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Author Topic: Otherworlds  (Read 580 times)

Darkhawk

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Otherworlds
« on: June 12, 2016, 05:54:08 pm »
So I've been chewing for a good long time on the concept of other realms, their denizens, what they're like, and so on.  There are a lot of systems out there for the Otherworlds, ways of looking at them, ranging from one or two up to many, and it seems a complicated problem.

And I've been poking at this question for months, and not getting it any more coherent, so I'm going to throw it out there:  what sorts of cosmologies that include otherworlds have people pondered/experienced?

I mean, Egyptian cosmology arguably has one otherworld, which includes the land of the dead, the land of dreams, the residences of the gods, and so on, except if it operates under a three-realm system with the underland and the celestial realms, except...

And of course fairy sort of lives in an intersection of "where nature spirits live", "where the dead live", "where deific entities live", and does that mean there's one realm, three with an overlap, four?

Anyway.  I thought I'd open up space for people to noodle about with this.  Maybe if we throw enough spaghetti at the wall some of it will stick.
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Faemon

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2016, 08:33:25 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;192568
what sorts of cosmologies that include otherworlds have people pondered/experienced?

I think more in planes because of the way physical sciences have broken down spatial dimensions has been cool. Though, I also think it's important that those remain to the physical world, though, rather than toted as evidence of mystical Otherworlds.

  • physical - everything pertaining to studies from microbiology to astrophysics and quantum and everything in-between belong here.
  • cultural - every value learned and shared by society and constructed by culture belong here; vocabulary, aesthetics, value judgments, etc. I make this distinct from the other three because if woo all worked the way we wanted it to or presumed it to operate, then it wouldn't be a mystery
  • ? - my more consistent/numinous(?) hallucinations go here, when they're overlaid or interface on the physical world
  • ??? - let's have a separate category for when the world itself is a hallucination, and the physical world or physical body isn't so prominent; the most common one perhaps being dreams
  • ?!?!! - I've initiated out-of-body experiences because some guide told me that's the Otherworld, but I wouldn't leap to the conclusion that the world I journey to during out-of-body experiences is necessarily the same plane as ? and/or ???
Quote
...of course fairy sort of lives in an intersection of "where nature spirits live", "where the dead live", "where deific entities live", and does that mean there's one realm, three with an overlap, four?

What I like about fairy lore is that it's so vague about all of this. I wouldn't be comfortable with some Otherworldly apartheid between ancestral spirits and nature spirits. When something like Theosophy maps out the ethereal, astral, Buddhic planes or whatever then there's a risk of presuming that that is the way the world works as opposed to how we think or believe it to operate or guess. I try to build a cosmology that's subject to change with experience, reasoning, and necessity.

That said, sometimes I just mentally plant a flag because it's easier. For instance, I sometimes find myself wandering the ??? temperate forests and meadows/hills, a different one almost every time, or different several times while I'm there. I call it "that place with the conifer forests and meadows/hills" even though it could be several places.

If it's got to be Written doesn somewhere, then...while J.M. Barrie was likely to have been tinkering with words and not much more, I've basically adopted the Neverland cosmology into my canon:

Quote
I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child's mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose.

It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.

Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other's nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.

The book has some passages later that hint at more complexity than that, for example, while it's all Play Pretend for the Darlings kids, it's a plot point that Peter Pan's Neverland "comes too close" and "breaks the veil". So, it's a dream-world and a play-pretend world...and also it's not.

Similarly, a lot of my planes bleed into or touch back to each other, or take on a different quality that I can't readily characterize. There's not necessarily an order to this listed, either: a being can (has) come at me through the ??? because I was physically writing a fictional story, that is, putting a specific cultural construct value to what I was doing. These working do not necessarily pass through the ? on the way to ???. While I'm writing, there's a way of being inspired in that, hey, this is going to be so easy to write. And then there's being inspired in that, uh, the fictional character in my mind won't do what the plot says and is addressing me directly. I want to say it's different because it feels different, but I can't justify that difference to myself when the mental texture or methods of getting there are too similar.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2016, 08:34:52 pm by Faemon »
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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2016, 12:55:39 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;192568
And I've been poking at this question for months, and not getting it any more coherent, so I'm going to throw it out there:  what sorts of cosmologies that include otherworlds have people pondered/experienced?


So there's this tree called a world tree. And you know how apple trees have branches full of apples, and lemon trees have branches full of lemons, and file trees have branches full of files? So it follows that a world tree has branches full of worlds. Somewhere down in the middle is an archetypal trunk, where there's the original idea of a Library and a School and a Theater and a Palace and so on, and then there are many, many branches, most of them heavy with fruit. Some worlds are very far apart, and some are so close that they're basically identical. (And some of them are weird and overlapping and make me sort of uncomfortable to look at, but they're perfectly reasonable examples.) There's a firebird nesting at the top of the tree, and a wyrm nestled in the roots, and a squirrel who can teach you to run among the branches if you care to learn.
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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2016, 08:27:01 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;192568
And I've been poking at this question for months, and not getting it any more coherent, so I'm going to throw it out there:  what sorts of cosmologies that include otherworlds have people pondered/experienced?

...

Anyway.  I thought I'd open up space for people to noodle about with this.  Maybe if we throw enough spaghetti at the wall some of it will stick.

 
Here's hoping.

I have given very little thought to the otherworlds of my budding cosmology, but I decided to make an attempt in honor of this post. Go ahead and scroll mightily if you aren't interested in my cosmological worldbuilding.

So, as some people here already know, I'm in the process of piecing together a practice and text out of a salad of ancient, medieval, and modern Judaism; Ancient Near Eastern gods; some ancient Greek mystery religion; a bit of Kemetic stuff; the intrusive and inexplicable presence of chaos magic; and various other things that get stuck in the pot. It's intended to be half-religion, half-magic system for the purpose of transforming the destructive energy of mental illness into the positive energy of creativity. That's what I'm working with here. I call it Ani-Shaddai, the former being the Hebrew first-person pronoun and the latter being a somewhat mysterious name for God in the Torah.

I've known vaguely for a while that there are at the very least three levels of world going on here: the celestial, the material, and the chthonic. This isn't really surprising given the sources I'm working with; a grim and bleak but not hellish underground underworld is a common feature of ANE and nearby mythologies (among others), as are mountains that ascend to divinity in some way (from Olympus to Sinai). In the Ani-Shaddai cosmology, two of the four gods are associated with the celestial realm and two with the chthonic. I would conjecture that since the primary sacrament of Ani-Shaddai is transition and transformation, the role of the material realm is to allow these actions to happen in the interplay between celestial and chthonic.

The celestial realm is roughly equivalent to the purest form of the conscious mind or ego; it is the land of In Theory, of abstraction and idea(l)s: Swords and Wands, air and fire. It's where creation descends from.

The chthonic realm is roughly equivalent to the depths of the subconscious mind or id; it is the land of night-time dreams and fever dreams and entheogen dreams and Archetypes and innermost desires: Coins and Cups, earth and water. It's where the raw energy for creation comes from, and it's both a literal underworld (it's under the earth) and a figurative one (it's associated with death). I suspect it borrows from the Kemetic Duat, as it's a place of danger and trials.

That's how I know it goes so far. Meanwhile, in apparently unrelated events, I've been compulsively drawing a symbol based on the Star of David while at work (my own personal Duat of danger and trials) in my down time to gather my thoughts (I draw sigils a lot at work for this purpose). This post made me think of it for some reason, and I mocked up the symbol in Photoshop. I suspect it is a semi-Kabbalistic map to the Ani-Shaddai cosmos.

  • The central hexagon represents the material world, as well as the Sefira of Malkuth, commonly seen as the moon-like reflection or material embodiment of the energy of the higher Sefirot, and also associated with the Shekhina, who is syncretized with Lilith into being one of the gods of Ani-Shaddai (Kallah-Lilith).
  • The top nine points plus the center are the Celestial Sefirot.
  • The lower nine points plus the center are the Chthonic Sefirot.
  • What are the side points? We just don't know (yet).
  • For some reason the resulting map looks like a Star of David that has been turned almost into a flower. Hmmm.
  • It is drawn by drawing a Star of David (step one), then drawing additional points in each vertice (step two), then drawing eight additional points in the top and bottom vertices but leaving the side vertices alone (step three). What does this mean? We just don't know (yet).
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anunitu

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2016, 08:02:29 pm »
This came to mind,not sure if you brought this up,the Tree of life from I think Kabbalah.





Does this represent alternate say dimensions?
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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2016, 05:16:28 am »
Quote from: anunitu;192699


 
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anunitu

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2016, 05:33:58 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;192712
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Ok,I will always quote everything..
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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2016, 12:14:56 pm »
Quote from: Jack;192586
So there's this tree called a world tree. And you know how apple trees have branches full of apples, and lemon trees have branches full of lemons, and file trees have branches full of files? So it follows that a world tree has branches full of worlds. Somewhere down in the middle is an archetypal trunk, where there's the original idea of a Library and a School and a Theater and a Palace and so on, and then there are many, many branches, most of them heavy with fruit. Some worlds are very far apart, and some are so close that they're basically identical. (And some of them are weird and overlapping and make me sort of uncomfortable to look at, but they're perfectly reasonable examples.) There's a firebird nesting at the top of the tree, and a wyrm nestled in the roots, and a squirrel who can teach you to run among the branches if you care to learn.

That is the oddest description of the Yggdrasil I've ever heard. And I've heard some very odd things about the Tree of Worlds. But there's no denying you are merely warping Yggdrasil for the wyrm at the roots is Níðhöggr, the squirrel Ratatoskr, and the "phoenix" or "firebird" is likely Hræsvelgr.  

There's not a thousands worlds to the Yggdrasil, there are nine. Four above and four below and one for the mere mortals. Ásbrú, Bifrost to the English, is the bridge that connects all. Even the non-Slavic religions that have things something to Yggdrasil, their world trees support seven to nine worlds not dozens upon dozens.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 12:17:43 pm by suzker »

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2016, 04:36:14 pm »
Quote from: suzker;193382
That is the oddest description of the Yggdrasil I've ever heard. And I've heard some very odd things about the Tree of Worlds. But there's no denying you are merely warping Yggdrasil for the wyrm at the roots is Níðhöggr, the squirrel Ratatoskr, and the "phoenix" or "firebird" is likely Hræsvelgr.  

There's not a thousands worlds to the Yggdrasil, there are nine. Four above and four below and one for the mere mortals. Ásbrú, Bifrost to the English, is the bridge that connects all. Even the non-Slavic religions that have things something to Yggdrasil, their world trees support seven to nine worlds not dozens upon dozens.
You've got me! I bow to your superior knowledge of All Things, especially how trees only appear in northern and eastern European mythology and not anywhere else, and also how you are the correct arbiter of All Stories and All Metaphors ever in every context. Wow, how did I ever get by without you in my life to tell me what I should be thinking?!?

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2016, 05:12:28 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;192568
what sorts of cosmologies that include otherworlds have people pondered/experienced?


I've pondered otherworlds in my writing in two respects:

1) The Underworld--My cosmology takes classic underworld tropes but expands them to include not only the dead, but the unknown in general (the afterlife being the biggest question mark there is) and our own interior worlds, the thoughts inside our heads. This is a place of shadows (compared to the more familiar exterior world, of substance) and is literally an otherworld, in that it is the home of all things "other," that don't fit our conventional understanding. The metaphorical labyrinth that floats at its center is dubbed Umbra, the Palace Within; its rambling, ever-changing halls contain worlds within worlds and are meant to mirror the human mind, in particular the subconscious:

I asked where Umbra could be found
Night's answer certain to confound:
"Below, beyond, beneath, between
"Adrift in thought, inside a dream
"At unseen end of every road
"Whose journey you must make alone.
"
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2016, 05:34:04 pm »
Quote from: Jack;192586
So there's this tree called a world tree. And you know how apple trees have branches full of apples, and lemon trees have branches full of lemons, and file trees have branches full of files? So it follows that a world tree has branches full of worlds. Somewhere down in the middle is an archetypal trunk, where there's the original idea of a Library and a School and a Theater and a Palace and so on, and then there are many, many branches, most of them heavy with fruit. Some worlds are very far apart, and some are so close that they're basically identical. (And some of them are weird and overlapping and make me sort of uncomfortable to look at, but they're perfectly reasonable examples.) There's a firebird nesting at the top of the tree, and a wyrm nestled in the roots, and a squirrel who can teach you to run among the branches if you care to learn.


That's a NICE cosmology--I like it *a lot*--and leads to the second otherworld I explore in my writing:

2) The Multiverse--a daydreaming god sees a tree in his mind's eye, with an innumerable myriad of branches spreading and sprawling in intricate patterns. These are alternate realities where different choices were made, where events transpired a little differently, forking the path of the future. This Myriad Tree is the axis of all these parallel existences.

He climbs the Myriad Tree trying to capture a spectacular bird that has landed in it on its long migration. The bird is trying to sing a duet with the universe around it, but can't find its voice. Just as he's about to grab the bird, he slips and catches a branch of the Myriad Tree to keep from falling to his doom.

This daydreaming god is always clinging to the branch for dear life in his mind's eye, just trying to hold on from moment to moment, terrified and exhilarated. That branch is our reality, with its particular past and future.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2016, 05:58:32 pm »
Quote from: suzker;193382
That is the oddest description of the Yggdrasil I've ever heard. And I've heard some very odd things about the Tree of Worlds. But there's no denying you are merely warping Yggdrasil for the wyrm at the roots is Níðhöggr, the squirrel Ratatoskr, and the "phoenix" or "firebird" is likely Hræsvelgr.  

There's not a thousands worlds to the Yggdrasil, there are nine. Four above and four below and one for the mere mortals. Ásbrú, Bifrost to the English, is the bridge that connects all. Even the non-Slavic religions that have things something to Yggdrasil, their world trees support seven to nine worlds not dozens upon dozens.

 
Perhaps you are only able to see the portions of the world tree that you have been allowed to see. Perhaps others are allowed to see what you can't see. Perhaps some people allow personal experience to add to their readings of text instead of completely disregarding personal experience. Also note that this is in the Mystery-Builders SIG, implying that the kind of work done here is that of more mystery traditions, not really the stuff that would be put into the standard texts of any religion.

Even Judaism and Christianity have their mystic traditions and texts that see the world in a way that does not follow what is said in their core texts. Probably other major religions, though I cannot say which ones do to lack of familiarity.

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Re: Otherworlds
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2016, 06:15:54 pm »
Quote from: Altair;193397
This daydreaming god is always clinging to the branch for dear life in his mind's eye, just trying to hold on from moment to moment, terrified and exhilarated. That branch is our reality, with its particular past and future.

 
Oooh, I like the drama and the "what happens if he lets go"-type questions that evokes!
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