The Council of Nine Mystical Traditions are an organization of Mages dedicated to the more mystical and overtly supernatural types of Magick, and have opposed the Order of Reason and later the Technocracy ever since the early Renaissance.
Long before the dawn of civilization, shamans and medicine men were present in every tribe of humans, connecting men with the natural and supernatural forces which surrounded them. Gods, demons, spirits, and nameless forces beyond the ken of any mortal man were alternately placated, controlled, and hidden from by these early Magick-users and their followers. But the twin births of organized monotheistic religion and systematized rational philosophy in the Mediterranean world in the sixth century BC signalled the impending doom of these ancient traditions of magic and mysticism. Those who sought to more tightly control magical forces and humanity itself began dabbling in philosophy, science, and religion, binding the natural forces into rigid rules of physical laws, or to the singular will of one omnipotent deity and its hierarchical legions of priests. Those who gave the magical forces greater respect rebelled against this restrictive paradigm, and the resulting war brought down the Roman Empire.
In the Dark Ages that followed, the rationalists retreated into their monasteries and cathedral schools, and the mystics once again reigned supreme. No warlord or king was complete without his druid or wizard or witch as an advisor, whispering into his ear. Merlin was one of the leaders of the Traditions in this period, and even briefly controlled The Orb. But the Catholic Church orchestrated the Crusades to bind the Kings of Europe to their hierarchical, monotheistic religious tradition, and the mystics began to lose ground. Witch Hunts and the Inquisition depleted their numbers and their base of recruits, and eventually the Order of Reason was able to regain control during the Renaissance.
As the rational, scientific traditon gained control over the minds of the unawakened majority, the powers of the Traditions began to wane once more. Paradox came to dominate their lives, restricting their abilities more and more as their skills became seen as counter to the laws of physics now known to rule over reality. But the more powerful the Order of Reason became, the more corrupt it became. The great reorganization of 1851 could not stem the flood of infighting and recriminations between the Conventions of the newly-renamed Technocratic Union, and cracks appeared in the Technocracy's facade. The Sons of Ether, and then the Virtual Adepts, defected to join the Traditions, replacing two Traditions whose numbers had become too depleted to maintain their status as functional organizations. The New Age revival of non-Christian religious and mystical beliefs that took place in the West beginning after World War Two finally reversed the gradual diminishment of magickal power, as increasing numbers of unawakened humans became once more open to magical thinking and supernatural ideals.
Gehenna and Beyond
And then Gehenna changed everything. A Bug Asteroid obliterated Rio De Janiero, and a Mage had to reveal his powers on live global television to intentionally cause a Paradox Backlash as the only way to defeat the Bug invasion of Brazil. Billions of unawakened humans became aware of Magick as an undeniable part or reality, and millions of them were shocked into awakened status as a result. The flood of magical power released as the Gauntlet was horrifically damaged was intoxicating to the Traditionalists, and they launched a hasty attack on the Technocracy, seeking to reshape reality once more to restore their rightful place as the rulers and protectors of mankind.
But the Technocracy was still far too powerful. They founded the Tech Infantry, and drafted mages and werecreatures alike into their army as soldiers. They brought out all the ultratech weapons they had developed over three centuries of rapid scientific and magickal advancement, and fought back with every tool in their impressive arsenal. The vast unawakened majority was swayed by their propaganda to see the Technocracy as the only hope for defending mankind against the manifest dangers of aliens and the supernatural, and the Traditions were defeated once more.
However, rather than being driven underground like Vampires, they were drafted into the Tech Infantry en masse and forced to serve their former foes as foot soldiers, to "earn" their citizenship in the newly formed Earth Federation. Two centuries of near-constant warfare against the Bugs and other aliens, and against rebels and rogue mages and werecreatures who resisted the draft, as well as the constant fight to keep the Vampires in their dark shadows, were very hard on the more pacifistic members of the Traditions. Many of them drifted into the ranks of the Resistance, refusing to serve their Technocratic overlords. Others fell in combat, or gave up the fight and served the Federation willingly. But as a functional organization, the Traditions were finished. At best, these days they are a shadow of their former selves, a few old veterans getting together to share beers and spells over fading memories of the way things used to be.
The Nine Traditions
Each of the Nine Traditions has a matching Sphere of Magic which is the speciality of most, but not all, of their members.
Akashic Brotherhood: Mostly Mind mages, they train their bodies and minds through martial arts.
Celestial Chorus: Prime and many other mages who seek to unite all religions through worship of the spark of the divine inside each one of us.
Cult of Ecstasy: Time mages and others who seek to reshape reality through altering their own consciousness through drugs, sex, and other forms of passionate pleasure.
Dreamspeakers: Spirit Mages who seek to carry on the traditions of pre-civilization tribal shamans.
Euthanatoi: Entropy Mages who seek to reshape reality by removing their enemies from it. Permanently.
Order of Hermes: Mostly Forces mages, this group of occultists have long been the vital core of the Traditions.
Sons of Ether: Matter mages and mad scientists who are defectors from the Technocracy.
Verbenae: Life Mages who study the healing arts and carry on the traditions of Wiccans and Medicine Men.
Virtual Adepts: Correspondence Mages, hackers, and defectors from the Technocracy.
Formerly, there were two other Traditions, which have become defunct through severe decline in numbers. The Ah-i-Batin were correspondence mages who sought to mystically unify the human race, and the Solificati were Matter-mage alchemists plauged by scandal. They were replaced by the Sons of Ether and Virtual Adepts when those factions split from the Technocracy.