The Witches’ Order is a large society of witches numbering a little over two- thousand. Most witches live in New Salem – The Witches’ District, a district in New Front. There are no streetlights or electricity of any kind in New Salem, for Witches can see in the dark and they energize any machinery they need to use through magic. Witches spend most of their lives learning and practicing witchcraft and becoming stronger in magic. To this end most witches take vows of poverty freeing themselves up for lives of study and practice in the arcane arts.
What the Witches’Believe:
- They believe in the power of collective consciousness and collective unconsciousness: that their true power lies in the strength of unanimity, when every witch gets the same idea at once and ultimate power is achieved when every witch, at once, acts as one.
- They use black magic, white magic and clear magic.
- Black magic – using magic to the benevolence of another
- WhiteMagic – using magic to the detriment of others
- Clear magic – using magic to awaken power or magic in others.
- The witches read from right to left, for reading has to consummate with the creative (right) side of the brain in order for magic to come alive.
Students who’ve graduated from a formal academy of study or apprenticeship in witchcraft and magic and then intern for the length of at least one full year under a Practitioner. Apprentices learn the finer points in writing and casting spells, mixing ingredients for magic potions and using their own magic under the supervision and guide of their mentor. All Apprentices must shave their heads until they become Witches.
A Practitioner is an Apprentice who has successfully served her full year of apprenticeship. She is brought before the Witches’ Council for approval to begin using her magic independently of her Mentor. The Mentor vouches for her former apprentice before the Witches’ Council by declaring that she is mature and skilled enough to be trusted to use her powers and magic without supervision. Once approved, the Apprentice becomes a Practitioner and is under a one-year probationary period.
After her one-year probationary period, the Practitioner is summoned to appear before the Witches’ Council and bestowed her full rights and blessings as a witch. The vote must be unanimous by the Council.
This vote of unanimity awakens dormant and latent power within the newly inducted Witch, power that was suppressed for her and society’s protection at her induction into the art of witchcraft as a child or Initiate. The newly inducted Witch is also allowed to re-grow her hair. Witches are the largest body of the witch population. Witches and Sorceresses are the only segment of the witch population allowed to have Apprentices.
Ethereals are the wisest and most powerful witches in the Witches’ Order and almost always were former sorceresses. An Ethereal devotes her entire life to contemplation, meditation, study, and the writing and developing of new spells. This life of discipline allows her to become increasingly more powerful in her energy, skill and application of witchcraft. Ethereals not only take the Vow of Poverty, but also the Vow of Chastity and Detachment.
Some Ethereals at one time or another have served tenures on the Witches’ Council, but it is not a requirement for induction into their ranks; this is due to the fact that most witches become Ethereals through constant practice and study, such discipline requires many years of solitude. And due to such required discipline there are very few Ethereals, at last count there were only 8.
Ethereals don’t participate in the day-to-day governings of the Witches Council but they do offer advice when asked and their advice is always taken seriously and usually followed. Ethereals spend most of their time furthering their knowledge of magic and the arcane arts. Most new spells are developed and written by them then disseminated to the Witches’ Council to be passed down to the general population of witches. They study relentlessly and get together once a month to discuss the state of New Salem, New Front and forecast the future of the Witches’ Order.
Mystics are witchcraft Practitioners who specialize in precognition, clairvoyance, fortune telling or palmistry. Most mystics either own or work in magic, palm reading and fortune telling shops on Market Street, in New Salem.
Mystics also develop ceremonies to aid the execution of magic such as rain dancing, séances and unanimity of consciousness. Mystics are former Practitioners who, either, chose not to further pursue the strict life of discipline and poverty of a witch, were denied certification and blessing to become a full fledged witch, or decided to pursue other interests outside of the witches’ lifestyle such as marriage and raising families.
And unlike witches, mystics aren’t required to take vows of poverty. They instead are very business savvy and money oriented. To balance their affinity for money the Witches’ Council has made them responsible for developing ceremony to aid in the advancement of witchcraft.
Witchdoctors are physicians who specialize in the health of witches. They do this through a combination of traditional and arcane medicine, and some magic. Most witch doctors are actual witches themselves, however there are several male witch doctors who live and practice in New Salem, for the magic used in the healing of witches is independent of witchcraft and an entirely different field of study.
Witches are required to take vows of poverty and are forbidden to use their power for profit or monetary gain. They can however use their power as a benevolent service to barter or trade as long as it is an equitable exchange agreed upon by both parties. Witches can engage in sex but cannot marry. Marriage and male energy are viewed as interference to a witch’s magic and is thereby a hindrance to a witch’s continued development and growth in the art of witchcraft.
If a witch does decide to get married she must leave New Salem and vow never to practice witchcraft again unless it is in the benevolent service or aid of another witch, or in self-defense. Usually, this marital exile is not a great detriment to a witch’s life, for witches on the average live for up to 400 years of age and easily outlive their husbands by an average of 320 years. Most married witches eventually return to New Salem and take up their practice after their husbands have died. When pregnant, almost all witches give birth to girls. It is a predisposition in a witch’s physiology and it’s unknown whether it’s genetic or magically inclined. The few witches who give birth to boys are made to raise them outside of New Salem so that their sons can be better exposed to “normal” life.
Witches who have sons usually marry that child’s father. More often than not, the sons of witches (especially witches who are single mothers) grow up to become witch doctors while the daughters of witches, more often than not, are inducted into Brendl’s Academy for Witches and Mystics, before the age of three. The witches have static with W.I.D.O.W. over abortion issues. The district of New Salem once had New Front’s only abortion clinic. Abortion in witch culture is quite different than abortion in the non-magic world.
An abortion performed by a witchdoctor doesn’t involve the removal of a fetus, but rather in turning that fetus into energy. This energy is maintained in the woman’s body, specifically the womb. This stored energy increases a witch’s natural energy and proclivity for magic. A witch’s natural energy is called womb energy and is believed to be what gives witches their power. Witch society’s rift with W.I.D.O.W. began when abortion clinics were outlawed and shutdown throughout New Front.
Non-witches, or non-magic women from New Front, seeking abortions, then came into New Salem seeking witchdoctors, completely unaware of how a witch abortion process worked. These non-witch’s retained womb energy as well and began exhibiting supernatural abilities shortly thereafter, thus being dubbed SuperNaturals. W.I.D.O.W. bombed the witches’ abortion clinic in protest. In retaliation the Witches’ Council authorized the casting of a spell on the W.I.D.O.W. leader Matriarch I. The witches never rebuilt their abortion clinic and have never removed the spell cast on the W.I.D.O.W. leader. There has been bad blood between the Witches’ Council and W.I.D.O.W. ever since.
Only Students, Apprentices and Ethereals wear the traditional witches garb of black sackcloth dresses adorned with either black hooded cloaks or black capes and pointed hats. Practitioners, Mystics, Witches and Sorceresses dress as modernly and fashionably as their contemporary non-magic female counterparts in mainstream society. However they do have to follow one specific dress code rule: no matter what they wear, every article of clothing must be all black. However, they can adorn themselves with various colors of magic-only jewelry.
The Black Book is a book with no title, and the only one in existence. It holds all the spells and incantations used by witches and mystics which number in the tens of thousands. The Black Book is housed and protected by the Ethereals in an undisclosed location. An Ethereal is the only one who can write or add a spell into The Black Book. The pages of The Black Book are blank to the naked eye. Only a witch, when waving wave her hand across a page in The Black Book, can read one of the spells written on it. All spells and witch literature are written in hex code. Hex code is the primary witch language.
Little Black Books – Little Black Books are made by witches and mystics and hold their favorite and most often used spells. These pages are also blank, but a Witch can read what’s written on them by the tips of her fingers. Witches read from right to left. Only Students and Apprentices are allowed to carry little black books. Witches are encouraged to memorize their favorite and most often used spells in order to become full-fledged witches. Most however, carry Little Black Books anyway. When Witch status is reached they oftentimes make new ones. These new little black books contain emergency magic spells and newly learned, yet seldom used spells.
New Salem – the Witches District, is the section of New Front populated by Witches, Mystics and a handful of Witchdoctors. New Salem, unlike the other districts of New Front has it’s own form of government. New Salem is governed by the Witches Council who receive guidance and authority from the Ethereals. The Witches’ Council ensures that all of the rules and etiquette governing witch behavior and practice are followed and respected. The Witches’ Council however, does gives leeway to some expression of nonconformity in witch society, because by and large the Witches’ Council rarely has to intervene, that’s due to the fact that most witches and mystics are disciplined and focused in their magic and craft. However, there are those witches who are considered wildcards, forcing the Witches’ Council to keep close tabs on their behavior. New Salem doesn’t have any streetlights, telephone poles, or electricity, so it gets pitch black shortly after 7pm.
However, witches and most mystics can see in the dark. The few male witchdoctors that live in New Salem usually purchase magically charged trinkets or medallions from mystic shops to provide light for them after nightfall. No electric or gas powered vehicles or devices work in New Salem. If one were to drive his or her car past the district line into New Salem his or her car would cut off and stop working. Watches don’t work in New Salem either, not even windups.
Witches can tell time by the position of the sun and moon. Cell phones, pagers and all battery-powered mechanisms cease to work in New Salem as well. New Salem is considered an electrical dead zone. Even police helicopters can’t fly too low over New Salem for risk of shutting off and crashing. Most believe this is a spell the witches themselves cast across New Salem to dissuade non-witches and mystics from visiting and living in it. If that was the case it has proved successful. The witches in New Salem have lived n relative peace and quiet for decades.