Jen, Virtual Adept
Call me what you will. I'm a computer geek or a hacker or whatever...but any way you put it, I'm a Virtual Adept. A few years ago, I wouldn't have been able to ever describe myself in so few words. It isn't just my Tradition. It's my way of life. It's me. And, with that in mind, I'd like to discuss my paradigm.
I see reality as a program. It is governed by rules similar to those followed in regular, mundane programming languages. The system stays up and running if it isn't interfered with.
Magick, though, is just that, changing the program. For better or for worse, the program can be changed through hacking.
Arete, quite simply, is the hacker's eliteness. How much do you know? How much can you change? How well can you change it? And how long is it before the program rewrites itself over your hack?
Quintessence is the final result, the output of a hack.
The flipside of Quintessence, Paradox, represents errors in coding. Ever left the semicolon out of a Pascal tag, or written an infinite loop? Paradox. It happens to everyone -- newbies more than anyone, but even the most seasoned programmers/hackers can screw up. The severity of the screw-up is directly proportional to how much the Paradox hurts. Hey, no one said Ascension was easy.
As for the Spheres, they're just partitions of the program, sub-routines, if you will. Such a large program needs separate procedures, and the Spheres represent these.
Correspondence, that's easy. Ever see the grids in a GUI program? How about the lines of code in a text-based program? It's all correspondence. All of it is part of the same program. All is one, one is all, you see what I mean?
Entropy. Chaos. Not that chaos is always bad. Don't get me wrong, it can seriously screw over any normal computer deck, but order can't exist without chaos. And programs can't exist without order. So, in a twisted sort of way, Entropy is the organization of the program.
Forces. What computer can run without electricity? Forces represent its fuel. This lifeblood flows everywhere throughout the program, allowing it to thrive.
Life. Similar to matter, living objects in the program are handled by the Life partition. Sentient beings interact with the program in a method lacking any kind of program; they are constantly changing variables. Their biological characteristics, however: anatomy, genealogy, immune system, and the like, are all pre-programmed. Let me put it simply. There are constants and variables in a program. Living objects are variables, their actions depend on the conditions of the program.
Mind. This can be viewed like hardware. It is used to upgrade you, the hacker. It can allow information to be processed more quickly or accurately, improving your performance. If good can be caused through hardware, though, it can also take the role of a virus and degrade performance substantially.
Matter. Every solid object is Matter to the program. Normally they have a programmed method of interaction or existence. Changing these objects is just a matter of reprogramming their code. In the constant/variable metaphor above, solid objects are constants. Until reassigned manually, they have set values.
Prime. Permanent changes to the program, once you understand it enough. It's not just hacking the program, it's hacking the machine itself. I mean, pretty much anyone can hack it on one level or another. But to make permanent alterations to it, you need to understand Prime. The true art of reality programming.
Spirit. A program with the magnitude of reality must have some sort of a "ghost in the machine," to remain. This covers everything from AI (artificial intelligence) to the self-replicating viruses that are so feared.
Time. Another easy one. Everyone hears about internal clock speed. Megahertz, cycles per second. If you're elite enough, you can hack it pretty much however you want.
The Traditions. I respect them for having stood up to the Technocracy this long. They're getting farther now that we've showed up, but that's beside the point.
Akashic Brotherhood. I've known some Brothers, and I must say that what they can achieve through the mind alone is remarkable. Too bad most of them won't touch a computer.
Celestial Chorus. In all honesty, it's been awhile since I believed in any god. I respect them for their conviction and faith, but those strengths are also potential downfalls.
Cult of Ecstasy. Their parties kick some serious ass, but have you ever tried to have an intelligent (two-sided) conversation with one? They're fun but shallow.
Dreamspeakers. I don't get them. I wish I did, but I don't.
Euthanatos. A real gem. Judge, jury, and executioner. Of course, I'm not discrediting their methods. It's just that I totally disagree with them.
Order of Hermes. As a whole, they're kind of self-righteous. They may be the oldest Tradition, but that still doesn't make their way the right way.
Sons of Ether. Finally, a friendly face! They understand what we've been through. These guys can hold up their end of a conversation, and they're fun as hell to hang out with.
Verbena. Right. Carving myself up to do magick isn't for me. But, whatever works...
The Conventions. I'll never come anywhere near trusting them, and not just because they all want me dead. I don't understand how can they want everyone to be the same.
Iteration X. From what I've heard, I think unnervingly like them. If it weren't for extremely bad encounters with them, I wouldn't mind them too much.
New World Order. Life is hard enough without people listening in to your phone conversations and trying to regulate how you live.
Progenitors. Wake up, you sick sons of bitches! People aren't science experiments!
The Syndicate. The road to hell is paved with gold...
Void Engineers. They may get a bad rap from other groups, sheerly because they're still a Convention, but they're not too bad. They're visionaries and explorers, and I don't mind admitting that there are similarities between us and them.