Beginner's Guide to Astrology, A
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- A Beginner's Guide to Astrology
- by Fateweaver Caelumia Y'laeth
Chapter 1: OverviewWhen a lay person gazes into the night sky, he sees a smattering of twinkling lights and the multi-hued spheres that have long been the subject of poetic verse penned by Bards of renown. We
I have noticed as of late how often I run across errant novice mages in my travels, new to the guild and the wonders of the skies and without any guidance as to how to extract our special kind of wisdom from them. There is something to be said for putting oneself in the thick of things to absorb and accumulate what knowledge is around him, and certainly Master Kssarh would have a few things to say on the subject of self-taught skill. However, I have decided it is time someone took up the mantle of teacher and gave our novices a little guidance.
Our skill in astrology, as measured by our esteemed guild leaders, is the means by which we can track and manipulate the energy and insights of the heavens to our benefit. This can be done primarily in two ways: prediction, which is the divining and subtle manipulation of the future, and enchanting, which is a more advanced art involving the creation and manipulation of magical devices. I will be focusing mainly on the art of divination throughout this text, though I will touch on other methods of training astrology.
Chapter 2: Observing the Heavens
The knowledge required to understand the intricate workings of a heavenly body can come only from a guild leader and is passed along when a student is promoted if they are worthy. Indeed, the starting mage will find their knowledge of the skies is limited to the three moons, the sun and a simple constellation called The Heart, which is fortunately more than sufficient for the purposes of training and divination. These heavenly bodies are so simple relative to the rest of the sky that even a failed observation attempt will give a tiny inkling of insight into the future; this is fortunate, considering the difficulties of observing the heavens as a novice.
Cloud cover presents a considerable obstacle to the novice mage. The Piercing Gaze spell can at least partially compensate for the presence of bad weather, and the use of a telescope also aids in the success of an observation attempt of a partially obscured object, but an aspiring seer is best off attempting to find a heavenly body that is as unobscured as possible. Young and old seers alike are well-served by utilizing our ability to predict the weather to come, not only to aid in knowing when it will be best to set aside time to study the heavens, but to potentially warn of powerful storms that may threaten to move into the area. As your skill in astrology grows, the further into the future your insights into the weather to come will stretch.
Each named heavenly body is linked to the Plane of Probability from whence we draw our power to divine the future and each rules over a different area of learning: the magical arts, lore and scholarly pursuits, survival techniques, armor and defensive scholarly pursuits, armor and defensive techniques, survival skills and weapon skills. The areas of knowledge that the sun, Xibar, Yavash, Katamba and The Heart correspond to are offense and survival, lore, magic and survival, defense and lore respectively. By observing one of these heavenly bodies we are able to gain a small glimpse of the infinite possibilities of the future and, using the enlightenment this grants us, alter its course. The more insight into a particular area a seer has, typically referred to as a prediction pool, the greater the potential strength and duration of their predictions. Discovering which area a heavenly body rules over can be accomplished through trial and error or by asking an elder seer.
Once a seer observes a heavenly body and feels he has learned something useful, he may then attempt to predict the future in the area that heavenly body rules over; for example, an obser- vation of Xibar would allow a seer to predict upon lore skills. This is an inexact art at best, however; a seer can on one attempt find himself favored by Fate so that the blows of his weapon always seem to strike true and on another find that his body is sluggish and less able to strike his opponent. Care should be used when making a prediction, and Fate's favor should never be taken for granted.
Yet another slightly more advanced method of heavenly observation involves studying the entirety of the sky in an effort to glean a sense for great events may occur in the near future. We replace the precision involved in a skill prediction with a wider, all- encompassing perspective in order to detect what great tides of change are to come. This is called event prediction, and the skills necessary to do this can be learned intuitively from another after a mage has achieved tenth circle by asking an elder to attempt to predict coming events using the student. The sky is best studied at night; the more heavenly objects are present in the sky, the easier it is to glean enough insight to predict events. It can be very difficult in the daytime when the stars are hidden.
Chapter 3: Applying and Interpreting Predictions
When starting out, the most accessible method of skill prediction will be visions. When using this method, the seer will experience a series of short, seemingly disjointed visions that depict a huge variety of things, from the mundane to the mystical. Despite their seeming randomness, there is a common thread that links each vision in the series together and will allow them to be deciphered with relative ease.
The first vision will pertain to the area of learning, or skill- set, that the prediction pertains to. This is often redundant, as a seer will typically choose which area they are focusing on beforehand. In addition, when predicting on areas that concern combat, the vision can become quite gruesome and detailed.
The next vision in the series reveals the strength of the boon or curse the prediction will grant. The simple rule of thumb is that the "colder" the depiction is the weaker it will be, while a "hotter" depiction indicates strength. For example, a vision of a child skating on a frozen pond or icicles hanging from the eaves of a house will be very weak, while a vision of a roaring campfire or a bloated sun blazing in the sky will be very powerful indeed.
The third vision in the series will indicate the duration of the boon or curse, and can be judged by how long whatever is being depicted will take to happen. An insect trapped in a spider's web or a boy snapping his fingers hints at a very short duration, while the image of a wizened scholar writing his memoirs or the gods in council would last a great deal longer.
Finally, the visions will impart the seer with either a feeling of warmth or a shiver-inducing chill for boons and curses respec- tively. With greater skill and luck, a seer may be able to turn a curse into a boon, and may also get a sense for precisely which skill was affected. On rare occasions, a seer's visions may be interrupted by the spectre of a bat-winged skull chewing on their head, leading to a nasty mental jolt; this is an extremely negative portent, and indicates a massive curse has been placed on the seer.
Keep in mind that this is merely one method of divination, though by far the most basic and accessible to students of the art. As a seer becomes comfortable with his skill in astrology, he may wish to pick up a divination tool instead. These tools are highly variable and often traditionally associated with a sect (such as the classical divination bones of the Nomads to the iconic Tokka cards of Fortune's Path) and each will differ drastically in the methods used to interpret their results. Members of those sects will find their traditional tools easier to wield, though membership is by no means a requirement to use them. A tool will bond to its owner and with use various aspects of it may either improve or weaken, leading to the potential for stronger predictions and more accurate results. Unfortunately, divination tools are fragile objects, and as one is used it will eventually become too broken or too worn and will need to be replaced.
In order to use a divination tool, it is necessary to learn how to correctly align oneself mentally to the Web of Fate. This technique may be picked up at around the fourth circle of train- ing and will require a visit to Master Tiv's library in the Lesser Fist of Heaven, where there are books to study that will instruct on its use. Once this ability is learned, a seer may mentally align themselves either to a broad area of learning or to a specific skill, and may even attempt to deliberately curse the target of their prediction.
Event prediction is a wholly different beast, and concerns itself not with minor alterations to fate but with the broad and sweep- ing events that shape our world. Just as we must study the entire sky and the heavenly bodies in it as a whole, the visions we see with event prediction concern themselves with all who touch the Web of Fate. Interpretation is a highly inexact art, and tomes upon tomes have been dedicated to the interpretation and meaning of visions of this nature. The best advice I can give is to practice, practice, practice; the talented seer will find that the wisdom to judge the meaning and weight of symbols comes with experience.
Chapter 4: Other Applications of Astrology
While astrology is primarily associated with the art of prediction, it also concerns itself with the movements of heavenly bodies and the application of astrological knowledge into other areas. One mental exercise a beginning astrologer may practice involves attempting to "align" themselves mentally with a particular moon by concentrating on its physical and symbolic qualities. This has few practical applications outside of enchanting, but it does serve as useful practice.
With a bit more astrological skill, a mage may be able to determine how many degrees above the horizon a moon is by perceiving it and using the Taisgath obelisk as a point of reference. Though this technique is inexact until higher levels of skill are achieved, this can be a great boon to a mage that wishes to know precisely how long he has until a moon sets, or else finds himself cutting it fine with Teleport. This is also a fine way of practicing the skill of astrology.
Finally, while not an easily accessible option, there is an excellent way to practice both the basics of mechanical lore and the tenets of astrology: carve divination bones from animal horns, teeth or bones that have been prepared by an enchanter. Using the sigil of the Ram as a guide for carving, the creation of this divination tool can be very mentally intensive and en- lightening. Those who find themselves befriending elder mages may wish to pursue this as an option.
Thus concludes my foray into the muddled realm of novice astrology. I hope this tome is of great help to many aspiring seers and astrologers, or at the very least relieves me and my fellow teachers of the burden of answering "how do I train astrology?" ten times a week.
- As written by Fateweaver Caelumia Y'laeth
- of Fortune's Path, 394 AV
- As written by Fateweaver Caelumia Y'laeth