The Lich: Undeath & the Nature of Transfiguration
Lich. The very word is shrouded in lore and misinformation, though is in fact a state of being that every disciple of the black path should aspire to attain in one form or another. Consider for a moment what you know about this term. Most individuals upon reading that singular word think of adolescent fantasy stories and games. Their minds gravitate to the realm of fiction rather than the reality of one of the most terrifying beings to ever have left its dark mark upon this earthly plane called Etheris. What few realize is that the Lich is very real and very much an absolute defiant terror that spits in the face of nature, divinity and the filth of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological stranglehold. The Lich is a horror from the Eternal Grave; an abomination that is cold, calculated, powerful, patient and absolutely immortal. The Lich is not only a being of undeath in the truest definition, but an animated, intelligent and malevolent promise of a future everlasting in a state of perpetual biological and metaphysical stasis augmented and bolstered by the unforgiving current of death.
To understand this concept of an unliving monster that once identified itself as a mortal being, you first have to understand how this whole aspect of being first came to exist. The origins of the word can be traced to various European languages where their linguistic term simply translated to “corpse”. In the Maergzjiran Cabal, it was initially the German “Leiche” due to the Grandmistress of the era being of German descent and simply utilizing that term to mask the truly wicked creature that dared to overcome mortal boundaries.
By virtue of the name itself, “corpse”, and owing to the nature of it returning, we immediately turn our attention toward the necromantic arts. However, while necromancy will offer you the opportunity to speak with the dead, throw death curses and grant you some of the natural aspects of death while being fully alive, necromancy was devoid of any reference to becoming a Lich through the rites of Lichdom. Certainly, many necromancers sought immortality and few achieved it through pacts, siphoning the spirit of others, or through vampirism, what fundamentally changes the nature of this type of immortality was the use of the phylactery. This was and still remains the absolute trigger object and infallible key to necromantic transfiguration; that is, undeath apotheosis as the genuine Lich.
Just as quickly as one will denounce the Lich; claiming it a child of popular fiction, they will also criticize that the phylactery is an invention of modern fantasy. This in fact is proof of individual ignorance. The term phylactery originates with the Jewish people as an ancient artifact which carried scripture and was worn on the forearm and above the brow. It was believed that this simple leather box created a link to “God” whilst the devotee was in the depths of offering prayer. The definition of phylactery meant “to guard, protect” which is precisely what these did. Firstly, they protected the Torah scrolls and parchment that were placed within. Secondly, they created a shield of faith around the observant Jew who poured his heart and soul out, through the phylactery and out to his faulty god.
Much of the Cabal’s magicks originated in Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. This is precisely where the Lich’s phylactery came to be. In Damascus during the late 10900’s HE, there was a group of clandestine necromancers who were observing the Jews and their operations with these tefillin, as they were known. It became strikingly clear that there was indeed a connection made with use and there occurred a natural exchange of energies between the spirit and their blind god, Yahweh. To this end, they sought to study this in more detail and note the full reason for this exchange as well as how to manipulate it.
In order to accomplish this mission, the necromancers commonly resorted to abduction and brutality to acquire a living subject which to observe and use extensive abuse to drive more desperation to the spiritual fore. In this manner, the necromancers could observe a greater exchange of energies the “closer to ‘god’” the tortured subjects became. Those final moments right before death overtook them created the highest influx of spiritual energy and potential for transformation. In their experiments, they found that the more devoted Jews were able to withstand far more punishment and could survive when others of similar age and physical makeup would expire. This was of no particular surprise as the force of spirit was already well documented. However, this forged the hypothesis that genuine will, which is necessary for all successful rites combined with proper magicks could potentially create the very agent for absolute transfiguration.
Ensuing for centuries were a multitude of inhuman and savage ritual experiments focused on creating a permanent link which would deliver an exponentially stronger flow of spirit energy which would totally sustain the body. Unfortunately, these experiments only manifested awkward changes with the bodily form as well as hastened aging and death. The Syrian necromancers were already familiar with the ghouls that roamed about the deserts and mountains alike, but knowing they were already undead soon came to offer the final piece of the puzzle: undead augmentation. Necromancers and the undead have always carried a bizarre relationship where despite the typical lack of care for the living by the undead, necromancers had earned a special place beside them for their works facilitated the undertakings of each other. Therefore, the necromancers began experimenting with using both a blood offering of self as well as augmenting it with the ghouls’. This would prove to yield the first successful transfiguration.
By combining bloods into the phylactery, the necromancer was able to create a full transmogrification of self by pouring heart and soul into the phylactery which was now anchored to the ghoul. This then created another ghoul from the once mortal necromancer’s flesh vessel. From this initial success, they realized that what they had missed was a supernatural anchor whereas the Jews had attempted to anchor their phylacteries to Yahweh. This anchor for the necromancers would be an undead being that already walked the realm or a Demon, Spirit, or a god or goddess of death. Because of this requisite anchor, there developed a great deal of communion between the necromancers and the entity they most wished to become akin to. Generations later, in the 11400’s HE, the wife of the first Grandmaster, Syra would bring this knowledge to the Cabal, yet this would not complete the grand formulae by which the Cabal would use, as the Buried King, Zazazel and Patron of the Tower of Atrophy had his own method.
In life, his name was Brenhin. A Slovakian boy who had begun learning the magickal arts fled from home when his father had murdered his mother, a worker of the spirits of the fey lands. Brenhin learned from a sorceress who had in her own twisted way adopted the young man. What he did not realize was that she was merely grooming him to grow in such power that when he was ripe, she would consume his soul and extend her life. Through his own workings of divination with the Spirit known as Rishar Brenhin realized that his end would come at the hand of his teacher. Therefore, before she could harm him, he instead killed her and through ritual vampirism, consumed her soul. Empowered, he sought a phylactery for himself, though at the time, he only knew that he required some type of relic which would safely house any residual or excess spiritual essence. Having happened upon an iron-covered skull, he thought to make that his personal device for the transference of spirit. Through his own experimentation, Brenhin learned that through self-inflicted brutalization and bloodletting, he could not only transfer this excess essence, but also transmute it into something more potent, maligned and eternal. He continued to speak with the Spirits who had accompanied him through his journeys until it was explained that he required an anchor. This anchor was of no particular deity or being, but rather an exceptionally powerful egregore of his own creation; a being which was a representation of himself in full apotheosis.
After years of ritual; bloodletting, soul-siphoning and expunging himself of ego and identity, Brenhin was able to fully take on a new flesh and spirit; the self in apotheosis: Zazazel. These long years in seclusion spent killing himself for an opportunity of harnessing an otherworldly power finally came and he would rise up a Lich in the flesh of a dead man. He held closely to the name given him in sinister whispers all of those years. In his triumph, the gate was opened to Maergzjirah and the Black God, Cernobog offered him a seat in the Eternal Grave as a Patron to necromancers and other death-obsessed disciples of the black path.
Syra was the first necromancer to be part of the Maergzjiran Cabal following the first Cabal Patriarch, Sybastien’s blood pact with Cernobog. When she came to know the other Blighted Lords of Maergzjirah, she instantly became a servant of Zazazel. By combining her native method from her Syrian ancestors and the Buried King’s, an entirely new form of transfiguration via phylactery was born. This entire formula consists of the following: a chosen vessel for the energies to be poured into and exchanged, an anchor, sacrifice of self via blood, spirit, life breath, etc., prayer and meditation, and most importantly, a properly aligned soul. Without possessing all of these requisites, the necromancer is sure to destroy himself rather than ever achieve any glimpse of immortality for all he will do is poison his soul and self-destruct. In order to obtain Lichdom, you must push yourself to the threshold of death, but you cannot die. If you return to life, you have failed to transform, yet to die is to lose the battle for immortality. At the threshold you must transmogrify. It is in those final moments; as your body begins to fail and your identity is contained only by your phylactery bathing in a pool of blood can you be shrouded in undeath. For he who strives mightily and is of pure intent while devoting himself to the nightly bloodying and punishing of his flesh vessel will find that in the end, he is no longer mortal; no longer who he was a time ago, but rather immortalized and purified through undeath. The necromancer’s pinnacle is in attaining immortality through undeath apotheosis. It is in this state that he no longer ages, requires no sustenance other than what he desires to ingest; time and physics are invalid to the Lich and nature is a laughable concept for there is nothing natural about him.
There is yet more as the rituals that prelude the magnum opus of Lich rites create a terrifying foundation for this unholy, undead fiend to emerge. Ages ago, this plane was a less guarded prison than it is today and therefore, magick was easier to manifest. Today, with technology, mental poisoning and the death grip of governments, societal regimes and religion, their oppressive and suppressive nature has created a thick filter over this realm which requires extreme action to manifest otherworldly results. Therefore, we must push further, harder and break the veil.
The phylactery is the catalyst for the Lich’s transformation. However, it requires more. Aside from the mass blood sacrifices that the necromancer performs over the anchored heart of the phylactery, he seeks to deaden himself as much as possible. To this end, prior to taking up the last rites of the Lich, the necromancer undergoes what we refer to as the “Lich’s Wake”. This is a time when the individual enters an extended seclusion among only the dead. This may be undertaken in a mausoleum, abandoned hospital or asylum, battlefield, or known areas that harbor expansive vortexes to the realm of the dead. Here, the necromancer will deprive himself of sustenance save for only necessary amounts of water, stale bread and expired offerings to the deceased. If possible, the necromancer should seek a level of intimacy with the dead, such as sleeping beside the corpses and using their bones for divination. This is deepened through corpse divination which animates the cadaver on a base level enough for speech, whereby the Spirits speak through the remains to reveal answers to the necromancer’s inquiries. Offerings of life breath and blood are made throughout the day and night to the Spirits of Keraktes, the Eternal Grave and continuous chanting is performed to align the soul with the undead current. Typically speaking, most necromancers will remain in this seclusion for a month or more by which point there is little left of the individual. What comes next for the necromancer is a series of rites that tear apart the veil and allow the Spirits to begin their own preparation for the Lich hopeful.
Having deadened his flesh and soul; turning his mind only to his immortality through undeath, the necromancer now begins the Black Harvest. During this time, the necromancer seeks to successfully unleash two great evils into the world. The first is the Keraktian Sinkhole and the other is to execute the L’Vassnti Or’shanse, or Innocent Sacrifice. These two rites concluded bring the necromancer to the threshold of Lichdom and only the final rite remains.
The Keraktian Sinkhole is a terrifying thing for in the midst of ritual, the necromancer is able to drive such a powerful spike of malevolent energy into the plane that there is now a tear in the planar fabric that cannot be closed. This open wound leaves the gate easily accessible for the undead to emerge forth and ravage this realm. Further, one can watch as the world around the sinkhole begins to die off. Vegetation and animal life is snuffed out and mortality rates spike. The intent of bringing death becomes a personal agenda to the mundane who adhere to their high morals and therefore, one may watch as they tear apart one another like rabid animals for no reason other than to spread the influence of death in their madness. With time, the sinkhole grows and its influence over all life is expanded in kind. This creates a powerful vortex that spews forth the raw death essence required by the necromancer for his work to be complete.
The L’Vassnti Or’shanse is another matter that is kept well only to the necromancer as it requires the total sacrifice of the innocent. This is not referencing the morally innocent or weak, youthful children. This simply is a mocking tone to represent anyone who does not bend a knee to the ways of the dark path. The enemy. I am quite sure that everyone who reads this has someone in mind that they would delight in the opportunity to lay upon their sacrificial altar and rip their mind and soul out and carve their flesh; brutalizing every last aspect of their being until nothing remained, but a vile display of horrid intentions. While physical sacrifice is technically not required as hexes, soulrape and binding can accomplish similar results, it tends to push the individual completely beyond a point of no return. It is total liberation of self.
The Last Rite of the Lich represents the final ritual the necromancer will perform to achieve his apotheosis via undeath. This requires the necromancer to be steadied in his personal ritual space that is now a wide open gateway to the Eternal Grave; a sub-plane of death. With a special elixir, incense and his phylactery, he will cast away any aspect of his mortality that remains; shedding life, identity and the world he knew in an effort to bury any semblance of his former self to be reborn a Lich. It should be noted that even now, even in these final moments when triumph seems automatic, if the necromancer retains any desire to remain or has not fulfilled his proper requirements for apotheosis, this rite will become toxic and he will surely die in a very negative and unproductive way. Lichdom will be forever lost and all that he has worked for will be just a faded memory. However, should one be so devoted to their path of Lichdom and rightly obtain that state, he can truly rest his bones beside the gods of darkness and death. The Lich is otherworldly, unnatural; supernatural. This undead necromancer possesses terrifying power and a constant flow of death essence, for death now obeys his eternal will. Thoughts are mere extensions of deeper self and therefore manifest in their desired form instantly. One’s touch is lethal and their blood is a sacred libation in and of itself. Truly, nothing can kill the Lich and should his physical body be destroyed by some atomic degree of carnage, the phylactery retains his spirit which is then given free rein to find and possess a new body. As an immortal being, the possibilities for this world are endless, yet now the gates to other worlds open for nothing can actively hold the Lich.
For some, the Lich is a commendable, but unattainable concept. For others it is a nightmare they serve while others see the Lich as an unholy creature they wish only to escape. In the Cabal, the Lich is something we seek to become absolutely when we walk the path of atrophy. We have the Buried King, Zazazel to look to for guidance and inspiration and we have a cadre of Spirits in Keraktes, the Eternal Grave to assist us in our discoveries and execution. We Cabal Necromancers have our Maergzjiran ancestors who have achieved apotheosis and left behind their path notes. Lichdom is not something distant, nor is it merely a state of mind. It is absolute. Immortality. It is eternal undeath and uncontested power surging forth from Keraktes through our hands, crackling like black fire and cascading lightning.