The excerpt that follows is a modified version of the cosmology section from Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game
The cosmology of Ehdrigohr is important because it has a profound effect upon the traditions and relationships of the peoples of the lands. There is very little in the way of a dualistic viewpoint. instead, everything is seen as a series of relationships. There is no great punishment for most at the end of a lifespan. People are believed to be transient, ever changing, spirits that continually work to shape the world and return to a place of wholeness and balance. The Hoop grows through the experiences of the peoples and as such there is no sense of a need to escape the cycle though we can bring attention to and heal those places where the Great Web has begun to fray. The motion of Becoming is the goal. Stagnation, or interruption, of the cycle are seen as problematic.
Ehdrigohr is a world of lands and paths, not all of which are visible to the eye. Scholars have argued for ages about the nature of the relative realms. Many say that in some of them hide what remains of the B’te from ages long pass. The realms of Ehdrigohr are broken into 3 types – Folds, Looms, and Traveling Lands. The land that we know the most is referred to as the Waking Land as it is the place where we first open our eyes when the Four Selves are joined and we emerge from the womb.
Folds are small anomalies. They are strangely twisted dimensional intricacies that cause a small space to exist that has limited physical accessibility. The folds, themselves are never very big, but those who control them have great power within them.
Looms are considerably bigger. If we were to compare a Fold to a single room then a Loom would be a mansion. They are like unto whole new realities that exist within a super fold of virtually unlimited space. Being trapped in a Loom can often feel like you were in another world altogether.
Traveling Lands are realms that are part of the Weave and are part of the fabric of the world. Some cosmographers among the Barata liken them to being super-folds. Some argue that the realm the mankind lives in is actually a Super Fold and that the Traveling Lands are the reality. Still others suggest that they are, in effect, the hoop and that all the strands of the Great Web connect to them. A small few suggest that they are the wall to a vast prison and all the folds and looms are cells within, including standard reality. Those people usually wind up dead because that’s Ender talk.
THE TRAVELING LANDS
Traveling lands are the most common types of realms that the people will encounter in their day to day lives. It is said that before a person dies they will have “traveled” multiple times in their life without ever having known it.
There are four traveling lands – The Road, Shadow, Dream, the River. Before we dice into them we should engage the idea of the Four Selves a bit first.
THE FOUR SELVES
The Mystery of the Natures speaks to the witness that inhabits the body and causes it to be a person. The Self of Flesh is the Body and upon death it eventually becomes dust as it is anchored in Earth. The Self of Flow is in the Blood escapes and flows out, drying and returning to the waters to which it is connected. The Self of Intent is in the Spirit which may linger to animate the body for a time, but eventually returns to air and the Principles. The Self of Being is the Soul and it enters the Road and travels to Makochewakan to share all that it has witnessed.
The Four Types of Relatives
The Four Relatives , also known as the Connecting Ways, come from the Four Selves which relate to the peoples perceived place in the cosmos and connection to each other.
There are Relatives of Flesh which refers to those who manifest similarly to us and how we connect to them physically. Upon looking at them we see obvious patterns of skin color, hair color, size, shape, and other physical manifestation. You connect on the physical level. This is where most relationships begin. Male and Female are the first two manifestations of flesh self. Two legs, four legs, crawling, flying, swimming, and unseen are the next manifestations. After that come all other physical differentiators.
Next there are the Relatives of Blood which come from union of male and female flesh relatives. All people come from a blood connection at one point or another. This is where the Male and Female genders tend to operate. Male and Female are the first two obvious Flesh Relatives and they produce more flesh relatives. Consumption is also part of the cycle of blood relatives in that all things die to provide nutrition for the growth of something else. Blood gives to blood.
Next are the Relatives of Intent. These are relatives where flesh has ceased to be as important and spirit and rhythm have become paramount. You are more concerned with another person’s actions and the effect they have on the world. These relatives become societies and organizations. They become teachers and students. They can create more intent and drive the will to bring change to the world. This is where the Two-spirited gender tends to operate. They don’t produce flesh offspring in these relationships but they do produce intentional offspring, and direct spirit. They are unions created purely for the sake of heart and idea as opposed to quantifiable procreation.
Next are the Relatives of Soul. These are relationships that are created before manifestation has happened. These relationships are created by the joining and division of souls in Mokochewakan. These are great souls scattered and brought together by tracing resonance. This is where the Gatherer gender operates. Flesh, Blood, and Intent are unimportant in these relationships. These people are drawn together by resonance and instantly know that they are relatives. This can lead to unions of flesh, or blood, or intent, or all of three.
No type of relative is better than the other in most cultures. All have ceremonies to define when they are real. All types of relatives are considered to be necessary to a healthy tribe. Trying to separate them only brings ruin and sorrow.
The singular prayer that recognizes all relatives is Mitakuye Oyasin which loosely translates to “All My Relations”.
The Road is often called “the Path of Souls”. It is said to be the path that souls take when they come into the world from Makohchewakan, the homeland of spirits, as well as when they leave. Makochewakan is the place where spirits are prepared to return to the world in an endless cycle of reincarnation. People are presumed to always have one foot on The Road and the other in the Land. The young and the elders are closer to The Road than others, and people at those stages of life will be more likely to hav
e encounters on The Road for these people can be seen by travelers from the other side.
Many are those who linger for one reason or another on The Road. Mostly these are the spirits of those who cannot commit to their Journey, for they have left too many important matters unresolved at home. Some are powerful people who have opted to guard the paths while others have been twisted by the powers of darkness and try to lure other travelers off into the shadows beyond The Road.
There are creatures, a type of Iktom called the Gatherers, who manage the weave of The Road and work to ensure that there is always as steady flow of spirits in both directions.
Makochewakan is said to lie within the center of the Great Web. Some say it lies within the Spinner itself. It is the great concept, the originating moment that is always becoming. It is both the womb and testicle of manifested creation. Here is where the concept of being begins and is recreated from moment to moment.
All threads of the Weave begin here. The threads of the weave became unraveled due to the Second Shame and are split into the Connecting Ways (or genders) that permeate our world causing both commotion and motion. Whenever a soul returns to this place it may join with other souls, or it may subdivide into myriad parcel souls and then those parcels rejoin with other souls forming new experiences of being. This is the essence of the Gathering. The gathering is always trying to happen within Makochewakan even though the people are slow to act on it in the Waking Lands.
The division and rejoining of souls speaks to the points of resonance we find in life. Those who we are inexplicably drawn to are relatives made in Makochewakan. They are pieces of ourselves that we need to regather. None feel this more than the Gatherers who always return to Makochewakan as mighty souls linked to many and always splinter when they return to the Waking Land as new life.
Shadow lingers in places where very little light falls and were the truth remains unfocused. It is said that all shadows are connected one needs but learn how to travel its myriad roads.
Contrary to popular belief there is light in Shadow. It is a very dim twilight that creates ever more shadows and pathways. Were it completely dark it would be The Twain but there are places in Shadow where no light shines and it is usually here that most breachings occur.
Shadow isn’t inherently evil or good. Strangely it more an issue of possibilities and these possibilities make it inherently unstable. More breachings occur in Shadow, it is believed, than anywhere else because here it is equally easy to tear through going into the Twain and coming out. It is because of this that it is a dangerous place filled with horrors and things twisted and left over from the War of Sorrows. Luckily it’s considerably harder to come from Shadow into the Land than it is to go from the Land into Shadow.
Masters of the Essences are the most frequent users of the Paths of Shadow. The Essences are notoriously strong here and notoriously unstable. It is believed that some of the Sorrows have created Folds in Shadow where they hide and plot, tricking the wicked and the greedy into opening doors for them to step through to effect the world.
Dream is the realm that unites all minds and powers the creativity of man. It is the secret gift given to men by What Moves. It is said that Mendyl sits at the center of Dream and is the great Witness of our lives in this world.
Dream is unique among the Traveling lands in that it is constantly connected to all of the other Traveling Lands. Any dreamer has the capacity to will open a doorway into one of the other places, but the most that the average dreamer ever does is open up one-way windows that allow them to have an experience with the other traveling land without actually being affected by it.
It is said that all men pass into Dream every night into their own personal fold. Their spirits reach out to it and are cleansed, preparing them for the days to come. Anyone denied access to Dream for too long will go mad.
When most people visit Dream however it is as a subconscious entity. Their body remains behind and is maintained by their spirit while their minds bathe in the possibilities of Dream.
There are a few who are so connected to Dream that they can actually pass into it consciously and reach into the Wilds of Dream. This is usually the purview of those who are powerful in the Aspect of Mind, or in the Principles. These people often begin with no control of the ability and seem to sleep more than most, or seem to fall asleep at random times. They can learn, however, to open up actual doorways between Dream and the Waking World. Essentialists who learn this area particularly dangerous because they can turn their personal fold into a personal loom, granting them, effectively their own reality to manage and play with. Or so it is said.
Dream is rife with dangers. The people are constantly creating theings and giving form to their fears and anxieties. These are called tulpas. In addition to creating tulpas the people are also always creating connections to all sorts of strange places and energies. This can become problematic in that these dreams can get cross-fertilized by unchecked energies and develop a will of their own, especially when terrible things happen to large groups of people. These beings can wander from dream to dream influencing and possessing people trying to find a way out into the real world.
Curses also, being made of the intense emotions of people, can reach out into Dream as well. Dream travelers must be careful of passing into the personal fold or loom of a curse. Even worse a powerful curse can create its own tulpas allowing it greater ability to reach out and get wayward travelers.
On the bright side, it is said that quite a number of the Graces dwell in Dream in much the same way that many Sorrows dwell in Shadow. These Graces endeavor to keep the majority of Dream safe for the everyday visitors, and will often even visit people in their personal folds to give them good dreams and a morale boost.
The River flows alongside us as we move forward in our lives. All moments continue to happen in The River. Those who find access to the River can move back and forth along their own time lines. Unfortunately, the River is the hardest of the traveling lands to get access to.
Most people do get to touch it from time to time by opening a window to it through Dream, and at the moment of death it is said that your soul folds back upon itself, swimming across The River to get to The Road, and at the point you see your entire life in one quick flash. It is said that old masters of the Principles, Essences, and Aspects had different ways of getting to the River for different effects without dreaming or dying.
Playing around in the River is dangerous mostly because of the Iktom that manage it. These creatures work diligently to ensure that big changes do not come to the greater river, also known as the Flow. If your individual manipulations of the River have effects that ripple out into the Flow then the Iktom will come to fix it and will endeavor to remove you in the process.
Though most people only ever move their perceptions up and down The River, there are those who have learned to move the entirety of their being through the River. This is very difficult to maintain and no one alive admits to ever being able to reach beyond the time of the first Still.