Long before the birth of civilization and cities, there were Magick-users who felt the breath and pulse of life in everything around them. They knew the power in the positions of the stars and the phases of the moon, of fire and smoke, but most especially, the power of living things. In Blood and Bone and Hair, in entrails and innards, in emissions and expectorations, they found the tools of their trade. They knew the power to heal, and the power to harm, for the same potions and poultices which cured diseases were also poisons that caused others, and this essential duality of life and death has shaped their destinies ever since. The earliest mages of this tradition were known as The Wyck, and they were the tribal wise women and medicine men who first experimented with the ways magick and life itself were inexorably intertwined. In time the Wyck gave way to the Aeduna, whose growing power led to growing prestige and position within society. No longer loners in the wilderness, communing with their animals and plants, they were scholars and teachers, advisors to kings, royal surgeons and court astrologers. Merlin was the greatest of these, especially during his brief possession of The Orb. But by this time the Aeduna had fractured into competing sects.
Many were influenced by by Greek and Roman culture, and some of these became the Cult of Dionysus, later merging with the ancestors of the Cult of Ecstasy. Others focused on the power of Life Magick to heal, and they became the Cosian Circle, founded by Hippocrates of Cos around 400 BC. But while their initial aims to become great healers were pure, they became arrogant in their power, performing gruesome experiments on living subjects, and eventually forming the ancestors of the Progenitors. Others rejected the rise of Christianity entirely, and drifted into the groups that would one day be the Dreamspeakers. But some managed to create a fusion of Christian and Pagan beliefs, and they became the Old Faith Fellowship, dedicated to preserving the ancient Pagan knowledge of their ancestors and combining it with new Christian symbolism and insights to create something more powerful than either source tradition alone. The worship of pagan spirits and deities came to be disguised as the veneration of Catholic Saints, healing Magick as divine miracles, and sacred nodes became holy grottoes. But the Catholic organization had become a stronghold of the Order of Reason, and their agents in the Inquisition were ruthless in hunting down members of the Old Faith Fellowship as witches and heretics, and their numbers dwindled.
In the face of this persecution, the Old Faith Fellowship became a founding member of the Council of Nine Mystical Traditions in 1466, changing their name to the Verbenae and claiming the Seat of Life. Their new allies protected them in hiding until it was safe to come out once more, and like many other groups, they came out of hiding after World War Two during the mystical revival of the 1960's. Wiccan covens, neo-pagan societies, naturopathic and homeopathic healing centers enabled them to operate more or less in the open, although the Technocracy and its agents remained a threat.
Gehenna and BeyondEdit
Gehenna changed little for the Verbena. Oh, they were happy to see their magick become more powerful and accepted, and they participated in the general revolt against the Technocracy, but their hearts were not in it. They preferred to serve as field medics than soldiers, and because many were drafted into the Tech Infantry, they served in this capacity on both sides. Their leadership joined the Resistance movement, but their rank and file members had little enthusiasm for conflict. Most preferred to serve out their term of service as a field medic and then quietly retire to return to their normal lives openly, rather than spend their lives on the run from the Draft. Their formal organization was crushed along with the rest of the Resistance by Arthur Clarke after the Third Civil War, but many of their survivors have found new homes in the Terran Republic after the Caal Invasion put an end to Clarke and his Five Acts.