Journeys Beyond Reality

When a Garou is growing up, regardless of her breed, the only world she knows is the real world. It’s the reality she shares with over seven billion humans: a collective reality bound by reason, science, and a host of seemingly immutable laws. If she drops an apple, it will fall towards the center of the Earth at a constant acceleration of 32 feet per second per second. If she’s born a lupus, she can see that nature may be capricious, but it still follows observable patterns: winter follows autumn, and life ends in death. Even a metis raised in a sept with brothers and sisters who know about the supernatural must accept limits between the possible and impossible. Our world is a physical realm made of matter and limited by the laws of physics. For every action, Newton’s laws tell us, there is an equal and opposite and entirely predictable physical reaction.

Granted, some people suspect there’s more to reality than these reasonable limitations. For whatever reason, a visionary — whether he’s referred to as psychic, sensitive, enlightened, or aware — may suspect or sense that something exists outside the world most human beings experience, lurking just out of sight. Seekers of the unknown may even witness evidence that they live in a world of darkness: an impossible act of magic, perhaps, or a ghost whose passions compel it to act beyond death. Once those shadows cast doubt on the immutable laws of the real world, reality no longer seems so absolute. There appear to be exceptions to consensual reality, but even visionaries must survive in the reality they share with billions of ordinary human beings. For everyone else, civilization must serve as an elaborate façade: it gives the illusion that magic and mysticism are not real. The horrors of the supernatural world lurk behind a veil of lies, remaining unseen by human eyes.

Homid or lupus Garou may have those same suspicions early in life; in fact, they may even have a first encounter with the occult at the early age. Something about their life seems as though it’s not quite right. This doubt might manifest as dreams, spiritual curiosity, or for a lupus Garou, the sneaking suspicion that she thinks a bit differently from all the other wolves around her. A metis will hear tales of the supernatural from her brothers and sisters, but all such knowledge is based on second-hand stories. And sure enough, from the first time a werewolf transforms, reality will never seem the same ever again. The supernatural world is then undeniably real. With that revelation comes further doubt: there may be alternatives to the world she knows.

Whether this cub tracks down others of her kind or is rescued by another pack (or is finally old enough to be accepted more as a metis), she’s in need of a mentor who can guide her. Her chances of escaping the physical realm are slim without that guidance. Through an elder, she’ll learn to awaken to the possibilities sleeping inside her. One of the most dramatic is the ability to step outside the physical world.Through meditation, she can become spiritually stronger (gaining Gnosis). By harnessing that strength and focusing that insight, she can see further proof that there’s more to life than the world humans see and know. After she’s formally accepted as a cub — a Garou who has not yet survived her Rite of Passage — she is taught to “step sideways” from this world to another. For a metis, this is a rare moment of acceptance in a life all too often plagued by shame and ostracism: Instead of merely hearing tales of others’ adventure and heroism, her opportunities for rapture and revelation are the same as for any other initiated Garou.

The werewolf can then experience another world just outside the one we know, a reflection of the physical world we live in: the realm of spirit. The closest realm of the Umbra, the Penumbra, is almost always the first one a Garou explores. It’s a shadow cast by all living things; in fact, the most vibrant and living entities in our world have mirror images in that other world. The two don’t look exactly the same, but a forest of trees, a public park, and a building that’s endured for decades will each cast a reflection — a spiritual form for each of these exists in the spirit world. Because the spirit world is a reflection of our world, it’s only fitting that werewolves cross over by focusing on an object that represents that symmetry: the traveler must meditate on a reflective surface, whether that’s a mirror or the undisturbed surface of a crystalline lake. The first time a Garou attempts this, it’s a dramatic revelation, and the first time she returns, she’s forever changed.

When a Garou completes her Rite of Passage, she’ll usually join a pack, and from then on, the spirit world holds endless possibilities for journeys into other worlds. There are countless realms beyond the Penumbra just waiting for exploration and revelations. First, that pack needs to find a totem spirit to help guide them, and they’ll find it through a journey called an aisling: a vision quest that helps define who they are. On their journey, they’ll travel beyond the Penumbra, exploring more distant realms.The farther a Garou travels, the more reality deviates from the one she knew in childhood. Every realm reflects a different aspect of reality, and accordingly, every one of them grants insights into the physical world, the only one humans share with the Garou.

Of course, that knowledge is useless if a pack doesn’t return to the material world. Each time they do, they bring tales of glory and accomplishment. There are reasons why packs leap into the Umbra again and again, and they’re not solely limited to knowledge. As creatures of flesh and spirit, Garou must live in both worlds. Spending too much time in one realm or the other — the physical realm or the spirit world — is harmful to them. Werewolves know that every time they look up at the stars, worlds beyond their physical sight are waiting for them. Once a Garou has explored the spirit world, she knows that the sky is no longer the limit to her endless journeys into the Umbra. Infinity awaits.

Gaia and the Tellurian

Life for humans is remarkably different than it is for spiritually questing werewolves. Humanity has always been divided, forming conflicting nations, kingdoms, religions, and societies. The Garou have their own conflicts, but they’re united by one belief above all others: their reverence for Gaia. The word “goddess” doesn’t quite describe Her (with a reverent, capital “H”). Her name has endured throughout human myths and legends, but Gaia transcends those tales. In fact, She is not limited to the Earth — all of the living parts of creation collectively form Gaia, whether they’re within the physical world or beyond it.

The Garou also speak of something larger than Gaia, a concept so encompassing that it includes not only the physical reality we know, but all alternative and impossible realities contained within the spirit world. The Tellurian is all of reality, including the living creation of Gaia and all alternatives to reality in the spirit world. It’s more than the universe as we know it, as it includes all shadows, reflections, and variations of reality that are above, below, and surrounding our world. Such simple words hardly do it justice.

The spirit world is a spectrum of realities that werewolves see and experience. Each realm of the Tellurian has its own laws and rules, but the farther one travels in the spirit world, the more the rules vary from those of the physical world. In fact, the very concept of “rules” becomes mutable. The best way to understand the Tellurian is to experience it, piece by piece, whether on a vision quest into the Umbra or listening to those who survived the experience. With a few words of guidance, your pack will be ready to undertake those same journeys.