The World of Darkness
Why is the World of Darkness darker than our world? Is it the fault of God or is it just because it is a more relief, a starker version of our own reality, where the shadows are simply a little bit darker, and the light maybe a little bit lighter by contrast.
Is the God of the WoD different from our God?
The trinity of the World of Darkness seems to be the trinity of creation, destruction, and stability. This doesn't seem to map onto the trinity of Christianity -- alright, the father is probably Creation, but then that makes one have to assign destruction and stability to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus could well be destruction, I suppose -- I come to bring a sword, I have cast fire upon the world. The Holy Spirit then becomes stability, that force which keeps everything going, that lies behind order.
So perhaps the trinitarian map isn't so bad -- it just restricts the form of the Son. The Spirit is the Spirit that lies behind the Law and the Law is an image of the Weaver if ever one exists. The problem of this is that Jesus becomes the Wyrm. Rather than commuting sin into redemption, rather than changing the old system for a new, Jesus simply destroys the old system and brings a new, more stale system. The Son of the World of Darkness banishes the Spirit, and brings the Law.
This turns the world of darkness into a wasteland in which redemption is not possible. Death does not bring about new life, but instead draws everything into the Abyss slowly but surely. Indeed, the Wraith cosmology seems to support this. There is only rarely the ability to transcend death and to find a way out of the draw of Oblivion, nearly infinitely more often beings are drawn into darkness by their own destructive aspects, and by those who have been destroyed.
If one looks to Changeling, the game of the Wyld, the raw kingdom of creation has been permanently closed off. One cannot find it by seeking any longer. If the Wyld, the energy of creation from which all else is made, is to be seen as the Father this means that the Kingdom of the Father has been truly cut off. The avatar storm of Mage and the gauntlet that separates the world of spirit from the world of creation, has likewise barred seekers from trying to look on the spiritual plane for the kingdom. If the world of the spirits can be construed as a sort of kingdom of god, which is biblically and non-canonically so close to us and yet unseeable, and indeed, the spirit world is through Mage, Changeling, and Werewolf tied to the creative energy that we have called the Father, if this can be said then indeed the Kingdom of God is indeed in our midst, ever almost present and yet out of reach to humanity.
And even the spirit world is closed off from Arcadia, only a reflection of Arcadia still exists.
But also in the World of Darkness is the hope of redeeming this. Even vampires, who are from the Stock of Caine(Cain) who was himself cast out from the kingdom for a transgression against God MAY have the ability to defy their eternal curse. Werewolves constantly fight the destructive Son of Man, the Word that seeks to bind and define all of the world around it through the Spirit, and to drag it into destruction. The tradition mages, who come likewise from humans who have touched God and have chosen to follow the dynamic aspect of the father, fight against those who embody the Spirit, the technocracy who seek to unite all of humanity into a single paradigm of belief, and those who follow the Word that drags the humanity into a change that is not a rebirth, those Nephandi who's magic ties to the Abyss of Oblivion, the great Maw of the Dead Gods that seeks to suck everything from the world. But some Changelings might actually find Arcadia, Some dead souls transcend the pull of the Abyss, and Some mages Ascend, breaking free of the world of death imposed by the Word.
The God that the Demons seem to have rebelled against is primarily the Father, the creator who created mankind and the world. They were, however, also the first agents of the Word, the Son, the aspect of God that seeks to change the nature of creation. The Word defined the world by breaking it from the multifoliate metaphor of the Garden, and thus brought the Spirit, the defined world that humanity and the Fallen together created to oppose God. Some seek to join again with God.
But God is perhaps fractured. While his power is infinite, his aspect is cracked and warring with itself. The Word drags all into darkness instead of giving way to the Kingdom of the Father. The Kingdom of the Spirit is, instead, a reality that seeps slowly into death rather than into new life.
This is the result of God's breaking with himself and is reflected in the fact that nearly all White Wolf games have an individual who is broken against himself. The Vampires occasionally succumb to their dark urges and unhumanity, urges that pull them away from creation proper and make them agents of living death. The werewolves succumb to rage, and themselves become the hands of destruction, so impassioned by their quest that they actually lose sight of the higher goal and seek only to destroy. The Wraiths as well as the Kuei-Jin embody both a spirit of creation and destruction housed in the same form. The Changelings are both human and divine, their creative divinity always eventually dragged out of them by the banality of their human existence. The Fallen are obvious. Only the Hunters seem to have a unilateral drive and personality, untainted by the dark draws of anything but those of any other human. But they still fight against the darkness of the split nature of God.
In the World of Darkness, the cycle of death and rebirth, of creation and destruction, has been fundamentally broken. But it is not without hope. The hope lies after the Colon. Vampires seek to change the world, their grand masquerade an attempt to bring the world into a proper order. They are the least of those that try to change the world, however, for at best they simply bring the spirit. The Werewolves seek to bring about the Apocalypse. Apocalypse is traditionally taken to mean the end times, the eschaton. Indeed, the eschaton that is immanently anticipated in early Christian texts. They seek to bring the Kingdom of God back to the Kingdom of man through a great temporal event. Apocalypse originally means revelation, the revelation of God to a man. It is the revelation given to a prophet, the rejoining with a divine. The Mages seek to Ascend, and to bring the rest of humanity into an Ascension where they will realize their own power, and repair the broken soul of God. Wraiths fight against the Oblivion that constantly draws the world in. Changelings seek to awaken the Father again, which they envision as the Dreaming, the raw creative force inherent in the universe, and separating Man from the lower beasts. Hunters, like Werewolves, seek a temporal event that will repair the world, a great Reckoning that will destroy the Destroyer and restore the balance. And the Demons are fallen from the eyes of God, and seek to return.
If one is to take Exalted as the precursor to the world of darkness, it does at least appear to be on the thematic level. In Exalted, there was in the distant past an event of rebellion by the Gods against the Primordeals who created the Universe. The killing of these creators opened up Oblivion itself, the Abyss. This began the cycle, destroyed the balance wherein all that was destroyed was remade. Instead, things began to drift into nothingness. And then humanity was left to deal with the Wyld, the uncreated creation that raged to reunify itself, to break the separation of the world with itself, and with the creators gone, it fought back hard, and strong. The wheel was broken, and death became true death rather than death into change and creation again.
The world of darkness seems to me to be Modern, but not yet Post-Modern. If you are familiar with the work of T.S. Eliot, I refer you to both the Waste Land and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
Prufrock is the Age of Sorrows. In this poem, Eliot speaks through the voice of a man unable and hesitant to connect with any of those around him, including the divine. Constantly he asks, “;do i dare”; does he dare to reach out and try to connect with someone. “I have seen the mermaids singing each to each”; he says, “;I do not think that they will sing to me.”
“I have seen them riding seaward on the wavesComing the white hair of the waves blown backWhen the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us and we drown.
He lingers with the sea girls, and with the lovers, and with others, but he will not interact with them out of fear. He lingers by the sea girls, not with them. He will not ask the overwhelming question out of fear that,
one, settling a pillow by her head, Should say: “That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.”
And yet the possibility of redemption
remains. If he only breaches it, if he only manages to connect with another, then it will be fixed. There is talk of coming back from the dead, as Lazarus
rolling the universe into a ball toward some overwhelming question, of repairing the breach of death that is not quite entirely distant yet.
because he has seen the world roll up into that ball, as he states in a section cut out of the middle and later published, but then suddenly dissolve and fall away. He has touched the truth of rebirth, the possibility of connection, that moment of Ascention, of the Redemtion, he has again seen the face of God though Fallen, but it has eluded him. For he cannot share it.
In the text, the Divine is almost there, the ultimate truth almost present, but already it eats away at the universe, causing it to fall, indeed to Fall, and it shatters out of the Garden of Eden where man and woman dwelt together without any breach between their connection with each other and, indeed, their connection with God. And instead, he Falls, having fallen from the world of God, having tasted the death of the world.
If Prufrock speaks to the Age of Sorrows, then The Waste Land speaks of the World of Darkness. Indeed, the World of Darkness IS the Waste Land that Eliot writes about, that wasted land where no connection is possible because the divine figure is himself fractured.
At the center of the poem is the figure of The Fisher King, who is a figure out of arthurian legend and likewise is also inspired by earlier traditions, ancient vegetation ceremonies explored in J.G. Frazer's anthropological text: The Golden Bough.
The Fisher King myth has many variations. The basic story, however, involves a knight of King Arthur’s round table, whether it be Percival, Galahad, or Gawain who goes on a quest and finds a king sitting in a court and surrounded by attendants. The king is wounded in his side, or thigh, or is occasionally simply old and wasting away, and the result is that the lands that he controls are beginning to waste. The hero fails in some capacity to help the king, and causes the drought to spread. There is always the hint that, had the hero reacted differently, had the hero inquired as to purpose of the grail in the ceremony, all would have been restored and the cycle would have begun anew, with the land being restored. The Fisher King is bound up with the Grail Legend because the Holy Grail is present at this ceremony, and is often the focus of the question the hero should have asked. This grail is the same grail that caught the blood when Jesus’ side was pierced by the lance of Longinus, the grail that the first eucharist was taken from at the last supper.
This offers a simple explanation of the fact that the Fisher King is named such, i.e. that he is a fisher, for , “for those who hold that the Grail story is … Christian … the title is naturally connected with the use of the Fish symbol In early Christianity: the Icthys anagram, as applied to Christ, the title ‘Fishers of Men,’ bestowed upon the Apostles, the Papal ring of the Fisherman,” However, the connection goes back farther, “we can affirm with certainty that the Fish is a Life symbol of immemorial antiquity, and that the title of Fisher has, from the earliest ages, been associated with Deities who were held to be specially connected with the origin and preservation of life.” (From Ritual to Romance by Jessie L. Weston)As explored in Christian Theology, notably in the letters of Paul, Jesus is a figure that conquers death, both resurrecting of himself and allowing others to defeat death. That this defeat of death comes through baptism, an immersion into water and a reemergence, only increases the connection to water, and thus the connection to fertility and the release of land from drought.
The Fisher King is the god-king of The Waste Land both in the legend and in the poem. His health is fundamentally tied to the land. More importantly, almost, however, is his divinity. As already noted, the divinity of a god-king is conferred upon him by the last to hold his position. He is in command of the health of the land, yes, and in command of the health of his body, but he is also connected to the relations between people, the relations between men and women – even his own relations with his own wife strongly influence the amount of divinity he has; if he loses his connection, the land is in danger, for it has a tenuous connection to god, and if he dies without the cycle beginning again, then the connection of the people to divinity is destroyed.
However, the Fisher King is in the Waste Land mortally wounded, and the overwhelming question regarding the Grail is never asked by anyone, nor is the king put out of his misery. Instead his death infects the death of the Land. The Fisher King is a God. Perhaps the Fisher King IS God -- his divinity is the reason that people can connect with one another, is the way that people can themselves bridge to a divine, and the way that they can simple continue to live. But the fisher king is injured, just as the triune God of the World of Darkness is broken.
Particularly in the Celtic World, from which the Arthurian Legends sprouted after the introduction of Christianity, but also throughout the Indo-European world, society was once divided into three castes: The Farmers, those who cared for the land and brought forth food from it and thus the life of the people, the Priests, who upheld the Law and Society, and the Warriors, who defended the people from others, who destroyed others so that the people they belonged to could thrive. The King himself was an embodiment of all of these three and had to be the best in all of these arenas, the most spiritual, the best warrior, and his health was seen as fundamentally tied to the land.
The king had three aspects: creation, the creation of food and the fuelling of the tribe as well as the fertility of the people and the creation of new life, preservation, the upholding of the Law of the Priests, and Destruction, the warriors who brought death so that new life could be created. Indra, Brahma, and Vishnu. The Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son. The Wyld, The Weaver, and the Wyrm.
But in the Waste Land, death has overcome all else. The Fisher King cannot fish the life out of the sea of death, he can only sit “;upon the shore / Fishing with the arid plain behind.”; Instead, the water of life has left the land, the water of baptism and redemption, and baptism into Jesus Christ is a baptism into a Death that has no ressurection afterward. Likewise, in the World of Darkness, the Son is not ressurection any longer, the Wyrm does not give way to the Wyld, but only to a world from which the Spirit of God is eternally abstracted, a mad creation with no purpose. A Heap of Broken Images. “;Shall I at least set my lands in order?”; he asks, but he cannot preserve the law, because he is, bluntly, not man enough. He can only endlessly spin the webs of the Weaver that have no purpose, he can only stare endlessly at the water that does not bring forth life. He cannot impose true order because he is not willing to die to be reborn. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” he uses the weaver to spin the Wyld into wad patterns and fragments and uses them to escape his own demise, and thus he succumbs to death, death by water of the Wyrm that rises up to pull the entire of creation into Oblivion, under its tide.
The Fisher King of The Waste Land is the God of Demon, and the Triat of the World of Darkness. He is in conflict with himself and that conflict perforce spills over into the nature of the world. He creates endlessly, "breeding lilacs out of the dead land", but ultimately, "April is the cruellest month" for these rains are not true rains of life, for water is wholly absent. Instead, his inherent death, his aspect as the warrior, his wounding in a battle to no doubt protect his land, continually destroys the land. The Son sets flame upon the world, but the burning has nothing to replace it, for the world of the Spirit has bound the world into broken and dissociated images, the wonderful multifoliate metaphors of the Garden of Eden destroyed and lost forever. And creation, his aspect as the farmer who brings new life into the world, has been ruptured. "What you get married for if you don't want children?" the poem asks. The Law that canonizes marriage and is supposed to make a way for new life brought into the world is instead simply static madness, the Technocracy that seeks to bind the entire world under its own thumb, in a stasis that does not allow for new ideas, new creation.
The World of Darkness is a Waste Land, a ruptured, barren, waterless desert in which nothing can truly be created. In which noone can truly unify with god because God is mad ("Hieronymo's mad againe.") driven mad by something in the past, the betrayal of the fallen that separated the world of death from the world of life from the world of creative energy and dreams.
But this does not mean that redemption is completely beyond the scope of humanity. God is divided against himself, the aspect of Change as Death has indeed enslaved the rest of His nature. However, there is still Ascention, Transcendence, and Redemption SOMEwhere. Perhaps God himself must be killed to make way for this new path, or perhaps he simply needs to be reunified. There is a chance, in the waste land of the World of Darkness, that one can escape the cycle of samsara, the endless recycling that has lost all meaning, and can escape the taste of death, the Word of Wyrm. The Son has come to case fire on the world and the world is "burning, burning, burning." "All things are on fire, o priests." says the Buddha. All things are dyning in the light and heat from God. Buddha teaches us that we must cultivate an aversion for what our senses and mind tell us, and in this way we escape the burning of our passions, the passions that bind the Wraiths to the cusp of Oblivion, the passion that drove the Angels to rebellion, the passion that drives the Garou to destroy the world they see. This is one possibility. Another is to ask the question, as the Mages do, to ask the question of ascention, and to truly and wholeheartedly seek the divine light. Pehaps by becoming one with the ruptured creator, the broken Kabbalistic Tree where all the Sefiroth are separated from one another, and to merge with Ain Sof. To step outside of time itself. Perhaps the true God exists behind the God of the Triat, the divinity which has escaped the fisher king has likewise escaped the God of Demon. But maybe, just maybe, it is not entirely gone.
And so we struggle and we stagger
down the snakes and up the ladder
to the tower where the blessed hours chime
and I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
but closing time
Leonard Cohen's words (Leonard Cohen
: closing time
) talk of the path of any being in the World of Darkness, seeking briefly for a moment of merging with the divine, or even merging with another human being, of the possibility for love to exist in a world where connection has been ruptured because not even God is connected with himself. The snakes tempt us, Lucifer
talks the fallen and the mortals into transgressing against the will of god. But sometimes we climb Jacob's Ladder
, the ladder that Jacob sees in a vision ascending from earth to Kingdom of God. We built a tower toward heaven, where the blessed hours chime, where the time that is beyond time holds sway and we are no longer subject to eternal loss. "HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
" rings through the Game of Chess
in the waste land, a conversation between ladies at a pub. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME is the british equivalent of closing time in an american bar, the end of the drinking, and the dancing, and of the talking and connection between people that occurs in that mid-place between intoxication of wine and intoxication of love.
And ultimately, it is closing time. The gate of love they budge an inch, divinity is about to approach, the eschaton is immanent, the Kingdom of God is so close one can taste it, and then time reasserts itself.
I’m wanted at the traffic-jam.
They’re saving me a seat.
I’m what I am, and what I am,
Is back on Boogie Street.
Another Leonard Cohen song, closing time takes us back to boogie street, the mundane world where we simply exist, and that existance is painful waiting, waiting for the miracle
. For the next time that one can for a brief moment see the face of a God that is not so fractured.
To permanently fix the problem requires much more. The mages struggle to ascend all of humanity. But to ascend truly would be to dissolve time as we know it, the eternal closing time and loss into the world of Boogie Street. The world would come back to the Garden, where we are all one with God. The creation of Mankind, or at least his transgression through the rebellion of angels, was what drove the Weaver mad, or perhaps what sent the Wyrm out of control. Sin brings death into the world, as Saint Paul teaches, and death is the change that does not recover. A change that gives way to a lesser world, a world with less meaning because perception is taken a little further from the perception of God.
The fallen commit the ultimate sin: they further the separation of God. As only an aspect of the divine, they garner the worship of others, and that worship of only a part of the whole breaks God further. Only by passing their worship on to God himself can one of the fallen hope to redeem those around him, hope to restore the world. By ceasing to be an aspect of God and instead a conduit for his love, a Fallen might actually become capable of redemption, submitting fully to their place as a part of the divine will rather than a worshiped entitiy seperate. The Fallen, the serpent, the snake, the Wyrm tempted humanity into separating from god, destroying, changing, and cementing reality. By reuniting, by becoming instead of a snake leading downward a ladder leading upward, a Fallen could begin the process by which the world of loss and death is reunited with the true Divine Essence that still lives above and beyond, with the Ain Sof that exists beyond even the crown of light that marks the emanation of existance into the world. By becoming this tool completely, he might become once again fully with god.
The union would be remade, lazarus would come back from the dead and roll the universe into a ball that does not roll away but instead exists, once again, on all the wonderful levels of the Garden. And the tree would once again be whole instead of seen in part. Life would not end because it would no longer be subject to sin, to time, to death.
God is broken, but he can be fixed if his fallen aspect, the Wyrm embodied in the Fallen, can begin to put the fragments together instead of driving them apart. All that it takes is the willingness to have no will at all, the drive to drive away the self.