Bone Flowers

There is life, there is death and there is the bridge between the two. The Midnight Jewel (an important Dharmic sutra, from which the name "Bone Flowers" comes) compares the spirit realm to a glittering web and the living world to the dew upon its strands. Drifting across that web like spiders, the followers of the Shadow Song Dharma taste the dew, pluck the strands and occasionally feed on unwary flies. Like the Dragon, the so-called "Bone Flowers" learn from the song of mortality. Wreathed in the dust of death and the wind of life, they dance slowly to the rhythms of both. Like autumn leaves, these Kuei-jin glide between the Jade Kingdom and the living world. Along the way, they comfort the grieving, shepherd the ghosts and punish disrespectful mortals. In the Middle Kingdom, there are plenty of all three.

Aware of their immortality, these Kuei-jin share a thirst for discovery. From libraries and mass media, they gather stories about the living world; from the spirits, they collect memories and news. To bind the two together, the vampires record their insights in works of art or scholarship. The Second Breath stimulates their curiosity, and the hunger to learn rivals the hunger to consume.

Learning seems to be the only passion these creatures have. In all other matters, Bone Flowers seem distant and precise. Every fact must be dissected for significance, and each event becomes a symbol for a much grander thing. This curiosity brings them into the company of other shen; there, they act as ambassadors, mystics and lore keepers. With their talent for enigmas, such vampires understand the spirit paths as well; an elder makes an excellent guide to Yin and Yomi Worlds alike. During her instruction, the average Bone Flower visits both.

Training: Following Xue's legacy demands a certain detachment. To stand at the doorway between life and death, one must grow immune to the torments of both. Still, to rise from dust, one must feel the tears of living things. Some vampires take that literally, while others try to overcome the cold void.

Mandarins of the Shadow Song Dharma stress learning and meditation. All lessons come in symbolic terms, leaving the disciple to figure out the meanings. Most Bone Flowers prefer to be left alone, but gather into troupes to create grand artworks. These performances feature elaborate rites, haunting music and stylized dancing. Through these plays, the vampire try to capture insights and pass them on. Not surprisingly, few patrons understand, but the Bone Flowers keep trying.

Weakness: Bone Flowers are cold and dispassionate, flowing through the darkness like silent kites. White as corpses, skin stretched across their bones, they seem fragile, almost girlish. The winds of death whisk their voices away, and they speak in eunuchs' whispers. There's something both abhorrent and beautiful in a Bone Flower's face and faraway gaze, and she never seems to care about anything that happens. The shadows' song drown out mortal concerns.

While many vampires (and some mortals) find the bone-song bewitching, others are appalled. Most hengeyokai bristle when a Bone Flower draws near. Mortals run in one of two directions; either they fly away screaming or fall hopelessly in love. The Bone Flower never seems to care on way or another.

As romantic as they might seem, Bone Flowers are known for their cold cruelty. Familiarity with the Hells and the fleeting nature of creation makes them callous to suffering of any kind. Where the Devil-Tigers teach through pain, the Flowers dismiss it. Like all things, agony is short-lived and therefore irrelevant.

Affiliations: Metal, the color black, the number 4 and the west direction.

Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Bones, cool springs of water, autumn leaves, theater masks, chill breezes, withering plants, dead flowers, funerals

Tenets

  • Bathe in the breath of the Ebon Dragon, but hold fast to the Scarlet Queen's teardrop.
  • Behold the pillar of the family and safeguard it against vandals and thieves.
  • Kiss the spirits in their houses and the ghosts in their shrouds. Both are lonely and adore the healing touch.
  • Gather what you can from the falling leaves of knowledge.
  • Press the truth like fine paper and ink it with the visions you have seen
  • Give freely of your knowledge, but wrap it up like a precious gift.
  • Look beyond the obvious and discern a deeper meaning.
  • Console the grieving and remind them to respect the dead.

Commentaries on the Bone Flower

Upon the thinking of tenets as penned by Keigo Senzen Jokage.

Bathe in the breath of the Ebon Dragon, but hold fast to the Scarlet Queen's teardrop.

The fire burns. The cold freezes. When jumping into the fire, you burst into life and dust as the hurried life of a thought, a love spurned, a mote in the eye of heaven. Yet, too far in the clutches of the glacier keeps beauty for eternity. Captured as the eternal image of blossoms on rice paper by the artist. Seeing too long in the cold blinds us. We became lost without movement. To remain between the flame and the ice brings a measure of warmth and chill. Never delve too deeply within the yin for you may never come to realize the visions of eternity as a frozen thing. Our brothers of the dragons act as reminders of the warmth of flame, the world of yang.

Behold the pillar of the family and safeguard it against vandals and thieves.

What is family? The mortals that surrounded you in life? Friends and neighbors before your walk into yomi? Your wu of kuei-jin seeking their paths yet connected through the bonds of friendship, love, and spirit? The spirits seeking love ones, those that disgraced them, or the next step of the cycle?

Varied and whole, the family is more than a character or unit. More than the guanxi of our unlives. More than the trappings of our mortal days. It is the eternal connection to our ancestors, fellow travelers, and the living. Consider what the word means to you and guard it well.

Kiss the spirits in their houses and the ghosts in their shrouds. Both are lonely and adore the healing touch.

To turn west is to die, to enter the state of being transcendent and ephemeral. It is to become one with the Middle Kingdom. To turn west brings a full circle of intent, for the circle must turn back to the east and the rising sun, of life and living. Yet, those who pass beyond the veil of night should not be forgotten. Seek the spirits of the world, the essence of Yang and life. Without them, we have no earth to tread, no blossoms to watch, no life for our families. Seek the ghosts in their shrouds and remember them. The turning of the cycle brings them back into this world. They are our ancestors. We once walked their path...and if forgotten, they may become unhinged from the circle of nature. The world of the living and dead depend on the care of yin and yang, of ghost and spirit. As singers of shadow song, we bring forth the messages of the realms to the living and the living to their past kin. The mirror cannot exist without the face and the reflection.

Gather what you can from the falling leaves of knowledge.

Words are characters that reflect thought, consideration, intellect, conflict, resolution. Yet, words may fail without knowledge. Learn all that this world, the next, and the realms of failing and rising light inbetween. Through lessons, texts, and whispers on the wind, we gain the insight to understand all things. Through the pursuit of knowledge, we gain insight and enlightenment of Tian and Yomi, of life and unlife in its varied forms. Knowledge is the key to the door within. Once unlocked, all that is required is to move through it. This is the singular path of Singers of Shadow. Learn all you can, and the way of ascension will follow.

Press the truth like fine paper and ink it with the visions you have seen.

Nothing is gained through fire but ash. If gone, what would be known of the experience? What truths found are lost? Those who taste of the Middle Kingdom's waters come from all ages, all times. To pass from one life to the next is a travel of a thousand steps that begins with none if forgotten. Watch the world with cold logic, and all will become clear. Seek the way of cold metal, of solitude and observance. What is gained through the attention and cold mind brings to the surface all truths. Never accept without review. Ours is the way of understanding through logic, gleaning the pearl within the sands. And once learned, we document it for eternity.

Take up the pen, chisel, and voice. Recall what you learn for your mind and the next. To be one with the metal egg is to allow the hot emotion to fall away for greater insight to come. Through unity of motionless peace, the inner sight becomes clear, unhindered. Through the reading of the journal, experience is gained, wisdom earned. Trust in your hand, eye, and mouth. Document the world you left, the one you enter, and all the sights and sounds you have encountered. Then the steps commence, and heaven attained.

Give freely of your knowledge, but wrap it up like a precious gift.

To learn something that awakens the mind, expands the senses, is never gained easily. Bone Flowers seek knowledge in all of its forms. When we teach or speak of matters important, complex, or simple for the mind to gain lessons from, endeavor to teach as befits the knowledge gained. When answering if you prefer the color blue or black may not provide enlightenment to another. Yet, when teaching of spirits, the way from one realm to the next, the proper attunement for reaching forth and changing the path of the stars, must we not give information in a fashion bespeaking its importance? Create koans and riddles through words and art for those you teach. Impart through your inner journey. Nothing sought of importance should be given as easily as breathing. The seeker gains nothing but disrepect in such ways. Create and represent the knowledge as a wonderful gift to be treasured, contemplated, and learned from.

Look beyond the obvious and discern a deeper meaning.

Where do we gain knowledge? To study the cherry blossom from the tree's snowencrusted limbs, to the first opening bud, the awe of thousands of petals, and the falling of petals upon water we can learn the insights of the worlds within and without. The path of the elderly man up Mount Fuji. The rot of cancer in a child's body. The lies of the Yomi realms. The truths of Heaven. All things carry within them the budding of knowledge. Seek out the hidden meaning of all things around you. In a land of images, symbols can be found for all things...to mean not just one but none and all.

Console the grieving and remind them to respect the dead.

We have returned from the mouth of Yomi. Entering our decaying forms, we took the Second Breath. So many reside in Yomi...in the Middle Kingdom. They are forgotten as the traditions of mourning and death. The world has became too too fast. People move and speak without thought of yesterday or five minutes ago. They do not live for every moment. Without the proper grieving and service learned, taught, and followed for ages untold, people remain locked in a state of near mourning. Their ancestors cannot move or become lost shades. To learn and sing of shadow, we remind the world of the past...of those who have walked this way and that. We teach them to console and mourn. Through our efforts, the ancestors and Heaven are not forgotten but redeemed. Pull away the urgency of the stop watch. Bring mortalkind full circle with those they have lost.