Part I covers the overall plan of the Cosmos, and the Supernal Spheres.
Part II covers the Sublunary Worlds.
Mind, Body, Soul, and Life
Human beings consist of four parts: Body, Mind, Soul, and Life. The Body is Material in nature, while the Mind, Soul, and Life are Spiritual.
The Body is the physical part of a being. Bodies can exist in three states: Corporeal (solid, or manifest), Ethereal (existing wholly on the Ethereal Plane) and Incorporeal (partially solid, and partially Ethereal). Ghosts, for example, have Incorporeal bodies. The Body is the connection to the Ethereal Plane and Material Worlds. Thus, a being needs a Body of some kind to enter and interact with material and Ethereal objects. A Body without a Mind has no individual will. A Body without a Soul functions normally, but the creature will lack any conscience, or connection with the divine. Bodies that lack Life are dead, and will decompose unless prevented by the power of a Mind or Soul.
Mind is the consciousness that plans, remembers, and imagines. The Mind connects a being to the Astral Plane, and mindless beings are unable to enter there. Creatures without a proper Mind can still have a limited kind of intelligence, but are not truly sentient. Some sages claim that extreme madness is the result of the Mind being lost elsewhere, while the Soul, Life, and Body remain behind. The Mind has individuality, but by itself it is not alive, and is not connected to the Spiritual Worlds other than the Astral Plane and Limbo.
The Soul is the connection to the Spiritual Worlds other than the Astral Plane, such as Heaven and Hell. Creatures without Souls are unable to reside in the Spiritual Worlds, although they can enter the Astral Plane, Ethereal Plane, and Material Worlds. The Soul is individual, but not truly sentient without the Mind.
Generally, a being’s Alignment reflects the inclinations of the Soul. Beings without Souls are usually therefore of Neutral Alignment, and essentially uninterested in spiritual affairs. Some soulless beings are capable of adhering to an Alignment as a purely intellectual orientation. The Elf-men are a common example, often holding “Good” as a more beautiful way of seeing the world. They remain unable to feel guilt, remorse, or shame, however, even when they transgress grossly against the Alignment they embrace as their own. Sometimes, a creature’s Soul may be of one Alignment, while their Mind may have a wholly different persona. Such beings experience constant mental anguish from their conflicting desires. The origin of the Soul, whether it preexists or not, and who or what creates it, is a great mystery. Thus, it is also a source of endless philosophical debate and religious strife.
The Life is the force that normally animates Bodies, and allows them to participate in living processes. It connects the other constituent parts of man to each other, and prevents the Body from collapsing into its separate elements. The Life is not self-aware, and has no individuality without the Mind and Soul. It is speculated by some that the Life is actually a portion of the Empyrean, and upon leaving the Body, the spark of Life returns there to be re-absorbed.
Under normal circumstances, living creatures have the four parts of their being bound closely together . Various catastrophes and magical practices can, however, separate the parts from each other. The loss of Life through Death usually results in the Mind and Soul leaving the Body. Astral Projection consists of the Mind separating itself from the other parts (although if it wishes to enter the Spiritual Worlds it must bring the Soul along with it). When a Devil purchases a Soul, often it is taken on the spot and imprisoned in Hell, leaving the Mind, Body and Life behind on Earth. Certain abominations can feed on the Life , sapping the vitality from still living creatures.
Certain creatures lack one or more of the aforementioned parts. Fairy Folk and Elf-men, for example, lack Souls. Most animals lack Souls, with the notable exception of dogs (who possess Souls, but not true Minds). Certain exceptional horses likewise possess Souls. A Golem has a Body and a Life, but no Mind or Soul. When the Mind, Soul, or both remain bound to a Body from which the Life has departed, the result is an Undead creature.
Existence After Death
Usually, upon the death of the Body, the Mind and Soul travel to an appropriate Spiritual World and reside there in perpetuity. Generally, the Mind will follow the inclination of the Soul, to bliss in Heaven, perfection in the Planetary Spheres, damnation in Hell, or madness in the Outer Darkness. For some, however, the afterlife is different.
Often, the Mind feels it has unfinished business in a Material World. Other times, a Soul may be sent back to a Material World, if a spiritual power feels the Soul is needed there. In such cases, the Mind or Soul (or both) may re-incarnate in a new Body. If the Mind has re-incarnated, the new person will always retain some memories of their past life. If the Soul alone has re-incarnated, however, there may be no definite memories from the previous life. The new person’s Alignment will be identical to the that of the Soul, however, and the person’s destiny will follow a similar pattern to that of the Soul’s previous incarnation.
Sometimes Souls do not make the journey away from the Material World at all. In the best case, this is because they go to dwell as Honored Ancestors with the Fairy Folk in the Otherworld. If a Soul becomes stuck in the Underworld, however, it will will become one of the Hungry Dead. When a Soul is trapped in Shadowland, it will form a new body of darkness, becoming one of the Shadow People. Souls that never leave the Mundane World haunt the living as the Restless Dead.
Beings that do not posses Souls from birth automatically re-incarnate after death. Fairy Folk retain all the memories of all of their past incarnations, even as infants. Elf-men retain some memories of their previous lives, but do not enjoy the uninterrupted consciousness of full-blooded Fairy Folk.
Under certain rare circumstances, a being can be completely shattered into its constituent parts. Such a catastrophe can happen after the death of person who has had their Soul eaten, or imprisoned by a spiritual power. Certain horrific spells can permanently separate the Soul, Mind, and Life from the Body, and each other. Sometimes, the Mind of a person will come to embrace a philosophy opposed to the Alignment of their Soul, as often happens with Cambions, and other hybrid people sired by spiritual beings. In such cases, the Soul (if it is still able) is said to travel to the Sphere of its Alignment (or perhaps re-incarnate), while the Mind (if it still exists) will come to inhabit the Astral Plane as a disembodied intelligence. It is said that some philosophers deliberately choose such a fate, since they regard the Soul as an illusion (or a non-conscious part of the Mind), and the apparent Spiritual Worlds (and the beings that inhabit them) as ultimately unreal constructions of the Mind.
During demonic possession, possession through magic, or divine incarnation, the Soul and Mind are temporarily displaced to Limbo, but not permanently severed from the Life and Body. Living creatures that have Minds, but never had Souls, cannot be spiritually possessed by demons, gods, or other such entities. Such immunity may be because because the peculiar Life force of such soulless beings does not allow for the presence of an invading Soul. Forms of domination that are purely mental, however, can affect soulless beings.
Travel Through the Spheres
There exist in the Cosmos numerous Portals that grant direct access between two Worlds, without the need to traverse the intervening Spheres, or enter the Astral or Ethereal planes. Most Souls who travel to Spiritual Worlds after death do so through Portals that becomes visible to them after the Life leaves their former bodies.
- Portals to Heaven usually appear as tunnels of light, ladders, staircases, or long roads.
- Portals to Hell usually take the form of gigantic heads with open mouths, inside of which figures will be seen indulging in various vices.
- Portals to the Planetary Spheres and Firmament of Stars usually appear as rays of colored light.
- Portals to the Outer Darkness or Chaos often look like closed doorways or gates.
- Portals to Purgatory and Limbo often appear as dark caverns.
Spells also exist that can create magical Gates between worlds, and such Gates can also be created by the will of certain spiritual beings.
Conduits are apparent objects or geographical features that link several Worlds. Some philosophers argue that the apparent forms of the Conduits (and Portals) are poetic illusions constructed by Minds unable to comprehend the true shape of the Cosmos. Others believe that the Conduits are exactly the things they appear to be.
- The legendary Tower of Perplexity is said to be found in a distant and forgotten part of the Earth. It appears to be an enormous structure of archaic architecture, so tall that its upper stories disappear into the sky. The inside is a bizarre labyrinth of hallways, chambers, and staircases. By traveling upwards within the Tower, visitors can move through, and enter, the Zones of Air, Water and Fire. The unfinished top of the tower opens onto the Luminous Ether. If visitors travel downwards from the entrance of the Tower into its foundations, they will move through the Underworld and into Purgatory. Many theologians speculate that the Tower of Perplexity was built by the original race of humanity, perhaps under the direction of ancient Nephilim. The forces of Heaven supposedly drove the builders insane and unable to communicate with each other, to prevent the possibility of the wicked trying to storm Paradise. The Tower of Perplexity is said to be infested with various monsters from the places it touches, strange races that have sought refuge within it, and the the ghosts of its original builders.
- The Omphalos is the literal center of the Earth. It is a stone or monument that exists simultaneously in every End of the Earth, and from it travelers can enter the Mundane World, the Underworld, The Torrid Zone, the Antipodes, Shadowland, the Pillars of the Earth, or the isles of the Otherworld.
- The River of the Dead is said to start in the Mundane World, and run through the Underworld, Shadowland, Purgatory, Limbo, and the Pit of Envy. A ferryman (or a group of ferrymen) is rumored to haunt the River, taking passengers in return for suitable compensation.
- The Ouroboros appears in the form of a enormous serpent biting its own tail. It is supposed to encircle the Firmament of Stars, separating it from the Seven Heavens. The coils and bends of the Ouroboros are also said to run through all the Planetary Spheres. Some claim that the is is the movement of the Ouroboros that sets the Firmament and Planetary Spheres in motion.
- The vast World Tree is said to have roots in all the Sublunary Worlds, and branches in all the Supernal Spheres. It is also said to be infested with fearsome monsters.
- The Cosmic Man is also said to touch every World, with his feet in Hell, and his head in Heaven. The souls of his feet supposedly rest upon Chaos, while the crown of his head touches the Empyrean. Some claim that the Cosmic Man is the comprehensible form of the rumored Ultimate God. Others who claim to have traveled the Spheres insist they have never encountered the Cosmic Man (or any of the other supposed conduits).