“Question everything? Not quite, dear. Collect everything, study everything, then question everything! Try not to take yourself too seriously. And, most importantly of all: do pass the crumble.” - Anna Filing
The Iron Filings are a mismatched collective of self-consciously eccentric witches devoted to interdisciplinary magical research. They embrace anomalous data, and strive to provide scientific explanations for phenomena that other witches - especially the Slough Institute - are uninterested in, or would rather forget existed. Filings regard the tradition of pigeonholing magic into Disciplines as dreary and wrongheaded, believing that only in the gaps and the overlaps can the full potential of magic be understood.
Anna Filing was an exceptionally gifted witch who spent her life pursuing inconsistencies and unexplained phenomena within the various disciplines of magic. (If her name is recognised outside of witch society, it is as a serving girl who saved Charles Fort's life, and later married him.) The 'Iron Filings' grew up from the circle of friends that formed around Anna during her London years, who were determined to see her legacy remembered. The Iron Filings quickly became one of the foremost authorities on magic within witchdom, much to the distaste of Slough.
The Filings are an international co-operative, with research buildings in London, New York, Utrecht, Manisa - and many other places. These complexes are where the primary research and operations staff work and practice, and the archives are kept. The Filings also own or have access to several smaller research buildings in most countries which can be used by any Member for the purposes of undertaking magical research, so long as the study is written up and submitted internally. These smaller buildings are joint owned, whereas the larger complexes tend to be owned or managed directly by the Anna Filing Research Trust.
In addition to this, the Filings collectively own and operate a popular franchise of tea shops (“Archer's Loft”), from which they derive a modest income used to fund their research.
“Magic is mundane. But the first and most beautiful contradiction of magic is this: the mundane is extraordinary. I mean, just take magnets. Fucking incredible!” - Brontosaurus Extinction
The Iron Filings value magical experimentation and empirical study, but are also deeply sceptical of any kind of established orthodoxy. They question the utility of the division of magic into five disciplines, and the way in which the academic study of magic privileges certain more useful or more obviously powerful applications of magic over others. The Filing outlook is profoundly interdisciplinary - they are fascinated by the ways in which magical approaches overlap; the hybrid zones where possibilities lie and research is lacking.
Contrarians to the core, Filings have historically gone out of their way to fund research into the least glamorous and most impractical of magics just to prove a point. Its members are known to espouse bizarre theories explaining why such-and-such must be the case - not from any great fund of belief in the such-and-such, but more on point of principle that 'common sense' must be opposed - and that it is best opposed by the judicious application of bizarre fantasy.
Filings tend to take a mystical view of magic as something which cannot truly ever be comprehended by any one being. The attempt to understand magic's deepest secrets is thus pure folly, but in spite - nay, because of this - it is the most important folly there is.
The Iron Filings, as a collective, harbor no especial fondness for one grouping of Celestials over another. Indeed, they tend to believe that an exclusive focus on one group is inimical to the Filing project, unless part of a wider study. Similarly, there are no 'preferred' disciplines of magic, rather, esoteric and novel combinations of magic from several disciplines is heartily encouraged.
Puddings, chiefest amongst these, crumbles, are traditionally held in high esteem by Iron Filings and elevated to a quasi-religious significance in the pamphlets they produce for the membership, none moreso than in Mellifluous Algernon's Esoterica Crumblesia, a favoured text amongst these witches.
A Filing will often adopt an unusual use-name upon joining the community, but this is hardly enforced.
The organisational structure of the Filings is fairly distributed; that said: Rosicrucia is unquestionably 'the leader'. She owns the London building where their European HQ is based, manages the membership lists, the treasury, and vets the research proposals for feasibility before they reach the Oversight Committee.
A charming and driven woman who embodies all of the qualities which the Filings hold dear.
Two Sugars heads up the magical research committee which decides where the various branches of Filings will focus their studies next. Witty, grumpy and quite protective of the unusual culture and traditions that have grown up around the Filings - Two Sugars is concerned that with the growing popularity of their organisation, what makes it special and welcoming will be lost.
Ottery is the Head Archivist, and maintains the extensive collection of research notes assembled by the Filings over the years. Ottery is something of a genius - capable of drawing connections between disparate research papers and suggesting lines of enquiry which - more often than not - result in new discoveries being made.