Dec 04, 2020 6:45 PM
fabulous bell meets evil eye witch naruto
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"Can you teach everybody, or do you just mean, like, being able to swap spells online?"

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"We can swap spells online already - without proof, it doesn't really sound different from religious, not-technically-magical paganism. We don't know if we could teach literally everyone, but - usually we're able to teach the children of witches, and anyone the spirit messengers choose, and outside people we decide to bring into the fold. But as far as I know those people are all polytheists - we're really not sure if monotheists or hard line atheists could work magic, because we're really not sure how much of magic is the favor of powerful spirits and how much of it is someone's own power. And many powerful spirits are known to get offended if someone who doesn't worship them calls on them, and even though 'explicitly calling on spirits' isn't the entirety of magic... We're mostly just unsure if there's spirits involved at every point."

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"How hard line is hard line? I mean, I'm an atheist at home with a dash of 'the Thaumatologists have like one-seventh of a point' but the Thaumatologists are monotheists, but I don't know what you have going on here."

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A bit slowly:

"There's observably spirits - including ghosts, but also things like tree spirits and river spirits. Some of the spirits are powerful enough, with a broad enough reach, that the traditions I'm familiar with consider them gods. We're not sure who all the gods are, or what they'd call themselves - they tend to use the same consistent messengers, but those messengers aren't very good at communicating with humans, and we get a sense the gods aren't good at communicating with them. Like... Calling on Thor to protect your house from lightning is effective in a way just casting a lightning ward isn't, and is - cleaner? More responsive to human concepts? A lightning ward might interfere with electricity, but Thor will just stop lightning strikes."

"But the rituals for calling on spirits in general and especially gods are entangled with worship, and attempts to cut out the 'worship' ritual parts tend to backfire in ways that're hard to analyze. And many spirits will get angry if they feel insulted, which - they don't demand worship all the time? There's some witches who describe their relationship with the gods they work with as friendship, and some witches even end up mentoring younger spirits. But many spirits don't have human psychologies, and - approaching a ritual with a worshipful or... Open? Mindset is, for the majority of gods, your safest bet."

"It's not monotheistic worship, not... Bowing your head, or submitting to a higher authority, or following scripture. It's more like looking at a waterfall, and honestly going - that's gorgeous, that's transcendent, I could never capture that beauty in art but I want to try, and I'll respect it because it's dangerous and old and bigger than me, and because it's a part of this land like I am. And I think some people who're really inclined towards skeptic atheism would have a lot of trouble with that mindset, especially the - submersing yourself in transcendent wonder parts. Some people wouldn't - I suspect a lot of scientists wouldn't - but it'd be enough to put up a warning label on classes, and it might be enough to make... Easing into a cultural mindset that gets along with gods well? Take some time."

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"That's - interesting. Thor in particular? Not Zeus, or also Zeus, or - what?"

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"Closer to 'also Zeus.' We're not actually sure there's any truths to most myths - especially since we have... Proof that some rituals work? But not that the stories around those rituals ever happened. So it could be there's a lightning spirit that responds to multiple names and rituals, or there's a bunch of lightning spirits and multiple respond to Thor's rituals, or something weirder. We can figure out some things that might be a single god acting, but - not many, and that's mostly patterns among which people messengers point out as 'should get training.'"

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"That pattern mostly being 'already kind of into worshipping pagan deities'?"

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"Overall, yes, but there's individual patterns among different types of messengers... Like, small deer who mostly approach cis lesbians of Greek descent, or personality preferences - like, the local jay messengers tend to approach curious, intelligent people."

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"Huh. I'm not of Greek descent but I wonder if I count as a lesbian."

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"I suspect you'd get approached by a different messenger, anyways - people with... Strong personalities? And interesting circumstances? Tend to end up attracting more than generic interest."

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"I didn't realize I was actually in a category of likely messenging!"

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"It'll depend on a lot? People're usually brought into the fold by witches. And most messengers observe people for a while first to get an idea beyond first impressions."

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"They spy on people?"

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"Not in private, usually - and usually they'll immediately go to the nearest coven if they notice someone likely, let them handle any background checks and introductions and the like. Some messengers are less cooperative or more impulsive though."

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"I'm getting such a weird piecemeal picture of all this."

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"I can try to sit down and - explain it all through, but I'm usually not one of the people explaining things to new initiates..."

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"You can pawn us off if you want. And I'm not even a real new initiate. Haven't worshipped even one pagan deity. Wouldn't know how if I wanted to."

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"I don't mind helping you guys out more - and finding someone just to offer explanations shouldn't be hard..."

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"Is that a popular job?"

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