(Howard finds this and knows it in-game and others know it out-of-game unless Howard points it out or shares it with them during their time in the Hermetic Chantry library)
That which burns within us, which calls out to us, which many call the Avatar, is within us for a purpose. It drives us toward something in particular. Certainly, it causes us to seek greater understanding, even as it beckons us toward greater power. It is the source of our Thelema, our divine Will, but it also seems to have its own design.
It does not work in every practitioner by the same means. It does not lead everyone down the same road. For the Houses of Hermes, there are four widely understood paths down which an Avatar might lead. The first is the Via Castellum, which drives the Mage to create, to bind, to build and to preserve. Upon the stones of this path all systems, all theories, all orders depend. The Will, the Thelema, stretches out and slowly bends the Tellurian toward itself. It seeks to build foundations. On this path Hubris shows itself in the form of obsession, of fixation. What is built must also move, or it will surely die. This path is connected to the principle of Stasis, of that which is and remains. It is tied to the earth, to the influences of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, to Saturn and Mercury, to the Watchtower of the North.
The second is the Via Furo, which drives the Mage to change, to transform, to move. This is the force which drives any Paradigm forward, which seeks out new things, new ways, new answers and new questions. This power heats and drives and can also destroy and twist. Hubris shows itself in the form of madness, delusion and capriciousness. What is changed or moved must be so for a purpose that is beyond the Mage’s selfish desire. This path is connected to the principle of Dynamism, of beginnings without end. It is tied to fire, to Aries, Leo and Sagitarius, to Mars and Mercury, and to the Watchtower of the South.
The third is the Via Mare, which drives the Mage to seek mysteries, to plunge ever deeper into the Tellurian and into himself. This path leads deeply and into the distance, seeking out endings and limits and then transcending them. It represents the power of the grave and the womb, more ancient than any realm. Hubris shows itself as despondency and morbidity, as well as moral corruption. This path is tied to the principle of Entropy, the turning wheel of fate and decay. It is tied to water, to Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, to Pluto and Jupiter, and to the Watchtower of the West.
Finally, there is the Via Sussuro, which drives the Mage to move, to go ever forward, to seek, to quest. This path is defined by the motion along it rather than where it originates or where it leads. Hubris shows itself through recklessness and impulsiveness as well as, ironically, lack of direction. This path is not tied to any metaphysical principle of the Tellurian, but it is perhaps guided most by Hope, a principle of a more mundane sort. It is tied to air, to Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, to Venus and Saturn, and to the Watchtower of the East.
What does this have to do with Ascension? Ascension is the end of all four of these paths, the end of any path that the enlightened Will chooses to walk. It is the culmination of the Avatar’s work and the end-point of any Mage’s journey. It is the point at which one ceases to be a Mage and becomes something else entirely, perhaps as far from our work as we are from the everyday world of the unAwakened.
Perhaps it is simply a dream. Perhaps our paths are paths without end. Perhaps in the end we return to the beginning. There are stories of those who have gone before us who have Ascended, but whatever took place, credible stories do not remain.
This I know, however – the work is never done. My knowledge, my mastery, is never complete. My Avatar is never silent, always calling me onward. It calls me toward Ascension, and I intend to follow it there.