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Monday, May 24, 2021

Mystical States: The Astral Realm

It’s been a while, but it’s time to continue the re-thinking cosmology discussion about multiple mystical states of matter that create the illusion of multiple planes of existence in a single-plane universe…

The physical realm is tangible and detectible, the ethereal realm is intangible and undetectable to the physical, while retaining other physical properties like size and duration. In keeping with the pattern, the astral realm is to the ethereal realm as the ethereal realm is to the physical:

  • Astral matter doesn’t exist for ethereal beings, in the same sense that ethereal matter doesn’t exist for physical beings. It can’t be felt, has no hardness, no temperature, no feeling of substantiality whatsoever.
  • Naturally, astral matter doesn’t exist for physical beings, either, and is undetectable with any physical sense (invisible, silent, and odorless.)
  • And of course astral matter has no mass, is unaffected by gravity, and doesn’t block movement for either physical or ethereal beings

Again, astral beings can see, hear, and smell either physical or ethereal matter, but are unable to touch, taste or feel anything that isn’t astral, and can pass through any matter that isn’t also astral. But while ethereal beings experience the physical world as slightly out of focus and full of echoes, astral beings see the physical and ethereal world as a mildly-glowing, semi-transparent version of reality, with all sounds at a lower volume.

Spirits are ethereal, but souls exist in the astral. I won’t go into the difference between spirits and souls again, but the short version is that spirit retains emotion, but eventually dissolves without a soul, while souls retain the personality and memories of the living. Souls generally don’t linger in the spot where they die, but move on to another place…

The astral realm tends to feel more empty than the ethereal. But the presence of astral mirror matter can change that. Magic can create a copy of a physical or ethereal object or being in an astral state, which gives it these properties:

  • It doesn’t glow and isn’t transparent to astral beings, but remains undetectable to physical and ethereal beings.
  • It is solid to astral beings, who can touch, move, or use it in the same way a physical being could touch, move, or use a physical copy.
  • If an astral mirror is made of a being or object that is present, the mirror occupies the same space as the original and follows its movements until an astral being or object changes it in some way. This has no effect on the original.
  • Astral mirrors are basically solid illusions. They persist in astral form as long as there is an astral being there to perceive them.

Illusion spells basically make astral mirrors of a spellcaster’s thoughts, which are then partially manifested in the physical realm, made visible and audible.

Summoned creatures are astral mirrors of imagined creatures that are made fully manifest in the physical realm for a limited time.

The Mirror Dimension in the MCU Doctor Strange movie is basically just an astral mirror copy of everything around the sorcerer, allowing sorcerers to cast spells in a “real” environment without affecting the originals. At the other extreme, powerful magics can be used to create an astral pocket realm (sometimes called “pocket dimension”,) which is an astral mirror of a real or imagined place that also distorts space.

  • From the outside, an astral pocket realm appears in the astral realm as a softly-glowing orb with shifting color patterns on its surface. It can’t be seen without magical aid by physical or ethereal beings.
  • All astral, ethereal, and physical beings pass through an astral pocket orb without effect.
  • An astral pocket orb may contain an area as small as a chest or room, up to the size of entire kingdoms or worlds, all in a tiny area.
  • To enter an astral pocket, a traveler must either be able to visualize the realm within the orb or get assistance from a being inside the orb.
  • Some being or soul must always remain in the astral pocket or it will cease to exist.

In a future cosmology installment, I’ll start looking more into exploiting mystical states for the magical properties.

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