By Greg Stafford
Published 19 Mar 2006
There’s not much reason to access Eternity, or Infinity or whatever we wish to call the “mystic unity” of Glorantha. But it’s interesting to some to know how it would be done, if worshippers wanted to do so.
From the Essence Dimension
As can be seen from their schematics, the Essence Planes “ascend” through Planes from the Spell Plane to the Infinite. These planes are increasingly concentrated in power, but because people are accustomed to view world as mixed the upper planes are increasingly difficult for mortal beings to comprehend.
Ascent through them requires increased knowledge, power and especially the development of symbolic sight to perceive the actual effects of Veneration.
Thus it is easiest to understand the Spell Plane, which is full of nodes that empower specific, small parts of the mundane world where mortals live. It becomes more and more abstract and difficult with the Saint Plane, which is nonetheless conceivable since these fine folks were either: once mortal beings; or beings that reached down and communicated with mortals.
But upon reaching the Venerable Plane most mortals will have lost their “ego,” their sense of individuality, and hence, their place of perception. This plane is recognized as Solace. For some, the experience here is called Joy, because of the feeling that it instills upon participants.
Some say that Joy is “higher” than Solace, or vice versa, while the Irensalvists know that the Prime Mover is even higher yet. And then, beyond even that, is the unknown and unknowable, a state of Pure Being.
Others say this just seems to be Solace or Joy, and that the true realm of the Creator is higher, and more abstract. They say this is where people must begin another whole round of existence and purification to be one with Creator. But this is as high as people can get without losing entirely their ability to return to the world of the living.
From the Spirit Plane
The spirit plane is a single place, undifferentiated by planes or barriers. To most people, the entire plane appears as simply a vast, seemingly limitless grey zone of nothingness. They don’t have the senses or sensibilities to perceive its reality. Spiritists, however, can perceive their own limited spirit place, called a demesne. Having come from the mortal plane, this spirit place tends to mirror the characteristics of the human world with which the worshipper is most familiar. Thus both the Praxians and Pentans find themselves in a lush plain, amidst a huge herd of their own animals. Darjiinites find themselves in a luscious swamp. This is because those demesnes are the regions that provided the spirits to the mixed world during the Creation Ages when the worlds impacted each other.
Enclosing that little demesne, if they explored further out, a Praxian would find an even larger herd that comprised all of the Praxian beasts, where living, extinct or yet-to-be spirits reside. Their limited ancestral demesne is enclosed by this.
And beyond that, there is yet another even larger enclosure that includes the Praxians and other beings as well, though those others have less obvious relevance to the herd folk. It is, in this case, a larger realm of animals in general, which has within it portions of Hykimi beast demesnes, as well as separate creatures like the Puma People; and that is overlapped by other ancient spirits of Genert’s Garden, most of whom are extinct now. Yet that larger region exists, though often with vague and shifting boundaries because the concepts are fluid. The presence of the six- and eight-limbed Atharax creatures and of the humanoid beliyem and kendist people, or the experiences of the playful and destructive uluym and absorbent, annihilating ini, is distressing at best, hostile at worst to normal human Praxians. Hence, its extreme difficulty forbids passage for most people.
To truly understand these larger, encompassing domains requires increased knowledge, power and especially the development of spirit sight to perceive the true effects of ecstatic experience. It is akin to expanding and assimilating, or being able to enclose all the various concepts that are contained within them.
This process is one of going outward. Eventually a shaman (for indeed, only a shaman can accomplish this) could theoretically integrate these huge realms within himself, so that he understands them, and could go onward to others that are even more huge and vague. The process requires the shedding of mere human characteristics, and thus the more powerful a shaman becomes, the less human he is.
When all of the possible realms were thus digested, Eternity could be reached.
From the God Planes
Crossing over into the God Plane is like entering a landscape. Entering into it the worshippers first find the outskirts, where demigods and godlets exist, like villages around a town, hills around a mountain or streams entering a river. More powerful deities exist within those towns, with their collection of pantheon mates. Those towns, in turn, surround the homes of the Great Gods, who are by definition those with a connection to Infinity/Eternity/etc.
Of course, the analogy of settlements is only an analogy, and non-urban entities would have streams contributing to lakes contributing to seas contributing to oceans, and so on.
This process is one of going inward, towards the center – towards increasingly powerful places or beings. The Great Gods, in their turn, have within their own private dwelling a place where they keep the secret entrance to the Infinite. For Orlanth this is a treasure box, for Humakt a scabbard, for Chalana Arroy a healing kit.
From the Lunar Way
The Lunar Way combines all of these. One must first ascend through planes to become more skilled, as if going from a spell to a saint’s grimoire. This will allow them to be on the moon. Once there they must go inward, to find their worshipped entity’s house. From there they can enter into Sedenya’s own realm, and afterwards expand outward to encompass the greater realities of the mystical borderlands.
The various methods of developing one’s own magical talents are thus varied, and each of these reflects the methods of the magic: upward, outward, inward, or a combination of them all.