Friday, July 4, 2014

Starfall: Pneumatology

Soundtrack: [1]
Spirits are incorporeal entities, although many are capable of assuming physical forms or interacting with physical matter and others remove themselves from the physical world completely.  The number of types of spirits is innumerable, but they can largely be classed into a handful of categories.  Regardless, the existence of spirits points to something beyond the physical world and deeply ties them to religion.

Nature Spirits

The most prolific and earliest recipients of worship and acknowledgement, nature spirits spring from the physical world or dwell primarily in it.  Every natural thing has a spirit from the smallest grain of sand to the largest trees and mountains.  Even carefully and masterfully manufactured objects can have spirits of their own.  Nature spirits range from inscrutable to willful, from deliberate to flighty.

Animal & Plant Spirits

Animal and plants, like anything else in the natural world, have spirits.  While they usually lack the triumvirate spirit of humans and other sentient creatures, they still possess, at minimum, the animating force of an aigne.  Mobile plants and all animals also possess the spirit of animal instinct called the oston.  Occasionally, such spirits will awaken with a hugin, or intellect; these are often powerful spirits in the natural world.

Animal and plant spirits usually have qualities and characteristics associated with the creatures they represent and are often called upon to provide food and necessities.  The spirits of those which are killed for survival are always given offerings of gratitude for their sacrifice.  Powerful plant and animal spirits often are anthropomorphized with better-than-human intelligence and humanlike form, and may serve as a totem spirit.


Elementals embody the essence of the primal elements of nature or subset thereof.  They typically have personality traits associated with their element and are considered to be among the oldest and most primal spirits in existence.  They range greatly in power – both the Great Ocean and a pebble have elemental spirits –, and most are sentient to some degree.


In addition to elementals and animal and plant spirits, there exist spirits that personify a wide variety of human qualities and natural forces.  These exist in a very real sense, but are usually far more removed from daily life than other nature spirits.  Personifications can embody nearly anything from natural features to abstract ideas and emotions.  They are seen as humanlike in thought, behavior, and appearance and exist primarily to support and further whatever they embody.  Thus, a spirit of war promotes armed conflicts, while a spirit of fertility spreads lust and inhibition.  Powerful personifications may be considered deities.

Genius Loci

Places often have spirits inextricably tied to them.  The two blend into one to such an extent that one cannot exist without the other, and harm to one usually results in harm to the other.  Spirits of place usually dwell in the places they embody, and many cannot leave without facing sickness or some other harm.  Most have increased power in their homes and guard them ferociously.

Celestial Spirits

Celestial spirits come from a realm outside the physical world completely.  They may originate in the Astral Plane or the Ethereal, or perhaps somewhere altogether different, still.


Demons are chaotic entities from the Maelstrom, as their worshippers like to call it.  They are beings of Chaos and Corruption who came to this world garbed in skyfire and sew discord, strife, and war everywhere they go.  They are rarely seen directly, and few of those who do witness the terrible truth of their horror rarely survive long enough to describe it to others.  The couple of first-hand reports describe impossible combinations of animal and man, shifting illusions, and indescribable colors.

Demons rarely interact directly with humanity.  Typically, they remain unseen and use their corrupting influence to drive people to terrifying acts.  They corrupt babies within their mothers; they blight crops and send plagues.  They are often portrayed as exhibiting an overabundance of such human traits as greed, envy, lust, pride, hatred, wrath, destruction, etc., but there is little chance they even feel such things.

One type of demon serves as an exception.  The entities known as faeries often interact with humans.  They lie to, play tricks on, steal from, abduct, and kill humans.  They steal babies, afflict misfortune on and incite discord among communities, rape women and steal their offspring, and generally terrorize people.  They are the demonic watchers of humanity.


The most powerful natural and celestial spirits are sometimes revered as gods and embody major portions of the universe.  The power of a particular deity can range from that of an ordinary spirit to near omnipotence.  Regardless, what defines a deity in terms of these classifications are three functions:  their role as patrons and superiors of lesser spirits; their ability to manifest through their mortal worshipers; and their ability to grant their followers miraculous powers.

The Human Spirit

The human spirit is just another type of spirit, except that it spends most of its existence bound within a corporeal body.  Death releases the human spirit from its corporeal vessel and allows its component parts to separate pass on to whatever awaits us after death.

The Soul

The soul is believed to incorporate to be tripartite:  the aigne resides in the head and represents vigor, life force, and magical energy.  The hugïn dwells in the heart and embodies knowledge and personality, and is the part of the soul that actually enters the afterlife.  Found in the liver, the oston is the base part of the soul responsible for a person's animalistic instincts and passions, like hate and lust.  Upon death, the aigne should rejoin the collective spirit of the world while the hugïn attempts to carry the oston with it into the afterlife.


The most prevalent form of undead are hugïn or oston who, for some reason, do not enter the afterlife.  Such beings continue to inhabit the world of the living as incorporeal spirits who no longer belong to this world.  Far less common are uncremated bodies who rise as restless undead or are reanimated through demonic magic.

Corporeal undead typically stop rotting as soon as they rise to their new unlife.  It is even possible for dismembered body parts to be granted a crude and horrific form of undeath, but this rarely occurs naturally.  Overall, the state of decay has little to do with whether or not a body can rise to undeath; skeletal undead are roughly as common as fleshy ones.

Ascended Spirits

An ascended spirit is a once-mortal spirit that has discorporated and ascended to a higher plane of existence but is still in contact with the physical world.  Ascended spirits may offer guidance and advice or remain aloof and merely observe and direct events from afar.  The Saints are ascended spirits, as are the mystical Immortals.  Many prophets and mythic heroes are thought to be as well.

Most ascended spirits are believed to have left the physical world behind and rarely intervene directly.  They typically operate through visions, dreams, portents, possession, or channeling.

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