The Shape of the Spirit World

With this in mind, any description of the shape or form of the spirit world, by its very nature, will sound philosophical, theoretical, or poetic. Some mystics and spirituals use analogies when describing the spirit world, since we can only define what we’ve never known in terms of what we do know. Lupus Garou are frustrated by these efforts to define reality by what they call “monkey babble.” For all the elaborate tales Theurges and Galliards tell, all of these descriptions are irrelevant if they don’t match what you smell and see in worlds beyond.

Despite this, the stories all start simply: The Earth is at the center of Gaia. The Heavens reach above it; the Underworld lies below it; the spirit world of the Umbra surrounds it on all sides. The Garou recite a line attributed to a legendary Galliard: “realms beyond the one you know… worlds above and worlds below.” From this truism, accounts and details vary. The Pure Ones tell stories of a World Tree that rises through the center of creation; for the Stargazers, it’s called the Axis Mundi; for the Get of Fenris, it’s Yggdrasil; in more elaborate legends, the roots of the tree grow from the back of a World Turtle on an endless sea. All of these stories are different, and all of them are equally true.

When cubs hear these many stories, they may sound like contradictions, but the tales are more than mere stories. Travelers seeking the truth in the spirit world can climb the branches of Yggdrasil, stand on the back of that turtle swimming in an endless sea of stars, or plunge into the icy sea to swim the depths of the Underworld. No two journeys are ever really the same, since what travelers find often depends on what they’re seeking. Infinity accommodates myriad realities and their variations.

The Triat

No matter what travelers experience, they know the cosmos surrounding the Axis Mundi was formed from three primal forces: the Wyrm, the Weaver, and the Wyld. They’re collectively known as the Triat. Galliards have spent centuries competing to see who can elaborate on the most creative explanations they can fathom, but the simplest explanations are the best.

  • The Wyld is a force of endless creation spawning everything that exists. It’s a chaotic force that’s continually in flux.
  • The Weaver is a force of order that reshapes and defines the Wyld’s creations. It transforms them into the matter and energy we know, and also into impossible creations that can only exist in the spirit world.
  • The Wyrm is a destructive force that culls the Weaver’s creations. Anything that can survive the predations of the Wyrm’s minions is refined into enduring entities and objects.

In the time before time, the primal forces of the Triat created the universe, but since then, they’ve been forced out of balance. The exact reason why has been a subject of extensive debate, an explanation so vital that it’s created a great deal of conflict. Regardless, the forces of the Triat are now slowly ravaging the Tellurian. They’ll continue to do so until some cosmic event corrects them or, more likely, the Apocalypse brings the end of all existence.

The Earth and the Gauntlet

According to the Garou, the Earth lies at the heart of the Umbra — after all, it’s Gaia’s realm. Glass Walker Theurges have spent centuries compiling and comparing charts that detail the Near Umbral Realms orbiting the Earth, just as human astronomers once compiled proof that the Earth orbits the sun.

This world of physical matter is separated from ephemeral spiritual realms by a barrier known as the Gauntlet. Surrounding Earth’s physical reality, it separates the mundane from the spiritual. Any traveler who would leave the physical world for the Umbra must cross the Gauntlet. Garou do this by passing through places where the veil is thin. This barrier between worlds makes it harder for otherworldly spirits to enter the physical world, although the most dangerous spirits are only delayed by it. When something is powerful enough to cross over from the spirit world to the physical world, the Garou must serve as Gaia’s protectors.

At times, the two worlds pull towards each other with a palpable force, but the Gauntlet keeps them isolated. It’s not a constant, however. In some places, the Gauntlet is strong enough that the physical world is spiritually dead. To the Garou, a high-tech laboratory were the laws of science are scrutinized might seem sterile and sanitized beneath its humming fluorescent lights. In other places, powerful spiritual energy courses through the physical realm, making it seem as though revelation, transcendence, or enlightenment is close at hand. Werewolves running through the depths of a thriving wilderness may feel as though they might pass through into the Umbra as easily as diving into the crystalline waters of a pure and tranquil lake.

The forces of the Triat — the Weaver, Wyld, and Wyrm — play their respective roles in this separation between the two worlds. As human civilization encroaches more on the wild and pristine places of the world, the webs of the Weaver contain the glory of the Wyld. The barrier between worlds then grows stronger, and the spirit world is pushed farther away.

In places where the Gauntlet is thin, the Garou protect the physical world by creating caerns: sacred places on Earth where the physical and spiritual worlds meet. Garou gather in caerns to enact rituals affecting their bodies and spirits. A caern is usually the easiest and most discreet place to enter the Umbra, although the world presents many alternatives to this.