Spirits by Gaslight
Fifty years ago, Charles Darwin’s voyage around the world lead him to a fascinating discovery. On his return to England, and eventual publishing of his seminal work The Origin of Psyche in 1859, he reported his encounters and observations with Spirits from a variety of sites around the world, and postulated his heretical theories on their connection to mankind. With this introduction to the Aether, the world of spirit energy which exists parallel to our own, our world was forever changed.
In 1867, only twelve years after Darwin’s landmark publication, excommunication and eventual suicide, the Church of England convened the first Lambeth Conference. Its purpose was, in part, to discuss the metaphysical implications of Spirits. It was a controversial topic, and just over half of the bishops invited from around the world attended. Those who did confirmed the heresy inherent in Darwin’s analyses of Spirits. They also laid the groundwork for the eventual classification of “Spirits” as nothing more than anomalies in the Aether that can be harnessed and used for power.
Today, the majority of Britons has accepted the official stance of the Church of England on Spirits, helped in no small part by the inability of most people to perceive or interact with them. Still, the number who can, generally referred to as the Attuned, has been steadily increasing, and as more people have developed the skills or nature, the world has changed quickly. Whole industries devoted to the exploitation of this new source of energy have sprung up, and artisans from traditional, modern, and new industry have changed the way they produce. Devices known as spiritmech have become more readily available, at least to those able to afford them.
Even with their increasing numbers, Attuned are relatively rare, and the number willing to work with the mercantile class of factory owners even moreso. The technological and social legacy of the Industrial Revolution still force much of the working class into factories and workshops to churn out the necessities of Victorian life.