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Worldbuilding – And So It Begins… August 24, 2009

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“There is as much difference
between us and ourselves
as between us and others.”

– Michel de Montaigne

An Invitation To Experience

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp

This is not the end of my worldbuilding.  Like any planet, Erde changes over time, so competent worldbuilding is never finished.  But I would like you to take some time and experience over the next few months the novels that settled into the world of Erde.

acrosswater

Many lives are lost at sea every year.  Large ships, small boats, sailing ships, war ships, fishing vessels, and aircraft of all types have disappeared over time.  Some had been lost in bad weather, some when the weather appeared perfect, some sank beneath the waves during a war, some left behind the wreckage of their misfortune, some seemingly vanishing into the air or water.  Oftentimes, even when wreckage surfaced, bodies remained unrecovered.  Think of the thousands of souls lost on the HMS Hood when she blew up in 1941.  How about those that sailed with the German mega-battleship, the Bismarck? It is easy to conclude that the dead and missing have simply gone on to a watery grave, leaving behind only the question of what happens to the soul at death.  John Dryden had an interesting observation concerning that question.  He said, “To die is landing on some distant shore.”

If you agree with Larry Kusche, author of The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved, there is little doubt as to the final resting place of the men of Flight 19, or the Cyclops, or any of the other ships or aircraft mentioned in Mr. Kusche’s book.  As one reviewer noted, “This is the only book you can get that has trustworthy information concerning the ships lost in the Bermuda Triangle.  Everything else is soaked with fiction.”

I have to admit that in the last 200 years we’ve gained a more scientific understanding of life. Now we can even clone it.  But what we can’t do is produce life from scratch – from nothing.  Nor do we have any idea of what happens when life ends.  Oh we have theories, many of which are backed up by myths, belief systems and religious testaments.  Yet, we know no more about the afterlife than we did 5,000 years ago.  So if we must bathe ourselves in trustworthy information, I suggest we do so using a keen sense of the absurd.  Even Mr. Kusche admits there are issues concerning the disappearances of ships and aircraft and the people they contained that are still beyond the scope of our knowledge.  Perhaps John Dryden is closer to the truth then many of us realize.

There is one thing I know – water, although quite physical, it has always been considered a spiritual medium. Edgar Cacey, for example, mentioned in one of his readings that he should locate his psychic hospital near water because such a location would enhance his psychic abilities. He chose Virginia Beach, Virginia. Even that most spiritual of events, Christian baptism, takes place in water.

So now I speak with reference to possibilities. The likelihood that somewhere, somehow, there is a planet similar to our own that exists in the Universe that can sustain human life as we know it.  Add to that possibility another.  What if this planet could be reached from Earth through a watery portal?  As Thomas Hardy said, “Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.”

This is the world that a small group of men, one woman and her child entered when they disappeared from their ship, which remained in the Atlantic Ocean in December of 1872.  This is when they became OutSiders and found themselves on a “distant shore.”  What did these people from Earth find after traveling through the water to Erde? The same kind of physical circumstances that they left behind, I imagine. Life can be similar. As year stacked up upon year it became apparent that they did not age.

Is it possible that humans could live for hundreds of years? I would think that the physical laws of Erde must be slightly different from the physical laws here on Earth. Humans birthed in either place are able to live approximately 75 years. But humans who have traveled from one place to the other find themselves living for over 900 years. This must be due to the physical laws that cause the breakdown of cells.  After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us about such people?

What are they like, these OutSiders of Erde who live so long? How does a person with a lifespan of 900 years differ from a person who feels fortunate to live 75 years? Their outlook on life must change dramatically. If they marry a native they must watch their spouse and children exit life well before they themselves, perhaps many times over.  But if they marry another OutSider, such a marriage would last for hundreds of years.  Oh, the possibilities!

What kind of world would such a people craft? Bringing their knowledge of Earthly morals, religion, and technology with them, what would they keep and what might they lose? What elements of this knowledge would they allow other OutSiders who came after them to embrace? What would they force them to discard? What knowledge might they possess that is different from our own? Knowledge that they discovered and we have not, or that they have improved upon and we have not? The possibilities are staggering. The history of the OutSiders of Erde is similar to our own, filled with the ascent of local governments, of conquest, nationalization, the rise and fall of empires, of greed and a lust for power.

spiritoftheweald

But what of the Vigroth peoples of this land, one of the tribes that inhabited Erde before the arrival of the OutSiders? They are so very different from any human culture on Earth.   Can we, who find it difficult to commit for life to one single person, fully understand what it’s like to be committed for life to seven or eight people?

Is it possible that we who disdain the idea of “fixed marriages” can fully appreciate an arrangement that finds one committed to such a relationship for life right from birth?

Is it possible for a people such as our own, whose morals differ from one person to the next, to fully understand a moral system that’s universally accepted by a whole tribe and passed down from generation to generation without question?

Is it possible for us, a people who love youth and for whom survival is rarely questioned, to comprehend life where continued existence is in doubt on a daily basis?  Can we understand what it’s like to have death as our closest neighbor minute by minute?

In understanding the Vigroth of the great Weald, we must see them as Robert Zend sees us – “People have one thing in common: they are all different.”

There you have it.  The Myth of Kyrell Swamp concerns possibilities.  You are in the unique position to experience these possibilities for yourself.  As Einstein said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.”  You are entering upon a journey that will allow you to do so.  As the Vigroth say, “tzagrast lur seted krind kynpa ecoy” – “It’s a long ways from anyplace here.”  I truly hope you enjoy the trip.

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Worldbuilding 10 – Religion August 22, 2009

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The Empire and Religion

crossing

The Empire of Uppsala  has long ago decided that religion, in any form, tended to divide the human family rather than enrich it. They saw that for innumerable eons, both on Earth and in Erde, more wars had been fought over religious principles than for any other reason. They listed countless examples of man’s inhumanity towards man, all in the name of religion. They saw that conflict not only occurred between opposing systems of religious belief, but also within various sects of the same religion. This truth led the political leaders of the Empire to become disillusioned with religion, convincing them that it was both a waste of time and considerably dangerous. Consequently, for more than 3,000 years in the OutSider controlled Empire of Uppsala in Erde religion has been outlawed. It is one of the few laws in which governing rival Proctors have remained in agreement with throughout the Rejoinders. They found it easier to deal with underground religious activities than with open wars prompted by opposing factions trying to force their belief system or the supremacy of their god(s) upon the will of others.

The rehabilitation of newly discovered OutSiders within Erde has been a primary function of the government. A major part of that rehabilitation concerns the removal of religion from the minds and hearts of prospective new citizens. No man or woman who does not swear to recant their religious beliefs or who still shows signs of conformity to religious thought, is allowed to enter into the population at large.

Lach (Circle) – The Religion of the Vigroth Peoples

Spiritfolk

The basic premise of the Vigroth is that humans are juistid deskes, spiritual beings manifested into al erdid erdol, a physical world by a single creator in conjunction with other spirit beings. They see two sets of laws governing creation, Justid Nelg, Spiritual Law and Erdid Nelg, Physical Law. These laws work hand in hand. Without one or the other, the known world couldn’t exist. They also realize that humanity doesn’t know all the laws. New discoveries and better understanding of them can and are being learned. It is their belief that the blueprint of these two sets of laws can be viewed by studying nature, which they call hac Cogin Velkrar, the Great Teacher.

The Vigroth know nature on a personal basis. They know the Spiritual Law and Physical Law that hold together the Injelacin or Universe are flexible. Through their study of nature they have learned that these Universal Laws can be stroked when they are understood fully. That is, they can be bent in certain ways to alter known results to make an outcome more favorable. They understand there is nothing magical about these processes, they simply use one set of know laws against others to bring about a conclusion.

An example of this would be using the danger signals of bees guarding a hive to entice swarms to attack an enemy. Another example would be using the mind to box a headache into disappearing. In our world, cloud seeding might be one example, as well as Native Americans dancing and singing to bring rain. The cloud seeding brings about the bending of Physical Law through the use of another Physical Law. The rain dances bring about the bending of Physical Law through the use of Spiritual Law. The strength of repeated incantations of shaman and witches bend Physical Law and Spiritual Law in the same manner as repeated prayer. Many examples could be put forth. Magic? Not really. There are physical laws that make cloud seeding work. There are also spiritual laws that make rain dances work as well. They may not be understood as easily because they deal with Spiritual Law rather than Physical Law. We humans are more comfortable studying Physical Law. The study of Spiritual Law is not considered a science.

Through their understanding of nature the Vigroth can see hac Socloh, the Oneness of all creation. They are aware that all life is dependant on the death of other living things. It is for this reason, like many Native Americans, they refer to their beliefs as Circle. The Vigroth know that they must eat plants, animals, fish, and birds in order to survive. When they die, they will in turn nourish the ground, insects, birds, and animals. They have great respect for this Circle. Their focus is upon the importance of every single living thing to manifest an awareness of the living Juis or Spirit in Erde.

The Vigroth concept of Oneness is not about making all the varieties of life the same. Oneness suggests instead that people have the opportunity to view this rich diversity as an example of the multiple ways in which the Soc Juis, or One Spirit, tries to find expression in life. Whether that life is the life of a fish, bird, animal, insect, plant, or person. Since there is only one Creator, the Universe must be composed of only one Force. Oneness as a force implies that all things are interrelated. Every one of us has a connection to one another, the land, the universe, and to the Maker.

Lach is not a religion that is written in a holy book.  It is memorized and passed down from parents to children through a series of  TilgGutzin or FireSongs  These are repeated from birth until death at public meetings so all know and remember the workings of Circle.

weald

Worldbuilding 4 – People August 6, 2009

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erde3

So I had a map of my world, or at least one large part of it.  And I knew I had OutSiders and Natives.  I know the map I’m looking at shows Erde +4,873 years since the coming of the OutSiders so much has historically changed.  Now the next problem I have to consider is what kind of people frequent this world now and where do they belong.  Does that make sense?  Let’s take the OutSiders first.

Take any large city in the world, New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, you name it.  People who come there tend to form communities of their own kind of people.  A single city actually becomes many smaller cities.  The Italians have their sector, the Germans another, the Spanish their own, and then there’s a Chinatown almost everywhere.  I figured the OutSider tended to gravitate to their own over the years as well.  The government of the Empire of Uppsala, which has subjugated all the various historical city-states of the land, now calls individual states “Rejoinders.”   So you have nine states carved out of Erde with one large unnamed area to the east.  The term Uppsala is confusing.  It is the Empire, a Rejoinder, and the Capitol City of the Empire.  Folks living in the Rejoinder of Uppsala tend to be of Nordic/German stock.  In the Capitol, however, all types of peoples can be found.

The majority of peoples in the other Rejoinders are easy to figure out.  Aingland – English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh.  Merica – peoples from North or South America, including Native Americans.  Pare – let’s not forget the French.  Nippon – Oriental peoples.  Mongolya – Russia, eastern Europeans, Hungarians and nothern Orientals.  Jena,  Italians, Swiss and Slovakians. Finally there is the Rejoinder of Sigtuna, who’s population consists of a melting pot of city states defeated by Uppsalan armies in the historical past.  I’ll discuss how these Rejoinders are governed by Uppsala at a later time.  Now the locations of the Native tribes of Erde.

tribes

Over the years, the Natives of Erde have been pushed east, over the Corrin mountains.  The remaining tribes reside in a densely wooded strip, called the Weald,  that runs from north to south and from west to east from the Corrins to the Selgen River.  The northern tribes reside above the River Pison in a land called by the Sogroth, Havilah. Their lands lie between the Pison and Gihon Rivers.  The Telroth are the northernmost tribe, living above the Pison in a land they call Kosh.  Some of you may recognize these names as the lost lands and rivers of Genesis.

The central tribes are rather nomadic and can be found anywhere from the River Fyris to the edge of the Kyrrell Swamp.  They are the Summanari, who range to the north, the Riggrathi, and the extremely war-like Colarathi who range more to the south.

Finally, there are the Vigroth, who live in small villages far to the south in the swamps of Kyrrell.

The lands to the east of the Selgen River are wastelands, thought to be uninhabited.

Next week I’ll talk about where I decided to set my first story.

Worldbuilding 3 – Maps July 30, 2009

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Erde1

So now I’ve nailed down how my story will begin.  A survivor of a Bermuda Triangle story ends up in a mirror world called Erde.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to use disappearance of the captain and crew of the Mary Celeste.  That gives me a start date of early December 1872.  This means that 4,873 years have passed on Erde since the first OutSider appeared.  It also means that our present date would sit at 5,009 years passed.  The Erde of my story will take place during that 136 year stretch.

It’s time for a map.  Hey, map making is fun.  My first attempt at a map appears above.  I drew it by hand on graph paper.  It gave me some idea of what I wanted to do, but in no way was it compatible with my story.  It looked a bit like Australia, but Erde is larger than that.  It’s about the size of both Europe and Asia together.  So back to the drawing board.  This time I gave up on my freehand version because I now owned a computer with a major art program on it.  The final map of Erde looks like this:

erde2

Remember, this is the Erde of 1872 our time.  It is not ancient Erde, which would have looked much different.  For instance, the large forest would have stretched from the mountains, westward to the coast running from north to south.  The woodlands would rescind as time moved forward.  I needed some names for what I was looking at.  The southern ocean area I called ‘Rigga Sea.’  I used the term ‘Weald’ for the forested area.  ‘Weald’ is an old English term for ‘forest.’  For the long mountainous area, the continental divide, I used a native term – ‘Corrins.’  I was happy.  Things were starting to flesh out a bit.

Now I needed to think about countries.  I knew that countries and borders would have changed over the years, much like the forest did.  I needed to outline a history now so I could see how Erde had progressed from wilderness to the sophisticated ‘rejoinders’ found in Erde in 1872.  An outline would have been good enough.  It would allow me to drop my characters into any time and place and maintain the continuity. When it came time to flesh out an area with a story, I could slip the stories into dated files that would allow me to refer to characters or places at any future time.

Now it was time to tuck the OutSiders, their kin, and the Natives into Erde.  We’ll cover this next week.

Worldbuilding 2 – People July 23, 2009

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native

Last week I spoke about the foundation for my story – the idea I went in with.  Imagine if you will, two similar worlds connected spiritually by water.  People disappear from one and end up in the other.  All this is based on the Bermuda Triangle stories.  Okay.  I have this to work with.  Now I need to delve into those questions I spoke about.  What kind of people live in this mirror world I called Erde?  This is what I came up with:

Originally, before people from Earth came, Erde was populated by natives – tribes of aboriginal hunters and gatherers with their own forms of religion, languages, and societies.  It was much like America before the coming of the white man.  Then the OutSiders began showing up.  People from Earth that found themselves washing up on the shores of a new world not knowing where they were or how they got there, other than they thought they’d drowned.  Finally, as these people grew more numerous they had children, producing a third group of people who bore the name of the region they lived in.

The natives had an average life span of about 30-40 years.  The people born in Erde of OutSider parents lived about 50-75 years.  But the OutSiders themselves lived between 800-900 years unless, of course, they met an unnatural death for some reason.  If an OutSider managed to get back to Earth somehow, they lived their normal three-score and fifteen year lifespan again.  If a native or a child of Erde managed to get to Earth, they lived 800-900 years here.  There has never been a record of someone from Erde coming to Earth though.

The next decision I had to make was the time period to set my story.  Obviously if OutSiders had been coming to Erde and reproducing for thousands of years, Erde would be a lot different than when they first started showing up.  The beauty of what I had so far was that I could pull stories from any time period and fit it into the land appropriate for that time in Erde’s history.  Of course I needed to outline that history because it would have changed dramatically as the OutSiders became more prevalent.  Obviously, as you moved along the historical time line, people and places would be different. The question became, when did the OutSiders first start showing up?

The Bermuda Triangle stories go back to about the time of Christopher Columbus.  But I figured people started disappearing from Earth about the time of the first ocean going vessels.  Historically, this would take us back to around 3,000 B.C. when the Egyptians began sailing in the Mediterranean.  So now I had a time frame of when the first OutSiders started showing up in Erde.  Now all I had to do was decide when along Erde’s time line I wanted to set my first story.  We’ll get into that next week.