Category:Circle of the Crone
The Circle of the Crone venerates a variety of female figures as an amalgamated creator of vampires, the Mother of all Monsters. Regarded as pagans by some of the more conservative Kindred factions, the Circle relies more on holistics and redemption than on the penitence and guilt of other ideological covenants. Its members are sorcerers and blood witches.
Few vampires outside the Circle of the Crone have anything even approaching a complete understanding of the group’s secretive beliefs and behaviors. As a covenant, the Circle is as devoted the Carthians, more tightly organized than the Invictus, and as often as not, more feared and misunderstood than the Lancea Sanctum and the Ordo Dracul. For many neonates, these mysterious Kindred are the “bogeymen” of vampire society — those who gather in sequestered cabals, where they practice ancient and eldritch rites in reverence to bloody gods and goddesses of cultures forgotten or shunned. These are the vampires about whom elders warn their childer: the political outcasts, iconoclasts and, to some, heretics of the Damned.
The Circle of the Crone decries what are the most widely accepted creation myths of the vampire. To these cultists, the Lancea Sanctum’s progenitor is not to be revered, worshipped or even heeded. Nor is the Ordo Dracul’s nighmythical founder anything but a grand ruse. Instead, the Circle of the Crone claims a more naturalistic origin for vampires, that they have always been a part of the world, spawned in the dark places where mortals fear to tread and where guarded suspicion yields to open fear. Their origin stories invoke such names as the Russian witch Baba Yaga, the horned god Cernunnos, the Thracian goddess of moon and magic Bendis, the animal-god Pashupati, bull sacrifices in the name of Mithras, and the bloodier incarnations of the Morrigan. Members of the Circle of the Crone occasionally even incorporate elements dating before Lancea Sanctum dogma into their philosophy through Lilith, the first wife of Adam. Acolytes, as members of the Circle are often known, reject vampiric notions of penitence entirely. Instead, they take a more organic approach to unlife, one that allows for all creatures — even the living dead — to continue to learn, grow and find enlightenment over time. While much of Kindred tradition places emphasis on guilt and penance according to the Judeo-Christian model, the Circle of the Crone sees itself as outside that framework.
Members of this covenant maintain that the primary lesson to be learned from whatever origin of the undead any given Kindred espouses is that a vampire, though damned to an eternity of unlife, is no more or less a victim than he chooses to be. Empowerment and enlightenment are both well within the reach of any creature, vampire or otherwise, who is truthful and dedicated enough to attain them. Although the Circle is primarily a vampiric phenomenon, its ideology extends beyond the worldly borders of the Kindred plight and is attractive to non-Kindred as well. As such, the Circle boasts some of the most extensive and unusual contacts among other, similarly inclined creatures, including mages and even werewolves.
As might be expected, Acolytes are none too popular with the fervent Lancea Sanctum, which takes great offense at the Circle’s “corruption” of its dearly held ideals. Some truly hardline Kindred, especially those in power in conservative domains, go so far as to outlaw the practice and spread of what they call “demon worship,” and they lay heavy penalties down upon those caught in violation of the decree. Most of the time, however, even the most stalwart Prince or Archbishop satisfies himself with making sure that those around him are free of any Acolyte heresy, thus cutting off any potential threat at the source.
At the core of Acolytes’ belief sits the Crone, a sort of vampiric mentor and lover of mythological “monsters” during various stages of history and among innumerable cultures. Obviously, reverence for the Crone is the source of the Circle’s name, and she is by turns an amalgamation of spirits or gods from whom vampires originated, or a literal figure not too vastly different from the Lancea Sanctum’s own progenitor. Acolytes revere the image and teachings of various mothergoddesses, who, according to a variety of mythological and religious texts, was cast out of the company of fellow gods for seeking to better herself by consuming the blood of those whom the gods had made in their image. Through trial and pain, the Crone managed to uncover the secrets of creation, and to survive the harsh wasteland that was life outside the gods’ own paradise. All on her own, the Crone is said to have created form, shape and beauty out of the barren nothingness that lay beyond the ken of men and gods, and her Circle seeks to emulate her experience so that it too might achieve her wisdom and power.
Branching out from this core precept are two underlying themes.
Creation is Power
Vampires of this covenant are perhaps the most honest with themselves about what they believe to be the truth of the Kindred condition. They recognize that the Requiem tears them from the natural world and suspends them in a state of eternal stasis, forever unable to create life. For those who let the truth of this realization destroy them, existence becomes an unending spiral of manipulation toward destruction, with resources being allocated merely to fuel the perpetuation of the cycle. Creation, then, becomes both the source of true power and the only way a static creature can otherwise remain a vibrant part of the earthly order. Some Acolytes practice this ideology in small ways, tending gardens or breeding animals, while others take the broader view, seeking instead to create things of lasting beauty or utility such as art or invention. Whatever form it takes, all Acolytes strive to emulate creation in their own way.
Tribulation Brings Enlightenment
Acolytes believe that any creature can overcome its own weakness and moral failings by continually testing its physical, mental and spiritual limitations. Only through ongoing tribulation can one’s consciousness expand, and thus true understanding be reached. Cultists empower themselves by alternately exciting and challenging the senses, and through the newfound comprehension that results, they finally transform the static nature of undeath into the miracle of creation. Many cultists take this to a literal level, engaging in bouts of flagellation and other self-abuse that would make a mortal’s stomach churn. Others simply put their bodies in new and difficult situations so that they may better understand themselves and their fears and limitations. Whatever the motivation, the results are undeniable: Those who endure are tempered by their experiences, making them ever more capable of enduring whatever comes next.
The Circle of the Crone boasts a diverse collection of Kindred among its adherents. Members of every clan and those of any age are drawn to the Circle’s particular ethos, and the covenant is certainly stronger because of it. If the covenant is weak in any one demographic, it is likely in the number of Ventrue who share in its beliefs. The Ventrue are childer of tradition, and among the more conservative members of the clan, tradition suggests that core Acolyte ideology is foolishness at best and heresy at worst. Conversely, the Gangrel (who are known for their disregard of both mortality and Kindred convention) are perhaps the perfect fit for the covenant’s mindset. Many Acolytes do indeed hail from the ranks of the Savages, who can find a symbolic resonance between their nature and those of the many gods and spirits in the Circle’s pantheon.
Given the relatively radical nature of their philosophies, Acolytes are understandably preoccupied with the continued growth of their membership. In recent years, many have begun to actively seek converts, particularly from among the downtrodden and dispossessed of Kindred society. This search often leads to the door of unaligned Kindred, many of whom are somewhat more tolerant of Acolytes than they are of the Lancea Sanctum or Invictus. And there are others who view the Acolytes’ ideology as compatible with their own political outlook. As a result, the Circle’s missionary efforts have been rewarded, and the number of former independents who have become members grows with each passing night. After all, if vampires are real, who’s to say that the blood gods and deities of the Old Ways aren’t?
Thought on Others
- The Carthian Movement - Misplaced values
- Invictus - A foul aristocracy
- Lancea Sanctum - Hateful demagogues
- Ordo Dracul - Distracted from true understanding
- Unaligned - Lost within themselves
Known Circle of the Crone
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