The year is 1239. Following the second excommunication of Frederick II by Pope Gregory, the divine aura has disappeared from the world. The essence of this situation has not been shared with any who would not recognize it already for what it is, and of course everyone has a different take on what it means. The Pope and his allies see it as a sign of divine disapproval of Fredrick II's herecy. Fredrick and his allies see it as God's disapproval of the growing secularism of the church. Other less well known factions have their own understanding of what it means, or indeed even if it meens anything (some Jewish mystics seem to be of the opinion that God simply periodically abandoned his people in the past and has now done so to all his people). Of course within the Order of Hermes other questions are likely to be brought to the fore.
Fredrick II has been popular amongst the people of Germany, but amongst the order his influence has been far less pleasant, as his reign has spent great resources weeding out heretics, mystics, and blasphemers, while building universities and consulting mystics abroad. As a result the order has been driven further underground, and a few covenants have been forced to disband in order to avoid using magic in opposition to secular authority, while others have quietly thrived in academic or secular settings without revealing the true purpose of their existence.