According to Criol Fowst, the Cognitae, or some version of it, had existed within the Imperium for millennia, as far back as before the Great Crusade. Before the Horus Heresy a secret society known as the Cognitae was known to Kasper Hawser. A vision by Ollanius Persson puts the Cognitate as far older than even this, showing a predecessor of the Cult active in Terra's ancient past before recorded history. Here, the Cognitae attempted to erect a Chaos-channeling tower etched in Enuncia but were foiled by the Emperor and his armies led by Ollanius.
The Cognitae also spawned several offshoots and imitators, some of which tried to recruit Fowst. He found some ideals in common with them, but ultimately rejected them in favor of his "true" calling, as a cultist in service to the Word Bearers. Every "graduate" of the Cognitae was both highly intelligent and extremely dangerous. These included Zygmunt Molotch, Jader Trice, Gall Ballack, and Goran Gobleka.
The goal of the Cognitae is to "liberate" Humanity from what it sees as the dogmatic oppression of the Imperium, using the powers of Chaos to achieve this. According to Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor, the Cognitae's aim was to develop, "by means psychic, eugenic and noetic," a generation of individuals who would work to further the aims of Chaos in the Scarus Sector. The Cognitae operates a network of "academies" which engage in psychic training, eugenics, cloning, and forbidden sciences.
- King in Yellow - Possible leader
- Lilean Chase - Founder of a Cognitae Academy on Hesperus.
- Goran Gobleka[3a]
- Zygmunt Molotch[1a]
- Mam Mordaunt - Has turned against the Yellow King
- Jader Trice
- Gall Ballack[1b]
- 1: Ravenor Rogue (Novel) by Dan Abnett, "Now" interlude before Part One, pg. 29
- 2: Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Target//Acquisition, Chapter Six, pg. 75
- 3: The Magos (Novel) Chapter 12-13
- 3a: Chapter 25
- 4: Pariah (Novel) Chapter 41
- 5: Prospero Burns (Novel) Chapter 8
- 6: Ravenor (Novel) Chapter 2
- 7: Penitent (Novel) Chapter 21
- 7a: Chapter 1
- 8: Mortis (Novel) - Chapter 16