Order of Aesclepius Page

by John Biles

In ancient Greece, there was a cult of priests dedicated to the worship of Aesclepius, god of Healing and Medicine. Among this cult, there were some who awakened to the power of Magick. After paganism was banned in the Roman Empire in the late 4th century AD, they organized themselves and went underground to continue the work of healing. Many joined the monastic movement, hoping to motivate it in the direction of works of public charity and the tending of the sick.

During the middle ages, they worked to create hospitals and homes for those suffering from leprosy. It was at this time that they came in contact with similar groups of mages in Asia and established ties across Eurasia. The order was shocked by the Black Death. They tried to convince the mages of Europe to unite to fight it, but the Order of Hermes and the Celestial Chorus were already increasingly locked in struggle. They did their best to confine its ravages and successfully prevented it from crossing the Sahara to ravage Africa. It was at this time that the definite break occurred between the Hippocratic Circle and the Order of Aesclepius, which had been allied off and on before this and often intertwined in membership and goals.  With the rise of the Technocracy, the Order went increasingly underground, but have continued to promote the study and  practice of medicine, which they regard as the greatest achievement of the modern world.  Their pacifist philosophy leads them to largely stay out of the Ascension War whenever possible.

The order claims that Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, and Jonas Salk were among its ranks. (But so does the Technocracy...)  The order has increasingly turned in recent years to the healing of psychological illness also. The order often claims that Jung was among their ranks, but no one can say for sure.

Philosophy
This world cries out for healing and we must answer the call. We shall return life to a world slowly dying. Physical, mental, and spiritual illness are linked and must be healed together. To heal without changing a person's life only insures that the illness or injury will recur. To kill is only necessary to save one's life. Never hold where speech is enough. Never hurt where holding is enough. Never injure where hurting is enough.  Never maim where injury is enough. Never kill where maiming is enough. All need healing, not hurting. You must offer your aid to whoever needs it most. All life prospers and suffers together. Your strength can be their strength, and their pain is yours. Together we can make this a better place.

Magick:

The modern Order of Aesclepius mixes modern methodology, traditional cures, and consultation with spirit beings.  Most Aesclepians are well trained in Medicine and Herbalism (in game terms, 3 pips in each or more).  The result is an odd blend of traditional and techno-magic, united by their philosophy that healing is healing, however you go about it.  Most Aesclepians tend towards mostly mystical magic outside the realm of healing itself.  They generally favor Life, Mind, Prime, and Spirit.   (They have Life as their specialty sphere).  Most Aesclepians will have at least Life 3 and Spirit 2.

Healing of individuals typically begins with a consultation with Aesclepius' servitor spirits (using Spirit 2) to determine the best healing method, followed by a combination of Life and the Medicine and Herbalism skills to treat the patient.  Many different traditional methods (herbal brews, acupuncture, and so forth) are mixed with modern medicine.

An important part of their practices is to ensure that the patient won't repeat the behaviors which lead to the original problem.  In some cases, this may simply involve giving advice and hoping for the best.  Those who can be reached will be mentored in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

Some Aesclepians take the healing metaphor further and refine their powers to develop various forms of magic for purification and healing of the inanimate world and the spirit world.  This usually involves elaborate rituals.

While the Aesclepians most directly serve the gods of healing, they usually also give credence to and draw upon the powers of other gods as well.  A European Aesclepian might invoke Zeus to help control Forces and Venus for Mind Magics, where as a Japanese one might call upon Susanoo to control Forces and Ama-Tsu-Mara to power a Matter effect.

While many Aesclepians work alone or with a small group of acolytes, they periodically come together for religious rites, at which powerful group rites are enacted.

Awakening:

Blessing.  The Order sees Awakening as being chosen and blessed by the gods (the western, southern, and eastern branches of the Order tend to revere different gods).

Arete:

Holiness.  Those who do the work of the gods are holy, and grow in holiness as they continue to serve, being granted stronger powers.

Quintessence:

Blood of the World.  The Order sees Quintessence as the 'blood' of the universe, carrying its life force.

Paradox:

Pandora's Box.  Paradox is caused by evil spirits unleashed long ago by people who probed too deeply into things best left unexamined.  It is part of living in a flawed world in need of healing.  Paradox one day too will be healed.  

The Spheres

Primary Sphere: Life  The Order are healers, and healing is most easily done with this sphere, though Spirit is also important to them.

Traditional Foci:
 

Mage Specific Backgrounds: Organization
The Order of Aesclepius is a loose cooperative network of healers world wide. It has no hiearchy, but those of greater magical skill tend to lead the larger scale endeavors. The Red Cross is strongly influenced by them along with many other major charities.

Meetings:  All of the Order meet once a year at a pre-chosen location to discuss common issues and peform group rites.  Several times a year, those operating in particular regions of the world come together to celebrate rites as well.  Sometimes masters of the order will call meetings of their disciples. (The Aesclepians use the term 'master' simply for anyone who has trained and awakened students into the Order, regardless of their own degree of Arete.)

Initiation:  Most initiates join the Order after being treated by it.  Most of the rest are children of members, raised in the Order's traditions, who awaken in the process of the worship rites.  A small number are Orphans who the group stumbles on and initiates.

Chantry:  The Order has no real Ancestral Chantry, as the central temple of the cult fell when Paganism was banned in the Roman Empire.

Acolytes: Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Faith Healers, Chiropractors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists, Medical Students, Hypochondriacs, Herbalists

Stereotypes

Rotes:

Healing Vision:  (Spirit 2 Mind 1 or 3)  This rote is the archetypical rote of the Order, which summons jagglings of Aesclepius to teach the recipient of the vision how to heal himself.  The recipient then recieves the advice in a vision while asleep.  Every success effectively gives the target one die in the Medicine skill, which can push the target's Medicine skill over 5.  This bonus applies only to treating a specific ailment, but lasts as long as the ailment does.  Mind 1 is used when the Healer needs to treat himself, Mind 3 to give the vision to others.  This is coincidental.  (The spirits can be called with just Spirit 2, but this is vulgar)

Peace:  (Mind 2)  The Order prefers to avoid violence.  This rote soothes people so that they seek other options than violence to achieve their goals, or at least do not fight from anger.  They will still defend themselves.  Beings with 'rage' are harder to effect with this.  They can add their rage to the willpower roll to resist this effect.  It can also be used to bring someone out of a frenzy.

Physician, Heal Thyself:  (Life 2)  One must heal oneself before one heals others.  The Order practices dozens of traditional curative methods, from acupuncture to herbalism to drinking mixtures of gold, mercury, and horseradish.  In coincidental form, this rote effectively enables the target to heal wounds at a rate as if they were one wound less injured than they really are.  In vulgar form, you can heal one wound per success instantly.  The Life 3 variant is used to heal others as well.

Mirror of the Soul:  (Spirit 1, Mind 3)  This rote is used to show a person the state of their soul.  By gazing into a mirror, they can see the truth about themselves, as any spiritual corruption is revealed as symbolic physical deformity.  This is coincidental as long as you don't go around doing it too much.  It can also be used to reveal this truth to others, which is almost always vulgar.  There is a punishment rote, which is highly vulgar, adding Life 4 to actually physically change the person to match their spiritual state.  This is normally only used on highly corrupt individuals who cannot otherwise be confronted.

Those Who the Gods Would Destroy...  (Mind 4)  This is a punishment rote, used for the spiritually corrupt.  The target is racked by nightmares, usually involving whatever divine beings the target believes in.  The victim must make a willpower check each night, at a difficulty equal to the willpower of the caster.  If he makes a success, make a note of it.  Once the target accumulates successes equal to the number of successes obtained against them, the spell breaks.  Each night they fail, they gain a one die penalty to all their actions (including future willpower checks to resist).  If their willpower pool falls to zero dice, they go insane until their madness is somehow cured, and they no longer have any chance to throw off the spell of their own will. (Dispelling the magic will not cure them if they reach this point; they will require further magic or long term psychological help.  If the spell is dispelled before they go mad, they regain one die per day.)

Impotence:  (Life 3)  Another punishment rote.  This renders the target impotent for the duration of the effect.

Purification of the Sacred Space:  (Entropy 1 Life 3 Mind 2 Prime 3 Spirit  3)  This is typically performed as a joint working to prepare a space for large scale rituals at meetings of the order.  It transfers Quintessence across the Gauntlet to awaken the spirits of an area so that they can purify it, and into the life forms in the area, healing any problems they may be suffering, and infusing the area with an aura of peace.  If someone possesses Spirit 4, that is frequently used to lower the local gauntlet rating.

Orpheus' Descent:  (Entropy 1 Life 4 Mind 4 Prime 3 Spirit  5)  This is pretty much the most dangerous of all the rotes of the Order, used only in times of desperation or by fools.  The Order knows certain locations where one can use this rite to physically enter the Low Umbra in search of the spirits of the Dead.  Obviously, this only works if the dead person you hope to bring back to life has in fact, become a Wraith.  Many a mage has been tricked into giving someone else or even a Spectre new flesh because they were fooled by Moliate or simply good fast-talking skills.  Should one survive the trip, the mind and soul of the Wraith is tranferred out of his old form and into a new body.
 


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Conversion by John Biles on September 19, 1997.

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