Law of Soul Permanence Physical / Metaphysical Law in The Aradia Almanac | World Anvil
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Law of Soul Permanence

The soul is the greatest source of energy in the known universe - greater, in theory, than even the power available to the Ephor, who possess no souls. Alas, the process by which one harnesses the power of one's soul continues to elude us, and thus us mortals remain trapped at the bottom of the power pyramid. If only we could unlock the power of our own souls...
From the research of G.N. Heinzeich
 

On the Nature of Souls

What fuels mortal life? This is a question that puzzled many a scholar for many years. What is it that gives us life, energy, and, ultimately, the ability to grow and change where even the divine cannot?   At the core of every mortal bein is an engine made of pure energy - a fragment of a fragment of the Great Tree Irmingandr herself. The first soul was plucked as a leaf from Irmingandr's branches by Palaetes herself, in order to bring sentience to the creation of her fellow Ephor, Merkiora. As the first sentient beings, the Conrasu, propagated, the initial fragments of energy got splintered into many fragments, eventually forming into the 'souls' observed today. As the Ephor created more sentient life, they introduced more of Irmingandr's energy into the world, which then also got fragmented as mortals multiplied. Thus, all mortal beings hold a connection to the Irmingandr through their souls, and all mortals have a hidden well of potential hidden within.   A soul is, at its core, highly condensed energy, which can be neither created nor destroyed using conventional means. The only source of such energy is the Irmingandr, which is both the start and end of all souls, and being that few are powerful enough to stand against Irmingandr's radiance, her power can also not be dispelled by most. Unfortunately, just like the Great Tree herself, souls are vulnerable to corruption from the trapped Tenebrah, the Devourer. His poison seeps onto the Material Plane from the Shadowlands, slowly poisoning all that come in contact with it. As was observed with the first Conrasu, who did not experience death, proloned existence on the Material Plane led to the soul's destruction. It was for this reason that Palaetes took up the mantle of Keeper of Souls and created the Puratorium, where all souls that have reached the end of their healthy existence on the Material Plane are sent to in order to be cleansed.  

The Cycle of Death and Rebirth

The time when Ephor walked the land and plucked leaves off the Great Tree had long since passed. Today, there is a limited number of souls in the known world, undergoing what is known as the Cycle of Desmos, the cyclical journey between life and death. A soul spends the Vitae ("Living") part of the Cycle on the Material Plane, during which it accumulates corruption that seeps in from the Shadowlands. Every evil thought and deed corrupts the soul a little more, until the Harbinger of the End, Gwareth, deems that the end of the soul's current Vitae section is done and lingering any longer would run the risk of destroying it. Then, the mortal shell perishes and the soul is collected by Gwareth and guided to the Scriptorium, where the Mortis ("Death") part of the cycle occurs. Palaetes tends to all the souls in the Scriptorium, pulling out the corruption from within until the soul is cleansed again. Then, Kithara guides the soul back to the Material Plane. The soul reincarnates into a new mortal, lacking the memory of any past reincarnations.   A soul very rarely leaves the Cycle of Desmos, with a few very notable exceptions. Souls that have been sold or otherwise contracted to the Infernal and Celestial are shackled to their contractor until such a time when the contract is fulfilled. They are unable to enter the Scriptorium, thus still continue to accumulate corruption while in Lightsworn or Inferus, albeit at a slower rate. Unfortunately, souls find it difficult to exist in those realms and if the mortal cannot fulfill their contract quickly enough, one of two destinies await them: total corruption of the soul (and thus subsequent destruction) or the slow draining of everything that made them a person, leaving behind a bleak shadow of what the mortal once was, forever bound in service to their contractor.   Among other well-recognized exceptions are the Sudarshana. Unlike other souls, who are stripped of their previous identities during their stay in the Scriptorium, the Sudarshana hold on more tightly to their manifestations, thus retaining their memories and core identities from cycle to cycle. As a result, they are considered the longest-lived ancestry of mortals and count their life not in years, but in cycles of rebirths. This makes them great collectors of knowledge, but also means they are more susceptible to influence of Tenebrah and his corruption. Sudarshana typically cannot manifest as anything other than Sudarshana, unless the cycle of reincarnation is broken.   The Featherfolk are also unique in that their souls do not return to the Scriptorium on death. Instead, they travel to the Venturis, their home plane, and become feathers in the massive wings of Aviva, the Reign of Thunder. This is because during Starfall, when the Scriptorium was sealed off, the souls of many deceased mortals were trapped and in danger of disappearing into oblivion. Aviva swooped in and saved them, giving them a bit of her power in order to sustain them, thus permanently attaching them to herself. Featherfolk can incarnate as other ancestries linked to Venturis, however most typically incarnate as Featherfolk.  

True Death

Through the Cycle of Desmos, mortal souls are effectively immortal. Yes, the person they are reincarnated as changes every time, however the essence at the core of their being remains the same. The only way to truly die is for one's soul to be destroyed. This can be done in several ways, most of which are beyond the ability of mere mortals.   Losing one's soul does not immediately lead to physical death. After all, the Ephor and many other creatures exist without souls, some for as long as the world has existed. The physical body continues to exist, powered assumedly by the remnants of the soul's energy, until it can no longer function due to physical injury or other common means to kill a person. However, without a soul, the mortal now cannot continue with the Cycle. They cease to exist and will no longer reincarnate.  

Souls and Magic

The soul is the origin of arcane magical ability in all mortals. It is a source of power that can be called upon in times of need. At the same time, it is also not an infinite resource - it is, theoretically, possible to destroy your own soul by overextending your magical abilities. This is why Wyldarrl's rules of the Material Plane limit the level of magic that can be cast upon it, so as to prevent an overly-ambicious mage from destroying the world and their own soul in the process.   All living creatures have access to magic as a result of magical energy permeating the very essence of the Planes, however only mortals possessing a soul are able to create arcane energies from within themselves, using their souls to fuel their magic. Beings without a soul are still capable of other types of magic, such as nature or divine magics.   There are exceptions in the form of beings with a soul that are resistant to magical energy and thus cannot utilize it. The Jorenbarn are famous for their ability to interact with highly volatile magical ore for much longer than any other ancestry without being negatively affected. They are also commonly resistant to magic. However, they are also incapable of casting spells themselves without the use of augumentary tools.  

Magical Resurrection

A soul's connection with its previous incarnation is not severed immediately upon physical death. More often than not, the soul lingers around the body for some time before Gwareth arrives to guide them away. Even after that, the journey to the Scriptorium is not immediate, and even after arrival, a willing soul may be allowed to return if their passing was untimely. Resurrection is a powerful and costly magic, available to few and made more difficult by the length of time that had passed since death. It is relatively simple to place a lingering soul back into its body seconds after death. It is another thing entirely to recall back a soul that has crossed the border into the Scriptorium. Typically, the more complex resurrections require a ceremony and carry with them the chance of failure - and disastrous consequences. For this reason, resurrections are conducted rarely and only under special circumstances - after all, none wish to anger the Nihility. It is impossible to resurrect someone who has since reincarnated, and any attempts to do so immediately fail.
Type
Natural

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Comments

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Jan 18, 2024 20:53 by Ezra Aldrich

This was beautifully written and had a lot of thought put into it. I adored the imagery used as you described the soul and its various cycles. I loved the idea of the soul having the impurities pulled out before it began its next cycle. I also enjoyed the section on the feather folk.

Jan 27, 2024 21:25 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Beautifully written, and a fascinating overview of souls in your world. I can see that souls underpin a whole lot of your worldbuilding, even if they are not thought of often in everyday life. :)