"And we're back for the last session of this seminar. We're almost done. I just have a few more things to say, and then we'll be able to break for the night.
"I do want to address one thing that I was asked over dinner… namely, now that Unified Thaumatology exists, can it be considered a grand unifying theory for the paranormal?
"We would like that to be the case… but sadly, the answer is 'No.' Unified Thaumatology does provide a strong basis for the study of magic: we believe that it may also have implications into other fields. But there are places dealing with the paranormal where the theory starts to break down.
"Two very large examples are Type Green Reality Benders and Type Black or Ex Machina Divinities. Remember what I said before, that every thamatological working has a source and causes a backlash. Type Greens violate both of those rules: they are able to alter reality without a Source, and their alterations do not cause backlash. There are a lot of theories as to why this may be: one theory is that the backlash is shunted into a parallel reality… perhaps as a paranormal phenomenon for them to deal with? Another theory is that the backlash is absorbed into the Type Green's own consciousness. Perhaps that explains why so many go insane. Unfortunately, we don't have the answer to that. It's one field that the Institute is devoting many resources to study. Progress is, by necessity slow, as is any study revolving around Type Greens. It's hard to collect useful data when that data could be manipulated by your test subject.
"Type Blacks and Ex Machinas… they're even stranger. Their effects are similar to thaumatology and reality bending, but they don't seem to obey any of the thaumatological laws we've encountered. There are no bursts of Aspect Radiation caused by their abilities. They can't even be detected through Aetheric Resonance Imaging. In fact, the code word designation for a demi-divinity, 'Type Black,' comes because many of them simply don't have aetheric auras… sorry, EVE patterns… at all. We have no idea what these things are… except that they are very powerful, and in many cases, hostile to humanity.
"Then there are the many threats you might face that have nothing to do with Aspect Radiation. Anomalies in space-time. Cryptids. Mad cyborgs. Telepaths. The truth is, the more we learn, the more we realize that the world is a stranger and more terrifying place than we did before we began our study. For each answer we find, two more questions are raised.
"But that's the nature of scientific inquiry, after all.
"If there is a point to this seminar, however, I hope it is this: that you came away from here with a basic understanding of what thaumatology is and what it is that thaumaturges do. Part of the fear and power of magic was that it was so mysterious. By peeling away some of that mystery, it is our goal to arm you with the strongest weapon you will need if you ever come up against a thaumatological threat: the knowledge that you, as a non-thaumaturge, are not helpless. A student of mine once gave me a novel with a line I enjoyed greatly: 'No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife in the back can seriously cramp their style.'
"I will now be taking questions."
Can Sharp and Flat can be tied to sex with protection, or in vitro fertilization?
Well, yes. But in practice, the procreative act is most effective when done for the purposes of procreation between two persons. I suppose if I had to list them on a sliding scale, it would probably be in-vitro, masturbation, nonprocreative sex, procreative sex, with childbirth somewhere near the top as well. Then again, there are also acts of sex that tend strongly towards Flat. I won't go into details here. I'm sure you can think of them.
Why use blood? Couldn't you just get some jugs of milk at a supermarket if you need EVE?
You could, but the longer that a bodily fluid is separate from the body, the less effective it becomes. Same with dead bodies… at some point, a dead body or jug of milk ceases to be a living thing and just becomes… a thing. Although I suppose that breast milk for lactating persons could work in a pinch… blood is simply more universal. And there's a bit more dignity in cutting your thumb with a secespita than in the alternatives.
Have there been any attempts to utilize type greens in the same way that type blues are employed? Or has it always been recognized as too dangerous to consider?
I cannot speak for the Coalition on that, but yes, there have been attempts to utilize Type Greens. They have invariably failed, due to the tendency of Type Greens towards megalomania, and the difficulty in taking them down if they break control.. Although rumor has it that there have been one or two successful cases. The two most common suspects are D.C. al Fine and the Cornwall Hero.
Is the Coalition squeamish about using anomalous means to combat parathreats?
That depends on your definition of anomalous. The official position of the Global Occult Coalition is that Type Blue thaumatology falls under the realm of "tangential technology," not anomalous parathreat. Those of us employed by the Coaltion have sworn the same oaths as the rest of you. We are still human. We still want to protect humanity. And we do so with all the talents at our disposal.
The eventual goal of thaumatological research, after all, is to incorporate magic theory into our modern understanding of physics. Once that is done, won't the concept of "magic" have been finally destroyed?
There are ways to eliminate parathreats aside from a bullet.
If the Coalition had to look at itself as a parathreat, what threat level would it be at? What would it take for it to grow a threat level?
If the member organizations of the Coalition were to turn against the best interests of humanity, it would result in an immediate failure of all missions, probably requiring a Pizzicato Level Response. The Coalition exists, however, to prevent such events from occuring.
It is, however, interesting to contemplate what might happen to the Coalition if its major rivals were eliminated or incorporated into its ranks. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely, after all.
Perhaps it is best that no one organization controls all the power in the paranormal world.
Where is the point at which thaumatology becomes inefficient and impractical when compared with technology, even 0+ technology? I mean… I'm thinking about the previous example involving a bus ride and/or a massive orgy, it is clearly impractical. Does magic require more effort than what it's worth for important material changes?
In many cases, yes. For instance, it's easier to build a rifle using a factory than a working. It's also much more useful to take a cab downtown than it is to apport there.
Where thaumaturgy excels is when you need to do the impossible. For instance: you need to get a Strike Team from Michigan to Siberia… in one hour. Thaumaturgy. You need to get into a person's files and erase their identity? Thaumaturgy.
Speaking of which, that does remind me of a case where thaumaturgy proved to be 100% more effective than anything that normal technology could do: I oversaw an identity reassignment to a young trans woman joining the Coalition. I don't care how good of a surgeon you are, you'll never perform a sex reassignment good enough to result in a fertile adult human female.
Is information gathering easier and cleaner than reality bending? I heard of a Type Blue agent using a subject's hair to determine their relative position within an unmapped forest area. Can that have a backlash, or does it have less negative consequences?
In many ways, every thaumatological spell is a form of scrying: remember that it all comes down to the observer effect, and how hard you observe. Locating individuals is a common spell, and in most cases, the backlash is easily manageable through shunts and sinks. It's a fairly low-Intensity application, for one: remember that backlash occurs proportionate to the original spell. If the original spell only used a small amount of energy, the backlash is usually negligible.
That is, of course, assuming that we're doing looking cross-or upstream… sorry. Into the present or past. Downstream scrying… that is to say, predicting the future… is much harder, like riding a mountain bike uphill as opposed to laterally or downhill. In fact, the most effective downstream scrying working to date is the Silicon Nornir… and they require two entire supercomputers calculating and scrying upon the present and past in order to drive a third cluster performing the future sight.
Sorry, Sir, I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful presentation and ask you… is there any chance whatsoever that religious groups built around certain miracles or portents are actually the inheritors of Type Green or Type Blue founders? Do we have evidence on the matter?
Yes, there is a chance. Yes, we do have evidence. No, I'm not going to tell you who.
I'm not sure I got that right a couple of hours back, sorry. Is a Type Red able to bend reality in any way?
That depends on the type of Red we're talking about. Many of them simply have accelerated healing systems. Many others, however, especially Expanding Regenerators, are the result of out of control thaumaturgical powers. Remember that Type Red is an indication of effect, not source.
For how long can Aspect Radiation related to a Blue event remain in the environment?
Proportionate to the intensity, pitch, hue, and weave. In general, these three factors tend to increase Aspect Radiation duration: greater intensity, lower hue (that is, tending more towards Ruby then Ebony), and tighter weave. Pitch tends to degrade, over time, towards the center: it will usually swing back and forth for a bit, before slowly settling down, rather like a pendulum.
Of the three, however, weave is the single most important aspect to determining ARAD longevity. There is a reason why the tightest level of Weave is called "Locked."
If one part affects the whole, couldn't you use any object to change the nature of the entire universe?
Yes. But it's a matter of inertia. Namely, that the universe shows a resistance to change. And the more you try to change, the more energy it requires, and the more difficult it becomes. For instance, it could be possible to change the gravitational constant of the universe using a grain of sand. We would need to devour the entire energy output of around one hundred thousand galaxies the size of the Milky Way to do so.
What's the difference between a Type Black and a type Ex Machina?
A Type Black is a human being that exhibits the characteristics of a Type Ex Machina. Ex Machinas tend to operate at a much higher level than Type Blacks. But functionally, in thaumatological terms, they're pretty much identical.
Are there any types of thaumaturgical resources other than vital energy?
There are, but EVE is the most efficient energy source we've found so far. And in many cases, what we thought were alternative energy sources to EVE turns out to be EVE in a different form… Ley Lines, for instance, were once thought to be an alternative energy conduit to EVE, before we came to realize that it was EVE pitched and hued in a combination we'd never seen before.
The current cutting edge in EVE research is consolidating Elan Vital theory with the Grand Unified Theory. Exciting stuff.
Has anyone ever tried to use thaumaturgy to deal with global issues like war and hunger? And if so, how come they never worked?
They did. We called it the Cornwall Incident: a Type Black, in alliance with a large coven of Type Blue allies, attempted a massive magical working to end human pain and conflict. The end result threatened the end of the human spirit.
You see, war and hunger all derive from dissatisfaction with your current status quo. When you are completely satisfied with your status quo, you have no motivation or desire to do… anything. Getting rid of war and hunger and pain required getting rid of jealousy… getting rid of identity. And there were some who felt that sacrifice worth it.
If it weren't for the heroic actions of a few Global Occult Coalition, humanity as we know it would cease to exist. We still strive to end war and hunger… it is the goal of the United Nations, after all, to promote Peace on Earth. But we have to do it the long hard way. The short path is paved with good intentions.
Whenever I imagine magic, I think of old guys in robes, holding staves and wands and stuff like that. Did you guys ever use any of that stuff?
I've got my ceremonial robes, hat, and staff in my office. Interesting fact: the wizard's stave originates not only from the very practical walking stick, but also from the staff used to mark time in ancient shamanic rituals. Early thaumaturges also found them useful for inscribing circles: much easier to draw from a standing position than having to drop down to your knees. The idea of the magic wand, I think, probably originates from the practice of using live cuttings from trees in ceremonial practices.
We use them about as often as modern scholars wear cap and gown, or use quill pens and inkwells. Some older institutes and GOC member organizations still require them: same with grimoires. On the other hand, I can get a much more precise pattern using lasers and mirrors, or even a high resolution LCD screen. The modern thaumatologist generally has less to do with old guys in robes carrying staves, and more to do with younger people in jeans, carrying laptop computers.
Of course, some claim that the ceremony and emotional state that comes from wearing a fancy robe and hat and carrying a staff can help the thaumaturge perform their working. If it works for you, more power to you. Me personally, I think that robes are way too breezy and staffs are a pain in the ass to carry around.
What is the process for becoming a Type Blue?
If you figure it out, publish your results. There's a ten million dollar prize on the line for the first person who figures out how that works.
Because really… no one knows. We just don't know why it is that some people gain the ability to manipulate magic and others don't. It seems to be linked to genetics in some cases. In other cases, it seems to be linked to intelligence, or close proximity to magical effects. But then there are 'wildcat' mages that appear out of nowhere, defying all perceived factors.
The best analogy I've seen is cancer. There are a lot of risk factors involved in whether you will get cancer: age, genetics, environment, exposure to carcinogens, and so on and so forth… but whether or not you're actually going to get cancer is mostly a matter of luck.
"I guess that's everything then. I've got one more thing to say, then you're all dismissed.
"The consumption of alcohol is a pretty-much universal means of establishing brotherhood and friendship. You see examples all the way from Christ's Last Supper, to the cult of Dionysus, to frat and stag nights all around the world. I personally am a fan of sessions: similar to the Chinese yum cha, where the drinking and eating is secondary to the fellowship and conversation around the table.
"What I'm trying to say is: the seminar may be over, but there's no reason why the conversation has to end. Feel free to meet me at the enlisted club, and I'll buy the first round of drinks."