Think “Avatar: the Last Airbender” - the cartoon not the movie!)

Flowmancy started life as an 11-page entry, which I decided to break down into smaller entries. The original thread can be found here.

A route-map through Flowmancy



Inspiration: Taijiquan, Taoism, Buddhism, Avatar: the Last Airbender (the cartoon not the film), the works of Alan Watts, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Link: Taijiquan
« Last Edit: 18 August 2013, 01:55:59 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #1 on: 18 August 2013, 01:38:45 »

FLOWMANCY

Overview
Flowmancy is a magical art practiced by Krean monks of the Way of Wind and Water. The Flow signifies the energy of the universe as a way, current or course which is intelligent and spontaneous. Flowmancy is a way of sailing the Flow, the streaming oneness in everything – or, you might say, the oneness streaming in everything. It is therefore the understanding that energy is gravity, and that magic, like brush calligraphy, is following patterns in the flow of liquid.

Prevalence (Territory)
Flowmancy is a magical art practiced by Krean monks, more specifically those that follow the Way of Wind & Water. As such, it is practiced chiefly on the continent of Nybelmar; however, as most Krean monks are wandering sages, it is impossible to say where and when one might encounter it outside their home continent. We know of it through the Gondolwain and the Sankrean, and the monks that visit their settlements from time to time.

Concept/Worldview
Everything flows, and therefore the understanding of water is the understanding of life. The flow of water, of wind, and of fire is obvious, as is the flow of thought. The flow of earth and rock is less obvious, but in the long run the hard is as liquid as the soft.

Krean monks of the Way of Wind & Water believe that behind everything we see is a streaming (“streaming emptiness”). And if we look deeply to see what is streaming, we will not find an answer, even though we get the definite impression that “It” – some current, some basic energy – is streaming – is streaming in every kind of stream, streams of rock, streams of light, streams of air, streams of consciousness. And that this “It” is not different from the streaming itself. This, they call the Flow.

The Flow signifies the energy of the universe as a way, current, course or flow which is at once intelligence and spontaneous, yet not personal like a deity. It cannot be defined – for the simple reason that one cannot stand aside from it and examine it as something out there.

The magic of these monks is the art of Flow, of going with the stream. The mountain stream is not pushed from behind, but falls with gravity. The Way, the course of nature, too, like the mountain stream flows of itself, unpushed and unpulled. Flowmancy is therefore the understanding that energy is gravity, and that magic, like brush calligraphy, or dancing, or sailing, or pottery, or even sculpture is following patterns in the flow of liquid.

Flowmancy is a way of sailing the Flow, a form of moving meditation in which the whole art is to generate immense energy from going with one’s environment, from the principle of flow, or following the gravity of water and so making the self one with it. For gravity, as Krean monks say, is the root of lightness.

Flowmancy as spiritual practice
The Krean spiritual disciplines are ways of awakening to the actual sensation of oneself as a process vaster by far than what is ordinarily felt to be ‘I’ – that very limited centre of conscious attention and volition which we call the person or ego.

Krean monks of the Way see Flowmancy first and foremost as a spiritual art, not a system which gives them power and allows them to work magic. To them, it is a form of contemplative practice, a way to attain liberation and enlightenment. They practice it with the aim of understanding the Flow, and therefore nature, thereby learning to pattern themselves after it.

The monks say that as our practice grows deeper, we begin to see that the essence of all that arises is empty. When we do, then every moment of life is free and all experience is spiritual practice: all sound is mantra, all form is pure emptiness, and all suffering is a teaching. This is what is meant by ‘transforming into the path’.

Basic Principles
“Cultivate a mind that is as spacious as a clear blue sky, as still as a lake at dawn, as stable as a mountain, and as full of subtle currents of energy as a forest is full of wild creatures.” Master Kao of White Mountain

“The wild mind is like waves on the surface of water. When water is disturbed, it is impossible to see into its depths; the surface is chopped into ever-changing patterns that prevent clear vision. But when the surface waters are stilled, the depths – which have always been still –are accessible. The object of practice is freedom from the disturbed mental states on the surface, so that we may live from the spontaneous, profoundly intuitive, lucid depths.” Master Kao on the Way of Water


Flowmancy, the magical art of sensing and guiding Flow, requires a special state of mind known as the skymind: a state of pure, primordial awareness free of grasping and aversion. When we rest in skymind, emotions and thoughts pass through us like birds flying through space; no trace of their passage remains. The emotion arises and then spontaneously dissolves into emptiness.

Flowmancy uses movement and breath to guide the Flow – that is: to ‘work magic’. The movements of Flowmancers are based on the patterns of energy and movement in Flowing Water – a military art that offers spiritual enlightenment and transcendence.

There are six guiding principles a flowmancer should always keep in mind as he works the Flow. These six principles are encapsulated in the heart-advice of [Watertree], the father of Flowmancy:

“Follow the Breath.
Sail the Flow.
Finding stillness in movement, and movement in stillness;
Ebb and flow, withdraw and return.
Self becomes an open sky;
Inner and outer aligned.”


Abilities and Practice
The art of the flowmancer consists of three core abilities, which match the three stages of a flowmancer’s training: (a) sensing flow; (b) bending flow; (c) generating flow.

(1) Sensing the Flow
The first stage in a flowmancer’s journey is learning to sense the Flow – to look beyond the world of appearances and feel the streaming in everything. Sensing allows the monk to identify the flows they wish to tap into and guide. It is described as a kind of ‘feel-sight’: the monk can very distinctly sense flows of energy, even though she does not actually ‘see’ these flows with her eyes.

Many scholars believe the ability to sense the Flow to be the wellspring of the monks’ intuition, as observing flow patterns gives them a sense of where and how things may flow onward. It is also the basis of more advanced practices of clairvoyance and divination. 

Related to this ability are rituals to awaken flowsight. Flowsight is an altered state of vision where the manifest world disappears and the whole world becomes flow patterns of energy. As the monks say: “Everything flows, and therefore the understanding of water is the understanding of life. The flow of water, of wind, and of fire is obvious, as is the flow of thought. The flow of earth and rock is less obvious, but in the long run the hard is as liquid as the soft.”

However, flowsight can be very disorientating at first. This is because of the way we perceive things: Consciousness is concerned only with changing and varying details; it ignores constants – especially constant backgrounds. So when one enters flowsight, it is almost as if figure and background swap. The very air, with its swirling patterns of flow, becomes more ‘real’ than the mountain it surrounds, which, because of its slow, almost imperceptible flow, has become invisible to our consciousness. The ground on which we walk disappears, the houses on the street disappear, the gentle stream grows more ‘solid’ than the rocks around which it flows, emotions surging through people turn out to be more readily identifiable than their faces, and the tree in the garden becomes a living torch coursing with life, and light, and water.

The monks have developed exercises both to train the mind to see the world in terms of flow and to help them navigate when they enter flowsight. For instance, switching attention back and forth from figure to background, regarding each in turn as ‘the thing’, is a fruitful heuristic method, especially to understand the relation of contexts to individual events, and of fields of force to the patterns which they contain.

(2) Guiding or ‘bending’ the Flow:
This ability allows the monk to guide the Flow – bend it towards or away from a particular course, make it surge by constraining its passage or calm its current by widening it… One can often find groups of children playing with rubber hoses in Krean monasteries, with another set of them staying behind to pump the water. The purpose of these games to introduce them to the moving patterns of running water and to show them the kind of things they can later learn to do with the invisible hoses of flowmantic technique.

In the second stage, a flowmancer can bend but not generate flow. He must therefore work with existing patterns of flow. He can, for example, pull a ribbon of water from a river and bend it around into a sphere, but he cannot sustain the swirling orb of water after it is cut from the torrent feeding it.

This ability is mainly used to create one-off effects, which are brought about by bending and then releasing flow. With some imagination, it can also be used to create more continuous effects – but however free standing such spells might appear, they all have ‘umbilical cords’ trailing after them.

Bending requires ‘running water’ – that is: a streaming, which need not be ‘water’. It could just as well be a streaming of fire or light or consciousness. So, a bender cannot, for instance, draw water from a still lake or create a whirlwind on a windless day.

(3) Generating flow:
The third ability allows flowmancers to generate flow, which gives a lot more flexibility. Being able to generate flow as well as bending it not only expands the sources flowmancers can draw upon but also adds to the things they can do with these sources.


Limitations and Restrictions
Flowmancy requires a special state of mind known as the skymind – which makes it a particularly challenging art for in combat situations. Until she attains liberation and breaks through into continuous awareness, the monk must meditate to re-connect with her skymind. She must patiently train her mind to maintain that connection for progressively longer periods. The final stage of practice is to bring the fruits of the meditation into every waking moment, which will allow the monk to remain in skymind notwithstanding the distractions of daily life.

Bending, the second stage of Flowmancy, requires ‘running water’: an existing energy flow. Therefore, Water Style needs to stay close to a source of running water such as a river, an underground spring or the sea; Wind Style calls for the presence of wind; Sun Style necessitates a light source… and so forth.

Locations
Everything flows, and this means that Flowmancy can be practiced anywhere. However, Flowmancy is particularly strong in places of great flow such as ley lines. And of course each Style shines where their primary flow is strong. So, for example, a flowmancer who bends water will naturally be stronger near a river than in the middle of the Rahaz-dath Desert.

Schools
Everything flows – and the final stage in flowmancy is realising the streaming oneness in everything (or, depending on the perspective: the oneness streaming in everything). A flowmancer can therefore influence all forms of flow, all kinds of streaming. However, in the beginning, it can help to follow one particular kind of flow until it becomes a way to the deeper understanding. This is why, over time, Flowmancy has branched into different schools or ‘Styles’.

Flowmancy, like Flowing Water, the martial art on which it is based, has six major styles: wind, water, storm, forest, eldritch (stone), and sun. Each Style corresponds to and is taught by one of the six main monastic orders of the Way. 

Each Style or monastic school focusses on one type of flow and uses it as a teaching metaphor to guide the student to the realisation that, ultimately, all flows are one.

Origins
Not yet available to the public.
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« Reply #2 on: 14 April 2014, 03:27:56 »

Hi Coren,

Just getting back into Santharia and noticed this and your collection of other entries on the topic. Have only read this overview so far but I intend on going through all of them (need to get Word to open the principles post, though, don't have a copy on my computers here). Though I don't expect to find too much to critique, your works are always very well done.

For the overview I only have a few comments:

1) You state Avatar as one of your inspirations and then use the terms bending and bender here, which might be too obvious a reference. Admittedly I'm not sure what would make a better word, so it might be okay.

2) In contrast to sensing and bending flow, generating has a very brief description despite being the end stage. I think adding some more here might be relevant. How do they generate it, exactly?

3) Both this entry and the Gondolwenmith entry, along with two dwarf entries, mention ley lines. I think at some point we need to establish what exactly ley lines are supposed to be in Caelereth, and whether we want to use this term or not (it is actually a fairly modern term, and its association with magical energy is a New Age concept to my understanding). I know that feng shui's qi is a more traditional concept and probably what you're working from due to the Asian style of Flowmancy, though obviously qi/chi is probably not a good term as well for the same reason that we're not using mana.

Actually, in some ways Flowmancy as written here reminds me of Weaver magic. Both Weaver magic and Flowmancy are magical styles based around meditating in order to tap into an otherwise imperceptible spiritual sensation (Resonance and Flow). This similarity might be where we want to look for defining ley lines. If the ley lines are in fact the Web, for example, magical threads crisscrossing Caelereth that Weavers manipulate, which all the other magical disciplines sense and interact with in an indirect way as places of great spiritual importance (such as Flow for Flowmancers)...

I like keeping the various magical systems linked in a way with each other, and think that might be a really neat way of doing it.

Just a thought that hit me when reading the entry and contemplating ley lines, in any case!
« Last Edit: 14 April 2014, 03:59:46 by Fox » Logged
Alexandre Scriabin
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« Reply #3 on: 21 May 2014, 07:39:02 »

This concept of gravity is key, according to your entry, but gravity isn't exactly a well defined concept already. What is gravity? How is it the root of lightness? Honestly, we should be talking about gravity with a capital "G" if it is a central concept, because it is unique to these monks. Let's remember that in Santharia we aren't exactly in the age of physics, but metaphysics.

Also, it might be a fun avenue to explore the relationship of these monks and their philosophy of magic with the study of ancient Krean magic at Nybelroid academy. BTW bro I was seriously stoked when I saw that your entry on Krean magic was finally up. It's honestly my favorite magic system so far here.
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