The Question of Elementals' Hearts and Minds Physical / Metaphysical Law in Scarterra | World Anvil

The Question of Elementals' Hearts and Minds

Elementals are a common sight in Scarterra (and Scaraqua) but they are very poorly understood.   A common question asked among sages, magical scholars, theologians and common people alike is "Do elementals think and feel?"  This is one of the great mysteries of the world.  Either the Nine themselves do not know for sure or they are unwilling to share it.   Do they think and feel in a matter of animals? In the manner of mortals? IN the matter of spirits? Most magical academics claim that due to their high presence of Animus energy elementals acts but do not think or feel in a matter recognizable to living creatures. They will point out that magical attempts to read thoughts and feelings from elementals always fails. This is what they cite as evidence that elementals do not think or feel.   Many people, both learned and unlearned alike disagree. Many believe that elementals very much think and feel. These people attest that the tendency to summon and bind elementals with magic, or worse use them as power sources for magical items or golems is at best akin to animal abuse, at worst akin to slavery. Just because mortals cannot easily register the elemental's suffering doesn't mean it's not sad.   Some are opposed to the ill treatment of elementals not for ethical reasons but for practical reasons. The First Unmaking was caused by rampaging elementals. Most believe that it was caused by a massive magical spell gone awry, but others speculate that it could have elementals reacting violently against centuries of poor treatment by the dragons out to seek revenge.   It also been speculated that even if elementals think and feel, they don't necessarily respond to stimuli the same way mortals and beasts do. Perhaps elementals feel imprisoned or at least bored in the Elemental Plane and they find their time in the material plane exciting and stimulating. For all anyone knows, the fire elemental bound into a magical lighthouse is happy to be there. Just because mortals cannot easily register the elemental's joy doesn't mean it's not happy.

One Theory

  Elementals that visit the mortal plane do not think or feel, but someone in the the Elemental Plane does feel.  There is a consciousness in the Elemental Plane and the elementals that enter the mortal plane are little more than eyes and fingers of this consciousness as it seeks knowledge to aid it in it's eldritch plan.  Whatever it is.   This theory is only whispered about.  Some view the theory as folly, others as heresy.  The idea that there is an immortal presence apart from the Nine is both frightening and offensive to many.   Even if true, it doesn't really answer any questions.  Whether or not individual elementals have individual conscious minds or whether they elementals are mere agents of some greater hive mind, no one is sure what elementals actually want.
Type
Metaphysical, Elemental


Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake

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