Throughout Ilbion. the observance of omens is an important aspect of everyday life. Practices vary between locales and social classes, but the use of divination, charms, and the interpretation of signs is common practice everywhere.
Numerology, or the practice of manipulating fated numbers, is practically universal throughout Ilbion. Its more nuanced applications require specialist training and are almost exclusive to the upper classes.
There are several broad classes of fated numbers:
- Owned Numerals remain potent throughout a subject’s lifetime.
- Earned Numerals change within the cycles of life, often as consequences of important events.
- Base Numerals are a function of nature and retain most aspects of their Agency regardless of their context.
The combinations and oppositions of these groups are what govern the bulk of an individual’s fate. Most numerological practices seek to identify and manipulate these numbers.
Amongst practitioners, the aspects of life that a fated number has power over are collectively known as its Influence, or Agency. The change in Influence within Earned Numerals are known as their Ascendancy and Decline.
There is regional variation in the practice of numerology. The west and wild territories avoid subtraction and nomenclature in the North favors the terms Given Numbers and Taken Numbers.
Among specialists, special attention is paid to a small yet potent third class of fated numbers known as Chaos Numerals. These numbers can completely invert a fate or act as a dramatic catalyst. They are also inconstant: a number will only act as an agent of chaos briefly.
The volatility of Chaos numerals is infamous among advanced numerologists. Their multiplicative effect makes exploitation exceptionally risky, and they are rarely forecast prior to their ascendancy. Most discharge their Agency so quickly that they can only be identified in retrospect. Few practitioners will risk exploiting one outside of proven, well-calculated conditions. If a Chaos Numeral is suspected to be active in affairs, it is generally avoided until its Agency is exhausted.
The number 13 is unique in that it is the only remaining constant Chaos Numeral. It is theorized that In the beginning of time there were many, but the others (possibly all) have since faded into volatility. As 13’s Agency does not decline, it has traditionally been considered “unlucky” as a safeguard to prevent novices from manipulating such a potent and volatile figure.
Fated days are related to fated numbers, although their influences are more oblique.
Certain days and months are considered unlucky, and many activities from high (civic proclamations) to low (washing one’s hair) are avoided. On such days, residents do all they can to stay indoors and remain as inactive as possible.
There are other fated days that are considered very lucky, in which the opposite holds true. These are times of high productivity, especially in the spheres of politics and trade.
Those in the lower classes cannot easily afford to shun their daily tasks and so the reading of fated days is an art that is most strictly observed in the higher strata of society.
The charm is the common man’s protection against Fate. Charms and family totems are rife among the farms and villages of Gildanny. Charms are objects created by ritual with the purpose of protecting against specific maladies. For example, if a man has problems with the weather in his fields, he obtains wind charms and posts them along the borders of his land. There are charms and wards for nearly every possible problem, and people pay high prices for charms of quality.
Charm forgery is a serious crime.
Those who are adept at the old arts of interpreting the omens and harnessing charms are known as Hedge Wizards. They are rarely encountered, but commonly inspire reverence and/or fear.
Hedge wizards are often employed to create charms to protect cities or create family totems. Nobles and royalty consult them to read omens (for example, to forecast fated days). Being most particular to obtain and keep regular stocks of rare materials (for whatever purposes), most hedge wizards prefer barter to money if their finances are already at a comfortable level.