Astral Realms
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on;
and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
—The Tempest, by W.S.
Nature: Otherworldly Dimension(s)
Placement: Inner Realms of the Fallen World
Natives: Chimerical Beings
Accessing: Demesne or 5-dot Hallow
See Also: Astral Travel Summarized, Astral Travel Add-on Sheet

Description: The dimension of the mind, the realm 'inside' of consciousness, the world within the soul itself. The astral is the actual 'location' where all ideas, thoughts, memories and imaginings reside, the 'place' they're found every time someone thinks about them, or with them.



The Astral Strata

Anima Mundi / Dreamtime

The astral consists of three layers, three different realms or ''strata'' that one passes through as one goes further and further along the 'pathway': The Oneiros, the Temenos and the Anima Mundi, or Dreamtime. This is all separated from the material world by the Astral Barrier, similar to how the Spirit World is separated from the Material World by the Gauntlet. These strata of astral worlds are part of the great continuum of human existence, from the physical reality of our flesh and blood, inwards past our conscious thoughts, then through the subconscious, and so on


The Larger Picture

In the illustration shown to the right we see how each individual human connects to the larger cosmos, how each of us has untapped depths. Let's explain this image a bit more. Every vertical pillar is a human being, but for clarity I only illustrated fully a single one. Let's look at that one. We see that it is divided into many layers, each of them separate and different. At the top we have the most material, the most solid, earthly and mundane, the Body. From there we delve deeper into the more and more ephemeral parts of the human being. Yet they are all connected, which we should be very aware of.

The Body is directed and controlled by the Consciousness. We tell it when to move, where to go, what to eat, and so on. The Body is affected directly by the mind. Yet the reverse is also true: The conscious mind is directly affected by the body. The sensory input causes new emotions and thoughts, as we see, hear and touch the world around us. The needs and sensations of the body affect how we think, and what we think about.

This two-way interaction shall serve as our primary example, for every single pair of «levels» on the chart has the same relationship: All the layers influence and are influenced by the layers above and below them. We simply have an easier time with grasping the concept when we look at how the body and the conscious thought work together, and so it serves my purpose to use it as something to compare the more remote conceptual dimensions to this very real-world phenomenon.

In any case, beneath the conscious mind we have the unconscious mind: Everything you're not thinking about right now, but which remains a part of your working mind. The deeper, unvoiced notions, your memories and existing ideas. The consciousness constantly produces new material for the unconscious, but similarly the deeper level influences and directs the conscious mind, making it focus on aspects and trains of thought that the unconscious dwells on.

Beneath this we have the layer of nightly dreams, where we all go when we fall asleep. Here the deepest levels of our mind is free to act, to process the unconscious activity and to receive input from the deeper level of the human soul. The soul gives input to the dreaming mind, which in turn affects and is affected by our waking state.


Interesting derailment: This is the level that normal Mind magic can manipulate freely: When the spells let you enter the 'nightly dreams' you're roaming around here, just above the Astral Barrier. Here we note the difference between «entering someone's dreams» and «entering someone's oneiros». The one is governed solely by Mind, the other is not, since it is beyond, beneath and exceeds the sole dominion of the Mind. It is also here that the Changelings travel when they enter the realm of dreams. Never into the Oneiros proper, yet the world of dreams is so closely connected that they touch upon it and perceive it constantly during their dreamwalking, much as the waking thoughts constantly touch upon and influence the unconscious mind all the time.

Now, when mages meditate to enter the Astral they let their conscious thought delve through these layers. First one enters a meditative state, as we get in touch and balance with some of the subconscious, and then we enter a lucid dreaming state as we sink deeper down, letting our conscious thoughts enter our dreams and thus becoming aware and lucid even at this level. Then we hit the Astral Barrier, as we try to go from the deepest point of our Mind and into our Soul, the Oneiros.

Once beneath the Astral Barrier we are in the Oneiros, which gives input to our nightly dreams but which isn't technically a part of them. The Oneiros in turn receives certain influences from the Temenos, the common human soul, and also produces ideas and concepts that the Temenos absorbs in turn. All the Oneiroi in the world, both past and present, collectively fill the Temenos with their own content, while the Temenos still receives influence from the astral realm of the universe itself.

Here we find the interesting part: The soul and core of the cosmos connects to the collective human soul, but the astral realm of the cosmos is supposed to be directly linked to the Supernal. But it isn't. There's an Abyss in the way, you see, and it stops the direct link and dual-way interconnection that the rest of the Astral is built upon. The Supernal can't influence the rest of the astral as directly or forcefully as it's supposed to, and the Anima Mundi in turn can't 'send' content and input to the supernal. Well, they can't do so directly.

Several of the books indicate that there's still a trickle of ideas and information and energy flowing down to us. Magical Traditions, for example, as supposedly Supernal Truths that have entered into our world and entered human thought and belief, with the human Temenos finding and using them so that mages later on can draw supernal power out of them. In short, the Astral is the link between the material world and the supernal, or was supposed to be before the Abyss entered into the picture. It's not some random ephemeral dimension focusing upon a facet of the fallen world: It's a sliding scale where the world becomes more and more rarified, more and more abstract, more and more supernal.

The Astral is, after all, not just a realm of the Mind (as the ''Astral Realms'' book keeps reminding us), but a realm of the Soul itself. And the Core Book tells us that the Soul is a shard of the Supernal, a fragment of the true reality that has been 'trapped' within the Fallen World. Which means that every soul is a part of the supernal, and links back to it once the Abyss is overcome, which is what we call The Awakening. Every sleeping soul is a bridge to the supernal that has been broken, a pillar to heaven that fractures before it reaches the top.

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