The Hierarchy of Spirits

In the world we know, there’s a food chain, a pecking order, a hierarchy of living things that allows the strong to prey upon the weak. The spirit world works the same way, but on a much larger, cosmic scale. The word “spirit” can describe anything from the most pitiful, mindless, ephemeral entity rooting in filth to the awesome grandeur of a twenty-first century god embodying the power of a star, planet, or epoch.

Theurges and Galliards alike struggle to find the words to describe these spirits, but over the millennia, they’ve found a few terms that allow them to rank the spirits from the powerless to the mighty. At the apex of the multiverse, the trinity of the Triat watches over all creation. Four categories of spirits act as lesser performers in this cosmic ballet.

Celestines

Although Celestines are cosmologically less than the forces of the Triat, they possess vast and unfathomable spiritual power. They are known by many names, but the Garou are most commonly familiar with Luna (the spirit of the Moon) and Helios (the spirit of the Sun.) Other Celestines are powerful servitors of the Triat, but they’re largely unknown to the Garou. Celestines are both sentient and highly intelligent. Most dwell in realms of their own creation, in which they possess unlimited, localized omniscience and omnipresence.

Celestines can send avatars to communicate with shapeshifters. These avatars are aspects of themselves in guises lesser beings can understand. Each avatar contains a mere shard of the Celestine’s true power, although it still makes them among the most powerful beings in the spirit world. A Celestine’s true form is unimaginable. Communication and communion between Celestines and lesser beings are only possible through avatars. To create one, the Celestine merely wills itself to appear in a limited form; each Celestine is capable of maintaining multiple avatars at once.

As the name implies, Celestines dwell in the heavens. For every planet in our solar system, for every massive astronomical phenomenon, there is a spiritual presence that dwells in the spirit world, both as a manifestation in the Aetherial Realm and in the cold, inimical, and uncaring madness of the Deep Umbra. Theurges tell stories of Celestines influencing the outcome of events here on Earth, telling some of their tales in a language not too different than that of astrologers and dreamers. Avatars of the Celestines appearing on Earth are rare, but their messages can be heard by those who are willing to listen. Some merely watch or listen the stars for guidance; others prefer to reject such revelations, preferring to think that there is no fate save for the ones they make.

Incarnae

Incarnae sit one step below Celestines in this hierarchy, servings as servants, warriors, and advisors to those cosmic forces. Nearly all of them derive their power from their patrons, though they often believe they have the potential to eventually become Celestines. Most dwell in the realms of the Celestines, but a few have independent domains of their own. Incarnae have a defined purpose and sphere of influence.

Garou are most familiar with the Incarnae who serve as their totems. From the moment a pack of werewolves proves their spiritual allegiance, their totem provides them with guidance and their spiritual blessing. In fact, it may bestow its patronage to an entire sept or tribe of Garou. As servants of Gaia, they create avatars to interact and communicate with werewolves. Pack totems are the most commonly encountered form of “incarnate” avatar; however, as spiritual servants, pack totems demonstrate power on a par with Jagglings.

Though significantly less powerful than Celestines, Incarnae are powerful enough to exist on multiple levels of reality. Garou typically interact with one incarnate avatar, although elder Theurges tell tales of spiritual travelers who have communed with an Incarna in the remote realms of the Deep Umbra, marveling at its awesome and overwhelming spiritual might.

Jagglings

Most of the dangerous spirits the Garou fight in the Umbra are Jagglings. Nearly all of them can be considered part of the Weaver, Wyrm, or Wyld — in fact, some are fanatically devoted because they’re formed from a portion of their patron or master. Pattern Spiders, Nexus Crawlers, Banes, and Englings are all common examples. Most loyally serve an Incarna, though a few serve Celestines directly. Some develop (or earn) free will and independence from the patron, although this is more common on the remote fringes and smaller realms of the spirit world. Werewolves are intimately familiar with the Jagglings who teach them Gifts, including a wide variety of animal spirits who demonstrate the instincts and intellects of creatures in the physical world, albeit in very idealized ways. A Jaggling may also serve as a reservoir of spiritual power, as is shown by Englings capable of providing Gnosis to an entire pack (or even a sept) of Garou.

Gafflings

Gafflings are at the bottom of the spiritual hierarchy. They’re the barely-sentient servants of Jagglings, as well as the Changing Breeds and shamans who can command them. Their instincts and guile are barely sufficient to survive in the wilds of their spirit realms, and many spiritualists consider them to be little more than tools. Shamans have little difficulty sacrificing them for the greater good, for sacrifice is nature’s way.

Like other spirits, Gafflings use supernatural powers called Charms to remain in constant contract with their patrons, largely because their patrons have no reservations about keeping them under complete control. Although some possess full intelligence, those are more the exception than the rule. Mysterious cosmic forces bestow their intellect and abilities. They’re known for complete loyalty, and many actually prefer being dominated by their controllers, liberating them from such troublesome concepts as freedom and independence.

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