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Musings by Gavain inspired by the illumination section in ILH2 pp 33-38

Essentially the main barrier to Illumination is to be made aware of the Cosmic All. Thereafter you have one of the "illumination" skills (Seventh Soul for Lunars, Nysalor Riddling, and Jalmari Philosophy). Once aware of the Cosmic All then there is no going back.

Once the All has been recognised there are two ways to handle it, either have the necessary comprehension to understand it and be at peace (illumination) or to not understand it and be crushed by the awareness of your own insignificance (Occlusion).

In summary there are three states of mind when thinking about illumination.
  1. Non-illuminated: The state of most people, who are unaware of the Cosmic All.
  2. Illuminated: You are aware of, understand and are in peace with the Cosmic All.
  3. Occluded: You are aware of the Cosmic All but do not have the understanding to be at peace with it.

You can go from 1) to 2) but not back, and you can flip between 2) & 3) depending on your current equilibrium with the Cosmic All.

Ultimately the goal is to achieve trancendance abstracted as being victorious against a 10W15 challenge from the All.

Becoming Illuminated

This involves a challenge against the All. The way this is managed depends on the route to illumination. Lunar examiners and the Jalmari do this by careful training and controlled exposure. For these groups the test is more about whether the candidate is occluded or illuminated. In this case the ILH2 contest is entirely appropriate together with it's results.

Nysalor riddlers provide a less controlled exposure to the All, and because the candidate is not trained in any way it is highly likely that the candidate fails to recognise the All when exposed. The results of the confrontation with the all should be modified so that all failures result in no change and only successes result in Occlusion or Illumination. Possibly requiring a Major or Complete victory to achieve Illumination.

Chalanges By the All

Every time you are challenged by the All then your equilibrium may be changed. Thus you may switch several times between being Occluded and Illuminated. Essentially any victory leads to Illumination and any loss leads to Occlusion.

Occlusion is not a comfortable state of being. The person will be assailed with all sorts of doubts and susceptible to a number of unpleasant side-effects. This can be anything from developing neuroses to complete mental shut down. Perhaps each time a person becomes occluded a new psychosis develops; the severity of which is dependent on the magnitude of the failure.

Jalmari Attitudes

The Jalmari are illuminated. However, they choose not to use the freedoms that this gives them and they choose to rigidly adhere to the codes and geases that Humakt gives them. Their illumination is used in two ways:
  1. To recognise illumination in others.
  2. To access some limited mystic rituals.

Their primary concern is to detect chaotics who are using illumination to hide their nature.

Effects of Illumination

Direct uses of illumination skill:
  1. Use Illumination skill to defend against magical attacks – from any source.
  2. Use Illumination skill to resist attacks against sanity.
  3. May augment with relationships with illuminated entities
  4. Are penalised by relationships with non-illuminated entities.

Other effects
  1. Use magic from any otherworld as if concentrated in that otherworld.
  2. Immune to the effects of cult agents of reprisal.

Which Entities are Illuminated?

All Lunar entities are illuminated and many are Enlightened or partially enlightened (how does that work?).

Humakt, Jalmar and Hareward. Other aspects of Humakt?

Arkat, Gabji

Storm Pantheon? Very few, Lhankor Mhy and Chalana Arroy are the most likely to me.

The entire purpose of the Jalmari is concerned with the Dark Side (connected with Chaos?) and the Light Side. So, we need to link this into the above. Being fully Illuminated should not be a requirement for being on the Light side, as it's far too hard. My suggestion would be that you can "flip" from Dark to Light (slide, perhaps?) until you become fully illuminated. At that point, you're fixed. If you're on the Light side, you're safe from temptation to the Dark side. If you're on the Dark side...
Arkat was, I assume, fully illuminated. And I'm not going to try to predict which side he was on. It seems that opinions differ.
It seems possible that one could also become fixed exactly on the cusp between Light and Dark, and this would presumably be the Carmanian ideal.

I think that whilst Illuminated you are less likely to change your viewpoint substantially as "you are at peace". While occluded I guess that you may well be battling to return to illuminated state and thus views would change wildly. Additionally they are more likely to be actively seeking experiences to return them to an illuminated state.

More musings, much later, and Trees

I'm trying to express ideas here that I've only got half-formed myself. I'm tryingto work out what Illumination consists of, and how the ability fo Herewardi to see Heroquest "paths", to who's behind roles, effectively seeing on more tha one level at once, fits into this. In a few years time, the ability to see who's behind a role is something Kallyr acquires and passes on, but she gets it from Rigsdal.

Let's take that phrase "can't see the wood for the trees" as a metaphor. Your average human is happy looking at their leaf, and a few nearby leaves. That's all they need to know. But there's a limit to how many leaves you can see and understand, and if you want a better understanding of the overall structure of the place, you need to step back, and look at branches. Maybe even step right back, and look at more than one tree at once. For serious deep understanding, step right outside the forest, and what's more, stop thinking "my" tree. as if the one you happened to start at is something special.

Illumination is the process of stepping back and looking from the outside, as abstracts. That Herewardi abiility to see possibilities (the metaphor starts to come apart here) is perhaps "if that branch bends that way, it'll touch that one, otherwise it'll touch that one". Plus judgement of the flexibility and strength of branches, and a bit of ability to do the bending.

I'd perhaps add the mundane/heroplane/godplane distinction as undergrowth/middle branches/canopy.

"Dark" or "light" illumination is then whether you approach the forest with fertiliser or a logging company :)

Kallyr, in contrast, operates almost entirely at the leaf level (whether the leaf is at undergrowth level, canopy, or all levels in between). But when I said "there's a limit to how many leaves you can see and understand" - her limit is extremely high. She's "improved" now, but go back a decade or so, if you'd asked her how many troops she had, she wouldn't have given you a number, it would have been a list of names. When it got up to a list of several hundred names, people asking the question started to object, and she started giving more useful answers, but that's still the way she thinks. At the moment, it would be a thousand or so names, complete with identifying details on all of them, and an understanding of the relationships between them. Abstraction is a means of simplifying complexity, and she doesn't need the simplification anything like as much as most people, and doesn't like it.

What's Illig's mind like? Well, seen this way, Illumination is all about Separation. He has slight Humakti tendencies :) There's still a few relationships tying him down to individual trees in the forest ("loyal to Legion" being a big one), but he's well on the way to being a tree surgeon.
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