London is a place of power — the whole city leaks magical energy from its streets, from ancient buildings, from the river with its great, proud spirits. London is the Heart of Albion. The magicians know it’s the Heavenly City, here on Earth, Jerusalem.
The magicians of London hold to a tradition of high magic; the London Consilium has in its library the secrets of spells, beyond the capacity of any living mage, that could open the earth and swallow the city, that can cause rains of blood and swarms of angels. Theirs is the right to a heritage of raw magical power, a union of arts the likes of which the world has not seen in any other place. The world won’t see it again, either, for it’s all under lock and key.
But even under the watchful eye of the Hierarch, London is a city of power. It is the second most powerful Consilium in Britain, behind only the ancient and awful might of Glastonbury. The Awakened come here, and the Awakened grow powerful here. There are most 1st Degree Masters of the Arcana in London than almost any place else in the world, and 2nd and 3rd Degree Masters are not unheard of. Some say that it’s due to the City itself, that merely being in London grants the power that once ruled an Empire. Others have a more prosaic, though no less idealized vision, that it is because of the people. Mages come to London from the world around, to study and grow and network, and in so doing grow strong.
The Occulted History of London
London is an old city. It has been the city of magic since Roman days, and through it all, the city has had an arcane history few can rival. Nevertheless, in the modern day, three events still resonate in Awakened memory.
The first is the Great Fire of London in 1666, when much of the city was consumed in an inferno of staggering proportions. Though the histories claim that very few people died, the fact is that the fire was hot enough to cremate bone and level entire city blocks. It wiped the slate clean for London, the cleansing fire destroying countless records and grimoires, and consuming the London Consilium. The Hierarch and all but one of his Councilors died that night, and Mysterium scholars have spent the last three hundred years trying to reassemble the knowledge and power lost that night.
The second is the Nameless Wars of the 19th century. Though the modern Free Council was formed on New Year’s Eve of 1899, the Nameless Cabals had been skirmishing with the Consilium of London for decades before. The Nameless Cabals fought to overthrow the Atlantean Orders, and though much of the conflict was a bloodless game of shadows and secrets, this was not always the case. Few mages in London at the dawn of the new century didn't have a friend, a mentor, an apprentice perish in the War, and memories run deep in the Consilium, especially among the Ungula Draconis, the Adamantine Arrow that bore the brunt of the fighting.
Following the Great Refusal, when the Free Council was formed, the Libertines were integrated into the London Consilium, and their final integration in 1906 marked the end of the Nameless Wars in southern Britain and led to a number of changes in the way that the London Consilium was organized. The most notable of these was the reservation of one Council seat for each of the Pentacle Orders.
The third and final great event of London's recent history is the October Coup of 1914. The Edwardian Era, depending on who one asked, was either a golden age of Awakened existence in London, or else an extended slide into decadence and abdication of duties. The Mysterium ruled the city then, under Lord Arthur Talbot, who went by the Shadow Name of Redcrosse, and theirs was an academic sort of rule, where the many Cabals of London were left to do as they pleased. Learning and scholarship flourished, and many Artifacts were uncovered and Rotes devised in those years. But it was also the time of Aleister Crowley and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, of Thelema and the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society. Atlantean lore was filtering into mortal society more than it had at any period since the Regency, and many of the Awakened of London met openly as practicing magicians or members of metaphysical societies.
The truth of the October Coup has been lost to the march of time and the active propagandizing of all participants, but the story went something like this. The Guardians of the Veil began to plot in secret amongst themselves, incensed by what they percieved to be the casual attitude of the Mystagogues to the Precept of Secrecy, or else simply jealous of the power that could be wielded from the Hierarch's office. By means of persuasion, blackmail, and the occasional threat, the Guardians of the Veil organized a vote of no confidence in the rule of Redcrosse, securing the support of all the other orders. Hemmed in by all sides, Redcrosse stepped down, and the hidden organizer of the coup, the mage then known as Plautus, stepped from relative obscurity to the rank of Hierarch, adopting the Shadow Name of Civitas in the process.
Within a few years, the Guardians cracked down on the occultism spreading through society and instituted a much more severe code of secrecy. There was grumbling, no doubt, but Civitas's eyes and ears were everywhere, and after a few of the most recalcitrant of the Awakened quietly disappeared, Civitas's rule has gone mostly unchallenged for almost ninety years.