Atlantis

"Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent. But, there occurred violent earthquakes and floods, and in a single day and night of misfortune… the island of Atlantis disappeared in the depths of the sea." - Plato

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The Book, page 219:

They came to the isle, following the pole star, and saw that it was exactly as seen in their dreams. Mortals from many lands, speaking many languages and following different customs, came together, and by silent assent settled in peace with no conflict, for they had traveled far fleeing from struggle. And still they dreamed. The island sent them new visions, and showed them how they might learn to master the strange sights to which their minds sleeping had been privy. They began practicing the techniques of hesychia, the "stillness" or "incubation", in which they retreated into dark caves and their bodies entered deep sleep while their minds traveled to far astral realms beyond the ken of other mortals. There they met the Others, the daimons of their own souls, the hidden twin of each soul traveler.These judges challenged them to prove by what right they came on astral roads to the Realms Supernal, and set them to a series of tests. Many failed, sent back to their bodies in sorrow, unable to again journey forth in dream. But some succeeded. These few returned with their souls aglow, lit by a celestial fire. They could see into the Realms Invisible and ken the secret workings of Creation, the principles and substances from which everything was wrought. Through the sympathy their far-journeying souls now shared with the Realms Supernal, and the knowledge they gleaned from studying realms visible and invisible, they could call down the ways of heaven, the higher principles that ruled over the lower realms of matter and spirit. They made their very thoughts real, imagination rendered into matter and flesh. They had discovered magic. It was as if all mortals were asleep. Only the dreamers of the dragon isle who had returned from their astral journeys victorious were Awake. The magi dreamed with their eyes open. The loose confederation of immigrants to the island soon organized into a city-state led by the magi. They named it Atlantis, which in their polyglot tongue meant "the ocean spire". Over time, the enlightened founded separate orders to fulfill the roles of governance, from mystical militia to scholars to a priesthood of the Mysteries to guide them all. The magi of Atlantis traveled once more to the forsaken lands from whence they had come, searching for new clues into the Mysteries, the tantalizing yet obscure secrets that ruled over everything that was, is, and shall be. Mortals there witnessed their power, and word of them spread as rumors and legends. Many left their homes to seek fabled Atlantis, the island of the magi. Only a few found it; the rest wandered the ocean for years. No chart marked its place; the stars no longer guided mariners to its rocky shores. Only those who saw it in dreams could find their way. Rumours came now and then of foreign sorcerers, men and women who had also attained the Realms Supernal on their own, far away from Atlantis, but they were rare. These people more often than not destroyed themselves by misuse of their powers or were killed by commoners who feared their wizardry.

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Only on Atlantis were the Ars Mysteriorum mastered and codified for others to learn. The power to warp the very skein of Creation soon outstripped the wisdom of those who wielded it. The hubris of the magi rose unchecked. Many generations after the first had established Atlantis, their legacy turned sour. Mage turned on mage, and so was born the first wizard's war. The victors claimed Atlantis as theirs, and drove the losers to the far corners of the earth. Then, combining their power, they wrought a great spell and erected a ladder to the Realms Supernal. They spurned the traditional astral paths by which a sorcerer might approach the higher realms by means of a soul journey, for they sought to walk the celestial reaches in their own bodies. They stormed the heights and claimed the thrones of the gods for themselves. Ruling from on high, no longer bound to earth, even their petty dictates and whims became real, for they stood over the lower realm and influenced it with their very thoughts. The subtle veil were rent, and the higher and lower worlds came together; the pure mixed with the impure, and the universe trembled. Spurred by the imminent destruction and corruption of the world, the exiled mages banded together and assaulted Atlantis, climbing the star-ladder and wrestling with the celestial mages in their heavenly palaces. Their struggles were terrible. The two sides clashed in a chaos of realms, and the losers (sorcerers on both sides) were flung from on high back into the lower realm. The ladder shattered, disintegration into dust, leaving the victors beyond the reach of the earthbound mages. Where the ladder had been, reality cracked and fell into itself, creating a rift between the higher and lower realms, a terrible void that sucked life and energy into itself. The Abyss divided the realms once more, keeping the high, pure realm from the taint of the low. But this was no subtle veil, permeable to returning souls. It was a gulf of unreality, and aberration that was never meant to be. What was before a single world became two worlds; the Supernal World and the Fallen World, with a vast Abyss between them.

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Shaken by the reverberations of the ladder's destruction, the foundations of Atlantis crumbled and the island sank beneath the waves. The mystical place that had birthed the magi was no more. The survivors would later wonder: Was this the primordial event which created myths of the flood and the tower of Babel? Perhaps. Or perhaps the war reverberated throughout Time itself, endlessly repeating its disastrous finale in every human civilization to come. Once again the enlightened escaped to the far corners of the earth and there began the long, slow process of relearning what was lost. Hunted once again by monsters, their progress was slow, for the needs of survival came before the slow study of the Mysteries.What's more, those souls that had not already been touched by the Realms Supernal grew dim, like lumps of coal cooling, hiding dim cinders within. Many forgot their magical heritage and their souls entered a slumber deeper than they had before known. This great decline was known as the Quiescence, the Sleeping Curse. The Lie. Cut off from the higher realms, divided from their birthright by the Abyss, souls could not maintain their luminosity and so fell into sleep. Worse: The gravity of the Abyss pulled on them and weighed down the lids of their inner eyes, causing them to refuse any vision of the higher world. The mages, those who remained Awake, could no longer work their magic before those who slept without invoking the powers of the Abyss. Only a rare few in any place at any time remained Awake, tending the flame of supernal knowledge, keeping the lore of magic alive. With the Abyss between them and the Supernal World, the source of magic, mages' power began to wane. It became harder to draw the Supernal energies across the void as time passed, and when they could be drawn they sometimes arrived warped and twisted, with effects unwanted by their wielder. In a number of years all existing mages would be dead with none to follow after them, and so all contact with the higher worlds would be gone and all of humankind would sleep forever. Lobotomized souls trapped in a broken machine, lacking purpose or spirit in their clockwork prison for all time. Then, one by one, the watchtowers appeared, their flames sending beacons from the Supernal Realms across the vast night to the souls of the Awakened and sleeping alike. Legends tell of five Atlantean kings, the mage heirs of the Awakened City who lead their peers in the fight against the Exarchs, the usurpers. They climbed the ladder and dueled within the celestial palaces. When the Ladder shattered they remained in the higher world and continued to resist the Exarchs. These were the Oracles, their numbers few but their powers potent.

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Realizing the danger the separation posed for the lower world, the Oracles broke off their fight with the Exarchs and set off through the Supernal Realms. Using lore beyond the ken of the Exarchs, for they were royal heirs privy to lore and magical knowledge allowed to only nobles, the Oracles each erected by magic a tower in a single Supernal Realm, modeled after the tall spire that had guided the first vessels to Atlantis. Five towers from five kings. Each invested into the tower the virtues of their own souls and the sum of their magical knowledge, imbued into the very stones of the structures. The Watchtowers sent visions across the Abyss to mages in the Fallen World, calling to them as Atlantis had once called to their ancestors. Without the mystical foundation and deep magical caves of Atlantis mortals could no longer willingly choose to set out on soul journeys to attain the Realms Supernal. But by Oracular magic, miracle, happenstance, divine grace or sheer luck, a mortal's soul could once more stir and Awaken, finding itself at the gate of a Watchtower. If his will was strong enough he could carve his name into the tower's stones, and so secure for himself mystical sympathy with the tower and its realm. He would return a Mage, changed by his sojourn in a strange land. Thusly could Man once more claim sympathy with the Realms Supernal, though each only in that one single realm in which his Watchtower stood, which he had signed. As time passed and the Abyss widened the journeys of the soul grew fewer, but never stopped completely, and Awakenings continued to occur. Where the Atlanteans could choose to go on the soul journey of Awakening by going into the caves beneath the city where the special crystals were found, mortals in the Fallen World Awakened only by strange happenstance, the causes for which are still debated by mages in the modern age. If only mages could know just who would Awaken, and how and when, they could more easily bolster their numbers and work to ensure the Awakening of humanity. But there seemed to be no such laws or guidelines. Even mages, masters of the miraculous, had to rely on rare miracles to maintain their lineage. The Exarchs, the pretender gods, were largely forgotten by most of humanity. No one remembered that their own kind had once become gods; no one, that is, but mages. They, of all people, knew that the Exarchs ruled in heaven. But they did not rule unopposed. The Oracles also existed in the celestial reaches, working to foil the selfish dictates of the first pretenders. Once in a long age, it is said, a mortal mage's soul may attain the Final Key to the Mysteries and ascend across the Abyss to the Supernal World and so become an Oracle or Exarch, and impose his will as them.

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See also: New Atlantis, Paths, Orders, Exarchs, Oracles
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