The Nine Spheres

The successful mage doesn’t merely want something to happen. She couples that will with a whole system of beliefs explaining how and why that event could and will happen. A mage’s reality is subjective, but must still be disciplined and internally consistent. When a Dreamspeaker walks the Umbra, an Akashic Brother levitates into the air, or a Verbena conducts a blood ritual that reaches across worlds, they succeed because they understand not only what they do but how they must do it. The Awakened Ones must study the forces and elements of reality to produce the magickal Effects which change them.

To ease the formidable task of studying all possible elements of reality, the ancient Masters divided reality into nine separate categories – the nine Spheres of Knowledge. These Spheres supposedly encompass all elements of reality and are the focus of study for all True Mages. Though certain groups tend to emphasize one Sphere over the others, all (or nearly all) Spheres are available to all mages.

Various traditions and factions interpret the Spheres very differently, often even using entirely different terminology and symbols. Yet, the basic paradigm remains the same: Conception - the beginning or the Prime, focusing (or focused by) the Mind – attains substance through the Spirit and leads to form, epitomized by the Pattern Arts of Life, Matter and Forces. From there, this “grand idea” becomes the reality we perceive - Correspondence and Time – before spiraling down through Entropy so that the process can begin again.

This paradigm is by no means universal. Some even suspect that the model for the Spheres came from the Order of Reason, which worked through so-called “spheres of influence” over a century before the Council’s formation (See “Technocratic Spheres,” below). Nevertheless, the Spheres remain, at least for now, a way of communicating the elements of one’s Art.

The Spheres are as follows:

• Correspondence: Three-dimensional space is an illusion; all points of space are or can be united. With this Sphere, the mage can manipulate space and distance.

• Entropy: All things eventually make way for that which follows in the great Cycle. With each death and rebirth, there is new hope. Some call it decay, others Fate. Whatever name it goes by, this Art allows the mage to manipulate the forces of probability, disorder and destruction.

• Forces: Students of this powerful Sphere know the forces of the elements – electricity, magnetism, fire, wind, gravity, kinetic energy and even nuclear energy.

• Life: The Sphere of Life addresses biological patterns and energies – incredibly complex and intricate Arts requiring careful study and practice to master. Masters of this Sphere can create and alter organic life patterns.

• Matter: This Sphere covers the study of physical, inorganic patterns. These templates, though simpler to use, are not quite as flexible.

• Mind: The Sphere of Mind is the study of sentience. It allows the mage to delve into the mysteries of the human brain, to explore and to avail himself of the powers within.

• Prime: The Art of Quintessential reality; training in this Sphere allows the mage to understand and manipulate reality in its rawest forms, to detect, absorb and manipulate this mysterious element.

• Spirit: To know the Otherworlds and their inhabitants, a mystick must study this elusive and ephemeral Sphere. With it, she may converse with the Umbrood and even enter their worlds.

• Time: This Sphere teaches that time is as subjective as space or matter. Mastery of it allows a mage to manipulate perception or the passage of time.

The Tenth Sphere?

In addition to the nine Spheres discussed above, a number of mages hypothesize the existence of a 10th. These mages believe that this theoretical Sphere – the missing element – can unite the other nine and show the true Path to Ascension. Both the existence and identity of this Sphere are hotly contested. Each Tradition has its own “pet Sphere,” and politics all too often interferes with a true exchange of knowledge and theories in this debate. Even the Static Mages have their own “10th Sphere,” the elusive Grand Unification Theory of physics. Yet a troubling, fundamental question remains: If all Spheres flow into one, is that not the path to stasis or even entropy? The question is far from resolved, and some Tradition mages may ignore it to the detriment of all.