The Bahane
Type
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Threat Level
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Active Status
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Other Names
The Story, The Watcher, The Knower, Yggdrasil, Tree of Knowledge, Tree of the Buddha

Description: Within the depths of human conscious and unconscious connectivity lays a curled and intangible tree of untapped potential. Its roots, all human souls, its branches, all human thoughts. Alas, the hungry are left grasping for its precious fruits, feeling only the leaves at their fingertips.
- Hu Weng Zheng, 1999, Treatise to Heaven

The greatest tool known to Warder Society, the Bahane is an entity regarded with utmost reverence by those who eat from its fruit of knowledge. It is both a metaphorical and metaphysical "tree" that offers knowledge within the bounds of human limitation. It does not manifest in the physical world but its gifts of knowledge can be experienced and shared physically. This spirit is connected to us most keenly, as it represents the sum of human knowledge, willing to store and trade information like a market broker.

Warders, as well as nearly all of Norman society, know of the "lesser invocation rituals" to activate it. Dreaming, Ouija, divine experiences, and drug-induced visions all tap into pieces of the unconscious mind and can thus be performed by anyone. Shamans of the Wayward Society call this method "Digging for Roots," as the practitioner is simply digging for where they think they may find the roots of the tree of knowledge. Sometimes they will find what they seek, but most often, they'll dig for a long time. The method has its uses, but is by far unreliable, though the safest method to obtain knowledge if done in moderation. Besides even getting the right answer, it relies completely on the ability of the person to be able to interpret and understand what they experience— and we know how well humans are good at that.

Those trained in climbing the tree can find more solid knowledge. These are fortune tellers who can consciously access knowledge on command through rigorous mental preparation and ritualistic devotion. This method is called "Climbing." When a practitioner has opened their mind, that is, they've Dug for Roots and traced their way back to the tree, they then have greater ability to tap into the potential the Bahane brings. Climbing rituals involve intense devotion, knowledge of the proper seals, and a semblance of ego-death, making it difficult for the spiritually blind to access. These seals are comprised of shapes, acting like a primal key to unravel conceptual thought within the mind. They are kept within a repository, freely accessible to shamans but can be seen upon request by any trustworthy Warder or ally. Climbers' fortunes are automatic gut feelings, and assuredly correct. They receive automated knowledge of the things they seek through potent hallucinatory visions, as long as it is within human knowledge. They may even experience pieces of information found in physical works like literature, video recordings, or technological media but through the lens of their own perspectives. The price for any Bahane knowledge at this level is the same: degrading sanity. As they climb, they realize they may fall.

Then there are those who have reached the top, going beyond Climbing. Reaching this level is intense and most are not mentally prepared as it spells insanity for the uninitiated. It is aptly known as "Jumping," in which the practitioner has lost most of their identity, becoming permanently intertwined with the Bahane. They can grasp almost any piece of human knowledge, but never truly understand what they obtain. Even worse, insanity is their default state, and lucidity only comes in ebbs and flows. Jumpers are met with the terrifying thought of understanding what they've become, only for their senses to be washed away again and again. Climbing practitioners on the brink of Jumping describe the madness as a form of water torture, a struggle to fill their identities. These rituals eschew the ritualistic procedures of before, requiring only that the practitioner to give in to their ego-death in order to be one with the spirit of knowledge.

Background: Throughout time, countless civilizations have struggled to describe the tree they have seen in their collective visions. But the stories of these civilizations are connected by the universal and arguably Jungian tree archetype, which we understand as the Bahane. The bible called it the Tree of Knowledge. The Norse called it the World Tree Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life for the Mesopotamians, and in India it was the Banyan tree in which the Buddha meditated under to attain enlightenment. Countless more have referenced the tree in their mythologies, but only one captured the attention of Nathaniel Ingram in his journeys through the American Southwest: the Diné.

The Diné people, known by English speakers today as the Navajo, gave our Society the loanword of Bahane, meaning story. By the 1840s, Ingram, who was now in his middling years, encountered a group of Navajo scholars in his search for occult knowledge traveling through what was then Mexico. These scholars had practiced and studied the spirituality of the Diné Bahane, their creation myth, as a way to unravel the understanding their oratory studies brought. Ingram referred to this group of Navajo as the Keepers, who are believed to have died out at the turn of the 20th century.

Morgan De Mar, Spanish and Chiricahua speaking traveling companion to Ingram, transcribed the story on parchment, as well as the explanation the Bahane scholars gave. Seeing the connection to the old myths of Europe that Ingram regaled to her, she was drawn to the first tree told in the creation myth, the lone pine tree that was used as the first firewood. In camp, Morgan shared the fact with Ingram and pointed to its connection to the myths of Prometheus and the first fire.

"Civilization. It points to the creation of civilization," she is reported to have said in his memoirs, Oath from the Mount of Thistles. Ingram, upon this realization, felt the connection to the tree of knowledge and found that the aging scholars knew the deeper meaning the myth had towards understanding the untapped knowledge that humanity had gathered. He and Morgan had Dug the Roots. The next morning, he begged the Keepers to teach him the key to this knowledge, but they refused, saying they could not condemn others to their burden. It was Morgan who convinced them, seeing that she spoke a mutually intelligible language and was already attuned to their culture. They gave her the necessary knowledge to climb, seeing in her greater potential than Nathaniel and wishing to pass on their burden to someone willing, warning her of the fate of all Keepers. She agreed anyway and had to swear upon a sand crafted seal that she would not teach the full limits of their knowledge, a fact which embittered Ingram until his final years.

The Wayward Society of America was gifted with a limited window of the Bahane's rituals, but because De Mar had sworn upon the spirit of knowledge itself, she could not reveal its potential in full, only the pieces she deemed acceptable. It's said that she later became the first Warder to Jump, losing herself entirely into the spirit. Ingram made no more mention of her and likely had little knowledge of what happened to her after her revelation because they parted ways months thereafter. He did spread the knowledge she shared with him, the document which can be found within the Hunting or Procurement Methods section, known as De Mar's Access Ritual. Since then, modern rituals practiced by Warders and shamans have been based upon these safer and limited forms of information gathering, though there are said to be practitioners who have found the same path of the Keepers on their own. However, the Keepers sent a warning to De Mar, who relayed the same warning to Ingram: The beast will rise from the river and devour the Fifth World. This warning haunted Nathaniel, who understood it as the universal end other mythologies had divergently predicted before. This also meant that the Bahane must have known of the end, and Ingram devoted the rest of his days in scouring its records to find the beast it had described.

Location and Population: There exists only one Bahane, one bank of knowledge that all humans have the capability to access. It exists within its own world, perhaps even overlapping with the human plane of thought, but never able to manifest in material reality as a spirit. There have been many arguments over the truth of its existence, with some outfits claiming the Bahane as simply metaphorical, but the evidence of eerily accurate predictions lend to its existence.

The Oracle of the West, nicknamed the Lion of California, claims a direct line of connection to the Bahane through his ability to Climb since his supposed awakening in 1993. He has been proven to be able to access information quickly, albeit through both mundane and determinedly supernatural means. Many would agree the Oracle is losing grasp on sanity, further muddling the clarity of whether such a spirit exists.

Like the Oracle, the channeling power of the Bahane may exist on earth in other forms, though the actual spirit itself not physically. Several Warder artists point to the Acrylic Trail Cameras as a possible artifact of channeling upon which the Bahane manifests itself through its described "special decorations." Such claims remain unverified, but the fact that the viewing frames can observe what no one could normally see may disprove any connection.

Hunting or Procurement Methods: The procedures for connecting to the Bahane spirit remains an open matter, to a certain degree. The most basic method to invoke knowledge is through unconscious search. Because the Bahane exists as the whole of human thoughts, any search into the unconscious mind with mindfulness will merit Digging. All the Digging methods only require that the seeker focus on their question during the duration of the experience.




Encounter Records: Many shamans have fallen victim to the madness involved in the pursuit of knowledge. Nathaniel Ingram's own experiences detail his first-hand encounters with the madness that overtook his friend and then himself.

Additional Notes: Ingram's final recorded journal was recovered in 1989 under the foundation of his demolished Kansas home. It retains knowledge not found in his biography.

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