The Avatar's Role

On the edge of sleep,
I heard voices behind the door
The known and the nameless
Familiar and faceless
My angels and my demons at war
Which one will lose — depends on what I choose
Or maybe which voice I ignore
~Rush, "Double Agent"

Is the Avatar the soul? The subconscious? The id? A guiding spirit? The voice of an ancestor? The call of God? Or some devil? Each mage will give you a different answer. Whether one, all or none of these ideas are true, a mage's Avatar is, to all appearances, the seat of her magickal power. Do Sleepers have such souls, which might be roused on the Day of Ascension? Or is the gift of Awakening something only a few people will ever have? Is a mage one being or two? Does he control his Avatar, or does it control him instead? No clear answers come to hand. In their absense, most mages, like anyone else, turn to mythology.

Mystick folklore refers to "Pure Ones" who sundered their own Essence and left it scattered through the Tellurian. Masters call this bit of Essence the Avatar. Most living things, they say, have Avatars, but only a True Mage carries an Avatar which is self aware. Put simply, the Avatar is the magickal conciousness that allows a willworker to do her thing. Some sorcerers have tight bonds with their Avatar, while others totally deny the divine shard's existence. You may not believe in God, goes the old saying, but God still believes in you.

Mysticks often disagree about this inner self. Gharmic scripture declares the Avatar "That Blessed Part which is all things intertwined," while Hermetic lore states that "…the so-called 'Avatar' is nothing more than a personification of the mystick consciousness, wrapped in some pleasing (or terrying) form." The Technocracy officially denies any affiliation with supernatural entities, but promotes "…self-awareness through constant maintenance of the superego," while many Dreamspeakers talk of past lives or ancestors who live again in their descendands. All or none of these views may be true. A mage's magickal soul may take any number of forms — from bad dreams to seperate entities, from the "daemon" of Greek philosophy to the "eureka factor" of scientific inspiration — and is not limited to any one certain shape. Whatever form in which the Avatar reveals itself, it goads the mage further down his Path. Whether he meets his Avatar face-to-face, encounters it in dreams or hears its whisper in the back of his mind, its influence is always somehow present.

Avatars are supposedly immortal. They pass, it is said, from one mage to the next, carrying the lessons learned from one incarnation into the other. If this is true, Avatars are pretty slow learners; modern mages seem no wiser than their legendary forebears. Some mysticks speak of Reconciliation, the Metaphysic Trinity or the Path of Change — all different ways of saying that Avatars have their own agendas, ends which they pursue through mortal incarnations. This concept is not universal, but makes sense in light of the Ascension War and the four or five Essences spoke of in Hermetic texts — Dynamic, Pattern, Questing, Primordial and possibly Infinite — the "personalities" of Avatars.


When a mage wants to advance, she enters what some call a Seeking, an out-of-body trial where she confronts her Avatar and demands access to the power she holds within herself. Her success or failure determines how much of her potential she unlocks — and how far she still has to go.

Meditation of some form is the most common way to go Seeking; the searcher must literally travel out of herself to begin. The mystick's body does not actually leave Earth, but she is not present within it while the test goes on. Seekings take place in some otherspace which is neither material reality nor a visitable part of the Otherworlds. The mage's consciousness returns to our reality when she has either passed the test… or failed.

Like all aspects of the Avatar, the form such Seekings take varies wildly from mage to mage. Verbena speak of the Guardian, a forbidding taskmaster who sets the trials and wards the subconscious until the sorcerer is ready for such secrets. Some Virtual Adepts go into a sort of VR simulation, where they solve puzzles based on problems they struggle with in lfie. When they solve the puzzle, the Seeking ends. Avatars have even been known to cripple a mage in the material world, striking him blind, poor, lame or otherwise disabled, until he learns to do without some crutch that he has grown to depend upon. It is an intimately personal encounter where the mystick takes Path cues from his Avatar.

During a Seeking, a mystick undergoes a gauntlet set up by different aspects of her Avatar. The tests change and grow harder each time. Unresolve conflicts, internal or external, take metaphysical shape and symbolic substance. To triumph over the obstacles, the mage works through puzzles, suffers trials, fights battles, confronts tormentors… whatever the Avatar deems necessary to advance her understanding and proceed further on the Path. Success grants her another Epiphany, taking her up another rug on Ascension's ladder. If she fails, she gains nothing. Bad failures sometimes end in exhaustion, physical shock or injuries, insanity, Quiet… or even death.


Avatar/mage relationships vary. In most cases, the Avatar takes on a "teacher" aspect, leading a mage to his Path and helping him to travel along it. If the mortal self is stubborn, the inner self pushes, threatens, encourages or sulks. Very strong Avatars may even be seen by other mages with potent Spirit magick. A would-be mentor often decides upon an un-Awakened recruit by sizing up his Avatar. To many Awakened, the magickal self is a living entity, sometimes benign, often terrifying. Contrary to popular beliefs, bits of the so-called "Pure Ones" are not necessarily nice guys; Marauders, Nephandi and cruel Technomancers have Avatars every bit as "true" as any Celestial saint's.

Bringing the mystick self and the mortal self together and staying sane in the process is a constant struggle for most mages. If the two don't match — and they rarely do, at least in the early steps of the Path — they clash. Some mage run from their destiny, while others let it go to their heads. In either case, the Avatar comes along, a back-seat driver pointing off-road. The strain is more than some can handle. A few slip into Quiet, the madness that comes when outside reality and perception blur too far. Others go more subtly unsane, suffering from night terrors, obsession, power-madness or cowardice.

The inner self will not be denied. It may appear full-form, visit its mage in dreams, speak through people or other objects, grant hunches or intuitions, or even turn reality inside-out and drag the mystick's consciousness in for a chat. The stronger the Avatar, the more obvious its hand, and the more demanding its requests. Sooner or later, a mage must listen; too much conflict may interfere with magick, sleep or sanity.

It may sound from all of this as if the mage is the pawn of the Avatar. While some cynical willworkers believe that this is so (and is, perhaps, the way it should be), most admit that the mage/Avatar relationship is a two-way street. As the Avatar shapes the mystick, so too does the mystick shape his Avatar. For all we know, the Essences might only be the legacies of past lives which have left their imprint upon the Avatars. No one knows for certain. Even if the Esssence has no mortal cause, a mage is always free to do what he or she wants to do. The Avatar's urgings only guide the sorcerer. Ultimately, a mage's destiny is his own.

The Technocratic Avatar

Many Technocrats gravitate toward the Union in order to channel the Avatar, so that everything seems rational. Awakening is often a terrifying thing; imagine a voice in your head that tells you constantly that reality is false. And knowing that it's right. Technocracy recruiters do their best to caml a budding willworker and convinceh im that the best way to handle his new "insights" is to use them to work for the common good. Therapy, counseling and technomagickal treatments ease the stress of Seekings and Ephiphanies while also monitoring resident mages for signs of defection or rebellion.

No one knows what the Union's Inner Circle thinks of Avatars. The official party line, however, is that they are manifestations of humanity's inner genius. The dreams, visitations, conflicts and Seekings are merely figments of overtaxed imaginations, subconscious solutions to troubling issues.

They may even be correct.