The following is an attempt at a coherent cosmology that is closer to the actual assumptions of pre-modern times. It harmonizes various biblical, classical, hermetic, and medieval christian ideas, with some bits of more modern folklore and legend. As always, it s not a serious work of scholarship or theology. My intent to present something with somewhat more genuine mythical resonance than most other fantasy cosmologies. I’ve also tried to keep some unsolved mysteries in place, rather than give simple explanations for everything.
Part I covers the overall plan of the Cosmos, and the Supernal Spheres.
Part II covers the Sublunary Worlds.
Part III covers the Afterlife.
The Cosmos, Chaos and Empyrean
The term Cosmos (or Creation) indicates the ordered Universe of manifested existence. The Cosmos is comprised of two substances: Spirit and Matter. Spirit in its primal form is Thought, while the primal form of Matter is Ether, (or the Quintessence). The general shape of the Cosmos is a series of nested Spheres, also called Worlds, or Zones. Outside and beyond the whole system of the Cosmos are the infinite realms of the Empyrean, and Chaos. The Cosmos itself floats like a bubble within them.
The Empyrean is a boundless realm of pure flame and limitless light. Certain religious philosophers who call themselves the “Knowing Ones” claim that the Empyrean is the home of the Ultimate God, and is inhabited by indescribably transcendent beings called “Aeons”. Most other sages deny the existence of such “Aeons”, or claim that the term properly refers to the Angels that inhabit the Seven Heavens that proceed from the Empyrean.
The primal Chaos is inhabited by Demons that seek to destroy the Cosmos. Also known as the Outer Darkness, the Cosmic Gulfs, the Abyss, and the Wastes of Chaos, it is the destination for the Lost Souls of the mad. Chief among the Demons are the abominations known as the Dweller on the Threshold, and the Mother of Monsters. It is often speculated that the Cosmos was formed out of the wild wastes of Chaos by the will of a Divinity. Others claim that Chaos and the Demons are actually the shattered remains of a previous, but failed Creation.
There is no border between the Empyrean and Chaos. Both appear to simultaneously surround the Cosmos, in a manner that is not comprehensible by mortal minds.
The Astral and Ethereal Planes
Two Planes bind together the worlds of the Cosmos.
The plane of pure Thought is called the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane links and binds together the Worlds of Spirit. It can also be accessed from any place where a sentient being exists. Alternate names for the Astral Plane include the Starry Plane, the Psychic World, Outer Space, and the Mindscape. Because the Souls and Minds of sleeping mortals sometimes roam there, the Astral Plane is sometimes known as Dreamland. The Astral Plane appears to be a black void, with distant stars floating in every direction. Some say that the perpetual night of the Astral Plane reflects the Outer Darkness, while the stars are bits of the Empyrean. Humans (or any sentient beings) who possess the proper talent or magic can enter the Astral Plane and travel through the Spiritual Worlds. In addition to linking the major Spiritual Worlds, the Astral Plane contains many small, disconnected realms known as Dream Worlds, formed from the dreams and desires of mortal souls.
The Ethereal Plane, also called the Quintessential World, is the plane where matter exists in its original state, before it condenses into the grosser elements of fire, water, air, and earth. From within, the Ethereal Plane appears to be an endless and colorless expanse, in which manifested material objects are visible as translucent images superimposed upon each other. The Material Worlds manifest from the Ethereal Plane, and are bound together by it. All apparent voids in the Material Worlds are actually filled with Ether. It is possible to travel from any Material World to another (or within them) by dissolving one’s body back into Ether, traversing the Ethereal Plane, and re-manifesting as matter in the desired place. The Restless Dead often wander in the Ethereal plane, sometimes partially manifesting in order to interact with the living.
The Supernal Spheres
The outermost (or uppermost) seven spheres of the Cosmos are the Seven Heavens. They can be reached through the Astral Plane, but not the Ethereal. The Highest Heaven is the Seventh, and the lowest is the First. The Seven Heavens are the home of the Angels, and the source of all Goodness. The righteous among mortals find their way to the Heavens after death, to dwell as the Blessed Souls. Reigning over the Angels and the Blessed are the Lord of Hosts, and the Queen of the Angels. Many claim that the Lord of Hosts is actually the Ultimate God, and the Heavens are in fact part of the Empyrean.
Below (or enclosed by) the Seven Heavens is the Firmament of Stars, accessible from both the Astral and Ethereal Planes. It appears to be a black space shot through with faint wisps of colorful clouds. The Firmament is filled with the domains of various spiritual powers, as well as self-luminous beings that are visible from Earth as stars in the night sky. The Firmament rotates in a regular motion. The beings that inhabit the Firmament of Stars are those that are often worshiped as gods by beings in the Mundane World. The Demiurge and Dame Fortune, who rule the Cosmic Archons, are supposed to reside in the Firmament of Stars.
Enclosed by the Firmament of Stars are the Seven Planetary Spheres. The Planetary Spheres are arranged from the outermost, or Seventh Sphere, to the innermost, or First. Each Sphere consists of a Material World (or Planet) visible from the Earth and reachable through the Ethereal Plane, as well as a Spiritual World that can be accessed through the Astral Plane. The Planetary Spheres are inhabited by the forces of cosmic Law known as the Archons, who decide and enforce destinies for mundane creatures. The souls of the Justified Dead dwell spiritually in the Planetary Spheres. Astrologers watch the motions of the Planets and Firmament of Stars to uncover the Archons’ plans for the Mundane World.