It has been said that you can find anything or anyone in London, and that includes Shamans.
Not native born Shamans, Immigrants often teach their children some cultural stories and traditions, but true shaman training tended not to be the sort of thing that got passed down beyond the first generation of immigrants. But there were the occasional people who had apprenticed as a shaman in their youth and, for some reason or another, immigrated to London, thus they were already there when the initial tide of magic first rushed into Earth from the Rabbit Hole. Plus, as the rising tide of magic reached various parts of the world and some lucky few practicing shamans suddenly found their ancient rituals producing spectacular results, Shaman were uniquely capable, much earlier and easier than any of the other magically gifted, to inquire of the spirits they could now summon and obtain testimony of the phenomenon from those who actually lived upon the astral realm, and to inquire of their distant ancestors for forgotten or misremembered lore. Inquiries of the spirit world, combined with the excellent communication and news systems of the British Empire ensured that shamans all over the globe were able to put two and two together and associated London and the Rabbit Hole with the revitalization of Astral Space that they were witnessing. Again, due to the widespread nature of the British Empire, it was not impossible for a number of those most thirsty for knowledge to make their way to London with the hope of investigating this source of magic more closely.
Anyone who makes a successful inquiry of helpful local spirits (or the more knowledgeable street denizens) anywhere within Greenwich, the Isle of Dogs, or Blackwall, about where they could find more information or like-minded people to talk too, are often directed to the Ditchburn Street Boarding House in nearby Blackwall, London. Remember, the Shaman's could talk to spirits years before the Priests or Mediums could.
The Ditchburn street boarding house did not start out hosting a Shamanic Lodge, it was a normal boarding house, right on the border between the immigrant slums of Blackwall and the bustling docklands nearby. But it just so happened that suddenly, within days of each other, and within days of the Rabbit Hole opening, two of it's residents became magically active shaman (as opposed to trained but non-functioning shaman). They quickly learned that a third immigrant a few streets away had also suddenly acquired magical powers, and a 4th person, a girl without any training whatsoever, was displaying obvious signs magical awakening. The three men were from three very different traditions, and indeed from three different continents, but they quickly grew into the habit of spending evenings in one of the boarding house sitting rooms comparing lore and experimenting together while taking turns training the girl, and arguing about what, how, and even whether to train her. Soon their evenings were joined by other shaman who happened to be in London, and over time, the shaman who traveled to London from all over the world to learn about the return of magic joined them as well. Not all of the residents of the boarding house are shaman, and not all the shaman who are members of the lodge live in the boarding house. But the boarding house sitting room quickly became an established meeting place with almost nightly discussions of Magic Theory.
Many of the early visitors did not call themselves Shaman. Some were priests of various far-off religions: There was a Fakir from India, and two Shinto Priests from Japan, Native spiritualists from practically anywhere except Europe. But all were people who suddenly had rapidly developing power over which they had imperfect knowledge. Some, sometimes after months of study, decided that their believe system was not really compatible with the shamanic traditions of the majority, but even those who discovered that they were not on the same path as the rest of the lodge agreed that the months of study of Magic Theory were valuable to whatever path they were walking. Some still correspond regularly with the Lodge, even though its beliefs are not their own.
In the early days, almost nobody knew very much. But just about everybody had some small parts of the great puzzle that nobody else had. And so the founders pieced bits together. A centering technique from India. A summoning tip from Africa. The name of a helpful spirit from the Caribbean. A spell from South America. A way to talk to spirits from North America. Theory and Lore from all over.
A few months after the rail link to the Gruv was opened, a new and unsuspected source of Lore walked in the door of the boarding house. Gatsha was a young Zulu, whom had trained as a Shaman in his youth, but gave it up and instead joined the Army. He was still a young raw illiterate recruit who knew less than 20 words of English when the Zulu regiment was hurried from Africa and sent to the Gruv, Hustled, along with his regiment from the docks straight to the train to the Gruv, Gatsha had strange visions as the train transited the Rabbit Hole, and passed out. At first the brigade surgeons assumed he was part of the rash of Looking Glass fever that they struggling with, but it soon became clear that his body was not changing, and he apparently returned to normal, except he kept claiming to see weird things and hear voices that nobody else could. Sometimes inexplicable things manifested near him and caused chaos. Eventually it was recognized that he had become magically active in some way, but not in a way the same as the Anglican Chaplin of one of the units, nor any of the few other newly magical active persons in Fort Alice. Eventually he chanced to meet a Saurid Shaman who became very interested in him, recognizing a strange kindredness about their magic.
The Saurid took Gatsha as an apprentice of sorts, teaching him much magic. They found that their belief systems were very different, but strangely, just barely close enough for them to be able to find points of congruence and paper over the wide and deep areas of difference. Gatsha was detached from his duties as a young soldier, and spent months in intense study. He learned to speak, read and write Sarid (plains variant) at the same time he was learning to speak, read, and write English, and at the same time he was learning magic. Despite his disadvantages in language difficulties and large theological differences between him and his teacher, he had the advantages over the Shaman of London in that he was learning a coherent and complete system of magic from an experienced teacher.
It was proposed that Gatsha visit his new mentors home village and spend some months there. Before that expedition he spent a few weeks in London briefing various groups about what he had already learned about Suarid Shamanism. The spirits he could summon quickly told him about the terrestrial lodge, and he visited it. Their accumulated Lore, while much less complete than what he had already learned, was much closer to his own actual belief system. Thinking quickly, he managed to get an order signed instructing him to discuss Saurid Shamanism with a London based army Chaplin "and other members of Spiritual based traditions in London who might be of use". With that vaguely worded order in his possession, In addition to sending reports to Whitehall, Horse-guards, Lambeth Palace, and the Zulu government, Gatsha also quietly started making copies that he would drop off at the boarding house when he would stay there.
Currently Gatsha, still officially a member of his regiment, but on more or less permanent detached duty, divides his time between expeditions to the Saurids, the Zulu village near Fort Alice (where he teaches), and London, where he always stays at the Burnditch street boarding house. Despite his young age, he is rapidly gaining a widespread reputation for his knowledge of the Saurid, and of Saurid Shamanism. His briefings in London have expanded to lectures both academic, and religious. They are in the process of expanding to both general interest popular lecture halls, and the Salons of the nobility. Requests are starting to come from all over Britain, and even abroad.
Lore from all over two worlds, correspondents from all over Earth, and two rooms in a boarding House.
The boarding house is run by a widow named Mrs Aulakh. She rents rooms and meal plans (breakfast and supper, lunch on Sundays) by the week or the month. Since the Lodge has been established, the boarding house has prospered. At first the new Shaman had to keep their day jobs and study their new powers in the few hours of free time they had in the evenings. It was several months before any of her residents made even their first few shillings off of their new powers, but after that they quickly prospered and so did the boarding house. It has excellent (magical) security, and the local gangs have painfully learned to leave it and all of it's residents alone, which relieves Mrs Aulakh of a very major expense of protection money. Mrs Aulakh has purchased adjoining properties and remodeled into the extra space, hiring two of her married daughters to help her run the enlarged establishment. She now offers single occupancy rooms by the week or the month with various classes of rooms, with prices ranging from suitable for low income SL 2 (old rooms from the original boarding house - the cheapest of which are small unheated rooms barely large enough for a small bed and a wooden chair, water-closet out back on the ground floor, linen changed biweekly) up through a well-off SL 3 (large bedroom, private sitting room with coal fireplace, private bathroom, maid service twice a week). She rents one floor of one of the new properties to women of good character.
The Lodge dues pay for two rooms in the boarding house to be available for Lodge members exclusive use: a large ground floor parlor, used for study, discussions, occasional lectures, this also contains the Lodges main library, and a basement workroom/laboratory/training area. There are plans to rent another basement room and equip it as an Alchemical laboratory.
Many Lodge members also correspond with Shaman in their home countries, and the Lodge functions as a clearinghouse of information all over the world. Something worked out by a Shaman in North America might make it's way to London, and then all around the world within half a year.
Goals and Methods:
At first their goals were merely to figure out what the heck was going on. They have learned much, but, as is often the case, each answer reveal 3 new questions. The organization itself does not have any goals other than the better understanding of magic in general and the shamanic tradition(s) in general, and the spreading of this knowledge to shamans on two worlds. Various members and subgroups of the Lodge have expanded goals, including spreading shamanic faiths, and the adoption of various specific beliefs and practices, but while these are sometimes associated with the lodge, the lodge itself endorses none of them. The only real method of the Lodge is a duel-global network of correspondents. Letters from correspondents are often passed around the lodge and discussed at length.
There is not much of an organization to the lodge. Somebody once proposed electing officers, but this was felt to be too "English". Instead there are several members of the lodge that are referred to as grandfather, and they tend to decide the things that need deciding. Being a grandfather within the order is not a function of age. Gatsha was not yet twenty when he earned that honor. Grandfathers are not elected per se, somebody will simply start to call somebody else grandfather, and then within a week or two ether everybody is calling them that, or nobody is.
Beyond that, people just do the things that interest them. Some people correspond with distant Shamans much more than others. Some people research new KaV, some research summoning, some research types of spirits, while others research unique individual named spirits. A few have taken to searching out young people with the magical gift and attempting to convince them to accept Shaman apprenticeship. Others provide the training. Some don't directly work to expand the Lodges knowledge at all. Many go back into their original immigrant communities and perform the works of teaching, healing, and guidance that they would have done back in their original villages. A few even proselytize to not traditionally shamanic populations, including the English.
There are two basic types of membership in the Lodge. The members who are often in London, and can attend meetings at the boarding house, and Correspondents.
Correspondents are often the elder Shaman who trained the young Shaman who made the pilgrimage to London when the Rabbit Hole opened. The only requirement to be a correspondent is to have a member vouch for you. Correspondents (or their London sponsor) pay a small dues and receive a bi-monthly newsletter that contains an overview of research discovered by the group, usually packaged with several more personal (and/or detailed) letters from the members they correspond with.
Local members pay a greater (but still modest) dues that gives them access to the lodge meetings and the workshop. Almost daily there are discussions: formal or informal, laboratory experimentation, and training.
The Lodge has established a tradition that before an Initiate is trained to Novice, the candidate must summon three spirits before a quorum of the grandfathers, including two ancestor spirits, to vouch for the candidate.
Dues are based upon the members ability to pay, with some members being asked to pay more or less than others. The GM should adjust dues to fit the economy of their campaign and what facilities the Ditchburn lodge maintains (for example, if the Lodge starts to maintain an Alchemy Lab in the basement, then there might be some combination of dues increase and fees for usage). But in general, the Lodge has few and simple facilities, and not very high expenses.
As a guideline: most Aspirants and Initiates are asked to pay very little or nothing, one of the main goals of the Lodge is to train up new members. They make every effort to never turn away a seeker for knowledge just because they don't have ready cash. Initiating new members is seen as an investment in the future of the Lodge. More experienced Shaman, however, tend to have marketable abilities, the ability to climb the Social Ladder, and usually are able to pay more to support the Lodge. The GM might set typical Novice dues at anywhere from 10 shillings per year to 10 shillings per month. Journeymen might be anywhere from 50% more to double Novice dues. Intercontinental letters can be sent by post for a few pence per ounce, so the postal costs of bi-monthly correspondence would be only a few shillings per year for Correspondents, and more often than not a local member would pay a correspondence members subscription fees.
Enemies and Allies:
The lodge does not have any actual Enemies, but their are some organizations who are wary of them and keep an eye on them.
The Anglican church at first dismissed the Shaman as ineffectual heathens, more to be pitied than considered rivals. Some few are starting to get mildly alarmed at the members of the Lodge that are trying to not only maintain the shamanic faith within the immigrant population, but to expand it among the British born as well, and are starting to fear that they might be effectual heathens trying to lead the British born into heresy, which is quite a different kettle of fish.
The British government has always made it very clear, right from the beginning, with frequent and emphatic renewal, that certain topics are not to be discussed with the Suarid Shamans. Namely, industrialization, pollution, and what the spirits of Earth feel about these topics. The Lodge has made promises in accordance with the governments wishes, but the Lodge has determined for a fact that all postal and telegraph messages to or from the Lodge through the Rabbit Hole are carefully opened and read.
The spell list is left for individual GMs to fill out, but it could be eclectic and borrow both from other game traditions, or from any shamanistic culture on Earth. For example the Terrestrial Shamans learned the KaV "See by the light of the Moons" from the Saurid Shamans, and even invoke it by speaking the names of the three moons of the Gruv in (Plains) Saurid. They may or may not have worked out other KaV for the enhance senses spell, but they learned (and still teach) "See by the light of the Moons" exactly as the Saurid's know it.
Information and discussion for players of the game. No spoilers here please!
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Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:41 pm, edited 13 times in total.
Gatsha’s relationship to the British Army really anchors the lodge in the world of 1879. Nice!